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Life Extension Magazine June 2009


Biological activities caused by far-infrared radiation.

Contrary to previous presumption, accumulated evidence indicates that far-infrared rays are biologically active. A small ceramic disk that emits far-infrared rays (4-16 microns) has commonly been applied to a local spot or a whole part of the body for exposure. Pioneering attempts to experimentally analyze an effect of acute and chronic radiation of far-infrared rays on living organisms have detected a growth-promoting effect in growing rats, a sleep-modulatory effect in freely behaving rats and an insomiac patient, and a blood circulation-enhancing effect in human skin. Questionnaires to 542 users of far-infrared radiator disks embedded in bedclothes revealed that the majority of the users subjectively evaluated an improvement of their health. These effects on living organisms appear to be non-specifically triggered by an exposure to far-infrared rays, which eventually induce an increase in temperature of the body tissues or, more basically, an elevated motility of body fluids due to decrease in size of water clusters.

Int J Biometeorol. 1989 Oct;33(3):145-50

The effects of repeated thermal therapy for patients with chronic pain.

BACKGROUND: It has been reported that local thermal therapy with a hot pack or paraffin relieves pain. We hypothesized that systemic warming may decrease pain and improve the outcomes in patients with chronic pain. The purpose of this study was to clarify the effects of systemic thermal therapy in patients with chronic pain. METHODS: Group A (n = 24) patients with chronic pain were treated by a multidisciplinary treatment including cognitive behavioral therapy, rehabilitation, and exercise therapy, whereas group B (n = 22) patients were treated by a combination of multidisciplinary treatment and repeated thermal therapy. A far-infrared ray dry sauna therapy and post-sauna warming were performed once a day for 4 weeks during hospitalization. We investigated the improvements in subjective symptoms, the number of pain behavior after treatment and outcomes 2 years after discharge. RESULTS: The visual analog pain score, number of pain behavior, self-rating depression scale, and anger score significantly decreased after treatment in both groups. After treatment, the number of pain behavior was slightly smaller (p = 0.07) and anger score was significantly lower in group B than those in group A (p = 0.05). Two years after treatment, 17 patients (77%) in group B returned to work compared with 12 patients (50%) in group A (p < 0.05). CONCLUSION: These results suggest that a combination of multidisciplinary treatment and repeated thermal therapy may be a promising method for treatment of chronic pain.

Psychother Psychosom. 2005;74(5):288-94

A new treatment: thermal therapy for chronic fatigue syndrome.

Thermal therapy using far-infrared ray dry sauna was performed for patients with chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS). Symptoms such as fatigue, pain, and low-grade fever were dramatically improved on two patients. And prednisolone administration was discontinued and became socially rehabilitated 6 months after discharge. On other 11 patients with CFS, physical symptoms such as fatigue and pain improved, too. Furthermore, we reported that repeated thermal therapy had relaxation effect and diminishes appetite loss and subjective complaints in mildly depressed patients. These results suggest that repeated thermal therapy may be a promising method for the treatment of CFS.

Nippon Rinsho. 2007 Jun;65(6):1093-8

Effects of infrared radiation on skin photo-aging and pigmentation.

Infrared radiation is increasingly and uncritically used for cosmetic and wellness purposes, despite the poorly understood biologic effects of such treatments on humans. In the present study, we investigated the effects of infrared radiation on collagen and elastin production in dermal fibroblasts, as well as the clinical and histopathologic effects of infrared radiation on photo-aged facial skin lesions. In order to determine the effects of infrared radiation on collagen and elastin production, dermal fibroblasts were exposed to infrared radiation for varying lengths of time and collagen and elastin contents were subsequently determined. Additionally, 20 patients with mild to moderate facial wrinkles and hyperpigmented lesions received daily treatments of far infrared radiation (900 to 1,000 microm) for six-months. During the treatment, patients and a medical observer conducted independent photographic and clinical evaluations every 4 weeks, and skin biopsies were obtained for histological analysis at baseline and one month post-treatment. We found that the content of collagen and elastin produced by the fibroblasts increased after infrared radiation, and that this increase was proportional to the duration of irradiation exposure. Following 6 months of treatment, all patients reported good (51-75%) improvements in skin texture and roughness. Additionally, patients noted fair (25-50%) improvement in color tone of the skin; however, improvements in hyperpigmented lesions were not observed. Objective medical evaluation of the patients indicated that roughness and laxity were fairly improved, but there was no significant improvement in hyperpigmented lesions. Histological examination failed to reveal any differences as well. These results suggest that infrared radiation may have beneficial effects on skin texture and wrinkles by increasing collagen and elastin contents from the stimulated fibroblasts. Therefore, skin treatment with infrared radiation may be an effective and safe non-ablative remodeling method, and may also be useful in the treatment of photo-aged skin.

