If you’re a home sauna user, there’s a way to supplement this healthy lifestyle treatment with red light therapy.
In this article, we discuss the ways that red light therapy can amplify the benefits of sauna treatment.
Red Light Therapy: The Basics
This section covers some of the basic benefits of using red light therapy regularly. Skip down to learn more about the benefits of combining red light therapy with sauna use.
Red light therapy involves exposing the body to a series of wavelengths that stimulate the mitochondria. As the light photons absorb, they can spark a chain of beneficial changes by energizing the body. Research shows that this can supplement the process of bodily healing and accelerate recovery time.
Treatment benefits may vary depending on the wavelengths used. Most red light therapy panels use one or two wavelengths. However, the SaunaMAX Pro has 5 different red light wavelengths as well as traces of blue light, for surface, skin-level treatment.
Red Light wavelengths between 620 and 660nm absorb throughout different layers of the skin. The higher the wavelength, the deeper the treatment. Below are some of the health benefits that can be provided by RLT:
- Acne treatment and inflammatory disorders
- Faster muscle healing and recovery from workout
- Reduce signs of aging
Near-infrared light from 810-850nm absorbs deeper into the tissues beneath the skin. Here, it can be used to treat neuropathy, muscle aches, and arthritis joint pain. It can also be used to treat traumatic brain injury and to improve bone repair and growth.
Now, let’s take a closer look at why it makes sense to combine red light therapy and sauna treatment.
The Benefits of Combining RLT and Sauna Therapy
Here's a breakdown of how each treatment benefits the body, and how they complement each other.
Before we continue, it’s important to note again that the RLT panel we recommend here is specially designed for sauna use.
This is the SaunaMAX Pro, a panel that offers R+ and NIR+ wavelengths along with traces of blue light and is designed to withstand the moisture and extreme heat found in the interior of a sauna.
Healthier Cells with Sauna and RLT
Saunas treat the body with heat. Frequent sauna use can strengthen the immune system, dilate blood vessels, and produce heat shock proteins.
The body produces heat shock proteins in response to thermal stress. This process can reduce inflammation and strengthen healthy cells.
Red light therapy may support this effect by increasing energy production in the mitochondria. Healthier cells are at the core of healing, whether from a wound or a chronic disease.
Heat shock proteins produced during sauna use have a neuroprotective effect. Frequent sauna use may also reduce the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. Red light therapy has been used to treat stroke and traumatic brain injury as well, so it serves similar goals to sauna treatment.
Balanced Hormones with Sauna and RLT
Saunas may also help normalize hormone levels, including balancing of growth hormones, testosterone, and cortisol.
Meanwhile, red light therapy has been used to improve testosterone production by increasing cellular energy production so that the cells produce testosterone.
This can result in the Leydig cells being less vulnerable to oxidative stress and therefore less vulnerable to abnormal declines in function.
Improved Blood Circulation with Sauna and RLT
Sauna bathing may reduce the risk of cardiovascular diseases by promoting blood vessel dilation and making arterial walls more supple to encourage healthy blood flow and normalize blood pressure.
Meanwhile, red light therapy can promote microcirculation by stimulating angiogenesis, or the formation of new blood vessels, and by stimulating the production of nitric oxide which is a natural vasodilator. This has been shown to reduce high blood pressure.
Red light therapy also has a protective effect on red blood cells, which can improve not only cardiovascular system health but the health of all organs.
Improved Skin Health with Sauna and RLT
A regular sauna bath can help balance the skin’s surface pH, which makes the skin less hospitable to acne-causing bacteria.
Red light therapy may also stimulate collagen synthesis to promote skin firmness and texture. The increased blood circulation brought on by saunas and red light therapy can help deliver oxygen-rich blood to the skin.
The combination of heat shock proteins and the cell-stimulating effects of red light therapy can support skin health, making the SaunaMAX PRO a useful addition.
Pain Relief with Sauna and RLT
Saunas offer pain relief in part because of the soothing heat that relieves muscle tension and muscle spasms, as well as the anti-inflammatory healing effects. This is partly why they’re popular among people who suffer from chronic pain, especially joint pain.
Meanwhile, red light therapy can have supplementary benefits, as it is also known for its analgesic properties. These make it a popular remedy for osteoarthritis joint pain, low back pain, or any other type of chronic pain.
