How Does Sauna Therapy Help Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
CFS is chronic and in most cases treatment focuses on managing the symptoms. Medication and CBT can have a positive effect. However, in most cases these treatment options prove to be insufficient. A study performed in Japans Kagoshima Respiratory and Stress Center observed great improvements in CFS patients treated with heat or thermal therapy.
It reported that symptoms such as pain, fatigue, low-grade fever, and even sleep disturbance significantly improved after about 15 to 30 sessions of heat sauna therapy. These results suggested that long-term moderate thermal therapy is a promising treatment method for chronic fatigue syndrome.
Another observing two patients with CFS put them through sauna therapy once per day for a period lasting 35 days. They were then put under a program where they underwent further infrared sauna sessions twice a week for a year. This study found drastic improvements in CFS symptoms such as mental and physical complaints, confusion, pain, insomnia, depression, and fatigue. The results were consistent in both patients, suggesting that sauna can help reduce the symptom of chronic fatigue.
Those With Respiratory Conditions Or Lung Problems
Because traditional saunas heat your entire room instead of just emitting wavelengths of light onto you, it can be easier to breathe in this type of environment. This is especially helpful if you have any lung condition or breathing issue that could flare up when exposed to high humidity and hot air levels.
Benefit #12 Saunas May Improve Sleep And Insomnia
Sleep is so important when maintaining a healthy immune system. Its been shown66 that even one night of insufficient sleep can result in a decreased immune response.
Unfortunately, sleeplessness is often the norm with 1 in 4 people experiencing insomnia67 every year. Turn on the T.V., and youll see about a dozen commercials touting the benefits of chemicals to lure your body into a blissful slumber. Unfortunately, these drugs often come with a host of side effects, like dizziness and memory loss. Plus, its not uncommon for rebound insomnia to occur once someone tries to stop taking sleeping pills.
An infrared sauna, on the other hand, doesnt come with a list of side effects.
The deep heat supplies a relaxing experience that eases stress and offers sleep-supporting relaxation. Particularly, the far-infrared rays have been shown to improve the quality of sleep68.
In a global sauna survey56 of 472 participants, 84% reported improved sleep. Most sauna users cited improvements in sleep lasting one to two nights after using a sauna.
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Heat Shock Proteins As A Therapeutic Target
Recent reviews have clearly identified the upregulation of HSPs as thermally activated therapeutic targets for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases including Parkinsons and Alzheimers . HSPs are a collective family of proteins, suffixed by their molecular weight , which are present in both constitutively expressed, and inducible isoforms across several intracellular tissue sites and in extracellular fluid following stress . Relative to increased intracellular HSP content , the presence of extracellular changes in HSP concentration reflects a less pertinent transient stress response which acts as an acute signaling response. The 70 kDa and 90 kDa family of HSPs, hereafter referred to as HSP70 and HSP90, are generally the most widely studied responders to thermal stressors and are likely of most relevance within the field of heat therapy and heat adaptation for neurodegenerative disease . HSP70 and HSP90 function as chaperones to ensure appropriate cell function and have distinct roles in the unfolded protein response, e.g., recognizing misfolded or mis-localized proteins that may be subsequently degraded by the proteasome, and are a key component of chaperone-mediated autophagy . It is outside of the focus of this review to describe each of these roles, with the reader directed elsewhere to contextualize these actions .
Length Of Sauna Time Matters
The heart disease and death study discussed above also tested for time in the sauna. They compared those who took a sauna for less than 11 minutes with those who took saunas for between 11 and 19 minutes. Then they compared them to those who took saunas for more than 19 minutes.
The researchers found that the 11 to 19 minute saunas were 7 percent more effective than taking a sauna for less than 11 minutes. For those who took saunas that lasted more than 19 minutes, their saunas were 52 percent more effective.
