Are Infrared Saunas Good for Diabetics?

I have seen many unusual topics in this forum that are related to diabetes, so here’s mine.
I have had T1D for 55 years and have suffered many complications including amputation of my left leg. My body is heavily calcified and I bought an infrared sauna as it is supposed to improve blood circulation which I hope, along with diet and exercise, will keep me from losing my right leg.
Unlike a traditional sauna which surrounds the body with hot, humid air, an infrared sauna produces infrared waves which are absorbed directly by the body as the sauna contains ceramic or carbon-based panels which produce the infrared waves. The infrared sauna also allows you to manage the temperature which can be set to as high as 140 degrees. The hotter the temperature the more a person will sweat and thus the more toxins are released which is a reason some people use saunas.
My question is:
Is it the result of the infrared waves, the high temperature or both combined that improve blood circulation through dilating blood vessels.
If it is the infrared waves I assume I could use the sauna at comfortable 80 degrees and keep my Tandem pump on at the same time. If it is both combined then I must take the pump off while in the sauna and deal with the bg variability for hours after exiting the sauna.
Anyone know? Or have an idea based on some science?

PS. Omnipod told me not to wear the device in 130 degree heat for 30 minutes. Glad I have a Tandem which I currently take off entering the sauna.

Thanks a bunch.

Both saunas and hot tubs post warning against their use for diabetics and pregnant women.

Sounds like you are an insulin user.

Some people complain that even taking a hot shower increases their circulation, and causes insulin to be absorbed faster by their body, leading to lows. This doesn’t happen to me, but some people have this experience.

I think that you want to use this thing with caution under supervision. I think its bad news if you pass out inside a sauna. I recommend being very well hydrated because being dehydrated will increase your BG. The sugar in your blood will be more concentrated if you sweat out a lot of fluid - right? (higher BG = less “diluted” sugar = more sugar per fluid volume)

If your gonna go into a sauna, I would check BG before using it and after exiting it. I would limit your time in sauna to 15 minutes at a time. It doesn’t take a very high temp to break a sweat. I would keep the temp relatively low (don’t go extreme with the heat because that simply isn’t necessary to increase circulation).

Forget about the ‘toxins.’ The only toxins you need to worry about is too much sugar or too much insulin.

Call and talk to Tandem about wearing this thing around the sauna. Your pump is using RF communications. So, your not just concerned about if the insulin goes bad, you want to know if the pump will be able to operate when the sauna is operating. You want to ask about the potential for ‘interference.’ Omnipod didn’t seem too worried, but I would ask Tandem specifically because they may have tested this.


Thanks for your comments. I’ll call Tandem tomorrow. Probably should have done this before I ordered it.

I take my pump off before going into the sauna or hot tub. I cover up my Dexcom sensor with a piece of fabric if it’s sauna (I am afraid it would get too hot otherwise).

My bg have been higher since using the sauna. I wonder why. It’s not dehydration though. My preference would be to set the temp to 100 and leave my pump on. That also results in higher bg for the rest of the day. Why do you cover the dexcom? Do you think the dexcom would get too hot on your body or would ruin the dexcom?

It is so odd how people react differently to heat.if I go in a sauna or a hot shower, my sugar drops rapidly. Especially if I was cold before I went in. I think it sort of forces the insulin that’s sitting in my skin, into my blood stream.
I wonder though what causes the opposite effect in other people who go high. This is such a weird and aggravating disease


If I cover my Dexcom it remains essentially body temperature. Uncovered it eventually becomes ambient temp which could be >200 F.

For me, I give about 20 minutes basal worth as a bolus (to cover me) and after, a “top up” if I’m still in range or running high, or nothing if trending lower.

All of the above and more?

Oh, I’m gonna geek out here! I was the chief science officer for a photonics company that basically specialized in what’s called Low Level Light/Laser Therapy (LLLT). Note, the use of “low level” here is only relative to the high intensity lasers used in the medical field for cutting/cauterizing. These “low level” lights still contain incredibly high amounts of energy to be put to use by the body! The infrared sauna you’re talking about would fall under the same category even if it’s weird to think of the invisible parts of the spectrum as light. Admittedly, though, we never studied anything specific to diabetes in my personal research, so I can’t speak directly to those benefits. My experiences revolve more around medical grade cosmetic applications (“smart lipo” surgical procedures, non-invasive body sculpting, dermatology, etc…), pain management, and post-surgical/traumatic injury healing.

