Infrared Sauna For Rheumatoid Arthritis
We discuss in this podcast:
- A study published in the Clinical Rheumatology journal shows infrared sauna helps RA and AS
- How Sue was introduced to the use of infrared sauna for arthritis treatment
- The positive effects it had on her skin
- Sizes and features of infrared sauna models
- Pain relief and stiffness reduction
- Sauna and biologic treatment
- Building an infrared sauna
- Frequency and duration of the sessions
- Infrared sauna benefits vs Bikram yoga
Clint – I think you’ll love this podcast episode. We’re about to meet Sue and I interview her and we discuss infrared soreness and she talks about the life changing positive effects that infrared sauna treatments have provided her with her inflammatory arthritis. She has done infrared sauna every day for the past 12 months. And so you’re going to love the interview with Sue in just a moment. But first, I want to show you that there is a study back in 2009 published in the Clinical Rheumatology Journal called 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. And I’ve highlighted here that the conclusion of this study was that infrared treatment has statistically, significant short term beneficial effects and clinically relevant period effects during treatment in RA and AS patients, without enhancing disease activity. In fact, infrared has good tolerability and no adverse effects. In just a moment, you will meet Sue, and as I said, she’s had tremendous results which are dovetailing with the results that are published here in this study back in 2009. So Sue and I know each other from Rheumatoid Support. We have a very large number, several hundred people we’re all following the Paddison Program and helping each other inside the Rheumatoid Support platform. So it’s not just private coaching, but it’s also community support with each other. And this is how we learnt of Sue’s great benefits with infrared sauna. She was sharing with other members how well she was doing with it. And that’s when I wanted to bring her on the podcast and help everyone worldwide to learn more about infrared sauna. So let’s get into that now.
Clint – Today, my guest is Sue, and she goes all the way from the United Kingdom, where it’s 6:30 in the morning. She’s agreed to do this episode with me to talk about infrared sauna’s. We know each other because she’s a member of Rheumatoid Support, And she mentioned to myself and other members how much infrared sauna’s had folks with their inflammatory arthritis, chronic fatigue, and some other symptoms. So here we are, have a chat about infrared sauna’s. It’s our third attempt at doing this. The first one didn’t recall that my child ran into the background. So Sue, let’s hope we can get it done this time.
Sue – I’m lucky.
Clint – I know your story already, but the listeners this is fresh for them. So let’s start at the start, which is why did you originally get an infrared sauna?
Sue – Prior to summer last year, I’d never even heard of infrared sauna. But then, I happened to be in Malaysia and I was having some health issues, so I needed to see a doctor. So I went to see a doctor in my hometown and we got to chatting. And then he was like, so you have RA? And have you heard of infrared sauna or not? And I said, well no, what’s that? And then he started mentioning this rheumatologist in Malaysia, in the south of Malaysia, who actually prescribe infrared sauna to his patients. So we hear that he has an infrared sauna in his office or in his clinic. And then he would set his patient up to have a treatment. And then my doctor was saying that he just got one and then he’s trying it himself. And then he said to me that if you would like to try before you go back to the UK and feel free to do so, you’re welcome to do so. So I thought, ok, so I have a few days left before my flight back to the U.K. So I said, well, I’ll do it.
Sue – So I started going in the morning and then at the time I was having flare-ups every day. And my mobility was pretty much restricted. And so I was quite excited to try this equally at the same time. I wasn’t a big fan of the traditional sauna. I used to find it quite stifling and it’s quite claustrophobic for me. So I dragged my husband along at the appointment and I said to him that could you seat in front of me or just outside the glass door and then make sure that was ok. In my head, I thought I was going to have a panic attack. Because its a small cabin and it was supposed to be really hot. So he sat through it with me and surprisingly, it wasn’t what I expected at all. There was no panic attack and it was really comfortable. I was sweating a lot, but I was comfortable and it’s hard to explain. And then so I sat through there for a half an hour of the course of the treatment at the time. And then I went home and I just fell awake, my body felt really good. And then my skin had cleared and I had spots on my skin on that day to start with and it cleared. And then I had a moon face from biologic treatment that I was having that time. This is just different and it was quite instant because you can see it in your skin. And then as the day progressed, my mobility improved as well. And I could see the swelling on my feet and it was reduced. It was quite visible because it was hard for me to walk before. But the first time was quite tiring and I slept that afternoon and it was a good nap though. And then I slept better that night as well. And I hadn’t been sleeping for quite a while due to pain and things. And then I slept really well that night. And then the next day I went again, 8:00 in the morning. I was there and after that, I felt the increase in my mobility and that was the most obvious change. And so I think I did it for four days before I flew back to the U.K. And then once we got back, my husband decided that we should get one. So we ordered it and the sauna came. And then since then, I’ve had it every single day from the time that I’ve been away from home obviously, but it’s just been a godsend for me.
