Read my honest review of the first infrared sauna experience, what I wanted to find out before going into the session and what I did!
Infrared sauna has been very trendy for a few years now. After digging into some research and hearing from friends and family incorporating infrared sauna into their wellness routines, I too became very curious and decided I should add infrared sauna into my own healing toolbox.
Why I wanted to try Infrared sauna?
You may have read my story of fighting Fibromyalgia, in which Traditional Chinese Medicine cured 70% of my chronic pain condition. The couple years after that I focused mainly on detoxing my liver which cured the remaining 30% of my fibromyalgia pain. During this process, I learned the following lessons:
- how beneficial detox can be for our health
- how difficult it was to remove toxins from the body
- how nearly impossible it was to reverse some of the damage that was already done in the first place
It made me want to take a more serious approach to prevent toxins from entering my body and learn to further detox myself. The next logical step was to detox heavy metals and plastics.
I was already mindful about my eating (eg. fish, heavily processed foods, exposure to takeout containers and packaging) to avoid as many toxins as possible, including hormone-disruptive BPA, phthalates and neurotoxic heavy metals. I then started to detox my skincare, switch to clean makeup, and remove toxic ingredients from products I use on my family. Although my toxin-free products don’t contain phthalates and other harmful chemicals and my makeup is tested for heavy metals, I had accumulated these substances in my body for nearly 40 years prior to my switch.
I am certainly not alone in trying to remove accumulated heavy metals and plastics (BPA, phthalates) from the body.
IR Sauna Benefits
Interesting studies have shown that sweating is an effective way to remove heavy metals, such as arsenic, cadmium, lead and mercury. Here is a quote from the abstract on pubmed:
In individuals with higher exposure or body burden, sweat generally exceeded plasma or urine concentrations, and dermal could match or surpass urinary daily excretion. Arsenic dermal excretion was severalfold higher in arsenic-exposed individuals than in unexposed controls. Cadmium was more concentrated in sweat than in blood plasma. Sweat lead was associated with high-molecular-weight molecules, and in an interventional study, levels were higher with endurance compared with intensive exercise. Mercury levels normalized with repeated saunas in a case report.
Another study showed that sweating assists the elimination of BPA. In some individuals, BPA was detected in sweat, even though they aren’t detected in blood or urine.
Phthalates exposure is extremely widespread as well. This study showed that phthalates are found in sweat but not blood of several individuals, and concentration in sweat was more than twice as high as urine levels on average.
Sweating is an essential way our body cleanses itself, and the above studies suggested that it may be the most effective way to eliminate heavy metals, BPA and phthalates. Because infrared heat penetrates deeper into the body tissues compared to traditional sauna, it can work up a sweat and stimulate the release of fat-soluble toxins without burning up the skin at a high temperature. The main benefit of infrared sauna for me is detox through sweating. In addition, there are a few other benefits I thought my body would really enjoy:
- improving circulation and keeping me warm (my body is constantly cold all year round; living in Canada makes the matter worse.)
- raising core body temperature to fight infection (I have been struggling with chronic and frequent infections for many years, my immune system isn’t working very well and at times I had trouble producing a fever on my own when fighting an infection; I had considered getting an induced fever in the past, so finding ways to raise body temperature to target infection has been on my plan.)
- reducing inflammation and preventing joint pains (duh, I have a history of Fibromyalgia, remember?)
- activating the parasympathetic nervous system and promoting relaxation (I also have a history of anxiety)
What I Want to Find Out?
So, it’s a no-brainer I should explore infrared sauna as a method of healing, and figure out how I can incorporate it into my life!
At the time of this blog post, I am actually in the middle of planning a basement renovation this summer, and I really want an infrared sauna put in my basement, in order for my family and myself to use it whenever we need to.
When I mentioned my plan during a casual conversation at an local wellness event (in Markham, Ontario), Nadeem, the owner of Float Valley, said to me, “why not try it first?” I was delighted to find out that the float therapy centre in my city just added an infrared sauna unit.
Although I had plenty of experience with infrared heat lamps in the past and thoroughly enjoyed the therapeutic benefits, infrared sauna works on a much larger scale. Infrared sauna is also an expensive purchase, thus it would be a sound decision to try a session first before buying. I went to the infrared sauna session at Float Valley with the following questions in mind:
- Will I enjoy the experience of using infrared sauna? Will I be able to achieve sweating to detox?
- Will my skin feel dried out? Unlike a steam sauna, infrared sauna doesn’t produce moisture alongside the heat. A benefit of the steam sauna is keeping the skin hydrated. I was a little concerned about the effect of the dry heat from infrared sauna, as I have fairly dry and sensitive skin.
- Will I feel spending a few thousand dollars to purchase an infrared sauna for my house is worthwhile?
I am really excited to share my first infrared sauna experience with you all! Hope it will help you in your decision making, whether you are considering buying an infrared sauna, or trying it for the first time at Float Valley or somewhere else.
