November 14 is World Diabetes Day, a day aimed at providing a powerful voice for diabetes awareness and advocacy. While diabetes is generally considered to be a manageable illness, it is a major risk factor for heart attack and stroke, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Over time, high blood glucose damages the body and can lead to blindness, amputation, and kidney problems.
Another illness, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), is also becoming increasingly well known as the number of people afflicted grows. According to the NIH, COPD is a major cause of disability and is the third-leading cause of death in the United States. Its main symptoms include shortness of breath and chronic cough, and its long-term effects include a slow deterioration of the lungs and air passages.
The good news: Infrared therapy offers a proven way to help diabetes and COPD sufferers dealing with these chronic issues.
Help with Chronic Pain, Fatigue and Depression
In a study published in the June 2010 issue of the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Dr. Richard Beever, professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of British Columbia, found that infrared saunas help diabetics manage a number of diabetes symptoms. His test group – those with type II diabetes – experienced 20-minute infrared sauna sessions three times a week for three months. The study used Sunlighten infrared saunas.
Dr. Beever later told an interviewer, “Generally, I would feel comfortable in recommending infrared saunas, but I am comfortable more particularly with Sunlighten, as I have done subsequent research examining the effects of their specific sauna and heating technology on quality of life, blood pressure, weight, cholesterol, sugar levels and in those with type 2 diabetes.”
Help for COPD Sufferers
In addition to its benefits for those with chronic pain, fatigue and depression, infrared sauna use is increasingly becoming known for its positive effects on COPD sufferers.
According to a 2013 study published in the International Journal of Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, researchers believe that the addition of repeated far infrared therapy (FIR) to conventional COPD treatment can improve airway obstruction.
In the study, the study group received FIR in addition to conventional therapy, while the control group received only conventional therapy. The change in vital capacity and in peak expiratory flow in the study group, as well as the forced expiratory flow, showed greater improvement over the control group results.
Additional Research for Diabetes
In the April 2010 issue of Acta Medica Okayama, Japanese researchers studied the effect of infrared therapy on patients with type II diabetes. They examined the effect of leg hyperthermia on oxidative stress (physiological stress) in bedridden subjects with type II diabetes mellitus using 15-minute sessions of infrared rays over a two-week period. Results showed that markers for total oxidative stress levels “were decreased significantly.”
Some of the most far-reaching benefits of infrared therapy are for people who are pre-diabetic with a constellation of symptoms known as Syndrome X, which reflects a number of dysfunctions involving cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar and obesity. These underlying conditions all indicate a person who is at high risk for developing diabetes, yet all respond remarkably well to infrared sauna therapy.
Whether you are experiencing the effects of diabetes or COPD, we recommend you talk to your health care practitioner about infrared sauna therapy as an effective complement to your current therapy. Here’s to good – and improved – health!
- Beever R. The effects of repeated thermal therapy on quality of life in patients with type II diabetes mellitus. J Altern Complement Med. 2010 Jun;16(6):677-81.
- Kawaura A, Tanida N, Kamitani M, et al. The effect of leg hyperthermia using far infrared rays in bedridden subjects with type 2 diabetes mellitus. Acta Med Okayama. 2010 Apr;64(2):143-7.
- Imamura M, Biro S, Kihara T, et al. Repeated thermal therapy improves impaired vascular endothelial function in patients with coronary risk factors. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Oct;38(4):1083-8
- Int J Chron Obstruct Pulmon Dis. 2014; 9: 9–15. Published online Dec 12, 2013. doi: 10.2147/COPD.S50860
Infographic courtesy of the International Diabetes Federation/World Diabetes Day