A Step-By-Step Guide to Infrared Light Therapy Treatment

For all the talk about how great infrared light is and how many benefits it has, there isn’t a whole lot of information out there on how exactly you’re supposed to do infrared light therapy treatments.

Don’t worry, I can help. What follows is a basic, step-by-step explanation of how to do infrared light therapy treatments with a single lamp + bulb. This is not quite the same as using multiple bulbs to make a DIY near infrared sauna- with only one lamp, some find they do not sweat at all. Still, even the light and heat alone can have a big impact and is well worth doing. (Stay tuned- later I will be posting about how to make a DIY near infrared sauna and do near infrared sauna treatments at home.)

Step 1: Gather Your Infrared Light Therapy Supplies

Here are the basics- what you will need to do an infrared light therapy treatment. Each person is different, so you may find that other items are must-haves for you (such as an anti-slip floor mat if you are concerned about slipping on a hard floor or an extension cord if your lamp’s cord isn’t long enough to reach the socket).

Basically, you will need:

  • A near infrared light therapy bulb                                                  rubylux-near-infrared-bulb-photo
  • A clamp lamp (make sure it is a high enough Wattage rating with a heat-resistant socket) with a bulb guard
  • A square piece of wire mesh, about 12 x 12 inches (with holes that are about ¼ to ½ an inch big)
  • Eye protection for infrared heat and light
  • A timer
  • Something heavy and/or secure to attach the clamp lamp to, such as a secure shelf or chair
  • A towel to wipe away sweat

Before you start, I highly, highly recommend taking photos of the area you are treating if you are wanting to see any visible change. Without pictures, many people are unsure of whether any big changes are happening because they see themselves in the mirror every day. Instead, they often realize how much they’ve changed after several other people have noticed and commented on it. Don’t miss out! Take your “before” photos in bright light! One of the most common comments I hear from people doing infrared light therapy is, “I wish I had taken pictures!”

Step 2: Set Up Your Near Infrared Light Therapy Lamp

Once you’ve gathered your supplies, you need to set up your lamp.

  1. Check that your clamp lamp is rated for 250 Watts (if using a 250W bulb) or higher.
  2. Check that your lamp’s socket is made of porcelain or another heat-resistant material.
  3. Check that your infrared bulb is NOT Teflon-coated, also known as “shatterproof”- these bulbs release invisible, odorless toxic fumes.
  4. With the lamp unplugged, screw your infrared bulb into the lamp socket securely, just as you would any other bulb. Set the lamp down.
  5. Take the metal bulb guard that came with your clamp lamp and place your piece of wire mesh behind it. You can affix the mesh to the guard by poking the ends of the wire guard through some holes near the edges of the mesh.
  6. Attach the wire guard to the reflector bowl of your lamp. If any sharp edges are sticking out from the wire mesh, tuck them under so they cannot scratch anything or get stuck on anything.
  7. Clamp your lamp to a secure, stable object and adjust it to point to where you plan to be sitting or standing. If your lamp’s adjustment uses a wingnut, this should be easy to do. However, if it uses a bolt instead, you may need to grab a wrench to loosen the bolt, adjust the lamp and then re-tighten the bolt so the lamp doesn’t move.
  8. Do not place the lamp so you will be underneath it. If it shatters or falls, you could be injured. Instead, place it where no one (and preferably, nothing) will be underneath it if it falls. This is very important because many metal clamp lamps have clamps that are not very secure or strong. Another step you can take is to use metal wire or brackets to secure the lamp to a stationary object.
  9. Make sure your lamp’s plug can reach whatever socket you’re going to use. If not, you’ll need an extension cord. Most clamp lamps do not have an on/off switch on the cord, and you must unplug them to turn them off. Therefore, try to use an electrical outlet where you won’t have to reach over or past the infrared bulb in order to unplug it. Doing so will minimize any risk of accidentally touching the bulb.

Step 3: Do Your Infrared Light Therapy Treatment

Now you’re ready to rock and roll.