Infrared Sauna Experience at Float Valley
Float Valley is probably the closest place to my home in Markham that offers infrared sauna service. They are located in the centre of Markham (north of Toronto) at McCowan and HWY7, near Markville Mall. Being close to home is such a bonus!
I scheduled my infrared sauna session ahead of time for a 6:45pm appointment in the evening on a weekday night. I was advised to arrive 15 minutes earlier. I was on time at 6:45pm – I couldn’t make it to my appointment early, and fortunately still had enough time for the session. I would have felt a little less rushed if I could spare another 15 minutes to be at the appointment early.
Infrared sauna sessions at Float Valley can be scheduled for 1 person or for a couple. Most infrared sauna units sold on the market are designed for 1 to 5 person capacity. How many people the infrared sauna service provider allows at a time depends on the size of the unit they own. I have seen other places with smaller units that can only accommodate 1 person at a time. Float Valley had an infrared sauna (more details on the sauna model later) that can accommodate a couple; now they own 2 sauna units to serve their clients. I went for a couple’s session with a girlfriend of mine, who took the photos of me in this blog post.
We also checked ahead of time that Float Valley has all the things we need for our session, from towels and flip-flops, to shampoo and hair dryer. We didn’t need to bring anything else with us. However, I did bring my bathing suits just in case I needed it to sit inside the sauna.
Float Valley in Markham has a state-of-the-art facility. It felt so tranquil from the moment I stepped inside, and my stress was instantly melted away. We were taken to the infrared sauna room that has an infrared sauna, a shower and clean dry towels on the chair. The timer was set for 5 minutes for us to change, 30 minutes to enjoy the sauna, and 15 minutes to shower.
The infrared sauna at Float Valley is a Sunlighten mPulse Conquer model. It is a full spectrum infrared (near, mid and far infrared radiation) sauna built for up to 3 people. It’s very roomy for two. If you go by yourself, there is enough space to stretch out your legs on the bench. Inside the sauna, you can control the programming of the sauna, temperature and chromotherapy lights from a touch-screen tablet.
We ended up not using our bathing suits. It’s best to wear as little as possible when using infrared sauna, and we felt comfortable wrapped up in the towel. The infrared sauna is already pre-heated and set to go up to 70ºC.
The infrared heat was very soothing. I was able to sit right up against the wall inside the sauna and my skin did not feel burned or over-heated. My body warmed up very quickly from the inside, as if I was able to absorb and then radiate heat myself. This is such a big deal for someone who has suffered from fibromyalgia and chronic infections in the past. It felt amazing! About 10 minutes into the session, I was already starting to sweat from every part of my body. 20 minutes into the session, I was visibly sweating, yet I still felt very comfortable and relaxed. Because of the sweat, my skin didn’t feel dried at all the entire time, instead my skin felt hydrated and rejuvenated. I was impressed that the infrared sauna worked so effectively.
The timer reminded us when 30 minutes is up. I felt I would stay in longer if I had a sauna at home. My girlfriend was ready to come out. Naturally, she doesn’t love heat and sweating, but she completely enjoyed the session. 30 minutes is the perfect length for someone like her and the average folks out there.
We then hopped out of the sauna and into the shower located in the same room. You want to be sure to wash away the sweats and toxins right away, so that the toxins don’t stay on the skin and get re-absorbed back into the body. Did I mention, I loved the rain shower at Float Valley too?
At the end of the infrared sauna session, we were both completely relaxed and refreshed!
I was really excited about how much I sweated during the session. More importantly, the warming effect of the infrared sauna lasted beyond the session. I usually experience a lot of chills on a regular basis. After the infrared sauna session, I felt less chills and my immune system felt stronger for the next day. My head was more clear during the evening immediately after I used the sauna. My whole body felt lighter, and my skin felt softer and more radiant. My heart was really happy!
During the last few years, I have been experiencing mysterious skin rashes very frequently, nothing contagious, nor is it an allergic reaction, but most likely stemmed from issues of my immune system. I felt a reduction in the severity of my rashes the days after I used the infrared sauna. I don’t know if it’s the effects of the sauna session at this point, but I am definitely intrigued to find out if regular use of infrared sauna can improve my skin problems in the future.
My first infrared sauna experience was such a positive one. I got all the questions going into the session answered. I really enjoyed using infrared sauna. I could achieve a good sweat, while feeling comfortable, relaxed, and my skin hydrated rather than dried.
I am now planning to purchase an infrared sauna for my basement with confidence that I would use and love it. I really like the Sunlighten mPulse after trying out too – it is definitely in my top 3 choices for the purchase. However, it will be another blog post to investigate exactly which brand and model is the best for my family.
I also recognize that buying an infrared sauna may not be for everyone. It’s an investment and takes up space too. But I have no doubt infrared sauna can benefit everyone’s health. Even if you don’t like the heat of a traditional sauna, you can still get a good detox and healing from infrared sauna at a lower temperature. I highly recommend Float Valley for anyone living in Markham and adjacent cities. And if you live further away, I hope my review of the experience can help you find a quality service provider near your.
Have you tried infrared sauna? What was your infrared sauna experience? Tell me in the comment.