The Top 5 Reasons You Should Use an Infrared Sauna

Every winter I make my way to the sauna and I would go everyday if my schedule allowed!  For me, it started with the desire to be warm to the core and sweat during a season where it didn’t matter how many layers I worked out in, there was not a bead of sweat.  While the sauna certainly helped me warm up, and allowed me to sweat, I started to realize there was more to it than that.  There is valid research on the health benefits of the sauna, thermogenesis, activation of heat shock proteins, etc, but I just want to keep this simple.  After all, if you’ve never been to an infrared sauna, you are problem wondering whether it’s worth the time and effort.  I’m here to tell you that if I had one therapy in my office that wasn’t delivered by a person, an infrared sauna would be it.

Here we go…

  1. Detoxification– Sweating is one of the body’s ways to detoxify through the largest organ: the skin.  When I am working with patients that have chronic diseases, there is always a need to provide detoxification support. Heavy metals, pesticides, endocrine disruptors…they can all keep you from healing.  Sweat it out!
  2. Cardiovascular health– Cardiovascular events kill more people than any other disease.  It’s a real thing. Just like exercise gets your blood pumping, so does heat.  That means you get some of the same exact cardiovascular benefits from using an infrared sauna as you do hitting the gym!  That also means it’s a great way to continue “training” when you have an injury that keeps you from pushing your limits.  It has been shown to dramatically reduce the incidence of cardiovascular events in men due to having positive effects on blood pressure and vessel pliability.  The more the men used the sauna, the greater they reduced their risk in a Finnish study that has been following people over the course of a lifetime to study impacts of sauna use.  They aren’t quite sure yet, but it appears that 20 minutes or more is the magic threshold.
  3. Energy-It’s no surprise that getting your blood pumping to tissues like your muscles and brain make you feel more alive, alert, and energetic.  When I leave the sauna, I can honestly say I feel rejuvenated!  I’m starting to sound like an infomercial, but this is the real deal.
  4. Weight management– Ok, I have never used the sauna for weight management, but there are a few reasons why saunas help do this: metabolic expenditure, increased growth hormone, increased nutrients to organs that regulate metabolism like the thyroid, and increased mitochondrial activity. Let’s call it the lazy man’s weight loss program not just because of lost water, but because of the cellular influence and hormonal impacts.
  5. Sleep– I have always been a deep sleeper, but I have many patients that struggle with sleep.  There are tons of things that impact someone’s sleep quality, but drastic changes in body temperature is one that has an amazingly positive impact.  Exercise can do the same thing.  Think about a hard day’s work of manual labor, or how wiped out the kids are after a day in the sun, or how sound you sleep on the days you do heavy lifting.  Outside temperature or physical activity have an influence on core body temperature that helps you fall deeper into restorative sleep.

Circadian Rhythms: Are you Taking Your Meds at the Right Time?

Circadian rhythm in layman’s terms means all the hormones and body functions that happen in a 24 hour period. From hormones that cause you to be sleepy at night to nervous system activity that causes bowel movements, your body is on a schedule. That schedule is something that all living things have based on their species and needs, but this internal clock has a close relationship with the day/night cycle of light, too. Having said that, we know that our bodies do certain things at certain times and when it comes to hormone release and immune function, that could mean that taking certain medications or vaccinations at certain times increases effectiveness.

Did you know that there have been studies showing those who received flu vaccines in the morning had higher levels of anti-flu antibodies than those that received them later in the day? This suggests that the WHEN someone gets a vaccine may determine it’s effectiveness. We won’t go into whether or not someone should even get a vaccine in the first place, but it”s worth gaining this data about timing.

The most common indication of circadian rhythm is cortisol release. Cortisol is inversely related to melatonin, which means as melatonin rises, your cortisol goes down. Melatonin makes you sleepy, but cortisol wakes you up. So, it makes sense that cortisol should be the highest in the morning. Cortisol also suppresses inflammation and regulates certain immune responses. What if we could time those immune responses to manipulate an outcome? It may make certain treatments safer and more effective.

Cholesterol medications:
Research has suggested that the enzyme that regulates cholesterol production in rats is most active at night. This may mean that taking a drug like a statin may be most effective if taken at night. While this is interesting and really helpful if you have a reason to take a statin, I would love to point out that statins are one of the most easily-avoidable drugs out there with appropriate lifestyle changes!

Genes that determine cell division are rhythmic which means that chemo that targets cells actively replicating (think reproductive tissue and intestinal lining) can be timed to limit healthy cell death. ‘Over the past 30 years, experimental models and clinical trials have found that timing chemo regimens can significantly affect their toxicty and effectiveness.” ( The scientist Magazine)

These allergy drugs are found to be most effective when taken at night or early in the morning. We also now know that they cause cognitive issues and brain shrinkage, so lets entertain finding the ROOT causes of allergies vs treating the symptoms!

Blood Pressure Medication:
It’s no secret that heart attacks happen more frequently during certain times of the day. Don’t believe me? Ask a cardiologist. If you take an angiotensin-2 receptor blocker for blood pressure, it is most effective at controlling blood pressure if taken at night.

I’m all about fixing the problem versus treating the symptom, but pay attention because I promise this will be a tweak in medication recommendations as time goes on. Don’t want to wait until they figure all that out? Then I encourage you to fix the reason you would need to take meds in the first place. ;)