Struggling to get out of bed in the morning, fluctuating energy levels, feeling tired all the time and relying on stimulants like caffeine to get through the day are all warning signs that you could be on the way to a diagnosis of chronic fatigue syndrome. Today we’re continuing our sauna series from last week to see how using a full spectrum infrared sauna can help Singaporeans with chronic fatigue syndrome. We’re going to take a look at a couple of excellent clinical studies, hypothesise on why full spectrum infrared saunas are so beneficial and then finish up with essential nutrition and lifestyle interventions that are required for you to get permanent results.
So let us jump in at the deep end and take a look at the first study. They took a group of 10 people with chronic fatigue syndrome and let them lose in an infrared sauna for 15 minutes at 60°C. The participants used the sauna 5 times a week for 4 weeks. Perceived fatigue levels significantly decreased after therapy. On a scale of 1 to 10, the average level of fatigue was reduced from 6.7 to 4.8.
This is really encouraging for 3 reasons. The first is that it’s an almost 30% reduction in their symptoms without even changing their diet, lifestyle or exercise routines. The second is that they only went in the sauna for 15 minutes at a time, the third is that they only did the treatment for 4 weeks. Now imagine the results that could have been attained if they did this for a 3 to 4 months period for 30 to 45 minutes at a time which is what most sauna studies are based on. Combined with the nutrition, exercise and lifestyle components this presents a very powerful tool in the health practitioner’s arsenal.
It’s also worth noting that 60°C is a far more tolerable low temperature as compared with traditional dry saunas which go up to 100°C and have many people gasping for breath after 5 minutes and wanting to get out! Infrared saunas penetrate your skin up to 1.5 inches deep and help you to sweat from the inside out so they are far more effective with less heat but more penetration.
What is chronic fatigue and do I have it?Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is described by Wikipedia as a “medical condition characterized by long-term fatigue and other persistent symptoms that limit a person's ability to carry out ordinary daily activities.” So if you struggle getting out of bed in the morning, feel tired all day, your average energy levels are lower than normal or can’t get through the day without stimulants such as coffee, caffeine, chocolate, sugar and cakes and if you have recent onset of short term memory problems, sore throat/tender neck, muscle pains and headaches then you may have CFS. Of course, many of these conditions are linked to other autoimmune conditions as well so it takes a skilled practitioner to identify and isolate the root causes.
For links to this and other pieces of research on chronic fatigue please see here:
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.
“Pain and stiffness decreased clinically, and improvements were statistically significant during an IR session. Fatigue also decreased.”
A new treatment: thermal therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome
‘Symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and low-grade fever were dramatically improved. These results suggest that repeated thermal therapy may be a promising method for the treatment of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.”
Benefits of infrared sauna
There are several reasons why infrared saunas are so effective at dealing with issues such as chronic fatigue. The first is that they are an efficient way of heating up the body from the inside out. Any kind of heat treatment speeds up blood flow and increased oxygenated blood flow helps heal wounds and nourish organs and extremities. The second is that infrared heat penetrates our bodys at the cellular level which aids in cellular detox reducing the burden on the liver and the kidneys freeing up energy for you! And lastly, infrared heat restructures the water in our bodies at the cellular level ensuring all of our metabolic and cellular processes are far more efficient including cell respiration, getting nutrients into cells, expelling waste products and so on. Disease cannot exist in the presence of health and infrared saunas are one of those tools that help point us in the right direction towards great health.
Lifestyle causes of chronic fatigue
In saying all that we didn’t get to a state of chronic fatigue by not using infrared saunas! Chronic fatigue is caused by poor lifestyle choices made either consciously or unconsciously thrust upon us by the modern world. There can be many causes of chronic fatigue including poor nutrition, lack of sleep, faulty breathing mechanics, stress, vitamin D deficiency, sedentariness, toxic overload and infections. More often than not it's a combination of all of them.
If you’re like a lot of people working in the Singapore CBD your typical day might involve skipping breakfast and replacing it with coffee, having a snack at 11, a salad at lunch and maybe the first proper meal you have is at dinner. Now unless you’re eating the largest dinners known to mankind this kind of behaviour will result in a massive calorie deficit. “Great”, you say “that means I’ll be losing fat”. Well I’m sorry to tell you it doesn’t work that way. If you consistently under eat your body will just lower its basal metabolic rate so that you can be more efficient with less calories. Hence why you feel so tired. Your body thinks you are in the middle of a famine and has adjusted your energy levels appropriately. It’s also even more stubbornly hanging onto your fat stores! So the very first thing to do is to start eating more in terms of both quality and quantity.
There is an incredibly strong correlation with chronic fatigue and adrenal fatigue. You generally don’t have one without the other. Forcing yourself into the latest bodypump class, HIIT, aggressive group training studio or chronic cardio routine is not going to improve the situation. Your body now thinks that not only are you in the middle of a famine but you’re also in a war zone or running away from a sabre tooth tiger. It’ll give you a temporary boost during the exercise but then afterwards you’re just going to feel fried, particularly if you’re not eating properly. Sensible and non-stressful exercise selection, however, will increase blood flow to your muscles, improve happy brain chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin and have you feeling much more buoyant.
Other lifestyle factors
An inverted breathing pattern will result in a lack of oxygenated blood flow to your extremities and organs and is one of the first things that should be addressed in dealing with chronic fatigue. Techniques and tools to manage and reduce mental and emotional stress are essential to protect our poor overworked adrenal glands. Getting inadequate vitamin D from the sun is surprisingly common in sunny Singapore! Finally working on toxicity and parasite, bacterial and fungal infections with a healthcare professional is the last step in ensuring no stone remains unturned when investigating chronic fatigue syndrome.
We’re not a big fan of “lotions and potions” and “biohacks” that take empowerment away from the individual so that they don’t have to make the wiser choices in life. However modern life does throw a lot of &%$# at us that so sometimes it’s necessary to use modern tools to help steer us back to good health. Modern full spectrum infrared saunas are, however, one of the best tools around for treating issues such as chronic fatigue and when combined with sensible exercise selection, nutrition and other key lifestyle factors you have winning combination.
To your health, happiness and longevity,
The Levitise Team
P.S. If you love this blog post then do check out our fortnightly newsletter where you'll get the freshest content on health, nutrition and fitness delivered straight to your inbox. Don't miss out and sign up here with just your name and email.