01 Dec Far and Full Spectrum Infrared Sauna
Infrared Sauna therapy may be the best way to lessen the impact of our modern day physical and environmental stressors.
As more and more research and studies are brought to the table depicting what’s good for us, what’s bad and what’s just a waste of time and money there is one area that has not truly received the positive attention that it should. I’m not talking about another dietary trend or even the perfect combination of strength training vs cardiovascular exercise. I’m talking about one of our most primitive means of foundational health that most cultures were exposed to a lot more thousands, hundreds, and even fifty years ago. I’m talking about the radiant heat energy from that blinding sphere in the sky.
Although these light spectrums and wavelengths from the sun have been studied starting in the early 1800’s, it’s only recently been harnessed into this skin penetrating far infrared (FIR) technology that has shown to have amazing health benefits. What’s developed even more recently is the technology that has now created a method of producing near (NIR) and mid (MIR) infrared wavelengths which ultimately address what is called “Full Spectrum” infrared and implement all three of the sun’s light wavelengths while still eliminating the ultraviolet rays. This is significant due to each wavelength having different health benefits.
Benefits of Infrared Sauna
Although, I would never recommend hoping to lose weight solely on infrared sauna therapy alone, a half hour session in an infrared sauna significantly increases cellular metabolism and has been shown to be a very effective means in overall weight loss(1). The results are even more profound in those who are unable to exercise regularly due to arthritis or respiratory conditions preventing them from physical activity. Just a half hour of relaxing in an infrared sauna can burn up to 600 calories! This benefit is primarily achieved through MIR and FIR. Another component of weight loss with the FIR involves the detoxification of many toxins that are stored in fat cells which often prevent us from losing weight in the first place.
Improved Circulation and Reduced Blood Pressure
Through primarily the MIR and FIR spectrums, increased circulation and blood vessel dilation can be achieved ultimately improving tissue oxygenation and reducing both diastolic and systolic blood pressure. In a 2001 study performed with infrared solocarbon technology, systolic blood pressure was reduced on average from 130.5 to 124 over a six week period of three days per week at 30 minutes a session (2). There is also added component of an increased heart rate while in the infrared sauna which simulates a cardiovascular workout.
The use of the deep penetrating Far Infrared spectrum aids in the effective means of detoxification. As sweating has been known for a long time to naturally eliminate toxins, the advancement of FIR saunas allows us to eliminate 7 times more toxins than just sweating alone. The Environmental Protection Agency has shown that sauna therapy increases excretion of heavy metals (lead, mercury, cadmium) and fat-soluble chemicals like PCBs, PBBs, and HCBs. Overall, through improving your detoxification pathways, it makes sense that your body will function and feel better. This could be another column in itself.
Pain relief is best achieved through all three infrared spectrums. The shallowest penetrating wavelengths (NIR) penetrate just under the skin and increase the superficial circulation which aids in reducing inflammation, collagen stimulation, and wound healing. Mid infrared also reduces pain through much of the same means. Far Infrared is the deepest penetrating wavelength and enhances the deeper circulation and muscle relaxation. In a randomized, controlled study of 46 patients with chronic pain, a variety of treatments with and without the use of far infrared sauna therapy were tested. Both groups reported a decrease in pain, depression and anger, but the far infrared sauna group had much more significant decreases in all three areas.(3) Another study on patients with chronic pain in 2008 showed nearly a 70% decrease in pain after just one session!(4) In fact, Infrared saunas are commonly used for sports injuries, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, joint pain/stiffness and other chronic pain conditions.
Another area that shows significant results to our body’s outermost and largest organ is the exposure to the shallow penetrating wavelengths found in the near infrared spectrum. A 12 week study on skin therapy, published in The Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, showed significant improvements in reduction in wrinkles, and improved skin tone, elasticity, and clarity with near–infrared technology.(5) As NIR shows the largest benefit regarding anti-aging properties, other benefits include reduced acne and other skin conditions including psoriasis and eczema through all three spectrums.
Several studies have shown that NIR also stimulates white blood cell production and collagen synthesis through enhancing superficial circulation and increasing cellular energy. This is significant in the area of wound healing and tissue regeneration. A study done by NASA showed NIR can quadruple cell health and tissue growth.(6) The Medical College of Wisconsin performed a study demonstrating that LED-produced NIR helps promote cell health and regeneration.(7)
Infrared Sauna for Cancer
Further benefits in the area regarding immune function, although not yet a traditional approach, include reducing the frequency and severity of bacterial and viral infections. There is even more and more utilization of this technology showing promise in the treatment of many types of cancer. Aside from the obvious cancer treatment benefits through detoxification, The National Cancer Institute supports hyperthermia (also called thermal therapy or thermotherapy) is a type of cancer treatment in which body tissue is exposed to high temperatures. Research has shown that high temperatures can damage and kill cancer cells with minimal injury to normal tissues.
