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Are Infrared Saunas Safe?

A woman relaxing inside an infrared sauna

Gather Information And Determine For Yourself Whether Infrared Sauna Therapy Is Safe

Consumer popularity and marketing hype can sometimes create clouds of confusion around different types of saunas: Is there a difference between traditional saunas, steam rooms, and infrared saunas? How can the average individual discern the difference? Are infrared saunas safe? Is one mode of heat therapy more safe and effective than the others?

An honest appraisal surrounding the safety of infrared saunas is hard to find when the internet is full of marketing propaganda and ploys trying to sway you in one direction or another. It can feel as if the stakes are: Your Money or Your Health! Not exactly a fair position for anyone to find themselves in. Our goal in this article is to encourage you to do your own research and help to shed light on the question: Are infrared saunas safe?

Unfortunately, not all infrared saunas are created equal; therefore, it is important to understand which sauna is the safest choice: Find a harbor of safety in knowledge among a market saturated with information and options.

Knowledge is power: In the realm of your health, knowledge is safety.

Thermal Therapy: A Brief History

Sauna therapy has a history of being a pillar in cultures of all backgrounds throughout the ages, and has been used by virtually every civilization. Since before recorded history, humans have been turning to a variety of heat therapy modalities to find cures to disease, purify the body and to find commune with a higher power. The means of heat therapy has varied from culture to culture and has also evolved over time (1).

There is no question that thermal therapy has unparalleled health benefits for the human form. The ability to prolifically perspire is a unique trait of human physiology and as a result, civilizations have sought out means of optimizing purification of the body through profuse sweating for thousands of years.

Heat therapy essentially mimics a naturally occurring fever to expel unwanted and harmful bacteria and disease from the body. Hippocrates, the ancient Greek father of medicine wrote:
“Give me a fever and I can cure any disease.” (2)

History suggests that the question of whether heat therapy is both safe and effective has stood the test of time. As technology evolves, humans have sought to create the most impactful type of heat therapy. Extensive use of dry saunas, steam baths and the indigenous sweat lodge have all proved effective and safe modalities of heat therapy.

Dr. John Harvey Kellogg created the first infrared sauna in the late nineteenth century called the ‘Incandescent Light Bath’(3). The infrared sauna did not grow in worldwide popularity again until NASA studied the benefits of the infrared light wavelengths in 1965, when it was found that this invisible light spectrum had hugely beneficial results on astronauts returning to earth after having spent time in zero gravity (4).

It was in 1979 that the first infrared sauna became available to the general public in the United States. Since that time the infrared light spectrum has been used by medical practitioners the world over in the treatment of a wide spectrum of health disorders.

Yes, heat therapy is not only safe, but also hugely beneficial to health and wellbeing. Infrared saunas are the most evolved modality of heat therapy available today, and may offer the most powerful health benefits. It is important to fully investigate all of the available infrared sauna options for consumers and understand the potential safety risks involved in choosing the wrong one.

Not All Saunas Are Created Equal: Electromagnetic Radiation Emissions (EMF), A Red Flag

Infrared saunas are so effective and powerful as a healing modality because of the nature of the heat created. Unlike traditional saunas, infrared heat does not heat the external air, but rather the rays of light radiate out from their sources to penetrate the skin membrane. This method heats the body up from the inside out and relies on lower external temperature to induce higher internal temperature. Remember that it is the artificial creation of a fever, as noted by Hippocrates, that produces one of the many positive effects on human physiology. The radiant heat found in your infrared sauna for home use is wildly effective in increasing internal core temperatures.

The infrared light spectrum is invisible to the human eye, but is experienced tactfully as heat. The full infrared light spectrum is comprised of near, mid and far infrared light. Each wavelength is unique in the results that it produces within the human physiological network. Intrinsic to the light waves created through infrared heat, is also the possibility of unhealthful electromagnetic radiation if the manufacturer of the sauna is not steadfast in their protocol (3).

