Many people understand that decompressing in a sauna can do wonders for their stress levels; however, it’s less known that it might be able to help people recover from cancer, as well.
Not just any sauna can do this. Infrared saunas, which produce heat using infrared light, are gaining more and more popularity as their potential health benefits are further studied. These saunas have been tentatively linked to a lowered risk of Alzheimer’s, lowered blood pressure, overall improved cardiovascular health, and — not only that- sauna usage has been proven to decrease the severity of the symptoms and side effects of cancer.
So, how do infrared saunas do this? And how often should patients use them? Is infrared sauna therapy right for you? We will discuss this and more below:
How Does Infrared Sauna Therapy Help Cancer Patients?
First, it’s important to note that infrared saunas cannot completely cure or treat cancer. They are not substitutes for approved cancer treatments like chemotherapy or immunotherapy. However, using these saunas may amplify the effects of approved cancer treatments and help people with cancer cope with their symptoms and side effects. We’ll discuss how it manages such a feat below.
Limited findings from the National Cancer Institute suggest that near-infrared light and targeted photo-immunotherapy may help to eliminate cancer cells without harming normal cells.
Clinical trials involving patients with inoperable tumors show that near-infrared photo-immunotherapy may be used to bind and kill cancer cells. Specifically, near-infrared light is used to target human cancer cells and cause them to burst. Meanwhile, promising preclinical animal studies show that near-infrared light can trigger a boost in anti-tumor effects when used with photo-immunotherapy.
Although infrared saunas do not target specific cancer cells, using them may still be able to supplement the anti-tumor effects of other cancer therapies.
Hyperthermia, also known as thermal therapy, is a treatment that involves raising the body temperature to as high as 113 degrees Fahrenheit — essentially causing the body to overheat. Cancerous tumor cells can be killed at such temperatures with little to no harm to normal healthy cells.
Whole-body hyperthermia can be used with approved therapies when treating advanced cancers, such as breast cancer, cervical cancer, lung cancer, liver cancer, melanoma, and more.
Mild temperature hyperthermia, which uses temperatures around 110 degrees Fahrenheit, may improve the effects of radiation therapy and chemotherapy. In some cases, it may even help shrink the tumor.
Using infrared saunas regularly for thermal therapy shows the potential to help the following:
- Increase blood flow to tumors, thus making them more sensitive to radiation and chemotherapy treatments.
- Make cancer stem cells more sensitive to radiation.
- Enhance the effects of chemotherapy drugs.
- Interfere or slow down tumor cells’ ability to repair radiation damage.
- Boost the immune system and enhance immune response to fight cancer cells.
Whole-body hyperthermia can also cause positive metabolic changes. These include reduced oxidative stress, improved insulin sensitivity, and increased production of heat shock proteins. These proteins are essential for protecting healthy cells that are exposed to stressful situations, such as cancer treatment.
Detoxification and Pain Relief
Regular use of infrared saunas can also help detoxify the body and offer pain relief, which can prove invaluable for those undergoing or recently undergoing chemotherapy.
One of the most well-known side effects of chemotherapy is neuropathic pain, which is pain due to damaged nerves. This pain is usually described as a burning, tingling, or numb sensation in the hands or feet that may be accompanied by headaches and muscle or joint pain.
Regularly using an infrared sauna may help patients relieve and manage pain; following six weeks of regular far-infrared sauna use, leg pain patients reported a decrease in the intensity of their leg pain.
Natural detoxification methods, such as sweating, can aid the body’s healing process, especially after chemotherapy and radiation. Releasing excess toxins allows your body to expel dead cancer cells and residual chemotherapy drugs.
Moreover, the short-term heat exposure from saunas and the resulting raised core body and skin temperature activate your autonomic nervous system. This, in turn, causes increased heart rate and better cardiac output, which improves your overall health.
How Often Should Cancer Patients Use an Infrared Sauna?
While infrared sauna therapy shows promising signs for cancer patients, it’s essential to use them in moderation. Too much of anything can bring about unwanted side effects; this applies to the frequency of sauna sessions and the length of each session.
Most infrared sauna facilities recommend using saunas a maximum of three to four times a week. If you’re in good health and can tolerate using saunas for four days a week, you may be able to take using them daily, though this is not recommended.
For those just starting out with saunas, it is best to start with only two weekly sessions. Over time, you will slowly build up your tolerance and be able to increase the frequency of your sessions.
As for the length of each session, the general recommendation is to start with using the sauna for only 10 – 15 minutes at a time. Once you adjust to the sauna’s temperature, you may extend your sessions to the recommended 20 – 30 minutes.
Regular infrared sauna users can stay inside for up to 45 – 50 minutes. Some even last up to an hour per session, but you should never attempt this — whether in an infrared or traditional sauna — without extensive prior experience. Staying inside a sauna for longer than an hour can lead to dehydration, overheating, and heat exhaustion.
It is best to consult your doctor before using an infrared sauna and seek their advice regarding the frequency of use and the length of each session. This is especially important if you have any existing medical conditions, especially cancer, heart-related illnesses, or low blood pressure.
What is the Best Type of Sauna for You?
There are many types of saunas. While all of them benefit your body, each type has unique advantages that can help you improve your health. The two main saunas are traditional, “dry,” and infrared saunas.
A traditional sauna uses dry heat to raise the room’s temperature and your body. The heat is produced using an electrical unit or stove and hot stones. Temperatures in traditional saunas usually fall between 160 – 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
An infrared sauna uses infrared lamps to heat your body directly. Unlike traditional saunas, these lamps do not warm up the air, so users can enjoy a comfortable sauna temperature while still warming up their bodies.
Types of Infrared Sauna Therapy
There are three different types of infrared saunas. The differences between the three lie in the type of infrared lamps used and the range of the infrared wavelengths. The three types are as follows:
- Near-infrared saunas: Also referred to as photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), this infrared therapy combines heat and phototherapy. This is the best option for people who want to boost their immune system and improve wound healing.
- Mid-infrared saunas. This type of infrared sauna uses longer light wavelengths. The longer wavelengths allow the infrared rays to penetrate more effectively than near-infrared rays. This type is recommended for people who want to improve their circulation and relax their muscles.
- Far-infrared saunas. Also called dry sauna bathing, far-infrared therapy uses the longest light wavelength to penetrate the skin deeply. Far-infrared saunas are ideal for those who want to stimulate their metabolism, eliminate toxins from their body, and strengthen their cardiovascular system.
Home Sauna Design Options
Saunas can also be categorized based on the materials used, their design, and their size, among other things.
Here at The Sauna Life, we offer a wide range of Clearlight® far-infrared saunas for at-home installation. We offer indoor and outdoor saunas, all-wood saunas and saunas with glass windows and doors, and more. Whether you want light or dark wood, colored lights, or tiled walls, we can help you find the perfect at-home sanctuary to complement your home and supplement your treatment.
Purchase Your Own Sauna Today!
Visit our website today to check out our collection of high-quality infrared saunas. Our experts will help you find the perfect style of sauna to complement your home so you can enjoy a lifetime of regular sauna sessions and supplement your cancer treatment.
The Sauna Life offers a limited lifetime warranty on all products. We deliver to almost all U.S. states and offer prompt product replacement if your sauna is damaged during shipping.
Reach out through our Contact page or call us today at 513-309-2527 to request a free consultation.