Why infrared saunas actually work

Why infrared saunas actually work

Infrared saunas are an incredible healing tool that offer all of the benefits of traditional saunas, along with the wide range of healing abilities of infrared light. While traditional wooden saunas raise the body temperature by heating the air around you, infrared saunas produce a gentle, soothing radiant heat that penetrates deep into your cells and tissues, heating you from the inside out. This allows for more effective detoxification, as infrared heat can penetrate deeper into the body’s tissues. 

It is thought that sweat from traditional saunas is 95-97% water, with salt making up most of the remainder, while the sweat produced by infrared saunas is only 80-85% water with the remainder made up of a variety of elements including, cholesterol, fat soluble toxins and heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia and uric acid. Infrared saunas also allow for easier breathing and more comfort as they max out at 160-170°F, while a traditional sauna can get up to 200-250°F.

Let’s take a look at some of the benefits.


If you’ve read our blog post on red light therapy, then you already know that infrared light has some serious skin benefits. Infrared waves are on the same wavelength as sunlight and harness many of the health benefits of sunbathing without the damaging effects of UV rays. In fact, infrared light penetrates deep into the dermis, stimulating collagen synthesis and according to this study, suppresses skin photoaging. Another study demonstrates infrared light’s positive effects on microcirculation, which translates to more beautiful radiant skin. It can significantly improve the skin’s complexion, tone and texture.


An infrared sauna session can mimic a workout and significantly improve weight loss. Incredibly enough, just by sitting back and relaxing in an infrared sauna for 30 minutes, you can burn upwards of 700 calories. An infrared sauna session can also increase blood flow and circulation, while increasing your metabolism and energy levels for up to 12 hours after a session. Using an infrared sauna in conjunction with your workouts, can help to increase results by increasing exercise tolerance, speeding up muscle recovery, and promoting muscle growth.


Sweating plays a huge role in removing toxins from the body. Detoxification is super important due to the high level of exposure to pesticides, heavy metals, plastics, phthalates and other chemicals that come with living in our industrialized modern world. Even the air we breathe is contaminated with toxins. It’s been estimated that a whopping 92% of the world’s population breaths polluted air. 

We are exposed to hundreds of toxins on a daily basis and these toxins cause cellular and DNA damage, damage to the nervous system and brain, disrupt the endocrine system and can cause altered metabolism and obesity. They can stick around for decades, especially if your body’s detoxification pathways are suppressed and you’re not burning fat. 

Saunas play an essential role in helping our bodies to rid toxic chemicals, heavy metals, and other poisons through sweat. In fact, a 2011 study found that induced sweating helps to eliminate many toxic elements from the human body. The same researchers also found that infrared and steam saunas help to excrete phthalates, flame retardants, BPAs, pesticides and PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls). In general, studies find a 25-30% decrease in persistent organic pollutant (a man-made synthetic substance) levels in fat tissue and blood by heat-induced sweating. This has been shown to increase IQ, neurocognitive function, work related ableness and quality of life.


Just 15 minutes in the sauna stimulates the immune system by increasing white blood cell count, lymphocytes and neutrophils, according to this study. Saunas have been proven to significantly increase cellular resistance to viral infections. When our cells are exposed to heat, they increase their level of HSPs or heat shock proteins, which increase the cell’s resistance to many types of stressors, including infection. HSPs have been shown to play key roles in immune response as well as boosting immunity. They can interact directly with viruses and regulate their entry into cells and viral replication. They have also been shown to activate monocytes, dendritic cells and macrophages to improve antigen presentation and immune signaling.

Some added benefits of HSPs include:

Clearing out accumulated free radicals and cellular debris.

Repairing damaged proteins that disrupt homeostasis.

Increasing glutathione and overall antioxidant activity.

Promoting muscle relaxation. 

Promoting life extension and longevity. This study found that HSP elevation from exposure to heat, increased the lifespan of flies up to 15%.

Mental Health

Sauna sessions can increase endorphins and beneficial brain neurotrophic factors, helping to maintain synaptic connections, while also promoting the creation of new ones. They have also been proven to help alleviate depression and anxiety as well as improve blood flow to the brain and increase mental alertness. One study that looked at whole body hyperthermia (heat stress) on patients with chronic depression, researchers were astonished to find that 60% responded positively and 40% met the criteria for remission of depression.