Saunas and thermal medicine have many health applications. In this post, different fever therapies are outlined. (Section A) In a second section, the general health benefits of hyperthermia (heat therapy) is shown to be established by a decent preponderance of the evidence. (Section B). In a third and last section, I will discuss the benefits of saunas, in particular what appears to be the best portable sauna, the shielded full spectrum infrared gemstone sauna. (Section C)
Since the early twentieth century, hyperthermia (also known as thermal therapy and thermal medicine), has been a safe, cost friendly and efficient holistic technique supported by thousands of articles published in peer reviewed journals, notably in European medical reviews.
Today, in Europe, thermal therapy is a major standard of care. Sauna therapy has been used for hundreds of years in the Scandinavian region as a medical standard. In Germany, just about all cancer clinics offer some form of cancer-defeating hyperthermia while in France, it has been characterized as an independent medical system, called “médecine thermale” or “médecine des thermes” or “cure thermale”, all covered by France’s medical social security system (since 1947). (1)
On the other hand, in the United States, hyperthermia is illegal to use as a stand alone procedure for serious diseases, in lieu of pharmaceutical drugs, radiation, surgery or the like. However, if used experimentally with chemotherapy and radiation for patients stricken with a cancer diagnosis, the treating physician will not get disciplined.
At the ACRI’s Pyrenean Center in South France, thermo-therapy is one of the key holistic life-style interventions. One of ACRI’s mission in the United States is to help promote this highly relevant medical procedure, both as a health maintenance procedure as well as a major tool to better control and reverse malignancies, cardio-vascular diseases and other pathologies. (See ACRI’s mission statement).
THERMAL MEDICINE MODALITIES
There are many heat modalities that can vary from micro wave, radio-frequency, magnetic nano-particle radiation via sophisticated technologies, to near infrared and far infra-red systems (e.g saunas, mats, hand devices and mineral lamps), hot packs, fever promotion via bacteria, viruses, hot sand burial techniques, heliotherapy, balneotherapy, bikram yoga, physical therapy and more. (See the Institute’s “Thermal and Acupuncture medicine as a cancer defeating tool” ebook)
At the Pyrenean Holistic wellness and medicine Center, we use a combination of hyperthermic techniques, from heliotherapy to balneotherapy, hot sand therapy exercises and both near and far infra-red heating tools with detox boosters, metabolic enhancers, photo-sensitizers, juicing, phytotherapy, aromatherapy, vino-therapy, moxibustion, acu-stimulation, essential oils, musico-therapy, meditation, massage, sophrology, exercises, thermal yoga, sleep medicine, clay therapy and ozone, all in synergistic combination with the Center’s other holistic interventions. (2).
GENERAL HYPERTHERMIA BENEFITS
The many benefits of heat therapy are based on the body’s natural fever and sweating mechanisms that are triggered when the immune surveillance system identifies threatening pathogenic microbes that have invaded the body (3). Subsidiarily, these two mechanisms, fever and sweating, are also activated with intense physical exertion. Below a selective list of these health benefits
1. Hyperthermia favors metabolic waste elimination, detoxification, insulin sensitivity, skin rejuvenation and weight regulation.
By raising the core temperature of the body multiple times a week as is done in ACRI’s Pyrenean center, in particular with the use of clinical nutrition in synergistic combination with heat, thermogenesis is efficiently activated, the metabolic rate increases and sweating occurs at a lower core temperature, thanks to which the sweat rate is maintained for a longer period, all of which favors metabolic waste elimination, detoxification, insulin sensitivity, weight regulation, skin rejuvenation and, inter alia, weight regulation. Among many pieces of evidence, consider the following peer reviewed study.
“…The physiological process of sweating has long been regarded as “cleansing” and of low risk. Reports of toxicant levels in sweat were sought in Medline, Embase, Toxline, Biosis, and AMED as well as reference lists and grey literature, from inception to March 22, 2011. Of 122 records identified, 24 were included in evidence synthesis. Populations, and sweat collection methods and concentrations varied widely. In individuals with higher exposure or body burden, sweat generally exceeded plasma or urine concentrations, and dermal could match or surpass urinary daily excretion. Arsenic dermal excretion was several fold higher in arsenic-exposed individuals than in unexposed controls. Cadmium was more concentrated in sweat than in blood plasma. Sweat lead was associated with high-molecular-weight molecules, and in an interventional study, levels were higher with endurance compared with intensive exercise. Mercury levels normalized with repeated saunas in a case report. Sweating deserves consideration for toxic element detoxification….” (4)
In yet another published study, scientists showed that whole body hyperthermia was useful with regards to obesity-related diseases as T2DM and insulin resistance.