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Safety And Adverse Effects With Sauna
In the medical literature at large, there are reports of severe adverse effects from saunas that include dry sauna-induced burns and myocardial ischemia , along with less frequent reports of syncope/falls , hypersensitivity pneumonitis , nonexertional heatstroke , rhabdomyolysis , ocular irritations , sauna stroke syndrome , and death . The risk of death from saunas was examined in retrospective population studies of frequent sauna users in Sweden and Finland, with the annual death rate from saunas being reported as 0.06 and 2 per 100,000 inhabitants, respectively, with half or more of all these deaths involving the use of alcohol and a common risk factor of sauna bathing alone .
Sauna Use Linked To Lower Dementia Alzheimer’s Risk
Partaking regularly in the relaxing practice of sauna bathing is associated with a decreased risk for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease at least in men, new research suggests.
Further results from the Kuopio Ischemic Heart Disease study, which included more than 2300 middle-aged men in Finland who were deemed healthy at baseline, showed that those whose sauna use averaged 4 to 7 times per week were 66% less likely to develop dementia at 20-year follow-up than men who used a sauna once a week. In addition, they had a 65% risk reduction for AD.
The report “provides promising results from the first prospective study that shows sauna bathing to be a potential protective lifestyle factor for common memory diseases,” write the investigators, adding that the practice “may be a recommendable intervention” to prevent the condition in healthy adults.
However, they note that more studies are needed in different patient populations, including women.
Still, senior author Jari Antero Laukkanen, MD, PhD, professor at the University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, told Medscape Medical News that he was pleased with the results.
“This study was surprising because the findings were so strong,” said Dr Laukkanen. “People have positive feelings about sauna bathing,” which may help in part to explain the associations found, he added.
The results were December 7 in Age and Ageing.
“Time Well Spent”
The HR for AD for the same comparison was 0.35 .
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Considerations For Heat Therapy For People With Neurodegenerative Disease
An important consideration in conducting heat acclimation and heat therapy for older adults and clinical populations will be how their impairments or any co-morbidities may affect their ability to perform and tolerate these interventions. Firstly, their disease severity may impair their physical ability to perform movements effectively and safely . Secondly, neurodegeneration may cause deficits in thermoregulatory processes. In Parkinsons disease, neural degeneration in higher-order brain centers including the hypothalamus is associated with impaired sudomotor function which in turn may influence their tolerance to body warming .
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinsons and Motor Neuron Disease primarily affect motor control. As the diseases progress, motor function deteriorates resulting in impaired gait and balance and an increased risk of falls . While Alzheimers is usually associated with cognitive impairments, significant motor impairments are also associated with this disease . Therefore, exercise and heat acclimation interventions should consider the level of impairment of their target population and how the risk of falls and injury may be managed. As such, in these populations where movement is limited, passive heat therapy may be an achievable alternative to exercise interventions.
Chronic Effects Of Body Warming On Heat Shock Proteins
The HSP responses to exercise-heat acclimation have been reviewed previously, with an acknowledgment that the intervention is an effective means to augment cellular thermotolerance, which may subsequently protect vital organs from deleterious effects of heat stress in humans . An internal temperature threshold for intracellular HSP70 induction may exist, though it is also possible that this response occurs once a certain variation of internal, whole-body temperature is reached alongside additional stressors . For example, during a 10-day heat acclimation period, Magalhães et al. demonstrated the largest changes in post-exercise intracellular HSP70 when a core body temperature > 39.0°C was achieved. In contrast, Yamada et al. and Hom et al. reported no change in HSP70 in response to a lower core body temperature following 10 days of heat acclimation. HSP70 and HSP90 mRNA transcription occur at a series of core body temperature thresholds during 90 min of exercise-heat stress therefore the dose of heat stress to elicit translation may be greater than that required to elicit transcription.
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Benefit #8 Saunas May Help Reduce Inflammation And Pain
Using heat to decrease inflammation may seem like an odd therapy. After all, isnt ice used to reduce inflammation?
Some impressive proof shows that saunas CAN help reduce inflammation.
Dr. Jari Laukkanen of Finland found43 that using the sauna significantly decreased C-reactive protein, the main marker of systemic inflammation. And the more frequent the sauna use, the more inflammation levels were lowered.
