Similar to the benefits of general sauna use listed above, these are thought to be more specific to infrared sauna use:
- Heart Health & Blood Pressure
According to a review of all of the published scientific literature about these infrared saunas, the biggest researched benefit seems to be the coronary benefits, most notably in their ability to help normalize blood pressure and reduce the chance of congestive heart failure.
An increase in circulation and sweating can aid in detoxification, and in this way sauna therapy helps mobilize toxins. A systematic review in 2012 found that toxic heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury are found in sweats of people who are exposed to these harmful metals. In a case report, they found that mercury levels normalized with repeated sauna treatments.
- Anti-aging, Muscle Growth, and Injury Healing
Saunas increase heat shock proteins, antioxidant enzymes, and stimulate cellular cleanup (autophagy), which can help our cells function like new. In aging mice, an increase in heat shock proteins help delay aging and improves cognitive function.
Sauna bathing can also increase several anti-aging hormones including human growth hormones and the insulin-growth factor 1. IGF-1, in particular, can really help with injury healing.
Several heat-shock proteins can even help with increasing muscle mass, even without weight training. Through photobiomodulation, infrared therapy has a powerful anti-inflammatory effect that can accelerate injury healing.
- Mood, Mental Health, and Cognitive Function
Just as when you go for a run, sauna use increases endorphins (the happiness hormone) and opiods (the body’s natural pain reliever), as well as a molecule called brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) in the brain.
BDNF stimulates neurogenesis (the growth of new neuronal cells) in the brain and protects new neurons from damage. Improving BDNF levels is therefore important for cognitive function. In addition, low or abnormal levels of BDNF may be a cause of several mental and psychiatric diseases