My surgeon heavily encouraged me to start using an infrared sauna following surgery, as this would be the only way for me to effectively detox from the heavy metals, silicone, and any other chemicals and toxins inside of me. He isn’t alone on this recommendation either, as many of the other leading surgeons in the country have also encouraged their explant patients to regularly use IR sauna. As they have become more popular, multiple Facebook group communities dedicated to IR sauna education have popped up–full of people who are effectively using IR sauna to heal from BII, Lyme, parasites, chronic fatigue, and many other chronic illnesses.
If you look into the history and traditions of saunas, one thing is evident, they have been used throughout time for spiritual and physical bodily cleansing, healing illness, and relaxation. Saunas date back to over 10,000 to Finland. In fact the only Finnish word to make it into everyday English is the word “sauna”. According to a BBC.com article on the subject, 99% of Finns take at least one a week, and “Finns say the sauna is a poor man’s pharmacy”. In many countries, private saunas are common in the home. There are a few different types, such as steam, wood burning, electrical, and infrared.
Which brings us to the subject of my blog post–infrared sauna. So what exactly is an infrared sauna? Let’s start there. Unlike a traditional sauna, an infrared sauna doesn’t heat the air around you. Instead, it uses infrared light to heat your body directly. Even before the IR sauna heats up to the temperature you set it to, you immediately start receiving benefits from the infrared light that enters your body. An infrared sauna can run at a lower temperature (I set mine to 130˚F) than a traditional steam sauna, which is typically between 150˚F and 180˚F. This means you can tolerate the heat more easily and tolerate a longer sauna session in an IR sauna, thus allowing your core body temperature to rise a few degrees more. You sweat more and at a lower temperature in an IR sauna, and sweating is key to the detoxification process.
WHAT HEALTH BENEFITS DOES AN INFRARED SAUNA PROVIDE?
- Detoxification of heavy metals and chemicals.
- Alleviates stress and fatigue by affecting the autonomic nervous system and allowing the body to heal and restore.
- Muscle aches, arthritis, and joint relief. IR saunas relieve inflammation, stiffness and soreness by increasing blood circulation and allowing infrared heat to relax muscles and carry off metabolic waste products, while delivering oxygen-rich blood to the muscles for a faster recovery.
- Weight loss and increased metabolism. A 30-minute session burns from 300–800 calories!!
- Immune system support. By raising the core body temperature, infrared saunas strengthen and accelerate the immune response. Combined with the improved elimination of toxins and wastes, it can increase overall health and resistance to disease.
- Skin conditions. Improved skin tone, color, elasticity and texture. Increased blood circulation has also been shown to help improve acne, eczema, psoriasis, and aid wound healing with reduced scarring.
- Heart health. Helps keep blood pressure within healthy levels, lower cholesterol, reduce chronic pain.
- Appearance of cellulite. Reverses the accumulation of liquids in the fat cells and storage of toxins in fat cells to reduce the appearance of cellulite.
- Diabetes support. Helps decrease the side effects of diabetes.
Because I was chronically ill with BII, Lyme, and co-infections, I needed to build up to 40 minute sessions, 7 days a week. Because I would be needing to use IR sauna daily, it was in our best interest to purchase our own private IR sauna for our home. It was yet another unplanned cost to add onto the pile of growing health related expenses. I looked around locally at prices, and calculated that even just 5 visits a week at $30-$40 per session would be $150-$200 a week–clearly not financially feasible for us. And that still wasn’t the 7 sessions a week that I ideally needed. Plus I had a lot of unanswered questions about the specific saunas places of commerce used. Clearly, the best investment would to be to purchase one ourselves, and this also ensured I knew every detail about the sauna I would be using.
So of course this triggered massive research on IR saunas on my part, ha! I soon learned what the important questions are to ask before using (or buying) an IR sauna, and I am sharing them here, so that you know what to look for and ask prior to use.
Is the IR sauna Near, Far, or Full Spectrum?
I chose to get a full spectrum sauna. It has the option of being far IR only (if for some reason that is what you desire at times) just by flipping a switch. Full-spectrum means you get all three spectrums, so you don’t have to pick one type based on your health needs like you used to have to do. A full spectrum infrared sauna can penetrate into the tissues up to two inches deep.
Is the sauna low EMF?
More than 90% of the infrared saunas sold in North America still use an early generation, thin, cheap carbon panel. Those panels produce higher EMF (electromagnetic field) levels and emit lower amounts of beneficial far infrared. <3.0 mG, is considered a safe level, and within the range that the heaters in my sauna emit. You can buy inexpensive EMF meters online to test devices in your home, and the company I purchased our sauna from will video chat with you upon request to show you the EMF meter readings before they ship it out to you.
According to some scientists, EMFs can affect your nervous system and cause damage to your cells. Cancer could be a symptom of high EMF exposure. And others symptoms can include sleep disturbances issues, headaches, depression, fatigue, memory issues and trouble concentrating, dizziness, anxiety, and nausea. We can all agree that damage to cells is not a good thing, and so we should be conscious of our EMF exposure. Although we can’t avoid exposure in today’s time, we should be aware of the levels that various devices we use and are around are emitting. People like myself who already have other health issues going on are probably more sensitive to the effects of EMF exposure than others, but it is still important to limit exposure where you can. At the end of the day you are using an IR sauna for its health benefits, so using a high EMF sauna should be considered counter-productive at the very least. Make sure it is low EMF so that your IR sauna visits aren’t “defeating the purpose”.
What materials is the sauna constructed from?