Choosing the Best Infrared Sauna
In the past decade there has been a trend to develop this technology for home, spa, and clinical use through multiple companies, which unfortunately, many have been cutting corners on the quality of materials. When purchasing an infrared sauna, your top two priorities should be effectiveness and safety. In researching the sea of companies claiming to offer the best and most advanced technology, prior to purchasing one for my own natural healthcare clinic, I found that there is only one company that truly does not cut any corners when it comes to these qualities- Sunlighten Saunas.
Only Sunlighten offers a patented Solocarbon heating technology. It is the only heater on the market tested and clinically shown to raise core temperature, lower blood pressure and aid in weight loss. Generic carbon blend heaters are less than 85% effective. Solocarbon heaters are 95-99% efficient at emitting infrared. If you are purchasing a sauna for health benefits, the single most important element to consider is heater emissivity which determines how efficient infrared heat is conducted and emitted. If a sauna is not efficient at emitting infrared, you are not receiving the benefits! Of course to get the true “full spectrum” involving all three infrared wavelengths, Sunlighten is the only company on the market that offers this technology at this time.
Sunlighten not only follow strict quality control measures regarding materials and environmentally tested and approved for no off-gassing. Finally, they are also electrically certified to meet safety and performance standards and have gone through comprehensive third-party testing to ensure safe levels of EMFs (Electromagnetic Fields).
Sunlighten Infrared Saunas
It is for these reasons that Sunlighten Saunas are considered the gold-standard of infrared technology by most of the authorities in the world of Functional Medicine including Dr. Mark Hyman. There are also over 55 studies to back up the effectiveness of their heaters which are also third party tested, meaning there is no cutting corners in the materials used or any question on the effectiveness of these units. For more information on my preferred choice for “Full Spectrum” infrared saunas, visit www.sunlighten.com
As I mentioned earlier in finding the best infrared technology to offer patients in my clinic, we utilize the mPULSE Believe model which offers full spectrum infrared and also utilizes Android technology for monitoring specific settings. For some basic less expensive models for home use consisting of just the far infrared spectrum, Sunlighten also offers a high quality far infrared base models. Regardless, I recommend researching the emissivity data on any company who’s specific heater you are considering. This determines the quality and effectiveness of infrared heat.
-Jason M. Kremer DC, CCSP, CSCS
(1) Richard Beever BSc, MD, CCFP. Do Far-Infrared Saunas have Cardiovascular Benefits in People with Type 2 Diabetes? Canadian Journal of Diabetes 2010; 34 (2) :113-118.
(2) Edwards, B., Kort, H., and John Foxworthy. A Study of the Health Benefits of Far-Infared Sauna Therapy. University of Missouri, Kansas City.
(3) Masuda A1, Koga Y, Hattanmaru M, Minagoe S, Tei C.; The Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Patients with Chronic Pain.; Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2005;74(5):288-94.
(4) Internal Medicine (Tokyo) Aug 15, 2008 by Matsushita K, Masuda A, Tei C. The First Department of Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Hospital, Kagoshima, Japan.
(5) B.A. Russell, N. Kellett & L.R. Reilly. Study to Determine the Efficacy of Combination LED Light Therapy (633nm and 830 nm) in Facial Skin Rejuvenation. Journal of Cosmetic and Laser Therapy, 2005; 7: pp 196-200.
(6) Harry T. Whelan, Ellen V. Buchmann, Noel T. Whelan, Scott G. Turner, Vita Cevenini, Helen Stinson, Ron Ignatius, Todd Martin, Joan Cwiklinski, Glenn A. Meyer, Brian Hodgson Lisa Gould, Mary Kane, Gina Chen , James Caviness. NASA Light Emitting Diode Medical Applications From Deep Space to Deep Sea. CP552, Space Technology and Applications International Forum-2001, edited by M. S. El-Genk. Copyright 2001 American Institute of Physics 1-56396-980-7/01.
(7) Margaret T.T.Wong-Riley, Huan Ling Liang, Janis T. Eells, Britton Chance, Michele M. Henry, Ellen Buchmann, Mary Kane, and Harry T. Whelan. Photobiomodulation Directly Benefits Primary Neurons Functionally Inactivated by Toxins: Role of Cytochrome C Oxidase. JBC Papers in Press. Published on November 22, 2004 as Manuscript M409650200. Copyright 2004 by The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Inc.