What is infrared?
Infrared light makes up a significant proportion of the radiation we receive from the sun. In fact, 50% of the radiation emitted by the sun lies in the infrared spectrum. We divide the infrared spectrum into two categories: Near Infrared, which lies in the 700 – 810 nm wavelengths, and Far Infrared, which lies in the much longer 3000 – 100,000 nm wavelengths. Near infrared is closer to the visible spectrum and even bleeds into the visible light spectrum. Therefore, we can perceive with our eyes near infrared radiation as the color red. Far infrared is further from the visible light spectrum, closer to microwaves, therefore we can only detect it as heat or warmth. Unlike other forms of radiation (like ultraviolet or X-rays), Infrared is non-ionizing, so does not harm DNA or other important cellular components. In today’s modern environment, lack of exposure to natural sunlight can starve people of these important frequencies of light – frequencies our bodies have evolved along with since the dawn of life.
How does infrared light affect our cells?
- Heating – IR light heats areas of the body, similar to what a hot compress and heating pads can achieve. This causes vasodilation and brings blood, nutrients, and immune cells to surface tissues.
- Structures water – According to Gerald Pollack, PhD, light is the critical factor that organizes water molecules in a way that allows biochemical reactions to take place.
- Improves enzyme activity – Infrared light is able to change the shape of enzymes and other biological compounds, which can have an activating affect, stimulating their activity in cells.
- Improves mitochondrial function – The mitochondria utilize various enzymes and proteins to produce energy for our cells, infrared light (whether by structuring the water or activating enzymes), has been shown to improve function of the mitochondria.
Benefits of infrared lamps
Emit NIR and FIR (visible), perceived as both heat and light (https://bengreenfieldlife.com/article/brain-articles/red-and-infrared-light/)
- Improved skin health and appearance
- Relief from mood disorders
Benefits of infrared saunas
Emit FIR (not visible), perceived as heat/warmth (https://www.foundmyfitness.com/topics/sauna)
*Note: These benefits are those that have been studied in the use of dry saunas at 174°F for 30 minutes sessions 3-4 times per week. Most IR saunas do not go above 150°F, so take these benefits with a small grain of salt (in your water).
- Improved cardiovascular health (vasodilation)
- Lowers vascular stiffness
- Reduces risk of neurodegenerative diseases
- Improves focus, attention, and mental processing speed
- Increases in brain derived neurotropic factor BDNF, leads to generation of nervous tissue in the central and peripheral nervous systems
- Boosts levels of norepinephrine, endogenous opioids (relieves pain)
- Stimulates growth hormone
- Assists in muscle hypertrophy
- Improves insulin sensitivity
- Lowers fasting blood glucose in diabetics
- Increased Endurance/sports performance
- Improves oxygen and CO2 exchange in the lungs
- Helps eliminate heavy metals, BPA, PCBs, and phthalates through increased urine output and speeding up kidney function
- Decreases markers of inflammation post sauna session
- Reduces sperm count and motility
- Contraindicated for pregnant women and children
- Contraindicated while under the influence of alcohol or certain drugs
- Important to replenish electrolytes lost from sweat, either add salt to water, your favorite electrolyte mix, or drink coconut water
Conditions Infrared Light May Benefit
Sunlighten Infrared Sauna at the Ozark Holistic Health Center
We are now offering sauna sessions to clients seeking the benefits of infrared sauna. The Sunlighten sauna has several preset settings that focus on targeting specific benefits of sauna. The sauna would be a perfect adjunct to any of the other offerings here at OHC.
- Cardiovascular Benefits (Near, Mid, and Far for 45 min)
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. In order to truly optimize your health, you must take care of your heart. It is literally the core of our well being. Everyone knows that one of the best ways to improve heart health is to get regular exercise, but getting the exercise can be difficult for many different reasons and lifestyle limitations. Thankfully, using an infrared sauna provides a real solution to getting your heart working without demanding physical strain. Multiple studies have shown that sauna has a similar benefit to cardiovascular markers as does the equivalent duration of moderate exercise! So sit back and relax while your heart gets pumping. Your body will thank you.
- Improves circulation (which speeds recovery and nutrient delivery to tissues)
- Causes vasodilation – widening of the blood vessels
Lowers blood pressure
Lowers vascular stiffness
- Improves blood sugar regulation
Infrared Saunas acutely increases heart rate, meaning it acts as a passive form of cardiovascular exercise. Sauna bathing is equivalent to a moderate physical exercise load of about 60-100 watts.
Wearing a CGM in the sauna, you will see a large spike in blood glucose due to increased glycolysis and dehydration, but after the sauna session the body will be able to regulate fasting blood sugar much more effectively and will help maintain a lower baseline blood glucose level.
- Detoxification (Mid and Far infrared for 37 min)
Our chemically filled modern world (350,000 worldwide) makes it imperative we consider how to detoxify our bodies. Whether you have chronic issues or just want to optimize your health, enhancing your body’s detoxification pathways is key. Which leads to the question: do our bodies sweat merely for temperature regulation, or dies it also use sweat as an outlet for toxins? Our bodies have several detoxification pathways, including the liver, kidneys, colon, lungs, and the skin. Research has confirmed that toxic elements were found in all three bodily fluids (blood, urine, and sweat). However, they did note that many toxic elements appear to excrete more through the sweat than the blood or urine. These include cadmium, nickel, lead, bismuth, aluminum, mercury, and arsenic. Another problematic compound that were found in sweat was Bisphenol A (BPA). BPA is a known hormone disruptor that is found commonly polycarbonate in consumer plastics like water bottles and can linings.