Yonsei Med J. 2006 Aug 31;47(4):485-90

Effects of repeated sauna treatment on ventricular arrhythmias in patients with chronic heart failure.

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present study was to determine whether repeated 60 degrees C sauna treatment improves cardiac arrhythmias in chronic heart failure (CHF) patients, because ventricular arrhythmias are an important therapeutic target in CHF. METHODS AND RESULTS: Thirty patients (59+/-3 years) with New York Heart Association functional class II or III CHF and at least 200 premature ventricular contractions (PVCs)/24 h assessed by 24-h Holter recordings were studied. They were randomized into sauna-treated (n=20) or non-treated (n=10) groups. The sauna-treated group underwent a 2-week program of a daily 60 degrees C far infrared-ray dry sauna for 15 min, followed by 30 min bed rest with blankets, for 5 days per week. Patients in the non-treated group had bed rest in a temperature-controlled room (24 degrees C) for 45 min. The total numbers of PVCs/24 h in the sauna-treated group decreased compared with the non-treated group [848+/-415 vs 3,097+/-1,033/24 h, p<0.01]. Heart rate variability (SDNN, standard deviation of normal-to-normal beat interval) increased [142+/-10 (n=16) vs 112+/-11 ms (n=8), p<0.05] and plasma brain natriuretic peptide concentrations decreased [229+/-54 vs 419+/-110 pg/ml, p<0.05] in the sauna-treated group compared with the non-treated group. CONCLUSION: Repeated sauna treatment improves ventricular arrhythmias in patients with CHF.

Circ J. 2004 Dec;68(12):1146-51

Repeated sauna therapy reduces urinary 8-epi-prostaglandin F(2alpha).

We have reported that repeated sauna therapy improves impaired vascular endothelial function in a patient with coronary risk factors. We hypothesized that sauna therapy decreases urinary 8-epi-prostaglandin F(2alpha) (PGF(2alpha)) levels as a marker of oxidative stress and conducted a randomized, controlled study. Twenty-eight patients with at least one coronary risk factor were divided into a sauna group (n = 14) and non-sauna group (n = 14). Sauna therapy was performed with a 60 degrees C far infrared-ray dry sauna for 15 minutes and then bed rest with a blanket for 30 minutes once a day for two weeks. Systolic blood pressure and increased urinary 8-epi-PGF(2alpha) levels in the sauna group were significantly lower than those in the non-sauna group at two weeks after admission (110 +/- 15 mmHg vs 122 +/- 13 mmHg, P < 0.05, 230 +/- 67 pg/mg x creatinine vs 380 +/- 101 pg/mg x creatinine, P < 0.0001, respectively). These results suggest that repeated sauna therapy may protect against oxidative stress, which leads to the prevention of atherosclerosis.

Jpn Heart J. 2004 Mar;45(2):297-303

Repeated thermal therapy improves impaired vascular endothelial function in patients with coronary risk factors.

OBJECTIVES: We sought to determine whether sauna therapy, a thermal vasodilation therapy, improves endothelial function in patients with coronary risk factors such as hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, diabetes mellitus and smoking. BACKGROUND: Exposure to heat is widely used as a traditional therapy in many different cultures. We have recently found that repeated sauna therapy improves endothelial and cardiac function in patients with chronic heart failure. METHODS: Twenty-five men with at least one coronary risk factor (risk group: 38 +/- 7 years) and 10 healthy men without coronary risk factors (control group: 35 +/- 8 years) were enrolled. Patients in the risk group were treated with a 60 degrees C far infrared-ray dry sauna bath for 15 min and then kept in a bed covered with blankets for 30 min once a day for two weeks. To assess endothelial function, brachial artery diameter was measured at rest, during reactive hyperemia (flow-mediated endothelium-dependent dilation [%FMD]), again at rest and after sublingual nitroglycerin administration (endothelium-independent vasodilation [%NTG]) using high-resolution ultrasound. RESULTS: The %FMD was significantly impaired in the risk group compared with the control group (4.0 +/- 1.7% vs. 8.2 +/- 2.7%, p < 0.0001), while %NTG was similar (18.7 +/- 4.2% vs. 20.4 +/- 5.1%). Two weeks of sauna therapy significantly improved %FMD in the risk group (4.0 +/- 1.7% to 5.8 +/- 1.3%, p < 0.001). In contrast, %NTG did not change after two weeks of sauna therapy (18.7 +/- 4.2% to 18.1 +/- 4.1%). CONCLUSIONS: Repeated sauna treatment improves impaired vascular endothelial function in the setting of coronary risk factors, suggesting a therapeutic role for sauna treatment in patients with risk factors for atherosclerosis.

