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Are There Any Health Benefits to Infrared Saunas? We Examine The Pattern

More people have been working out in infrared saunas lately rather than hot yoga or spin classes. Infrared saunas, also known as far-infrared saunas, or FIRS, use light to heat users directly. This produces a deeply penetrating heat at a temperature that is more comfortable for sauna goers than traditional saunas, which use wood stoves or heaters to warm the air to high temperatures (think: 185 degrees F). Better skin! This is partly due to the numerous articles and celebrity endorsements that promote the infrared sauna and its alleged advantages. enhanced blood flow! Reduced inflammation: thanks to the development of infrared sauna blankets, this once-niche trend is starting to gain traction.

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Putting the hype aside, what health benefits might infrared saunas truly offer? According to some of that early studies, infrared saunas may offer the following four advantages:

1. Pain alleviation.

One encouraging discovery is that certain individuals may find pain relief using infrared saunas.

In a modest 2009 trial, eight infrared sauna sessions were performed over the course of four weeks by 17 patients with rheumatoid arthritis and 17 individuals with ankylosing spondylitis, an inflammatory illness that can damage the spine. The patients’ pain and stiffness significantly lessened during these sessions, according to the results. Additionally, the patients saw clinical improvements in pain, stiffness, and exhaustion across the four-week experiment (although these gains fell short of statistical significance).

Furthermore encouraging is the fact that the infrared sauna sessions had no negative consequences on the patients’ conditions, according to the research. The results of this study indicate that infrared saunas may be a viable therapeutic option for those suffering with inflammatory arthritis. However, the authors caution that people should see their physician before utilizing infrared saunas for treatment, and that larger-scale research is undoubtedly needed on this issue.

2. Recovery after activity.

The deeply penetrating heat of a FIRS set at mild temperatures and light humidity is “favorable for the neuromuscular system to recover from maximal endurance performance,” according to the findings of a relatively modest 2015 research involving 10 healthy, physically active males. Translation: Among other things, athletes and other physically active people can utilize infrared saunas as a post-workout recuperation therapy. Furthermore emphasized by the writers is the “comfortable and relaxing” sensation that FIRS offer.

3. Advantages for the heart.

Infrared sauna sessions were linked to a short-term improvement in heart performance for individuals with heart failure, according to a 2018 meta-analysis of seven research. The authors point out that further research is required to determine the long-term impact of conventional saunas and infrared saunas on heart health in people suffering from heart failure or other heart-related conditions.

4. Skin conditions.

There’s still a lot of confusion about infrared saunas and skin health. According to Jeremy Fenton, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist, medical director of Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC, and clinical lecturer at Mt. Sinai Hospital, “my personal conclusion is that the effect of infrared on the skin is mixed.” “There is evidence that suggests it has advantages, and there is also evidence that suggests it harms the skin.”

Infrared sauna types.

When deciding whether or not to go on the infrared sauna bandwagon, keep the following point in mind: According to Brent A. Bauer, M.D., research director of the Mayo Clinic Integrative Medicine Program, not all infrared saunas are created equal. He notes that “different saunas may have different outputs of infrared energy” and that, for the time being, it’s probably best to abide by the usage instructions provided by the sauna’s manufacturer.

He adds, “A few consumer organizations have expressed concerns regarding exposure to Electromagnetic Fields (EMF) from infrared saunas.” It is still up for dispute whether this is clinically meaningful or not. If you want to buy or use a sauna for an extended period of time, you might want to take this into mind as some manufacturers use low electromagnetic field technology.

The final result.

While the complete impact of infrared on the skin is largely unclear, limited research shows that infrared saunas may offer a wide range of advantages, from enhanced heart health to pain reduction to post-exercise recuperation.

“We need much larger clinical trials, done over much longer periods of time, to really understand the risks and benefits,” Bauer says. “We have some very intriguing, short-term, small trials that seem to suggest some possible benefit.” Although the few peer-reviewed studies that have been conducted to far have not found any significant negative effects, he continues, saying that there is currently insufficient medical data to advise anybody to use infrared saunas.