Saunas are a great way to help the body detoxify, but there are so many different kinds – wood-burning, electric, steam, near infrared, far infrared – which one is best?
Personally, I use a near infrared sauna that I have in my home. It took several years to be able to afford a sauna after opening my nutrition practice, but it was something that I worked hard to save for because I had experienced, first hand, incredible benefits that can come from sauna therapy and I knew how important a regular sauna practice was for my long-term health.
BUT NOT ALL SAUNAS ARE CREATED EQUAL.
Before buying my sauna, I did A TON of research and spoke with several alternative practitioners to get their perspective on which kind of sauna is best and what brands could be trusted. As with most purchases in life, you get what you pay for, and detox therapy is not a place where you want to cut corners.
TRADITIONAL VERSUS INFRARED SAUNAS
A “traditional” sauna, such as a steam sauna, wood-burning, or electric sauna heats the air around the body. Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use light to penetrate the skin and heat the body from the inside.
Some traditional saunas can get as hot as 185 to 195 degrees F, which can overwhelm those who are sensitive to heat. An infrared sauna provides a much milder temperature environment – between 120 to 150 degrees F. Additionally, the light of infrared saunas travels much deeper into the body, meaning they are to cause a more vigorous sweat, despite the lower (and more comfortable) temperature.
NEAR VERSUS FAR INFRARED SAUNAS
According to NASA, near infrared light can penetrate the body up to 9 inches. Conversely, far infrared bulbs – which are the least expensive and most commonly used bulbs – do not achieve the same level of penetration and are more likely to just heat the body.
WINNER: NEAR INFRARFED SAUNA
The sun emits 37% of its total energy in the near infrared range and only 3% in the far infrared range, so we are actually more evolutionarily adapted to near infrared light.
WINNER: NEAR INFRARED SAUNA
EMF stands for electromagnetic fields (think: cell towers, microwaves, and cell phones). This form of radiation is controversial and has been linked to DNA damage and certain forms of cancer. Near infrared lamps produce very low levels of EMF and the bulbs and electrical components are limited to one side of the sauna. A far infrared sauna, which emits EMF throughout the entire unit.
WINNER: NEAR INFRARED SAUNA
WHAT BRAND OF SAUNA DO I USE?
As I said, if you’re going to invest in sauna therapy, it’s important not to cut corners. There are many manufacturers to choose from and even some blogs that will teach you how to build your own. When it comes to choosing a sauna or making one yourself remember that quality is key. You want your sauna to be made from the best and cleanest materials possible, as you will be creating a hot environment and you don’t want toxic chemicals from fabrics or glues to leach into the atmosphere.
The brand that I trust and use in my own home is Cedar Brook Saunas.
MY TOP TIPS FOR SAUNA-ING:
Don’t use antiperspirant. Antiperspirant stops your body from sweating (anti-perspirant, get it?) which defeats the entire purpose of sauna therapy. It can take several days for antiperspirant to be removed from the skin (remember: antiperspirants are made to perform and stay on the body), so, ditch antiperspirant entirely and, instead, use deodorant (which kills bacteria-causing odor, but still allows you to sweat). Of course, make sure your DO is organic and made with minimal ingredients. I suggest researching on EWG.org for the best option with the least amount of toxins.
Drink plenty of water. You’ll need to replenish fluids after sweating.
20 minutes, MAX. With sweat therapy, more is not more. Keep your time in the sauna to 20 minutes per day.
Rinse. Shower off after your sauna to remove toxins from the skin.
If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to ask in the comments section below and please share this with anyone you know who might be considering sauna therapy!