Sauna and Photo-biomodulation - two great healers using heat and light

There are 3 main ways of getting rid of toxins in our body - the urinary system, the bowel system, or sweat.

Sauna is ideal for detoxification and for re-optimizing the health of the body through sweating. The literature outlines benefits such as longevity and reducing the risk of all-cause mortality. There’s also significant research into its use in improved cognitive function, reducing the risk of diseases like Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and fibromyalgia and reducing chronic pain.

All saunas raise your core body temperature enough to jump-start its natural healing processes. The use of sauna and full body hyperthermic therapy - heating the body up in a passive, relaxed state - is a tradition that spans every human culture and can be traced back thousands of years. Nowadays sauna as a therapeutic health treatment is also incredibly well researched. 

We are commonly exposed to environmental stress and toxins as we have strayed from ancestral living. Our ancestors did not have severe temperature changes of today or constant access to food but they also did not have the exposure to environmental toxins that we have in today’s world. We have many new chemicals in our food, manmade electromagnetic stress, we spend less time outdoors and have lots of synthetic blue light stress all creating a toxic tidal wave.

Infrared Saunas – how do they work?

To understand infrared saunas we must first understand infrared light.

Although we primarily think of light in terms of the sun, fire, and artificial light, what our eyes can see is only a small part of a larger spectrum of light.

As you move from left to right on the spectrum, the wavelengths get longer. Infrared light comes just after visible light. We can’t see it, but we can feel it. Infrared light from the sun is what makes us feel warm and comfortable. Out of all the types of light we get from the sun, about 41% is near infrared.



Near infrared saunas

Traditional saunas use steam, fire, or electric heaters to make the air in the sauna hot, which eventually heats up your body from the outside in.

Near infrared saunas tap into the science of light to help you sweat faster and more comfortably, in an ambient temperature.

Unlike the traditional methods, near infrared (NIR) light works in synergy with your body’s biology to create heat from the inside out. By using NIR’s shorter wavelengths in a way that mimics natural sunlight, the light penetrates deeply into the cell to raise your core temperature faster. Near infrared light is the only wavelength that’s been shown to penetrate bone tissue.

Near infrared light from an incandescent bulb and infrared light both have deep tissue penetration by  heating up the body while having ambient air at a lower temperature than a traditional sauna. For people who have physical limitations or sensitivities to heat, this provides a very tolerable, enjoyable, gentle access to heating the body up, and causing it to sweat, and excrete toxins.


Far infrared saunas

If a sauna relies primarily on FIR, it may take longer to raise your core body temperature. In FIR longer wavelengths are absorbed by water in the body, which makes it difficult to move past the water in the surface layers of your skin. FIR do not use light therapy and may use LED panels instead.

Photo-biomodulation describes the use of red or near infrared light to stimulate, heal, and regenerate, and protect tissue that has been injured, is degenerating, or is dying in some way. Over billions of years the mitochondria in the cell have developed light receptors system to respond to infrared light.

When we shine the infrared light on these receptors, whether it’s from the sun or from an incandescent bulb, we activate healing systems in every cell of the body.

Photo-biomodulation has a calming effect on the immune system. It helps reduce inflammatory cytokines but it also helps increase anti-inflammatory cytokines. This is not unlike the Wim Hof method of breathing that precedes an ice bath.  It is therefore not overstimulating the immune system nor is it suppressing it. It works in synergy with the body and has the potential to correct the degeneration, for example that might occur with neurodegenerative disease like MS.

There’s strong evidence in favour of red-light therapy for traumatic brain injury, for mental health issues, for psoriasis, for autoimmune issues such as MS or rheumatoid arthritis and pain management.

Hence, when we combine a sauna with photo-biomodulation using infrared light, it can be a very effective way of promoting healing in every cell of the body.

Here’s a snippet of the volumes research that exist:

Yang M, Yang Z, Wang P, Sun Z. Neural Regen Res. 2021; 16(6):1177-1185. Current application and future directions of photo biomodulation in central nervous diseases

Pall ML. Townsend Lett. 2010; Feb/March:75–84. How Can We Cure NO/ONOO− Cycle Diseases? A Review

Lee SY, You CE, Park MY. Blue and red-light combination LED phototherapy for acne vulgaris in patients with skin phototype IV. Lasers Surg Med. 2007 Feb;39(2):180-8. doi: 10.1002/lsm.20412. PMID: 17111415.

Gard ZR, Brown EJ. Townsend Lett 1992; June:470–478 Literature review and comparison studies of sauna/hyperthermia in detoxification: Part I

Mitsunaga M, Ogawa M, Kosaka N, Rosenblum LT, Choyke PL, Kobayashi H. Cancer cell-selective in vivo near infrared photoimmunotherapy targeting specific membrane molecules. Nat Med. 2011 Nov 6;17(12):1685-91. doi: 10.1038/nm.2554. PMID: 22057348; PMCID: PMC3233641.

Laukkanen T, Kunutsor S, Kauhanen J, Laukkanen JA. Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Age Ageing. 2017 Mar 1;46(2):245-249. doi: 10.1093/ageing/afw212. PMID: 27932366.


Testimonials from some of the greats

“I’m convinced that saunas are one of the most potent tools available to us for optimizing health and extending lifespan.”  Chris Kress, Founder of the Kresser Institute

“I am still very much enjoying my sauna most mornings! I definitely prefer the incandescent lamp heat over the far-infrared heaters in my old cabinet sauna.”  Terry Wahls MD, Founder of the Wahls Protocol