Japanese researchers recently reported a series of experiments in the use of wa-on sauna therapy for treating various kinds of circulatory disorders and neuropathies in the legs and feet. Wa-on is a dry sauna, not a steam bath, in a room heated to 60° C/170° F.
The researchers claim that dry sauna helps patients with congestive heart failure, atrial fibrillation, intermittent claudication (poor circulation to the legs), and diabetic neuropathy. They believe that the application of dry heat acts on blood vessels in the legs in much the same that Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis restore circulation to the male sex organs. The heat encourages the production of compound known as nitric oxide, which relaxes the linings of blood vessels and encourages the both the circulation of blood and the growth of capillaries to provide collateral circulation around any blockages.
The Japanese researchers show photographs of dramatic improvement in foot ulcers, although they do not offer any evidence of improvement in diabetic neuropathy. Also, sauna is not a do-it-yourself treatment. Diabetics only enter the sauna in the company of a knowledgeable, responsible person who will make sure they do not suffer dehydration or burns. They limit their stay in the sauna to 15 minutes, and they stay under blankets to keep warm after they leave they sauna for 30 minutes.
When wa-on is performed correctly, however, the results can be amazing. Pain ends, wounds heal, and amputations are avoided. The best approach to using heat for healing is to go to a health club or spa where you will have help available as needed for treatment.
Miyata M, Tei C. Waon therapy for cardiovascular disease: innovative therapy for the 21st century.
Circ J. 2010 Mar 25;74(4):617-21. Epub 2010 Feb 13. Review.