Radiant Health: Exploring the 5 Wellness Benefits of Infrared Saunas


Lindsay Christensen


Radiant Health: Exploring the 5 Wellness Benefits of Infrared Saunas

Saunas have been an integral part of the health practices of cultures worldwide for millennia. From the legendary dry Finnish sauna to the sweat lodges used by native Americans, humans have long harnessed and benefited from the health-promoting power of heat exposure. (Source)

Traditional saunas aren’t going anywhere but, in the 21st century, we now have a new type of sauna bathing available – the infrared sauna. Read on to explore the unique differences and health benefits of infrared saunas. 

How Do Infrared Saunas Differ from Traditional Saunas?

A traditional sauna, such as a Finnish sauna, uses a box-shaped stove to heat the interior of the sauna. The stove heats the air, and then the heated air warms up the person sitting in the sauna. A traditional sauna typically heats up to temperatures between 160° to 200° Fahrenheit (and sometimes, even higher), so most people can only tolerate sitting in the sauna for a brief period of about 10-15 minutes. 

In addition, traditional saunas often apply dry heat interspersed with periods of increased humidity, such as when water is tossed over hot rocks in a Finnish sauna. While some people enjoy this, the humidity can make some sauna goers feel uncomfortable. 

An infrared sauna, on the other hand, uses infrared wavelengths to heat the body directly, while only losing a small amount of the infrared energy to heat the air inside the sauna. Infrared is a type of naturally occurring electromagnetic radiation that is invisible to the eye and detected as a sensation of warmth on the skin. In other words, infrared wavelengths are heat. 

Fun fact! More than half of the sun’s power output is infrared light, and your body also produces its own infrared wavelengths! (Source, Source

Unlike traditional saunas, infrared saunas run at lower ambient temperatures of around 120° to 150° Fahrenheit, so the temperatures aren't as oppressive as in a traditional sauna. An infrared sauna functions at a lower temperature because infrared wavelengths heat the body by penetrating the skin and raising core body temperature, thereby inducing sweating at a lower ambient temperature than a traditional sauna. (Source

Infrared saunas can utilize near, mid, or far infrared heat or a combination of these wavelengths to heat the body and support health. 

  • Near-infrared is the shortest wavelength of infrared light and is most effective for supporting healthy skin by facilitating collagen production and blood circulation. 
  • Mid-infrared light is a longer wavelength with great benefits for circulatory health.
  • Finally, far infrared light is the longest wavelength in the infrared spectrum, which is the most effective in raising core body temperature. 
  • Saunas that provide all three wavelengths of infrared light may be ideal for supporting whole-body health and wellness. (Source, Source, Source

5 Health Benefits of Infrared Sauna

1. A Hormetic Stressor 

One of the ways in which infrared sauna bathing facilitates health is by inducing a hormetic response. 

A hormetic response is a phenomenon where a low dose of a potentially harmful stressor, such as exposure to high heat, stimulates adaptive mechanisms within the body, leading to beneficial effects such as improved resilience, health, or longevity. This concept suggests that mild stress can activate cellular repair and support antioxidant defenses and other protective mechanisms, ultimately enhancing your ability to withstand more significant stressors in the future. (Source, Source)

One of the mechanisms through which infrared sauna bathing may induce a hormetic response is by raising the activity of heat-shock proteins (HSP), a family of proteins that help the body respond to stressful conditions. As their name suggests, HSPs are produced in response to heat exposure to help prevent cellular damage. Optimal heat shock protein activity has many benefits including helping your body adapt to stress, protecting and repairing cells, and supporting healthy immune function. Interestingly, an infrared sauna can raise core body temperature more than exercise, which may have implications for its hormetic effects on the body.  (Source, Source

2. Support Toxin Elimination

Having a consistent detoxification practice is vital in our modern-day world, where we are exposed to dozens of harmful toxins daily, ranging from heavy metals to pesticides to persistent organic pollutants (POPs). (Source

Sweating helps our bodies release toxins, including heavy metals like mercury and lead, and persistent organic pollutants like polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). The unique wavelengths of light and degree of sweating induced by infrared sauna bathing helps support the excretion of toxins. In fact, many heavy metals are excreted at a much higher rate in sweat than through urine; for example, nickel, lead, and chromium levels are 10 to 30 times higher in sweat than in urine. Sweating is, therefore, a powerful tool for helping us cleanse our bodies and manage our toxic exposures. (Source, Source) Infrared sauna use may also increase the elimination of some of these chemicals through urination after the sauna session. (Source, Source

3. An Exercise Mimetic and Aids Recovery 

An exercise mimetic is a substance or practice that stimulates the physiological effects of exercise on the body. Exercise mimetics include various supplemental compounds like resveratrol, and lifestyle practices, including using a sauna! (Source

Research shows that using an infrared sauna causes physiological effects like exercise, including increased core body temperature. Of course, using a sauna cannot wholly replace physical activity. For the best effects, infrared sauna use should be incorporated into a healthy lifestyle routine that includes regular aerobic activity, such as walking, running, cycling, and strength training. (Source

In addition, preliminary research suggests infrared sauna bathing may support exercise recovery, helping you get back to your activity faster after a hard day in the gym, on the road or trail. A study on male basketball players found that using a sauna for 20 minutes after a resistance training protocol decreased muscle soreness and increased perceived recovery, possibly leading to enhanced athletic performance. Another study found that infrared sauna bathing improves neuromuscular recovery from endurance exercise. (Source, Source

4. Support a Healthy Heart

Early evidence indicates that infrared sauna bathing may support a healthy cardiovascular system, including healthy blood pressure. It may also regulate markers of oxidative stress involved in cardiovascular dysfunction. Infrared sauna bathing may support cardiovascular health by helping the body maintain a healthy endothelial lining, the layer of cells that line blood vessels and contributes to the regulation of blood pressure and plaque buildup, and by influencing levels of inflammatory cytokines immune signaling molecules involved in the body’s inflammatory responses. (Source, Source

5. Supports Joint and Muscle Health

A randomized controlled trial found that utilizing infrared saunas as part of a comprehensive approach including rehabilitation and exercise therapy may improve joint and muscle health in people suffering from ongoing joint and muscle discomfort. While the mechanisms behind these improvements aren’t fully understood, increased blood flow and alterations in inflammatory signaling molecules induced by infrared sauna bathing may be responsible. (Source

The Bottom Line on the Benefits of Infrared Saunas + Dr. Shade’s Sauna Recommendation

Incorporating infrared sauna bathing into a wellness routine provides a comfortable way to experience the numerous health benefits of a sauna. Through its effects on hormesis, toxin clearance, exercise and recovery properties, and multiple body systems and structures, infrared sauna bathing may support a healthy body and mind, making it a must-have tool in your wellness toolkit! 

Quicksilver’s favorite infrared sauna solution is a Clearlight Sauna from Heal with Heat. These are doctor-designed infrared saunas that come highly recommended by not only our very own Dr. Shade, but by Dr. Daniel Amen, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Dr. David Perlmutter, Ben Greenfield and more. Receive a discount on your Clearlight Sauna from Heal with Heat by using the code DRSHADE. Explore Clearlight Saunas here.  To order your Clearlight Infrared sauna, contact 800.317.5070 or


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