How to Use Your Sauna to Boost Your Immune System

Saunas are an effective tool for boosting your immune system and fighting toxins.


Clearlight would like to remind users that this should not be taken as direct medical advice, and you should always consult a licensed health practitioner before making any significant changes to your lifestyle or existing pain treatment regimen. In the blog post, we referred to a clinical study that used a cabin sauna and measured its temperature to demonstrate the practical applications of using the sauna and the outcomes that were observed during the experiment. It is important to note that the benefits are not derived from the temperature of the sauna cabin itself, but rather from the increase in the body's core temperature, and the cabin temperature serves only as a means to raise the body temperature in a controlled manner for the purposes of the study. This fact is supported by peer-reviewed studies that outline specific requirements for duration, frequency and cabin temperature for the safe and effective use of a sauna.

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Have you ever wondered how effective infrared saunas are at boosting your immune system? Are you curious about how long you should be in your sauna to feel its healing effects?

Keep reading to learn how you should be using your infrared sauna to give your immune system the boost it needs. We'll also explore whether saunas can help you get over a cold or flu. (The answer's not as simple as you might think!)

Are infrared saunas good for the immune system?

Yes, saunas are good for the immune system and beneficial in fighting pathogens and toxins. The immune system is made up of a network of organs, tissues, and cells that work together to protect your body, with the main tools being white blood cells.

White blood cells are responsible for attacking and destroying viruses and bacteria. Using your sauna regularly is good for the immune system because it activates one of the body's first defences: a (simulated) fever.

A fever causes an uninhabitable environment for the white blood cells, making it difficult for them to survive. It tricks the body into producing more white blood cells and releases heat shock proteins (HSPs), which protect from and repair cell damage.

How long should you stay in an infrared sauna to boost your immune system?

To boost the immune system, try to spend at least 15 minutes inside your sauna. For the best results, try to do a minimum of 3 sessions a week over a period of 3 months.

Multiple studies reference 15-minute sauna sessions in their experiments that tested the increase of white-blood cells and heat shock proteins.

But how long you spend in a sauna should be based entirely on your preferences. Even spending a few minutes inside your sauna will bring you health benefits!

How do infrared saunas boost the immune system?

Saunas boost the immune system by promoting the generation of heat-shock proteins and white blood cells.

White blood cells are made up of innate immune cells and adaptive immune cells.

Innate immune cells are always present in our bodies and respond quickly to invading viruses and bacteria, while adaptive immune cells are produced in response to an infection. They provide more long-term immunity against that particular virus or bacteria.

Do saunas increase white blood cell production?

Yes, saunas increase white blood cell production. A 2013 study aimed to examine the effects of traditional (Finnish) saunas on white-blood cell count in athletes and non-athletes. Nine middle-distance runners and nine non-athletes participated in a 15-minute sauna session until their core temperature rose by 1.2°C with a 2-minute cooldown.

The study found that using the sauna stimulated the immune system to a higher degree in the group of athletes compared to non-athletes, and in the white blood cell profile, the study found a statistically significant increase after sauna use.

Do infrared saunas increase heat shock proteins?

Yes, infrared saunas increase heat shock proteins. Heat shock proteins play a significant role in recovery from sickness and illness. HSPs help to protect the cells and reduce inflammation and promote the natural healing process.

Heat shock proteins provide other benefits as well: a 2015 review suggests that the increase in HSP production while using a sauna prevents and reduces the symptoms of diabetes.

Read our article on how to use infrared saunas to counter diabetes symptoms for more information.

Should I sauna if I have a cold or flu?

No, you probably shouldn't use your sauna if you have a cold or the flu. That's because the risk of dehydration and added heat stress has a higher chance of causing further symptoms.

The health benefits of infrared saunas have been documented in clinical studies, but the jury is still out on whether saunas are beneficial for treating cold or flu viruses.

A 2010 randomised controlled study from the Medical Journal of Australia found that for dry saunas, “inhaling hot air while in a sauna has no significant impact on overall symptom severity of the common cold”.

157 participants with common cold or flu symptoms were split into two groups: one group inhaled hot sauna air, while the other inhaled room-temperature air. All participants wore winter coats and stayed in a sauna at 20% humidity and with a temperature of 90°C. The "room-temperature" group inhaled air through a mask, while the other group inhaled the hot sauna air passively. The sauna sessions were three minutes long and spread over three consecutive days. After the trial was over, no differences were found between the participants' cold and flu symptoms.

What are the side effects of using an infrared sauna for a cold or flu?

Some potential side effects of using a sauna include dehydration, dizziness, and skin irritation. Because the body’s sweat response is triggered, too much time in a sauna can make you feel more dehydrated.

Staying hydrated is one of the most important aspects in fighting the common cold or flu, and if your body is losing more fluid than it's consuming, it could hinder your immune system’s ability to fight the pathogens causing your sickness.


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Can infrared saunas give you a cold or flu?

No, a sauna can't give you a cold. But if you're already sick, using a sauna could potentially worsen your symptoms.

A review of six studies involving 387 people looked at whether using heated and humidified air can help relieve symptoms of the common cold. There were no signs that it made symptoms worse, and it didn't seem to affect the virus in the body.

Can infrared saunas treat a cold or flu?

In conclusion, infrared saunas aren't the best treatment for the common cold or flu. But they do boost your immune system, which can prevent you from getting sick in the first place.

Can infrared saunas relieve cold symptoms?

Yes, saunas can relieve certain cold symptoms, due to their ability to reduce pain and increase blood flow in the body. The resulting increase in body temperature can speed recovery up for mild symptoms such as a sore throat and help the body fight its way back to optimal health.

While there's no evidence to suggest that saunas can treat colds, they can support healthy immune function.

Infrared saunas are better at preventing colds than treating them!

In addition to a range of other health benefits, infrared saunas can be incredibly effective in improving your immune system, which makes it easier to ward off colds.

While it might not be a miracle cure, studies have shown that regular use of saunas can help boost the body's natural defence system against viruses. Knowing how long to stay in the sauna is important: you'll need to allow your body to gradually adjust to the heat.

As stated above, doing a 15-minute session a minimum of three times a week is a good starting point for most people. That's all the time you need to give your immune system a boost and start feeling happier and healthier!

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