Have you ever owned a treadmill or exercise bike only to have it turn into a clothes rack months later? For fitness equipment to be effective, it takes personal commitment, motivation, and energy. Owning personal exercise equipment adds extra convenience when the goal is to prevent illness and build strength or endurance. But what if you learned that owning a home infrared sauna could also help you avoid illness without the energy or exertion that most equipment requires? In fact, it can help treat existing, chronic health issues using a low-impact, noninvasive approach. Sure, you say, but does infrared ease autoimmune disease?
Indeed, it can. Let’s learn how.
What is an autoimmune disease?
An autoimmune disease results when the body’s natural immune system which normally defends you against harmful germs and invaders turns on itself and attacks healthy cells by mistake. This can affect various parts of the body depending on which type of autoimmune disease is diagnosed. It can affect the muscles, joints, blood vessels, thyroid, or skin. It’s estimated that 8% of the world population suffers from an autoimmune disease.
- Celiac disease
- Multiple sclerosis
- Graves’ disease
- Crohn’s disease
- Hashimoto thyroiditis
- Rheumatoid arthritis
- Type 1 diabetes
In addition, many people suffer from fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome. While those aren’t considered autoimmune diseases, they present many of the same symptoms. But how do they develop in the first place?
Who is susceptible to autoimmune disease?
There are many factors to consider in what stimulates an autoimmune disorder. They’re definitely not contagious. However, while they can affect anyone, women tend to develop them more than men. As well, some are attributed to the environment and viral infections along with increased susceptibility based on ethnicity, genetics, and weight.
As for the actual cause, there is still much research being done to pinpoint the trigger.
However, while most medical experts say you cannot cure an autoimmune disease, there are treatments, both medical and alternative, that can help suppress or alleviate the painful symptoms. Fortunately, new techniques are being developed on how to repair the damaged cells without hurting the healthy ones.
Many of those treatments are still a work in progress. Meanwhile, infrared therapy is a viable option for helping reduce and potentially avoid some of the common symptoms of autoimmune disease.
Infrared and detoxification
Scientists and functional medicine practitioners alike have proven time and again that our environment and food contain levels of toxins we may not notice or taste, but they’re prevalent. Pesticides, pollution, chemical cleaners, and more surround us daily. Regrettably, even if you eat healthy, use air filters, and live in a non-urban area, you’re still exposed to some level of toxins.
What does this have to do with autoimmune disease, though? Some naturopaths and even medical practitioners believe that when your immune system is compromised, you can’t eliminate toxins as easily. You can, however, assist your liver by taking some positive steps with your surroundings.
Palmer Kippola, a functional medicine coach, has shared in her book, Beat Autoimmune, the following: “Evidence is mounting that our environment’s increasing toxic load is fueling the explosive growth of autoimmune conditions. In the 1970s, it was estimated that 1 in 5,000 people suffered from an autoimmune disorder. Today that number is more like 1 in 5.” Her findings include results from personal experience in reversing her MS disease. She explains in her book about toxin overload and how you can control much more than you realize.
Infrared therapy will help you do just that. Dr. Amy Meyers, another health expert who reversed her own autoimmune issues, explains, “Sweating is one of the best ways to detox your body. Every time you sweat, you flush out the toxic substances and heavy metals that we encounter in everyday life. Infrared sauna therapy promotes this process.”
Further, infrared sauna use has resulted in positive outcomes for people with Hashimoto’s, Rheumatoid arthritis, and other autonomic nervous system issues (tied to autoimmune disorders) all due to the induced sweating. Toxic metals released during sweating can directly affect this outcome.
Beyond detox, what can you do about the pain that comes with autoimmune disease?
Infrared as a chronic pain treatment
Typically, autoimmune disorders are accompanied by pain and discomfort. Inflammation of T-cells, joints, and muscle tissue can come and go, alleviated often by medications. But meds may not be the sole solution, partly because many immunosuppressant drugs come with unpleasant side effects. Ironically, one of these is the increased risk of infection.
Moderate exercise and physical therapy can help restore movement and ease pain with some autoimmune symptoms. Careful adjustments to diet could also help, given that some foods are more inflammatory and others help reduce inflammation. Still, another effective option is infrared.
With infrared therapy, you’re allowed to relax and let the heat do its job. There’s no stress, strain, or resistance involved. Part of the reason it’s so effective in reducing pain is that the heat improves blood circulation. Increased circulation enhances oxygen delivery to organs and muscles. It also helps flush out edema which causes inflammation, the very thing immune-compromised people want to avoid.
At the same time your pain is subsiding, you’ll experience another essential benefit from your sauna. It’s one we could all use!
Infrared for reducing stress
Everyone experiences stress from time to time. For some, stress becomes part of daily life. In fact, it’s often the culprit when it comes to health issues, from high blood pressure to heart problems to rashes and more. It makes sense that autoimmune disease could also be linked to stress. In fact, a study published via the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) network reported a direct link between stress-related disorders and increased risk for autoimmune disorders.
A further study published in the National Library of Medicine indicated “Many retrospective studies found that a high proportion (up to 80%) of patients reported uncommon emotional stress before disease onset. The treatment of autoimmune disease should thus include stress management and behavioral intervention to prevent stress-related immune imbalance.”
Infrared treatment is ideal for reducing both stress and anxiety. How does it work, you ask?
The heat in an infrared sauna is especially intense, and as it penetrates your body, it has a relaxing effect. In turn, as your core temperature heats from the infrared, you’ll begin to experience an endorphin release, caused by increased circulation. It’s the same sensation you get after a good jog or workout.
Relaxed muscles, increased endorphins, and a healthy sweat all combine to leave you feeling at ease after a sauna session. Done regularly, you’ll mitigate stress and potentially gain yet another benefit.
Infrared as a sleep enhancer
A good snooze is hard to achieve when your body hurts, is tense, or feels stressed. But sleep is key to ensuring positive mental and physical fitness. There’s a direct link to inflammation and its impact on fatigue as it relates to autoimmune disease. However, inflammation and pain are often what inhibit actual sleep. Additionally, sleep disorders, including apnea and non-apnea, have been linked to illnesses like rheumatoid arthritis, as published in The Lancet.
Karen Avery’s story details how sleep impacted her struggle with Lupus, another autoimmune disease. She shares that “Every flare was caused by a significant and prolonged lack of sleep.” Yet for some reason, most physicians don’t ask patients how much sleep they’re getting. Those 7 or 8 restorative hours can certainly be elusive in a society that praises overtime and productivity–work-life balance is talked about but not always practiced.
Infrared therapy can be your saving grace when it comes to sounder sleep. Shortly after entering your sauna, you begin to sweat. Your body will naturally begin to release tension. The intense heat spurs chemical changes, increasing the production of endorphins. These help calm and relax our bodies.
Planning routine sauna sessions at the end of the day is especially helpful. Once you leave the sauna, your body temperature will begin dropping and kickstart the sleep process. Body temperature naturally starts to decrease before bed, which signals the production of melatonin, the hormone that induces sleep.
Ultimately, there are many studies that explore how autoimmune disease can be managed successfully using several approaches, including personal infrared sauna sessions. Of course, always refer to a medical practitioner if you have serious health concerns before using a sauna. If you’re still wondering about the benefits overall, give us a call and ask one of our sauna specialists. An infrared sauna can be one of the best investments in your well-being when used regularly!