Mo. ó Touted for pain relief, cellular detox, cardiovascular
improvement, lowered blood pressure and anti-aging, infrared
saunas are celebrity-approved and gaining popularity.
spa treat is not without detractors who have medical degrees
and reason for suspicion.
dry saunas heat the room, which in turn heats the occupants of
said room. Moderate to intense sweating ensues as temperatures
rise and promoters love to exclaim that this helps "flush
toxins out of the body" as well as increase the heart
rate. Studies show that this can provide a variety of
your thing? Try cold therapy instead.
long-term study of sauna-loving populations in Finland and
Japan show substantial decreases in risk for fatal heart
disease when they enjoyed two or more days a week in a sauna.
And, yes, the study determined that it wasnít because
healthier people were predisposed to prefer saunas.
saunas boast some of the same benefits, but because of the
type of heat, there are also a few precautions.
delivers heat via electromagnetic radiation, which most of us
readily associate with microwaves, although this is within the
normal light spectrum. Infrared heat raises the temperature of
the body without heating the room where that body is sitting.
This means that the experience can feel less intense and
stifling. It can be harder for people to gauge when they are
keep a binder of all the studies I can find to share with
clients," says Stacy Sullivan of Sol Sweat, a company
offering private 40-minute infrared sauna sessions in
Kirkwood. "I do it myself (she does as many sessions a
week as she can sneak in), and I am very concerned about
safety and comfort, which is why I let (the clients) control
the temperature." Sullivan also sells portable
body-length, infrared heating pads.
two people can book a 40-minute session in a roomy, private
booth within a private room with access to Netflix and music
channels for $40 to $60 a session. There is color therapy
lighting and specialized infrared programs of wavelength
recipes to stimulate detox, weight loss or treat inflammation
that can also be individually selected.
the science is a little murky on all of that, but many report
some basic benefits.
just feels really good," said Frances Pleimann, 29, of
Kirkwood. "I use traditional saunas, and this just feels
more pleasant. The heat is not as intense, and I like to max
out the temperature."
saunas can provide more than 150 degrees of heat. Pleimann is
a regular, coming at least once a week since Sol Sweat opened
in November. She said that she considers the sauna a
preventive measure of self-care and sheís not worried about
any negative effects.
makes sense that some people might enjoy the simple pleasure
of warmth and relaxation," said Dr. Joel Schlessinger, a
dermatologist in Omaha, Neb., who contributes to RealSelf, an
online community for patients to ask questions about cosmetic
treatments, wellness products and physicians.
maintains that limited, if any, exposure is best. He didnít
recommend an ideal time to stay in a sauna because he said
there are too many unknowns when it comes to infrared light.
There has yet to be a definitive peer-reviewed scientific
study of the technology, so for now, heís not a fan.
youíre getting infrared rays any time you feel warm from the
sun. But anyone with health concerns should consult a doctor.
light has been linked to adverse eye health. And some people
donít have the health to tolerate the heat, even though it
"feels" mild. Others might be more susceptible to
thermal skin damage or otherwise have a pre-existing condition
that would rule out saunas of any kind.
saunas have gained attention from Hollywood A-list fans like
Gwyneth Paltrow, Jennifer Aniston, Cindy Crawford and Kim
Kardashian among others.
not why I became interested, of course. I didnít actually
know how popular they were until I started looking into it. I
just knew that I really enjoyed the Ö heat, health benefits
or not," Sullivan said.
anything that requires no effort yet promises lower blood
pressure, lower cholesterol, chronic pain relief and
cardiovascular improvement is ripe for suspicion.
donít promote it as doing this or curing that, but I read a
lot of scientific papers and reports because I get a lot of
questions," Sullivan said. "I tell them that they
said this and they said that, but I donít have a medical
degree so I donít offer an opinion."
confesses to being a lifelong "sun worshipper." She
bathed in the sun and routinely went to tanning salons. She
ended that hazardous practice, saying the infrared sauna gives
her that old familiar warmth without the damaging ultraviolet
rays. Other benefits aside, she said that it soothes her.
Tipton, 55 of Brentwood, Mo., agrees. "I wouldnít call
it meditation, but I get that kind of sense of
well-being," she said. "I love the sweat. Itís a
deep heat from within that just feels great. I feel like Iím
sweating out the bad stuff. True or not, thatís how it makes