“ Although the mechanisms have not yet been completely investigated, WBH may provide a new therapeutic or preventive modality against obesity-related diseases such as T2DM and metabolic or insulin resistance syndrome. (5)
2. Hyperthermia increases blood circulation, oxygenation, red blood cell production, nitric oxide release and nutrient uptake while decreasing nefarious cardio-vascular events.
Heat being expansive (vasodilatation in medical terms), fever therapy modulates blood circulation and composition, as a consequence, there are more nutrients, hormones, oxygen and red blood cells in heated bloodstream versus colder bloodstreams. In this perspective, studies document the effectiveness of sauna therapy for persons with hypertension, congestive heart failure, and for post-myocardial infarction care.
For example, in one of many published studies, as reported by Reuters News Agency, researchers found men who used heat therapy two to three times each week had a 27 percent lower risk of death from heart disease.
“During the study, men who spent time in a sauna seven times a week were less likely to die of heart problems or to die at all, compared to those who only visited the sauna once a week. Researchers followed more than 2,000 middle-aged men in eastern Finland for about 20 years. The more often the men went to the sauna, and the longer they stayed, the lower their risk for sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease and fatal cardiovascular disease over those 20 years. The association was strong even after many potentially interacting factors were taken into account, said senior author Dr. Jari Laukkanen, a cardiologist at the Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition of the University of Eastern Finland in Kuopio.” (6)
Other studies have suggested that long-term heat therapy can also lower blood pressure in patients with hypertension and improve the left ventricular ejection fraction in patients with chronic congestive heart failure (See this Harvard Journal and the Institute’s ebook on Heat Medicine).
3. Hyperthermia boosts muscle regeneration, neurogenesis and new brain cells It thus can help to better treat many chronic diseases like Alzheimer’s Disease
Whether under a hot sun or within an infrared dome or a moderately hot old fashion bread oven, radiating heat promotes the release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide stimulates vasodilatation of the microcirculatory system, bringing more blood and oxygen to the muscles. (Increased blood flow to skeletal muscle is known as muscle perfusion). With improved muscle perfusion, glycogen is better controlled and with stable glucose levels, the entire metabolic process functions better including, but not limited to muscle plasticity and growth.
“Heating resulted in approximately 25% elevation in heat shock protein expression (P < 0.05) and an approximately 30% greater soleus regrowth (P < 0.05) in RH compared with RC.” (Source)
Furthermore, if heat therapy is combined to exercise, acu-tonification, clinical nutrition and different “fasting” modalities as is done at ACRI’s Pyrenean Institute, nerve cells will release proteins known as neurotrophic factors. These brain-derived neurotrophic factor or BDNF will activate brain stem cells to produce new neurons. In this perspective, serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor is known to increase with exercise. This increase is believed to originate from the brain and it is suggested that monoamines are involved in BDNF regulation. In the published study below, it was shown that heat exposure influenced BDNF output from the brain.
“Exercise caused a rise in serum BDNF and cortisol. This increase was enhanced with exercise in the heat. Since permeability of the blood-brain barrier increases with exercise in the heat, the hypothesis was raised that this causes a higher cerebral output of BDNF”. (7)
Thus, like with bikram yoga, exercising in heat as is done in the Pyrenean Holistic Center increases BDNF compared to exercise done at lower temperatures. (Ibid).
Similarly to wine’s anti platelet aggregation effects, (ie wine’s anti-platelet activity of wine is by ethanol in combination with the polyphenolic components with which red wines are richly endowed), heat activation can also help cardio-vascular and brain cells thanks to nitric oxide release in synergistic combination with heat shock proteins inter alia. In effect, because Nitric oxide is anti-atherogenic through vasodilation, the inhibition of platelet aggregation and leukocyte adhesion to endothelial cells follows (Knowles & Moncada, 1994). Similar to exercise, passive heating increases heart rate and blood flow, ultimately exerting greater force on the vasculature (Tschakovsky, 2010). In support of this piece of allegation, 24 hours after bovine endothelial cells are exposed to 42°C heat shock, eNOS is significantly increased (Harris et al., 2003).
