I want to start this post with a little story of the first time that I fell in love with a sauna.
Growing up, my parents had a sauna that my Dad built. It was in a small building alongside our house. We did not use it very often, but us kids liked to play in there. It was like our little fort. I loved the smell of the wood and there were little bottles of essential oils on a shelf in there that we would take turns smelling, like they were magic potions!
When we did use the sauna, we would sit in there until we were really sweaty and then we would run a lap around the house in the freezing snow. It was exhilarating!
Fast forward to present day and I still think of a sauna as a magical retreat — and I still have my bottles of magic potions (essential oils) in there too. But for now, I have traded in the lap around the house for a cold shower.
Because doing this will close your pores back up, pull the blood back to your core organs, and reinforce your natural defenses. One of the best health benefits of using a sauna is increased blood circulation, and a cold shower will help preserve that effect!
That, my friends, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the health improvements you can experience from owning your own personal sauna!
Saunas come in many different shapes and sizes, and they are not all created equal! If you want to get the true therapeutic benefits from a sauna, then you will want to opt for infrared saunas!
First, let’s talk about the different types of saunas, just to be clear. The sauna that I use in my home is not the same as the sauna that you will find at your local gym. Here is the difference, and why it’s important.
Traditional Saunas consist of a small room or space that is heated with a heater that sits in one corner. You know, the box with the rocks. The heater is powered by electricity, gas, wood or other fuel. This type of sauna uses a lot of electricity or gas, and must be very hot to work properly. Typically temperatures upwards of 180°F.
Far Infrared Saunas use metallic, ceramic or black carbon elements for heating that mainly emit in the far infrared range. The electric heating elements are spread around the sauna space. It is the infrared waves that give you the health benefits, not just the heating of your body. Note: many people disclaim these saunas, saying they emit huge amounts of EMF’s. This is not true, if you find the right kind. I will go into that in detail below….so stay with me. See graphic below, it’s less EMF than your microwave!
Infrared waves penetrate the skin and go deeper into the tissues of your body than do the traditional saunas that just simply heat you up. The reason why this is beneficial is because it promotes a higher level of blood circulation, especially to vital organs. Why is blood circulation important? It delivers what your body needs to rebuild and repair directly to the site! This means a speedy recovery and enhanced immune function!
Now there also is one more kind of sauna which uses heat lamps that you directly aim at specific regions of your body. These are called “near infrared” saunas. Another great sauna to use for natural healing and prevention! But, today I am only going to be talking about far infrared sauna health benefits because that is what I personally own and use. However, I do plan to eventually “hack” my sauna and add in some near infrared bulbs for even more targeted benefits. I just haven’t gotten around to that yet. I need to do more research.
Infrared Sauna Health Benefits
I want to go into even more detail about the benefits of regular use of an infrared sauna. It goes beyond just improved blood circulation!
- Skin Health: increased stimulation of blood flow improves skin tone and elasticity! Plus, the sweating removes debris and cleans out your pores! Studies have shown that it may even benefit patients with psoriasis. The skin is the largest organ of the body and a major eliminative channel, we need to keep our skin healthy so it can, in turn, do it’s job to keep us healthy!
- Faster Wound Healing (and less scarring): the increased blood flow expedites healing because it helps the body’s immune system deliver the tools it needs to heal, directly to the source and much more efficiently! It also promotes faster cell regeneration and human tissue growth
- Faster Recovery Time: jumping into a sauna after a strenuous workout helps with relaxing tight muscles and easing minor aches and pains. The increased circulation shuttles blood to the muscles to help in repair and recovery
- Improves Circulation and Cellular Health: sauna use acts like a passive cardiovascular workout. Regular infrared sauna use has been shown to significantly stimulate blood flow, even after your sauna session is completed. For those who cannot exercise, saunas might be a great way to experience cardiovascular benefits. Increased circulation also helps to fully oxygenate the body’s cells. Better blood circulation means more toxins flow from the cellular level to the skin’s surface to be excreted via sweating
- Improved Cardiovascular Health: outside of the above mentioned circulatory benefits, studies suggest that saunas also lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve the left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic congestive heart failure. One study found that sauna therapy improved the cardiac index, mean pulmonary wedge pressure, systemic and pulmonary vascular resistance, and cardiac function. Wish I could install one on the cardiac floors that I circulate at the hospital!
