Q: When I get out of the sauna, my blood pressure is lower. It also runs lower in the summertime. Perhaps the vasodilation due to heat is beneficial over the long term, but I am not sure if there are any studies. Do you know of any?
A: A recent review by Australian scientists concludes that heat therapy helps lower blood pressure and improves blood vessel dilation (Experimental Physiology, June 2021). The authors note that people with a lifelong sauna habit are at lower risk of cardiovascular disease.
Another review reports that sauna bathing reduces cardiometabolic disorders and recommends the practice for people in high-stress occupations such as first responders (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, Jan. 27, 2021). A sauna session also improves blood flow for people with stable coronary artery disease (Canadian Journal of Cardiology, March 2021).
You can learn more about the cardiovascular benefits of sauna bathing for blood pressure as well as other nondrug approaches in our eGuide to Blood Pressure Solutions. This online resource may be found under the Health eGuides tab at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com.
Q: You have written about restless legs several times, but I have a new approach. Often, when I try to fall asleep, my feet get restless, like they’re buzzing. I feel that I need to move them.
Here’s an unusual method that relieves this restlessness nearly every time: I pop in my earbuds and watch a streaming show on my iPhone. Within 30 minutes, my feet are relaxed and stay that way until I fall asleep.
A: We certainly appreciate your novel remedy. Others have reported that listening to a podcast or a news show can help calm their minds so they can get to sleep. We do caution you, however, that staring at a device like your iPhone shortly before bedtime could expose you to blue light that might interfere with your sleep (Sleep Health, August 2020). Consequently, we fear your approach might not work for everybody.
Q: I get severe muscle cramps frequently, sometimes so bad I have nearly called an ambulance. My head, neck, shoulders and ribs are most frequently affected, along with my inner thighs. Over the years, doctors have not been helpful.
Eventually, I found a new doctor. On my first visit, she suggested I try coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10). I take 400 mg a day, and I don’t get muscle cramps any longer. However, if I miss just one day, they start up again to remind me that my body needs CoQ10.
A: Our bodies actually make coenzyme Q10, which is critical for the energy factories in the cells called mitochondria. It has anti-inflammatory activity and is primarily associated with preventing or treating cardiovascular disease (Antioxidants, April 22, 2020). This compound is also critical for muscle function (Nutrients, May 17, 2021).
We appreciate you sharing your experience. The only studies we could find on CoQ10 supplements for muscle cramps were in the context of statin-associated muscle symptoms (Journal of the American Heart Association, Oct. 2, 2018). The authors of this review conclude that “CoQ10 supplementation ameliorated statin-associated muscle symptoms, implying that CoQ10 supplementation may be a complementary approach to manage statin-induced myopathy.”