The first two parts of this series examined the health advantages of lymphatic cleansing with rebound exercise, and fasting for the removal of toxic build-up and internal purification. A third method of detoxification is through the regular use of a far-infrared sauna. The benefits of these three stand-alone practices are exponential when combined and integrated into a healing regimen or health maintenance program. Any healing protocol should also include an ample supply of whole foods. Such a comprehensive program advances the healing process and counters the effects of living in a toxic world.
Far infrared rays are part of the sun's natural spectrum. The radiant energy produced by an infrared sauna is the same as heat from the sun, with the exclusion of the ultraviolet rays. A heat source, (usually ceramic heating elements), emits infrared waves that penetrate and relax the body as increased blood circulation warms the skin. A flood of sweat and toxins is released through the skin's open pores as the warm blood circulates deeper throughout the body.
The infrared sauna is a powerful means of cellular cleansing as it increases metabolism and blood circulation. In addition to its use for detoxification it also relaxes muscles, soothes the spirit and rejuvenates the body.
Far-Infrared Versus Steam Saunas
Infrared saunas warm the body instead of heating the surrounding air. Traditional steam saunas heat the air and require temperatures ranging from 150 – 200 degrees Fahrenheit to promote perspiration, whereas a heat range of 110 – 140 degrees in an infrared sauna produces the same results. The cooler air temperature is more tolerable to heat-sensitive individuals and allows for sessions of up to forty-five minutes, nearly twice as long as in a typical steam sauna session.
The softer heat of an infrared sauna also penetrates deeper into the skin - as much as 1 ½ inches - and draws out more toxins than a steam sauna, according to Dr. Aundrea Adams of the International Institute of Holistic Healing, who compared the detoxification findings of the two sauna types.
Dr. Adams summarizes a report which concludes that sweat from a traditional sauna was up to 97% water, while the sweat released in an infrared sauna was only 80 – 85% water. The remaining 15 – 20% was comprised of heavy metals, sulfuric acid, sodium, ammonia, uric acid and fat-soluble toxins (1).
The deep penetration of infrared heat activates and releases debris from the subcutaneous fat just beneath the skin. It also allows the body to gradually free stored toxins from organs and tissues, which eventually make their way to the fat tissue under the skin, finally to be purged through perspiration (2).
Clearly the therapeutic advantages of the infrared sauna are considerable. In her book Detoxify Or Die, Sherry Rogers, M.D. extols the benefits of the far-infrared sauna. She cites a study done by specialists at the Mayo Clinic which proves the effectiveness of therapeutic infrared sauna use for patients of end-stage congestive heart failure.
The individuals in this three-week study tolerated the infrared sauna heat without side effects, and experienced significant chemical detoxification. The toxic load was the underlying cause of their condition and the heart function of each of these patients improved as a result of the therapeutic cleansing. They were also able to eliminate some of their medications (2).
A fever is the body's natural mechanism for releasing bacteria, viruses, and other toxic organisms by sweating them out through the skin. It is a natural means of healing. Hyperthermia (heat therapy) refers to the various methods of creating fever to stimulate the body's healing process. A rise in the body's normal temperature of 98.6 degrees creates a state of hyperthermia (3).
Infrared sauna use is perhaps the most effective and efficient method of prompting a state of hyperthermia for the purpose of detoxification. Not only does this process purge toxins from fat cells, including chemical residues, it's also helpful in the destruction of cancer cells, as they begin to die off when the malignant tissue reaches 104 – 106 degrees Fahrenheit (3).
The body regulates its core temperature through blood circulation and perspiration; nevertheless, it takes but a small increase to trigger hyperthermia and the production of white blood cells, which are critical to the destruction of tumors. Regular infrared sauna use is an effective approach that compliments any anti-cancer protocol.