Not only does sauna release toxins through sweat, but the act of heating the body also enhances and speeds up liver and kidney functioning. The faster those two organs do their jobs, the more toxins they can process and eliminate.
The Detoxification setting on the Sunlighten sauna starts at a high intensity to increase the body’s core temperate, then reduces to a lower intensity level. Mid and far infrared combination improves vascular access flow to reach toxins at the cellular level.
- Pain Relief (near, mid, and far infrared for 30 min)
A far and mid infrared blend provides natural pain relief by reducing inflammation and swelling while near infrared penetrates the tissue promoting cellular repair at a medium, constant intensity level
- Relaxation (near, mid, and far infrared for 40 min)
Far, mid, and near infrared combination induces deep relations as it relieves muscle tensions at a low, comfortable intensity, promoting overall stress reduction.
Preliminary research suggests that infrared therapy may improve the amount of quality sleep. The “exercise mimetic” effects of infrared sauna may be primary mechanism. “Infrared radiation can increase blood flow and oxygen metabolism in the muscles and the skin and could trigger a biochemical cascade resulting in improved sleep.
- Weight Loss (mid and far infrared for 30 min)
Starts at a high intensity to stimulate the cardiovascular system, then reduces to a medium level. As the body works to cool itself, there is an increase in heart rate, cardiac output, and metabolic rate, similar to aerobic exercise.
Infrared sauna will cause acute weight loss, as the body loses water through sweat, perspiration, and increased urine output. However, regular sauna use can be an effective tool for long term weight maintenance and weight loss due to its stress-reduction effects. When in the stressed state, the body releases hormones, such as cortisol, to prepare the body to deal with the stressful situation, be it physical, mental or emotional stress. This state, also associated with sympathetic nervous system activation, lowers pathways that makes cells sensitive to insulin and also lowers enzymatic activity in regards to digestion and food consumption. Therefore, the stressed state is associate with increased insulin resistance, and greater likelihood of storing excess energy into fat tissue. In addition, sauna helps to promote the flow of lymph fluid, which improves immune function, lower inflammation, and improve the body’s ability to assimilate and utilize energy from food instead of storing it away in fat tissue.
- Anti-Aging (near, mid, and far infrared for 30 min)
A low, constant intensity level penetrates tissue to help with various skin concerns. Near infrared improves overall skin tone, elasticity, and firmness, promoting anti-aging benefits.
Aging is an inevitable part of life we all have to accept. However, we have more control over how well and how slowly we age than we may believe. Healthy aging is possible, and a lot of that depends on your mindset, and your choices. More and more research supports the idea that we can have more influence on the quality of our lives as we grow older, empowering us with information to make choices that can make a difference in our well-being and longevity.
Dr. David Perlmutter, a board-certified neurologist, has done extensive study of the brain and aging, and recommends strengthening four basic functions to revitalize the immune system to support healthy aging.
- Be intentional with what and when you eat, eating high quality whole foods and leaving some time for intermittent fasting
- Get Quality sleep – good sleep balances the immune system and can bring down inflammation. Well rested brains can engage the prefrontal cortex, where complex information is processed, and move activity away from the amygdala where the emotional response is regulated
- Exercise – he recommends at least 20 minutes of activity a day where you work hard enough to get your heart rate up to a level 180 – your age.
- Practice a sense of awe – a broad recommendation that encompasses many aspects of an enjoyable and connected life, art appreciate, time in nature, and a regular spiritual or meditate practice
Some Common Myths about Infrared Saunas that are not true:
- “All infrared saunas are the same”
- “If you’re not sweating, it’s not working”
- “Traditional saunas are better than infrared saunas”
- “Infrared saunas have high EMF”
Massage, Sauna, and the Lymphatic System
One of the primary benefits of massage is improved lymphatic flow and lymphatic drainage. Toxins… Whether we are breathing them in, consuming them, or absorbing them through products and substances on our skin. We are exposed to at least 129 different chemical toxins on a daily basis. Professions at higher risk of exposure include cosmetology, health care, agriculture, and manufacturing. The chemicals and heavy metals that these professions are exposed to can result in a variety of adverse effects on the body. These chemicals can negatively impact the hormonal systems in the body, can cause fatigue, immune disturbances, migraines, and prolonged exposure can result in cancers, heart problems, and other concerns according to the Cleveland Clinic.
The lymphatic system plays an important role in our body’s detoxification system. Lymph vessels trace the same path as blood vessels, with a few clusters of lymph nodes along the way, primarily in the neck, underarms, rib cage, and joints. The role of the lymphatic system is to carry lymph fluid where lymphocytes and macrophages are produced with the mission of destroying invading toxins and pathogens and returning waste to the bloodstream, and eventually the liver, where it can then be eliminated by the digestive and urinary tract. The lymphatic system also acts as an aid to the circulatory system, maintaining proper fluid volume.
Massage of the lymphatic system can aid in the balance of fluid, relieve fluid retention, and also aid in digestion and the helping eliminate toxins through the excretory organs. Lymphatic massage is characterized by light soft strokes along the dense areas of lymph vessels and lymph nodes, with strokes moving towards the heart. In addition, a standard Swedish massage or Deep tissue massage will also function the same way on the lymphatic system.
Massage and infrared sauna are a powerful combination for detoxification and reestablishing healthy fluid balance. The massage can help break up and release toxins and metabolic byproducts from the tissues and muscles, and then the infrared sauna can help speed up the elimination of the byproducts and toxins through the skin and other excretory pathways. It’s important to drink plenty of water following a massage and/or infrared sauna session, to replenish the bodies fluids, and adding additional sodium and electrolytes can help replenish the body’s mineral balance with excessive sweating.