According to Dr Jonathan Wright of Nutrition and Healing, far infrared saunas the ‘new kid on the (sauna) block’ have become very popular especially in Japan over the past century.
What makes them different to the traditional steam versions is that, “far infrared waves warm things without actually heating up the air in between the heat source and the object,” says Dr Wright.
This means in a far infrared sauna, the air is warm and dry, as opposed to the humid heat in traditional saunas.
Now thanks to a new study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, the health-promoting effects of saunas might finally get a bit more of the attention they deserve.
While saunas are still great for their traditional uses like meditation and detoxification, this new research shows that they may also improve heart function in patients with congestive heart failure.
The link between congestive heart failure, atherosclerosis and hypertension
In the study, researchers treated 20 congestive heart failure patients with far infrared sauna daily for two weeks. They were compared with 10 control-group individuals, matched for age, sex and degree of heart failure.
After just two weeks of far infrared treatment, 17 of 20 sauna-treated individuals had significant improvement in clinical symptoms. Their ultrasound evaluations and blood tests were also significantly better. None of the 10 control group individuals had any change.
Previously, the same researchers had studied 25 men (ages 31-45) with one or more coronary risk factors, including diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol and smoking. They were compared with 10 healthy younger men (ages 27-43) who had none of these risk factors.
Compared with the ‘normal’ men, the men with risk factors had impaired blood vessel dilation. But after just two weeks of daily far infrared sauna treatments, the risk-factor group had very significant improvements in blood vessel dilation.
According to researchers, these results suggest a therapeutic role for [far infrared] sauna therapy in patients with risk factors for atherosclerosis.
According to Dr Wright, “although none of the studies have measured it specifically, far infrared sauna therapy will very likely lower blood pressure for many individuals too. This theory makes sense, since the mechanism of action is the same as in congestive heart failure,”
Get all the benefits of saunas without even leaving home
The most economical way to use sauna therapy is probably to buy one for your own home.
There are dozens of companies selling far infrared saunas online. They range in price, so shop around.
However, if you are not in the position to buy one for your home, some gyms and beauty salons offer the use of these.