You’ve made the wise decision to add a sauna to your home or business, and now it’s time to consider the details. What size sauna will best fit you? Where should you place the sauna? What style will fit most elegantly with your existing décor? And, what heat source do you want to use for your new sauna. While that last one seems like a no-brainer, this consideration is probably the single most important element to decide upon before purchasing the sauna. Sauna heat sources can take many forms, but we’ll focus on the differences between near infrared and far infrared heating elements, as infrared is truly the new standard in sauna heating systems today.

What Exactly Does Near Infrared Mean?

Near infrared light is contained within the spectrum of natural sunlight. The sun emits nearly half of its total energy in the near infrared (NIR) spectrum. We are biologically wired to use near infrared energy, much like sunlight is needed to produce vitamin D. Our bodies require this energy from sunlight to survive and to thrive.

Near infrared systems are effective at rejuvenating the skin, help raise core body temperature, improve circulation and can provide pain relief.


What Is a Far Infrared System?

Far infrared, now considered to be one of the leading heat sources for contemporary therapeutic saunas today operates in a similar manner to near infrared but differs in terms of wavelength. Science aside, the tangible benefits of far infrared are significant, as this system heats the body from within and produces the kind of profuse sweating normally only seen with traditional wet-dry sauna systems.

Most clinicians who recommend infrared saunas for healing or wellness purposes will tout the health benefits of a far infrared system.  The additional benefits of far infrared saunas are detoxification, increasing your metabolism, weight loss and stress reduction just to name a few.

How Do Benefits Compare for Near vs. Far Infrared?


While both near and far infrared systems can detoxify the body, they go about it quite differently. Near infrared systems provide topical relief for skin issues and shallow body pain. The results are often less dramatic than what one would expect to see when using a far infrared system.

Far infrared systems can detoxify the body as much as seven times more effectively than standard sauna units because they produce heavy natural sweating that moves harmful elements out of the body quite quickly and also mobilizes toxins by inducing a fat based sweat.


Many sauna users report relaxation is one of the biggest reasons they purchased their new unit or visit their local sauna. Infrared sauna therapy, especially far infrared heating units, promote relaxation by balancing the body’s levels of cortisol – an important hormone in the body that regulates stress.  The infrared heating units help muscles to relax and loosen, and since far infrared wavelengths mimic the body’s own emissions, they tend to impart a sense of rejuvenation in most individuals.

Weight Loss

According to an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association entitled Effect of Sweating, researchers discovered a simple half-hour sauna session could burn as many as 600 calories. This study was conducted using an infrared sauna system.

Near infrared saunas effectively raise your core body temperature to help burn calories.  Far infrared saunas stimulate your metabolism, lower cortisol levels and slightly raise HGH to help with weight loss as well.

Due to the fact that far infrared sauna units tend to more effectively increase the body’s core temperature and safely increase heart rate, they may burn calories more easily than a near infrared unit or traditional sauna.

Skin Rejuvenation

One of the most exciting benefits of using a sauna is the glowing skin you’ll witness after just a few sessions. Two basic things have to happen in order to rejuvenate the skin – improving the body’s circulation and eliminating toxins from the pores of the skin.

Saunas, especially those using infrared technology, accomplish both of these. A near infrared system will effectively improve the topical surface of the skin, while the far infrared units help to promote toxin release through profuse sweating. Most sauna users will find that the sweating component helps to cleanse the skin quite effectively, thereby improving skin tone from the inside out.


Improved Circulation

While all saunas can therapeutically improve circulation and enhance blood flow to key areas of the body, infrared saunas do an impressive job of boosting circulation, all while keeping the user comfortable. Middle to far infrared heating units penetrate deeply and help to stimulate blood flow, minimize pain, reduce inflammation, and enhance muscle recovery.

Are Near & Far Infrared Saunas Safe?

The answer is – yes! Think about it this way, hospitals use infrared heating lamps to warm newborn babies. Unlike exposing yourself to UV rays from the sun or a tanning bed, you cannot burn yourself with infrared heat. There are no known dangers to using an infrared heat source in your sauna.

As always, you’ll want to monitor your body temperature to ensure you don’t overheat. Keep adequately hydrated, too. And, check with your doctor to make sure you are medically cleared to use a sauna and that you don’t have any preexisting conditions that would make sauna use inadvisable. Saunas are incredibly safe, and infrared units provide real therapy without the oppressive heat of a traditional sauna.

