• Dr. Nicole Vumbaco, DVM

The Basics behind FAR IR Sauna Technology and it's respective Health Benefits:

Updated: Dec 16, 2020

The Basics of FAR IR Sauna’s:

When you dive into researching saunas there is so much talk about product type, wavelengths, frequencies, off-gassing, Volatile Organic Compounds and EMF exposure. Mix that information with the abundance of misleading market campaigns and it makes for quite a challenging process. My hope is to help break it down.


Did you know that human bodies naturally send and receive infrared waves?

Infrared waves are part of the Electromagnetic Spectrum. The distribution of Electromagnetic Radiation is according to frequency or wavelength. The spectrum consists of radio waves, infrared rays, visible light, ultraviolet rays, X-rays, and gamma rays; These are all types of electromagnetic radiation. Practical application: Radio waves have the longest wavelength (no health risk), and gamma rays have the shortest wavelength (severe radiation risk). The various portions bear different names based on differences in the emission, transmission, and absorption of the corresponding waves and their different practical applications. It is important because it helps to distinguish why FAR IR Sauna technology is superior to mid, short IR sauna or conventional dry saunas.


What is Infrared?

Infrared waves, or infrared light, are part of the electromagnetic spectrum. People encounter Infrared waves every day. Our eyes cannot see these infrared waves but night-vision goggles or infrared cameras–allow us to "see" the infrared waves emitting from warm objects such as humans and animals. There are short wave (near), medium wave (mid) and long wave (FAR)... In the world of sauna’s FAR Infrared waves have been found to be the most beneficial and healing.


What is FAR Infrared heat?

With Far Infrared Waves, the heat directly penetrates over 1.5 inches into the body tissue and muscles, unlike conventional saunas which rely solely on hot air. The output of energy is specifically tuned to correspond with your body’s own natural radiant energy. This allows the body to absorb >90% of the infrared waves that touch your skin. These waves heat the body most deeply and directly, which can increase your body temperature by 3 degrees F (this becomes important for types of infections). It provides the deepest detoxification where it is needed most, at the cellular level!!


FAR IR Operating Temperature:

These types of saunas typically operate between 115-145F but do not be fooled! It is a different type of heat and has deeper skin penetration than a conventional sauna. In Far Infrared Saunas, less than 20% of the infrared energy heats the air leaving over 80% available to be directly converted to heat within our bodies (at least that’s what I read). This allows for a greater depth of heat penetration while the surrounding air can be at a lower temperature.


How does it compare to conventional sauna’s you might find at the gym?

Conventional Sauna: The heating element relies only on indirect heat like convection (air currents) and conduction (direct contact of hot air with the skin). Typically, around 180F, it is a dry heat that provides a superficial sweat and puts stress on cardiovascular system.

vs

FAR IR Sauna: In a FAR IR Sauna, the core body temp slowly rises by 3F. There is a dilation of blood vessels and increase in blood flow. As heat from the blood moves toward the skin’s surface, the body’s nervous system sends signals to the to-numerous-to-count sweat glands. This stimulates perspiration. FAR IR penetrates 1.5” into the body tissues. This means it can increase the amount you sweat by 2-3 times that of conventional saunas. It has also been found to help alleviate muscle soreness, enhance relaxation and reduce blood pressure. The lower heat range is safer for those concerned about cardiovascular risks factors that can be seen in conventional hot-air saunas. Chart of benefits below


What is EMF?

Electromagnetic Fields: Chances are you have heard this term more recently with the potential concerns of exposure through all our electrical devices. We live in a digital world, that technology emits EMF.


Think back to grade school…Did you know there is naturally occurring EMF (ie-like the Earth’s magnetic field, when you get a shock from static electricity, the sun) and artificial EMF (ie-like your cell phone, Bluetooth, an x-ray, microwave, cellular towers, etc). We usually do not think about life in these terms but even clouds have their own electrical charges.


Now, I am no expert in medical physics. My knowledge is just brushing the surface of an expansive topic. In the most basic form, EMF is a combination of electrical and magnetic fields. Within all organisms there is an existing internally generated electrical current. It plays a role in complex physiologic processes like cell membrane function, development of reparative tissue, neuromuscular activity, glandular secretions, etc. Everything revolves around an electromagnetic field, take your compass for example. Even the cells within you function via EMF. The heart is the most powerful source of EMF in the body. It produces the largest rhythmic electromagnetic field of any organ. That is what creates the EKG display on those medical shows like Chicago Fire or Grey’s Anatomy. In early civilization, human exposure to electric and magnetic fields was limited to those that occurred naturally. As our technology increases, our artificial exposure significantly increases meaning our body is absorbing more. Certain cell phones even have recommendations on how far you should hold the phone from your ear. For example, Samsung stands out as the only manufacturer striving to make product radiation exposure as low as possible. Even with that goal, the company recommends to keep your phone 15 mm (0.6 inches) from the body during a call.


The topic is overwhelming, I know. The most important thing is to be aware that they exist and that patient’s with chronic illness are typically more susceptible to EMF. The goal is to try to minimize any unnecessary overabundance of exposure via a sauna. That requires a very specific type of technology. People with chronic, complex disease are often those reaching for a FAR IR sauna. The last thing anyone needs is to absorb potential disruptors when you are already compromised. High-level EMF exposure has been known to cause neurologic and physiological problems disrupting human nerve function. Low-level EMF exposure has repeatedly been deemed safe via extensive research.


What are VOC’s?

Volatile Organic compounds (VOC’s) are a large group of chemicals (typically found in products used to build and maintain a home) that release an “off-gas” into the indoor air we breathe. This may or may not have a smell. Examples include ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, benzene, to name a few. More practically, sources of VOC’s include paints, varnishes, carpet material, composite wood products, dryer sheets, hair sprays, cosmetics, gasoline, cleaning products, diesel, cigarettes, photocopiers, and burning wood.


