Benefits of a Far Infra Red Sauna
by Sue Kira, Naturopath & Clinical Nutritionist
This article was first published in Here & Now Magazine February 2005 and has since been updated
I have a great interest in the importance of detoxification of the body to regain or maintain good health. In the past I used Colonic Irrigation and still use detox programs to facilitate this process.
Many years ago I had a steam room in my clinic at Ballina to help speed up this process by detoxifying through the skin – our largest organ of elimination. That was replaced with a Far Infra Red Sauna which was more efficient.
Now before continuing, because my clinic is now at the Sunshine Coast, I no longer have the sauna. But because they were beneficial for many clients, look out for one in your area if interested.
Remember standing in the sun on a cold winter’s day? Despite the cold air temperature, you could probably still feel the warmth from the sun. That’s because of Far Infrared Rays (FIR) – a safe energy that raises the temperature in objects without heating the surrounding air.
Radiant heat is efficient because it warms you, rather than the air surrounding you. FIR Saunas use infra red energy to penetrate the body’s tissue to a depth of over 4 cm. The energy output is so closely tuned to the bodies own radiation energy that our bodies absorb close to 93 % of the infra red rays that reach our skin.
So how does a FIR Sauna compare to a conventional sauna? Conventional saunas must rely on direct contact of heat or hot air on the skin to produce its heating effects, thus, FIR Saunas are able to produce up to three times the sweat volume of a normal sauna at a much lower temperature.
Not only does the perspiration contain more toxins and less water, but more toxins will be expelled through your kidneys, liver and even hair! While sitting comfortably and enjoying a relaxing sauna, your body is hard at work. Just 30 mins in a sauna produces the same amount of perspiration as a 10 km run. And as your body increases sweat, your heart works harder to boost circulation.
This beneficial heart stress leads to a sought-after cardiovascular training and conditioning effect. The use of a sauna provides cardiovascular conditioning as the body works to cool itself and involves substantial increases in heart rate, cardiac output and metabolic rate.
As well as strengthening the cardiovascular system and therefore strengthening the immune system through increased circulation, FIR Saunas relieve pain in conditions such as arthritis, muscle spasms, joint stiffness and sprains. This occurs through increased blood flow helping with the treatment of inflammation, pain and speedier healing rate, as well as reducing stress and fatigue from the immediate relaxation effect.
The heavy perspiration involved with FIR Saunas helps skin by improving skin tone, texture and colour as well as removing roughness, reducing scarring and improving firmness and elasticity. Skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis and eczema can also be assisted.
FIR Saunas also have a unique effect on caloric consumption and weight control. In one thirty minute session, up to 900 calories can be burned. While the weight of the water loss can be regained by drinking water, the calories burnt will not be.
My inspiration for researching the FIR Sauna was Sherry Rogers book ‘Detoxify or Die’ which placed great emphasis on the use of Far Infra Red Saunas as a valuable resource for detoxification. Dr Rogers maintains that we are a polluted people and do not have the metabolic processes in place to metabolise toxins in the 21st century environment.
Our body is continually detoxifying numerous diverse environmental agents and the rubbish we place into it. But while doing so, it uses up the very nutrients that our body would normally use to protect us from disease and ageing. This is why we need additional help to detoxify.
Health experts from around the world recognise FIR Sauna as one of the most effective methods of removing chemical and heavy metal toxins from the body. As the years pass by, through live blood screening, I see significant increases of effects of chemicals on clients’ systems and have felt the need to use more than one pathway to rid the body of these chemicals and toxins.
By far the most important health benefit of FIR Saunas is their efficiency in removing toxins from the body. This is achieved by a process called ‘resonate absorption’ where the frequency of the FIR matches the frequency of the water in the cell, causing toxins to be released into the blood stream and excreted through sweat.
Studies have shown that the sweat of people using a conventional sauna was found to be 95 to 97% water, while the sweat of those using the FIR Saunas was 80 to 85% water – with the non-water component being cholesterol, fat soluble toxins, toxic heavy metals such as mercury and aluminium, sulphuric acid, sodium, ammonia ,and uric acid.
This unusually high concentration of heavy metals and other fat soluble toxins is not found in the sweat from normal exercise. With an FIR sauna, increased blood circulation caused by sweating stimulates the sweat glands, releasing built up toxins and waste.
Regular sweating can help detoxify your body as it rids itself of an accumulation of potentially carcinogenic heavy metals. This removal of toxins from the system can help assist the symptoms of conditions such as allergies, acne, chronic fatigue, frequent colds, muscle and joint pain, poor concentration, eczema and mood swings.
Important Health Warning
While there are few dangers when using an FIR sauna, there are circumstances when it should be avoided. This particularly relates to existing health conditions that require exposure to excessive heat, such as those who have had a heart attack, stroke, dizziness and low blood pressure.
Also avoid if fasting, pregnant, have silicone implants, angina, heart disease, kidney disease, implanted medical devices and eczema that increases with sauna use. Also be cautious if you have a medical condition, are on medications e.g blood pressure-lowering drugs, diuretics, medications that can cause dizziness, have a nerve condition that impairs your ability to sense heat, or recovering from surgery.
If you have a compromised immune system, ensure the facility has rigorous cleaning protocols. For elderly people and children, be cautious and obtain advice from a health practitioner.