In this blog post, I’ll explore the candida infrared sauna link.
And even though I’ve included a disclaimer above, I will say a bit more about the topic of medical advice. While in most cases relatively harmless, in some cases candida infections can lead to life-threatening outcomes. For that reason, I always recommend consulting your physician and never relying on this blog post alone if you’ve got a candida infection of any kind, whether unproblematic or not.
Also, the direct science on the infrared sauna candida link is very sparse. There are, however, many links to be found between biochemistry and candida where infrared saunas could be a plausible intermediary. I’ve relied on the latter in this article but keep in mind that lots of future science needs to explore the candida sauna link.
So, let me explain what I try to accomplish in this article. First off, I’ll consider the basics of candida as a health condition. Next up, I’ll consider three reasons why infrared saunas can help in case of a candida infection.
Candida 101 - What Is Candida?
Before I consider candida let’s make a detour and explain a bit about cells in the human body. Scientific estimates entail that one in ten to one in one of every cell in your body is foreign material - either fungus, bacteria, or viral in nature (1; 2; 3).
Normally, if these “foreign” cells are in balance with your body’s own cells, you’ll be healthy. In some instances an imbalance can be created though. For instance, if you consume meat with an e. Coli bacteria, you can become infected and diseased if the bacteria gets a hold on your body.
Everyone reading this blog post is also aware of the pandemic that started in 2019 whereby a microorganism (virus) affected the health of billions on this planet. In some, health was barely affected, and in others, the viral infection led to an unfortunate death.
Candida is the same (4; 5; 6; 7). Up to 200 different candida species exist, and 20 of them can be present in the human body. Normally that candida doesn’t cause any problems but if there’s overgrowth then a health condition called candidiasis can result.
The mouth, skin, digestive system, and genitals in both sexes are the most frequent places candidiasis takes hold. In different places of the body candidiasis causes different symptoms. In the mouth, for instance, the condition causes white plaque on the tongue.
If you’re of very young or older age, immunocompromised, have existing health conditions, or have extensively used prescription medication like antibiotics, your risk of getting candidiasis goes up. Hygienal practices also matter.
As always, prevention is the best strategy to avoid candidiasis. But, if present, the condition is usually treated with antifungal prescription medicine. In some cases, “invasive candidiasis” can develop. Invasive candidiasis can be life-threatening and is for many who end up in an intensive care unit. For that reason I was so adamant about consulting your physician if you’ve got candida overgrowth and not to exclusively rely on this blog post.
And, now that you understand the basics of candida overgrowth, let’s explore the question of “does infrared sauna kill candida?” Here’s the surprising science:
Will Infrared Sauna Kill Candida Reason 1: Invaders Of The Human Body Don’t Like High Temperatures
Treating cells and organisms that have started to threaten the human body with heat has become more popular in recent decades.
In cancer treatment, for example, heating the human body might have advantages in combination with chemotherapy - although more research is needed (8; 9). The same is true for lab research where different types of candida are exposed to higher temperatures (10; 11; 12).
The higher the temperatures move towards 42-50 degrees Celsius, the more candida is inhibited. Simply put, you’ll have to artificially induce a fever which then inhibits the overall health of the candida fungus.
Of course, infrared saunas do exactly that - they increase your body temperature to up to 42 degrees Celsius.
I will say that the biochemical pathways between heating and inhibiting candida overgrowth are very plausible. However, the question of whether an infrared sauna can kill candida is more complicated because no direct scientific research on this topic currently exists.
So, any time you read an online blog where the author states that - and I’m paraphrasing - “heat can easily kill cancer or candida” - that person is doing an injustice to the strength of the current scientific evidence.
Might future science prove that heating your body kills candida? Sure! But before high-quality evidence is in, it’s dangerous to claim that thesis as a fact. Right now, there’s only circumstantial evidence suggesting that heating counters candida. I, therefore, recommend testing whether you get results for yourself with an infrared sauna, after consulting your physician. A full-spectrum infrared sauna is best for increasing your core body temperature most .
And there’s more:
Does Infrared Sauna Kill Candida Reason 2: Saunas Increase The Effectiveness Of Some Parts Of Your Immune System
White blood cells interact with candida yeast (13; 14; 15). White blood cells are one of the basic cells of the immune system,
White blood cells specifically counter potentially damaging microorganisms like bacteria, viruses, and fungi. Many different types of white blood cells exist, all with different functions.
Different types of white blood cells, such as “lymphocytes”, have been demonstrated to affect candida.
Fortunately, there’s also evidence that sauna use increases the number of white blood cells in your body (16; 17).
A mere 15-minute session showed immune system improvements if your core body temperature increases by 1.2 degrees Celsius. Different types of blood cells such as “lymphocytes” (related to your lymphatic system and neutrophils and basophils increased in count in many participants.
Basophils manage allergic reactions and inflammation and neutrophils counter invaders of your body.
