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Manage Diabetes and High Blood Pressure with Infrared Sauna

A man sitting in Redlight Sauna with a towel over his shoulders at Restore Charleston

An infrared sauna does sound like it may be a type of traditional sauna, but it actually uses an entirely different process. It uses infrared light waves to heat the body directly, rather than the air around it like a traditional sauna does, while also creating a humid environment where it can be tough to breathe.

The light penetrates deeper into the skin compared to the traditional sauna, where it causes the body to release more sweat and start the detoxification process. But it’s hardly the only thing an infrared sauna is beneficial for, it can also help with high blood pressure and diabetes.

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a blood glucose (a type of sugar) condition which is caused by the body’s inability to properly produce insulin which regulates the level of blood glucose.

A person with diabetes can have multiple symptoms, some of which are: frequent urination, the strong urge of thirst, blurry vision, tiredness, and dry skin among many others. Of course, if diabetes is left untreated or ignored, those symptoms might develop into something much worse.

There are two types of diabetes:

Type 1 diabetes: An autoimmune disorder in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that produce insulin. This type of diabetes usually develops in childhood or adolescence and requires lifelong treatment with insulin injections.

Type 2 diabetes: It is the most common form of diabetes, and it occurs when the body becomes resistant to the effects of insulin or the pancreas is unable to produce enough insulin to keep blood glucose levels in check. This type of diabetes is often associated with obesity and a sedentary lifestyle, and it can often be managed with lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, and medication.

Considering more than 10% of Americans have some sort of diabetes, it’s obviously a very common condition. Thankfully it’s easy to regulate with medication but an infrared sauna can help even further.

How Does Infrared Sauna Help With Diabetes?

Infrared saunas can be a complementary therapy for people who are looking to manage their diabetes along with advised medication. Regular use of an infrared sauna can have benefits like improving insulin sensitivity and thus decreasing the volume of medication necessary for the regulation of blood glucose. It can also directly lower blood glucose.

Blood Glucose Regulation – Heating up the body triggers heat shock proteins which help lower the blood glucose directly. Additionally, the heat will make an individual sweat and lose calories equal to exercise. Considering obesity is a cause of type 2 diabetes, the heat can have multiple benefits.

Higher Insulin Sensitivity – Infrared sauna heat can increase nitric oxide production in the body. In turn, nitric oxide causes better blood flow and can double the rate of insulin sensitivity in under 10 sessions. Additionally, nitric oxide establishes a better antioxidative balance in the body.

What is High Blood Pressure?

High blood pressure is a condition that forces the blood against the walls of arteries, creating pressure that could lead to health complications. 

Blood pressure is measured in units of millimeters of mercury (mmHg) and is recorded as two numbers: systolic pressure (the higher number) represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart beats, while diastolic pressure (the lower number) represents the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest between beats.

A normal blood pressure reading is usually considered to be around 120/80 mmHg. High blood pressure is defined as a systolic pressure of 140 mmHg or higher and/or a diastolic pressure of 90 mmHg or higher. High blood pressure is known as a “silent killer” because it often has no symptoms, and can cause damage to the body for years before it is diagnosed.

Some of the common causes of high blood pressure include:

  • Medical conditions such as diabetes
  • Being overweight or obese
  • Eating a diet high in salt
  • Consuming too much alcohol
  • Not getting enough physical activity
  • Having a family history of high blood pressure
  • Chronic stress
  • Smoking

If left untreated, high blood pressure can lead to a variety of health complications, such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, and eye damage. In order to regulate blood pressure, it may require lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet, getting regular exercise, quitting smoking, as well as taking medication if prescribed.

How Does Infrared Sauna Help with High Blood Pressure

An infrared sauna can help prevent high blood pressure issues and the risks associated with it, and can also help lower high blood pressure if it’s already present.

By increasing the core temperature of the body, an infrared sauna causes the blood vessels to dilate, while also providing an effect similar to that of a workout. As blood has more room for circulation, the pressure against the walls of arteries decreases, effectively lowering the blood pressure.

Short-Term Benefits – The heat can cause blood pressure to drop right after infrared sauna therapy. This study has shown that the effect persists 30 minutes after the session as measured, and possibly even longer. Inflammation could also increase blood pressure, and infrared sauna could have a positive effect on them as well.

The energy plant of each individual cell reacts by converting the infrared light to nitric acid. As the newly oxygenated blood cells start to flow through the body toward sites of inflammation, blood pressure can be reduced.

Long-Term Benefits – Prolonged use of a sauna has been shown to drastically reduce the risk of high blood pressure by 24%. With an infrared sauna, the effects could be even greater considering the infrared light is able to penetrate deeper than traditional saunas.
However, even if an individual suffers from high blood pressure, frequent visits to an infrared sauna could greatly lower the chances of complications associated with high blood pressure.