Help for the 14 million Americans suffering from diabetes may be as close as the nearest hot tub.
A small pilot study reported in New England Journal of Medicine suggests that soaking in a hot tub for 30 minutes a day for a three-week period can reduce blood sugar levels by 13 percent.
The treatment worked so well for one of the eight volunteers, he had to reduce the amount of insulin he was taking by 18 percent to avoid having his blood sugar level fall too far.
Dr. Philip Hooper of McKee Medical Center in Loveland, Colorado, experimented with the hot tub therapy in hopes that it would mimic the effects of exercise, which is already known to reduce the need for insulin.
Hooper said the "results suggest that hot-tub therapy should be further evaluated as a therapy for patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus. It may be especially helpful for patients who are unable to exercise."
The volunteers, who had been suffering from diabetes from three to 14 years, also "reported improved sleep and an increased general sense of well-being," he said.
But the treatment was not without its drawbacks. The patients had to be routinely helped from the tub when the water temperature exceeded 40 degree Celsius because they became dizzy after they stepped out of the tub and tried to stand.
Unfortunately for those seeking an easy way to shed pounds, the hot tub treatments produced little or no change in the body weights of the patients, age 43 to 68.