  1. Get naked (if applicable).
  2. Get your eye protection, put it on and make sure it fits well.
  3. Set a timer for your desired treatment time. This is important because many people get so relaxed they feel like falling asleep during infrared light therapy treatments.
  4. Plug in/turn on your lamp.
  5. If necessary, make minor adjustments to the lamp’s direction so it points exactly where you want.
  6. You may need to move your body around somewhat to keep the light from concentrating on one single part for too long and making you uncomfortable.
  7. Use the light for 5 to 20 minutes.
  8. Use a towel to wipe away any sweat you want to remove. Do not use something that is not absorbent (such as your hand), because if even a tiny droplet of sweat gets flung into the infrared bulb while it’s hot, it may shatter.
  9. If you’ve sweated profusely, you may wish to immediately shower after your treatment to wash off excess oil and dirt. This is especially true if you are concerned about acne or infection.


What Should I Expect During and Right After My Infrared Light Therapy Treatment?

  1. You will feel warm or hot and you may sweat, even if you are only using one bulb.
  2. Your skin may appear red afterward due to the heat and increased blood flow. The redness will go away in less than an hour.
  3. You will probably need to gently adjust your position throughout the treatment so the light doesn’t focus on any one area for too long. Otherwise, leaving the light on any one point for too long may make you feel uncomfortably warm or hot.
  4. You may feel extremely relaxed- so much so that you might even feel like dozing off. This is why I suggest sitting up during your treatment and setting a timer.
  5. If previously depressed or anxious, you may notice that you feel less depressed or anxious afterwards.
  6. Stiff muscles and joints will warm up and it may become easier to move or stretch them.
  7. After a treatment, you will likely notice that any pain you had is lessened. This is usually a temporary effect, but repeated treatments over time can help heal the injury causing the pain, so long-term pain relief can also be achieved. This seems to depend on the individual, though.
  8. If you had lactic acid buildup from strenuous exercise, discomfort from it may dissipate more quickly than usual. Your muscles will recover more quickly as well.


What Should I Expect After Several Near Infrared Light Therapy Treatments?

  1. You may find that you have less pain overall and that old injuries are healing.
  2. You will likely notice that you have increased hair growth in treatment areas. The hair is likely to grow faster and thicker. This includes “undesirable” hair, such as unwanted facial hair or ear hair.
  3. Skin will usually look healthier overall, and people often notice other positive changes, such as less sagging, more plumpness/collagen formation, under-eye circles that are less noticeable and a reduction in acne.
  4. Collagen formation will improve. If the tissue in question is deeper than the skin, such as a ligament, it will probably take some time to see improvements.


How Often Can I Do Infrared Light Therapy Treatments?

You can do more than one treatment per day, but you have to allow at least a few hours in between them. Doing treatments back-to-back won’t speed up your results and it might even undo the benefits you received from infrared light therapy treatments that day. You have to allow your body time to repair itself and then it will be ready for more near infrared light therapy.

Lots of people want to know exactly how many treatments they can do in a single day. This can vary from person to person, so everyone should start slowly and gradually increase the amount of time and the number of sessions until adding more doesn’t seem to have any additional benefit. Some are able to do as many as four treatments a day, but it isn’t necessary to do that many per day to get results. In fact, you may still get noticeable results if you only use near infrared light therapy a couple times a week.


Although near infrared light therapy using a single lamp is beneficial, many people want the added benefits of sauna therapy. For this, you would need more than one near infrared light therapy bulb. Because near infrared sauna therapy is slightly different from near infrared light therapy using a single lamp, I am going to cover that topic separately in detail. Keep an eye out for that post, and for now, enjoy your infrared light therapy treatments!


Infrared Sauna Dangers

While you may find many sauna benefits for your health, you may be wondering if they are completely safe. Like any powerful, effective treatment, infrared saunas are not entirely risk-free- especially if you choose the wrong type. Here I’m going to talk about infrared sauna dangers.

If you are healthy and follow proper safety procedures, the benefits of a sauna far outweigh the risks. Inform yourself and be sure to use common sense to avoid infrared sauna dangers.

Infrared Sauna Dangers for Children and Pets

The rules for adults and children using an infrared sauna are different. Here we are focusing on adult use.

As for pets, they do not belong in a sauna, ever. Never bring a dog, cat or other animal in a sauna. Their bodies do not have the same sweating system to cool them and they will overheat much faster. To be clear: infrared saunas dangers are very real for animals. Keep pets away from saunas of all types!

Summary of Infrared Sauna Dangers

#1: The biggest infrared sauna danger (which also applies to all types of saunas) is overheating, AKA heat exhaustion and heat stroke.