In disease like Bartonellosis, your body becomes quite reactive and very sensitive to things that it may have never reacted to previously. Breathing in low level of VOC’s for long periods of time may increase the risk of health problems. Symptoms can include eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, nausea/vomiting, dizziness and asthma symptoms. Long term chronic exposure has been linked to cancer, central nervous system damage and liver and kidney damage.


Patient’s with Chronic Illness:

There is a common correlation between chronic illness and a lower body temperature. This can happen for multiple reasons. As it relates to FAR IR Sauna use, one of it’s medical benefits correlates to the absorption and penetration of the wavelength, prompting a core body temperature increase of up to 3 degrees F during use. Almost like an artificial fever. This can play an active part in decreasing the load of a pathogen, especially when in combination with treatments like antibiotics or herbal antimicrobrials. In general, it can be beneficial for certain cancers, viruses, parasites, yeast and multiple types of bacteria. Vector-Borne disease like Bartonella, Babesia, Lyme Disease, viruses and Candida...they are susceptible to heat.


Many of us also have co-infections, which can include (but is not limited too) Mycoplasma, Epstein-Barr, Cytomegalovirus, Human Herpes 6, other viruses, other vector-borne disease, parasites or yeast. It is not uncommon for us to have genetic alterations in our detox pathways and intestinal dysbiosis. Chronic disease, like Bartonellosis, have multiple sequalae leading to deficiencies, altered cellular function, severe pain and severe fatigue. We are typically more sensitive to EMF’s, VOC’s and pesticides, to name a few. Our bodies undergo a heavy load of oxidative stress. This can draw cells towards the positive ion spectrum. Negative Ions are most beneficial, which occurs with interaction in nature. That is why you feel more grounded with outdoor activities. When sick, you usually want to stay on a heating pad or curled up indoors but it is important to find a way to ground. Look up “ Earthing”. There is a plethora of research on the topic.


Another thing to consider is our hypersensitivity. Most of us have Mast Cell Activation Syndrome and all of us are living in a chronic low-grade inflammatory state. Because of our hypersensitivity, it is imperative that people of our disease category start low and slow (as stated in my “Let’s talk SAUNAS” post). What you are trying to avoid is triggering a Jarisch-Herxheimer reaction (unpleasant flu-like/hangover reaction in response to endotoxins released by dying bacteria, what I call a “die-off” reaction). If it occurs, it typically happens 24 hours after FAR IR Sauna therapy and can be due to multiple variables (See “Let’s Talk SAUNAS”). Work up in temperature, time and frequency. A non-toxic, zero VOC, low EMF environment is most important when purchasing a sauna. Heat can potentiate our sensitivity to them. It really is imperative that your sauna be made of hypoallergenic wood AND not contain any composite, plywood, toxic glues or resins. This is why I highly recommend Radiant Health Saunas.


General benefits can include a boost in metabolic function, reduction in muscle spasms, reduction of inflammation, enhance blood circulation, enhance detoxification and it creates a hostile environment for certain pathogens. Overall, this type of therapy can give our bodies a leg up while also aiding in reduction of our diverse and varied symptoms. There is a chart below listing a few benefits with a short explanation on why and how.


Since we are on the subject of hypersensitivity….

Did you know certain products can have ingredients that may enhance an allergy, immune response or even be carcinogenic?

EWG is the Environmental Working Group. There is an app “Healthy Living” or you can find them at EWG.org. Do you know what is in your shampoo? Household cleaners? Your lotion? This non-profit group evaluates products. It assigns a score with respective color coding to three major categories: Allergies, Cancer and Developmental. It also breaks down the ingredients and assigns each ingredient with a number based on the research that is available. That way you can see which ingredient is the most worrisome and for what category. With my Mast Cell Activation Syndrome from Bartonellosis, I am incredibly sensitive and reactive to the strangest things…it was almost everything prior to starting treatment. It is imperative to not introduce things into the body that can help the disease process. This app has become a weekly resource to help me find safer, more non-reactive products for daily use.


If you are shopping for a Sauna, please consider Radiant Health Saunas. I am only a patient sharing my perspective and knowledge gained during the shopping process. I am not employed by the company. A full review of my experience is available, click here.


Upon purchasing, they offered a $$500 discount based on my referral from Dr. Barter. When I spoke with them recently, they gave me a discount code for patient-to-patient distribution... It is for anyone in a situation like mine who may not have a doctor referral to make it more affordable. That is pretty amazing if you ask me!



$500 off: Use code: “nvoom12”

…..again no, I do not work for the company. I own their single person sauna

This code was generated out of the company's own generosity to help others


Few Resources for those who are interested:

  1. Sauna as a valuable clinical tool for cardiovascular, autoimmune, toxicant- induced and other chronic health problems

  2. Components of practical clinical detox programs--sauna as a therapeutic tool

  3. Far Infrared Ray Patches Relieve Pain and Improve Skin Sensitivity in Myofascial Pain Syndrome: A Double-Blind Randomized Controlled Study

  4. Infrared Sauna in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis and Ankylosing Spondylitis

  5. Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review

  6. Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Patients with Chronic Pain

  7. Effects of Repeated Thermal Therapy for Two Patients with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

  8. Far Infrared Therapy Promotes Nerve Repair following End-to-End Neurorrhaphy in Rat Models of Sciatic Nerve Injury

  9. Far Infrared Therapy Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Inflammation

  10. Far Infrared Therapy Induces The Nuclear Translocation of PLZF which Inhibits VEGF-Induced Proliferation in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells

  11. Far infra-red therapy promotes ischemia-induced angiogenesis in diabetic mice and restores high glucose-suppressed endothelial progenitor cell functions

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