How Saunas and Red Light Therapy are Distinct but Complementing
Saunas and red light therapy devices are clinically-proven treatments that complement each other wonderfully, even if they depend on distinct biological mechanisms to yield various natural health and aesthetic benefits.
In this article, we’ll focus on how things work for red light therapy and the distinctions of traditional saunas, and what you can actually gain by availing of either of them.
What You Need to Know About Saunas
Saunas can make your body’s core temperature hotter by supplying sufficient heat throughout your body. It has been a part of traditional medicine for various centuries, as the old century folks realized the health benefits of sweating. Although there are multiple types of saunas, two of them are the most popular:
- Traditional Convection Saunas
When you think of saunas, this is the first scenario that comes to mind: hot and steamy. This type of sauna requires more energy as it delivers heat to the atmosphere, warming the air inside the sauna, and distributes heat in the body. Traditional convection saunas can maintain air temperatures between 170–200°F and are an ideal type of sauna for general use. It is important to comprehend the different temperatures required for specific health concerns since being exposed to heat more than what has required triggers a warning for unsubstantiated claims.
- Infrared Saunas
The latest trend in saunas is the infrared saunas. Inside, instead of warming the air, this kind of sauna heats actual objects. Such objects include those with emitting surfaces, charcoal, and carbon fiber. Infrared saunas' effectivity is directly attributed to the temperature, humidity, and length of time your body is exposed to heat, even though many saunas claim to provide “full-spectrum” infrared wavelengths.
The farther the wavelengths are in the infrared spectrum, the more they are considered efficient and effective in heat production. This will be thoroughly discussed later, but the general gist is that heat supplementation is the primary purpose of saunas, convection, and infrared.
On the other hand, near-infrared wavelengths in near-infrared saunas generate very little heat. Most of the high-quality standard saunas use more effective heats from the far-infrared spectrum or IR-C wavelengths.
What are the Health Benefits of Saunas?
Inducing thermal stress on the body is the primary function of every sauna, but what does it really mean?
One of many biological responses from sauna usage is increased heart rate as well as perspiration. The essential body processes protein metabolism and is also affected by enough heat. Heat shock proteins are a special kind of protein that responds specifically to cellular stress from heat. Heat stress induction leads to natural health benefits like those we gain doing physical activities.
One experiment had participants sat in a sauna treatment for 30 minutes at 194°F for 3 weeks, totaling 13 work sessions. The results showed that the participants improved 32% in performance tests versus those who underwent sauna treatments.
Besides improving your cardiovascular functions, using saunas can help reap benefits such as detoxication, decreased depression, and lesser chronic fatigue.
Red Light Therapy vs. Saunas
What differentiates saunas from red light therapy devices is their mechanism of action. While saunas utilize heat for biological effects, red light therapy devices supply healthy light wavelengths directly to the skin and cells. Even when producing almost no heat, red light therapy devices help with cellular function improvement and support bodily balance. Simply put, red light therapy helps energize the body with light, while saunas heat your body.
How does red light therapy work?
Mitochondria, the powerhouse of our cells, is wonderfully affected by certain wavelengths of natural light. This helps in producing energy within the cells of our body, feeding photons to our cells from natural light via red light therapy.
What about clinically-proven wavelengths?
We feel warm when exposed to sunlight and other heat sources such as fire and hot coals because most of the wavelengths, including ultraviolet (UV), are rapidly absorbed by the outer layers of the skin tissue as heat.
However, unknown to many, some wavelengths have the unique capability of boosting your cellular functions and energy. These are those few wavelengths that can penetrate human tissues more effectively, having photons power-up your “cellular batteries.”
What to Look for When Buying Red Light Therapy Devices and Saunas?
One of the first few things you need to look for in saunas is the temperature it produces. You need to consider some other factors, including the type of wood, the heating unit (Is it conventional or infrared? Is it near far or full-spectrum?), finishes and stains, price, and more.
On the other hand, some of the factors you need to consider when choosing a red light therapy device are the device’s light energy output, light color or frequency range in terms of nanometers, warranty, body or treatment coverage area, the price, and the credibility of the company provider.
Light Therapy and Saunas: Friends with Benefits
Saunas and red light therapy devices offer a wide range of natural health benefits, which surprisingly go well with each other. They both support balance and health to improve your fitness and function but do not overlap with each other’s effects because of energy supplementation in distinct forms and wavelengths. What a great combination of complementary natural therapies!
Scoon GS, Hopkins WG, Mayhew S, Cotter JD. Effect of post-exercise sauna bathing on the endurance performance of competitive male runners. Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport. 2007 Aug.
Crinnion WJ. Sauna as a valuable clinical tool for cardiovascular, autoimmune, toxicant- induced and other chronic health problems. Altern Med Rev. 2011 Sep.