Infrared Sauna

infrared sauna kits
Saunas Of Splendor

"If pine tar, vodka and sauna don't help, the condition is incurable."
-Old Finnish saying

The Sanskrit treatise know as The Ayurveda, 568 B.C., one of the earliest medical texts on record, places great importance on the relationship of sweat to good health. A plethora of physicians have chimed in through history, urging patients to partake in the Finnish sauna, Russian banai, Islamic hammam, or American Indian sweat lodge. Sweat cleanses the body of heavy metals, excess urea (which my help those needing kidney dialysis), salt (slightly lowering blood pressure), and lactic acid. Sauna, pronounced sow-nah by aficionados, means "bath" or "bathhouse" and is the only Finnish word in the English dictionary.

While earliest know written sauna reference dates from the early 1100s, and Finnish style sweat therapy was first practiced on the continent in the 1600s.

Sauna Chic

For many years, sauna sales lagged far behind the ever-burgeoning market for hot tubs and spas, but cutting-edge far infrared saunas are changing that. Utilizing a specific portion of the light spectrum, this technology was first tested by NASA as away to keep astronauts warm in space. Far Infrared (FIR) heating elements consume far less energy than old-school electric sauna heaters - daily use will only add about $4 a month to your electric bill, says Dr. Raleigh Duncan, a chiropractor turned self-proclaimed "FIR Don" and owner of the Emeryville-based Sauna Works.

"I started out as a massage therapist", says Dr. Duncan, "and got a Far Infrared Sauna for my clients. The first thing I noticed was how much more relaxed their muscles were after a brief stint inside the sauna - I could literally feel the difference."

Soon his clients began reporting additional benefits from the therapy and wanted to buy their own units. A business was born, and Dr. Duncan says far infrared therapy is getting recognized in more and more niche areas of medicine.

"People with chemical sensitivites and heavy metal toxicity... this allows your body to get rid of toxins at a more rapid rate than traditional saunas. You sweat more intensely, and the penetration of the heat makes a huge difference.

Far infrared saunas can also be used by people who've traditionally been warned away from saunas, including those with surgical implants and metal pins. "But for anybody with a medical condition, or pregnant, we strongly advise getting an OK from a physician before trying this," Duncan says. "There are some contraindications and of course we want customers to be safe."

Far infrared sauna units also have a much smaller footprint than their predecessors, making them ideal for cramped apartments and space-conscious Bay Area housing. The [two person sauna] is smaller than most standard armoires. These babies literally snap together and you can plug in to any wall outlet without special wiring, plumbing or ventilation. Prices range from $3,500 to $5,595.

The sensation of a far infrared sauna is radically different from the old-school sauna experience. The air does not become heated because far infrared penetrates directly into the body (up to an inch and half below the skin, compared to the surface-only heat of a traditional sauna), even without dermal contact - and yet the elements themselves don't become hot.

"I call this the 'urban nomadic sweat lodge',"laughs Duncan. "You can set it up in the tiniest apartment and it comes with everything but your own council of elders."

Excerted from The Monthly, July 2004, page 18; article written by Cornelia Read.