Sometimes called: ‘the silent killer’, high blood pressure affects over 50% of the adult American population. Its impact on individuals can be lethal, especially because there are usually no apparent signs or symptoms. Untreated high blood pressure can lead to heart disease, strokes, and sudden death.
The causative factors in high blood pressure are numerous and so are the preventative treatments. Biomedical research has revealed that many of the causes of high blood pressure are treatable through lifestyle change (1).
So, does using an infrared sauna help lower blood pressure?
Infrared sauna therapy effectively addresses many of the underlying causes of high blood pressure and has the potential to lower blood pressure in a gentle, effective, and safe way.
The unique interaction between the infrared light spectrum and the cellular network of the body has a direct impact on vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels, which lowers blood pressure). Exposure to infrared light through regular sessions may decrease blood pressure for individuals who are at high risk for developing heart disease.
In addition to the biochemical changes at the cellular level that reduce pressure on the arteries, infrared sauna therapy also addresses underlying causes of high blood pressure:
- Consistent sessions may help you lose excess weight (obesity is one of many causative factors in high blood pressure)
- Transfers the body into states of relaxation and out of stress response
- Detoxifies the body from harmful toxins (from tobacco and alcohol use, and chemical additives introduced into the body from foods high in saturated fat).
Infrared sauna therapy is an all-encompassing treatment method for individuals experiencing high blood pressure and because this methodology does not rely on high external heat as found in traditional saunas, it is also safe for individuals with high blood pressure to use.
What Is High Blood Pressure? Understanding The Function Of The Heart.
Blood pressure is the force of blood pushing against blood vessel walls; it is measured in millimeters of mercury (mmHg). High blood pressure means the pressure in your arteries is higher than a safe range to keep your heart functioning at its best to deliver a flow of oxygenated blood in harmony with the body’s needs (2).
Survival depends upon the ability of the tissues and organs of the body to receive freshly oxygenated blood that your circulatory system can deliver throughout the physiological network. The beating of the heart creates pressure to release and push blood throughout the arteries, veins, and capillaries. The pressure created by the heart is rhythmical in accordance with heartbeats and space between the beats.
Blood pressure is the combination of two functions: 1) Systolic pressure, the contraction of the heartbeat as it creates pressure. 2) Diastolic pressure, the relaxation that occurs between heartbeats to release blood flow from the heart to the rest of the body. When your heart beats, the blood vessels leading to your heart contract and relax continuously creating a perfect balance for proper blood flow throughout the body (2).
Two numbers are used to represent and measure blood pressure, the first is the systolic pressure (contraction/heartbeat), and the second is the diastolic pressure (relaxation between beats). For example: a reading of 120/80 is a healthy and normal blood pressure reading. The 120 will represent the systolic pressure and the 80 represents the diastolic pressure.
High blood pressure usually shows no external signs or symptoms and is referred to as ‘the silent killer’; over half of all Americans over the age of 20 have high blood pressure. High blood pressure, also called hypertension can only be measured by taking an individual’s heart rate.
It is crucial that you have your blood pressure measured by a health care professional regularly to ensure a healthy blood pressure range. Below you will find a chart from the American Heart Association to determine if your blood pressure is within a healthy range. Often in drugstores you can find a self serve blood pressure device (2).
Before you have your blood pressure taken be sure to breathe slowly and deeply to fully relax the body. To determine if you have high blood pressure you will need to take your blood pressure often to reveal a pattern of continuous high blood pressure. Often feeling stressed or anxious about the result will increase blood pressure and therefore reveal an inaccurate result. Taking blood pressure measurements frequently will increase the accuracy of the test.
Provided by the American Heart Association:
What Causes Elevated Blood Pressure?
There are a plethora of causes for high blood pressure or hypertension. Medical practitioners have identified two types of blood pressure: primary hypertension and secondary hypertension.
For many adults, there is no one identifiable cause for primary hypertension, although lifestyle, weight, alcohol, and tobacco consumption does play a part in creating the condition. Primary hypertension gradually develops over years as the body adjusts to an individual’s lifestyle.
