Infrared Sauna:

Jacob Schor, ND, FABNO

December 14, 2008

It is cold out today. 

Technically still not winter, there’s a week to go until the Solstice but with an afternoon high of 4 degrees, it is a cold day.    A perfect day to sit down and sort through the papers I’ve been collecting about sauna therapy.

We had a sauna in the back yard of our old house.  Unfortunately it remained there when we sold the house 8 years ago.  The sauna resulted from a ski week at Fairy Meadows in British Columbia.  A week of daily saunas at the end of each day ski touring proved addictive.   It was too big to move.

Here is a link to someone’s pictures of Fairy Meadow and the surrounding landscape.  [Don’t look for me as I was not there that year]

http://leadbelly.lanl.gov/reeves/photos/2003_Fairy_Meadows/FM_pics.html

There’s been a big change in saunas over the last decade.  These days when buying a sauna, the choice is between a traditional sauna and an infrared sauna.  The later rely on relatively new technology and are suddenly quite the rage.  Let me try and explain the difference.

The simplest explanation is that traditional saunas are hot while infrared are comfortable.  Traditional saunas are heated somewhere between 185 to 220 degrees F.  These are the saunas with the hot stones that people splash with water producing bursts of steam and eliciting a sensation that, “If I sit here any longer I’ll melt or burst into flame.” 

Infrared saunas are not as hot, operating in the comfortable range of 120 to 150 degrees F.

Traditional saunas heat the air through conduction and the air heats your skin.  Infrared saunas are different.  Infrared radiation transfers heat to the objects it strikes while having little effect on air.  The best example is sunlight.  On a cloudless day sunlight heats the ground and the ground slowly warms the air above it.  Think of sunlight on your skin.  Even on a cold day [today may be an exception] you can feel the pleasant warmth of sunlight on your skin, yet the air is still cold.

These new saunas mimic sunlight but in a very intense way.

Old fashioned saunas that relied on heated stones transferred a little heat through infrared radiation.  Our old sauna that relied on an electric element that heated the stones was not very effective, only about 20% of the heat came from infrared radiation.  Modern infrared heaters were invented in 1965 by Tadashi Ishikawa.  These infrared heating elements transfer about 90% of the energy generated through infrared radiation.

There are lots of arguments in favor of infrared heaters.  The most important to me is that the radiation penetrates deeper into your tissue and so has a more profound effect on the body.  Traditional saunas  make your skin hot and then you get hot. Little energy penetrates your skin.  From a practical point of view an infrared sauna uses a fraction of the energy, heat much faster and are better tolerated and safer than a traditional sauna. 

Sauna advertisements on the internet promote these new saunas by touting the same benefits used to sell most anything, namely losing weight, removing toxins and stopping pain.  Oh, don’t forget the other classics; improving skin and getting rid of cellulite.  Searching the medical literature to see what has been published yields a different and more significant list of uses.

Two papers were published in 2008 on sauna therapy and congestive heart failure. Canadian researchers from the University of Ottawa writing in the July issue of appropriately named journal, Congestive Heart Failure summarized all the published literature they could find looking at the impact, “…of thermal therapy (ie, warm water immersion, traditional sauna bathing, and dry infrared sauna) in patients with heart failure.  …..Thermal therapy was found to have a positive impact on key heart failure-related parameters across multiple studies.”   They found  benefits to ‘thermal therapy’ in a range of parameters related to heat failure, including:

“(1) endothelial function, (2) hemodynamics, (3) cardiac geometry, (4) neurohormonal markers, and (5) quality of life. Of special note, thermal therapy also conveyed a strong antiarrhythmic effect in heart failure patients. The clinical evidence highlights repeatable and compelling data showing that thermal therapy may provide an important and viable adjunct in the treatment of heart failure.”

[abstract ]

Another paper of interest appeared in October, 2008.    These authors are Japanese and the study is specifically about an infrared sauna therapy that in Japan is called Waon therapy.

They conducted a prospective multicenter case-control study to confirm the benefits and safety of Waon Therapy on chronic heart failure (CHF). They had 188 heart failure patients in the study.  The Waon therapy group was treated daily with a far infrared-ray sauna for 15 min and then kept in bed, wrapped in a blanket, for 30 min.  They did this for 2 weeks.  In two weeks significant improvements were seen via chest  radiographs, echocardiographs, ejection fractions, and brain natriuretic peptide levels in the people getting the saunas but not the control group.  The researchers concluded that the, “…therapy is safe, improves clinical symptoms and cardiac function, and decreases cardiac size in CHF patients. Waon therapy is an innovative and promising therapy for patients with CHF.” 