J Am Coll Cardiol. 2001 Oct;38(4):1083-8

Efficacy of Waon therapy for fibromyalgia.

OBJECTIVE: Fibromyalgia syndrome (FMS) is a chronic syndrome characterized by widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas. We examined the applicability of Waon therapy (soothing warmth therapy) as a new method of pain treatment in patients with FMS. METHODS: Thirteen female FMS patients (mean age, 45.2+/-15.5 years old; range, 25-75) who fulfilled the criteria of the American College of Rheumatology participated in this study. Patients received Waon therapy once per day for 2 or 5 days/week. The patients were placed in the supine or sitting position in a far infrared-ray dry sauna maintained at an even temperature of 60 degrees C for 15 minutes, and then transferred to a room maintained at 26-27 degrees C where they were covered with a blanket from the neck down to keep them warm for 30 minutes. Reductions in subjective pain and symptoms were determined using the pain visual analog scale (VAS) and fibromyalgia impact questionnaire (FIQ). RESULTS: All patients experienced a significant reduction in pain by about half after the first session of Waon therapy (11-70%), and the effect of Waon therapy became stable (20-78%) after 10 treatments. Pain VAS and FIQ symptom scores were significantly (p<0.01) decreased after Waon therapy and remained low throughout the observation period. CONCLUSION: Waon therapy is effective for the treatment of fibromyalgia syndrome.

Intern Med. 2008;47(16):1473-6

Heme oxygenase-1 and carbon monoxide in pulmonary medicine.

Heme oxygenase-1 (HO-1), an inducible stress protein, confers cytoprotection against oxidative stress in vitro and in vivo. In addition to its physiological role in heme degradation, HO-1 may influence a number of cellular processes, including growth, inflammation, and apoptosis. By virtue of anti-inflammatory effects, HO-1 limits tissue damage in response to proinflammatory stimuli and prevents allograft rejection after transplantation. The transcriptional upregulation of HO-1 responds to many agents, such as hypoxia, bacterial lipopolysaccharide, and reactive oxygen/nitrogen species. HO-1 and its constitutively expressed isozyme, heme oxygenase-2, catalyze the rate-limiting step in the conversion of heme to its metabolites, bilirubin IXalpha, ferrous iron, and carbon monoxide (CO). The mechanisms by which HO-1 provides protection most likely involve its enzymatic reaction products. Remarkably, administration of CO at low concentrations can substitute for HO-1 with respect to anti-inflammatory and anti-apoptotic effects, suggesting a role for CO as a key mediator of HO-1 function. Chronic, low-level, exogenous exposure to CO from cigarette smoking contributes to the importance of CO in pulmonary medicine. The implications of the HO-1/CO system in pulmonary diseases will be discussed in this review, with an emphasis on inflammatory states.

Respir Res. 2003;4:7

Effects of linear polarized infrared light irradiation on the transcriptional regulation of IL-8 expression in IL-1beta-stimulated human rheumatoid synoviocytes involves phosphorylation of the NF-kappaB RelA subunit.

Although recent clinical studies have shown that laser therapy acts as an anti-inflammatory effector in the treatment of some diseases, little is known about the mechanism by which it acts in rheumatoid arthritis (RA) patients. The purpose of our work was to examine how irradiation with linear polarized infrared light (LPIL) suppresses inflammatory responses in the MH7A rheumatoid fibroblast-like synoviocyte cell line. We initially confirmed the effects of two disease-modifying anti-rheumatic treatments, LPIL irradiation and dexamethasone (Dex) administration, under experimental inflammatory conditions using gene chip technology. We found that LPIL exerted a smaller effect on gene transcription than Dex; however, IL-1beta-inducible target genes such as the CXCL type chemokines IL-8, IL-1beta and IL-6 were all clearly suppressed by LPIL to the same degree as by Dex.

We also found that IL-1beta-induced release of IL-8 from MH7A cells was completely blocked by pretreatment with the (IL-8) inhibitor Bay11-7085, indicating that activation of NF-kappaB signaling plays an important role in the secretion of IL-8. Although the levels of NFKB1 and RELA transcription were unaffected by IL-1beta stimulation, phosphorylation of RelA S276 was suppressed by both LPIL and Dex. Thus LPIL likely exerts its anti-inflammatory effects by inhibiting the release of the inflammatory chemokine IL-8. A fuller understanding of the anti-inflammatory mechanism of LPIL in rheumatoid synoviocytes could serve as the basis for improved treatment of RA patients in the future.

J Photochem Photobiol B. 2009 Mar 3;94(3):164-70