Inhibiting platelet aggregation for Alzheimer’s Disease via hyperthermia is relevant because platelets are generally considered a key element because they represent the link between amyloid-β (Aβ) deposition, peripheral inflammation and endothelial senescence. Both activated and senescent platelets are a source of Aβ, in addition activated platelets secrete many proinflammatory mediators that could contribute to increased peripheral inflammation and endothelial senescence. (8) (See the Institute’s ebook on thermal medicine for more references).
Bottom line: using heat activation on a regular basis can therefore help to slow or prevent brain aging and Alzheimer’s Disease.
4. Hyperthermia helps with respiratory diseases like asthma, autoimmune diseases, arthritis and chronic pain.
Heat therapy has demonstrable benefits for patients with asthma, bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
“Some individuals with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic fatigue, chronic pain, or addictions also find benefit. Existing evidence supports the use of saunas as a component of depuration (purification or cleansing) protocols for environmentally-induced illness.” (9)
In yet another published study, it was shown that Infrared sauna therapy has statistically significant short-term beneficial effects and clinically relevant period effects during treatment in RA and AS patients without adverse effects. After four weeks and eight treatments, pain and stiffness were significantly reduced.
“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.” (10)
Infrared, like hot baths, has also been shown to significantly increase the range of flexibility. (11)
Regarding the evidence on chronic pain mitigation, in 2005, a comparison study examining patients with chronic pain showed that those patients who used thermal therapy fared better.
“These results suggest that a combination of multidisciplinary treatment and repeated thermal therapy is an effective treatment of chronic pain”. (12)
The transient improvements in pulmonary function that occur in the sauna may provide pain relief to patients with asthma and chronic bronchitis. Sauna bathing may also alleviate pain and improve joint mobility in patients with rheumatic disease. (13)
5. Hyperthermia promotes the production of hormones and neurotransmitter (neuropeptides) while activating longevity genes
Research has shown heat therapy spurs multiple neurotransmitters and hormones, included but not limited to testosterone, one of the key longevity hormone. (14) In addition, norepinephrine, a hormone involved in the stress response that increases focus and attention, as well as prolactin, which promotes myelin growth, help the brain to function faster while better repairing nerve cell damage.
Concentrations of immunoreactiveβ-endorphin (irβ-E), corticotropin, cortisol, prolactin and catecholamines in plasma were followed in 11 healthy women during and after exposure to intense heat in a Finnish sauna bath, and compared to those in a similar control situation without exposure to heat. Heat stress significantly increased prolactin and norepinephrine secretion; the percentage increases from the initial plasma concentrations varied from 113 to 1280% (mean 510%) and from 18 to 150% (mean 86%), respectively. (15)
Hyperthermia also increases yet another longevity neuropeptide, human growth hormone. This hormone is a foundational anabolic molecule that can correct muscle loss, increase calcium retention, lipolysis (the breakdown of stored fat) and muscular atrophy that occurs with aging. (16)
At the ACRI Pyrenean center, we therefore promote the use of multiple modalities of heat for the benefit of advanced cancer patients who are cachexic (catabolic muscle wasting).
Growth hormone release is induced by an increase in body temperature (ie, not by the exercise itself), as a consequence, we put more emphasis in “feeling the heat” techniques rather than on exercises, in particular many holistic heat techniques designed to boost endorphin. (17) But we do not neglect the healing benefits of exercises and when indicated, we combine physical movement with thermo-regulation and homeostasis via many holistic modalities that have been lost and-or neglected over the last few centuries.
On the longevity front, (Optimal longevity is one the Pyrenean center’s specialities), hyperthermia is quite amazing because under particular conditions, heat shock proteins can repair misfolded and damaged proteins. This ability is beneficial for all ages, in particular for the elderly since the most common cause of death among those who have achieved 110 years old is amyloidosis.
This condition is characterized by the build-up of amyloid plaque, dysfunctional chaperones (18) and misfolded proteins that clog vital tissues like the brain (leading to inter alia Alzheimers Disease), the heart and kidneys. With age and lack of holistic knowledge, the body can no longer repair these damaged proteins. Thus, anyone interested in living in good shape for over 110 years needs to feel the deep heat (See Longevity workshop).