Muscle Recovery with Sauna and RLT
Taking a soothing hot sauna after an intense workout feels great on the muscles; but aside from recovery, consistent sauna use could promote greater muscle mass.
Red light therapy also promotes muscle mass along with greater strength and endurance, potentially giving athletes who use red light therapy a competitive advantage.
Treating Respiratory Infections (Colds, Flu, and COVID-19)
Frequent sauna use while ill with any respiratory virus can shorten the duration and reduce the severity of symptoms.
Fevers are the body’s way of killing viruses. The thermal stress from taking a sauna raises the core body temperature and induces an artificial fever that can destroy viruses.
Red light therapy could also help reduce lung inflammation due to COVID-19. According to researchers, red and/or near-infrared light, given repetitively over several days have anti-inflammatory effects.
Diabetes Treatment with Sauna and RLT
Saunas may help improve insulin sensitivity and promote healthy blood flow in diabetic patients.
Both heat shock proteins and red light therapy stimulate nitric oxide (NO) in the body, which is a natural vasodilator.
Diabetic neuropathy and other nervous system disorders are common in diabetics. Red light therapy has been shown to improve nerve health and reduce neuropathic pain.
Brain Health Treatment with Sauna and RLT
Traditional saunas can be an effective treatment for diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system. Saunas are also sometimes used for neurodegenerative brain disorders such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.
Red light therapy, too, has shown promise in treating these conditions as well as stroke and traumatic brain injury.
Weight Loss Treatment with Sauna and RLT
Some people use saunas for weight loss. Sauna use increases sweating which means you can lose water weight during a sauna session.
Red light therapy has an interesting effect on fat cells. It causes them to develop temporary perforations that allow lipids to leak out of the fat cells.
In one study, just four minutes of treatment with red light resulted in 80% of the contents of fat cells releasing into the body. After 6 minutes of treatment, nearly all of the lipids had been released from the treated cells.
Traditional and infrared sauna therapy sessions can also help increase muscle mass. Red light therapy has this effect as well. This is important for weight loss since greater muscle mass increases an individual's metabolism to burn more calories while at rest.
Save Time with Sauna and RLT
Finally, one of the other key benefits is simply that using RLT during sauna treatment saves time during the day because it allows you to do both at once. Cutting 15-20 minutes from your morning routine could allow you the time to get in a session of red light therapy.
"Incorporating SaunaMAX Pro's RLT treatment into your weekly sauna routine is a simple yet powerful strategy for enhancing health and wellness, as it seamlessly combines the rejuvenating benefits of red and near-infrared light therapy to optimize your body's internal balance and deliver lasting results."
Functional Medicine Doctor of Physical Therapy, Dr. Alayna Newton, PT, DPT, FAFS
How to Use Red Light Therapy Treatment in your Sauna
The benefits of saunas and red light therapy are similar in many cases, but these can be achieved in different ways. Combining heat therapy and light therapy may be a way to support your health even more powerfully than either saunas or red light therapy alone.
To use your SaunaMAX Pro during sauna treatment, all you have to do is place the panel in your sauna in a spot where it provides plenty of light exposure. We typically recommend using RLT treatment for 5-20 minutes per day. However, it may not be desirable to spend that much time in a sauna.
If you are not able to withstand the heat for that long, you may need to turn the heat intensity of your sauna down a bit for a few moments and intensify the heat as you get closer to the 15-minute mark.
Short, Frequent Sessions
Short, regular sauna sessions may be more effective. With this approach, the combined treatments will address problems in new, mature, and aging cells. Since cells turn over constantly, you will be able to support your cells at every stage of maturity.
RLT Treatment with the SaunaMAX PRO
Whether you have a Finnish sauna or an infrared sauna, you can add a SaunaMAX Pro LED light therapy panel to your sauna experience to reap the extra benefits of red light therapy.
The SaunaMAX Pro is temperature-resistant to 150 degrees Fahrenheit and features the same six therapeutic wavelengths as all other BIOMAX red light therapy devices. This includes trace amounts of blue light for skin health, two wavelengths of red light, and three wavelengths of near-infrared light.
Red light and near-infrared light are complementary and deliver superior results when used together to balance the body’s internal systems and offer comprehensive treatments.
Best of luck in your journey for health and lifestyle maximization!