Infrared heat penetrates into muscle tissues, as well as joints. This is one of infrareds greatest giftsthe ability to penetrate44 deep into the body. The result is increased circulation that delivers nutrients to joints and muscles, accelerating repair and increasing flexibility.
Saunas have been shown to reduce pain. Some examples:
- Chronic pain. A Japanese study45 in the journal Internal Medicine showed that chronic pain patients experienced a nearly 70% reduction, after the first session of infrared sauna therapy.
- Headache. Regular sauna bathing has been found46 to substantially improve headache intensity.
- Rheumatoid arthritis. The Journal of Clinical Rheumatology reported47 that the use of infrared saunas produced significant short-term beneficial effects in those with rheumatoid arthritis, including reduced pain, stiffness, and fatigue, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects.
Mechanisms Of Action: Sauna Bathing
Several mechanisms of action have been proposed for the health effects of frequent sauna bathing. Exposure to heat increases cardiac output and reduces peripheral vascular resistance and induces other physiological changes in cardiovascular parameters such as decreased systolic and/or diastolic blood pressure , increased HRV , improved cardiac function markers , and improved flow-mediated arterio- and vasodilatation of small and/or large blood vessels . Regarding hormonal and metabolic models, reduced levels of epinephrine and/or norepinephrine , increased levels of nitric oxide metabolites in blood and urine , decreased total and LDL cholesterol levels , increased serum levels of growth hormone, adrenocorticotropic hormone , and cortisol , decreased fasting blood glucose levels , increased plasma ghrelin levels , and reduced urinary levels of prostaglandins have been detected after regular sauna sessions. Together, these findings support complex multipathway end-organ effects on the central and autonomic nervous system, the peripheral vascular endothelium, and the hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal axis, as well as on the kidneys and the liver that are continuing to be documented .
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Does Frequent Sauna Use Protects Against Memory Loss
There is quite a lot of data available pointing to how regular sauna use can protect against memory loss and Alzheimer.
One of the most comprehensive study is this one : Sauna bathing is inversely associated with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease in middle-aged Finnish men.
“In the study, men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week were found 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and 65 percent less likely with Alzheimers disease, than those taking a sauna once a week.
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Benefit #16 Saunas May Accelerate The Healing Of Wounds
Wounds that once healed in days can take weeks as you age.
Due to infrared rays ability to promote faster cell regeneration and tissue growth, wounds can repair quickly and infections can be prevented.
Studies75 on rats showed that infrared rays increased the release of the growth factor, as well as anti-inflammatory cytokine TGF-B1, which led to an activation of fibroblasts cells that play a critical role in wound healing.
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Sweating In Sauna Might Help Keep Brain Healthy: Finnish Study
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HELSINKI – Regular visits to the sauna can help lower the risk of developing dementia and Alzheimers disease as well as dying of heart ailments, a Finnish study suggests.
Researchers at the University of Eastern Finland found a link between sauna visits and memory diseases after following more than 2,300 middle-aged Finnish men for more than 20 years.
In the study, men who went to the sauna four to seven times a week were found 66 percent less likely to be diagnosed with dementia, and 65 percent less likely with Alzheimers disease, than those taking a sauna once a week.
We have taken into account other lifestyle factors, like physical activity and socioeconomic factors … There is an independent effect of sauna on these outcomes, said Jari Laukkanen, senior researcher and a professor of clinical medicine at the University of Eastern Finland.
He noted that the study only indicated an association between the sauna and memory diseases, and the findings would have to be fleshed out through further studies with different age groups, other nationalities and women.
The findings, published in the journal Age and Ageing in December, suggested however that the health benefits of sauna could extend from the heart to the brain.
After sauna, you may have lower blood pressure, and blood pressure is an important risk factor in cardiovascular and memory diseases. This may be one possible explanation for our findings, Laukkanen said.
