Therapy Spotlight: Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas
While a brief trip to the sauna is pleasurable and relaxing, it’s unlikely that we truly comprehend how much a far-infrared sauna benefits our overall health. We are also likely unaware that genetic remnants of distant ancestors that lived in warmer temperatures of the African savannah may be influencing our tendency to be drawn to the heat of saunas, which produce pain-relieving beta-endorphin levels in the blood after only 30 minutes. A far-infrared sauna heats the body directly without warming the surrounding air. “Far” merely denotes where the infrared waves fall on the light spectrum.
Saunas are appealing generally because they elicit body reactions such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate, similar to responses to moderate exercise. Enjoying these and other more significant medical benefits in the lower temperature of an infrared sauna is appealing to those that can't tolerate conventional sauna heat. For example, chemical changes in the brain occur due to the elimination of stress hormones and the increase of serotonin, a powerful hormone associated with relaxation and sleep.
According to Mayo Clinic Consumer Health Basics, several studies have looked at using infrared saunas in the treatment of chronic health problems. Some evidence of benefits has been found, which is why research continues into studies showing that taking a sauna four or more times a week reduces the risk of death from heart disease by 50 percent, lowers stroke risk by 12 percent , high blood pressure by 47 percent and the risk of dementia by 66 percent .
Infrared saunas promote detoxification. As the heat penetrates deeper into tissues, interacting with light-absorbing molecules in the mitochondria, cells become more robust, supporting overall health. The main job of mitochondria is to take in nutrients from the cell, break them down and turn them into energy to perform cell functions.
The healthy physiological and psychological pleasures of a sauna make a 30-minute heat immersion a great excuse for a quiet rest from a cell phone and harried lifestyle.
Salt Therapy Grotto & Spa, Naples, 3443 Pine Ridge Rd., Ste. 102, Naples. 239-598-0990. SaltTherapyGrotto.com.
Assuage Spa Luxury, 9407 Cypress Lake Dr., Ste. C, Fort Myers; 1201 Piper Blvd., Ste. 1, Naples. 239-333-1450. AssuageCenters.com.
Tree of Light, 806 Neapolitan Way, Naples, 239-692-9367. TreeOfLightCenter.com.