NEAR INFRARED VS. FAR INFRARED SAUNAS: A CLOSER LOOK AT THE SCIENTIFIC EVIDENCE
Posted by JNH Lifestyle on July 11, 2017
With many famous people praising the health benefits of the infrared sauna, you have to wonder if these units live up to the hype, or if they’re just another Hollywood trend. The debate is made even more complex with proponents of near and far infrared saunas (FIR) insisting that one is particularly more beneficial and safer to use than the other.
What’s the difference?
Despite the fact that these two wavelengths are from the same IR spectrum, they represent different spectral regions. The near infrared (NIR) spectra is electromagnetic radiation usually used for visible light inspection because of its rather short wavelength. Meanwhile, at the opposite end, FIR is no longer in the visible spectrum. The only way you’ll know it’s there is when you feel the heat that it emits.
Though both IR spectra are being used by modern saunas as their heat source, there is no denying that the far-infrared sauna is far more superior, regardless of what your fitness instructor tells you. After all, only FIR saunas are backed by moderate, peer-reviewed research that shows evidence of their many health benefits.
Relief for chronic diseases?
As opposed to NIR saunas, which lack any scientific studies in support of its claimed superiority, there are ongoing studies on the medical effects of FIR saunas on the human body. Claims that FIR saunas can potentially help with the treatment of cardiovascular and other chronic diseases are generally supported by numerous scientific papers, published by known and licensed medical professionals.
Meanwhile, Asian countries - Japan, China, and Taiwan - are conducting extensive studies on the use of far infrared to enhance blood flow, alleviate symptoms of type 2 diabetes mellitus, provide relief for both acute and chronic pain, alleviate stress, and generally improve overall health. In the West, both Harvard Medical School in the U.S., University of Jyäskylä in Finland, and The College of Family Physicians of Canada are dedicating a fair amount of effort to dig deeper into the medical benefits of FIR saunas.
While a simple Google search might bombard you with position papers written by so-called health and wellness experts touting NIR, don't rush your purchasing decision. You are better off buying equipment that is substantiated, corroborated, and supported by reputable medical and scientific sources. Far-infrared saunas have shown to be the wiser choice for personal use when it comes to wellness.
Far-infrared therapy: a novel treatment to improve access blood flow and unassisted patency of arteriovenous fistula in hemodialysis patients, NationalHealthInstitute.gov
Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men, NationalHealthInstitute.gov
Far-infrared saunas for treatment of cardiovascular risk factors: summary of published evidence, NationalHealthInstitute.gov