The prospects of using light in medical applications are really astonishing, though! We’re actually built to respond to different colors of light. Do you know our bodies are full of compunds called cytochromes, which literally translates to “color cells”. There are all sorts of them, who’s sole function is to absorb specific wavelengths (i.e. “colors”) of light and trigger a cascade of reactions that affect and/or change our bodies. The possibilities run the gamut from the destructive power of the ultraviolet/blue end of the spectrum to the regenerative and healing power of the red/infrared end of the spectrum. For instance, ultraviolet and blue light is generally associated with death and destruction, in both good and bad applications. Just as ultraviolet light can damage your cells and DNA, blue lights can be anti-viral, anti-fungal, and anti-viral, and they can destroy toxins, too. Green light can break cellular bonds in misformed tissue (scars, cellulite, lipodystrophy, etc…). Orangish red light can stimulate lipolysis (releasing the energy stored in fat cells). And basically all red/infrared light reduces inflammation and triggers cellular healing, cleaning, and regeneration. The best known cytochromes specific to infrared light are cytochromes p450 which stimulates liver metabolism of certain compunds, i.e “detoxification”, and c oxidase. C oxidase isn’t nearly as easily explained in layman’s terms. It doesn’t do any one function. It’s more like the starting point of any number of chain reactions. It basically primes your system for action, which is why is can be tied to a large number of extraordinary benefits. The study of cytochromes and the roles they play is still relatively new, so who knows what we haven’t even discovered about them yet…

Unfortunately, here’s the kicker… While both those cytochromes mentioned can be activated by infrared light, it’s not the BEST or most effective way to activate them. You can effect more action from those cytochromes using visible light, not infrared. Yet this is largely the science the healing and detox properties of infrared treatments are marketed on. P450 actually responds best to blue light (it’s named for it’s peak 450nm wavelength), and c-oxidase peaks in the orange/red 635nm and 660nm. So you will get some benefit from the infrared, but it’s not ideal. Infrared mostly just feels good because it’s warming. It’s like putting a heating pad on sore muscles… Feels awesome, but doesn’t really treat the underlying problem.

There are other ways in which LLLTs work, too, but they’re not nearly as well documented as the cytochrome aspect. One, is that the energy absorbed from the lights kind of jump starts cellular metabolism. And please don’t confuse that phrase with weight loss, it’s more about giving your body more power to do all the things it’s supposed to do, but generally stops doing efficiently as we age. Basically, oxygen molecules near the skin absorb the energy from the light and it makes their electrons jump to higher shell, creating what are called highly reactive oxygen species. This means that those oxygen molecules are really happy to give up those electrons that they’re barely holding onto at this point, and they happily dump them into the mitochondria. Mitochondria are called “the power house”, because it’s where all the energy we need is converted into a usable form. So after exposure to those lights, it’s like recharging your batteries so you’ve got the energy to heal, purge toxins, boost your immune system, create hormones and other communication factors, and a multitude of other functions so our body systems work better.

My favorite “freaky science” mechanism of action of these LLLTs is through employing Noiger Frequencies! This is one of the least understood aspects of life that is just generally accepted as true now in the world of science. Living things respond to different frequencies of music… and light!.. in surprising ways. Think back to the old common science fair experiment of “do plants grow better to classical music?”. (Mythbusters declared they actually prefer hard rock/metal!). Since light moves in waves, just like sound, you can also adjust the frequency at which it is emitted. I was looking for a graphic to insert here to illustrate this point came came across this website which actually explains the medical use of Noiger Frequencies really well: Pulsation Frequencies - Shine With Light This particular graphic shows you how different frequencies of light can affect different systems.


I don’t know how commonly Noiger Frequencies are employed by other manufacturers, but we considered then pretty integral to our products. We even included an AUX input jack in the units we intended for Chiropractors (they just love alternative treatment options!), so the doctors could customize the treatment sessions to the patient. I wish I knew more about how infrared saunas are constructed/engineered. I don’t 100% even know if it’s possible to modulate the ceramic/copper plates that way.

And you asked about the sweating/detox aspect… It’s not actually true that you sweat out toxins. It’s a widely believed myth. Sweat is really just mostly vital water, salt, protein, and carbs. It does also contain urea, though, which is really good for your skin! And sweating does promote circulation, so even though you’re losing some vital nutrients and not detoxing, there are still some benefits to be gained from it.