Now that you have a good understanding of near infrared vs. far infrared heat, which sauna type do you feel will serve you best? Near infrared units tend to promote topical healing and mild pain relief quite effectively, but far infrared heating units are incredibly effective at removing toxins, improving circulation, and relaxing the muscles. Most experts agree that if you’re really looking to get the maximum therapeutic benefits from your sauna session you’ll want to go for a unit that offers all three spectrum.  These are called Full Spectrum saunas and offer near, mid and far infrared.


The Autonomic Nervous System (ANS), consisting of the sympathetic and parasympathetic components, operates below consciousness to control these systems. The ANS controls heartbeat, digestive function, respiratory rate, salivation, stress and immune response, dilation of pupils, sexual arousal and adrenaline secretions of excitatory hormones. The sympathetic and parasympathetic systems balance out each other, working together or sometimes inhibiting specific responses. In allergy patients subpar or hypo-sympathetic inhibiting activity allows for the over response of the immune system. The ANS then over responds in a big way to supress this over response when it may not be necessary.

Allergies include stuffiness, itching and sneezing and can be caused by pollen, dust and animal dander. An inflammation of the nasal airways, allergic rhinitis is linked with a sensitized immune system that overreacts to what should be a benign stimulant. For example, cat hair should not be a cause for concern to your health, right?

Khon Kaen University, Thailand Study

Current medicinal therapeutic options include avoidance, drugs and immunotherapy, but recent investigations suggest that to eliminate allergies an infrared sauna may be used to modify the body’s ANS. The clinical findings from the School of Physical Therapy, Khon Kaen University, Thailand, were published in their June 2013 article in the Asian Pacific Journal of Allergy and Immunology.

The study looked at the impact of six weeks of sauna treatment on the ANS, peak nasal inspiratory flow and lung function in patients suffering allergies. They were looking to see if infrared sauna use shifts the body’s ANS and therefore impacts the underlying cause of the allergic reaction?

The 26 patients were diagnosed with allergic rhinitis. Some received health education and otherwise maintained a normal life. The sauna group received sauna treatment over a six-week period, three days per week, totaling 30 minutes. Heart rate variability (HRV) was measured to study the autonomic nervous response including the balance of sympathetic to parasympathetic activity; peak nasal inspiratory flow and lung function were measured at the beginning and after three and six weeks of sauna.

There were significant changes in HRV after six weeks of sauna indicating a favorable shift in ANS for treatment of allergic rhinitis. The high frequency or overactive component of the ANS was lower while the low frequency inhibiting component was higher in the sauna treatment group than the control patients. The peak nasal flow and the forced expiratory volume were “significantly higher” in sauna patients. The six weeks of repeated sauna treatment can increase sympathetic activity as well respiratory volume in patients with allergic rhinitis, the article says.

Journal Ter Arkh, Russia Study

In a Russian language journal doctors who used sauna therapy for children with atopic dermatitis, which can be allergy related, found it “improves the condition of their autonomic nervous system.” They noted the “marked clinical response” that could “necessitate long-term sauna treatment to cure this disease.”

In the journal Ter Arkh, the use of an infrared sauna as part of therapy of 107 patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis “resulted in a rapid time course of clinical symptoms of diseases, reduced the adaptation period at a health resort, produced a bronchodilatatory effect and helped to return cardiodynamics to normal…”

Each symptom of rhinitis was rated on a 4-point scale according to severity. During the period of far infrared therapy, the symptoms of eye and nasal itching, stuffiness, rhinorrhea and sneezing were all improved. Smell impairment was not improved until after the last treatment. No obvious adverse effect were observed in the patients during treatment and follow-up. The scientists concluded that FIR therapy “could improve the symptoms of AR” and “might serve as a novel treatment modality.”


Our bodies transports most of our nutrients in the blood and the blood is made up of 82% water. Our muscles are composed of 75% water: our brain 76% water; our lungs 90% and our bones contain 25% water. It is imperative we drink enough water when you sit in your Clearlight Infrared Sauna.

So how can we spruce up our water to make it enticing? These recipes will make you want to drink more water . By washing your organs daily with fresh water, we assist our bodies in eliminating toxins.

