Posted by The Real Food Reel on 22 February 2016

Podcast: RFR - The potential health and wellness benefits of infrared saunas

Full Episode available HERE 



Full Podcast transcript below 


Steph Lowe: Today on the show we are joined by Roseanne Fedrick from Sunlighten and we will discuss all things saunas and the benefits of infrared. Let’s dive straight in. Hi Roseanne and Welcome to the show

Roseanne Fedrick: Hi Steph, nice to be here

SL: I’ve been looking forward to chatting today and because it’s your first time on the show, could you give us a little bit of background about yourself and Sunlighten

RF:  Yes, certainly happy to do so. So Sunlighten has been established 14 years in Australia. We service all of Australia and New Zealand with Sunlighten saunas, which is an American company. The reason I got involved was that my partner 14 years ago suffered from chronic fatigue for quite a long time and we heard that infrared saunas could help and we researched to find the best product and that’s how I got involved with Sunlighten and happy to say that the product helped him.

SL: Let’s start with a little bit more about infrared and how it works. What are the benefits for our listeners who might not be familiar with it at all?

RF: Well, most people have heard of saunas and when they think about the old hot rock or steam sauna when they hear the word ‘sauna’. The good thing is that infrared is a much more variable experience. It has been around for a long time. It has been tested. It is absolutely safe and it provides a lot more health benefits. So it’s sort of the next generation of saunas. No longer the hot rock or steam, but now infrared is the way to go. And lots of benefits just as far as cost effectiveness, being portable so you could take it with you if you move house. So there are a lot more advantages with the new infrared saunas over the old hot rock or steam.

SL: Great, so the experience is a lot different? I’ve obviously been so I know first-hand. But if we think about the saunas that we see at the gym or in the movies. Is it similar to that? Where you sit in a box for a certain amount of time.

RF: Yes, it is. Except that you don’t have high humidity. You don’t have water. It’s a nice and dry environment. It’s very pleasant you can breathe the whole way through. You can even wear jewellery in there and it doesn’t get hot. But you sweat, and you sweat profusely. It’s a really deep, cleansing sweat. When you come out of an infrared sauna, from the Sunlighten ones, you feel relaxed, rejuvenated and energised. In the old saunas, you’d get out and I’d want to go to bed for the rest of the day because I felt so exhausted. It’s the complete opposite. So we’re working at about 50 degrees less temperature but you’re actually getting a deeper and more prolific sweat. So really nice environment to sit in. You’ve got music, you’ve got full entertainment in there. You can even play DVDs or link onto Facebook in our saunas so a different level of enjoyment to the old type of sauna.

SL: Yeah, absolutely. And you also have the lying down version as well. So that’s something quite different to what the conventional approach offers.

RF: That’s right and a lot of people really love that because of just the relaxation of lying down. The pad underneath is a very thick memory foam pad so you feel like you are lying on cotton wool. But you are being surrounded by gentle heat. And so straight away, people fall asleep in that sauna. They wake up because they are sweating. Your head’s out. So for people who might not like heat around the head, it’s the perfect sauna for them. But great results. Because the heating is 360 degrees around the body. It’s very close to the body so you get very quick results from that sauna. And you only need half an hour and we’re talking really good results in weight loss, in your skin, and all sorts of things.

SL: Yeah, definitely. We’re going to dive in deeply with those benefits shortly but I’ve experienced both versions. I’m going to sound like a real girl here for a minute but I actually like the lying down one where you don’t have to wash your hair every time you go.

RF: It’s true. You’ve got think of those things.

SL: You do. So let’s break down the benefits of infrared a little further. But before we do, what is the difference between the specific types of infrared that we hear… Near, mid and far. Take us through that and compare the three.

RF: Okay, so with infrared, there is a full spectrum of infrared and the full spectrum includes the near, mid and far. Now, far infrared is the longest wavelength in the spectrum. It’s the one that penetrates the deepest into the body. It breaks down toxins and fats and removes them. If you start to bring in mid infrared, you’re talking a slightly higher heat and it’s starting to make fats soluble and that’s what helps with the whole weight loss program. Near infrared has been found to be beneficial when we talk about cell health, wound healing, skin rejuvenation. It’s a shorter wavelength that’s working more on the surface. So all of them have been used in various forms over the years, whether it be in hand equipment for a physio or in saunas. There’s a lot of equipment out there using infrared. The beauty of it is if you can combine the three, then it can assist with precise health outcomes as far as the cell rejuvenation, pain relief, weight loss, things like that. So it’s important that you know precisely what your wavelength is because some saunas will jump or vary in wavelength. As they get hotter, the wavelength shortens, not penetrating as deeply, not getting as deep of a detox. So what you want is that precise wavelength so that you know for that whole sauna session you are getting the health benefit that you are looking for. It’s a bit of a grey area, people often think ‘what is this? Wavelength? What exactly is happening here?’. It’s very safe. That’s the important thing for people to realise. Infrared is what we feel when we sit in the sun. You’re getting far infrared into your body. UV is the harmful part. Infrared is the part that builds the immune system. It’s the part that makes us feel good. When you sit in these saunas, it’s the same as sitting in the winter’s sun. That’s what you experience.

