I just read one of the funniest articles I've probably ever read. I laughed out loud, and I hadn't even finished my coffee yet.
The article, by writer Kelly Conaboy and on The Atlantic's site, is titled: Infrared Saunas Will Not 'Detoxify' You.
I was researching infrared saunas after hearing a short blip on the radio. The news jockey (is that still a term?) was discussing this new wellness trend with her co-jokey, and the guy (who doesn't sound young or like he reads GOOP or anything) said his wife bought an infrared pod and they use it at home.
This is North Carolina. This isn't LA. A radio DJ bought an infrared pod and uses it at home? I had to look that up and see how much these pods go for (from $125 to $10k +).
Here's what $125 will get you at Costway:
It's not quite as glamorous as I'd imagined, but if you go up to $15,000, it gets a little better.
The infrared saunas are claimed to detoxify your body of heavy metals, environmental toxins and other dodgy stuff because the heat somehow gets into your body, heating you from the inside out rather than a regular sauna, which just heats you from the outside in - if that makes sense.
Read Conaboy's article for further explanations and witty side notes. She gets into the 'science' of the saunas and the dodgy 'math' used to explain why infrared saunas are significantly more detoxifying than regular saunas or sweat-sessions (like exercise).
My favorite part of the article is this paragraph:
According to HigherDOSE, infrared sweat is not just any old sweat. I’ll allow a quote from the website to explain. “Sweat induced from an infrared heat source is comprised of 20 percent toxins whereas sweat induced from traditional heating systems is comprised of 3 percent toxins. This is why it’s accurate to say infrared is 7x more detoxifying than traditional heat.” You may have noticed that, rather than provide a citation to prove why it is accurate to say infrared is seven-times more detoxifying than traditional heat, HigherDOSE opted for a mathematical rephrasing. Very tricky. One might also say that I am 100-percent beautiful and my enemy Susan is 50-percent beautiful, which is why it is accurate to say I am two-times more beautiful than my enemy Susan. I’m sorry, Susan, but, as you can see, that’s just the way it is.
Susan. I read that quote to my daughter who pointed out that 7x3 is 21, so it's inaccurate in that way as well. Hahahaha.
Okay, anyway...moving along. It's easy to mock these saunas and roll our eyes at questionable science and cult-like followings of totally unsubstantiated claims. It's easy to think people have too much time and money on their hands and should be doing something to actually help the world rather than lie around in pods of infrared heat to detoxify their bodies of the supposed waste they actually helped to create.
Remember when people mocked yoga?
The fact that hosing our crops with RoundUp might be causing health issues?
The current Monsanto legal loss regarding RoundUp and cancer isn't nothing.
At 43-years-old (in a few weeks), I've been to a few of these rodeos, so to speak. I've been to doctors all over the country (and in China) regarding my stomach issues. I've seen the tide swell in one direction and then another. I've been told I have to change my diet. I've been told I need anti-depressants. I've been told to drink milk. I've been told (10 years later) NOT TO DRINK MILK.
I've been told to meditate.
I've been told to do yoga.
I've been sent to a chiropractor.
Guess what I've just learned increases a person's serotonin level by up to 30%?
People....I think the reason infrared sauna pods are sprouting up all over the country isn't because we've got money to burn and time to waste. I think it's because we no longer trust our healthcare system, no longer think our doctors know best and worry that what we're hearing in medical offices is, how do I say this....behind the times.
Doctors so easily mock dodgy science and lack of data. They say nothing has been 'proven,' and then, when enough people say they feel better and will do it anyway (yoga, meditation, gluten-free), then the medical establishment gets on board, and suddenly...oh, wait.....meditation is a thing. There are studies. There is 'science behind it.'
I think it leaves a lot of us with the attitude that if there isn't any visible harm, we're gonna try stuff like sauna pods because what the doctors are offering (often in bed with pharmaceutical companies) isn't working, is making us sicker and is costing us a fortune.
I think when people lose confidence in governments, in doctors, in journalists, in the people we're supposed to turn for authority, facts and, you know, the truth, it's easy to fill that gap with just about anything. You can fill it with fake news, with 'leaders' who have no experience, with medical 'professionals' who offer an alternative to the same song-and-dance you've heard for years, spent a small fortune trying and found totally ineffective.
So while it's easy to mock an infrared sauna pod, and while we can roll our eyes at money wasted and time spent detoxifying our bodies of heavy metals, I won't be at all surprised to hear (in 10 years) my doctor telling me: you need to detoxify yourself of mercury, probably from the salmon we told you to consume, and the infrared pods are really the best way to do that.
On that lovely, highly-positive note.......