Sauna Bathing as an Alternative Adjunct Therapy in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Health Conditions Including Cardiovascular Disease, Neurodegenerative Disease, Metabolic Disease, and Mental Health Disorders

Main Article Content

Michael Reeder, DO Tyler Anderson, PA-C, MPAS Brent Alumbaugh, MS Steven Ross Murray, DA,MS

Abstract

Sauna bathing is a time-efficient, cost-effective health modality that has the potential to mimic the heat thermogenesis and cardiovascular effects of exercise. In recent years, researchers have been able to measure the benefits of sauna on human performance, endurance, and cardiovascular health. While many studies have investigated sauna use and its effect on athletic performance, fewer studies have investigated the use of sauna as a medical treatment for chronic health conditions. This review compiles the proven effects of sauna on human physiology and investigates its applications in the treatment of patients with chronic disease. Sauna use appears to be safe in most patient populations and is shown to be both tolerable and effective in patient populations with cardiovascular disease and late stages of congestive heart failure. Multiple cardiovascular benefits were demonstrated in the review including improved perfusion in peripheral arterial disease, decreased ventricular arrhythmias, 51% reduced annual cardiovascular mortality and 47% reduced annual risk of developing hypertension in men using the sauna 4-7 times per week. Finnish cohort studies have additionally exhibited reductions in lifetime annual risk of dementia by 66% in men using the sauna 4-7 times per week. It is suggested that increased heat shock protein expression through heat exposure may be responsible for the neuroprotective benefits of lifetime sauna use. Sauna has also displayed benefits in metabolic disease by reducing hemoglobin A1C and aiding heat acclimation in diabetics through improved thermoregulation. In mental health research, sauna use has shown potential in the treatment of depression by improving objective depression scores. Another study exhibited that sauna use was able to increase appetite in patients with severe depression and coexisting appetite suppression. Additionally, in cohort studies sauna is shown to be correlated to reduced annual risk of developing psychosis across the lifespan. By compiling and reviewing the current research on sauna bathing, education and guidance are provided to medical providers regarding the potential use of sauna as a treatment adjunct for patients with various conditions including cardiovascular disease, neurodegenerative disease, metabolic disease, and mental health disorders.

Article Details

How to Cite
REEDER, Michael et al. Sauna Bathing as an Alternative Adjunct Therapy in the Prevention and Treatment of Chronic Health Conditions Including Cardiovascular Disease, Neurodegenerative Disease, Metabolic Disease, and Mental Health Disorders. Medical Research Archives, [S.l.], v. 11, n. 6, june 2023. ISSN 2375-1924. Available at: <https://esmed.org/MRA/mra/article/view/3965>. Date accessed: 19 july 2024. doi: https://doi.org/10.18103/mra.v11i6.3965.
Section
Research Articles

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