Drug Withdrawals and Infrared

January 26, 2017 by Kara Willingham

Here’s a fun fact about infrared induced sweat: it can contain up to 20% toxins. These toxins include alcohol, nicotine, ammonia, sulfuric acid and other toxins we expose our bodies to. Did you know drugs are considered toxins? They, like the other toxins listed above can become lodged in the body from substance use and those looking to recover may choose to detoxify their bodies to release them. Drug withdrawals are often part of recovery and studies indicate infrared may help speed up the process, make it more comfortable and provide the participant with a long-term solution for wellness. We asked our Clinical Director, Dr. Aaron Flickstein to weigh in on the benefits of infrared and how they may positively affect someone going through drug withdrawals during the detoxification process. He pointed to facts about infrared, how it works in the body and how effective regular sessions can be for releasing toxins. So, why is infrared an excellent addition to addiction recovery or drug withdrawal programs?

Infrared induced sweat can contain drug and environmental toxins

Toxins from our environment tend to get stuck in our bodies, the same goes for drug toxins in the body that may be sticking around and effecting the drug withdrawal process. “Immersive infrared use is reported to generate sweats containing 15-20% toxins compared to only 3-5% in traditional saunas or through regular exercise,” says Flickstein. Infrared detoxification is based on the action of heat waves to penetrate the skin and the removal of toxic substances with sweat. Ridding the body of these toxins through such a detox may help relieve symptoms of withdrawals, prevent future illness and allow the body to function efficiently.

Additionally, infrared body wrap use is thought to be around 7 times more effective at removing toxins like cholesterols, nicotine, alcohol, ammonia, sulfuric acid and other environmental toxins. This also includes heavy metals such as mercury and aluminum, making infrared immersion more effective than the hot air of steam saunas.

In 2011 a research study was conducted with Utah police officers who reported health concerns after recurrent, work-related exposure to methamphetamine and other chemical compounds. The uncontrolled group was composed of 69 symptomatic officers who were treated with an infrared sauna detoxification as well as exercise and nutritional protocols.

Researchers concluded that utilizing a combination of sauna and nutritional therapy may alleviate symptoms of methamphetamine and drug exposure, such as fatigue, insomnia, headaches, personality changes, memory loss, pain, anxiety, depression and more.  This study and others like it show that detoxification via infrared body wrap can be just as, or more effective than utilizing a sauna. “An infrared body wrap is about 25% more effective than a sauna,” says Flickstein “In a body wrap the infrared is much closer to the body, lessening the space the rays have to travel through. Furthermore, a body wrap session can be 60 minutes, inducing more sweat and releasing a greater number of toxins.." Typically, sauna sessions are only around 20 minutes as the participant cannot withstand much longer because they are breathing in hot air.

Infrared heat can improve your health and mood!

Regular infrared use can provide unparalleled health and wellness benefits, without side effects

Many people participate in infrared sessions to ease pain, lose weight, rejuvenate their skin, relax and of course, detoxify. Additional benefits include improved sleep, enhanced mood and rebalancing of the metabolism. These benefits can have a huge impact on someone going through drug withdrawals and assist them on the road to recovery.

There have not been reports of negative side effects, but it is crucial to note that the participant must be hydrated to produce sweat and avoid dehydration. “Passively experiencing immersion in infrared gives you similar results as from workout regimes that increase blood flow to vital organs and muscles,” Flickstein says “An increase of blood flow can have an extremely positive effect on the body and many notice an improvement in their overall health.”

Sessions can become part of a routine after addiction treatment

We know from experience, incorporating infrared into a wellness routine is an effective way to provide self-care and achieve wellness goals. After drug withdrawal or addiction treatment, practicing self-care becomes crucial. Infrared soothes the body and the mind, leaving the participant more relaxed.

“A 45 to 60-minute infrared session leads to a sense of profound relaxation, as reported by innumerable clients,” says Flickstein “It’s important to point out that relaxation is extremely important to our health, especially when our bodies are working to get rid of release something that is causing harm to our system.” Studies also show that the use of infrared therapy can help maintain healthy levels of cortisol in the body to ease stress and anxiety. Long-term stress is the cause of countless ill-effects on the body, including increased blood pressure, weight gain and weakening of the immune system.

Infrared heat is effective, safe and natural

It is naturally occurring in our environment and produced by our own bodies. We experience infrared heat from the sun each day and it’s so safe that it’s used in the NICU for premature babies.

Infrared heat has a reputation for soothing the body and the mind as the heat penetrates about 1.5 inches to relieve pain, induce toxin-heavy perspiration, lower or balance cortisol levels and even burn calories. “Infrared is known for heating the body from the inside out,” says Flickstein “It penetrates deeper into tissues than other types of heat, which is why it is so effective for those looking to cleanse their bodies of toxins that may accumulate in the bodies of those going through drug withdrawals.”

Many wellness and recovery centers have adopted infrared detoxification as part of their addiction recovery program. We do have to remember, recovery may take some time and everyone is different, so the effects of withdrawal and speed of toxin or substance release may vary. However, we can say the use of an infrared body wrap is a safe, comfortable and effective way to eliminate toxins, improve sleep, lessen stress and provide a healthy solution for wellness during and after drug withdrawals and recovery.


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