Clint – Which model did you buy?
Sue – It’s called, Sunlighten.
Clint – Sunlighten?
Sue – Yes. So that’s the exact one that my doctor has and his was a three-seater. And so we got a two-seater, so that we can both do it at the same time if we want to. And also because it just gives off a bit of a room to move. I just find that the one-seater was a little bit scary for me obviously. It comes in the single-seater, it’s two-seaters and it’s three-seaters. And then I think you can have about five to six people. So that is depending on what kind of space you have. So I’ve got it in my tiny office upstairs at the moment and it just works for me. So that room is next to my bedroom, so I have no excuse not to use it and my husband makes sure of that Yeah, so it’s been brilliant.
Clint – You mentioned two-seater, is it literally you sit down, or is it like you have an actual seat? And is that seat something that comes with (Inaudible) that you can strap to put together or can you take a seat in with you? How does that work?
Sue – The sauna has a bench inside. It is like a little cabin, a wooden cabin, or it’s like a shed and it’s sort of wide enough for two people to sit on a bench, and then it’s got a glass door. And Sunlighten comes with a screen where you can watch, or you are connected to the internet and you can watch Netflix, or you can listen to the radio. So I seat there and it’s not really a hardship for me. You sit in there and then you just watch your program. So for a half an hour, you listen to the radio or podcast or watch Amazon Prime or sort of YouTube.
Clint – My gosh, it’s way better than I thought and I had no idea. And we hadn’t got to this part of our conversation, and this is disingenuous. And I had no idea that you people watch television shows or surf through the internet in your sauna.
Sue – So that’s why it’s not really a hardship for me, I take it as me time in the day. So I lock my office door and spend a half an hour with just me. And I think mentally for me, it’s been really good as well. And so I’m one of that person who just sometimes get this myself. And you could go and go, so you at least force me to heal and to also give myself some time and it’s brilliant.
Clint – So you’ve mentioned that just now the mental calmness and mental sort of peace that are prevalent, is it? You said improved sleep, visibly less willing, and you said, of all things, though is mostly improved mobility. I mean, this is the sort of stuff that drug companies would only dream of if someone could create a drug that could do all those things. Are there any side effects? Have you noticed anything that you are worried about?
Sue – No, I haven’t, and bearing in mind I’ve been using this every day since the end of summer last year, so I haven’t. And for me, it’s only or if I were to miss sauna for whatever reason. Let’s say I’m away from them because we travel quite a lot and except for this year and I know I would be missing it. Because I know how I feel every time I woke up, I just go to the sauna, and then it sets my day in a week or if I’m not able to do it in the morning. If I do it in the morning, it would be for pain relief, especially because it helps with the stiffness, especially in the winter. And I think that’s what we talked about before, how I went through the winter without any treatment at a time. And it was the only different thing to what I was doing at the time and it was having an infrared sauna, and it was massive.
Clint – So on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being really, really incredible, with one being not very hot a little. Where would you rate your infrared sauna?
Sue – That’s easy for me, eleven if that’s allowed.
Clint – Wow.