Secondary hypertension is a result of an underlying condition such as thyroid abnormality, adrenal gland tumors, and other illness experienced within the body. It may also result from medication, third-trimester pregnancy, or a sudden use of illicit drugs. While the cause varies in this type of high blood pressure, it is marked by a sudden increase in blood pressure.
Age, gender, and genetics can make a person more susceptible to high blood pressure but there is increasing evidence to support that the choices an individual makes throughout their daily life can have a direct effect on their blood pressure.
The overindulgence of alcohol, junk food, and cigarettes coupled with a lack of exercise and rest appears to have a direct impact on blood pressure.
Often, overindulgence happens as a coping mechanism to deal with stress in daily life. Stress response to life’s challenges and traumas also impacts high blood pressure.
In the case of secondary hypertension, underlying illness can impact a person’s blood pressure reading.
It is empowering to know that creating a healthy range of blood pressure lies in the hands of the individual. There are a variety of approaches an individual can take to prevent heart disease that results from high blood pressure. Lowering your blood pressure reading is fully in the scope of possibility by undergoing a few lifestyle changes.
Here are a few changes you can make today to help lower your blood pressure:
- Eat a balanced diet that contains all the nutrients your body needs to function
- Limit alcohol consumption
- Exercise for 30 minutes at least 3 times per week
- Quit smoking tobacco
- Eliminate foods that are high in sodium (salt) from your diet (3)
In addition to these lifestyle adjustments, it is also necessary to find spaces and states of relaxation, improve circulation, oxygenate the hemoglobin, and increase vasodilation (the dilation of blood vessels, which decreases blood pressure). Infrared sauna therapy is an oasis of heart health: It Improves circulation, coaxes the body into states of relaxation, oxygenates the body and increases vasodilation to decrease blood pressure. Additionally, infrared sauna therapy induces heavy perspiration allowing you to sweat your cares away and lower your blood pressure all at the same time.
How Does An Infrared Sauna Interact With The Body?
Infrared saunas capitalize on the potent effect of the infrared light spectrum on the human body to generate a plethora of health benefits, including lowering blood pressure. Biomedical research has discovered that the infrared light spectrum stimulates cellular regeneration and heightens mitochondrial activity, therefore, improving circulation through vasodilation.
As individuals step into the infrared sauna their body is saturated on all sides by the warm hues of invisible light. The infrared spectrum of light is invisible but is experienced kinetically as heat. Infrared light is able to penetrate beyond the initial epidermis to deeply penetrate the soft tissue of the body.
The human body is composed of over 50 trillion cells, each a home to the mitochondria. The mitochondria are sensitive to all light, but particularly to the infrared light spectrum. The energy plant of each individual cell responds by converting the infrared light through ATP into nitric acid that serves to hyper-oxygenate the hemoglobin in the body. Heart rate is elevated as the freshly oxygenated blood cells begin to flow through the body like fluid rivers into areas of inflammation. Improved circulation reduces inflammation, and therefore pain (4).
Understanding the mechanism of the interaction between the infrared light spectrum and the physiological network of the body reveals its impact on blood pressure and its ability to lower blood pressure.
Vasodilation, the dilation of blood cells occurs in response to the penetrative infrared light spectrum through the initial epidermis of the skin, this makes infrared sauna therapy a potent and effective means of decreasing blood pressure (5).
How Does Infrared Sauna Therapy Help To Reduce Blood Pressure And Ultimately Prevent Heart Disease?
The cellular response to exposure to the infrared wavelengths coupled with elevated internal temperatures causes the dilation of blood cells that relieves pressure force on the arteries.
It is not advisable for individuals currently experiencing high blood pressure to expose themselves to the high temperatures of traditional saunas and steam rooms, thereby making most heat therapy modalities inaccessible. Infrared saunas do not rely on high external heat thus making them an ideal oasis for anyone experiencing hypertension.
The healing effects of the infrared sauna are not dependent upon external heat but rather the mere exposure to the light spectrum. Temperatures in the infrared sauna can be set to as low as 100 degrees and still have a powerful impact on the blood vessels in the body. Consider the infrared sauna as a light bath rather than a heated room. Serenading the body in the warm glow of infrared light is a relaxing way to get the full benefits of moderate exercise without the risks (6).
