Purpose of review: Heat therapy, such as sauna and hot tub, has become an increasingly regular therapeutical practice around the world since several studies have shown benefits of heat therapy in metabolic and cardiovascular diseases. The use of heat therapy in people with type 2 diabetes mellitus revealed a striking reduction of 1% unit in the glycated hemoglobin, suggesting this therapy for the treatment of diabetes. Herein, we shall discuss the use of heat therapy and the mechanisms involved, and suggest a provisional guide for the use of heat therapy in obesity and diabetes.
Recent findings: Human studies indicate that heat therapy reduces fasting glycemia, glycated hemoglobin, body weight, and adiposity. Animal studies have indicated that nitric oxide and the increase in heat shock protein 70 expression is involved in the improvements induced by heat therapy on insulin sensitivity, adiposity, inflammation, and vasomotricity.
Summary: Heat therapy is a promising and inexpensive tool for the treatment of obesity and diabetes. We proposed that transient increments in nitric oxide and heat shock protein 70 levels may explain the benefits of heat therapy. We suggest that heat therapy (sauna: 80-100°C; hot tub: at 40°C) for 15 min, three times a week, for 3 months, is a safe method to test its efficiency.