Sue – I mean, I have no marketing agenda way, it’s just genuinely my experience. And to think that before July last year, I’d never even heard of it. And now this is a part of my routine and it is a part of my life. And I can tell the difference if I’m not doing it. And for example, if I were to have a difficult night, then I would wake up, then I have stiffness in the morning and I find it really difficult to walk or to move, and then all I need to do is just crawl out of bed. And I’ll just jump into the next room, sit in it for half an hour and I am able to function. So basically, I went from not being able to do (Inaudible), especially in the winter. I am able to wake up in the morning until about 11:00 to being able to function and that’s huge.
Clint – Have you measured your C reactive protein or SED rate? Are there any inflammatory markers sort of during the infrared period compared to the non-infrared period. Have we got any sort of any data that we could use to even support this even further?
Sue – Well, I’ve got the data, but to me, in my case, it’s not really useful because I have 0 negative, and from the beginning since I was diagnosed blood tests it has never been a big indicator. But every time I go back to Malaysia, I would get blood tested. Because I have someone who looks after me. And I don’t know whether this is helpful. But the only difference that we noticed was that when I went back to that time in July, I had blood tests and then my CRP was normal. But my anti-nuclear effect was positive. So that means that there is an autoimmune activity going on. So that’s the only indicator that something is wrong.
Clint – Well, something’s wrong.
Sue – Yes. And then I went home again in December. So last year I went home twice and then I had another blood test. And again my CRP didn’t show anything, but my doctor rang me on Christmas Day because my anti-nuclear effect was negative.
Clint – Oh, my gosh, wow.
Sue – And I said, Doc, it’s Christmas what are you doing? He said, no, let’s not talk about anything else. Let’s go right to the end of the speech because he sent (Inaudible) my test results. So I just have to tell you, that this is exciting news. And then he showed me that my anti-nuclear effect result and it was negative. He said to me, whatever it is that you’ve been doing, keep doing it. And by that time, I hadn’t had biologic treatment for four months. So I was flying just solely on the Infrared sauna and the way I was eating. Well, I mean I’m not saying that it is, I’m just saying that it made a difference.
Clint – Well, it’s remarkable and it’s absolutely remarkable. So we’ve covered off if there are any side effects. So, there is nothing that you’re aware of it. It just improves all of these aspects of your health. You’ve seen blood evidence that you can at least suspect may be due to Infrared sauna or even if we might not be able to conclude that they might be. There’s certainly in the blood work certainly isn’t going in the wrong direction. We can say that with great confidence. And you have a two-seater, so you can have room if you wanted to sort of shuffle about if you’re a little uncomfortable, you can move side by side. Now, let me just try and check off a few more questions that some people might have and I might have. Is it easy to set up? Is it something that is like an IKEA kit that comes to your home? And is it challenging to set up? And can you do it on your own, even if you have some challenges with inflammation in your joints?
Sue – We did it ourselves and it’s basically dumped in our driveway in pieces. And then so if you imagine it’s like putting together like a jigsaw puzzle. We hold the pieces together, just me and my husband, the two of us. And my husband and I, we are not builders and we are meticulously bad at it but, we built it. We got the roof up, we wired it up and the instruction was very clear. And Sunlighten, the company and they were helping us throughout and in any question that we had, all we needed to do was ring or e-mail them. And it would be quick at troubleshooting, but we didn’t have any problems at setting it up. As I said, we’re not very good with DIY. We built it and then carried it upstairs. I mean, you would need help because you can’t do it alone because you need to carry. So it would be nice if that’s three of you when you’re dropping the roof up. But we did it, just the two of us while the kids were at school.
Clint – And what about, how do you do it mostly? Do you do thirty minutes each day in the morning when you first wake up? So, for instance, start after we’re done talking or you might go on starting today. Have you noticed any difference between doing a little less or a little longer? Have you experimented with duration?