SL: So there’s UV in saunas?

RF: No, just the infrared. UV is the harmful part of the sun, it is not in the saunas. That was in tanning beds, and that’s the harmful wavelength. No UV in the saunas, only infrared.  

SL: If we talk about some of the benefits, they’re all sounding pretty inviting, tell us more about your personal experience with you partner’s chronic fatigue.

RF: So with the chronic fatigue, we found that detoxifying the body and raising the core body temperature was important. And that’s what far infrared can do and that’s exactly what the Sunlighten sauna can do and there’s been testing data showing that. That is raises the core body temperature by 3 degrees Fahrenheit. So far infrared goes into the body, you don’t sweat straight away… with a proper infrared sauna you don’t sweat straight away. The infrared goes into the body, raises the core body temperature, that’s then breaking down the toxins, making fats soluble and then the sweat comes. It could be 10,15 or sometimes 20 minutes until you start using them regularly. So within regular use, daily use, they start breaking down toxins, raising core body temperature. So he (partner) started getting energy back and it basically changed his life. But of course we make no health claims as such but there are lot of people out there who are happy to put notices on the internet about health claims, about the benefits they’ve had from the proper infrared saunas. So some of the benefits we’ve had feedback and we know from data. When Sunlighten in America do research and develop their products, which they do in house, they go back to research data. And from there, they develop the right heater and they use it to make sure the infrared is right. And that research data shows that it can help with cell health, wound healing, skin rejuvenation. And when you start talking about near infrared, you start to combine the near and the mid infrared and there’s studies that it shows that it helps with pain relief, because it’s getting in deeper where the pain is. You start to move into mid infrared and your getting an improved circulation in the body. So great for getting out to the extremities and just getting the blood circulating. Your also looking at weight loss at that stage because it’s making the fats soluble and of course the far-infrared comes for the detoxification and it’s also been shown to help blood pressure reduction or stabilisation and of course relaxation because it’s coming right in and relaxing the body into muscles that are tight and can increase flexibility in that area. I always think that if you can break those toxins down, you can break them down in a comfortable as this is. You’re reducing the toxin burden in the body and the body can start working for itself. Instead of being laden with toxin burden.

SL: Yes, so it’s the infrared that starts to soften the toxins and the acidic waste perhaps so they can then be excreted by the blood stream. Is that how it works? And through the skin and sweat?

RF: Correct, that’s right. So a portion of it is going to come out of it through the sweat. But there’s also a portion that’s going to go down through your natural channels of elimination.

SL: Yeah, excellent. So certainly the relaxation sounds like something all of my athletes need but I understand that the treatment for injuries or even to accelerate exercise recovery, the increase in blood flow and the increase in circulation can really be quite excellent for athletes. So talk to me about your experience there.

RF: Well, we’ve had great results. Where we offer a range of 5 saunas for people to come in and use, and we get a lot of athletes coming in prior to competition because they find that it helps with their weight if they have to weigh in. It also helps increase their flexibility and their joint health. Stretching in the saunas helps particularly in the hips, hamstrings and lower back. So they do that. And then they come in afterwards for a session too, just as a recovery process. If they’ve overworked and they’ve got a bit of pain, obviously it’s going to target and help with pain relief and as you said, the blood flow is going to help with repair and building up your immune system as well. So lots of positive feedback from all our athletes and marathon runners we get here as well.

SL: So the immune support is quite interesting, we understand that it’s the increase in body temperature as you mentioned. So this can offer quite of degree of benefits for people that are getting a recurring illness or certainly have something more chronic.

RF: Absolutely, it’s that same thing again. Take the burden away and allow the natural immune system to increase and the sauna is working two-fold there in reducing the toxin burden and building the immune system. And perfect as you say for people who have got long term illnesses. We’ve found that a lot of people with Lyme as using the saunas. As much as I know it’s not recognised, it certainly is out there.

SL: Absolutely, very chronic unfortunately.

SL: And how would this differ from say, hot yoga?

RF: Yes, they are obviously using a lot of infrared in the hot yoga. Of course that’s helping with flexibility. But I guess, this way you’re not actually having to exercise. You’re getting all the benefits and you’re just sitting and relaxing. In our mPulse sauna, we actually have a program that’s a cardiovascular program. Three quarters of an hour that gets the heart rate up and it’s the same as if you were exercising, but you’re not. But I think, very similar, obviously a deeper detox in the saunas. The infrared used in hot yoga wouldn’t be a far infrared. It would be along a more near-infrared range. Not that deep penetration for detox.