#2: The next biggest infrared sauna danger is dehydration. Although many people do not take dehydration seriously, they should. In a sauna you can lose a great deal of water through sweat.

#3: Depletion of minerals and electrolytes. Water and toxins aren’t the only thing you lose in a sauna. Your sweat will also contain electrolytes and minerals.

#4: Drunken sauna bathing. Infrared sauna dangers are hard to avoid when you’ve been drinking.

#5: Effects from toxins being mobilized in the body. See more info below.

#6: Infrared sauna dangers for those with inflammation and swelling from a new injury. If you have a new sprain, strain, injury, etc. you should avoid the infrared sauna for 24-48 hours to give your body time to recover. You will not speed up healing processes by using infrared light therapy or infrared saunas on a new, swollen and enflamed injury. You may even make it feel worse.

paltrow infrared sauna dangers

Overheating: The Biggest of the Infrared Sauna Dangers

No matter how healthy you are, overheating in an infrared sauna can happen to you. If you overdo it, you could end up with a heat-related illness. Take time to familiarize yourself with the signs of heat stroke and heat exhaustion. Always take care to heed the warnings your body is giving you. If you suspect you are overheating in an infrared sauna, get out of the sauna. Try to cool yourself down by taking a cool shower.

There are some who need to do long infrared sauna treatments fairly often- some up to an hour every day. These programs should be medically supervised.

It’s a good idea to keep a thermometer available near your infrared sauna so you can monitor your temperature as needed.

Burns: Infrared Sauna Dangers

When using any sauna, the heating element has to be extremely hot to heat you and/or the sauna space. If you are not careful, you risk accidentally touching the furnace, rocks or in the case of a near infrared sauna, the near infrared sauna bulbs.

Near infrared sauna bulbs are quite strong and reach temperatures over 450 degrees Fahrenheit in a minute or less. It’s very important to be sure your near infrared bulbs are covered so that burns are less likely.

At least one near infrared sauna expert- Dr. Lawrence Wilson- recommends placing the near infrared bulbs to the side as opposed to above the head. As long as the bulbs are properly covered, this can help reduce the chance of accidental injury.


Dehydration is one of the most common infrared sauna dangers. Be sure to drink water or an electrolyte drink before, during and after using the sauna. Never drink alcohol or any other dehydrating beverage when using the sauna.

infrared sauna dangers dehydration

Medical Conditions Contraindicated with Infrared Sauna Use

People with the following conditions should avoid using a sauna of any type.

  • Stroke
  • Severe aortic stenosis
    • Recent heart attack
    • Unstable angina pectoris
    • Lupus erythematosus, if on steroids (this interferes with blood circulation)
    • Brain tumors
  • Untreated or unresolved dehydration
  • Multiple sclerosis

People with the conditions below should not use an infrared sauna without medical supervision.

  • Those with silicone breast implants.
  • Those with pacemakers.
  • Those with pins, rods or other implants, such as cochlear implants.
  • Diabetes

If you have any medical condition, infrared sauna dangers could be very real for you. Always talk to your doctor before using a sauna of any sort if you have a health concern.

Infrared Sauna Dangers for the Heart

Generally, infrared saunas do not pose any particular danger to the cardiovascular system for healthy individuals. However, for those with certain medical conditions, such as aortic stenosis, unstable angina or recent heart attacks, infrared saunas should be avoided unless your doctor tells you otherwise.


Infrared Sauna Dangers for Medications

Some medications can be affected by infrared saunas. For instance, some medicines are affected by the increase in circulation, body heat or even by profuse sweating. If you take a medication, you should check with a doctor or pharmacist to be sure infrared saunas will not affect your medication.

One example of a type of medication affected by sauna use are transdermal patches. If using patches, the sweating could cause the patch to fall off your skin. Also, your skin may absorb the medication faster or slower.

If you are diabetic, your insulin could be affected by your body heat. This is why diabetics should be under medical supervision when using infrared (or other) saunas.

Infrared Sauna Dangers for Residual Chemical Release

Many people do not realize that the remnants of medications or other substances used in the past can be released during infrared sauna use. Anesthetics, antidepressants, sedatives, chemo drugs and more may be released from storage in fat and be mobilized by the body in preparation for removal. These chemicals will be brought to the blood and they may be somewhat active. So, you may experience the effects of these drugs as you did when you first took them.