- Improved Respiratory Function: the transient improvements in pulmonary function that occur in the sauna may provide some relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis
- Pain Relief: infrared heat penetrates tissue, joints, and muscles to relieve anything from minor aches and pains to chronic pain. Pain management professionals incorporate infrared heat therapy into treatment plans to decrease pain and muscle spasms and to speed up recovery time
- Relaxation: aside from the sheer bliss of sitting alone in a warm, quiet room (I have small children!), saunas quiet your sympathetic immune system, aka “fight or flight”. It enables the body to relax, heal and regenerate itself much faster, causing recovery from many types of ailments
- Immune Support: one study concluded that regular sauna use probably reduces the incidence of common colds. You can call this: fever therapy (hyperthermia). Raising body temperature assists the body to kill bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses. Many people have a low body temperature and, for this reason, cannot get rid of chronic infections. Common sites of infections are the sinuses, ears, eyes, bladder, throat and intestines. Our body produces a fever for a reason, so a sauna is just like mimicking that intrinsic defense mechanism
- Cancer: hyperthermia also helps kill off abnormal cells. Tumors, for example, tolerate heat poorly. Raising body temperature hastens their death. Though not a conventional method, hyperthermia is a well-researched therapy for cancer. Heat also disables or kills cells mutated by radiation or damaged by other toxins. This is not to be taken as a “cure” for cancer, but definitely something worth looking into with the assistance of your primary medical practitioner!
- Breastfeeding: (one fun bonus effect) increased breastmilk production. I personally experienced this when I use my sauna, so I looked it up and sure enough, saunas increase prolactin production
- Last but definitely not least: DETOXIFICATION: many people tend to think of detoxifying as something to do once a year, yet our cells constantly detoxify. We need to help our body detoxify on a daily basis, not just seasonally! Medical studies demonstrate that most toxins can be eliminated through the skin, relieving the burden on the kidneys and liver. Researchers have long told us how the body sweats out toxic substances, including heavy metals — in the sauna your body recognizes a chance to dump toxins straight out of your body through the skin, and it does so. By raising the body’s core temperature, infrared saunas can produce a sweat composed of 20% toxins versus only 3% toxins with a traditional sauna. You get a deep, detoxifying sweat that penetrates and releases toxins at the cellular level. Just make sure you stay properly hydrated!
Why do we need to detox? Here are some stats:
- Over four million man-made chemical compounds have been identified since 1965
- More than 70,000 compounds are in current production, with 6,000 new compounds identified each week
- In addition, at least 3,000 man-made chemicals are added to food
- The average American woman uses 12 health and beauty products every morning before leaving the house. Each of those 12 products contains numerous ingredients! Plus, the brands women rely on to look their best may be hiding harsh chemicals that have been linked to cancer, organ failure, and birth defects.
- Added to this are illicit drugs, over-the-counter pharmaceuticals and prescription medicine
- The moral of the story: we live in a majorly toxic world, and unless you live in the middle of a rainforest, never use personal care products, have zero stress and drink from a mountain spring, you can benefit from regular, gentle detoxification!
Now let’s go over the quality of sauna that you need. There is more than meets the eye, and you can go seriously wrong with your sauna purchase if you are not careful!
Sourcing the right sauna:
You want to make sure that the wood used is not off-gassing any toxic chemicals (like from cheaper saunas that you might find on Amazon!). You also want to keep in mind when constructing a sauna, non-toxic glues and varnishes, stains, preserves, or sealers should not be used. Again, these can off-gas toxic chemicals.
Never consider a far infrared sauna that uses synthetics in its construction: so called non-toxic glues, fiberglass, plexiglass, plastics, plywood, putty, stains, coated nails or staples, or other potentially harmful products. All infrared saunas use wood glues. The sauna we chose to purchase uses an expensive glue named “Titebond” which in some industries is considered a pastry chef glue.
Make sure oils, stains, or laminates were not used to finish the sauna wood either. Some modular sauna manufactures laminate tongue and groove boards to backer boards or to inner support wood using “non-toxic” adhesives.
Why sit in a sauna to detox when you will just be absorbing toxic chemicals from your sauna. Do your homework, I did!
