1. Improves Heart Function A review by the Department of Family Practice at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver found evidence supporting the use of infrared sauna treatments for normalizing blood pressure and cholesterol levels, treating congestive heart failure, and helping with chronic pain. That means an infrared sauna is a good way to help prevent high blood pressure and improve heart health.
Another study published in the Journal of The Japanese Circulation Society backs up that research, as the study found that infrared sauna treatment can help patients who have heart arrhythmias and suffer from chronic heart failure. Repeated treatments with a 60 degrees Celsius sauna improved functioning of the heart and lowered incidence of ventricular arrhythmias.
Patients were randomized into sauna-treated or non-treated groups, with the sauna group undergoing a two-week program of a daily 60 degrees C far-infrared-ray dry sauna treatment for 15 minutes at a time, followed by 30 minutes of bed rest. Heart rate variability normalized in the sauna group (including having plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentrations decrease) compared with the non-treated group. (3)
2. Helps Lower Chronic Pain, Including Pain from Arthritis Researchers from Saxion University of Applied Science in the Netherlands found that infrared sauna treatments can help reverse chronic pain with little to no side effects. They studied the effects of infrared saunas in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis over a four-week period, with a series of eight IR treatments. Sauna therapy was well-tolerated with no adverse effects, and they found that a significant percentage of patients experienced decreased symptoms of pain and stiffness.
Fatigue also decreased in both groups of patients compared to before beginning treatment, leading the researchers to conclude that infrared treatment has statistically significant short-term beneficial effects in patients experiencing pain without causing any worsening disease symptoms or unwanted side effects. (4)
3. Lowers Side Effects of Diabetes A 2010 study published in the Journal of Complimentary and Alternative Medicine found that far-infrared sauna use is associated with improved quality of life in people with type II diabetes, even when compared to other lifestyle interventions. People with diabetes often suffer from complications such as pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, congestive heart failure and other heart problems, but sauna treatment seems to improve pain threshold and contribute to overall well-being — naturally treating diabetes symptoms.
Patients were tested at the Fraser Lake Community Health Center in Canada, undergoing 20-minute treatments three times weekly over a period of three months. Patients completed a 36-item short-form health survey before and after the treatment period. The results found that a significant percentage experienced improved physical health, general health and social functioning following treatments, as well as lower stress and fatigue levels.
4. Improves Quality of Life and Overall Well-Being For many years, patients suffering from chronic pains have used thermal heating treatments to find relief. Studies have found that regular and repeated thermal therapies are promising methods for lowering chronic pain that can interfere with quality of life without the need for medications.
Researchers from Nishi Kyusyu University in Japan found that infrared sauna heat therapy might work even better to lift someone’s mood and well-being when coupled with other holistic treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy and exercise rehabilitation.
Their 2005 study split 46 patients with chronic pain into two groups, one receiving multidisciplinary treatments without infrared heat therapy and the other receiving all forms of treatment (cognitive behavioral therapy, rehabilitation and exercise therapy, and repeated thermal therapy using far-infrared ray dry saunas). Therapy treatments were performed once a day for four weeks, and results were tracked immediately after treatment and then again two years after discharge.
According to the patients’ test scores, self-ratings for pain, depression and anger significantly decreased after treatment in both groups. However, pain and anger were significantly lower in the group also receiving infrared sauna therapy. Two years after treatment, 77 percent of the patients in the infrared sauna group felt well enough to return to work, compared to just 50 percent in the control group.