Do infrared saunas really work? (Studies, medical research, findings)

Saunas have long been used for therapeutic and relaxation purposes. They can provide a number of wonderful health benefits.

While the benefits of traditional saunas are well known, it's only recently that we’ve begun to fully appreciate and explore the benefits of infrared saunas. Learn more about the differences between steam and infrared saunas.

Because of the way infrared saunas work, they’re believed to deliver greater health benefits than traditional saunas. 

Let’s take a look at some of the health benefits and medical research on saunas and infrared therapy...

Do infrared saunas do anything? 

In short, yes! There have been many scientific studies showing the health benefits of infrared sauna use. 

In fact, as infrared is still a relatively recent innovation, the health benefits of infrared therapy are still being revealed – with most research into its health benefits occurring in the last decade. See the list of studies below and click on the links to learn more.

Benefits of infrared therapy: 

  • Promotes beautiful, youthful skin
  • Improves the appearance of cellulite

  • Detoxification and naturally removes toxins

  • Boosts your immune system

  • Relieves rheumatism, arthritis and fibromyalgia

Are there any infrared sauna studies? 

Yes, there have been numerous studies worldwide on the effects and benefits of infrared saunas and infrared therapy on our bodies.

Below are 17 common questions about health benefits of infrared therapy and saunas, with links to some of the scientific research and findings into each area. 

1. What are the infrared sauna detox benefits? 

Can sweating remove heavy metals from the body? Sweating and the removal of Arsenic, Cadmium, Lead, and Mercury in Sweat: A Systematic Review. Read study

Infrared Saunas cause sweating. Can this help to remove metals? Metals found in Sauna users sweat: Atomic Absorption Spectrometry of Nickel, Copper, Zinc, and Lead in Sweat Collected from Healthy Subjects during Sauna Bathing. Read study.

Can saunas be used as a detox tool? Components of practical clinical detox programs - sauna as a therapeutic tool. Read study.

Can sauna Therapy help those exposed to Meth? Meth Exposure and Chronic Illness. Read study.

Can Infrared Sauna use activate antioxidant protection in the body? Antioxidant Systems In Blood. Read study.

Can infrared sauna use help remove fluoride from the body? Read study.

2. Can an infrared sauna help with cardiovascular issues?

Can Sauna use help patients with Chronic Heart Failure. Read study.

Can Waon (Soothing Warm Therapy) therapy improve the prognosis of patients with chronic heart failure? Read study.

What beneficial effects do heart failure patients receive from sauna use? Read Study
Can sauna use be therapeutic for heart failure patients? Read study.

Can Heating Therapy using far infra-red sauna help patients with chronic heart failure? Read study.

What are the effects of repeated sauna treatment on Ventricular Arrhythmias in Patients With Chronic Heart Failure? Read study.

What is the efficacy of repeated sauna bathing in patients with chronic systolic heart failure: Read study.

Can repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure? Read study.

Can sauna use of various duration change the lipid profile of blood serum in women. Read study.

Can infrared Sauna therapy mobilize CD34+ cells and improve peripheral arterial disease? Read study.

3. Does an infrared sauna help with diabetes?

What are the restorative effects of pulsed infrared light therapy in patients with long-term type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus. Read study.

Do Far-infrared Saunas Have Cardiovascular Benefits in People with Type 2 Diabetes? Read study.

What is the effect of leg hyperthermia using far infrared on bedridden subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus? Read study.

4. Can an infrared sauna help with back pain, chronic pain or pain relief? 

What are the effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain? Read study.

Far-Infrared Therapy Promotes Nerve Repair following End-to-End Neurorrhaphy in Rat Models of Sciatic Nerve Injury. Read study.

Far Infrared Therapy Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Inflammation via the Induction of Heme Oxygenase-1. Read study.

Phantom limb pain treated by far infrared ray. Read study.

5. Can you lose weight using infrared saunas?

Sauna-Induced Body Mass Loss in Young Sedentary Women and Men. Read study.

Clinical Implications of Thermal Therapy in Lifestyle-Related Diseases. Read study.

6. Can infrared saunas help with cellulite? 

Cellulite treatment using a novel combination radiofrequency, infrared light, and mechanical tissue manipulation device. Read study.

The effectiveness and safety of topical PhotoActif phosphatidylcholine-based anti-cellulite gel and LED (red and near-infrared) light on Grade II-III thigh cellulite: a randomized, double-blinded study. Read study.

7. Can an infrared sauna speed up wound healing?

Analysis of the Systemic Effect of Red and Infrared Laser Therapy on Wound Repair. Read study.

Mitochondrial signal transduction in accelerated wound and retinal healing by near-infrared light therapy. Read study.

Combined visible light and infrared light-emitting diode (LED) therapy enhances wound healing after laser ablative resurfacing of photodamaged facial skin. Read study.

