People with lupus and other autoimmune diseases are often looking for ways to improve their health. This article explores the potential benefits of infrared saunas in helping those living with these diseases manage their health.
Autoimmune diseases and Lupus symptoms
Systemic lupus erythematosus, or Lupus, is an autoimmune disease. "Autoimmune" refers to a health problem in which the immune system assaults one's own cells. There are many forms of Lupus, but to keep it simple: if you've got Lupus, you're probably experiencing one or more of the following symptoms:
- joint pain and issues, especially in the chest
- (chronic) inflammation, which is frequently visible on the face
- low energy, or chronic fatigue
- ulcers, especially in the mouth
- abnormal body temperature regulation
- higher risk for infections
- poorer circulation
- cognitive and brain issues
The intensity and frequency of your symptoms, as well as the amount of damage to your joints, can all fluctuate. Because Lupus affects everyone differently, its manifestation varies over time. Females and persons with darker skin are more prone to develop it.
Although its exact cause is unknown, several factors play a role. Both hereditary and environmental components, as well as hormones, all have an impact on the disease's progress, although it may be argued that they are due to external influences, such as exposure to harmful chemicals.
The following are some of the most common risk factors for developing Lupus: family history of autoimmune diseases, viral and bacterial infections, hormonal imbalances, reactivity to the sun, smoking, and low vitamin D levels. Two key strategies for coping with Lupus symptoms include avoiding toxin exposure and limiting your time in the sun.
The immune system of lupus patients attacks his or her own cells, causing a decline in overall health, and in often cases, mental health. However, day-to-day health choices seem to influence whether you acquire the disease and how your symptoms are handled. Choices such as physical activity and a healthy diet.
So how does infrared light therapy, aka infrared saunas work to support lupus sufferers?
Infrared sauna and lupus
Although there is no direct research on infrared saunas and Lupus symptoms, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence that infrared therapy can aid with the condition.
Let's explore the science of infrared heat therapy and the health benefits many lupus patients could receive from infrared heat.
Infrared saunas help in alleviating skin irritations that may be caused by Lupus
If you have Lupus, the way your skin responds to sunlight may be drastically altered. In reality, up to 70% of people with Lupus have issues with their skin in the form of an itchy rash, inflamed or red skin, or severely scaly skin for example.
For many Lupus sufferers, ultraviolet light - the part of sunlight that can cause sunburns - is a common trigger.
The disadvantage of being triggered by UV light is that it reduces the amount of light you can get from the other parts of the spectrum that come from the sun, such as far infrared energy.
One of the infrared sauna benefits is that you get the absorption of infrared light in a very controlled setting. An infrared sauna helps promote healthy skin through the gentle heat promoting oxygen flow to the surface of your skin. With infrared sauna therapy roughness, texture, and skin tone all improve.
With a full-spectrum sauna, you'll also have the radiant heat of near and mid-infrared, that have been shown to boost collagen and elastin in your skin cells.
Inflammation is also decreased in the skin through infrared light treatment, and wound healing improves, according to animal research.
And more is true for red light therapy as one of the complementary therapies that work with a regular infrared sauna use for skin irritations.
Infrared heat raises core body temperature and improves circulation
Patients who suffer from autoimmune diseases are often hampered by the fact that not only is their immune system attacking their own immune cells, but these cells need to later repair themselves also.
Because of this, there is less energy available for everyday activities.
Near-infrared light is used in infrared healing to stimulate the production of energy in your cells. This is due to the fact that infrared light exposure improves the efficiency of your "mitochondria," or energy-generating factories, in producing energy.
Lupus isn't the only autoimmune disease that infrared therapy helps in this manner. Lyme disease is another autoimmune disease that both they and lupus patients have compromised energy levels.
Stress is another impactor when it comes to energy levels, and the far infrared heat from a far infrared sauna session provides general pain relief, helps release muscle tension, reduce stress and promote relaxation.
Through this pain relief and relaxation, infrared sauna therapy will relieve stress and allow the body to focus its energy on combating any autoimmune diseases.
Infrared sauna therapy for lower blood pressure and increased white blood cells
Many individuals with Lupus have difficulties with peripheral blood flow. Some forms of Lupus are associated with a lack of circulation to the hands, known as "Raynaud's disease."
this can cause the blood flow to your organs to be momentarily restricted while blood pressure drops. Your heart rate increases in order to compensate for the reduction in blood pressure. Blood vessels throughout your limbs, hands, legs, and feet will dilate peri-distally (near the margins of your body).
Infrared sauna therapy widens the blood vessels and with an increased heart rate, pumps more blood around the body, providing more white blood cells to areas. Benefits for lupus include relieving pain, joint pain, and muscle spasms, while also boosting metabolism for added weight loss.
This improved circulation of the blood in your hands can help alleviate Lupus symptoms and even aid in the recovery of Raynaud's Disease if you have it.
Alternative therapies for Lupus
Clinical practice and medical treatment, such as anti-inflammatory medications, are the most common professional medical advice prescribed to autoimmune disease patients.
Some of the medications commonly prescribed include:
- Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen, help to reduce inflammation.
- Antimalarial drugs such as hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, can help to treat the underlying disease process.
- Corticosteroids such as prednisone, can help to reduce inflammation and control symptoms.
Infrared light Vs. regular sauna
Do traditional saunas offer the same relief as infrared sauna benefits? While your basic sauna therapy won't do the same as your infrared sauna therapy, people with Lupus benefit from both.
Here's why sauna sessions of far infrared or traditional will still benefit sufferers.
Sauna therapy raises the core body temperature to help alleviate symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, chronic pain and muscle soreness while increasing heart rate and dilating blood vessels, the same as infrared sauna therapy.
The main difference between an infrared session compared to standard sauna sessions is the added detoxification, skin and mitochondria benefits infrared light therapy provides. Because an infrared sauna primarily works with far infrared as a heating source, the breakdown of waste materials in joints can freely move through body organs. For issues such as rheumatoid arthritis, this adds an additional benefit that a far infrared sauna will provide over a traditional sauna.
Though both infrared and traditional saunas have their benefits, an infrared sauna is often seen as a better option for those with autoimmune diseases like lupus. If you’re considering adding a sauna to your treatment plan, be sure to explore the options and see if an infrared sauna is right for you.
Does Infrared Sauna Therapy Cure Lupus?
Is there any hard science showing a positive connection between infrared sauna usage and curing Lupus outcomes? No.
However, there is a lot of circumstantial evidence - which you may discover by reading my references above - that infrared sauna help, not only benefits for lupus but also other autoimmune diseases, via many different pathways. To summarise, these are:
- You may use a safe way to expose your body to various types of infrared light.
- enhanced circulation and energy production at the cellular level
- reductions in pain, including chronic pain
- enhanced metabolism for weight loss and supporting healthy lifestyle choices
- stress reduction, which positively affects many areas of your health
It's impossible to deny the anecdotal evidence for infrared saunas, which clearly shows a role in helping Lupus and other autoimmune diseases. So, even though it may take years, if not decades, for science to catch up, you can anticipate infrared saunas to be beneficial in treating Lupus.
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