by Rebecca Word, ND

Well, I think it is safe to say spring is here!  In holistic health, this is the time of year that we automatically begin thinking about cleansing.  Cleansing is not just about bitter tasting potions and militaristic meal planning (although these do help), but looking at multiple ways of clearing out our personal temples.  Coming out of the sedentary sofa surfing and comfort food craving months of winter it only makes sense to make it a yearly ritual to “spring clean.”  I like a multi-pronged approach to detoxification.  This includes clean diet, lots of water, alternating showers, deep breathing exercises, fiber supplementation, castor oil packs and individualized remedies.  Let’s focus on a detox powerhouse: the Far Infrared Sauna.

So what are some of the benefits of IR Saunas?

  • Adults have approximately 2 square meters of skin surface area through which to sweat out toxins.  Infrared saunas penetrate more deeply at a lower temperature with greater sweating than do regular saunas.
  • Saunas increase the movement of blood and lymph therefore increasing detoxification.
  • Regular sauna usage can normalize our ability to sweat.  We all know that person who claims to never sweat, or just glistens, even with strenuous exercise.  He or she could benefit from IR saunas.
  • Many toxins are stored in our fat cells.  This is the body’s protective mechanism to keep these dangerous molecules away from vital organs.  (Keep in mind the brain is predominantly composed of fats.)  Infrared saunas help to mobilize these toxins from fat stores and sweating promotes elimination.
  • Saunas increase metabolic rate.  Some sources say an infrared sauna will burn 600 calories per 30 minute session.  Now doesn’t that beat jogging!
  • Saunas can improve weak heart function (increased stroke volume and ejection fraction without raising blood pressure).
  • Saunas are extremely beneficial in cancer patients.  They help to mobilize the body burden of toxins and also aid the body in ridding itself of chemotherapeutic agents that can have lasting effects in the body.
  • Regular sauna usage can improve disturbed sleep patterns.

Sounds great, right?  So who needs to be careful with saunas?  People with metal implants, pacemakers, diabetes, lymphedema, decreased kidney function, seizure disorder, drug or alcohol addiction, and pregnant women should be cautious with sauna usage and definitely should be under the supervision of a doctor.  Everyone who uses sauna should be sure to have a cool rinse afterwards, and to replenish lost fluids and electrolytes.  If you aren’t sure about any of the above make an appointment with your practitioner before setting out.  Infrared sauna is a great way to relax, pamper yourself and detox at the same time.  Bring a friend, and happy cleansing.