Saunas were introduced to the world by the fine people of Finland in 1112 AD. Known for their healing properties, the ancient Finnish people sat in an enclosed space filled with air heated by stones in a fire for extended periods of time. At times they would drip water on the rocks to create steam, later sand and steam baths would be created, and as the technology changed and evolved, more health benefits became unlocked. What started as tradition, quickly turned into an invaluable tool in the health and relaxation of people around the world.
That evolution of technology has resulted in the most beneficial sauna yet –the Infrared (also know as IR) Sauna.
How Do Infrared Saunas Work?
Let’s get a little technical for a moment, shall we?
While electromagnetic spectrum might sound like something straight out of a science fiction book, it is actually something that you encounter every day of your life. The electromagnetic spectrum is the varying degrees that are made up by wavelengths of light. Infrared is part of the spectrum, and is classified into three categories itself: Near, Middle, and Far.
An IR sauna booth employs far infrared, known from here on out as FIR. Through the use of this invisible band of light, objects are warmed without warming the air. A great example of how this works:
Imagine it is a chilly but sunny winter day. You’re bundled up and you can feel the air around you is cold, but when you stand directly in the sun, you can feel the warmth. The sun is able to warm you without warming the air around you. This is FIR at work. As a matter of fact, over 80% of the sun’s rays are actually infrared. The energy coming from IR waves are not visible to the human eye, but there are cameras that are able to see these waves, known as infrared cameras.
Infrared as Therapy
Now that we have a technical understanding of what FIR is, let’s look at how it works on the body for healing. IR sauna booths mimic the same infrared frequencies emitted by the sun and the tissues in the human body absorb these waves. This process is called "resonant absorption", and it occurs when the frequency of the water in the body cells match the frequency of the infrared waves. When this occurs, toxins are released into the blood stream and are excreted from the body. Since the body is absorbing the heat and not the air, the body quickly begins to perspire and release the toxins.
Why Infrared (and not traditional)
The Finnish had a good thing going for them in 1112, but as with many 900 year old technologies, there are better and more efficient technologies. A traditional high-heat sauna can be as hot as 220 degrees and most people simply cannot tolerate such a heat for a great deal of time. Also, those elevated levels of heat result in dried out nasal passages, which can be inflamed and painful after being dried. Water was introduced to relieve this, but the fact remains that having heated air at that level is hard for the body to tolerate. The temperatures in an infrared sauna are typically 100-130 degrees, a much more tolerable (some would even say comfortable) temperature. Science has also shown that these temperatures and this environment encourage a more efficient shedding of toxic material in the body, as evidence in the reduced amount of water in the perspiration and an increased amount of toxins. The resonant absorption experienced in an IR sauna booth has also shown to increase the amount of toxins excreted by the liver, kidneys, and even hair.
FIR for your health
With benefits that go beyond simple detoxification, infrared saunas are an efficient and relaxing method that creates a more stable body and circulatory system; it aids in weight loss, reduces pain, and reduces stress. We are all grateful to the Finns for getting the ball rolling with the sauna, but the future is now with infrared saunas.