Menu

Local inventor combines heat and light to create unique SunSauna

  • Written by Deborah Stone
Woodinville inventor and engineer Si Barghelame doesn’t claim to have a patent on sunshine, but what he does have might actually be the next best thing to it.

Barghelame owns SunSauna, a company that manufactures specially designed infrared saunas with full spectrum lighting. Whereas a traditional sauna heats the body indirectly via the air, an infrared one uses radiant heat, which is absorbed directly into the body.

“Infrared immediately penetrates the body, going about an inch below the skin,” explains Barghelame. “It warms you to a much greater depth and much more efficiently than a conventional sauna. You sweat faster and the detoxification experience is much more powerful.”

As for the concept of full spectrum light, the local man says, “I was inspired to research light therapy after suffering from a case of the Seattle winter blues one year. I studied the works of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, the man credited with creating the term ‘seasonal affective disorder.’ I got the idea of taking my own sauna, which I had turned into an infrared one, and installing some full-spectrum lights in it. I thought the sauna would be the best place for the whole body to get exposure to these lights.”

Sunsauna2
SunSauna infrared unit. Courtesy photo.
Barghelame tinkered with his invention and eventually created a prototype, which he subsequently took to the Seattle Home Show.

The response to it was overwhelmingly positive and he knew he was onto something.

“It’s the combination of the infrared heat and the full-spectrum lighting together that is the key to providing a complete healing experience,” explains Barghelame.

Clinical studies note that infrared heat therapy is considered one of the best methods of whole body therapy for pain relief, toxin detoxification and elimination, enhancing circulation, increasing energy and lowering blood pressure. It is also helpful in stimulating the immune system, reducing cellulite, decreasing stress and assisting in weight loss.

According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, in a single infrared sauna session, people may burn as many calories as they would jogging or rowing for 30 minutes. In discussing full-spectrum lighting,

Barghelame notes that it has the same effects on an individual as natural sunshine.

He says, “It produces vitamin D and other endorphins, which improves mood and gives you energy, along with boosting your immune system.”

He adds, “Our body needs the sunshine. It’s crucial to our survival. And here in the Northwest, we don’t get enough of it. This lack of sun can lead to serious health risks.”

Barghelame comments on the difference on residents’ psyches when the sun is out. He observes that grumpy people start to smile and their whole attitude changes as soon as the sun shines. He says, “It’s like someone turned on a light switch, which is essentially what happens.”

With SunSaunas, the full spectrum of non-harmful rays found in natural sunlight is used, essentially eliminating the negative effects incurred through direct sun exposure. Barghelame is the only manufacturer of these specialized saunas, which are made from 100 percent Canadian red cedar and cost approximately $2,000 to $3,800, depending on size.  Buyers receive a self-evaluation questionnaire when they purchase one of the units and if they choose, they can complete it prior to their first experience with the product.

Results indicate the user’s level of depression, which is based on the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression.The higher the score, the more severe the depression. Barghelame tells his customers to fill out the same evaluation on a weekly basis for one month.

“The results are astounding,” he comments. “Everyone’s scores go down after continuous use of the sauna. It really works to improve one’s outlook and state of mind.”

The local man practices what he preaches and uses his SunSauna at home on a consistent basis.

He says, “It’s interesting what happens to me when I’m in there. I enter with problems on my mind and come out with solutions. It helps me think more clearly.”

The SunSaunas have proven to be popular, both for home users and spas. Michelle Rust, owner of Soul Ease Holistic Yoga Spa in Kirkland, has had a unit for five years. She views it as a complement to the wellness services she offers at the spa.

“Our clients love it,” she comments. “They see that it makes a difference. We have one lady who comes each day because it gives her relief from her allergies. And one gentleman claims it really helps with the inflammation he has from numerous hip surgeries. It’s also really good for the skin and then, of course, to rid you of toxins.”

She adds, “I would say that 80 percent of the people who try the sauna end up buying a package to use over a period of time. Some even end up getting one for their own house because they like it so much.”

Barghelame explains that infrared units have been around for 20+ years, but the roots of the original concept can be traced further back to the Finns. He says, “It’s not a new craze. The Finns with their rocks and wood and smoke that went out through the chimney had the real thing. The stove, the metal, warmed the sauna and that heat was infrared.”

He adds, “People are really just learning about infrared sauna over here and now I’m trying to make them aware of full-spectrum lighting. By combining the two, our saunas enhance the benefits of both, leading to a total healing experience.”

For more information about SunSauna: www.sunsauna.com.

Share this post

Submit to FacebookSubmit to Google PlusSubmit to Twitter