Promotive Effects of Far-Infrared Ray on Full-Thickness Skin Wound Healing. Read study.

Biological effect of far-infrared therapy on increasing skin microcirculation. Read study.

8. Can an infrared sauna make you look younger or help with aging? 

Effects of Infrared Radiation on Skin Photo-Aging and Pigmentation. Read study.

Far-infrared suppresses skin photoaging in ultraviolet B-exposed fibroblasts and hairless mice. Read study.

High-energy protocol improves photoaged facial skin. Read study.

Objective assessment of skin rejuvenation using near-infrared 1064-nm neodymium: YAG laser in Asians. Read study.

Radiant near infrared light-emitting Diode exposure as skin preparation to enhance photodynamic therapy inflammatory type acne treatment outcome. Read study.

9. Is an infrared sauna good for rheumatoid arthritis?

Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects. Read study.

No adverse physiological responses to infrared whole-body hyperthermia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis compared to healthy subjects. Read study.

10. Is an infrared sauna good for fitness, gym training and exercise? 

Effects of far-infrared sauna bathing on recovery from strength and endurance training sessions in men. Read study.

Do sauna therapy and exercise act by raising the availability of tetrahydrobiopterin? Read study.

Effects Of Far Infrared Warming On Recovery In Power Athletes During A 5-Day Training Period. Read study.

The effect of a single Finnish sauna bath after aerobic exercise on the oxidative status in healthy men. Read study.

11. Do infrared saunas help with Alzheimers and dementia?

Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer's disease in middle-aged Finnish men. Read study.

Turning On Lights to Stop Neurodegeneration: The Potential of Near Infrared Light Therapy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Read study.

12. Can an infrared sauna help with depression and anxiety?

Repeated Thermal Therapy Diminishes Appetite Loss and Subjective Complaints in Mildly Depressed Patients. Read study.

Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Read study.

Effects of Far Infrared Acupoint Stimulation on Autonomic Activity and Quality of Life in Hemodialysis Patients. Read study.

Whole-Body Hyperthermia for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Read study.

The effect on serotonin and MDA levels in depressed patients with insomnia when far-infrared rays are applied to acupoints. Read study.

13. Does colour therapy and chromotherapy work?

A Critical Analysis of Chromotherapy and Its Scientific Evolution. Read study.

Chromotherapy in the regulation of neurohormonal balance in human brain-complementary application in modern psychiatric treatment. Read study.

14. Is an infrared sauna good for chronic fatigue?

A new treatment: thermal therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Read study.

The effects of repeated thermal therapy for two patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Read study.

The effects of repeated thermal therapy for two patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. Read study.

Targeting mitochondrial dysfunction in the treatment of Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (ME/CFS) - a clinical audit. Read study.

15. Does far infrared therapy help dialysis patients?

Role of Far Infrared Therapy in Dialysis Arterio-Venous Fistula Maturation and Survival. Read study.

Thermal therapy in dialysis patients - a randomized trial. Read study.

Clinical utility of far-infrared therapy for improvement of vascular access blood flow and pain control in hemodialysis patients. Read study.

Far-Infrared Therapy: A Novel Treatment to Improve Access Blood Flow and Unassisted Patency of Arteriovenous Fistula in Hemodialysis Patients. Read study.

16. What does an infrared sauna do for fibromyalgia?

Effects of thermal therapy combining sauna therapy and underwater exercise in patients with fibromyalgia. Read study.

17. What else does an infrared sauna do for your body? 

Why Does The Near Infrared Lamp Sauna Have An Extremely Parasympathetic (Healing) Effect. Read study.

Local thermal therapy effects on menopausal symptoms and bone mineral density. Read study.

Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Read study.

Far Infrared Therapy Inhibits Vascular Endothelial Inflammation via the Induction of Heme Oxygenase-1. Read study.

Benefits and risks of sauna bathing. Read study.

Should I use an infrared sauna? 

Now that you've learned more about infrared research and studies you may be wondering if you should use an infrared sauna.

Certainly, infrared saunas can make a meaningful and positive difference to your overall health and wellbeing. 

If you are looking to de-stress, relieve muscle and joint pain, detoxify and more; then an infrared sauna could be just what you need. 

However, while many people use saunas as part of a healthy lifestyle, what’s best for you may not be what’s best for someone else. 

Certain health conditions are not compatible with saunas or steam rooms. As a rule, we always recommend consulting with your medical practitioner before buying any sauna.

Learn more...

If you're interested in learning more about infrared saunas and all their wonderful health benefits, come and talk to us at Spa World. We’re passionate about health and wellness and are experts in saunas and spas, with 30+ years in the industry.

Our Ultimate Sauna Buyer's Guide is also a fantastic resource for anyone looking at buying a sauna. Download your copy below.