Article at a Glance
- Infrared therapy utilizes specific wavelengths of light to treat a variety of medical conditions.
- Research has shown that infrared therapies are effective for decreasing chronic pain and improving sleep.
- Infrared therapies are safe and noninvasive.
Far-infrared (FIR) and near-infrared (NIR) therapy utilize electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths just beyond visible light to affect key biological processes. Harnessing the infrared band of thermal radiation is now widely recognized as a therapy for many age-related issues. Infrared therapy benefits have been used to treat a variety of medical conditions including chronic pain, chronic immune disorders, and even neurological diseases.
What is Infrared Therapy?
Infrared therapy emits wavelengths of light energy that penetrate deep into tissues. It utilizes light at opposite ends of the spectrum and delivers heat and therapeutic benefits in different ways. These are called far-infrared and near-infrared wavelengths. Evidence suggests that infrared therapy can be used to both stimulate and modulate biological processes, such as blood circulation and anti-inflammatory mechanisms [R]. There are advantages of infrared therapy that distinguish it from other forms of therapy solutions. Its ease of administration, cost-effectiveness, and noninvasive nature for the patient are all seen as benefits of using infrared therapy.
Infrared Therapy Benefits
The benefits of infrared therapy are far more wide-ranging than people assume. The complete list of benefits are still being researched, but we already know its use can impact lives.
Treatment of Pain
Pain remains the most pervasive ailment for people worldwide, and in America is cited as the foremost reason people visit their doctors [R]. In a study conducted with fibromyalgia patients, FIR therapy elicited a reduction of pain by about half in all participants after the first session, which became consistently present after ten sessions [R].
FIR therapy was used in conjunction with existing treatments in chronic pain patients, demonstrating efficacy and showing further promise. After two years of treatment, 77% of patients that received FIR therapy in their treatment plan returned to work, compared to 50% who had not received this therapy [R]. Another trial carried out on chronic low back pain patients that utilized portable FIR units embedded in a waistband found that treatment produced significant reductions in pain with no side effects [R].
Reducing Levels of Chronic Inflammation
An increasing body of research is elucidating the involvement of underlying chronic inflammation in many physiological diseases. In a study that used a mouse model of inflammation, FIR rays were administered and blood samples were collected to analyze both genes and proteins involved in perpetuating the inflammatory response. Following biochemical testing, FIR therapy was found to inhibit key messenger proteins involved in inflammation [R].
Chronic inflammation also underpins effective burn wound healing. It was found that FIR induced certain immune cells that become overactive during inflammation to enter into a state of autophagy, a physiological process that destroys unnecessary cells [R]. This, coupled with inactivation of a key inflammatory mediator, promoted wound healing in an animal burn model [R].
Therapeutic Effects for Neurological Disorders
The noninvasive nature of FIR therapy renders it a promising candidate to help treat disorders of the brain. Infrared therapy has been studied in those with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). One study showed that transcranial near-infrared therapy administered to participants with TBI resulted in significant cognitive improvements and a decrease in PTSD symptoms [R].
How to Experience Infrared Therapy
There are various options in terms of administering a controlled source of infrared light. Infrared therapy LED panels are offered at human performance and longevity clinics nationwide. There are also FDA-approved devices such as LED near-infrared therapy beds, panels, and hand-held devices. Additionally, there are portable infrared saunas that are available for consumer purchase. These solutions vary in the light source, the size, as well as the power output.
A growing body of research is providing evidence that infrared therapy shows efficacy in the treatment of a variety of diseases and ailments. If you’d like to experience the infrared therapy benefits you can feel first-hand, check out our database of clinics that offer infrared therapy.
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