What are the benefits of sauna?

Feb 09, 2023

Sauna's benefits are touted far and wide in the alternative and natural medicine space, and have been for centuries; but in Western culture, we tend to overlook these powerful healing modalities in favor of fancier, more expensive gadgets and drugs that are backed by billion dollar marketing campaigns. I'm here to bring us back to the basics. 

When it comes to promoting health, the right sauna can expedite healing dramatically, and the wrong sauna might actually make things worse. Today we’ll discuss some of the benefits of the various types of saunas and compare traditional dry and steam saunas to the newer infrared saunas to help you make the best choice for your health goals. 

The key benefits of sauna are many: relaxation and stress relief, reduced muscle tension, improved mood, increased drainage via sweating, and increased detox via cellular activation. The lesser known benefits include increased circulation, lymphatic drainage, donation of negative electrons and improved skin health.


Sweating is likely the most widely understood benefit and can be enjoyed with all types of sauna. When we sweat, toxins are flushed out of the body through the skin, taking pressure off the liver and kidneys to process and eliminate these toxins. The combination of heat and/or infrared light heats up the body, increasing circulation and promoting channels in the skin to open, allowing sweat to cool the body. It is said that 20 mins in a sauna is the equivalent of a 60 min cardio session at the gym, so if you’re new to sauna, take it slow and listen to your body. 


The two main types of sauna available today are traditional dry/steam saunas and infrared saunas. Infrared saunas use near or far-infrared light to produce heat and warm the body directly at the cellular level, whereas dry/steam saunas use electric coils, hot rocks or boiling water to heat the air, passively increasing your body temperature. Both types of saunas have some unique benefits to consider (beyond those already mentioned.)


Infrared saunas penetrate deeper into the body which can encourage removal of harmful chemicals from fat cells, promoting weight loss and stimulating greater immune responses. A study published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics found that regular use of an infrared sauna can help to increase metabolism and burn calories, leading to weight loss over time. 


Because infrared saunas are dry, they can be more accessible for people with respiratory problems, as they don't generate the same amount of humidity and heat as steam saunas (this also means they come with less risk of mold infestation which is important to consider especially if you are using a sauna to detox mold or live in an already humid environment!). 


Additionally, infrared saunas can be more effective in relieving joint pain, as the heat and red light penetrate deep into the tissues to reduce inflammation. The way I see it, infrared sauna is to cells, as the sun is to all life on planet earth.


When it comes to infrared saunas, there are two main types: near-infrared and far-infrared. Far infrared saunas are more commonly used and are known for their deep heat penetration, which can be particularly beneficial for joint pain and inflammation. Far infrared saunas are also more affordable and easier to find than near infrared saunas.


On the other hand, near infrared saunas may be less well known, but they can penetrate even deeper into the body, promoting cell regeneration and deep healing, making them well worth considering.


Dry and steam saunas are more traditional and flaunt a more immersive experience. The high humidity of a steam sauna can be particularly beneficial for people with skin conditions, as it can help to hydrate the skin and reduce dryness. Some people find traditional saunas more relaxing and therefore better at improving sleep quality, as the passive heat and humidity can help to calm the mind and soothe the body. Time spent in a traditional sauna tends to be slightly longer than infrared saunas simply due to the passive nature of the heat.


Finally, if the traditional sauna you choose uses only hot rocks to heat the air it eliminates the risk of emf exposure, which can definitely be a concern in electrically powered saunas of any sort. Unfortunately, these types of saunas require hours of preparation time to heat the rocks and warm the space sufficiently, making them unrealistic for most people. 


Now that you are armed with all the scientific details, you may be wondering where to find these various types of saunas. I’ve spent hours researching sauna therapy for my home and office and have landed on a few winners to consider. 


First up, Sauna Space is my favorite near-infrared sauna for 2 reasons, 1) the Tungsten panel can instantly turn any small space (like a closet or shower) into a home sauna and 2) the Faraday sauna blocks out all EMFs ensuring your sauna experience is maximized for healing. Use code DRTERRA5 to take 5% your purchase. 


Second, I love Higher Dose for both their super-convenient far-infrared sauna blankets (that you can take with you on vacation or use in even the tiniest of homes) and for their full spectrum (near and far-infrared), full-size sauna units

And finally, I love this pod sauna from Synergy Science for its space saving design, low EMF output, full spectrum lights (near and far-infrared) and affordable price tag.


At Earth Naturopathic, our goal is to empower you to take control of your healthcare by building a foundation of wellness.


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