The sauna offers a real benefit for blood pressure

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Q: When I get out of the sauna my blood pressure is lower. It is also lower in summer. Maybe heat vasodilation is beneficial in the long run, but I’m not sure if there are any studies. Do you know any?

A: A recent study by Australian scientists concludes that heat therapy helps lower blood pressure and improves dilation of blood vessels (Experimental Physiology, June 2021). The authors note that people with a lifelong sauna habit have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease.

Another review reports that sauna baths reduce cardiometabolic disorders and recommends the practice for people in highly stressful professions such as first responders (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, January 27, 2021). A sauna session also improves blood circulation in people with stable coronary artery disease (Canadian Journal of Cardiology, March 2021).

You can read more about the cardiovascular benefits of the sauna for blood pressure as well as other non-drug approaches in our Blood Pressure Solutions eGuide. This online resource can be found under the Health eGuides tab on PeoplesPharmacy.com.

Q: You’ve written about Restless Legs a few times, but I have a new approach. Often times when I try to fall asleep my feet twitch, as if they are buzzing. I feel like I need to move them.

Here’s an unusual method that relieves that fuss almost every time: I put on my headphones and stream a show on my iPhone. In 30 minutes, my feet are relaxed and stay that way until I fall asleep.

A: We certainly appreciate your new remedy. Others have reported that listening to a podcast or news show can help calm their minds so they can fall asleep. However, we caution you that looking at a device like your iPhone shortly before bed could expose you to blue light that could interfere with your sleep (Sleep Health, August 2020). Therefore, we are concerned that your approach may not work for everyone.

Q: I have severe muscle cramps frequently, sometimes so bad that I almost called an ambulance. My head, neck, shoulders and ribs are most commonly affected, as well as the inner thighs. Over the years, doctors have not been helpful.

Finally, I found a new doctor. On my first visit, she suggested that I try Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). I take 400 mg per day and have no muscle cramps anymore. However, if I just miss a day, they start again to remind me that my body needs CoQ10.

A: Our bodies actually make coenzyme Q10, which is essential for energy factories in cells called mitochondria. It has anti-inflammatory activity and is primarily associated with the prevention or treatment of cardiovascular disease (Antioxidants, April 22, 2020). This compound is also essential for muscle function (Nutrients, May 17, 2021).

Thank you for sharing your experience. The only studies we could find on CoQ10 supplements for muscle cramps were for muscle symptoms associated with statins (Journal of the American Heart Association, October 2, 2018). The authors of this review conclude that “CoQ10 supplementation improved muscle symptoms associated with statins, implying that CoQ10 supplementation may be a complementary approach to manage statin-induced myopathy”.


Contact the Graedons at peoplespharmacy.com.


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