Ideally one would drink your water at room temperature but cooler is fine too – and for me more enjoyable while in my infrared sauna. You can flavor water quickly with just a slice of fresh ginger and a slice of something citrus and an ice cube.. If you want to make a pitcher to drink throughout the day, here are a couple quick recipes. (The pitcher can be left on the counter or refrigerator for the day, but discard at the end of the evening)

Tasty Citrus Water
Fill a pitcher with 8 cups of purified water
Cut citrus fruits thinly:
2 organic organic lemons
2 organic limes
1 medium size organic orange
3 one inch pieces of raw organic fresh ginger (great for digestion and gives the water a “kick”)
For maximum taste, let the water marinate for a few hours before drinking
Berry Good Water
Fill a pitcher with 8 cups of purified water
-Cup of strawberries raspberries – any berries cut in half,
-A couple lemon and or lime slices
Ice Cubes
Into each cube of your ice tray, fill and freeze overnight:
Add purified water and place a single mint leaf and a small piece of pineapple in each cube
Place lemon water in each cube
Add a single strawberry and piece of lemon rind
Note: These fancy ice cubes can spice up any water glass of still or sparkling water.

Stay hydrated during your infrared sauna sessions. Drink water before you get into the sauna and then bring a large bottle of water into the sauna with you to keep hydryated. One rule of thumb we recommend is if you feel thirsty after you get out of your sauna, you did not drink enough water during your sauna session.


Relieve Pain With Infrared Sauna Therapy

The soothing and relaxing heat from a Clearlight Infrared Sauna offers a variety of healing benefits including a significant reduction in chronic pain often even after the first use! According to Dr. Jeffrey Spencer, a sports medicine expert from the University of Southern California and consultant to Lance Armstrong, “infrared wavelengths penetrate the body to create heat, which creates profound therapeutic benefits. They increase blood flow to the muscles, delivering more concentrated oxygen, which creates more energy to heal.” 1

A study reported in Clinical Rheumatology showed that infrared saunas gave significant relief for patients with chronic pain (such as rheumatoid arthritis). Four weeks of 30-minute, twice-weekly sessions in an infrared sauna resulted in a 40 percent improvement in pain and stiffness. 2
A recent study published in Internal Medicine, showed that patients with chronic pain saw their pain levels drop by nearly 70% after their first session of infrared sauna therapy. Pain scores remained low throughout the observation period. 3

How Do Infrared Saunas Work To Ease Pain?

Our bodies are held together by a web like structure that weaves itself all through the body called fascia. A good metaphor for understanding how fascia plays a role in relaxation is to think of a knitted sweater: if you pull on one string of yarn the entire sweater can unravel. Similarly, as one part of the fascia web begins to relax and unwind, your whole body follows in kind.

With infrared therapy, the infrared wave penetrates 1.5” to 2” into the body stimulating a relaxation response allowing the muscles and tendons to unwind and release tension. The penetrating heat also raises the core body temperature which creates a “false fever” in the body forcing the immune system to spring into action and start making more white blood cells. The result is a reduction in swelling and inflammation, two major factors in easing chronic pain.
In addition, as the infrared heat elevates your core body temperature, capillaries and arteries dilate to increase blood flow allowing more oxygen rich blood to travel to areas of tension and pain. Your muscles, joints, and soft tissue experience relief and healing.

You emerge from a 20-30 minute session in your infrared sauna feeling relaxed and renewed!

  2. Clinical Rheumatology, January 2009
  3. Internal Medicine (Tokyo) Aug 15, 2008 by Matsushita K, Masuda A, Tei C. The First Department of Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Hospital, Kagoshima, Japan.


The health benefits of infrared saunas are numerous.  In a Clearlight Infrared Sauna you will sweat profusely.  In addition to the detox benefits, there are actual benefits just from sweating.  Ward Dean, MD, a US Army flight surgeon who has researched the physiological effects of sweating in a sauna, finds that it can be as effective as regular exercise in conditioning the cardiovascular system and burning calories. Sweating in a sauna, he says, is a good workout for people unable to exercise, such as disabled people in wheelchairs or immobilized athletes recovering from injuries.

You can see the article published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) by CLICKING HERE.


Today, our fast paced lives can be exciting and rewarding, but doctors tell us that the chronic stress that comes with it is literally killing us with increased levels of heart disease, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, digestive disorders, premature aging and even death that can arrive years before our time.

Regular use in an infrared sauna has been shown to reduce stress, but just how does this actually work?

