Are Far Infrared or Near Infrared Sauna Heaters Better?
Many of us are hearing a whole lot of buzz right now about infrared saunas and how infrared sauna therapy can improve people's health.
The therapeutic effects of infrared sauna sessions can be quite significant because in addition to improving your overall well-being, they can be used to detoxify your body, speed up your metabolism and help you lose excess weight, reduce unsightly cellulite deposits, improve your circulation, alleviate muscular stiffness or pain and even promote healthier-looking skin.
So, a lot of people are becoming interested in buying or building their own infrared sauna units. If you're interested too, you might want to learn a bit more about the two main types of infrared sauna heaters. I've already discussed carbon and ceramic infrared sauna heaters separately in other articles, but that's not the distinction I'm making here. In this article, I'm focusing on the two types of infrared energy that are used for therapeutic purposes: far infrared and near infrared.
There is some disagreement among the proponents of infrared sauna therapy regarding which type of infrared is more beneficial. Some people say far infrared energy is therapeutically superior, while others contend that near infrared offers more health benefits. This disagreement about which type is better for infrared sauna therapy can make things awkward when you're thinking about buying. Whether you want a complete, premade infrared sauna unit or just the heaters themselves, you'll want to know more before you buy.
You probably have one of two purposes in mind if you're reading up on infrared sauna heaters: you're planning to build your own infrared sauna; or you're planning to convert an existing conventional steam sauna into the infrared variety. Basically, you have two main choices in infrared sauna heaters - the type that predominantly produces far infrared energy, and the type that primarily produces near infrared energy. But which of these two choices would be the best option for you?
That question might be a bit harder to answer than you expect. Companies selling sauna models with far infrared heaters will understandably promote their products by trying to persuade you that far infrared energy is therapeutically better. And companies selling units with near infrared heaters will try to convince you otherwise by claiming that near infrared energy has more beneficial effects. To make a long story short, you'll find claims that contradict each other wherever you look, and trying to make the right decision can get pretty confusing.
Lawrence Wilson, M.D. believes near infrared sauna therapy is better than the far infrared version, but maybe some of his ideas regarding infrared sauna technology can help sort things out for you. According to Dr. Wilson, most far infrared heaters are ceramic or metallic, and they emit most of their energy in the far infrared range. Typically, far infrared sauna heaters are small heating elements that are located throughout a sauna's cabin. Some of the newer designs use large sheets of a black carbon-based substance which is electrified to cause the emission of the far infrared energy.
Because their heating elements are typically spread throughout the cabin, most far infrared saunas have electrical wiring inside all four cabin walls. Unfortunately, Dr. Wilson contends, the extensive wiring means that in addition to generating far infrared energy, far infrared sauna heaters tend to produce low-level electromagnetic fields. He believes these electromagnetic fields could be difficult to tolerate or even harmful to those who are ill or otherwise more sensitive than normal.
It's important to realize, however, that Dr. Wilson believes that even far infrared sauna therapy is better than no infrared therapy at all. In fact, this quote reveals Dr. Wilson's feelings about infrared sauna therapy in general: "Rarely have I seen such an impressive aid for healing many diverse conditions."
In the end, whether you buy far infrared sauna heaters or the near infrared variety might come down to a matter of individual preference or taste. In my opinion, you're always better off if you try out at least a few infrared saunas before you buy. You can do this by going to a nearby wellness center or infrared sauna therapy facility that's operated by a professional health care provider. Evaluating different infrared saunas personally will let you learn which type you're more comfortable with. As a matter of fact, I think the overall infrared sauna experience itself is a matter of personal taste.
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