Saunas have been used for thousands of years to heal ailments and detox the body. The health benefits of saunas are well known and pretty mind-blowing.

When most of us think sauna, we’re thinking of a wooden box with electrical heat. But there’s another type of sauna that delivers all the benefits of traditional heat therapy, along with light therapy or phototherapy. It’s called a near-infrared sauna, and it delivers an an amazing combination of health benefits.

First, a quick review of the types of saunas

There are three main types of saunas you can choose from.

  1. Traditional saunas are heated through electric or wood burning heat. They can be dry or wet. Wet saunas introduce steam through steam generators or by throwing water on hot rocks. Traditional saunas are very, very hot, and put most people’s heat endurance to the test.
  2. Far infrared saunas use heating elements that mainly emit light in the far-infrared range. This type of far-infrared light does offer some light therapy, but it doesn’t penetrate the body as well as near-infrared light does. Additionally, far-infrared saunas typically emit harmful levels of EMF.
  3. Near infrared lamp saunas combine heat therapy and light therapy. The light from  near-infrared saunas can penetrate the body up to 9 inches, according to NASA. Additionally, NIR saunas generally emit very low levels of EMF. Plus, NIR saunas deliver some amazing an unique benefits that we’ll explore below.

Okay, ready for those near infrared sauna benefits?

Infrared saunas have been scientifically proven to make you superhuman (or close to it!)

1. Extreme healing abilities

A number of studies show that near infrared saunas can drastically improve tissue and wound healing, even wounds to the eyes! In fact, one study found that mice blinded by chemicals regained their sight after NIR therapy. Other studies show Near-Infrared Light Therapy (NILT) can effectively treat traumatic brain injury patients.

Infrared saunas also improve skin healing by improving collagen and elastin production.

Not only will your everyday wear and tear heal well with infrared sauna, but diseases can be treated too. From Lyme disease to cancer (source) to fibromyalgia, infrared light therapy can help alleviate symptoms and fight disease. The increased body temperature is thought to impair tumor growth and immobilize and kill spirochetes (and possibly other pathogens).

2. Quick athletic recovery

Near-infrared light has been shown to increase human growth hormone which is crucial for muscle recovery. Sauna also increases blood flow to skeletal muscles, which helps them stay fueled while removing toxins and metabolic byproducts.

3. Feel no pain

Sauna has been shown to reduce joint and muscle pain. One randomized, controlled trial found that NIR therapy reduced low back pain by 50% in 6 weeks. A sauna’s ability to increase the release of anti-inflammatory compounds like noradrenaline, adrenaline, cortisol, and growth hormones help the body to release endorphins, our natural pain killers. NIR light also helps stimulate circulation and collagen production, which help rebuild joints and muscles.

4. Super strength

Near-infrared sauna use can help you build muscle. The extra release of human growth hormone is one reason for improved muscle growth. Heat acclimation from sauna increases heat shock proteins, which act to transport repair proteins. These in turn reduce the amount of protein degradation, while increasing protein synthesis and muscle growth. One study showed a 30% increase in muscle growth in animals after heat therapy.

5. Never get sick (well, pretty much)

NIR sauna use can improve immune function. Because sauna can increase circulation, improve the lymphatic system, and increase white blood cell counts, your immune system will benefit as well, making you an all around germ fighting machine! Finnish and German studies show that saunas can reduce the incidence of cold and flu by about 30%. Take that, flu season.

6. Stress resilience

Saunas don’t just help you relax, but actually improve your body’s ability to cope with stress. Saunas stimulate production of heat shock proteins, which act to protect the body. Saunas have also been shown to protect against oxidative stress.

Put all these near-infrared sauna health benefits together, and you’re looking at an amazing detox tool that will help you become (almost) superhuman.

7. Fat and cellulite reduction

Regular sauna use can reduce overall body fat, which in and of itself is pretty powerful. But near infrared light has been shown to go above and beyond that to also decrease cellulite. (source) One advantage to NIR heat lamps is that they can be targeted at specific areas of the body as needed, such as cellulite in the belly area. Other studies have found NIR light to be effective in controlling cellulite with combines with other therapies.

8. Live longer

A recent and awesome scientific study showed a significant decrease in mortality (which is to say, an increase in longevity) associated with sauna use. A significant decrease in cardiovascular disease and fatal heart attacks were among the many benefits observed.

Where to find a near infrared sauna

You can buy near infrared saunas (like this one) for one or two thousand dollars, and if you have the money and space they are great.

We chose to buy a portable infrared saunas from Sauna Space that you can use in your bathroom or any other small room. We keep ours in our walk-in closet and it fits just fine.

I’ll be posting a full review of our Sauna Space sauna soon.

You can also try making your own, just be sure to use near infrared light bulbs.

How about you?

Have you ever tried an infrared sauna? What was your experience?