Treatment of high blood pressure relies not only on the reduction of pressure on the arteries but also on a person’s ability to step out of stress response back into states of relaxation where blood pressure can be lowered and stay in a healthy range.
Stress, A Causative Factor In High Blood Pressure: Step Into An Infrared Sauna Regularly And Find States Of Relaxation Where Blood Pressure Can Be Lowered Consistently.
Fundamentally, individuals experiencing high blood pressure need to find a way out of stress response back into states of relaxation where blood pressure will automatically be lowered.
While there are a plethora of causes for high blood pressure, medical professionals now understand that heightened states of stress response, directly and indirectly, affects blood pressure.
In response to everyday stress: From traffic to deadlines, over-work, parenting, lack of sleep, and internal toxins, the body will transfer into survival mechanism (fight or flight also known as sympathetic dominance of the autonomic nervous system). In the short-term, stress response will not cause illness within the body. Long lasting states of stress response will cause illness in the body, including high blood pressure and ultimately heart disease (6).
It is imperative that individuals step out of sympathetic dominance back into a state of rest and relaxation (parasympathetic dominance) where blood pressure can be lowered.
The gentle heat of the infrared sauna invites the body out of stress response back into states of relaxation. A relaxed body demonstrates lower measurable blood pressure.
Regular use of an infrared sauna (3 times per week, for at least 15 minutes) lowers blood pressure in adults with primary hypertension. Infrared sauna therapy use is also known to regulate body weight, a causative factor in high blood pressure, and infrared sauna therapy powerfully detoxifies the body of harmful pollutants.
Infrared Saunas Detoxify The Body Of Toxic Foods High In Saturated Fat: Kick The Junk Food Out Of Your System For Good
Biomedicine can measure the negative impact of fatty foods high in saturated fats on blood pressure. Unfortunately, fast foods are full of additives that are toxic for the body and can cause weight gain that increases stress on the body.
Infrared saunas rely on a heat that warms the body up from the inside out. This radiant infrared heat induces copious sweating that detoxifies the body of harmful pollutants. Toxic chemicals from food cause internal stress response in the body that increases blood pressure. By detoxifying the body through perspiration internal states of homeostasis are found and therefore decrease blood pressure.
Coupled with a healthy diet, infrared sauna will decrease excess weight carried in the body (a causative factor in high blood pressure) and detoxify the body. Infrared sauna therapy is effective in lowering blood pressure by reducing stress and increasing vasodilation. Additionally, regular infrared sauna use improves circulation, decreases excessive weight, and detoxifies the body of harmful chemicals from processed food (7).
Infrared Sauna Therapy: Perhaps A Safe And Effective Method To Lower Blood Pressure
Regular infrared sauna therapy safely and effectively lowers blood pressure to a healthy normal range. The mechanism behind this effective technique is multifold, and not only lowers blood pressure but also addresses many of the causative factors of hypertension.
If you or someone you love lives with high blood pressure and are looking to lower it, consider infrared sauna therapy as a powerful modality. Regular sessions in an infrared sauna will immediately begin to reduce blood pressure through mere exposure to the infrared light spectrum. Cellular response to the rays of infrared light begins within the first few moments of entering the sauna to stimulate improved vasodilation, a necessary process within the circulatory system that reduces blood pressure.
In addition to the immediate impact that the infrared light spectrum has on the cellular and circulatory network to lower blood pressure, it also addresses some of the underlying causes of high blood pressure: Stress, excess weight, and toxins. Infrared saunas are proven to reduce stress, induce weight loss, and gently invite the body out of states of stress back into relaxation.
The radiant heat from an infrared sauna is safe for individuals with high blood pressure as the process relies on the absorption of light rays rather than an extreme elevation in external heat. Infrared saunas require little to no effort on the behalf of the user, are enjoyable, and relaxing while actively lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease.
* Contraindication: Please have your blood pressure checked by a medical professional before using an infrared sauna. If your blood pressure is higher than the ‘normal’ range for blood pressure please consult your healthcare practitioner before using an infrared sauna.