Health Benefits of Infrared Light Therapy

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Infrared light therapy leverages the natural healing power of electromagnetic radiation in such a way to heal wounds, reduce inflammation, and even lower blood pressure! The same frequencies of light the sun emits can be harnessed in focused applications such as cold laser therapy or infrared saunas. These novel new therapies are becoming commonplace among health professionals such as Chiropractors and physical therapists.

Overview

Infrared light therapy isn’t just shining light on something in hopes that it will feel better. Rather, it’s making use of specific wavelengths within the electromagnetic spectrum that is known to provide benefits to the human body.  By no coincidence, these same frequencies fall within the range that the majority of the suns radiation does. In other words, infrared therapies mimic the suns natural healing power in many ways.

electromagnetic-spectrum
The electromagnetic spectrum. Image from Wikipedia

Electromagnetic Spectrum

There are many different types of radiation in the universe. The most common types range from x-rays to visible light to radio waves. Energies are characterized by their frequency and higher frequency energy falls higher on the EM spectrum. For example, visible light is considered “lower” on the spectrum than x-rays and gamma rays but higher than things like radio waves and infrared light. The difference in frequencies greatly affects how these energies affect their surrounding environments. For example, one might feel rejuvenated after a short blast of infrared radiation but that might not be the case after a blast of microwave radiation.

Infrared Light

Just below the range of visible light is where infrared light can be found. This ranges from the 3 Terahertz (THz) range to the 300 THz range and is categorized as far infrared, mid-infrared, and near-infrared. The distance notations are descriptors of the energetic proximity to visible light. In other words, far infrared light is farthest from visible light among the infrared bands of energy. This band of energy isn’t visible by the naked eye but is often accompanied by higher-frequency energy such as low red and organe lights. The most common example of such energy is the heat lamps used to keep food warm on buffet lines.

Understanding Infrared Light Therapy

Infrared light therapy utilizes the beneficial effects of infrared light to help address health conditions such as muscle pain (R), mitochondrial disorders (R), and cancer (R). Infrared therapy works to allow your body to absorb this beneficial spectrum of light on a cellular level, which works to address many health conditions from their root cause. This type of therapy offers a strong benefit for many health conditions while operating in a totally non-invasive manner.

Benefits of Infrared Light Therapy

Infrared light therapy offers itself as a novel, non-invasive therapy with a wide range of potential applications. One won’t find cold-laser therapy being used for the treatment of acute circumstances such as broken bones, deep lacerations, or tumor growth. However, their is some exciting new research describing potential applications for the management of better overall health and the treatment of several chronic health conditions.

Cancer Therapy

Recently, some of these researchers demonstrated that targeted light therapy was able to eliminate cancerous cell growth in mice (R). While still technically a form of radiation therapy, this method involves a much less deadly form of radiation—the infrared band—and doesn’t involve the irradiation of other healthy tissues. This research used a type of photo-reactive dye that binds only to tumor cells. Once this compound was absorbed by the cancer cells, researchers activated it with infrared light and the cancer cells were annihilated!

Inflammation & Wound Healing

Another popular form of infrared therapy is called Cold Laser Therapy and is used by many chiropractors and physical therapists. This type of therapy involves placing a laser emitter against your skin on the target area, and allowing your body to absorb the energy for a short period of time. This type of therapy produces no heat, vibration, or pain and is among one of the least invasive therapies available. Cold laser therapy products are also available on the consumer market, and are used for self-treatment of inflammation, cuts, bruises, and muscular issues (R). NOTE: This is not to be confused with other “cold” therapies such as Cryolipolysis (fat-freezing) where cold temperatures are used.

Blood Pressure & Muscle Performance

When your body is exposed to infrared light, it triggers a reaction on a cellular level. This reaction signals your body to start producing a lot of Nitric Oxide, which increases blood flow. There is much evidence that this type of increase in Nitric Oxide can help the performance of muscles in the short term, as well as reduce wear and tear in the long term (R). Historically, Nitroglycerin has been given to heart patients as a means of preventing heart attacks. This compound readily turns into Nitric Oxide within the body, offering all the benefits mentioned earlier. Infrared light therapy has Nitric Oxide levels can be seen to increase in dramatic levels in just 5 minutes (R). Imagine sitting in a sauna for 15 minutes a day rather than taking blood-pressure medication!

Common Types of Infrared Light Therapy

The growing body of research illuminating the power benefits of infrared light therapy has prompted many companies to offer products to meet a new consumer demand. While many of these devices are sold to licensed health practitioners at exorbitant costs, there are now many consumer-priced products available. Most of these products are either infrared saunas or cold laser devices. Cold laser devices are typically much cheaper but only treat a very small, targeted area of your body. Infrared saunas, on the other hand, offer whole body treatments and are great for detoxification. These products are much more expensive, although they can be found at a considerable discount through online sites like Amazon.

Infrared Saunas

These products are similar to traditional saunas which have been used for centuries for the health benefits, although they use modern infrared technology. Rather than having a coal or wood-burning stove within their confines, these modern saunas have carbon fiber heating elements which produce infrared wave radiation at a molecular level. This removes an obvious safety hazard but also means that these types of products can be easily shipped, assembled, and used in nearly any home. Infrared saunas are used by many people to help with weight loss, ease muscle pain, lower blood pressure, and detoxify toxins from deep tissues. We’ve got an entire article on the benefits of infrared saunas that can help elaborate more here.

Cold Lasers

These devices are used by many physical therapists and chiropractic doctors as a means to non-invasively treat damaged tissues. These devices provide a much more targeted treatment option than infrared saunas, are often handheld, and can usually be found for under $100. Medical grade devices are still very expensive and are usually reserved for only practicing doctors or organizations. These devices are comprised of LEDs which emit targeted light frequencies shown to illicit desired responses from your body on a molecular level. Cold Lasers are great for the healing of muscle tissues, wounds, and stimulating new cellular growth.

Sunlight!

We all owe our lives not only to our Earth but mainly to our Sun. Our sun provides our Earth with nourishing warmth and energy, helping drive all the processes of life. The sun’s output of energy spans across the electromagnetic spectrum, ranging from gamma rays to radio waves. Much of the Sun’s energy that reaches the Earth is in the form of visible and infrared light. One of the best ways to bump up your exposure to infrared light is simply by basking in the warmth of the sun. Ever notice, that even on the most blustery winter days, if you are able to find a sunny patch you manage to stay warm? Our bodies are naturally tuned to absorb the energy of the sun in a very efficient manner, and thus are able to benefit even from short exposures. So if you’re looking for an easy way to bump up your infrared light exposure, go outside and play in the Sun!

Discussion

Research has shown that infrared light therapy can be a powerful means to effect positive health changes. Devices such as cold lasers and infrared saunas are being used by a growing number of people to help address many different health conditions. In addition, many licensed health practitioners now offer these types of therapies as part of their regular protocols. Infrared light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum that is just below visible light, and therefore largely unseen to the human eye. For those looking for a powerful and non-invasive means of addressing certain health issues, infrared light therapy may be for you. As with any decision regarding your health, you should consult with your doctor before changing anything about your current routines or protocols.

How’d We Do?

Infrared light therapy is an exciting new approach to treat many health conditions non-invasively. We believe that understanding its intricacies can be a valuable aspect of maintaining a healthy lifestyle. If you found this article useful please let us know by using the rating box below

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