For those who have used psychedelic drugs, you may notice the effects of these drugs. In some cases the effects are strong and you could have a trip or a flashback. If you have used these types of drugs in the past, you should be sure someone is watching you while you are in the sauna.

More Dangers of Infrared Sauna Use

Another of the infrared sauna dangers includes depletion of minerals and electrolytes.

Especially if you are on an infrared sauna detox plan, you must be diligent about replenishing the electrolytes and minerals you will lose through infrared sauna use.

Infrared Sauna Dangers for Those with Chemical Sensitivity

For those with chemical sensitivity, infrared saunas pose a Catch-22. You may have a greater-than-average need for detoxification, but you are also more vulnerable to the effects of all the toxins and chemicals that can be released during infrared sauna treatments. If you have chemical sensitivity, infrared saunas could help you detoxify- but you should only use them under the supervision of a medical professional.

Near Infrared Sauna Dangers: The “Shatterproof” Near Infrared Sauna Bulb

Some manufacturers are selling what they call “shatterproof” near infrared bulbs for infrared light therapy and near infrared saunas. These bulbs have a chemical coating that off-gasses invisible, odorless fumes that are very dangerous. While these marketers claim that their near infrared bulbs are safer because they don’t break as easily, they are actually selling a product that is downright dangerous- especially for the chronically ill or chemical-sensitive. Click here to read more about the dangers of shatterproof infrared bulbs.

Infrared Sauna Dangers for the Eyes

Infrared saunas and infrared light therapy are strong sources of infrared light. Excessive exposure to infrared light can cause a “snow blindness” effect which is damaging to the eyes. Furthermore, repeated exposure to infrared light contributes to cataract formation. Therefore, using eye protection designed to block infrared light is very important.


Dangers of Infrared Light Therapy Bulbs: Why Shatterproof isn’t Safer

dangers of infrared light therapyOne of the inconvenient things about near infrared bulbs used for near infrared light therapy is that they are made of glass. They are fragile and can break easily if dropped. While this is an annoying problem with any sort of bulb, in the case of bulbs being used in near infrared saunas or near infrared light therapy, there’s the additional risk that the bulb could shatter during use if it is exposed to moisture. One of the biggest dangers of infrared light therapy, though, lies in shatterproof bulbs.

To solve this problem, some manufacturers began using polytetrafluoroethylene or PTFE, more popularly known by its brand name, Teflon, to coat the bulbs and sell them as “shatterproof”. A PTFE coating does indeed strengthen the bulb, making it resist breakage (although it is not fully break-proof). What most people do not know is that shatterproof near infrared bulbs release invisible, odorless fumes that are highly toxic.

It seems to be widely agreed that at low temperatures, PTFE is safe. However, at higher temperatures, the bonds in PTFE begin to break, allowing fluorocarbon gases to escape. At temperatures as low as 392 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees Celsius), PTFE coated near infrared bulbs will off-gas. Most near infrared light therapy bulbs reach temperatures of 450 degrees or more.

In some cases, exposure to PTFE gases will cause what is informally known as polymer fume fever in humans. Polymer fume fever can occur as a result of temperatures above 300 degrees, which is well below a near infrared bulb’s normal operating temperature of 450 degrees plus. Symptoms may be absent, or may include flu-like symptoms, such as fever, chills and headaches, as well as chest tightness, cough, a high white blood cell count and visible changes on chest x-rays. Those affected may not link PTFE bulbs to their symptoms, as onset is four to eight hours after exposure.

At temperatures above 450 degrees, PTFE decomposition and off-gassing is high enough to cause acute lung injury in humans. According to the Environmental Working Group, the following are released from heat-induced breakdown of PTFE.

  • Tetrafluoroethylene (TFE)
  • Hexafluoropropene (HFP)
  • Octafluorocyclobutane (OFCB)
  • Perfluoroisobutane (PFIB), which is a chemical warfare agent ten times stronger than phosgene
  • Carbon tetrafluoride, or carbonyl fluoride (CF4), the fluorine analog of phosgene
  • Trifluoroacetic acid (TFA)
  • Trifluoroacetic acid fluoride
  • Perfluorobutane
  • Silicon tetrafluoride (SiF4)
  • Monofluoroacetic acid (MFA), capable of killing humans at low doses
  • Hydrofluoric acid, a corrosive gas
  • Particulate matter

In baby chicks, parrots and other birds, exposure to off-gassing PTFE bulbs results in death.

