It is estimated that as many as 4 million people in North America suffer from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). But what does that mean? Are these people just really tired and why don’t they just get more sleep?
Well, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that, in order to be diagnosed with CFS, a person has to be suffering from: new, unexplained, persistent or relapsing chronic fatigue that is not a consequence of exertion, not resolved by bed rest, and severe enough to significantly reduce previous daily activity; as well as at least four of the following symptoms for at least six months: unexplained or new headaches; short-term memory or concentration impairment; muscle pain; pain in multiple joints unaccompanied by redness or swelling; unrefreshing sleep; post-exertion malaise that lasts for more than 24 hours; sore throat, and tender lymph nodes in the neck or armpits.
Information from the U.S. National Institutes of Health indicates that, for some, chronic fatigue syndrome begins after a cold, bronchitis, hepatitis, an intestinal bug, or even mononucleosis. Stress can exacerbate CFS but probably doesn’t cause it.
So, what to do about CFS? We certainly have a number of customers here at Sunlighten who successfully use infrared saunas to alleviate their CFS symptoms.
In 2005, Japanese researchers published evidence that repeated infrared heat therapy dramatically improved symptoms such as fatigue, pain, sleep disturbance, and low-grade fever after 15 to 25 sessions. The patients continued infrared heat therapy daily for 35 days and then once or twice a week for a year. There was no relapse or exacerbation of symptoms during the first year after discharge. (Masuda A, Kihara T, Fukudome T, Shinsato T, Minagoe S, Tei C., The effects of repeated thermal therapy for two patients with chronic fatigue syndrome. J Psychosom Res. 2005 Apr;58(4):383-7.)
Some physicians and scientists who study CFS believe there is a connection between CFS and toxins – chemicals and heavy metals – in the cells. And infrared saunas are used quite successfully for detoxification of the cells. Researchers have long known that toxic substances, including heavy metals, are secreted from the body through sweat. Therefore, the more one can safely sweat (while maintaining proper hydration), the greater quantity of toxins will be released from the body.
There is then increasing evidence that regular infrared sauna therapy can improve the quality of life of those suffering from chronic fatigue syndrome. If you are a CFS sufferer, have you been helped by traditional medicine or have you turned to complementary and alternative treatments? Have you ever tried infrared saunas?
*image via silvio tanaka/flickr