Singularly, the most significant risk involved in full spectrum infrared light therapy is the possibility of toxic levels of electromagnetic radiation (EMF) emitted from the infrared wavelengths. Some infrared saunas available on the market today emit high levels of electromagnetic radiation that can potentially be dangerous to your body (5).

Any sauna offering the full spectrum of infrared wavelengths needs to be investigated, as some companies developing these saunas use cheap and toxic materials that can be harmful to your health.

Low EMF Emissions VS Toxic EMF Overload

Electromagnetic radiation (EMF) can cause harmful reactions at the cellular level affecting the health of your body. When choosing to support your health with the use of an infrared sauna unit be thorough in your investigation of brands that are selling units high in EMF emissions.

Be sure that the Infrared Sauna you choose to use is tested for EMF levels. Most companies manufacturing infrared saunas will have the available instruments to test levels. If said organizations are unwilling to test for EMF emissions find a different manufacturer.

Expert Tip: It is crucial, before undergoing infrared sauna therapy, to thoroughly research the levels of EMF emissions from different sauna manufacturers. Find an infrared sauna that boasts low detectable EMF emissions, making it a safe choice of infrared saunas available today.

Ensure Safety And Choose An Infrared Sauna That Uses Eco-Friendly Materials

Toxic off-gassing is a major health risk: Be sure to use only an infrared sauna that is made with high-quality materials to guarantee a safe experience.

The safety protocol of an infrared sauna is dependent upon both healthy infrared wavelengths whose panels are low in EMF emissions and equally as valid a safety concern are in regards to the materials that are used in building the physical structure of the sauna.

Devotion to your health should be a value that is shared by both you and the manufacturer of the infrared sauna. This can be demonstrated through the hand picking of certified eco wood from the vast Canadian forests designed to maximize your healing experience as you sit back and relax in a toxin-free zone.

Unfortunately, many companies today are manufacturing infrared sauna structures using cheap, low quality and ultimately toxic materials, be mindful to research the type of wood used in the cabin structure.

Expert Tip: Toxic off-gassing is a major health risk: Be sure to use only an infrared sauna that is made with high-quality materials to guarantee a safe experience.

Certified Eco Wood vs Chemically Treated Wood

As the sauna unit rises in temperature to induce sweating and ultimately detoxification, the increased heat may also create off-gassing of the materials used in construction. Be sure that your unit is not poisoning you with toxic off-gassing by cutting corners in the manufacturing process! Cheap toxin-filled wood may be harmful to your health and must be avoided when making your infrared sauna purchase.

It can be a frightening proposition to choose your health and purchase a full spectrum infrared sauna for all the right reasons and yet find that the manufacturing of the sauna is harmful to you.

Expert Tip: Choose a sauna that uses untreated wood to avoid potentially harmful off-gassing.

Contraindication: Preparation Through Hydration

The most common safety concern when undergoing any heat therapy, including infrared sauna therapy, is dehydration. It is necessary to understand that an enormous amount of water is lost through the detoxification protocol of profuse sweating. The penetrative rays of infrared light induce heavy sweating, if rehydration does not occur properly, serious health ramifications can arise.

Preparing the body for the transformational experience of an infrared sauna begins with proper hydration. Detoxification protocols, including infrared sauna sessions that induce profuse sweating, demand legitimate hydration before, during and after the sauna.

Ideally, hydration should begin several days before taking an infrared sauna. Most people do not drink enough water today in general, if you decide to undergo even a single infrared sauna session, then consuming healthful water in high quantity is paramount.

At least, three quarts of water a day should be consumed by someone engaged in regular sauna use. The infrared wavelengths, including near, mid and far all penetrate deeply into the initial epidermis of the skin into the soft tissues of the body that cause internal temperature to rise. While infrared sauna therapy is a method of heat therapy that may be far more effective in its detoxification protocol, it also tends to cause dehydration if the individual is not properly hydrated before the session.

It is important to drink the best possible water; tap water with a filter is acceptable. Water that has been purified through osmosis is not adequate to hydrate the body. Bottled spring water, mineral water, or tap water with a filter, will hydrate the body adequately in preparation (6).

