The Amazing Benefits of a Far Infrared Sauna

I just started using the far infrared sauna about a week ago…and I’m sold! You can burn up to 600 calories in one hour and it’s a total detox! I interviewed America’s Integrative Pharmacist Dr. Lori about this topic and told her to send me a note about the benefits.

– Randy Alvarez / CEO The Wellness Hour Inc.

Dr. Lori wrote: Saunas have been used in Europe, especially the Scandinavian region, for hundreds of years. The Finns popularized sauna use by utilizing sauna for mental, spiritual and physical cleansing. In the United States, Native American Indians used “sweat lodges” for cleansing and purifying, recognizing the benefit of a sweat, as well. For centuries, our ancestors have experienced the tremendous benefit of using saunas. 


What’s the difference between a traditional and far-infrared sauna?

Traditional sauna uses heat and humidity to warm the air, which in turn warms your body. There are increasingly more controlled studies being completed utilizing “Far”-infrared sauna (FIS). FIS uses light to create heat and only heats 20% of the air, leaving 80% of the heat available to heat the body. This in turn warms the body more efficiently at lower temperatures with warm and dry heat, making FIS more accessible to people who cannot tolerate the excessive heat and humidity seen in traditional sauna. By breathing cooler air, many users of FIS report a feeling of warmth and well-being as an after effect.

The appeal of saunas is that they cause reactions, such as vigorous sweating and increased heart rate, similar to those experienced during moderate exercise. FIS may induce up to 2 to 3 times the volume of sweat produced in a traditional sauna while operating at significantly cooler temperatures. In addition, infrared heat panels are so safe that they are even used in hospital nurseries to warm newborns.


What are the benefits of using a sauna?

Many medical journals tout the benefits of sauna. In an article published in 1981 in JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), the authors found that “regular use of sauna may impact a similar stress on the cardiovascular system, and its regular use may be as effective, as a means of cardiovascular conditioning and burning of calories, as regular exercise.” In 1982, JAMA authors noted, “A moderately conditioned person can easily sweat off 500 grams in a sauna, consuming nearly 300 kcal, which is equivalent to running 2-3 miles. A heat-conditioned person can easily sweat off 600-800 kcal with no adverse effects. While the weight of the water loss can be regained by drinking water, the calories consumed will not be.”

“Far”-infrared sauna is great for the traditional uses of meditation and detoxification. Detoxification of the body can optimize the efficiency of the immune system. Toxins in the body can accumulate in the skin and the liver and sweating is one of the body’s natural ways to remove toxins. As a result, detox helps avoid disease, prevent illness and improve general health and vitality. FIS heats the body from the core, therefore, it allows you to sweat up to 7 times more toxins than traditional saunas. Daily sweating can help detox the body as it rids itself of accumulated heavy metals as well as alcohol, nicotine, sodium, and sulfuric acid. FIS helps with acne by purifying the skin and cleansing the pores thus ridding accumulated dirt, cosmetics, blackheads and dry skin cells. Less toxins in the skin means healthier skin with improvements in skin complexion, tone, texture, elasticity and overall appearance.

A weight loss benefit can be seen with FIS. Studies show that just 30 minutes can burn upwards of 600 calories! When using FIS core body temperature increases and the body works hard to cool it down which then causes an increase in heart rate, metabolic rate and cardiac output allowing you to burn calories while you relax. Cardiac improvement can be seen in congestive heart failure, and improved circulation benefits individuals with high blood pressure, sciatica, hemorrhoids, and varicose veins. FIS can help you maintain healthy levels of your stress hormones, like cortisol, thus leading to relaxation, better sleep and an overall feeling of being refreshed and rejuvinated. FIS works by deeply penetrating joints, muscle and tissues, which increase circulation and speeds oxygen flow. Many physicians recommend FIS for pain relief and to athletes for sports injuries, fibromyalgia, and other chronic pain syndromes.

In 2009, authors published a study in Clinical Rheumatology. Patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis were treated with infrared sauna.  After 4 weeks and a total of 8 treatments, pain and stiffness decreased significantly and improvement was seen in fatigue. In yet another article published in 1994 in Respiration, authors found “sauna therapy can help respiration in patients with asthma and bronchitis, and lung function was improved in patients with COPD”. Japanese and Chinese practitioners have utilized FIS and have noted benefit in the following:  Arthritis (TMJ, Traumatic, Rheumatoid, DJD), compression fractures, muscle tension and spasms, post-exercise muscle pain, bursitis, low-back pain and lumbar strain, menstrual pain, joint stiffness and eczema.