One of the researchers involved in this study, Yoshiyuki Ikeda, had presented a paper on Waon Therapy earlier this year, in April, at the 57th Annual Conference of the American College of Cardiology.  

In this study of 129 people with heart failure, half received Waon therapy.  The risk of hospitalization or dying of heart disease in the people treated, decreased by more than half. Twice a week the patients spent 15 minutes in an infrared sauna followed by 30 minutes resting in bed.  All patients took standard medications for heart failure.

Over five years, 31% of those given Waon therapy were re-hospitalized for heart failure or died of heart disease compared to 69% in the non-treated group.

The American Heart Association (AHA) has no official position on Waon Therapy, but a spokesman for the group, Russell Luepker, is quoted on Web-MD as saying he's not convinced the warm treatments made the patients better.

"They were being seen twice weekly for the treatment, and everyone feels better when they get more attention.”  

This comment should give us pause.  If seeing a health care provider twice a week for some attention can cut death rates from heart failure by half, one would think the AHA would encourage more frequent visits.

These are not the only papers on sauna and heart problems.  An earlier 2002 paper in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology reported on twenty patients with congestive heart failure who received two weeks of  daily Waon therapy.  Clinical symptoms had improved in 17 of 20 patients after just two weeks.

A 2004 paper looked at 30 patients with ventricular arrhythmias who underwent sauna therapy 5 days a week for two weeks following this standard Waon  protocol.  Their total numbers of paroxysmal ventricular contractions per 24 hours in the sauna-treated group decreased to about 850 while the control group remained at approximately 3,100 per day. That’s about a 75% decrease.  Again, this was in just two weeks.

Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia

An August 2008 a paper destined to be published in Internal Medicine reporting on Waon Therapy for the treatment fibromyalgia was released early on the web.  Thirteen female fibromyalgia patients, mean age 45, received Waon therapy once per day, 2 or 5 days/week.  “All patients experienced a significant reduction in pain by about half after the first session of Waon therapy and the effect of Waon therapy became stable after 10 treatments.”   The improvements continued after therapy was discontinued

A 2007 paper reported improvements with chronic fatigue syndrome.

Both fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue are typically difficult to treat.  To see consistent responses in such a short period of time is as striking as the heart failure studies. 

Another recent paper tested whether Waon therapy was beneficial in treating chronic pulmonary hypertension (COPD).  Researchers subjected 13 patients with COPD to 4 weeks of once a day Waon therapy. This improved right ventricular positive dP/dt,  pulmonary hypertension during exercise, exercise tolerance and the quality of life in the patients.  This study appeared in the April 2008 issue of the Journal of Cardiology.  

A Dutch paper is to be published this coming January that will report symptom improvement in both rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis.   In total 38 patients took part in the study, 17 with RA and 17 with AS.  They received just 8 infrared sauna treatments over a 4 week period.  The patients experienced statistically significant relief during treatment. Though the numbers suggest the benefit continued after treatment, they lost statistically significance.   A 2007  paper suggests infrared therapy is also useful for treating an autoimmune condition called Sjögren syndrome. Although the abstract of this study is not readily available, the title hints at the study’s conclusion: “Remarkable efficacy of thermal therapy for Sjögren syndrome.”

We are looking at a safe intervention that has potential benefit in treating serious conditions like congestive heart failure and COPD, that might benefit other debilitating conditions like chronic fatigue and fibromyalgia and can ameliorate the discomfort created by autoimmune conditions like rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis and Sjögren syndrome.  Never the less, website advertisements for infrared saunas still focus on relatively trivial benefits like, complexion and cellulite reduction.  This seems ludicrous but at least it tells us where people’s priorities are and for what things they are willing to spend their money.

When starting to write this, my intention was to focus on using infrared sauna for removing toxic chemicals from within the body, this whole business of detoxification.  Instead, these recent studies have drawn the focus of attention.  Given the current length of this newsletter, and the fact that the important material hasn’t even been mentioned, I would like to inform you that further information on this matter must wait for another day. 