Expert Tip: Infrared sauna therapy needs to be coupled with a dedicated practice of hydration: Be sure to stay well drink lots of fluids!

Pregnant And Breastfeeding Mothers: Potential Risks And Advantages

Woman relaxing after using an infrared sauna

The National Institute Of Health suggests that pregnant women limit their use of any heat-based therapies. Increasing the body’s temperature above 100 degrees has been known to potentially increase rates of fetal complications. For this reason, it is best to avoid infrared sauna therapy during pregnancy (7).

If you are planning a pregnancy it is highly recommended by medical professionals that you undergo a committed infrared sauna therapy. Consistent infrared sauna therapy before pregnancy will prepare the body for heightened health during the pregnancy to create optimal circumstances for the fetus (8). Once pregnancy is initiated it is safer to refrain from infrared sauna use.

For breastfeeding mothers it is challenging to maintain hydration in general, without the addition of extensive detoxification through perspiration. Further, the detoxification induced through infrared sauna may have an effect on the nutrients of the mother’s milk. To ensure the safety of the mother, and the quality of her milk, it is best to avoid infrared sauna therapy during breastfeeding.

It should be noted that the National Institute Of Health has recently published findings on the impact of the far-infrared light spectrum to improve lactation (9). While it is true that hydration is paramount for lactating mothers if there are issues with the production of milk it is certainly worth asking your medical provider about using far-infrared light to enhance lactation.

Further, some alternative studies suggest that the heat created through infrared saunas will aid in lactation. This is mostly because the heat of the sauna relaxes the mother, the more relaxed a mother is after birth the greater lactation is. Remember that temperatures do not need to be high in an infrared sauna to experience the benefits of the light frequency (10) .

If the mother is particularly keen to engage in infrared sauna therapy, it is recommended that her sessions be short (less than fifteen minutes) and that she set the temperature as low as possible. The breastfeeding mother who chooses infrared sauna therapy will need to be diligent in her hydration methodology. Once the child is consuming food other than the mother’s breast milk and only breastfeeding a few times a day it will be safer for the mother to engage in infrared sauna therapy.

Please Note: The author of this article did engage in daily infrared sauna sessions at home during the two years that she was breastfeeding without any ill effects.

Children And Infrared Sauna Therapy

Detoxification is among the many wonderful health benefits of infrared sauna therapy. Most children are not as toxic as adults today and therefore they have less need for detoxification protocols. If children are undergoing infrared sauna therapy, then it is recommended that the temperature be set very low and that the children do not remain in the sauna for more than 15 minutes per session.

Please consult with your pediatrician to determine if infrared sauna therapy is safe for your child.

Infrared Sauna Therapy: The Elderly And Individuals With Pre-Existing Heart Conditions

A senior couple laughing in a kitchen, discussing infrared saunas

Ultimately, infrared sauna therapy can be deeply beneficial and healing for the elderly, as well as for individuals with certain heart conditions. People within these two categories should take special attention to reduce sauna sessions to no longer than 15 minutes at a time, with at least one day of rest between sessions. Hydration is paramount for these individuals.

Cardiovascular health overtime may be dramatically improved with infrared sauna use as circulation improves (11). It is advisable to proceed into infrared sauna therapy with caution where there are pre-existing heart conditions, under the supervision of your physician.

* If you are uncertain whether infrared sauna therapy is for you it is advisable to consult a health care practitioner.

Infrared Saunas Are Safe When Thorough Investigation Into The Manufacturer Is Made

History proves that heat therapy is an effective means to augment health when safety measures are taken. As with any sauna, it is important to take appropriate steps to ensure that infrared sauna therapy is safe for you.

Broad-spectrum infrared saunas may offer a plethora of health benefits with low risks, please keep in mind the following factors to ensure your infrared sauna experience is safe:

  • The wood used in the structure has NOT been treated and has been kiln-dried
  • EMF emissions have been tested with a meter and found to be low
  • A medical practitioner has been consulted
  • Drink plenty of water to avoid dehydration
  • When these factors are kept in mind, infrared saunas are generally safe, as with anything move forward with awareness and always listen to your body.



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