A healthy organism reacts to the threat of illness with regulated increase in temperature. In cases of acute infections, high fever develops and can trigger an enhanced immune response effectively defeat infection. Body temperature plays a crucial role in the most complex regulation of the immune system. Fever can be considered as being a temporary "special immune program" of nature.
Fever as a response to an infection can not be equated with hyperthermia as a physical heating of the body.
Nevertheless, increasing systemic body temperature by therapeutic hyperthermia can result in a sustained stimulation of otherwise inhibited immune activity in cases of susceptibility to infections, in chronic infections, as well as in anti-tumor immune response. On the other hand, fever-range hyperthermia can have an anti-inflammatory effect in case of chronic inflammation and auto-immune diseases. Hyperthermia can help to "reset" the immune system and overcome chronic pathologic dysfunctions that came about as a result of a too little or too much immune activity.
Recent comprehensive reviews on the immune effects of fever and of hyperthermia are OPEN ACCESS available:
Evans SS, Repasky EA, Fischer DT:
Fever and the thermal regulation of immunity: the immune system feels the heat.
Nat Rev Immunol. 2015 Jun; 15(6):
Repasky EA, Evans SS, Dewhirst M:
Temperature Matters! And Why it Should Matter to Tumor Immunologists.
Cancer Immunol Res. 2013 Oct 1; 1(4):
Beside immune effects, whole-body hyperthermia has strong perfusional effects and is effective in relaxing deep-seated muscle layers, reducing chronic pain disorders.
Because of its simple principle and the natural methodogy, whole-body hyperthermia was adopted as one of the earliest medical methods of mankind. Its usage and its many application have been recorded in various cultures for thousands of years - look at "History of Fever therapy and Hyperthermia".
Given its history, whole-body hyperthermia within fever range has proven safety and a very low risk of adverse effects if basic criteria of indications and contra-indications are followed.
It is an obligation to save and develop this precious tradition by maintaining and spreading its use as a basic tool of natural healing and as an adjunct to conventional therapies.
Moreover, clinical studies must be conducted to gather more higher-quality scientific evidence.
The three levels of whole-body hyperthermia (WBH)
Subclinical, "mild" WBH:
Fever-range, "moderate" WBH:
38,5 - 40,5°C
> 40,5 - 42°C