[End part 1]

Excerpts of the 1978 book called Sweat by Mikkel Aaland, [a history of saunas] are at: http://www.cyberbohemia.com/Pages/sweat.htm

  Congest Heart Fail. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):180-6.Links

    Thermal therapy: a viable adjunct in the treatment of heart failure?

    Mussivand T, Alshaer H, Haddad H, Beanlands DS, Beanlands R, Chan KL, Higginson L, Leenen F, Ruddy TD, Mesana T, Silver MA.

Congest Heart Fail. 2008 Jul-Aug;14(4):180-6.Links

    Thermal therapy: a viable adjunct in the treatment of heart failure?

    Mussivand T, Alshaer H, Haddad H, Beanlands DS, Beanlands R, Chan KL, Higginson L, Leenen F, Ruddy TD, Mesana T, Silver MA.

    University of Ottawa Heart Institute, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. tmussivand@ottawaheart.ca

    The aim of this work was to review and provide a summary of published literature on the clinical impact of thermal therapy (ie, warm water immersion, traditional sauna bathing, and dry infrared sauna) in patients with heart failure. Medline and Embase database literature searches were conducted, and studies that included measurement of heart failure-related clinical parameters were reviewed. Thermal therapy was found to have a positive impact on key heart failure-related parameters across multiple studies. Significant improvements were noted across a wide scope of heart failure-related parameters in the areas of (1) endothelial function, (2) hemodynamics, (3) cardiac geometry, (4) neurohormonal markers, and (5) quality of life. Of special note, thermal therapy also conveyed a strong antiarrhythmic effect in heart failure patients. The clinical evidence highlights repeatable and compelling data showing that thermal therapy may provide an important and viable adjunct in the treatment of heart failure.

    PMID: 18772622 [PubMed - indexed for MEDLIN

  J Cardiol. 2008 Oct;52(2):79-85. Epub 2008 Aug 27.Click here to read Links

    Beneficial effects of Waon therapy on patients with chronic heart failure: Results of a prospective multicenter study.

    Miyata M, Kihara T, Kubozono T, Ikeda Y, Shinsato T, Izumi T, Matsuzaki M, Yamaguchi T, Kasanuki H, Daida H, Nagayama M, Nishigami K, Hirata K, Kihara K, Tei C.

    Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduated School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, 8-35-1 Sakuragaoka, Kagoshima 890-8520, Japan.

    BACKGROUND: We conducted a prospective multicenter case-control study to confirm the clinical efficacy and safety of Waon therapy on chronic heart failure (CHF). METHODS: Patients (n=188) with CHF were treated with standard therapy for at least 1 week, and then were randomized to Waon therapy (n=112) or a control group (n=76). All patients continued conventional treatment for an additional 2 weeks. The Waon therapy group was treated daily with a far infrared-ray dry sauna at 60 degrees C for 15min and then kept on bed rest with a blanket for 30min for 2 weeks. Chest radiography, echocardiography, and plasma levels of brain natriuretic peptide (BNP) were measured before and 2 weeks after treatment. RESULTS: NYHA functional class significantly decreased after 2 weeks of treatment in both groups. Chest radiography also showed a significant decrease of the cardiothoracic ratio in both groups (Waon therapy: 57.2+/-8.0% to 55.2+/-8.0%, p<0.0001; control: 57.0+/-7.7% to 56.0+/-7.1%, p<0.05). Echocardiography demonstrated that left ventricular diastolic dimension (LVDd), left atrial dimension (LAD), and ejection fraction (EF) significantly improved in the Waon therapy group (LVDd: 60.6+/-7.6 to 59.1+/-8.4mm, p<0.0001; LAD: 45.4+/-9.3mm to 44.1+/-9.4mm, p<0.05; EF: 31.6+/-10.4% to 34.6+/-10.6%, p<0.0001), but not in the control group (LVDd: 58.4+/-10.3mm to 57.9+/-10.4mm; LAD: 46.3+/-9.7mm to 46.2+/-10.1mm; EF: 36.6+/-14.1% to 37.3+/-14.0%). The plasma concentration of BNP significantly decreased with Waon therapy, but not in the control group (Waon: 542+/-508pg/ml to 394+/-410pg/ml, p<0.001; control: 440+/-377pg/ml to 358+/-382pg/ml). CONCLUSION: Waon therapy is safe, improves clinical symptoms and cardiac function, and decreases cardiac size in CHF patients. Waon therapy is an innovative and promising therapy for patients with CHF.

