I recently did a web search on “health benefits of infrared sauna.” Most of the initial hits were lists of benefits that are well known and fairly well documented: blood pressure, cardiovascular health, tension relief, weight control, pain relief, and so on. I worked my way through nine of these web pages, and I’m pleased to say that only one of them mentioned infrared sauna can help with asthma. The reason I’m pleased is that I think the evidence of infrared sauna for asthma is ambiguous, or at least nuanced.
What Is Asthma?
Asthma is not a disease. It is a condition caused by some combination of genetics and environmental stressors. For this reason, it is usually particular to the sufferer. In some people, asthma attacks are triggered by allergens. In some, it’s cold. And in some, it can be certain medications, respiratory illness, cigarette smoke, or emotional stress. Some are even triggered by exercise. A 2016 report showed that heat can be a trigger, although it was discussing weather, not sauna. Humidity may play as much a role as heat itself.
Infrared sauna is unlikely to trigger an asthma attack. But if you have asthma, you need to know your triggers. Don’t rely on promotional materials (even this blog!) for advice on managing your condition. There is reason to believe that infrared sauna can help with asthma symptoms in some people. But consult your asthma plan and talk with your doctor before you try it.
Infrared Sauna for Asthma
A 1989 study of 12 male patients found that sauna improved lung function. This is the study that gets cited most often by promoters of sauna for asthma. But the study described the lung function improvement as “transient.” I want to note here that this was a traditional sauna, which culminates in throwing water on hot rocks. Inhaling a spray can cause bronchial constrictions. The study did not report on that aspect. But it’s not a concern for us in any case. Infrared sauna has no hot rocks and no water throwing.
If your particular asthma is the same as the asthma of those 12 patients, infrared sauna may give you transient improvement in lung function. In fact, a 2001 report said specifically, “The transient improvements in pulmonary function that occur in the sauna may provide some relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis.”
General Health Benefits
Is a transient improvement in lung function enough to recommend IR sauna as a treatment? You and your doctor can make that decision together. But there are other reasons to consider IR sauna. It promotes relaxation. I can tell you from experience that you cannot hold on to tension when you are in the sauna cabinet. And, to the extent that relaxation helps your asthma (and it certainly should), a session in the IR sauna should help you breathe better. Also, if you have issues with weight control, heart problems, or arthritis in addition to your asthma, IR sauna could improve those, too.
There are also benefits at the cellular level. The infrared sauna radiates energy that can penetrate up to 1.5 inches below the surface of the skin. It turns out that radiating cells below the surface of the skin energizes those cells. That cellular energy reduces fatigue, improves blood flow, and flushes waste products. That’s why so many people come out of a sauna session feeling renewed.
Book an infrared sauna session today.