Objective: Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) is a disabling condition of unknown etiology, and no definitive therapy has been identified to date. We developed Waon therapy, a form of thermal therapy using a far-infrared dry sauna, and in this study herein examined its feasibility and safety in patients with CFS.
Methods: Ten consecutive inpatients with CFS stayed in a 60°C sauna for 15 minutes and then rested on a bed under a blanket for an additional 30 minutes outside the sauna room. The treatments were performed once a day, five days a week for four weeks. Perceived fatigue, the primary outcome measure, was evaluated using a numerical rating scale before, during (two weeks after the commencement of therapy) and after therapy. The pain level, evaluated using a numerical rating scale, mood, assessed using the Profile of Mood States questionnaire, and performance status, assessed using a scale developed for CFS patients were also examined before and after therapy.
Results: Perceived fatigue significantly decreased after therapy, although no significant reductions were observed during therapy. In addition, a negative mood, including anxiety, depression and fatigue, and the performance status significantly improved after therapy. However, the levels of pain and vigor did not change significantly. No patients reported any adverse effects during the therapy.
Conclusion: These findings suggest that Waon therapy may be a useful and safe treatment for CFS.