In terms of diabetes benefits, I only know how the red/infrared spectrum affects me. I was always a massive fan! (I can’t really get behind a device that doesn’t have visible red light, too, though.) I definitely noticed increased insulin sensitivity, but I always attributed that to the anti-inflammatory and pain relieving aspects. For about 12 years now I’ve been fighting a severe inflammation issue that no doctor had been able to diagnose or treat, so the anti-inflammatory aspect of LLLT had a massive impact on my diabetes, since inflammation causes insulin-resistance. (I just finally got the confirmation that I’m actually allergic to all insulin sold in the US because they feed the genetically modified e. Coli bacteria that produce said insulin with potato-based maltodextrin. Isn’t that a kicker for a T1???) Since my situation is unique there, I think, I’m not sure other diabetics would see the same results. Of the other mechanics of action I mentioned, I have no way of knowing if any particular device (infrared sauna in this case) is optimized for the best results. Any individual cytochrome has just a few wavelengths of light it responds ideally to. Just because a light is infrared, doesn’t mean it’s emitting a lot of energy in the exact right wavelength of infrared light that will trigger a beneficial response. And who knows if the manufactures even considered Noiger Frequencies… Basically, not all devices are created equal. So even if there are established benefits for diabetics, there’s a big chance that any given piece of equipment might not be able to achieve those results. Your mileage may vary.

As to the pump, I would definitely disconnect if you’re turning the heat up. The pump itself can handle the energy of the infrared light, as infrared light is known safe to electronic. It’s at the opposite end of the spectrum as the potentially damaging frequencies. You gotta remember that even sunlight is more than half infrared light, and it’s the blue/ultraviolet end that can cause the most problems. However, the listed operating temp is only up to like 113°F. You’ll get an alarm if it detects more than and won’t deliver insulin until it’s back in operating range. It will take a little while for the heat to penetrate the pump and raise the internal temp, so short periods should be fine, but I can’t imagine it’s worth it.


Is it possible the tandem cannula can be affected by the heat or infrared waves
of an infrared sauna? At the moment that’s my best guess as to why I’m going high.

Robyn, thanks so much for your comments. I will re-read and then triple read and get back to you tomorrow. Its nice to know though that I might be able to use my tandem pump in the sauna if its set to less than 113 degrees. Now I just need to figure out why my blood sugar goes high all day after using it. I’ll ask your opinion on the sauna improving blood circulation tomorrow. Again, very much appreciated.

My opinion is that it is worth introducing a word of caution here. I have found the information at quackwatch to be very reliable. And they have a page devoted to LLLT that I would recommend reading before going all in and spending money on this therapy. See the page here which goes into some detail about un-approved uses of this therapy for diabetic complications and government enforcement against companies making these claims:

“The Bottom Line: At this writing, the bottom line appears to be that LLLT devices may bring about temporary relief of some types of pain, but there’s no reason to believe that they will influence the course of any ailment or are more effective than standard forms of heat delivery.”

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And here is another quackwatch page talking about a company marketing an infrared sauna device and the government enforcement actions taken against them:

Thanks, I’ll read these immediately…

Thanks Jag1. FAR infrared waves in today’s commercialized Infrared Saunas and technology is somewhat unrelated to the study you attached which concentrates on a specific product. The study referred to red-laser or near-beam lasers. As mentioned the commercial infrared sauna are not near-beam or even medium beam. Nonetheless the article has many relevant issues. I took away the fact that I need to get all my doctors, including my vascular surgeon, to sign off on this technology and if they do to limit my level of use. Thanks for your comments.

Here is an article on the pros and cons of infrared sauna entitled “Are Infrared Sauna Safe”?. All of us need to constantly assess risks and benefits of anything we experiment with in an attempt to better manage our diabetes and overall health.

Richard Carli

Robyn, I apologize for not getting back to you this morning. I appreciated getting comments from a “scientist”. I have already bought the infrared sauna but will now rely on science and the medical profession to decide how much, if any, I use it. I attached a write-up of the infrared sauna so you could see how the company tried to incorporate “science” or did the incorporate “pseudo-science” in their marketing?

I was interested in your discussion of visible and invisible light in you comments. You stated, “the prospects of using light in medical applications are really astonishing, though! We’re actually built to respond to different colors of light. Do you know our bodies are full of compounds called cytochromes, which literally translates to “color cells”. There are all sorts of them, who’s sole function is to absorb specific wavelengths (i.e. “colors”) of light and trigger a cascade of reactions that affect and/or change our bodies.”

As you can see from the attached article, the Infrared Sauna incorporates a chromotherapy lighting system in their sauna. Of the things I was skeptical about, this lighting system I was/am the most dubious of.

I did want to mention, the Sauna concentrates on FAR wavelengths/beams and not near or medium. I thought that was a good thing as I do not want to be exposed to UV rays. I was interested in your comment, “I can’t really get behind a device that doesn’t have red light, too.”

