In contrast with infrared saunas, many of us are familiar with traditional steam saunas. The steam produced by pouring water over hot rocks swirls around you, producing a hot, humid atmosphere that enters your body with every breath. A lot of people are less familiar with the infrared version, however.
You might be interested in learning about infrared saunas because a friend or family member who uses an infrared heat sauna at a day spa mentioned them to you. Or perhaps you know a health care provider who recommends infrared sauna sessions because of their health benefits. Either way, they're worth looking into.
They warm your body in a completely different way than traditional steam home saunas. When water is poured over a traditional sauna's rocks, the steam causes the air to become very hot and humid. That hot, humid air heats your body indirectly, but for some people, breathing becomes difficult. In contrast, infrared operates at much lower temperatures and heat your body directly.
Many health professionals use them as a safe, effective way to detoxify the body. In today's world full of high-tech marvels, our heavy reliance on chemicals for making a wide variety of products means that a number of toxins will eventually accumulate in our bodies. The toxins could include harmful everyday substances, such as alcohol, nicotine, sodium and cholesterol.
And unfortunately, a deadly cocktail of carcinogenic heavy metals such as zinc, lead, mercury, cadmium and nickel can also enter and accumulate in the body. Exposure to these toxic heavy metals can occur through acid rain or industrial contamination of our food or drinking water, or even our amalgam teeth fillings. Heavy metals are toxic at very low concentrations and they cannot be degraded or destroyed. As a result, they must be removed from the body.
Luckily, the body rids itself of many heavy metals and other toxins through sweating, a very natural process. Infrared energy stimulates your sweat glands, speeding up and increasing your body's own natural detoxification mechanism by making you sweat. In other words, the infrared cabin mimics the proven detoxifying benefits people receive when they perspire without outside intervention.
An internationally-renowned specialist in Environmental Medicine, Sherry A. Rogers, M.D., is also known as an author and educator in this field. Dr. Rogers has brought all of her research, clinical observations and considerable expertise to bear in her book called Detoxify or Die. The title she chose for this work will certainly get and keep your attention. But the point here is that Dr. Rogers suggests a number of ways to eliminate the toxins accumulating in your body before they poison your health. Among the detox methods Dr. Rogers recommends is infrared therapy using an infrared sauna.
She doesn't make this recommendation lightly. In fact, at one point in Detoxify or Die, Dr. Rogers admits that she used to hesitate about recommending the use of an infrared cabin for detoxification, citing the relatively high expense of having your own personal sauna. Instead, she used to focus on natural, inexpensive detox techniques. Her hesitations disappeared once she recognized how truly staggering the financial, physical and emotional costs of diseases such as cancer, chronic fatigue, Alzheimer's disease, heart disease, fibromyalgia, chronic pain, migraines and a host of other health conditions caused by toxins can be. Dr. Rogers came to realize that a sauna is actually inexpensive when you compare its cost to the costs involved with the diagnosis and treatment of any of those conditions. She also realized that once you buy one, you and your entire family can use it as often and for as long as you want. And frankly, you'll probably need to continue using it because we'll always develop new ways of poisoning our bodies.
Researchers say the infrared energy produced by an infrared sauna mimics the radiant energy our bodies naturally produce so closely that our bodies absorb up to 93% of the infrared waves that reach our skin. Instead of warming us directly in this manner, traditional steam saunas heat our bodies indirectly, first by air convection (hot circulating air) and then by conduction (the hot air contacting your skin). And, as mentioned earlier, infrared saunas operate at much lower temperatures than steam saunas, ranging from 110 to 130 degrees Fahrenheit instead of 180 to 230 degrees Fahrenheit.
Traditional saunas are also said to be more costly to operate, as they require lengthy warm-up periods of up to 90 minutes - a problem avoided by infrared saunas, which are ready to use within 5 to 10 minutes.
More reading: infrared saunas and yoga
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