Today we take a look at the question "Are infrared saunas dangerous?"
In addition to this one, two other articles on this site discuss rumors about infrared saunas being dangerous. One of those articles addresses the rumor that infrared saunas are dangerous because of the risk of your body overheating while you're in the sauna cabin. The other article discusses the rumors about infrared saunas exposing their users to dangerous radiation. It explains that although radiant heat plays an essential role in infrared saunas, radiant heat is completely different than radiation. Infrared saunas do not expose anyone to dangerous radiation.
Well, rumors have a habit of hanging around, even after they've been disproved (like the two rumors mentioned above). They also tend to multiply. One of the other rumored perils of infrared saunas being bandied about relates to possible mineral depletion due to sweating. This article - one of three in my mini-series about the rumored dangers of infrared saunas - will address whether infrared saunas are dangerous because of mineral depletion. Hopefully, you won't worry much (if at all) about mineral depletion once you finish reading.
So, are infrared saunas dangerous? What about the rumors about mineral depletion? Can that be a problem with infrared saunas?
Well, by now you're probably well aware that you're going to sweat - a lot - when you're in an infrared sauna. In fact, the sweat your body produces while you're in an infrared sauna is the one of the primary mechanisms by which the sauna detoxifies and removes impurities from your body. And we all know that the detoxifying abilities of infrared saunas represent one of the significant health benefits of their use. Sweating is good.
However, it's also true that sweating excessively can potentially lead to the depletion of essential minerals and electrolytes from your body, in addition to potentially causing dehydration. However, dehydration and mineral depletion are not issues that should be linked solely to infrared saunas. Conventional steam saunas also make people sweat profusely, and they pose similar "risks".
Are infrared saunas dangerous, then? The rumor about mineral depletion is true, at least to a degree, but it's not specific to infrared saunas. There is a certain risk of dehydration and/or mineral depletion involved with using any type of sauna, whether it's an infrared sauna or the more traditional type. The risk goes hand in hand with all the sweating. Everyone who uses a sauna of any type needs to use some common sense and drink plenty of water before, during and after a session. I know I talk about the importance of staying hydrated in many of the pages of this site, but it bears repeating once again.
A number of health care experts recommend that sauna users drink at least half a cup of water about 30 minutes before their sauna session starts, another half cup every 30 minutes while they're inside, and yet another half cup every half hour after the session is over. The question "Are infrared saunas dangerous" also sometimes raises the topic of alcohol. You should completely avoid drinking any alcohol (including beer and wine as well as hard liquor) or sugary beverages (such as carbonated beverages or highly sweetened ice tea, for example) before, during and after your infrared sauna sessions. Both these types of beverages will actually dehydrate your body even more.
Mineral water, on the other hand, contains dissolved minerals which can help you achieve and maintain better overall health. They can also help you replenish the minerals you lose due to sweating. Sports drinks are another fine choice, because they can replace the salt and electrolytes lost while sweating in the sauna. Some health care professionals also recommend taking kelp and some high quality sea salt such as the type you would use for cooking. Hawaiian Bamboo Jade sea salt is one example.
Another point sometimes linked to the "Are infrared saunas dangerous" is drugs. Some drug users have reported another effect of sweating in an infrared sauna. For some, at least, the sweating leads to reliving the effects of drugs they have taken beforehand, presumably due to the remnants of the drug being sweated out of the body. This effect is apparently not limited to illegal drugs, either - you might experience temporarily renewed effects of pain killers and other prescription medications you have taken because of your infrared sauna sessions.
So, there is some truth to the question "are infrared saunas dangerous" - but only with respect to some potential mineral depletion or dehydration. Both those issues are easily addressed by drinking plenty of mineral water before, during and after your sauna sessions, so there's no real need to worry.
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