Sue – The duration, because there is a preset program, six of them, and then and of course you can customize your own program. But normally I use cardiovascular is the longest program and its for about 45 minutes. And if I have the time or if (Inaudible), I would sit through it. But I find that if I were to do cardio or the weight loss, which I find like mini cardio, which is half an hour. I find that it is just like after you’ve done a vigorous workout during the day and then it wakes you up. And then at some point, you feel that, oh, you’ve got to relax. It’s just that workout and then you sleep well at night. And what else for the pain relief? It’s half an hour since the duration of time. But the difference is because they use a new far and meet infrared lights. And then, I think it has different effects on the body. So for the pain relief, I find it that I don’t get sleepy or I don’t get that after work out kind of exhaustion, I’m fine throughout the day. So it does relief the pain for me and I just go through to my day. So I find it, if I want to do cardio, you’d start it in the morning by 3:00 and it might feel a bit cool. I just had a bit of a nap, so I (Inaudible) I tweaky. So I would do programs like that in the evening before bed, then I would sleep like a baby.
Clint – And do you sweat a lot during that half an hour?
Sue – Yes, I do and that’s the sweetest bit. Because you feel comfortable, but you are sweating profusely. And then you would come out and you definitely have to take a shower after that sweaty sauna.
Clint – Have you ever experimented with any hot-cold approach? Have you seen any or do you have any inclination to then try a cold shower afterwards for a lot of people who experimented with that?
Sue – Yes, I have started doing the Wimhoff Challenge. I studied that about four weeks ago and since then, I’ve done it every day. So, I’ll do sauna first thing, and then after I shower I would do some yoga after that or whatever activity. I should mention this, I also claim that I’ve noticed that you have no access to Bikram yoga at the moment. And I used to do it in the past and then the local center is closed down. So the nearest we have is in London and it’s too far. But I noticed that I would try doing sauna first and then straight away I started doing yoga, you know you can do yoga at home. I find that it’s so much easier to do it, to do the pose for me. So my body is less stiff and it’s almost like it’s preparing my body before doing the difficult poses and then shower. And then then I have the cold shower (Inaudible) and that sets me off for the day.
Clint – Wow. You’ve got so many great points of knowledge for me to ask the next couple of questions, which is really exciting for me. First question, do you notice any improvement to symptoms by now adding the cold water afterwards, or are you still sort of uncertain as to whether, or not that provides any further benefit than just the infrared trait?
Sue – I notice a difference but, I don’t know what to do so far, whether there’s any difference to the inflammation of my joints. I’m not so sure about that yet, but I do know in the incense. Actually, what am I talking about? I’ve noticed that he wakes me up completely, which wakes my whole body up and then. And I notice I move a lot easier.
Clint – Ok, so I’ll just say obviously if you’ve done just four weeks of that, which is let’s say it’s 30 days. Where you’ve come out of a sauna, you feel nice, and it sort of makes it feel nice and warm. And then you go on and had a cold shower. You wouldn’t be still bewildered after 30 days unless you felt that it was bad. Because they said there’s a way you want to end the sauna, normally you must. I mean, sometimes I just remember being in a sauna and then wanting to jump into a swimming pool. I mean, there’s a natural inclination to do that, I guess, under some circumstances. But, if it’s really cold, that’s an entirely different thing. But I don’t want to put words in your mouth. So what are your thoughts on this? Yes or no to trying to add the cold afterwards?
Sue – Yes, because I’m not a big fan of cold and I wouldn’t have continued it like that. And I’m still doing it by default and I can last longer now. So, I don’t have to set a timer because I can actually just comfortably carry on. And to me, that’s a massive difference as well and (Inaudible) not just relax your body and just stick with the stiffness. And then when you jump and then you have this cold blast, it just then wakes you up and it kind of compliments each other.
Clint – Yeah, okay. And then my last question at least in infrared sauna is, do you feel that the effect of the infrared sauna is as good as what you were getting before doing Bikram yoga?
Sue – That’s a good question, I think I would say that it was the same. Yeah, I think the effect was the same, although I found that Bikram yoga, you know, you get through it and then right at the end, the last of us. And now you feel that you’ve been through a battle and you feel like a warrior. Right. Whether it can be a bit stifling for me, I know that it is quite a torturous process, but in that sense I would sit in my sauna every day. But I think in terms of helping you with your mobility and the ease of movement. I think it’s there but, I find that it is the same as what I’ve said, I tried to do it before where my body is nice and supple. And then I went straight into doing my Bikram yoga, and there’s a massive difference in doing that and not starting with a sauna before because I’ve done both.
