Infrared sauna for inflammation seems counter-intuitive, doesn’t it? We associate inflammation with the generation of heat, and it seems to defy common sense that subjecting inflammation to more heat would limit or reduce it. Our usual response to inflammation is to apply cold, which reduces the swelling that usually accompanies it. But that’s acute inflammation. Research, on the other hand, shows that sauna fights chronic inflammation.
Inflammation, of course, is part of the body’s healing process, so it seems like something we might want to promote. And, in fact, inflammation in response to an injury or infection is generally a good thing. Inflammation fights germs, helps to heal damaged tissues, and even fights cancer. But when the body produces inflammation in the absence of an injury, an infection, or cancer, it can be profoundly unhealthy. Chronic internal inflammation can produce heart attacks, strokes, and diabetes. It doesn’t confer any protection from cancer, either, and is associated with high cancer risk.
Chronic Inflammation and Bad Habits
Why would the body produce inflammation when it’s apparently unnecessary? According to health guru Dr. Abe Mirkin, chronic inflammation is the result of
- being overweight
- drinking too much alcohol
- overexposure to sunlight
- lack of exercise
- Vitamin D deficiency
- dietary factors including red meat, fried food, and beverages with sugar in them.
Basically, anything that is capable of creating cellular damage is capable of creating chronic internal inflammation. Dr. Mirkin’s simple advice is the best you’ll get on the subject: avoid those lifestyle choices that contribute to chronic inflammation. If you have already made those lifestyle choices, reverse them. Breaking a habit that contributes to inflammation may not eliminate the bad effects immediately, but it’s your best chance of doing so.
Infrared Sauna for Inflammation
The medical world is actively researching the causes and control of chronic inflammation, and some of the recent work has turned toward infrared sauna therapy. A study published in 2008 explained the mechanism when it found that infrared therapy reduced endothelial inflammation in the lab. Endothelial cells are those that line blood and lymphatic vessels, so you can imagine how their inflammation (and possible swelling) threatens the vascular system.
A clinical study published in 2018 is more directly relevant to our purposes. It reviewed the sauna bathing habits of 2269 men over the course of 11 years. It found the health benefits of sauna enjoyed by the subjects were related to reduced systemic inflammation.
Reverse Bad Habits, Reverse Inflammation
But don’t treat the findings on sauna, even infrared sauna, as a license to make bad lifestyle choices. It’s never too late to lose weight, exercise, give up smoking, swear off alcohol and soft drinks, and start eating lots of fruits and vegetables. If you take these steps, and you’re still not feeling better, keep at it. It probably took you a long time to build up your current level of inflammation. But recent research suggests that after you’ve made those changes in your life, it may be possible to speed your recovery process, by fighting inflammation directly with infrared sauna.
The 2018 study reached its findings by comparing those who used the sauna once per week to those who used it 4-7 times per week. The researchers found that more is better. Book a few sessions today.