(NBC) – Pierre Freeman is having a sauna. Not your typical sauna that uses very hot air or steam to heat the body. Freeman's sauna works by infrared light - radiant heat that is absorbed by the body - not the surrounding air.
"It's incredible. The heat just calms you down," Freeman said.
Freeman, 47, is recovering from a brain tumor that required painful and damaging chemotherapy and radiation.
"I just had an MRI and I was clear, but every time you get that phone call, your heart just pounds," he said.
Freeman believes the infrared sauna helps him heal by reducing stress and ridding his body of toxins.
"One of the biggest benefits of infrared sauna is toxins. You actually sweat two to three times more than in a traditional sauna and therefore it's taking all the toxins out of your body," Paul Arndt, a spa owner, said.
"When we sweat a lot, we are releasing some toxins. But if one has a true toxic exposure, for example they have high levels of mercury or lead in the blood, that needs to be assessed in a medical way and addressed in a medical way," Dr. Daniel Monti, an Integrative Medicine Expert, said.
Monti is director of the Myrna Brind Center of Integrative Medicine at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
We asked him about some of the health claims linked to infrared saunas. Those claims include burning calories, speeding anti-cellulite programs, relieving arthritis and headaches, boosting white blood cell counts and softening scars.
"I'm not aware of any studies where that's been shown or proven," Dr. Monti said.
"A lot of the claims, I was even questioning them because it does have a lot of claims," Arndt said.
But Dr. Monti says there is an important health benefit to the infrared sauna, "Infrared spa is certainly relaxing for many people. There is a heat component which can feel soothing to the joints and muscles and tissue. And I think that we can't underestimate the value of being put at ease."
Pierre Freeman says if his cancer returns, he'll seek traditional medical care but will continue the infrared sauna as well.
"The doctors can do what they do, but you also want to have a backup plan," he said.
"Show me the studies for the medical claims. For the sense of well being, I'm all for it," Dr. Monti said.