Among other pieces of supporting evidence, published research has shown that when rats were exposed to intermittent heat sessions, they had an expression of increased heat shock proteins that was associated with 30 percent more muscle regrowth compared to a control group. As a consequence thereto, misfolded proteins improved in both structure and function. (19)
Another study showed that a brief exposure of heat to flies and worms has been shown to increase their lifespan by up to 15% thanks to HSPs. (20)
“Heat-induced hormesis, i.e. the beneficial effect of mild heat-induced stress, increases the average lifespan of many organisms. This effect, which depends on the heat shock factor, decreases the log mortality rate weeks after the stress has ceased. To identify candidate genes that mediate this lifespan-prolonging effect late in life, we treated flies with mild heat stress (34 °C for 2 h) 3 times early in life and compared the transcriptomic response in these flies versus non-heat-treated controls 10–51 days after the last heat treatment. We found significant transcriptomic changes in the heat-treated flies. Several hsp70 probe sets were up-regulated 1.7–2-fold in the mildly stressed flies weeks after the last heat treatment (P < 0.01). This result was unexpected as the major Drosophila heat shock protein, Hsp70, is reported to return to normal levels of expression shortly after heat stress. We conclude that the heat shock response, and Hsp70 in particular, may be central to the heat-induced increase in the average lifespan in flies that are exposed to mild heat stress early in life.” (ibid)
Furthermore, heat shock proteins can help to better express longevity genes.
“We have studied the association of three single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) present in the three HSP70 (heat-shock protein) genes on 6p21 with human longevity. The availability of biological samples from various population cohorts in Denmark has given us the opportunity to try novel methods of gene association with human longevity. A significant association of one haplotype with male longevity was observed.” (21)
When hyperthermic conditioning is correctly accompanied with other modalities of holistic medicine, the longevity benefits also modulate telomere biology, which is the key age reversal pathway. (See Link).
6. Hyperthermia impacts the immune system, helps with infection reversal, Cancer re-differentiation and birth-pregnancy planning
Fever has been associated with shortened duration and improved survival in infectious disease. In this perspective, the heat-inducible 70-kDa heat shock protein (Hsp70) has been shown to be protective of peripheral leukocytes (especially monocytes) against the cytotoxicity of inflammatory mediators.
For example, research at the University of Vienna found a ten-fold increase in monocytes when blood was heated to 102.2°F (39°C).(22) The researchers confirmed that this increase was also associated with higher levels of heat shock proteins in the bloodstream.
As a consequence, there has been improved survival from severe infection.
“Heat treatment of whole blood in vitro for 2 hours at different temperatures revealed that Hsp70 expression depends on temperature and cell type; up to 41°C, Hsp70 increased only slightly in lymphocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes. However, in monocytes a strong induction was already seen at 39°C, and Hsp70 levels at 41°C were 10-fold higher than in the 37°C control ”. (23)
As for cancers, malignant tumors are weakened and die with high temperatures because their proliferative vasculature is so disorganized that there is no cooling system, different from healthy cells and mammalian testicles. Furthermore, increased core temperature enhances the immune system, which means that its surveillance system is more sensitive. The weight of the evidence that fever is a a cancer defeating immune booster established by many hundreds of medical journals including the well respected Nature journal which published many years ago some of the evidence that heat activates the T cells. Similarly, the preponderance of the evidence that heating tumors can elicit anti-tumour immune responses, including tumor cell damage, tumor surface molecule changes, heat shock proteins, exosomes, direct effects on immune cells and changes in the tumor vasculature and more is equally published (See the Institute’s cancer and heat article-post).
Heat also helps to remove accumulated toxins by improving lymph circulation and ATP production, thanks to which the cancer cell has more guidance to re-differentiate itself back into its origins as a healthy cell. Furthermore, there is an extensive body of research that suggests that many cancer patients have a lower core body temperature, typically 0.8°F (0.5°C) lower than the average person. (24) Thus, the automatic nervous system can only be imbalanced. Therefore, by heating the bio-milieu, metabolic homeostasis is promoted. Using antibiotics and antipyretics to bring down fever should be malpractice in most case. (25)
Still another benefit of heat medicine is that it can be used as a natural non toxic birth control procedure. When semen gets too hot, it is no longer fertile. But, once the testicles cool down, its semen returns to normal. We therefore have a natural non toxic holistic way to prepare and-or better control the timing of pregnancies, inter alia.