Perhaps one factor contributing to the toxicity of PTFE fumes is the use of a chemical called perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) sometimes used to manufacture it. PFOA does not biodegrade and persists indefinitely in the environment. It is a known toxicant and carcinogen. Studies done due to a lawsuit against DuPont concluded that PFOA exposure is probably associated with kidney cancer, testicular cancer, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, high cholesterol and pregnancy-induced hypertension.

Needless to say, shatterproof bulbs are not the convenient substitute for real near infrared light therapy bulbs that they first appear to be. Unsuspecting consumers are being led to purchase a product that compromises their health and safety. This in and of itself is unconscionable. But consider that many people using these bulbs are trying to recover from devastating illnesses, to improve their health or just simply to detox and the sale of shatterproof near infrared bulbs for the purpose of near infrared light therapy takes on an even more devastating implication.

Types of Light Used in Light Therapy

light therapyRed Light Therapy, Blue Light Therapy, Near-Infrared Light Therapy and Far-Infrared Light Therapy

Some of the most common types of light therapy you’ll find used are red light therapy, blue light therapy, and infrared light therapy (either near- or far-infrared). While there is some debate over which wavelength is best, it’s generally becoming clear that certain wavelengths are best for certain conditions. If you were thinking of trying light therapy, you would first want to decide what result you are trying to achieve. Then you would select the wavelength and type of light believed to be effective for that condition (based on the research available).

Red and near-infrared light wavelengths can penetrate anywhere between one to six inches deep (scientists don’t agree on how deep). While scientists do not know for certain how light therapy works, there are theories. One popular view is that the light triggers the cell to make more energy (ATP) and increases DNA and RNA activity.

Some believe that this beneficial energy effect only occurs if the cell is damaged. This idea makes sense because it is usually damaged or diseased cells that one is trying to treat. However, light therapy could also have benefits for healthy cells.

Which Type of Light to Use: LED’s, Sunlight, Infrared, Etc.

The type of light that is best depends on your condition and what effect you are trying to achieve.

Sunlight is one type of light people use for light therapy. Sunlight may be chosen to increase vitamin D levels or improve fibromyalgia symptoms, for example. While sunlight can be very bright (and therefore very powerful), not everyone has access to full, bright sunlight year-round. When a more powerful light is needed, or when sunlight is not sufficiently available, another light source can be chosen. Usually, the choice is LED’s (light emitting diodes).

LED’s are by far the most popular light source used for red light therapy and blue light therapy. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that LED’s are capable of producing extremely bright, powerful (and therefore effective) light. Despite being extremely bright, LED’s require little energy and do not get as hot as other types of lighting. So using LED’s can be practical and also save on energy and costs. LED’s, because they’re stronger, can get the same effects faster than other light sources.

Other types of light can be used for different types of light therapy. For some conditions, these types are actually better than LED’s. An example might be using a halogen or fluorescent bulb.

What about Halogen Lights for Light Therapy?

Halogen lights put off light with a mixture of wavelengths. This “mix” is not that different from regular sunlight- it’s in the 600 to 900 nm range. This type of light can be effective and inexpensive, but it is not ideal for most applications. That is because the light it produces is not concentrated in the specific wavelengths known to be ideal/most effective.

Halogen can still have beneficial effects, however. For instance, some users of halogen light claim it temporarily reduced pain and irritation from injury. At least one other claim I’ve seen is that exercising in front of a halogen light burned more calories.

Infrared Light Therapy

Red light therapy for pain is not a new idea- people have been using infrared light for quite some time. It was believed that the heat the lamp produced was what helped so much. Now it is known that near-infrared light plays a role in relieving pain.

How Much Can Light Therapy Help Me?

There are a lot of factors in determining how much light therapy might help you: your condition, power of light used, source of light and more.

Light therapy is a very useful tool for some purposes, but it is not a magic cure-all. It is usually best used in addition to other treatments or therapies. For instance, if you are using light therapy to relieve pain, you might also apply ice and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Light therapy should never be used as a substitute for professional medical care.