The Relationship Between Sauna Bathing And Dementia
The results showed sauna bathing was associated with a reduced risk of dementia.
This was true even after adjusting for a variety of factorsage, sex, region, education, marital status, smoking and drinking, BMI, leisure-time physical activities, blood pressure, glucose, cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The hazard ratio for individuals who bathed 9-12 times was 0.81 , compared with participants who bathed 0-4 times per month. The hazard ratio for 0-4 and 13-30 monthly sauna users did not differ.
In addition, a continuous stay in the heat for 5-14 minutes, compared to less than 5 minutes, was linked with a reduced risk of developing Alzheimers disease. The sauna temperature range most highly linked with dementia protection was 80-99°C .
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Frequent Sauna Use May Reduce Dementia Risk In Men
In the first study of its kind, researchers from Finland have identified a link between regular sauna use and reduced risk of Alzheimers disease and other dementias in men.
Study leader Prof. Jari Laukkanen, of the University of Eastern Finland, and team recently published their findings in the journal Age and Ageing.
According to Alzheimers Disease International, there are around 46.8 million people worldwide living with dementia. Unless new prevention and treatment strategies are found, this number is expected to reach 131.5 million by 2050.
Previous studies have suggested sauna use may benefit cardiovascular health, but Prof. Laukkanen and team note that no studies had investigated whether sauna use might benefit memory disorders.
To find out, the researchers analyzed the data of 2,315 apparently healthy men aged 42-60 who were part of the Kuopio Ischaemic Heart Disease Risk Factor Study.
The team divided the men into three groups based on their frequency of sauna use: once a week, two to three times a week, and four to seven times a week.
Participants were followed-up for a median of 20.7 years, during which time 204 cases of dementia and 123 cases of Alzheimers disease the most common form of dementia were diagnosed.
Infrared Saunas May Benefit The Respiratory System
Saunas have been shown to reduce the risk of developing respiratory illnesses as well as the chances of developing pneumonia which is an especially important thing to consider at these times!
In a study4 published in the European Journal of Epidemiology, men who used a sauna at least twice a week were 30% less likely to develop life-threatening pneumonia. When they increased their sauna therapy to 4 times a week, they cut their risk of pneumonia by almost 40%!
In a study4 of almost 2,000 men, participants who used a sauna 4 or more times each week experienced a 41% lower risk of developing respiratory illness over a 26-week period, compared to those who used the sauna less than once a week.
Sauna use has also proven useful for other respiratory illnesses including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and congestion.
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How Law Enforcement And Rescue Workers Are Using Saunas For Detoxification
Law enforcement workers are often exposed to methamphetamine and other harmful chemicals. These toxins can lead to chronic symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, and respiratory problems, as well as disability.
When the Utah Meth Cops Project treated37 affected police officers with sauna therapy and nutrition, the officers experienced significant health improvements.
Additionally, in the weeks and months following the attack on the World Trade Center, 40,000 rescue and clean-up workers were exposed to numerous toxic chemicals, such as PCBs.
This exposure led to symptoms, including chronic muscle and joint pain, intestinal disorders, and skin rashes, as well as an increase38 in respiratory and heart diseases.
When the workers underwent39 a sauna-based detoxification program, symptoms either completely resolved or were significantly improved.
Joint Pain And Rheumatoid Arthritis
Too much of exercise can take a toll on anyone. The benefits of IST include relieving soreness, stiffness and inflammation by improving blood circulation. The deep penetrating heat also relaxes muscles and allows blood to deliver oxygen-rich blood, while carrying off metabolic waste products for faster recovery.
The infrared waves also help warm muscles for a greater range of motion and flexibility, while helping relieve pain and muscle tension. Moreover, studies show that time spent in infrared saunas brings relief for rheumatoid arthritis. Moreover, heat is effective in the treatment of muscle spasms, sprains, bursitis, joint stiffness, bursitis and other musculoskeletal ailments. Studies show that regular use of infrared saunas can lessen much of the aches, pain and stiffness that come with arthritis and aging.
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