How Saunas [Maybe] Improved My Health
There are many benefits reported from taking a sauna. For example:
- Relaxation and the release of feel good endorphins
- Increased blood flow which helps deliver oxygen and nutrients to the cells
- “Hyperthermic effect” — meaning a rise in body temperature that can activate detoxification and even kill some viruses and bacteria
However, choosing the type of sauna to use can be complicated!
Before I explain how I chose my sauna, here are a few of the reasons why I believe(d) sauna detoxing was the right choice for me in recovering from mercury toxicity:
1. From testing, I have seen mercury levels in my body decrease significantly after using the sauna post holistic amalgam removal..
2. For as long as I can remember, my average body temperature was around 97.4°F and my hands, feet & butt always felt cold. My body hardly ever broke a sweat even when exercising. Now, my body temperature averages around 98 to 98.6°F and is not usually cold to the touch. Truth be told, I cannot sleep with socks on anymore!
3. My body sweats on its own now when I am outside of the sauna, like while sleeping, on brisk walks, cleaning my apartment, and when exercising.
Note: Contraindications, e.g. MTHFR polymorphisms, histamine issues, M.S. etc, should be considered when using any sauna along with the advice of a knowledgable physician.
Traditional, Near Infrared, or Far Infrared Sauna?
I looked into three different types of saunas before settling on a Far Infrared sauna for my home. Here are some of the factors I took into consideration for each type of sauna:
Option 1. Traditional Steam Or Dry Saunas
I was most familiar with traditional dry (and wet) heat saunas from using them at gyms and spas. Home versions are available, however, I thought the easiest option for me to sauna was to join a local gym. Although traditional saunas seem like the most natural, I chose not to go this route for several reasons:
- I read that traditional saunas can increase circulation to the surface of the skin and cause one to sweat — similar to exercise sweat — but not as much deep toxin release from organs and tissues. (½ inch does not reach the majority of muscles and connective tissues or organs).
- Traditional saunas operate at a high heat level so I could only stay in for a short amount of time (i.e. 10 to 15 minutes) before overheating. (And the air in a wet sauna is saturated with moisture so the body cannot cool itself by the evaporation of sweat on skin.)
- The possible exposure to other people’s heavy metals and germs (as well as potential mold & bacteria from the moisture in a wet sauna.)
- The cost of joining a nice gym, parking, travel time, communal showers, and gym hour restrictions.
Option 2. Near Infrared Saunas (NIR)
Dr. Wilson, who advocates NIR saunas over FIR saunas, is frequently referenced. He made NIR saunas sound both appealing and affordable:
“While traditional saunas require high temperatures for copious sweating, infrared penetrates the skin and heats from the inside as well as on the skin.”
“The infrared lamp sauna penetrates deepest due to the fact that the heat source is all concentrated in a small area, and not due to the frequencies of the energy used.”
“Near infrared is an antioxidant nutrient, activates the cells, supports metabolic processes and decouples toxins from water molecules. Near infrared is helpful for wound healing and cellular regeneration as well.”
“The bulbs emit mainly near infrared energy, with a bit of middle infrared as well. This type of sauna also provides warming and stimulating color therapy. The lights emit a small amount of red, orange and yellow visible light. These particular frequencies draw energy downward in the body and can assist the digestive and eliminative organs to some degree.”
“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. Unfortunately, all of these far infrared saunas give off stray electromagnetic fields that may be extremely harmful.”
I considered making my own NIR sauna panel with a few bulbs and clamp lamps and also looked at Dr. Wilson’s NIR sauna purchasing recommendations, however:
- At the time, I could not find much specific NIR research, studies, or other advocates who did not refer to Dr. Wilson.
- There were no chemically safe NIR options available for sale.
- And I was concerned about using the NIR sauna in a closet or bathroom as chemicals from wall paint and other toxins might be absorbed more easily into a heated body.
- I experienced a single NIR lamp at acupuncture and while I enjoyed incubating under the warmth, it did not make me sweat.
- I read that looking at the red bulbs was not good for the eyes, etc.
- Update: Concerned about man-made EMF exposure from electric fields and magnetic fields even with distance
Option 3. Far Infrared Saunas (FIR)
I continued researching saunas and found quite a lot of information (maybe too much?!) on FIR saunas that made them seem like the best choice for detoxing heavy metals. There were many FIR sauna companies claiming that FIR was better than NIR, but truth be told, I still do not know if the infrared info for FIR saunas applies to NIR as well:
“FIR initiates a stronger and sooner detox sweat than near-infrared does…Near-infrared must be positioned properly for optical safety and it should not be positioned directly in front of the upper body as is often found. (1)
Infrared heaters send out a wave of light in the infrared range known to penetrate 1 ½ or so into the body. And the rays do not carry the dangers associated with ultraviolet rays or x-rays.
Because the heat penetrates deeper, directly heating the body, organs, and cells (vs. heating the air and room), the composition of sweat is different from that produced in a traditional sauna. Therefore, the body releases more harmful metabolites, solvents, chemicals, heavy metals, and toxins.
Because the largest organ, the skin is used to excrete toxins, liver burden is decreased. (Toxins are released via the skin with sweat and later through urine, feces, and hair.)
Infrared heat is more effective at delivering the blood supply to fat. This liberates dangerous lipid-trapped toxins and creates a mode for excreting them out of the body instead of re-circulating them.
The heaters run at a lower temperature range of 90°F – 130°F, so one can stay in longer, breathe easier, and sweat more heavily.”
Based on all of the info I read, and several health advocates strongly promoting FIR saunas, I decided on a medical-grade FIR sauna for chemically sensitive detoxing:
- Made with non-off-gassing wood or glue
- Made in the USA
I share my quest for the ideal FIR sauna in the next post:
♥ Be Gutsy!