Saunas have been used throughout the ages by many cultures to combat illness, speed healing, and improve immune function. Far Infrared (FIR) saunas offer many benefits for a variety of health conditions. Over the next few articles we will begin to look at some of the different health benefits of FIR for a variety of health issues. Infrared saunas are different than traditional saunas, which use steam to provide heat. An infrared sauna uses dry heat, produced by FIR panels in the cabin. There have been several studies about the benefits of infrared saunas (aside from how great it feels, especially in the wintertime!)
In Japan, infrared saunas are used extensively, especially to treat heart conditions. Waon Therapy is a Japanese sauna therapy that involves using an infrared sauna heated to 140 F several times a week, sometimes daily for a period of time. Congestive Heart Failure (CHF) is one condition that has been found to improve through the use of infrared sauna. CHF is a condition where fluid builds up around the heart and interferes with its ability to pump efficiently, and can also cause changes in the heart, referred to as an enlarged heart. Researchers have found that after 4 weeks of infrared sauna therapy, patients saw improvements in symptoms, as well as a decrease in cardiac size (Miyata & Tei, 2010). Additionally infrared sauna has been shown to improve survival rates in CHF patients over several years and decrease cardiac events (Miyata & Tei, 2010; Kihara et al, 2009) Infrared sauna has also been shown to improve cardiac function as well as regulate the autonomic nervous system in CHF patients (Kuwahata et al, 2011).
In addition to CHF, Waon therapy has found to be helpful with Peripheral Artery Disease (PAD). PAD is a narrowing of the arteries that move blood away from the heart and to the legs, arms, stomach, and head, causing weakness, pain and fatigue. Infrared sauna has been found to decrease leg pain and improve walking distance in PAD patients, and is considered a promising therapy for PAD (Shinsato et al, 2010). Infrared sauna was also found to improve blood flow and reduce sores on the legs for PAD patients (Miyata & Tei, 2010).
Infrared sauna can be a powerful tool for improving health, and we will continue to explore research for other conditions. Because sauna involves heating and raising your body temperature, you should always ask your healthcare professional if there are any conditions or medications that might preclude you from using a sauna. The Sal Oasis Kingsport has an infrared sauna that can potentially do more than keep you warm this winter!
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. Do not make any changes to your healthcare or treatment without consulting your physician.
Vatansever, F., & Hamblin, M. R. (2012). Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Photonics & lasers in medicine, 4, 255–266. doi:10.1515/plm-2012-0034
Miyata M, Tei C. (2010).Waon therapy for cardiovascular disease: innovative therapy for the 21st century. Circulatory Journal. 2010;74(4):617–21.
Kihara T, Miyata M, Fukudome T, Ikeda Y, Shinsato T, Kubozono T, Fujita S, Kuwahata S, Hamasaki S, Torii H, Lee S, Tod
a H, Tei C. (2009). Waon therapy improves the prognosis of patients with chronic heart failure. Journal of Cardiology. 2009;53(2):214–8.
Kuwahata S, Miyata M, Fujita S, Kubozono T, Shinsato T, Ikeda Y, Hamasaki S, Kuwaki T, Tei C. (2011). Improvement of autonomic nervous activity by Waon therapy in patients with chronic heart failure. Journal of Cardiology, Jan;57(1):100-6. doi: 10.1016/j.jjcc.2010.08.005.
Shinsato T, Miyata M, Kubozono T, Ikeda Y, Fujita S, Kuwahata S, Akasaki Y, Hamasaki S, Fujiwara H, Tei C.(2010). Waon therapy mobilizes CD34+ cells and improves peripheral arterial disease. Journal of Cardiology. 2010;56(3):361–6.