“Semen was collected at weekly intervals for 3 wk before and 10 wk after the sauna exposure at 85 degrees C for 20 minutes. The numbers, morphology, ultrastructure, motility, viability and metabolism of the sperm was assessed. Sperm numbers fell within one wk and slowly returned to normal in 5 wk.” (26)
FULL SPECTRUM INFRA-RED SAUNAS AND MEDICINE
Full spectrum infrared heat generates near, middle and far infrared radiation. One of the best and easiest way to get blasted with this radiation is via sauna sessions. Different saunas on the market do have full spectrum infrared capable of reaching high temperatures, but to my knowledge, these are not portable. Furthermore, I have not seen any full spectrum infrared sauna that eliminates EMF (a form of dirty electricity) (27) while generating negative ions, thanks to the fusion of gemstones like jade. (28)
In addition, this sauna made from satin, has earthing technology and is not heavy (28 pounds), so convenient in terms of travel. Therasage is also working on ozone and essential oils modules that will be able to be adapted onto these new generation portable saunas. To check out Therasage portable sauna, (which is distributed by Happiness Medicine Institute) click here.
In the United States, the allopathic chemical-based conventional sick-care system is too often based on flawed and outdated research. For example, in conventional oncology care, when a patient gets a 101 fever, he or she is told to go immediately to the emergency room where the E.R technicians will use antipyretics and antibiotics to reduce the fever. As a result, simple millennia old holistic therapies like fever turns out to be one of the most misunderstood physiological mechanisms. When cancer patients exceptionally have some fever, this means that their body is trying to fight off either some infection or even the cancer. Lowering that temperature artificially with antipyretics or antibiotics often harms the immune system’s integrity and all the more so that once the cancer process progresses, most cancer patients have a quasi-permanent lowering of their core temperature. As a result, they can no longer mount an effective fever or sweat. Furthermore, without an adequate fever, these cancer patients are unable to fully activate their immune system.
A contrario (legal latin for “on the other hand”), different forms of environmental stress like hyperthermia has been shown to extend healthy life (ie. studies were done on yeast, flies, worms, mice and humans). There are numerous overlapping mechanisms involved in this rejuvenation process, one of which is called hormesis.
Hormesis is the name given to circumstances whereby beneficial results occur as a result of mild levels of damage and stress. Some of the benefit of calorie restriction, exercise, and so forth, arises due to the triggering of hormetic processes: a little damage (like heat, caloric restriction, hydrotherapy or low toxin load) spurs all sorts of cellular maintenance for an extended time, resulting in a net gain in integrity and less damage than would otherwise exist. Extended healthy longevity is the observable result.
On the other hand, too much of what is good minimally can be deadly. Too much heat can indeed kill as can too much of anything, from onions, exercises to wine. For example, raw or mildly cooked onions are anti-platelet, but too cooked, they favor clot-forming platelet aggregation. Wine in small amounts can be life-saving and also anti-platelet, but too much can also be pro-platelet and destructive, etc. This boomerang-like effect is a rebound phenomenon of hyper-aggregability which is observed after an acute alcohol consumption. This rebound phenomenon explains ischemic strokes or sudden deaths known to occur after episodes of drunkenness. But in small amounts or moderation, wine has a hormetic and inhibitory effect on platelet aggregation, among many other benefits. (For the details, see the Institute’s wine as medicine workshop).
As the notion “Médecine thermale” (thermal medicine) suggests, hyperthermia can be characterized as an independent scientific discipline equipped with an abundance of clinical ramifications, all of which are synergistically connected with Holistic Medicine’s fundamental multi-disciplinary core.
From the common cold, to immune disorders, heart issues, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, pain, metabolic detoxification, hormonal enhancer, skin rejuvenation, sleep therapy, inflammation inhibitor, oxidative stress protector, weight and birth controllers and more, (29) hyperthermia is generally safe, cost friendly and efficient.
Thermal medicine should therefore no longer be ignored by integrative-functional medicine experts nor boycotted by too many American government officials .who have willingly betrayed their constitutional mandate and sacrificed the People’s welfare on the altar of greed, dogma, incompetence and the pharmaceutical-based sick-care cartel. (*)
For the Pyrenean Holistic Center’s thermal techniques, click here.
To order the Institute’s ebook on “Thermal Medicine and Acupuncture as cancer defeating tools” , click here.
To check out Therasage portable sauna, (which is distributed by Happiness Medicine Institute), click here.
(*). Not all pharmaceutical companies are nefarious to Society. There is a place for pharmaceutical synthetic molecules (drugs), including, but not limited to emergency medicine. However, the use of pharmaceutical funds to buy off politicians who then accept company flawed studies and craft public policy based on these anti-scientific studies is constitutive of a cartel scheme.
REFERENCE AND PRECISION NOTES