Infrared saunas a growing trend

EAST VILLAGE, Manhattan (WABC) -- There is a growing trend of infrared saunas that has many people wondering if they work and what the experience is like. So can you stand the heat?

Eyewitness News reporter Kemberly Richardson headed to HigherDOSE at 21 East 1st Street in Manhattan, where she tried the 30-minute session.

The room reached 157 degrees, far cooler than traditional saunas that can reach 212 degrees. The room uses heaters that emit infrared light waves, which create heat in your body rather than heating up the air.

"The infrareds are penetrating your body three inches deep," co-founder Katie Kaps said. "So that it's making you sweat more, even though it's making you feel cooler."

The treatment is said to help with circulation, muscle relaxation and joint pain.

The owners said that during the process, the body will naturally release "happy chemicals" like dopamine, serotonin and endorphins. It's supposed to stimulate collegen growth, and increase blood flow and circulation, which can help ease sore muscles. It is also used as a detox method.

"It also vibrates your water molecules and pulls out heavy metals, environmental pollutants and all of these toxins out of your fat cells," co-founder Lauren Berlingeri said.

We asked Dr. Len Horovitz, a pulmonary specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital, about the claims.

"The real organs of detoxification are the liver and kidney," he said. "So you lose more toxins by urination than by sweating.

He says while the experience may be pleasant, the health benefits -- he feels -- are "dubious."

A 30-minute session costs $45, while a 60-minute session runs $65.

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