To complement the MASSAGE Magazine article, “Expert Advice,” in the June 2013 issue. Article summary: Bruno Chikly, M.D., D.O., answers the question, “How can I address clients’ inflammation in my massage practice?”

Far-Infrared Saunas and Lymphatic Massage: A Healing Combination, MASSAGE MagazineLymphatic massage, or lymphatic drainage, is a wonderful way to boost your clients’ immune systems and to stimulate the removal of metabolic wastes and environmental toxins. The lymph fluid is where our white blood cells are generated and stored. Our lymph vessels and nodes act like filters, purifying the cells to keep the immune system in fighting shape.

Another effective way to detoxify and strengthen the immune system is by using a far-infrared sauna.

Far-infrared heat is beneficial because of its ability to penetrate human tissue. It heats the body directly instead of heating the air, increasing core body temperature and allowing for a much deeper sweat. A far-infrared sauna session before massage means your client will be relaxed and his muscles will be warm and receptive.

The detoxification process will already have begun; cortisol levels and blood pressure will have already come down. In the sauna, the lymph system is stimulated to expel any excess water. Swelling and inflammation are reduced. Growth hormone, beta endorphins, and prolactin levels rise in the blood during a sauna session. The boost in beta endorphins may account for some of the reduction in pain that many experience. The joints and tendons become more elastic

When we look at the ways our bodies eliminate toxins, in addition to the lymphatic system, we also rely on the liver, kidneys, lungs, blood, colon and the body’s largest organ, skin. The use of a sauna session before or after one’s massage allows the toxins to exit via sweat.

Infrared therapy stimulates the circulatory system, causing the heart to beat more vigorously and blood vessels to dilate, which helps cleanse the circulatory system and more fully oxygenate the body’s cells. Better blood circulation means more toxins flow from the cellular level to the skin’s surface to improve cell health, aid in muscle recovery and strengthen the immune system.

“Far-infrared saunas provide an incredibly gentle, side-effect-free, effective mechanism for detoxification for all of my patients, even the sensitive ones,” says Rachel West, M.D.

Thousands of wellness providers, including massage therapists, incorporate full-spectrum infrared saunas into their practices. Full spectrum incorporates far-, mid- and near-infrared waves, which target specific health benefits. Clients enjoy customizing sessions based on their needs, it adds a new stream of revenue and practitioners quickly become regular users themselves.

Jonny Bowden, Ph.D., C.N.S. (aka “The Rogue Nutritionist”), is a board-certified nutrition specialist and a nationally known expert on weight loss and nutrition. He is co-author (with cardiologist Stephen Sinatra) of the best-selling book, The Great Cholesterol Myth and has authored other books. He wrote this article on behalf of Sunlighten, a maker of far-infrared saunas (