We decided to purchase our sauna from Healthmate for a number of reasons:
- They source the highest quality and cleanest wood to build their saunas.With each step along the process adhering to strict certifications, every detail is examined, considered, and followed with wellness for all; creating a 100% green product. Plus their production is sustainable! Non-treated wood and no toxins in manufacturing.
- They made sure their sauna is low EMF (I told you I would come back to this): Third Party Testing tried multiple heaters in various locations within a sauna. At merely 2 inches away from the heaters, all measurements fall below the standard for safe, consistent use.
- Their saunas offer Chromotherapy: Chromotherapy, or Color Light Therapy, is the use of colored lights to stimulate the senses, the body, and the mind. The spectrum of color usage is endless, with its ability to elevate moods, produce soothing mindsets, stimulate cell regeneration, and help in healing. This is a favorite feature of mine. My kids also like to choose which color they get!
- They have multiple certifications for providing the highest industry-standard quality. It really shows! Our sauna is not only beautiful, but it is so well built! Plus, they are made by the ONLY US owned manufacturer!
- The DISCOUNTED price! A sauna of this caliber can also carry a hefty price tag. We went back and forth on the price issue, and saved and saved, expecting to spend around $6,000 – $10,000. A pretty big deal! After chatting quite a while with Joe from Healthmate, he offered me a discounted rate. We ordered one that night. He also agreed (after I begged quite a bit) to offer these reduced prices to YOU too! Everyone deserved to have a sauna, everyone should have a sauna!
- Energy Efficient: it only costs $1.50 per month for regular use! Yes, you read that right!
- The sauna was so easy to set up! It literally snaps together. My husband and I were able to unbox, setup, and be sitting in our fancy new sauna within 20 minutes of its delivery!!! Don’t let the ease of assembly make you nervous, it is a solid structure. I have three kids who thought it was a new fort. Don’t worry, they can’t reach the controls and now know that it is off limits. But, it’s reassuring that it can hold up to a veritable child-tsunami! Check out how easy it is…
Sauna arrives all wrapped up
Opened the box, very excited!!!
Carrying up the stairs
Watch out for the random highchair!
Always follow instructions!
Trapped into taking a photo. I could not let go!
All set up and ready to use. Outside light works great too!
Health changes we have personally noticed:
- Better skin, less blemishes
- Better and deeper sleep
- Increased relaxation (again, we have THREE KIDS!)
- Forced reading time. This means that because I cannot carry my devices into a heated box, I have to sit quietly and read (twist my arm!). Check out my Instagram post below, sheer bliss! Oh, and you simply HAVE to read this book!
- Total sensory experience: music/meditation/chromotherapy/essential oils. Yes, there is a radio/CD player inside our sauna. I have relaxation CD’s in there on repeat. I also use my essential oils in my sauna to enhance the experience!
- Detoxification: we do regular detoxification with our naturopath, and sauna therapy is a cornerstone therapy in the efficacy of her protocols!
- Increased sweating: the more you use the sauna, the more effectively you sweat. When I first started using it I would not break a sweat for 20 minutes, now I am already sweating 5 minutes into my session!
- ALWAYS consult with your primary care provider before embarking on any sort of healing or detoxifying journey! This post is meant to be informational in nature only, not to be taken as direct medical advice.
- No one should undertake lengthy sweating sessions for intensive traditional sauna detoxification or infrared sauna detoxification without following a tested protocol. Contraindications to sauna bathing include unstable angina pectoris, recent myocardial infarction, and severe aortic stenosis. Alcohol consumption during sauna bathing increases the risk of hypotension, arrhythmia, and sudden death, and should be avoided.
- Caution with pregnancy: One potential area of concern is sauna use in early pregnancy because of evidence suggesting that hyperthermia might be teratogenic. Sauna bathing does not influence fertility and is safe during the uncomplicated pregnancies of healthy women. (see references below)
So head on over to the Healthmate website and pick out the sauna that would best fit your needs right now! We personally have the Enrich Mate II. It fits well in our house and we bought some accessories to make it our own personal slice of heaven: a CD player, towel rack, aromatherapy attachment (Aroma Mate), floormate, and a backrest. They have a lot of different accessories so you can personalize your sauna to meet your needs. You can even hop on the phone with them to have some help putting together the perfect package for you and your family! Go get yours today and you can be sitting in it by this time next week!
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