Another study that combined exercise and sauna visits confirms this picture. Here too, participants experienced an increase in white blood cell counts.
Theoretically, therefore, infrared saunas can help candida by improving the functioning of your immune system.
Now, there are a few caveats here. For instance, sometimes, white blood cell counts will already be elevated if you’ve got a serious candida infection. At other times, some types of white blood cells like lymphocytes might be lacking while other types such as the neutrophils I talked about earlier might be elevated.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to argue that an increase of white blood cells through sauna visits is warranted here because it more adequately helps your immune system deal with the problem.
With that being said, let’s move to the third reason:
Far Infrared Sauna Candida Reason 3: Supporting General Health
Hopefully, this reason doesn’t come as a surprise but it’s still very much worth pointing out. Infrared saunas support your general health in many different ways. And, in turn, supporting general health aids in countering candida in many different ways.
Even though that sounds self-evident, let’s explore that statement in more detail:
- Sleep has a direct relationship with the immune system’s ability to deal with infectious diseases (18; 19). With poor sleep your ability to counter infections goes down - it’s reasonable to expect that you’re also likely to get a candida infection with poor sleep. Moreover, during an infection, the body also necessitates that you sleep more to counter infection. Hence, sleep helps both prevent and counter infections. Fortunately, 83.5% of sauna users report having better sleep quality - which is an extremely high number (20). While the study with the 83.5% outcome isn’t perfect because it’s not the “randomised-controlled trial” - the golden standard in Medicine - it’s very promising. Many of our sauna users report the same sleep-enhancement benefits.
- Stress is a risk factor for candida infections (21; 22). Saunas, on the contrary, help you relax. That relaxation especially occurs during infrared saunas which are very gentle on the body. I’ve laid out the case of how infrared saunas can counter depression and boost your mood in this blog post. One of the reasons you feel very good after a sauna visit is because the body releases endorphins, feel-good hormones. In many other studies, sauna visits at a sufficient intensity can actually counter a clinical depression after just one session. The results of using a sauna for enhancing mood are extremely promising and are about to be investigated in more detail. The good news about these mood-enhancing effects is that they also help prevent candidiasis with stress as a risk factor, and help you counter the condition if the candida overgrowth is present.
- Blood sugar management matters for diabetes risk, which subsequently influences your risk of getting candidiasis (23; 24). Saunas also influence your ability to counter diabetes and manage blood glucose levels effectively. The link between diabetes and candidiasis isn’t fully understood yet. However, the link provides one more proof that general health does matter for countering candida infections.
Let’s consider that last claim in more detail:
Roughly the same argument can be made about saunas enhancing blood circulation and helping you counter candida, helping you deal with pain (if present), enhancing skin health (if candida is present there), and more.
Of course, that tendency is generally true. No matter what your health condition, whether it’s heart disease or chronic pain or depression, improving your general health helps you get better. And yet, for completeness’ sake, I’ve given several mechanisms through which this tendency may be the case.
Counter Arguments Against Using A Sauna For Candida
Some experts claim that infrared saunas shouldn’t be used against candida. I’ll briefly consider these reasons here.
A frequently made argument is that saunas are humid places. Humidity, is the argument of these experts, makes candida outbreaks more likely.
This argument is not really valid for the reason that spending time in a sauna barely affects the water content of any internal tissues of your body. Different types of saunas heat up the air around you to a different extent. A traditional sauna does so more than an infrared sauna, which uses light to heat up your body internally.
The issue is that even though there might be high humidity as well, this won’t translate to higher humidity or water content in the body either. So even though candida loves wetness as a fungus, the heat and humidity of a sauna will not affect the candida because it’s almost always located inside the body.
Candida overgrowth on the skin would be an exception, but even there, if you avoid a sauna because of increasing wetness you’ll also have to avoid bathing in the first place. Therefore, I consider especially infrared sauna use beneficial for countering candidiasis.
And, with that argument out of the way, let’s conclude:
Conclusion: Is A Far Infrared Sauna Good For Candida? Likely, Yes, Although More Research Is Needed
At Clearlight International Saunas, we always try to stay as close to the science as possible and not make any claims that cannot be proven.
In the case of candida overgrowth or candidiasis, there’s no direct evidence that an infrared sauna does help with candida. Having said that, existing foundational research such as that of saunas and the immune system and lab research on candida and heating is very promising.
I really hope that in the coming years, more research will be carried out on the candida sauna connection, specifically what is called a “randomised controlled trial” (RCT). An RCT, where both participants and researchers who measure the final outcomes don’t know whether they receive an intervention or control therapy, would give more insight into the (far) infrared sauna candida link.
And, also, don’t forget to focus on your general health as well - not just infrared saunas. Focus on improving sleep quality and quantity, moving more, avoiding excess alcohol consumption, eating a proper diet, staying away from toxins such as air pollutants or from (most non-natural) cosmetics, and more. You can read more about those principles in our Total Wellness E-Book.
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