Saturday, August 25, 2012

3 Reasons Why Near Infrared Sauna IS the Best!

Near Infrared Sauna- 3 Reasons why it IS the best!:

A response to the insanely stupid article by Michael Smith of

Recently, I have been receiving calls and emails asking me about a blog post about Near Infrared Saunas posted on a site called  The blog post is critical of near infrared saunas.  Several of my customers have even sent me email exchanges they had with the blogger, Michael Smith. I have read this article and, in my opinion, it is insanely stupid.

I am writing this post to respond to Mr. Smith’s claims and to help readers learn to spot bad science and nonsense  arguments, like those presented in Mr. Smith’s article ( In my opinion. This whole piece is only my opinion). In fact, Mr Smith's article is so incorrect and misleading, that it’s amazing anyone with give it any credence whatsoever! With that in mind, let’s take a closer look at what Mr. Smith has to say.

Mr. Smith suggests that Near Infrared is not as effective as Far Infrared and offers "proof." I am going to dissect his positions and proofs, to show why I think he is full of it.  The black text below comes directly from his site and his post on near infrared saunas. The red text is my commentary. I'll break it down bit by bit.  Let the games begin! And, if you want to see the original article which I am about to shred to pieces, you can find it here:

1.       First, with the Near Infrared Sauna the frequency heats like a Finnish (traditional) sauna. Completely wrong. Finnish saunas use hot rocks and steam. Steam is convection heat and therefore different than near infrared, which is radiant heat. Hot rocks, technically emit heat in the far infrared range around 10  microns. Thus, hot rocks are FAR infrared, not at all like near infrared, but act like convection in a Finnish sauna because of the steam. Therefore, Near Infrared is nothing like a Finnish Sauna. CONCLUSION: Totally wrong.

"This means it (near infrared) heats the room itself instead of just heating the object in the room… You."  Wrong again. Near infrared saunas heat both your body and the room, which is easily proved by the fact that your body temperature rises in the near infrared sauna. And, Far infrared sauna cabins get hot when preheated, showing clearly for all to see that far infrared heats the room as well. In addition, what does it have to do with the health impact? CONCLUSION: Totally wrong, presented as important while actually irrelevant.

“With a Far Infrared Sauna the air in the sauna stays much cooler… and… all the healing-heat is laser-focused to penetrate you at a much deeper level.” Wrong. The air temperature of a far infrared sauna is cooler than a Finnish sauna, but EQUAL to a near infrared sauna.  Far infrared is NOT laser focused. In fact, carbon panel heaters are soft and diffuse in their infrared emissions. They are the polar opposite of laser focused. This is the reason carbon panels have poor tissue penetration, while a concentrated heat lamp has high tissue penetration.  CONCLUSIONS: Totally wrong, especially the analogy to a laser focus.

"See, intense research and tests have shown that the Far Infrared Saunas energy output is so closely tuned to your own body’s radiant energy, that your body naturally accepts it and allows this healing-heat to be absorbed by much as 93%." This is an incorrect conclusion. Far infrared is not absorbed because it matches the body’s heat signature. You can use far infrared to heat cold chicken leftovers, which clearly have no heat signature of their own. You can also heat rocks, dirt, metal and anything else with far infrared. So the ability of far infrared to be absorbed by the body has NOTHING to do with it being closely tuned to your body’s radiant heat. CONCLUSION: Wrong and misleading.

“That’s 93% of the far infrared waves that reach your skin. A Near Infrared Sauna is not capable of this.” The amount of waves that reach your skin in the sauna, depends on the shape and type of heater, where you sit in the sauna, and what the sauna is made of.  Mr Smith incorrectly correlates the potential to be absorbed, with your actual, real world exposure when using a sauna. This gives you a misleading impression of the far infrared sauna being more effective than it is. CONCLUSION: Intentionally misleading.

“Heat lamps that emit near infrared can only be absorbed on the surface of your skin.” Completely untrue and in contrast to all common science on near infrared. Near infrared lamps produce near infrared energy, which penetrates easily and deeply into the body. A simple proof is the existence of "near infrared spectroscopy,"  which is a brain imaging tool, like an MRI. It takes 3-D images of the brain using near infrared scanners. For this to be possible, near infrared has to be able to penetrate through your skull and at least 3 inches into the tissue. Otherwise, no image could be made! CONCLUSION: Wrong, near infrared goes deeply into the body, and even through bone.

