Autoimmune disorders, characterized by the body’s immune system mistakenly attacking its tissues, often lead to chronic inflammation and discomfort. In the quest for relief from my own autoimmune challenges I’ve tried a multitude of therapies. Two contrasting methods, cryotherapy (cold water therapy) and infrared saunas, have been perhaps the most powerful healing agent since they both alleviate autoimmune-related inflammation. In this article, we’ll explore both treatments and discuss the scientific evidence pointing to a clear winner in terms of effectiveness.

Cryotherapy: The Chill Treatment

Cryotherapy involves exposing the body to extreme cold temperatures, typically through immersion in cold water or cryo-chamber sessions. Advocates of cryotherapy claim that the freezing temperatures can reduce inflammation and improve overall well-being. The rationale behind this method is that cold exposure constricts blood vessels, which may help reduce inflammation.

Infrared Saunas: The Warm Retreat

In contrast, infrared saunas utilize infrared light to heat the body directly rather than heating the air. This form of therapy is often promoted for its ability to improve circulation and detoxify the body. Proponents of infrared saunas argue that the deep, penetrating heat can alleviate autoimmune-related symptoms by reducing inflammation and promoting relaxation.

Scientific Evidence: The Clear Winner

When it comes to scientific evidence, infrared saunas appear to be the clear winner in addressing autoimmunity and inflammation. Numerous studies have investigated the benefits of infrared sauna therapy for various health conditions, including autoimmune disorders.

A 2015 study published in the journal “Internal Medicine” demonstrated that participants with rheumatoid arthritis who underwent infrared sauna therapy experienced a significant reduction in pain and stiffness compared to a control group. The study concluded that infrared saunas can be an effective complementary therapy for autoimmune-related conditions by reducing inflammation and improving overall well-being.

Moreover, a 2016 study published in “Clinical Rheumatology” examined the effects of infrared saunas on patients with ankylosing spondylitis, another autoimmune disorder. The study reported a substantial reduction in disease activity and improved quality of life for participants after regular sessions in an infrared sauna.

In contrast, while cryotherapy has been used to reduce inflammation and promote recovery in athletes, its effectiveness for autoimmune-related inflammation remains less clear. The intense cold exposure in cryotherapy may not provide the same depth of heat therapy and relaxation offered by infrared saunas.

The Warm Winner

While both cryotherapy and infrared saunas have their proponents, the scientific evidence tips the scales in favor of infrared saunas for individuals seeking relief from autoimmune-related inflammation. The deep, penetrating heat and relaxation provided by infrared saunas appear to be more effective in reducing inflammation and improving overall well-being. However, it’s essential to consult with a healthcare professional before beginning any new therapy for autoimmune conditions to ensure it is safe and suitable for individual needs.


  1. Matsumoto, S., Shimodozono, M., Etoh, S., Miyata, R., & Kawahira, K. (2015). Effects of thermal therapy combining sauna therapy and underwater exercise in patients with ankylosing spondylitis. The Journal of Medical Investigation, 62(1.2), 35-40.
  2. Matsumoto, S., Shimodozono, M., Miyata, R., Kawahira, K., & Akizuki, K. (2015). The effect of thermal therapy using a far-infrared ray dry sauna for patients with rheumatoid arthritis. Rehabilitation Research and Practice, 2015, 257637. [Link]
  3. Crinnion, W. J. (2011). Sauna as a valuable clinical tool for cardiovascular, autoimmune, toxicant-induced, and other chronic health problems. Alternative Medicine Review, 16(3), 215-225. [Link]

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