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Can Infrared Saunas Help Fight Heart Disease?

man and woman seated in infrared sauna

 Infrared saunas are growing in popularity, with many health-minded consumers investing in an infrared sauna for their home or backyard. A number of celebrities, including Jennifer Aniston and Gwyneth Paltrow, are reported to be using infrared saunas regularly, as part of their health regimen. As a holistic cardiology practice in Los Angeles, the birthplace of many of the latest health-related trends, we are often asked by patients about the benefits of using infrared saunas, particularly when it comes to heart health.

What is an infrared sauna?

An infrared sauna is a type of sauna that uses a special kind of light to create heat. This is different from traditional saunas which use steam to create heat. Because of this difference, infrared saunas function at a lower temperature than a regular sauna, making it accessible for people who are not able to tolerate the heat of a steam sauna.  Far-infrared saunas use infrared waves that fall “far” on the light spectrum. Far infrared is the closest wavelength that matches the heat given off from your body. A Sauna heated to 9.4 micron range can cause the cells in your body to vibrate and increase the rate of your body in getting rid of its toxins.

What are the benefits of an infrared sauna?

Far infrared saunas activate your sweat glands which allows the skin to eliminate toxins and chemicals. This is beneficial to your body because it aids the liver in the amount of fat soluble compounds it has to break down. Ultimately, this means the liver has less work to do and is allowed to function better and more efficiently. Removing toxins from the skin is just one of the many benefits an infrared sauna provides. Others include:

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Lowered Blood Pressure

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Immune System Boost

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Headache and Stress Relief

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Lowered Risk of Heart Disease

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Reduction of Chronic Pain

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Weight Loss and increased Metabolism

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Improved Sleep

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Improved Appearance of Cellulite

Where can you find an infrared sauna?

Infrared saunas are becoming fairly popular now that research has been able to scientifically prove their benefits. As a result, they are popping up in many locations. Infrared saunas can be found at certain spas, sauna rooms, Medical spas, massage therapy centers, and Wellness centers. If you are going to an Infrared sauna in an attempt to remedy certain medical conditions it is recommended that you go to a location with a trained physician onsite in case of emergency.  At-home infrared saunas are also available; you can easily install one in your home, backyard, or wherever you have space. The price ranges from $1,200 to $10,000, and there is a plethora of features and options to choose from. Some infrared saunas even come with a built-in TV, among other high-tech features.

 Is an infrared sauna good for your heart?

The short answer is yes! The heat emitted from an infrared sauna slowly reduces inflammation  and improves blood circulation. This is beneficial because these are all factors for fighting against heart disease. Studies have documented the effectiveness of sauna therapy on patients with hypertension, congestive heart failure, and post-myocardial infarction care. Sauna therapy increases vasodilation by the production of nitric oxide, as well as improves the rate of  left ventricular ejection from the heart. Patients have found improvement of their congestive heart failure symptoms by taking infrared sauna sessions 3-5 times a week. This type of sauna can also dramatically improve systolic blood pressure just after a 15-30 min session.

How often should I use an infrared sauna?

You can use an infrared sauna as often as twice a week starting with 10-15 minutes at a time.  Work up to 30-40 minutes at a time slowly.

Can I bring my phone into the sauna?

While it may be tempting to catch up on your emails or social media feed while taking a sauna, it’s best to leave your phone outside. Most electronics don’t do well with prolonged heat exposure. Perhaps bring a magazine or a paperback instead?

How do I stay hydrated?

Saunas cause sweating. To ensure you stay hydrated, drink plenty of water before a session to help you sweat out the toxins. Be sure to also drink water after, to replenish the water that you have lost through sweating. To reduce the risk of dehydration further, avoid drinking alcoholic beverages in the sauna.

Should I take a shower after using an infrared sauna?

After your session, you may wish to take a warm shower to wash off the toxins that are now on the outside of your skin. Many find that a cool shower rinse after a warm shower is invigorating.

What are the risks?

As with all treatments or wellness practices, consult with your doctor first.  There are not many risks when it comes to infrared saunas. But if you are a man who is looking to start a family, avoid using any type of sauna as the heat can decrease sperm motility, making it harder to conceive. Also individuals with low blood pressure should discuss the use of the sauna with their doctor, due to the fact that saunas promote vasodilation and therefore lowers blood pressure. The heat and sweat can also increase heart rate so if you have a severe heart condition make sure to notify your doctor and discuss the safety of using a sauna for your particular situation and health goals.

Holistic Cardiology and Functional Medicine

Often described as one of the best Los Angeles heart specialists, Harvard-trained Dr. Cynthia Thaik is a holistic cardiologist and functional medicine doctor who listens to her patients, asking questions about your lifestyle, environmental exposures, and genetic influences that may cause poor health. She takes into account every risk factor including cholesterol levels, genetic risk for heart disease, and even past heart failure.

About the author

Dr. Cynthia Thaik, M.D., FACC is a Harvard-trained cardiologist serving the greater Los Angeles community at her holistic health center in Burbank and Valencia, CA. Dr. Thaik is the author of Your Vibrant Heart: Restoring Health, Strength, and Spirit from the Body’s Core. To learn more about Dr. Thaik or the Holistic Healing Heart Center, or to schedule an appointment, please contact info@drcynthia.com or call (818) 842-1410.

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