“While Far Infrared heat is absorbed into your body by a depth of one and half inches and beyond.” This depends entirely on the concentration of the heat at the heater surface and the length of exposure- ie. how long you are in the sauna. No general statement on tissue penetration can be made without more details. CONCLUSION: Misleading.

2.    “Second, the vast majority of all REAL health benefits are achieved by using only “true” far infrared heat sources. Because they produce FAR infrared heat at or near the level of your body – 9.4 microns.  Let’s think about this logically for a second.” This is actually one of my favorite passages. What exactly are “real” health benefits? What is a “true” far infrared?  This is intentionally vague to be manipulative. Let’s look at the “logic”…  The buzz words create a false impression of quality, while not being backed with any real science. CONCLUSION: Utter B.S.

“You already know the real benefits from using an Infrared Sauna come from penetrating deep into your body.” The phrase “you already know” is a construct called a pre-supposition. It is used in advertising because it implies that whatever follows the phrase is true, because you “already know it.”  CONCLUSION: Wrong, intentionally covered up with a misleading phrase.

“You now know that for your body to allow the heat to penetrate, it has to be at (or near) the human body micron level.” Now we have a winner in the most misleading statement category! Mr. Smith is saying that only energy at a wavelength close to the human body can penetrate into the body. What about X-rays, gamma rays, microwaves? The scientific fact is that your body’s natural heat signature has NOTHING to do with the ability of other wavelengths to penetrate the body. If Mr. Smith was right, it would mean that far infrared can ONLY penetrate things with a similar heat signature. But, seeing as how far infrared will heat up just about anything (rocks, dirt, metal, last night’s leftovers..etc) he is clearly, and obviously wrong. CONCLUSION: Time to take a science class, Mr. Smith!

“Near infrared- how is it possibly better for your health? Especially when the heat it creates is further away on the micron scale? Incorrect assumption. First, near infrared is not “further away on the micron scale.” The “micron scale” goes in two directions- longer wavelengths and shorter wavelengths. This phrasing speaks to Mr. Smith’s general lack of scientific understanding. Secondly, Mr. Smith again suggests that only wavelengths close to the body’s emissions can be healthy. But, one of the MOST important wavelengths for health is 0.31 microns. This is the range of UV light that causes your body to produce vitamin D. Wavelength, or place on the micron scale, has NO DIRECT CORRELATION with health. CONCLUSION: Wrong again…

“It’s simply NOT a match for the human body. Therefore, it’s not capable of deep penetration.” Incorrect logic. A wavelength does not have to match the body to achieve deep penetration, such as with x-rays, gamma rays and microwaves. While these other rays are not health promoting, it does show the Mr. Smith is either ignorant of general science, or being intentionally misleading. And, as we have already noted, near infrared penetrates easily and deeply into the body.  CONCLUSION: Wrong.

“Where the REAL benefits occur!” Mr. Smith fails to provide any scientific evidence showing these “real” health benefits that are a result of the specific wavelength he recommends. None at all… Mr. Smiths “proof” is a graphic that essentially states that Mr. Smith is correct. Of course, the graphic presents no science or actual proof. CONCLUSION: WTF, Mr Smith?

At this point, it’s worth taking a closer look at Mr. Smith’s last point as it is commonly argued on other far infrared sauna sites. The argument is this:
a.    The human body has a natural heat signature. The wavelength of this heat is 9.4 microns.
b.    Since the body emits heat at 9.4 microns, it is healthy and beneficial to return heat to the body at 9.4 microns because it is a resonant (read:matching) wavelength.

In my opinion, the entire far infrared industry is operating on a flawed premise. Yes, it’s true that the human body gives off a heat signature of about 9.4 microns. But, why would anyone assume that giving that heat signature back to the body is healthy? Please consider WHY the human body give this off?

Heat is a by-product of cellular metabolism. Energy conversion is of limited efficiency and the waste product is heat. That’s right! This heat wavelength is a CELLULAR WASTE PRODUCT. Yet, the far infrared industry would have you believe that this waste product is good for you! 