American College of Cardiology 57th Annual Scientific Session, Chicago, March 29-April 1, 2008.

Yoshiyuki Ikeda, MD, department of cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.

WEBMD   Warm Sauna May Help Treat Heart Failure

Study Shows Waon Therapy Helps Heart Failure Patients Live Longer

April 2, 2008 (Chicago) -- Warm sauna treatments may be good for ailing hearts, Japanese researchers report.

In a study of 129 people with heart failure, the treatment, called Waon therapy, cut the risk of hospitalization or dying of heart disease by more than half.

The treatment is a lot cooler than a traditional steam sauna that reaches about 176 degrees Fahrenheit.

Under medical supervision, the patient lies on a bench in a 140 degree Fahrenheit, infrared dry sauna for 15 minutes. Infrared saunas use a special heater that generates infrared radiation similar to that produced by the sun.

Then, the patient is bundled in blankets to keep warm while resting on a bed outside the sauna for 30 minutes. Water is given throughout the process to maintain hydration.

The study involved patients taking standard medications for heart failure. Half were randomly assigned to receive Waon treatments at least twice a week.

Over the next five years, 31.3% of those given Waon therapy had to be rehospitalized for heart failure or died of heart disease vs. 68.7% in the non-Waon therapy group.

Waon therapy is not available in the U.S., according to Yoshiyuki Ikeda, MD. Ikeda, a fellow in the department of cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic medicine at Kagoshima University in Kagoshima, Japan, led the study. He reported the findings at the annual meeting of the American College of Cardiology.

Waon Therapy Relaxes Blood Vessels

Heart failure happens when the heart's weak pumping action causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs and other body tissues. The major cause of heart failure is a heart attack or coronary artery disease, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).

The warm sauna helps blood vessels to relax, facilitating the flow of blood from the heart to other organs throughout the body, Ikeda says.

"That's what many of the heart medications do," he tells WebMD.

Previous research has shown that Waon therapy can also help correct irregular heart rhythms and improve heart disease symptoms, Ikeda says.

AHA spokesman Russell Luepker, MD, of the University of Minnesota, says that he's not convinced the warm treatments made the patients better.

"They were being seen twice weekly for the treatment, and everyone feels better when they get more attention. Plus, they may have received additional medical care during the visits," he tells WebMD.

The AHA has no official position on Waon therapy. But people with symptoms of heart disease such as chest pain or shortness of breath, as well as those with high blood pressure, should avoid a hot tub or sauna, the AHA says.

"Sitting too long in a hot bath makes a stressed heart work harder," Ikeda says. "Waon therapy involves a much lower temperature than traditional sauna and close medical supervision."

View Article Sources Sources

SOURCES:

American College of Cardiology 57th Annual Scientific Session, Chicago, March 29-April 1, 2008.

Yoshiyuki Ikeda, MD, department of cardiovascular, respiratory and metabolic medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.

Russell Luepker, MD, spokesman, American Heart Association.

  J Am Coll Cardiol. 2002 Mar 6;39(5):754-9.

    Repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure.

    Kihara T, Biro S, Imamura M, Yoshifuku S, Takasaki K, Ikeda Y, Otuji Y, Minagoe S, Toyama Y, Tei C.

    First Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima, Japan.

