Infrared saunas can offer profound and long-lasting positive benefits to those who use them. With that said, there are a few defenses to keep in mind if you are considering using an infrared sauna.
Due to the way the human body handles intense heat, sauna use may not be suitable for everyone. These are the pros and cons of overshadowing an infrared sauna.
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Exposure to near, middle, and far infrared light produces several different biochemical changes in the body. The intense heat provided by an infrared sauna puts pressure on the body, as your body has to work harder to keep its temperature in an ideal range. For this reason, euphoric hormones are released to compensate for stress. These hormones can dramatically improve your mood and state of mind. Plus, the results are semi-permanent, meaning that if you can devote yourself to a regular visit to the sauna, you may find yourself in an ever-improving mood.
Studies by Dr. Jeffrey Lieb showed that after just one sauna treatment session, study participants experienced a 50% reduction in their depression. These results lasted for six weeks. In addition, some of the symptoms of depression, such as decreased appetite and repetitive mental disorders, have also been reduced.
Spending time in a sauna lowers blood pressure to healthy levels. This change in blood pressure reduces the risk of having a heart attack. Some infrared saunas increase body temperature, which in turn leads to an increase in heart rate. Numerous studies have shown that this increase in heart rate has an equivalent effect on your cardiovascular system as moderate exercise. One study even found that men who used a sauna regularly (four to seven times a week) were 50% less likely to die from cardiovascular disease.
People who use saunas regularly get colds less often. Studies have shown that even fifteen minutes in a sauna can increase the number of white blood cells in the blood. This increase helps your body fight bacteria and viruses like the common cold or flu. If you still manage to get sick, an improved immune system will help reduce your symptoms and recover faster.
Because babies in the womb cannot regulate their body temperature, the extreme heat of a sauna could pose health risks to the fetus. Some studies have linked the exposure of babies to higher temperatures during the first trimester of pregnancy and serious health complications related to the spinal cord and brain. More research is still being done, but as a general rule, saunas should avoid during pregnancy. Note that the same studies apply to the use of sweat lodges, steam rooms, hot tubs, and extremely hot tubs.
There are some things that can be use safely with a sauna. Alcohol and specific drugs that affect your ability to sweat in combination with a sauna can cause the body to overheat. Beyond that, mixing alcohol with a visit to the sauna dramatically increases the risk of dehydration and a terrible hangover.
If you are taking prescription medication and plan to go to a sauna, always speak with your doctor first to ensure that the visit does not interfere with the function of your medications. Never drink alcohol before or during your stay in a sauna.
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