If you are using red light therapy for acne, you’d probably get maximum benefit from using it in addition to other treatments, such as topical antioxidant or anti-acne creams.

Results vary from person to person, but to give you an idea, some people say that after using light therapy for pain, their pain is reduced by 50-75%. The pain relief is temporary and usually lasts 4-6 hours. However, it is believed that using light therapy could help the injury actually heal faster.

If you have pain or a potentially serious injury, be sure to seek medical advice first!

What Wavelengths Should I Use?

The wavelength and type of light you choose depend on the results you are trying to achieve. Generally speaking, the most effective wavelengths of light are specific ranges:

  • 610 to 625 nm
  • 660 to 690 nm
  • 750 to 770 nm
  • 815 to 860 nm

How Much Light Therapy Should I Do?

When it comes to light therapy, more is not better. Doing light therapy treatments too much can cancel out the benefits you receive and depending on the type and source of light, it could also cause harm. For instance, in the case of sunlight or UV light therapy, more is not better.

If you are using light therapy for a condition that causes pain, it’s advised that you use it only long enough to cause a reduction in pain. This helps ensure you don’t overuse it and only use it enough to get the optimal result. The pain relief experienced is usually temporary and you will have to treat the area again in a few hours if pain persists. However, light therapy treatments are likely to help reduce healing time.

What’s difficult is determining how much light therapy is “too much”. That depends on the type of light source, the strength of the light, type of light, where the injury/condition is located on the body, etc. But because too much could cancel out the benefits you can get, it’s always best to err on the side of too little.

There is some evidence that the more recent an injury, wrinkle or other problem is, the more light therapy will help. So if you have a choice, it may be best to begin using light therapy soon afterwards. But not too soon! If you’re treating an injury, it is best to let inflammation subside before doing red light therapy or other light therapies. The reason is that red light therapy and most other light therapies increase blood flow to the region. If an area is already swollen and inflamed, more blood flow is not going to feel good and it is unlikely to help. Once inflammation goes down (if applicable), light therapy is often used multiple times in a day (for example, two to four times for 10 minutes each). However, in no case should you begin light therapy for a medical condition or potentially serious injury without first seeking professional medical advice. It would also be wise to discuss your case and how light therapy might be helpful with your doctor.

How Deep Can Light Therapy Penetrate Through Skin?

There is much debate over how deep light therapy devices can penetrate through the skin. This is an important matter, because if the light cannot penetrate deep enough into the body, it cannot help with problems occurring there.

One thing that is generally accepted is that the power of a light source has a big impact on how far through the skin it can reach.

Some argue that even very strong light therapy devices can only reach 1” to 1.5” deep through the skin. That implies that light therapy cannot work for anything that is deeper than that, such as a joint that is not on the surface.

Others claim that light therapy devices can sometimes reach 3” to 6” through the body- even through the skull into the brain.

Benefits of Sauna Bathing

sauna bathingHere, I’m going to talk about the benefits of sauna treatments (often called sauna bathing) in general, although personally I have a strong preference for near infrared saunas because they take the benefits of sauna bathing and add the benefits of light-based therapy. The benefits of sauna bathing are many-fold.

Biggest Benefit of Sauna Bathing: Sweating

Saunas can be up to 180 degrees, which quickly induces profuse sweating. But what are the benefits of sauna-induced sweating? For starters, sweating is one of the body’s methods for removing toxins. Many people don’t sweat much at all, so this kind of sweating can really make an impact. Of course, your body removes many toxins through the urine and feces. But considering the vast surface area of the skin, sweating in a sauna offers a boost in detoxification. Some toxins/waste products’ primary route of elimination is through the sweat.

Some of those toxins are heavy and toxic metals. In a University of Connecticut School of Medicine study published in Clinical Chemisty, researchers found that “sweating is a demonstrably significant route for excretion of trace metals, and sweating may play a role in trace-metal homeostasis.” The researchers concluded that sauna bathing could “provide a therapeutic method to increase elimination of toxic trace metals.”

Sweating in a sauna helps the body naturally remove toxic metals such as lead and cadmium. This has been documented in numerous studies, including this one, in which researchers found that sauna bathers excreted significant amounts of zinc, lead, copper and cadmium during sauna sweating. As an aside, they also found that among the women in their study, those taking oral contraceptives excreted more copper and lead than women who weren’t.

