Sure, you might know about how an infrared sauna helps you feel great, or how it helps your athletic performance, or makes your skin look more shiny. But, did you also know that infrared saunas improve natural immunity?

In this blog post I explain the basics of how infrared saunas improve natural immunity. I explore several mechanisms explaining that dynamic:

Saunas Increase Your White Blood Cell Count

White blood cells are the basic cells of your immune system. The dynamic of these white blood cells is extremely complex and they are affected by many different factors. For instance, if you’re not consuming enough vitamin C or zinc your immune system won’t function properly.

Nevertheless, you do have some control over that immune system. A 2013 study showed that a single sauna session increased multiple different types of white blood cells (1). Generally, higher levels of white blood cells – such as basophils, lymphocytes, and neutrophils – ensure that your natural immune system can be more active.

There’s more though:

Spending time inside an infrared sauna also activates so-called “heat shock proteins” (2-5). You thereby activate the basic defense mechanisms of the human body to counter stress. Heat places temporary stress on your body, that can result in you becoming stronger as a biological organism. The same is true for exercise.

In this case, the activation of the heat shock proteins leads to the activation of the “innate immune system”. That innate immune system is fast-acting and the first line of defense against intruders such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites.

You might think: “well, great, I’m happy my immune system works better now. But what do these gains in the immune system mean for my disease risk?” Let’s answer that question now:

Sauna Use Disease Risk

The natural immunity improvements do translate into an overall lower disease risk. This is not only true for heart and blood vessel disease, Alzheimer, and other conditions, but also for diseases where microbes play a major role. Pneumonia is a prime example here (6; 7).

Finnish researchers have compared people with different sauna habits for their studies on pneumonia and respiratory diseases in general. Compared to people who used a sauna zero or one time per week, people using a sauna two to three times per week cut their risk of getting respiratory diseases by 27%. With four sessions or more or more per week, that risk decreased by a magnificent 41%.

Similar reductions are found in pneumonia, one of the most important respiratory diseases. These results are very promising as other studies also show decreases in what is called “all cause mortality” the more frequently you use a sauna (8). “All-cause mortality” can be understood as your general risk of dying, independent of disease. And, that all-cause mortality is a great benchmark for overall health – although it does focus more on lifespan than healthspan.

Nevertheless, if you can extend your life then you’ll generally become healthier. And, with that being said, let’s conclude:

Conclusion: Saunas For Natural Immunity Are A Great Match

As one of the main infrared sauna UK suppliers, we’re very happy with the research that has been coming out on the immune system.

Preliminary researchs shows that you will have big improvements in the number of white blood cells and the activation of heat shock proteins. Both improvements will lead to a better-functioning immune system. And, these improvements also translate into lower overall disease risk, such as lower all-cause mortality, less risk of getting respiratory diseases such as pneumonia, and better overall health.

You’ve found a win-win here…


  1. Pilch W, Pokora I, Szyguła Z, Pałka T, Pilch P, Cisoń T, Malik L, Wiecha S. Effect of a single finnish sauna session on white blood cell profile and cortisol levels in athletes and non-athletes. J Hum Kinet. 2013 Dec 31;39:127-35. doi: 10.2478/hukin-2013-0075. PMID: 24511348; PMCID: PMC3916915.
  2. Li Z, Srivastava P. Heat-shock proteins. Curr Protoc Immunol. 2004 Feb;Appendix 1:Appendix 1T. doi: 10.1002/0471142735.ima01ts58. PMID: 18432918.
  3. Horowitz M, Robinson SD. Heat shock proteins and the heat shock response during hyperthermia and its modulation by altered physiological conditions. Prog Brain Res. 2007;162:433-46. doi: 10.1016/S0079-6123(06)62021-9. PMID: 17645931.
  4. Singh IS, Hasday JD. Fever, hyperthermia and the heat shock response. Int J Hyperthermia. 2013 Aug;29(5):423-35. doi: 10.3109/02656736.2013.808766. Epub 2013 Jul 17. PMID: 23863046.
  5. Zychowska M, Półrola P, Chruściński G, Zielińska J, Góral-Półrola J. Effects of sauna bathing on stress-related genes expression in athletes and non-athletes. Ann Agric Environ Med. 2017 Mar 21;24(1):104-107. doi: 10.5604/12321966.1233977. PMID: 28378983.
  6. Kunutsor SK, Laukkanen T, Laukkanen JA. Sauna bathing reduces the risk of respiratory diseases: a long-term prospective cohort study. Eur J Epidemiol. 2017 Dec;32(12):1107-1111. doi: 10.1007/s10654-017-0311-6. Epub 2017 Sep 13. PMID: 28905164.
  7. Kunutsor SK, Jae SY, Laukkanen JA. Attenuated Risk of Pneumonia Due to Inflammation by Frequent Sauna Baths: A PROSPECTIVE COHORT STUDY. J Cardiopulm Rehabil Prev. 2022 Jan 1;42(1):59-63. doi: 10.1097/HCR.0000000000000598. PMID: 33797457.
  8. Laukkanen T, Khan H, Zaccardi F, Laukkanen JA. Association between sauna bathing and fatal cardiovascular and all-cause mortality events. JAMA Intern Med. 2015 Apr;175(4):542-8. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.8187. PMID: 25705824.