    OBJECTIVES: The purpose of this study was to determine the mechanism by which 60 degrees C sauna treatment improves cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure (CHF). BACKGROUND: We have previously reported that repeated 60 degrees C sauna treatment improves hemodynamic data and clinical symptoms in patients with CHF. We hypothesized that the sauna restores endothelial function and then improves cardiac function. METHODS: Twenty patients (62 plus minus 15 years) in New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class II or III CHF were treated in a dry sauna at 60 degrees C for 15 min and then kept on bed rest with a blanket for 30 min, daily for two weeks. Ten patients with CHF, matched for age, gender and NYHA functional class, were placed on a bed in a temperature-controlled (24 degrees C) room for 45 min as the nontreated group. Using high-resolution ultrasound, we measured the diameter of the brachial artery at rest and during reactive hyperemia (percent flow-mediated dilation, %FMD: endothelium-dependent dilation), as well as after sublingual administration of nitroglycerin (%NTG: endothelium-independent dilation). Cardiac function was evaluated by measuring the concentrations of plasma brain natriuretic peptide (BNP). RESULTS: Clinical symptoms were improved in 17 of 20 patients after two weeks of sauna therapy. The %FMD after two-week sauna treatment significantly increased from the baseline value, whereas the %NTG-induced dilation did not. Concentrations of BNP after the two-week sauna treatment decreased significantly. In addition, there was a significant correlation between the change in %FMD and the percent improvement in BNP concentrations in the sauna-treated group. In contrast, none of the variables changed at the two-week interval in the nontreated group. CONCLUSIONS: Repeated sauna treatment improves vascular endothelial function, resulting in an improvement in cardiac function and clinical symptoms.

Circ J. 2004 Dec;68(12):1146-51.

    Effects of repeated sauna treatment on ventricular arrhythmias in patients with chronic heart failure.

    Kihara T, Biro S, Ikeda Y, Fukudome T, Shinsato T, Masuda A, Miyata M, Hamasaki S, Otsuji Y, Minagoe S, Akiba S, Tei C.

    Department of Cardiovascular, Graduate School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Sakuragaoka, Kagoshima, Japan.

    BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to determine whether repeated 60 degrees C sauna treatment improves cardiac arrhythmias in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients, because ventricular arrhythmias are an important therapeutic target in CHF. METHODS AND RESULTS: Thirty patients (59+/-3 years) with New York Heart Association functional class II or III CHF and at least 200 premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)/24 h assessed by 24-h Holter recordings were studied. They were randomized into sauna-treated (n=20) or non-treated (n=10) groups. The sauna-treated group underwent a 2-week program of a daily 60 degrees C far infrared-ray dry sauna for 15 min, followed by 30 min bed rest with blankets, for 5 days per week. Patients in the non-treated group had bed rest in a temperature-controlled room (24 degrees C) for 45 min. The total numbers of PVCs/24 h in the sauna-treated group decreased compared with the non-treated group [848+/-415 vs 3,097+/-1,033/24 h, p<0.01]. Heart rate variability (SDNN, standard deviation of normal-to-normal beat interval) increased [142+/-10 (n=16) vs 112+/-11 ms (n=8), p<0.05] and plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentrations decreased [229+/-54 vs 419+/-110 pg/ml, p<0.05] in the sauna-treated group compared with the non-treated group. CONCLUSION: Repeated sauna treatment improves ventricular arrhythmias in patients with CHF.

Intern Med. 2008;47(16):1473-6. Epub 2008 Aug 15.Click here to read Links

    Efficacy of Waon therapy for fibromyalgia.

    Matsushita K, Masuda A, Tei C.

    The First Department of Internal Medicine, Kagoshima University Hospital.

    OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas. We examined the applicability of Waon therapy (soothing warmth therapy) as a new method of pain treatment in patients with FMS. METHODS: Thirteen female FMS patients (mean age, 45.2+/-15.5 years old; range, 25-75) who fulfilled the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology participated in this study. Patients received Waon therapy once per day for 2 or 5 days/week. The patients were placed in the supine or sitting position in a far infrared-ray dry sauna maintained at an even temperature of 60 degrees C for 15 minutes, and then transferred to a room maintained at 26-27 degrees C where they were covered with a blanket from the neck down to keep them warm for 30 minutes. Reductions in subjective pain and symptoms were determined using the pain visual analog scale (VAS) and fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ). RESULTS: All patients experienced a significant reduction in pain by about half after the first session of Waon therapy (11-70%), and the effect of Waon therapy became stable (20-78%) after 10 treatments. Pain VAS and FIQ symptom scores were significantly (p<0.01) decreased after Waon therapy and remained low throughout the observation period. CONCLUSION: Waon therapy is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Nippon Rinsho. 2007 Jun;65(6):1093-8.

    [A new treatment: thermal therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome]

    [Article in Japanese]

    Masuda A, Munemoto T, Tei C.

    Masuda Clinic.