If you’d like to read more about the arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead excreted during sweating/sauna bathing, check out this comprehensive review done by Canadian researchers. If you scroll down to Section 3.1, they give a listing of studies done on arsenic, cadmium, mercury and lead excretion.

Other research from the University of Connecticut School of Medicine has shown that when it comes to the body’s regulating of amino acids, sweating plays an important role in the excretory system. Upon analyzing sweat collected from sauna bathers, the evidence showed that some amino acids are eliminated almost entirely through sweat. The scientists of this study concluded that the “mechanisms controlling excretion of amino acids in sweat differ fundamentally from those regulating renal excretion of amino acids.”

study from researchers in Warsaw compared the loss of certain nitrogen compounds in sauna bathers’ sweat to blood concentrations of the same compounds and published the results in the Polish Medical Weekly. They found that in the sweat they collected:

  • Concentrations of ammonia were 77 times higher than blood levels. Interestingly, they also found that after 30 minutes in a sauna, plasma levels of ammonia increased 60%. Sauna bathing appears to trigger a detoxification reaction in the body.
  • Levels of urea in the sweat were 3.5 times higher than plasma levels.
  • Concentrations of creatinine were nearly twice as high as blood concentrations.

Sweating in a sauna has long been associated with beautiful, glowing skin. Sauna treatments make the skin softer and healthier looking.

Second Biggest Benefit of Sauna Bathing: Heat

No matter which type of sauna you choose, it’s going to be hot in there! The temperature itself is a benefit of sauna bathing.

The reason? Heat kills germs. The body’s natural response during an infection is to raise its temperature and cause a fever. The reason it does this is because many germs cannot survive the heat. They also tend to be inhibited the hotter their environment becomes. This gives the immune system a leg up.

For those with infections, this could be a huge benefit of sauna bathing. Personally, whenever I feel an infection coming on, the sauna is the where I head. For me, sinus and airway infections have been particularly helped by sauna heat. And of course, it also helps with the diseases that got me into saunas in the first place- Lyme disease and co-infections.

The heat is well known to relax muscles as well. When you are tired or have a back ache, a sauna bath can help ease tension and make you more comfortable. Sauna heat also helps make stiff joints more flexible.

Heat also causes vasodilation, an increase in blood vessel size. Circulation is greatly enhanced by the heat. Blood flow is generally good. (You know, if you’re alive and all.) In addition to bringing needed nutrients to all parts of the body, it encourages oxygenation and allows for toxins and waste products to be removed.

One thing the sauna heat is not good for is your hair. Wrap your hair up in a towel before using the sauna.

More Benefits of Sauna Bathing: Enhanced Immunity

study from the University of Iowa College of Medicine found that sauna bathing caused the release of Interleukin-1 from the sweat glands. Interleukin-1 is a cell-signaling protein that is vital to the body’s response to infection. It appears that one benefit of sauna bathing could be that it triggers a type of immune system response.

Other research points to this conclusion as well. For instance, a study done by the Shiseido Company found that human sweat contains kininase II and kallikrein, two blood proteins involved in inflammation and pain responses (among other things).

Benefits of Sauna Bathing using Near Infrared Saunas

The benefits of sauna bathing I mention from here on out are specific to near infrared saunas. These are my favorite type of sauna, since they multi-task. You can do infrared light therapy and sauna treatment at the same time.

Near infrared saunas work a bit differently than furnace heated saunas. While they do make you sweat, the temperature of the air in the sauna will be lower than that of other types of saunas. That is because instead of heating the air in an effort to heat you, near infrared saunas use infrared light to heat you up directly. You can compare these two types of heating like this: furnace saunas heat you up the same way an oven would, while near infrared saunas heat you up the way the sun would on a hot day.

While you are sweating (it’s not as uncomfortable as it sounds- sauna heat is so dry) in a near infrared sauna, your body is taking in the infrared waves, which have the benefits of a sauna and more. Infrared light has been shown to temporarily relieve pain and to speed up the body’s own healing process…some experts say infrared light can speed up healing by 60-80%. In animals, infrared light can speed healing by up to 100%.

The benefits of sauna bathing using a near infrared sauna are becoming more well known and as a result, these types of saunas are becoming more popular. Many people are building their own sauna of this type.