SL: Okay, that’s the difference. That’s interesting. Certainly lots of benefits that will help our listeners. So how do we go about using a sauna and what’s the optimum usage protocol to get the most benefits?

RF: Well we recommend, and this is what we offer our clients here in Clarendon St, is a 30-minute session in the sauna. Unless they want to do the cardiovascular and that will take them to the 45 minutes. So I wouldn’t recommend anything longer than 45 minutes. It’s not necessary. By then, they’ve had a deep, cleansing sweat. And you don’t want to dehydrate the body, you just want to cleanse the body. And so 45 minutes, safe to use every day.  The important thing to remember is hydration. The more hydrated you are going into the sauna, the better the sweat is going to be. After the sauna, rehydrate and mineral replacement because you are sweating out minerals. And so a pure electrolyte replacement is what we give our clients here after the sauna.

SL: I certainly noticed the different experience. You know how you mentioned that you certainly don’t start sweating straight away. That’s my experience but it’s quite different if you’re not well hydrated. It does change the experience and perhaps the amount of sweat you produce. So I think that’s important as an entrance to a sauna as well.

RF: Yes, absolutely, hydration is so important. Much better outcome if you’re well hydrated.

SL: Great, so safe to use every day and about half an hour

RF: Yes, within 3 sessions you’ll notice a difference. Women straight away mention how great their skin is. ‘Skin feels amazing’. ‘Everybody is saying I’m glowing’. If people are looking for an outcome, maybe it’s weight loss or a bad back or an athlete. We do recommend that you start by using it every day. Give it a good session every day and that’s when you’ll really start to notice that difference. Once you’ve cleaned up whatever it is you’re dealing with. Then after that it can be 2-3 times a week.

SL: That’s a great piece of advice. So I understand that you do have saunas for sale. I understand that some people prefer to have it at their home. And it’s portable so you can take with you. Do you need much space to use those and how does it work?

RF: No, you don’t need much space at all actually. We’ve got a whole range of saunas. We’ve got 3 different models, about 5 different sizes. If people want a nice big one, where they want the whole family in at once, then we cater for them. A lot of gyms use the big ones, they’ve put them in. But then if you’ve got a small apartment, just a tiny floorspace, then we’ve got an upright one person or the lie-down one which can be put anywhere. It can be put on the floor and packed away if you don’t have much space. And the beauty is they just plug into powerpoints so as you get larger, you might need increased power but the smaller ones, they’re so portable and compact. Into a power point and you’re sauna-ing in the next 10 minutes. And then pack it away. So we’ve got a whole range, we’ve got the showroom and obviously the wellness rooms, where we invite people to come and try it. Until you’ve actually tried a sauna, you can hear all these things, ‘that sounds great’, but actually try it, have that sweat, come out feeling rejuvenated and all of a sudden you’re a convert.

SL: Yes, absolutely. You’re making me feel like I need a really big sweat right now as we chat so it is quite addictive.

RF: We sell them all around Australia and New Zealand. We help people everyday to get the right sauna for them. We talk through what their needs are, what their space requirements are, what their health requirements are because we’ve got such a large range, we want to make sure we get the right one for them and their budget. And we help them with that. We have full service here to support in every way. And we’ve also got our wellness rooms where people who don’t want to buy one, they can just come and use it on a casual basis and enjoy it that way.

SL: Absolutely, so you guys are in South Melbourne in Clarendon St?

RF: That’s right we are at 359 Clarendon St.

SL: What about your website and social media, where can our listeners find out more about you and perhaps make a booking if they are based in Melbourne?

RF: Yes, we have a website ( and on that you’ll see our range of saunas. On that website, you are able to book or you can phone us on (03) 9696 4602 and we take bookings over the phone. And we’ve also got a Facebook page. So if you want to ask us a question, we are monitoring that all the time and answering people’s questions and helping them to understand infrared saunas.

SL: Fantastic, so I encourage everyone to go and check it out! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with us today Rose, and I’ll probably see you soon at the South Melbourne site myself.

RF: Yes, great, come on in Steph, come and enjoy!

SL: Thanks for that, talk to you soon!



About The Real Food Reel

Steph is a leading Australian Sports Nutritionist specialising in gluten free and refined sugar free food, fuelling and real food education.

Steph created the RFR because she is passionate about the real food revolution and wants to simplify nutrition and educate you how easy, delicious and affordable it is to eat real food.

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 *Sunlighten does not provide medical advice. We recommend you consult with a health care practitioner if you are unsure if using an infrared sauna is right for you. For best results, our saunas should be used in conjunction with an appropriate diet and exercise program. Individual results may vary.

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