Depending on the degree of detoxification needed, benefit with “far”-infrared sauna was seen in many studies in as little as 15-30 minutes 3 to 5 times weekly. In patients who require a higher degree of detoxification, daily treatment may be more beneficial. By utilizing detoxification through diet and FIS, in addition to the restoration of necessary levels of nutrients, optimal healing and well-being can be accomplished.


Dr. Lori – America’s Integrative Pharmacist

Dr. Lori Arnold, Pharm.D., FAARM, is “America’s Integrative Pharmacist.” She has established her expertise in pharmacy practice in traditional medicine, and has a passion and love for natural, functional, holistic and integrative medicine. She has a desire to “integrate” the traditional and the functional approach to medicine and has a vision to have these schools of thought coexist. Dr. Lori has set forth on a mission to educate healthcare practitioners and patients on nutrition, wellness and longevity and believes in the body’s amazing ability to heal itself. Dr. Lori is an advocate for practitioners who “talk the talk, and walk the walk.”

Dr. Lori’s love for the medical field started at a very young age. She was diagnosed with asthma at six years old. Growing up in a small farming community of Hettinger, North Dakota, the prevalence of childhood illnesses was high. Much time was spent in and out of the hospital being treated for acute exacerbations, and multiple trips to specialists for allergy regimens and injections. It was then that she developed a personal fondness and respect for her physicians, nurses and pharmacists and knew she was destined for a career in health.

Dr. Lori attended Montana Tech of the University of Montana and received an Associate’s Degree in Chemistry. She went on to attend the University of Montana School of Pharmacy, in Missoula, Montana. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Pharmacy in 1999, and completed her Doctorate degree in Pharmacy in 2000. Dr. Lori was very active in Kappa Psi Pharmaceutical Fraternity, American Pharmacist’s Association (APhA), and American Society of Health System Pharmacists (ASHP). Through her involvement in APhA, she was awarded a grant to develop an asthma support group and education, and went on to become the youngest member of the Board of Directors for the American Lung Association of Montana and North Dakota.

Dr. Lori Arnold’s career as a pharmacist has included a variety of practice settings, including clinical hospital practice, home care and infusion services, community practice, specialized medication therapy management, academic mentorship, and most recently, medical affairs with pharmaceutical industry.

After obtaining her Pharm.D., Dr. Lori returned to North Dakota. She worked as a clinical pharmacist in the hospital setting. While there, she took pride in developing new protocols, guidelines and processes that improved patient care, while offering education to the medical staff.  She avidly participated in several internal committees including: Investigational Review Board, Internal Marketing Committee, JCAHO Steering Committee, Bioethics Committee, Committee and Employee Activities Committee. She was a volunteer for the local hospice and dedicated time to helping patients and families with comfort care measures and provided education on pain management to local and state hospice meetings. She also spent time working with the local long-term care facilities on a consultant basis.

Dr. Lori moved to California in 2003. She spent a year as Director of Pharmacy for a home infusion pharmacy in Palm Springs. She then returned to clinical hospital practice where she remained an active patient advocate for seven years. Dr. Lori polished her inpatient skills and created a position as Medication Safety and Compliance Officer, where she practiced in this setting for 4 years. She was very active in numerous internal committees and provided ongoing education to physicians, nurses, pharmacists and students. She also spent time as a per-diem pharmacist for a Medication Therapy Management anticoagulation clinic. During this time, she also held a 3 year position as Assistant Clinical Professor for the Department of Pharmacotherapy and Outcomes Science at Loma Linda University School of Pharmacy. In addition, Dr. Lori’s love for community service landed her in Ibarra, Ecuador, in July 2009, for a medical mission with the International Medical Alliance (IMA).

In 2010, Dr. Lori accepted a position with medical affairs for the pharmaceutical industry where she prepares and delivers scientific seminars to medical professionals. She spent 1 year as an educator in the cardiovascular disease state, atrial fibrillation, and was transferred to the disease state of diabetes a year later. With the growing epidemic of obesity and diabetes, or as Dr. Mark Hyman calls it, “Diabesity”, more and more attention needs to be focused on helping educate patients and practitioners on the appropriate treatment of this condition.

Dr. Lori has always had a strong desire to learn about the functional approach to wellness, therefore, in 2010 she attended her first natural medicine conference with the American Academy of Anti-Aging and Regenerative Medicine (A4M). This meeting lit a fire.  Within eight months, Dr. Lori completed a fellowship and became a board certified pharmacist with A4M. She continues to develop her intense interest in herbs, supplements and other complementary therapies. She has a personal appreciation of the need for an “integrative” approach to health and healing, which encompasses nurturing the mind, body, and spirit. This has led to the creation of “America’s Integrative Pharmacist.” Dr. Lori has made several appearances on The Wellness Hour, and highlights educational efforts through her social media platforms on Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and YouTube.

You can learn even more about the benefits of far infrared saunas here.

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