14 Health Benefits of Infrared Saunas

Want to know about a SIMPLE way to burn 600 calories, flush toxins out of your body, reduce acne, and get pain relief? Learn all about Infrared saunas.

Woman in a sauna

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I’m really excited to share the health benefits of infrared sauna therapy. We’ve been testing it for a while in my home, and the results are nothing short of amazing.

But first, I want to back up and explain why we looked into it. And it’s a long story, but I want to explain why we looked into it. I’m sure many of you can relate.

Our backstory

My husband struggles with a lot of health issues – including food allergies, rheumatoid arthritis, degenerative disc disease (he has been told by several doctors he will need to eventually get spinal fusion surgery), and Lyme disease.

The good news is that we’ve been able to heal his gut and take care of his celiac through a gluten-free, real food diet. That’s why I started this blog. Essential oils (where to buy) have been amazing in help him with tired muscles after a surfing workout. Supplements help to support his bones, muscles, ligaments and overall wellness.

But there was still something missing. And then we had an AHA! moment.

About a month ago, we went to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. At home in San Diego, he can barely walk a few blocks around the neighborhood, and if he does he’ll be out the rest of the day because his back will be sore. When we take family trips to theme parks, he has to rent those electric scooters to get around the park. Yes, really. In Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, we walked for miles. Literally, miles! I had my FitBit and actually kept track. One day we did a 7-mile hike, and he was fine. We just used some essential oils to help with tired muscles.

So what happened? It took us a while to figure it out, but we did. He needs heat. He needs to sweat. It’s that simple.

We live in San Diego, Calif. While the weather is typically moderate, the winters do get down to about 40 degrees. The summers can get hot – upwards of 90 degrees. But it’s more a dry heat. I find that I don’t sweat as much here in San Diego even in the summer compared to when I’m in Hawaii or other tropical destinations.

Once we figured out he needed heat and sweat, I started looking into what we could do for him. That’s when I learned about the benefits of infrared sauna therapy.

The history of saunas

Saunas have been around for thousands of years. It was made popular in Finland and used as an ancient form of a bath. In those, underground pits were dug up and stones were heated to high temperatures and then water was thrown over the hot stones to produce steam. This steam causes the body to sweat, which then aids in the detoxification process and other health benefits.

Sweating in itself helps to flush toxins out of the body. That’s why wearing traditional deodorants and antiperspirants are harmful to the body – as they inhibit the body’s natural detoxification process.

What is the difference between a regular sauna and infrared sauna?

Most of us are familiar with saunas in our fitness gym or spa, which are typically traditional saunas. They operate at high temperatures – usually 160-200 degrees. That’s way too hot for most people – and exactly why I thought I didn’t like saunas. It was merely too hot for me with the steam. This type of sauna may not be as effective for your health as it just heats the air around you, usually via steam.

Infrared saunas use far infrared energy to heat the body. This is the same type of heat produced by the sun and our bodies, so it’s safe. So it’s a direct source of heat rather than traditional saunas, which use indirect heat (i.e. steam) to heat the body. You get all the benefits of sunlight therapy without the harmful UV rays.

In addition, infrared saunas are used between 110 to 140 degrees – which is much lower and more tolerable than traditional saunas. There’s also no pre-heating like traditional saunas, which can help to cut down on energy costs too. I find that I’m able to tolerate 150 degrees without feeling too hot. It’s more of a gentle heat. That’s why I prefer infrared saunas over conventional ones.

One thing to watch out for is EMF – electromagnetic fields. Some infrared saunas may emit expose you to EMF, so it’s important to look for one that doesn’t emit EMF or emits low EMF. Keep reading for tips on how to choose an infrared sauna.

What are the health benefits of infrared saunas?

You know that sweating is good for the body. But what else can it do?

  1. Burns about 600 calories (in a 30-minute session) as the heat generated by the infrared sauna increases core temperature
  2. May help with weight loss and reduce body mass
  3. May help to reduce cardiovascular risk factors
  4. May help to relieve chronic fatigue
  5. Provides pain relief to those with chronic back pain and rheumatoid arthritis
  6. Aids in recovery after exercise

This is small list to get you thinking about how infrared saunas can help you. Do your own research to learn more.

Our experience with an infrared sauna

In just a couple of sessions, my husband noticed immediate results. He has low back and joint pain, and he said he felt pain relief pretty quickly. He started off at 130 degrees for 5 minutes, and worked his way up to 150 degrees for 30 minutes. He’s been using it consistently to help with his back pain – and now he can’t imagine life without it. The heat from the sauna and the sweating have been instrumental in helping him to get through the winter here in San Diego, which is usually a time when his joints and low back pain are at their worst. So if you feel like the cold weather has a negative effect on your back or joints, I would definitely recommend checking out an infrared sauna.

How to buy an infrared sauna

There are a lot of infrared saunas out there. Remember to look for ones that have low to no EMF. A standalone unit can cost about $1,000-3,000.

I personally wanted to try it before committing a huge investment. So I opted for a portable infrared sauna. I really like this one – yes, I know it looks like a human toaster. But it works really well! There’s a foldable stool you can sit on, which allows you to stick your head and hands out to read or do other things. We prefer to take the stool out, and sit criss-cross on a towel with our hands and feet in the sauna to get the benefit of whole body sweating.

The unit itself isn’t very big. We have it in our bedroom. And it’s portable so you can move it to another room pretty easily or pack with you to take on the go. I know it looks a little weird, but trust me – it’s been a huge help with my husband and his chronic back pain.

Another option is a portal standing infrared sauna. I love this option for standing up rather than sitting down.

Tips when using an infrared sauna

  • You will sweat a lot, especially as you start getting to 20-30 minute sessions. Be sure to replace the electrolytes in your body as you will lose them through sweating. Try this Homemade Electrolyte Drink you can make with just a few ingredients.
  • Start with low heat. Our portable infrared sauna had a starting heat of 130 degrees. We gradually increased the heat as we became comfortable – about 5 degrees each week until we hit 150 degrees.
  • Start with 5 minutes. In addition to starting with low heat, you should also begin with a short amount of time to get used to the infrared sauna. We started at 5 minutes (we didn’t do much sweat at that point), and gradually increased to 30 minutes. We added 5 minute increments each week until we got used to it.
  • Sit on a towel to absorb the sweat. Believe me, after 15-20 minutes you’ll be dripping in sweat, so be sure you’re sitting on a towel to keep your sauna clean.
  • Take off all clothing. Trust me, you’ll be sweating a lot.
  • After a sauna session, try taking a cool or warm shower (not a hot one) to stimulate your body. The transition from hot and sweating to cool can really help with overall cardiovascular wellness.

So who’s going to take the plunge and try an infrared sauna? I want to hear from you!



Photo credit: DepositPhotos.com/dlpn, BigStockPhotos.com/BillionPhotos.com, Amazon

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  1. Thanks for sharing! I have never heard of infrared saunas before today. I receive Kelly’s (Primal) emails as well and had read her post about infrared saunas then I came across your email. Hearing about this twice is no accident. I would LOVE to try a portable sauna as i believe it would truly help my husband with his back/health issues. Not to mention I am always up for a detox! We don’t have the finances for it at the moment, but I will definitely keep this in mind and do a little more research on the matter. Thank you “Mama”! Have a blessed day!

    1. Infrared saunas are amazing. In my post, I have a link to a portable one on Amazon. It’s a great way to try one out for a fraction of the cost of a permanent wooden infrared sauna.