    Thermal therapy using far-infrared ray dry sauna was performed for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and low-grade fever were dramatically improved on two patients. And prednisolone administration was discontinued and became socially rehabilitated 6 months after discharge. On other 11 patients with CFS, physical symptoms such as fatigue and pain improved, too. Furthermore, we reported that repeated thermal therapy had relaxation effect and diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients. These results suggest that repeated thermal therapy may be a promising method for the treatment of CFS.

  J Cardiol. 2008 Apr;51(2):106-13.

    Repeated waon therapy improves pulmonary hypertension during exercise in patients with severe chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

    Umehara M, Yamaguchi A, Itakura S, Suenaga M, Sakaki Y, Nakashiki K, Miyata M, Tei C.

    Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduated School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Sakuragaoka 8-35-1, Kagoshima 890-8520, Japan.

    OBJECTIVES: Repeated Waon therapy, which uses a far infrared-ray dry sauna system, improved the vascular endothelial function and the cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure. In patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), pulmonary hypertension (PH) is associated with a poor prognosis. We investigated whether repeated Waon therapy improves PH, cardiac function, exercise tolerance, and the quality of life (QOL) in patients with COPD. METHODS: Consecutive 13 patients with COPD, who met the Global Initiative for Chronic Obstructive Lung Disease criteria and had breathlessness despite receiving conventional treatments, were recruited for this study. They underwent Waon therapy at 60 degrees C in sauna for 15 min following 30 min warmth with blankets outside of the sauna room. This therapy was performed once a day, for 4 weeks. Cardiac function, exercise tolerance, and St. George's Respiratory Questionnaire (SGRQ) were assessed before and 4 weeks after Waon therapy. RESULTS: Right ventricular positive dP/dt at rest elevated significantly from 397 +/- 266 to 512 +/- 320 mmHg/s (p = 0.024) after the therapy. While the PH at rest did not significantly decrease, the PH during exercise decreased significantly from 64 +/- 18 to 51 +/- 13 mmHg (p = 0.028) after Waon therapy. Furthermore, the therapy prolonged the mean exercise time of the constant load of cycle ergometer exercise test from 360 +/- 107 to 392 +/- 97 s (p = 0.032). The total scores of SGRQ improved from 59.7 +/- 16.9 to 55.3 +/- 17.2 (p = 0.002). In addition, no adverse effects were observed related to Waon therapy. CONCLUSIONS: Repeated Waon therapy improved right ventricular positive dP/dt, PH during exercise, exercise tolerance and the QOL in patients with severe COPD.

Clin Rheumatol. 2009 Jan;28(1):29-34. Epub 2008 Aug 7.

    Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis : A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend towards long-term beneficial effects.

    Oosterveld FG, Rasker JJ, Floors M, Landkroon R, van Rennes B, Zwijnenberg J, van de Laar MA, Koel GJ.

    Expertise Center Health, Social Care and Technology, Saxion University of Applied Sciences, P.O. Box 70.000, 7500 KB, Enschede, The Netherlands, f.g.j.oosterveld@saxion.nl.

    To study the effects of infrared (IR) Sauna, a form of total-body hyperthermia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and ankylosing spondylitis (AS) patients were treated for a 4-week period with a series of eight IR treatments. Seventeen RA patients and 17 AS patients were studied. IR was well tolerated, and no adverse effects were reported, no exacerbation of disease. Pain and stiffness decreased clinically, and improvements were statistically significant (p < 0.05 and p < 0.001 in RA and AS patients, respectively) during an IR session. Fatigue also decreased. Both RA and AS patients felt comfortable on average during and especially after treatment. In the RA and AS patients, pain, stiffness, and fatigue also showed clinical improvements during the 4-week treatment period, but these did not reach statistical significance. No relevant changes in disease activity scores were found, indicating no exacerbation of disease activity. In conclusion, infrared treatment has statistically significant short-term beneficial effects and clinically relevant period effects during treatment in RA and AS patients without enhancing disease activity. IR has good tolerability and no adverse effects.

    PMID: 18685882 [PubMed - in process

J Cardiol. 2007 May;49(5):217-9.

    Remarkable efficacy of thermal therapy for Sjögren syndrome.

    Tei C, Orihara FK, Fukudome T.

    Department of Cardiovascular, Respiratory and Metabolic Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine, Kagoshima University, Kagoshima. tei@m.kufm.kagoshima-u.ac.jp