Clint – Yeah, that’s fantastic. Okay. Wow, that’s really cool. I guess the only thing that common sense could enlighten us on is that obviously, if you are also doing the Bikram yoga postures in a heated room, you are going to get more muscle development, and you are going to build more strength around the joints and the connective tissue. So we know that there’s obviously a tremendous benefit in that. And so I guess what that leaves us is if someone is not able to do Bikram yoga because the studios are closed at the moment through this COVID period, or if they’re just immobile and it’s just too challenging to get to a class or they’re just not really wanting to do a class. This is a fantastic alternative to be able to get all of the benefits that you’ve suggested with very little (Inaudible)
Sue – Yeah, no doubt about that, I mean as I said, I think I had to stop because at the studio (Inaudible) closed down. And then if not, I think this was my fault and I think I would have lovably continue going if it wasn’t that (Inaudible). And then I did this experiment of doing it twice for an hour and then Bikram yoga, and that happened during COVID and during the lockdown. So I thought I’d give it a and for me, there’s a difference between having that heat and not having that heat. And in fact, I can feel the smoothness of the posture and the ease of doing it, especially on the days that you’re not very mobile.
Clint – Yeah, absolutely. Okay. Well hopefully, we all have covered questions that people have or had about this or didn’t even know they had but are interested to hear about. My last question is a little bit off the infrared sauna specifically and more just connect with you. You mentioned that you’re in between biologic treatments. Are you maybe planning on resuming one of those treatments, or is this all still work in progress with your rheumatologist?
Sue – I was in between Entancept and so I came off Entancept at the end of summer last year. And then I started with Humira, during the lockdown. I mean, the first week of lockdown, which was the end of March, and unfortunately, I didn’t do well on it. I think I was reacting quite violently to the treatment. And so I’ve decided to come off the treatment, I think it was at the end of April. And then that’s when I actually found the Paddison Program. I couldn’t and I had no contact with my rheumatologist or with the team at all because of COVID at the time. So I was completely on my own and I didn’t know what to do. And I actually posted on my Instagram page that this is what has happened and I’m not really sure what to do. And one of the Paddison Program follower randomly sent me a message or commented on that post and I think it was fate. And she said that I’m really sorry that you’re going through this, have you heard of the Paddison Program? Of course, I said no, but I am gonna check it out now. So I did it and then it was a no brainer. So I immediately started and it was Ramadan at the time. So as soon as we finish Ramadan, I went straight into Clint space. And so far I mean, considering that I’m without treatment at the moment, it’s going well for me. I’m not at a stage yet where I’m completely pain-free, but I mean in a much better place than I was last month. And so I had a chat with my rheumatologist and I ask because they then started suggesting that have you tried this every day. And I said to them that I’ve tried a majority of that and they didn’t end well for me. And then if I mean, I’d really like to give this program a try. But she said to me, we’ll give you six months. So my next appointment is in December. And then see how you get out of the program and then if there is any problem give us a call. So at the moment, my preference has always been to be on it because purely of my experience that I’ve had on different treatments.
Clint – Okay. Yeah. Thanks for sharing that, I was just curious about that based on what you brought up earlier about how you had stopped the drug. And I was just wondering about whether or not the plan was to resume. So there are some good things for us to work on inside Rheumatoid Support. So thank you very much for sharing this stuff about infrared sauna. You know, you’ve really given me the inspiration to get one. So especially because one thing you said, which I think it was on the other recording, that it didn’t work all that where my children kept coming in, which was that sometimes you have a date night with your husband in the infrared sauna and you seat together. You know, that sounds like a lot of fun watching Netflix and sitting together inside the sauna and afterwards, sleep like a baby, it all sounds good.
Sue – Yes, isn’t it?
Clint – So before this turn like a child care center let’s wrap it up. And I just want to really thank you again. The information you’ve given, your personal experiences will be really valuable, so thank you.
Sue – Thank you for having me, Clint. It’s really good to see you.