Skin Brushing to Augment Cleansing
Each day a new layer of skin replaces the old. The skin is the body's largest elimination organ and releases nearly two pounds of toxic waste daily by means of perspiration, as long as its pores are not blocked (4). An optional, yet highly effective practice before entering the sauna is to vigorously dry-brush the skin for five to ten minutes with a natural fiber brush to remove dead skin cells and to stimulate circulation and the lymphatic system.
Using lotions and creams clogs the pores and inhibits the skin's task of respiration and waste removal. Blocked pores keep toxins in the body which places a burden on the other organs of elimination. Skin brushing combined with infrared sauna use maximizes cleansing as pores open to ease the release of toxic debris.
After skin brushing, a quick warm or hot shower to rinse off the powdery residue will also encourage quick perspiration in the sauna. Once in the sauna, perspiration usually begins within fifteen to twenty minutes for most users.
Exercise increases oxygenation of cells and raises body temperature. Some individuals may find it difficult to sweat, which may be attributed to a heavy metal and toxic chemical burden. Exercise and skin brushing before a sauna session will jump-start the detoxification process and help produce sweat. Regular sauna use enhances internal cleansing and facilitates sufficient perspiration.
It's best to wait at least an hour after eating before entering the sauna. Be sure to drink plenty of water before, during and after the sauna session to replenish lost fluids and minerals.
Pregnant women should avoid sauna use. Consult with a health care provider if necessary to determine whether or not infrared sauna use will suit your medical condition.
Use common sense with sauna use. If open cuts or burns are present, avoid the sauna. Drinking alcohol, smoking or any type of drug use in the sauna is not recommended. Be sure to remove contact lenses and all metal objects before entering the sauna.
Allow about twenty minutes to warm up the infrared sauna. Begin with short sessions and increase duration and temperature over days or weeks as the body adjusts to its tolerance level. Daily therapeutic cleansing sessions can easily extend to 45 minutes at 135 degrees Fahrenheit. If necessary, periodically open the sauna door or window for ventilation if the heat becomes too stifling.
Once the timer has shut off the sauna, remaining a few extra minutes will allow the body to finish perspiring while cooling off. Follow the sauna session with a warm or hot shower, finishing with thirty seconds or more of cold water to close the pores, tone the skin and invigorate the body. With patience, the regular practice of cold showers is gradually and incrementally attainable. The shocking, blood tingling cold water brings with it a level of exhilaration and renewal that is hard to surpass.
A variety of infrared sauna models are available for home use from a number of sources and within all price ranges. There are many pre-built sauna kits available, and instructions to build your own are easy to find through an internet search.
While sauna use, exercise and fasting are all effective methods of detoxification, a plant-based, alkaline diet is paramount to a successful healing regimen and that fact must be reiterated and underscored. An acidic diet of processed foods, carbonated beverages and the like will compound the ill effects of a toxic environment, sabotage detoxification efforts and impede healing.
Proper diet and routine cleansing of the body will speed healing and significantly enhance physical, mental and spiritual well-being. The final segment of this series will address the controversial topic of coffee enemas for therapeutic detoxification and health maintenance.
1. Dr. Sorge, Detox America: What is Far Infrared Therapy and How Does it Work Toward Healing the Body? (www.detoxamerica.us)
2. Rogers, M.D., Sherry A.: Detoxify Or Die. Sarasota, FL: Sand Key Company, Inc., pgs. 199-200; 206-13, 2002
3. Diamond, M.D., W. John, and Cowden, M.D., W. Lee: Cancer Diagnosis, What To Do Next. Tiburon, CA: Alternative Medicine, Inc., pgs. 280-6, 2000
4. Jensen, Dr. Bernard: Dr. Jensen's Guide to Better Bowel Care. NY, NY: Avery Publishing, p. 118, 1999
About the author
Mary Laredo is an artist, educator and gallery curator who lives and works in Detroit, MI. As a breast cancer survivor who shunned conventional treatment, she is writing a book about her experience with natural therapies and nutritional healing