It is important to make sure that the wood isn’t chemically treated, and if glue is used, that it is non-toxic. Our IR sauna is made out of Hemlock, which is non-toxic and is an ideal choice for both its hypoallergenic properties, weight, strength and minimal shrinkage. Poplar and Red Cedar are other common and safe woods used (as as long as they haven’t been chemically treated). Avoid saunas that have been constructed with toxic wood glues, laminates, varnish, etc.
What methods are used to sanitize the sauna?
This is an important factor to me. It is important that a sauna be sanitized because of the excessive sweating (toxin filled sweat!) that happens inside. While you want it to remain sanitary, when you talk to the customer service of any top brands, they will tell you NOT TO USE CHEMICAL cleaners inside you sauna. They soak into the wood, and you do not want chemicals from cleaning supplies on your skin, nor do you don’t want to be breathing those chemicals in during your sessions. I have a lot of hesitation that many commercial sauna places either don’t sanitize the saunas to my standards or use chemicals to do so. So how do I sanitize my personal sauna? It came equipped with an ozone generator and ionizer, which I run after every use. Ozone is a way to sterilize without using chemical agents and eliminates bacteria, viruses, fungus, mold, dust, and odors. I’m sure this alone would suffice in sanitizing the sauna, but I am admittedly, a germophobe, so after every use I also spray the interior with my EPA approved natural cleaner that kills as well as bleach, which I make with salt, vinegar, and electrolyzed water in my water electrolyzer.
Also important is to make sure the towels you use are laundered with non-toxic detergents (no toxic softeners or fabric sheets either). It is important to constantly wipe the sweat from your skin while in the sauna, so you do not want to be rubbing chemicals into your open pores the entire time. I use one large towel, folded thickly on the bench to sit on, and then a smaller towel below my feet (to “catch” sweat dripping down legs), and another small towel to wipe by body off throughout the session.
Does the sauna have any “bonus features”?
Some of the features our IR sauna includes that I am very happy to have are built-in magnets for magnetic flux therapy, the option to turn on the chromotherapy feature, and the option of aromatherapy during a session.
Magnetic Therapy. The magnets are built-in to 3 locations and can help with pain, swelling and inflammation, as well as support blood pressure, cholesterol, and the nervous system. Many natural health doctors believe magnets are beneficial for healing and pain relief.
Chromeotherapy is the science of using colors to adjust the body’s frequencies. The thought is that if there is an imbalance in these colors in our bodies, it can manifest as a mental or physical distress. I’m not the best at explanations when it comes to the nitty gritty of getting scientific, but the gist is that each color carries a different frequency and is related to specific symptoms. The frequencies of various colors can re-establish the body’s frequencies to what they should naturally be. I believe this because one, color psychology is not a new concept, and two, because science has already demonstrated a clear physiological mechanism establishing color and light can affect mood, hunger, sleep quality, circadian rhythm, heart rate, blood pressure, temperature, and more.
- Red: Supports Circulatory and Nervous Systems. Enhances Metabolism.
- Green: Relaxing. Fights infections. Regenerative. Regulates Pituitary Gland.
- Blue: Stress tension. Headaches, stomach pain, muscle and joint pain, liver disorders.
Aromatherapy is simply an alternative medicine in which essential oils are inhaled to achieve therapeutic benefit. I’ve obviously been a huge fan of essential oils for many years now, and I love that my sauna has a small, wooden diffuser inside, so that I can can diffuse oils while enjoying my sauna session. Each oil carries a different health benefit, so there are countless options with what you can may choose to diffuse. Eucalyptus remains one of my favorites to use during a sauna session.
Where are the heaters located?
To provide the highest level of infrared and an even full body coverage, it is important to have heaters on the sides of the body and behind the legs. It’s also important to have heating elements on the floor, which is only offered by a few of the top brands. Also, please note that more glass does not equal better. I have seen some drop dead gorgeous sauna units made with many glass panels. Too much glass is not good for an IR sauna. Remember that you are using a sauna for the health benefits not for how pretty it is.
As a general rule of thumb once your symptoms alleviate or you are in remission from your illness(es), you can back down to using the sauna twice a week for maintenance. A “normal”, healthy person can usually see and maintain health benefits from a 20 minute session, twice weekly or once acclimated, a longer session, once weekly. If you have breast implants, DO NOT, I repeat do not use an infrared sauna!! For the same reasons you should not drink water from a plastic water bottle that’s been inside of a hot car all day, you do not need to use the sauna. You will cause more harm than good by doing so.
A few tips I could offer is to stay hydrated throughout the day both before and after your sauna session. If you chug a bunch of water right before or right after in an attempt to hydrate all at once, it might end up making you nauseous. Instead drink small amounts constantly throughout the day. Fresh squeezed lemon water can aid in your detoxification. A CLEAN ingredient (something with no artificial sweeteners, colors, but not a ton of sugar either) electrolyte beverage after your session may be ideal. I also suggest showering immediately after using the sauna, so that you wash off the toxins you have sweated out instead of reabsorbing them. Even a quick rinse off with water only will suffice. Because I use the sauna at night, when I shower afterwards it is my “official” shower for the day so I do use soap. If you do take a soapy shower after your IR sauna visit make sure it is a wash without any chemicals or toxins. My last tip is to make sure you are doing something that is relaxing to you while you are in the sauna. Sometimes I just sit in the quiet and use the time to manifest and say positive affirmations. Other times I listen to music, and some times I attach my phone to the arm I installed inside and watch Netflix. I do what feels good depending on the day.
An Infrared Sauna session should be the most enjoyable 20-40 minutes of your day. It physically and mentally works wonders on you.
P.S. Please enjoy this face that I often get to stare at through the door of the sauna LOL