In what other cases, would you consider returning a waste product to your body? Would you treat kidney disease by drinking urine, arguing that urine is a resonant fluid to kidney output? How about treating lung disease with carbon dioxide since carbon dioxide is resonant to lung output? Or helping psoriasis with dead skin cells or bowel conditions with… I think you get my point.

The idea that a waste product should be returned to the body is one that is seriously flawed. Yet this is the centerpiece of Mr. Smiths argument. Okay, let’s get back to the article:

3. Third reason: The Near Infrared Sauna (heat) is experienced as a sharper heat sensation." I have never heard it described as sharp. And, this is a point of personal preference.

"The same type of heat lamps you see warming hamburgers at your local fast food restaurant!" Infrared IS heat. So, of course you can heat food with it. That is has nothing to do with whether or not it has health benefits. You can by a far-infrared food oven for your kitchen.  CONCLUSION: Irrelevant to human health.

"Far infrared heat, is experienced as a softer heat sensation - it’s quite enjoyable." Again, a point of personal preference.  "Very close to the enjoyment people get when sun bathing." Not really, not at all.  "Or, imagine going outside on a very cold day and experiencing your face heating up and feeling warm in the sunshine. This IS far infrared heat penetrating your body." According to the science, it is NEAR infrared that you feel on your skin. And, Mr Smith made that argument prior- that near infrared is what heats your surface, ie. your skin. Now he say’s what you feel on your surface is actually far infrared penetrating your body???? The reality is that sunlight is 35% near infrared and less than 3% far infrared. What you feel on your skin in the sun is NEAR infrared, not far. CONCLUSION: Wrong, Bad Science.

Mr Smith’s article is built on completely flaweed scientific arguments backed by no real science at all!  Showing a picture of the electromagnetic spectrum does not qualify of proof of anything health related. The question for you is simply whether or not you should trust him and his advice. Thus, the next logical step is to look at his credentials to assess his trust-worthiness.  I found some other interesting things about his blog when I did this.

First, Mr. Smith appears to suggest that you should trust him because he claims to “have done all the research.” It is not clear what research he is referring to or what exactly he means by this. But, we are to trust him all the same. His “About Me” section reads like an "intro-to-internet marketing" blog, which gives generic advice on writing advertising copy. Mr. Smiths pitch includes an  emotional hook story about a sick mom, an expressed concern for the well-being of his readers, and a warning against internet hucksters. These are your basic, run-of-the-mill trust building statements.  Mr. Smith’s approach can be summed up as “Trust me, I know best. I love my readers. And if you don’t believe me, call my friend at Vital Sauna because he knows even more than me.” There don’t appear to be any genuine academic credentials here.

Second, Mr. Smith often uses the words “high quality” in front of infrared sauna and does so time and time again. However, the brand he recommends, when you email him, is Vital Sauna. Vital Sauna is just an average Chinese import. In fact, I had one customer  ask Mr. Smith where Vital Saunas were manufactured. Mr Smith said they were made in the US. Unfortunately, the sales rep from Vital Sauna said they were made in China. How could someone who has “done all the research” and knew about “high quality” be unaware that his recommended product was just an average Chinese import?

Third, Mr Smith’s credibility is strained when you look at his name. “Michael Smith” is obviously a fake name.  His website is now listed as owned by an LLC, but according to an email I received from someone who asked, Michael Smith is, in fact, not this person's real name. How can Mr Smith offer "honest" or "truthful" information without offering up his true identify? Is this someone you want to trust with your health?

In conclusion, you really have to read carefully and think for yourself. Mr. Smith’s hit piece on Near Infrared Saunas is complete and utter garbage, complete with misleading statements, false conclusions, and a complete lack of any scientific facts whatsoever.  On his home page, he warns that ,"there is a ton of bad information out there." After reading his website, it would seem there are now "two" tons of bad information out there.

Which leads to one last point. What then, it the purpose of his site? In my opinion, it’s to sell google add space, and to make referral commissions off of the sale of Vital Saunas (Mr. Smith asks that you tell the Vital Sauna rep that he sent you).  Neither of which benefits you in any way!