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Infrared Sauna

Infrared Sauna
Infrared sauna use heats up.

The days of sweating it out in a traditional sauna, rife with bacteria, moisture, and crowds of nearly naked strangers are on the wane.

Instead, gyms, clinics, and even homeowners are investing in infrared sauna boxes to promote health, detoxification, and stress reduction.

Marjorie Letourneau's curiosity was tweaked by the infrared sauna installed in her family's recreational condo.

"My sister-in-law pointed it out and told me it benefited her as well as a friend with severe arthritis," she says. "I was beginning to experience joint pain, so I started to do some research."

Over two months, Letourneau learned that infrared saunas work differently than the dry or steam variety.

Instead of warming the body at the skin level, then inward, the radiant, short-range infrared heat aims about an inch and a half under the skin, heating the body safely from the inside. The result still creates sweat to loosen toxins trapped in muscle and fat cells, but it works more efficiently.

"I was a massage practitioner at one point, and I have a sensitivity to looking after oneself," she says. "With all the pollution and chemicals, it was easy to convince me to try it."

While attending a home show, Letourneau ran into Jason Quiring, owner of Bodo, an online health technology store with a flagship shop in Calgary. Once Quiring answered her questions regarding quality, safety, and even manufacturers' factory working conditions, she purchased a two-person model that she shares with her husband.

"It was giving me a sense of well-being and my joints started to feel much better after two months," she says. "I even had a better disposition according to my husband."

Quiring says Letourneau is among a growing trend of baby boomers investing in their health at home. He says most people don't quite understand the difference between the old style sauna, and the infrared, but they do know of the benefits.

Before the company opened its doors, they conducted 16 months of testing, ripped apart various models, building their own prototypes, and investigating manufacturers worldwide. Their criteria was tough.

They checked 18 plants for quality, non-toxic materials, warranty, safety and effectiveness of the heating system, and how the employees are treated and compensated. Only one, Goldenwave of Taiwan, passed all tests.

Quiring says many people who receive infrared therapy or purchase a booth say that the heat is easier to deal with.

"Many people can't stay in a regular sauna very long because they're so hot," he says." The infrared type can become quite addictive because they work and you don't feel uncomfortable."

Marnie Wachtler, a naturopathic doctor and owner of Gaia Health Clinic in Calgary, recommends infrared sauna treatments for various ailments.

"It's really important for adjunctive therapy for medically necessary ailments including cancer," she says, noting cancer cells can't handle radiant heat. "It can also give relief to certain chronic conditions."

There are some precautions though. Pregnant women and small children are cautioned to avoid the sauna, period. Those who take diuretic medications may also have difficulty maintaining hydration and patients who experience neurological disorders such as multiple sclerosis, should also refrain from the treatment.

"Many will simply use it for detox and a feeling of overall wellness," she says. "Since the sauna isn't overly hot, you don't have that exhausted feeling. It's more rejuvenating."

Wachtler prescribed her patient "Colleen," a fortysomething professional, to jump in the sauna regularly before and after her breast cancer surgery last August. Colleen says it was helpful in more ways than one.

"I had to do what I could to make myself as healthy as possible and prepare for surgery," she says. "I used the sauna about six weeks to detox and build my immune system. It also helped against the effects of the anesthesia."

It also helped her attitude, despite the lack of control over her body in a diseased state.

"Mentally it helped," says Colleen, who is now in remission and getting back to a daily work schedule. "It gave me strength in preparing for every step. It gives you control over something --your well-being."

For more information about infrared sauna treatments for health prevention, contact Marnie Wachtler in Calgary at 403-475-2120 or Bodo is located online at www. at and at 1207 11th Avenue S. W., Calgary, 403-265-2636.


Infrared Sauna Facts:

- Infrared saunas use a safe electromagnetic radiation to create an invisible wave of energy, then converting heat to cells inside the body up to a depth of three inches, instead of simply heating the air.

- Infrared is touted to be more effective, promoting sweat, which flushes out toxins, although some researchers dismiss this claim.

- The temperature of an infrared sauna is lower than a traditional sauna, which makes it easier for some to remain in the heat longer.

- If purchasing a sauna, check for quality and off gassing of the wood material, potential for buckling, as well as any toxic materials used for components.

- Make sure the infrared heating plates are well positioned to not come in contact with skin.

- If your skin is sensitive to heat, consider turning the heat level down.

- Those with pre-existing health conditions should consult a physician before trying a demonstration.

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