Infrared saunas are believed to have originated from research done by NASA in the 1960s or 1980s, depending on which website you read.
I looked at the NASA product derivative database of their developments for space flight and I can’t see any reference to the production of the far infrared sauna.
However, digging a little deeper, I found an article by Dr. Aaron M. Flickstein titled “Research on Far Infrared Rays.” In it, Dr. Flickstein notes that,
“Dr. Tadashi Ishikawa, a member of Fuji Medical’s Research and Development Department, received a patent in 1965 for a zirconium ceramic infrared heater used in early healing infrared thermal systems.”
He then goes on to say that only Japanese doctors used infrared systems for 14 years. Until 1979 when they were released for public use.
Infrared therapy was further refined and began to be sold in the US around 1981.
So it is conceivable that NASA started using it for astronauts in the mid-1980s, as some sauna websites claim.
If you want to get the full detox benefits of an infrared sauna, it’s important that you use it the right way.
An infrared sauna heats the tissues to a greater depth compared to a conventional sauna. So you need to decide if you want to have it checked first before your infrared sauna session.
People to check before using an infrared sauna
If you are taking prescription medications, you should check with your doctor and pharmacist if the effectiveness of the medication is reduced by far-infrared heating.
If you have a specific ailment, you should discuss with your doctor exactly how you plan to use an infrared sauna. There may be no problem, however your doctor may be aware of certain illnesses that should not be heated above your “normal” core body temperature.
If you have silicone or metal implants, heart monitors, or pacemakers, it makes sense to ask your doctor if infrared heat will affect you—and you! Of course, in the unlikely event that you feel any pain, stop using the sauna.
Using an infrared sauna should not cause pain. If so, you should stop the session and see a doctor or assess where the pain is coming from. Only resume sauna sessions when you are completely satisfied that the cause of the pain has been eliminated.
People who should not use an infrared sauna
If you have an internal infection, such as a tooth decay, joint injury, or other infection, you should wait until they have healed before using the infrared sauna.
It is advisable for pregnant women to stop taking saunas until after the birth, as the infrared sauna heats down to a deep tissue level. It’s not worth the risk to the fetus.
If you are prone to excessive bleeding, you should avoid infrared saunas. This is because heating causes vasodilation which in most people is beneficial in hemophiliacs and in others at higher risk it can increase the probability of bleeding.
Who benefits from an infrared sauna?
Athletes, soccer players, golfers, in fact anyone with an active lifestyle. Also, infrared sauna can promote faster healing of sprains and other injuries (leave it 48 hours before using the sauna to allow swelling and heat to reduce first).
Infrared heat will help recovery, with or without injury because:
1) Infrared heat increases the extensibility of collagen tissues
2) Infrared heat reduces stiff joints
3) Infrared heat reduces muscle spasms
4) Infrared heat helps relieve pain
5) Infrared heat increases blood flow to promote healing.
Therefore, it is also useful for people with arthritic conditions and also leg or body ulcers due to the deeper penetrating heat and the ability to get the blood flowing faster.
Skin conditions such as eczema, acne, nettle rash, psoriasis and even blocked pores are helped by infrared sauna therapy.
There is a long list of medical conditions that are relieved or improved by infrared sauna therapy.
It certainly comes in handy when it comes to reducing feelings of stress while gently warming up in the infrared sauna. Maybe you should try it?