As I mentioned I am hoping the benefit I achieve is improved blood circulation. Do you think I might benefit from that? And if I do would it only be for the short time I am in the sauna or is it cumulative? I was disappointed to read your comment, “So you will get some benefit from the infrared, but it’s not ideal. Infrared mostly just feels good because it’s warming. It’s like putting a heating pad on sore muscles… Feels awesome, but doesn’t really treat the underlying problem.” I really am not interested in detoxification although I’m was very keen to hearing you statement that “Sweating does promote circulation.” My underling problem is calcification which I believe traces back to my youth when my diabetes was uncontrolled. Today I eat health, walk 3 miles a day even with a prosthetic leg and manage my diabetes so that ay average glucose is about 105 and my standard deviation is 16-18.

I’ll finish with your final quote, “It will take a little while for the heat to penetrate the pump and raise the internal temperature, so short periods should be fine, but I can’t imagine it’s worth it”. My guess is you do not believe the improved circulation is cumulative.

As mentioned in other posts, I believe in experimenting to improve the management of your diabetes and overall health but by doing it safely. I think I jumped too fast into this one although I did get the blessing of my PRP and Endo. I will talk to my vascular surgeon in about two weeks. So far my increased blood glucose means at best I need to keep my pump connected and stay in the sauna for a limited time at no more than 100-110 degrees.

Appreciate any further comments.

Still reading but this caught my attention, diabetic peripheral autonomic neuropathy is a possible cause of dry and flaking feet from decreased perspiration. Creams with urea are helpful.

Back to reading the rest of you great post.

If you wrapped your pump in that space blanket material that marathon runners wear post race (to hold heat in) would that keep the pump from heating up by reflecting/keeping heat out?

I have zero knowledge about whether this would work, but it seems like it might. Does someone with a better scientific background than me know whether it would?

I would love to address some of these comments further, but I’m frantically getting ready to travel, so it’ll have to wait a day or two. But real quick…

I haven’t taken a look at your link yet, so I have no opinion yet whatsoever of your particular piece of equipment. I am curious to see if they offer certain pieces of information, though. I did NOT mean “I don’t think the sauna is worth it”, though. I meant that I don’t think it’s worth the bother of wearing the pump into the sauna. What’s the longest you might spend in there 15-30 minutes? That sounds like a great opportunity to plug the pump in to charge to me.

I sincerely highly doubt this, but I suppose anything is possible… The Teflon and metal used in the cannulas are specifically chosen because they’re durable, inert, and non-reactive. Your flesh would likely cook before you absorbed enough heat to damage the cannula. And that’s not even considering how awesome are bodies are at homeostasis. I would just chalk it up to freaky diabetes and how differently we all respond. Just like some people see their BG go up when they exercise, your body clearly thinks it needs glycogen fuel for something, whether it’s misperceived exercise, healing/immune related, or maybe even a stress response… And don’t forget that our metabolisms our broken in ways beyond just insulin. We lack some communication factors in regulating glycogen release. I’m another one who only see heat make my BG plummet when I have a good amount of IOB, so I don’t find the lack of that odd. I do find that the sustained elevated BGs weird/interesting, though. How long have you been seeing this? Is that something definitely attributed to the sauna, or could it be from something else going on?

And as to the potential quackery… This is true in some cases, but certainly not all. I only briefly looked at one of the links and it sounded like quackery to me, too. Common sense, people…

The effectiveness of LLLT is well documented in medicine. It’s so effective that there are many surgical procedures that have different, more permissive, regulations if done with the benefit of specific LLLT. And they are MOST effective in that type of invasive application. While not quite as effective, non-invasive LLLTs have also been proven beneficial in both research and user feedback. The problem comes with the commercialization of them. You can’t patent any particular wavelength of light, but you CAN patent every means imaginable of emitting the specific highly valuable wavelengths of light , and fight any competitors in court. Like with cytochrome c oxidase, the big money is on 635 nm. The best home devices snagged the patents on the second-best 660nm. What’s everyone else who wants to ride that money train supposed to do? They use broad spectrum lights that hopefully have a lot of energy in the right places, but can’t legally put all/most the energy there. And then there’s the completely immoral ones who just put out utter crap in hopes of snagging a sucker.

Also note, I’m no longer associated with LLLT manufacturing/research. In fact, I try really hard to police my words to keep myself non-affiliated with a certain company. I’m not selling anything or have anything to gain from promoting LLLT. I just really love that phase of my life and the good I saw come from that work. It’s something I really believe in, when done right.


I am an audiologist - ever since I found out about a chiropractor claiming to use LLLT to cure children’s hearing loss, I have been incredibly skeptical. (I didn’t know that one of my patient’s family was traveling hours away to see this crackpot. Lo and behold, her hearing did not get any better. And now the chiro is in trouble with the state for this BS.)

I haven’t heard that LLLT is an effective treatment for anything. What evidence is out there about this?

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It’s good for muscle aches and circulation improvement, but then a bathtub will do the same thing