Our autonomic nervous system is set up with two opposing positions, fight or flight (sympathetic) and rest and digest (parasympathetic). We need both to survive but our ANS system evolved when we lived under real survival threats (think tiger). When faced with such a threat the sympathetic part of our ANS informs the hypothalamus to immediately release sugar from our liver and cortisol from our adrenal glands so we can run like lightning and live to see another day. Today, our higher thinking brain can perceive threats like being stuck in traffic or being behind at work or a news program about trouble far away as actually being a real threat, just like a tiger. We can get caught in what is called a cortisol cascade until we are burned while our immune function becomes depressed making us susceptable to colds and flu. We can literally get stuck in this harmful loop. It is only when we get back more into the parasympathetic mode that our health has a chance to return. This is where the infrared sauna comes in.

When we get into the infrared sauna, the first thing that happens is vasodilation. This is the blood vessels opening up as the warming infrared wavelengths penetrate into the soft tissue. Your muscles relax and pain starts to disappear both in muscles and joints. When the body senses these changes it naturally starts to relax and calm down. Breathing becomes slower, blood pressure drops and you may even feel a little smile appear feeling this good. This is the parasympathetic part where healing occurs and it happens naturally in the sauna. This is the simple secret.

Using the infrared sauna for twenty minutes, three times a week is a good way to affect this   sympathetic /parasympathetic set point. Regular sauna usage will actually diminish stress over time. The harmful cortisol cascade will lessen or leave entirely as the body/mind learns how to live without the harmful effects of paper tigers. It works, it really does.


In the past several years, complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies, including Reiki, meditation, and infrared sauna sessions, have gained tremendous acceptance not only with patients but also with healthcare professionals in virtually all fields. This rising popularity can be attributed to factors such as affordability and safety when compared to traditional drugs and procedures, as well as overall effectiveness.

Although CAM therapies take a number of different forms, here is a brief list of some of the most common treatments used today:

  • Specialized diet: From weight loss to detoxification and disease management, larger numbers of patients are following specialized diets—Atkins, raw food, macrobiotic, gluten-free, vegan—to achieve their health goals.
  • Body manipulation: Based on the belief that mind and body should be in perfect harmony, body manipulation therapies like chiropractic, yoga, and tai chi bring spiritual tranquility in addition to physical relaxation.
  • Sauna: The health benefits of saunas have been thoroughly discussed here on our site. Pain relief, weight loss, detoxification, and stress reduction are just a few of the positive effects of heat therapy.
  • Herbal remedies: More and more people are turning away from prescription drugs in favor of natural herbs to treat their ailments. St. John’s wort, ginger, chamomile, caraway, ginseng, and Echinacea are all widely used.
  • Reiki: Performed by a trained Reiki master, this CAM therapy focuses on restoring energy balance throughout the body by means of light touch on or above specific areas in the head, neck, and elsewhere.

While complementary and alternative medicine therapies are not for everyone, their safety, affordability, and effectiveness make them worth looking into. If you’re currently experiencing health problems or would like to prevent them before they arise, getting an infrared sauna for your home, taking up yoga or tai chi, or changing your diet might be just what you need.


One of the most interesting aspects of the Olympics, aside from the intense competition, is learning how some of the participating athletes reached world-class status. In the coming weeks, we’ll see countless athlete profiles and interviews describing punishing training regimens and practice schedules that would make mere mortals collapse. We might even hear about the role far infrared saunas have played in the athlete’s injury prevention and treatment program.


Sports medicine practitioners are well aware of the healing properties generated by a sauna equipped with infrared heaters, and many of them insist that athletes under their supervision sit through both pre- and post-workout sauna sessions to prevent injuries and speed recovery. By doing this, athletes can:

  • Loosen their muscles and joints before a workout to increase flexibility
  • Increase their tolerance for anaerobic activity
  • Eliminate harmful toxins that might hinder performance
  • Reduce lactic acid buildup in muscles, allowing them to loosen and relax
  • Boost their blood circulation to promote muscle repair
  • Ease muscle and joint pain stemming from overuse, strain, or repetitive motion
  • Feel refreshed and reinvigorated even after the toughest workouts
  • Burn extra calories and retain cardiovascular fitness while recovering from injuries that inhibit full workouts

Of course, you don’t have to be an elite Olympic athlete to enjoy the benefits listed here. A sauna with infrared heaters is also a wonderful workout supplement for weekend warriors in all sports, as well as dedicated runners, martial artists, yogis, and more.

To minimize time lost to sports injuries and accelerate recovery so you can get back to the action faster, check out our line of far infrared saunas today.