Research-Supported Infrared Sauna Benefits
Improvements in Patients with Chronic Pain
A study in Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics tested 46 patients with chronic pain using a variety of treatment modalities with and without far-infrared sauna. They found a decrease in pain score, pain behavior, self-rating depression and anger score in both groups of patients, but a more significant drop was noted in the sauna group. Two years after treatment, more of the patients in the sauna group had returned to work than those without sauna treatment. This may be a very promising method for the treatment of chronic pain.
Masuda, A, et al. The effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics. 2005; 74 (5): 288-94.
Improvement in Patients with Mild Depression
A study out of Psychosomatic Medicine looked at a group of 28 mildly depressed patients with appetite loss and subjective symptoms and treated half of the patients with sauna once a day for 4 weeks and half with just bed rest for 4 weeks. They showed a significant improvement in somatic complaints, hunger and relaxation scores in the group treated with sauna compared to the control group. In addition, the plasma ghrelin and daily caloric intake improved in the sauna group significantly more than controls.
Masuda A, et al. Repeated thermal therapy diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients. Psychosomatic Medicine. 2005 67 (4): 643-47.
Improvements in Patients with Chronic Fatigue
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. Drug use was discontinued and patients became socially rehabilitated 6 months after discharge.
Researchers reported that repeated thermal therapy had relaxation effects and diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients. These results suggest that repeated thermal therapy might be a promising method for the treatment of CFS.
Matsuda, A. et.al. A new treatment: thermal therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome. Nihon Rinsho.2007 Jun;65(6):1093-8.
Improved Outcome in Patients with Type II Diabetes Mellitus
Decreased quality of life in diabetes is associated with poor health outcomes. The objective of this study is to determine whether far-infrared saunas have a beneficial effect on quality of life in those with type II diabetes. The study consisted of 20-minute, 3 times weekly infrared sauna sessions, over a period of 3 months. Physical health, general health, and social functioning improved, as did measures for stress and fatigue.
Far-infrared sauna use improved quality of life in people with type II diabetes mellitus and patients were more likely to use an infrared sauna than practice other lifestyle modifications to improve their illness.
Beever R. The effects of repeated thermal therapy on quality of life in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. Journal of Complementary Medicine 2010 Jun;16(6):677-81.
Improvement in Patients with Rheumatoid Arthritis & Ankylosing Spondylitis
To study the effects of infrared sauna, a form of total-body hypothermia in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis, patients were treated for a 4-week period with a series of eight infrared treatments given twice weekly. As reported, pain and stiffness decreased clinically, and improvements were statistically significant during an infrared sauna session. Fatigue also decreased. In the RA and AS patients, pain, stiffness, and fatigue also showed clinical improvements during the 4-week treatment period.
Oosterveld FG, et. al. 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. Journal of Clinical Rheumatology 2009 Jan;28(1):29-34. Epub 2008 Aug 7.
Improvement in Patients with Fibromyalgia
Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas. Researchers in Japan examined the applicability of Waon therapy (soothing warmth therapy in a dry far infrared sauna) as a new method of pain treatment in patients with FMS.
Patients received Waon therapy once per day for 2 or 5 days/week. Reductions in subjective pain and symptoms were determined using the pain visual analog scale (VAS) and fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ).
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. Pain and symptom scores were significantly decreased after Waon therapy and remained low throughout the observation period. Waon therapy is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.
Matsushita K, et. al. Efficacy of Waon therapy for fibromyalgia. Internal Medicine 2008;47(16):1473-6. Epub 2008 Aug 15.