Wouldn’t you love to be able to walk outside and enjoy a beautiful spring or fall day without the misery of sneezing, wheezing, coughing, or an itchy, runny nose? Allergic rhinitis is a chronic respiratory condition that can interrupt your daily life with unpleasant symptoms triggered by ordinary substances, such as pollen or dust. It’s estimated that up to 40 percent of people in the world suffer from it, and it’s the fifth most common cause of chronic illness in the U.S.
When your body sees the budding trees, fresh-cut grass, and pollen-filled air as the enemy and reacts with inflammatory histamines, you may find yourself desperate for relief that doesn’t make you drowsy or dependent on a pharmaceutical solution. If you suffer from allergies, they may be keeping you from doing activities you love thanks to frustrating headaches, fatigue, hacking, sneezing, and losing your breath. Infrared sauna sessions can help relieve allergy symptoms naturally, provide the seasonal allergy relief you’ve been searching for.
What Causes Seasonal Allergies or Allergic Rhinitis?
An over-active immune response is believed to be the culprit for many allergic rhinitis symptoms. Essentially, this means that your nervous system elicits an abnormal response to normal substances such as pollen, dust, and dander and attacks them by producing histamines that result in inflammation. This is where the common, often ineffective, over-the-counter solution of “antihistamines” evolved.
This not-so-fun allergic reaction is your body’s way of protecting you in a way that goes a step too far and can take you dread seasonal changes.
The Science of How Infrared and Saunas Can Help
A life without allergy flare ups could be a few 30-minute sessions away. Infrared has benefits of light and thermal therapies. The energy it delivers is absorbed by light-receptive cells to activate many positive biochemical benefits. It also raises your body’s core temperature and activates your immune system with infrared that penetrates your body as opposed to heating your skin, like traditional saunas do.
To understand the science, it helps to know that inflammation experienced with allergic rhinitis is due to a reaction in the body that signals the immune system to increase antibodies called immunoglobulins.(1) These are proteins carried in the blood, and are caused by increased vascular permeability, or a stretching of the vessel walls that makes them weaker and more open to leakage.(2) This is where it gets interesting: the walls of every blood vessel in our body are lined by a layer of endothelial cells. These cells regulate exchanges between the bloodstream and the surrounding tissues. Numerous studies on far infrared have found that it improves the function of these cells and may play a role in how infrared helps reduce inflammation and allergic rhinitis symptoms.(3)
This study(4) evaluated the clinical effects of far infrared (FIR) therapy in 31 patients with allergic rhinitis for 40 minutes every morning for seven days. Every day, patients recorded their symptoms in a diary before and during treatment. Each symptom of rhinitis was rated on a 4-point scale (0-3) according to severity. During the period of far infrared therapy, the symptoms of eye itching, nasal itching, nasal stuffiness, runny nose, and sneezing were all significantly improved. Smell impairment was not improved until after the last treatment. The study concluded that FIR therapy could improve the symptoms of allergies.
Another study(5) looked at the effect of sauna in general and found that just a few sauna sessions a week can meaningfully reduce allergic rhinitis symptoms including nasal congestion, coughing and wheezing.
Here are three science-backed ways that relaxing in the warmth of an infrared sauna could get rid of your allergic rhinitis and seasonal allergies naturally:
1. Balance Your Immune System by Calming Down
An allergic response means your autonomic nervous system is overreacting to harmless, everyday particles like pollen. Infrared sauna treatments can soothe your autonomic nervous system to dampen those triggered responses. The autonomic nervous system is specifically connected to nasal congestion and nasal discharge. In other words, the calming effect of the infrared sauna produces benefits that go beyond your mental health. The sauna study measured heart rate variability (HRV) to monitor the impact of saunaing on the nervous system and found a significant improvement over the 6-week period.
2. Open Your Airways
Saunaing can do what antihistamines and allergy medicine often fail to deliver. Regular sauna use has been shown to increase nasal airflow and open passageways to reduce congestion and stuffiness! This means that even when triggers strike, you can breathe a whole lot easier. Warming your core has an incredible impact on your respiratory system that allows air to flow more easily and rapidly through the nasal passage. The sauna study used peak nasal inspiratory flow or PNIF to measure the impact of sauna on airflow. The results revealed a significant increase in PNIF measurements and airflow through the nasal passage.
3. Stronger, More Efficient Lungs
A review of evidence published by Mayo Clinic(6) noted another life-changing benefit of saunaing for those suffering from allergic rhinitis and asthma—an improvement of lung strength and capacity. Heat exposure improves bronchial smooth muscle endurance. Improved lung capacity and strength mean that you can physically take a deeper breath without working as hard.
Relaxing in a warm, soothing Sunlighten 3in1 Infrared Sauna at InstaPhysique for 30 minutes could make allergy season your new favorite time of the year! Make spring more magical, and less miserable a book your weekly Infrared Sauna Sessions at InstaPhysique in Sacramento today!
3 Krüger-Genge A, Blocki A, Franke RP, Jung F. Vascular Endothelial Cell Biology: An Update. Int J Mol Sci. 2019 Sep 7;20(18):4411. doi: 10.3390/ijms20184411. PMID: 31500313; PMCID: PMC6769656.
4 Hu, Ko-Hsin, and Wen-Tyng Li. “Clinical effects of far-infrared therapy in patients with allergic rhinitis.” Annual International Conference of the IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. IEEE Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society. Annual International Conference vol. 2007 (2007): 1479-82. doi:10.1109/IEMBS.2007.4352580
5 Kunbootsri, Narupon et al. “The effect of six-weeks of sauna on treatment autonomic nervous system, peak nasal inspiratory flow and lung functions of allergic rhinitis Thai patients.” Asian Pacific journal of allergy and immunology vol. 31,2 (2013): 142-7. doi:10.12932/AP0218.104.22.1683