What Is Infrared Therapy and How Does It Work

Posted by JNH Lifestyles on 1st Jan 2022

What Is Infrared Therapy
and How Does It Work

By: Your JNH Lifestylist

Infrared therapy is everywhere these days. Ever since its discovery, infrared waves have been used for many things, with what looks likes endless applications in various fields. It is used for night vision devices, thermographic cameras, as a heating source, by meteorologists and for communications, to name a few. It is even in your remote control and it has now entered the wellness industry. In the last couple of years, we have seen the rise of infrared saunas, a new trend that has caught the attention of many people, including celebrities such as Lady Gaga, Kendall Jenner and Gwyneth Paltrow. In this article, you will learn everything you need to know about infrared waves and how they can help improve your health [1].


What Is Infrared?

Infrared waves are a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, just like visible light. However, these waves are slightly different in the fact that their wavelength is longer, making them invisible to the naked eye. However, just because you can't see them doesn't mean that they're not working. Humans can only perceive a small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum, with other rays such as ultraviolet and x-rays also being invisible [2].

Diagram of the Electromagnetic Spectrum, with an emphasis on infrared

Due to infrared's longer wavelength, it can penetrate your tissues and generate heat. This is done by causing the water molecules in your tissues to vibrate [3]. The vibrations, on a microscopic level, is what generates heat, leading you to warm up internally and eventually sweat. This is why infrared waves can be used in saunas to increase your body temperature.

What Effect Does Infrared Light Have In Your Body?

Scientists have been doing a large amount of research to see how infrared light benefits our bodies. One of the most common explanations has to do with our cells. Infrared waves enter our cells and stimulate a specific part called the mitochondria. This is the powerhouse of the cell, meaning that all the energy our cells need to stay alive and maintain metabolism is produced here. By stimulating this part of the cell, infrared helps generate more energy, which can benefit your body for a multitude of different purposes [4].

Cardiovascular Benefits Of Infrared Light

Vasodilation

Cardiovascular diseases are the most common cause of death around the world. Thankfully, infrared waves have been shown to reduce this risk. Studies have reported that this type of treatment reduces the risk of hypertension and strokes, by lowering cholesterol levels and inflammation [5]. It has also shown promise in patients with congestive heart failure whose quality of life is severely compromised. This chronic condition doesn't have many treatment options, so infrared therapy can provide some relief to these patients [6].

Autoimmune Disorders

Autoimmune disorders are often hard to treat and put a huge burden on many people's lives. Infrared therapy has been used to treat patients with conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. These patients reported an improvement in their symptoms, with less pain and stiffness. There could be many reasons for this, like how infrared promotes blood vessel dilation, with more oxygen and nutrients reaching the joints and muscles. However, one thing that shouldn't be overlooked is how therapy helps control stress and anxiety, as well as how it helps regulate your sleep cycle. After all, stress, anxiety and lack of sleep can be deleterious in the progress of autoimmune disorders [7].

Achieve Beautiful Skin

man pulling the skin on his face to smoothen it out

One of the things infrared therapy can help with is the appearance of your skin. Studies have shown that exposure to infrared light improves the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. This is a result of an increase in collagen density in your skin. Collagen is a protein that keeps your skin firm and tends to decrease as you age. Therefore, being exposed to infrared light can help prevent and treat the signs of aging [8].

Boost Your Athletic Performance

Infrared therapy is recommended for athletes who wish to improve their endurance and performance. This is achieved through the regulation of the sleep cycle, which results in better recovery. These waves have also been associated with increasing the levels of growth hormone, which helps repair your tissues and is greatly responsible for muscle growth. Also, by reducing inflammation, infrared waves help you avoid soreness and pain after a strenuous workout, which results in better performance and greater results [9].

How Can You Benefit From Infrared Therapy?

Considering all the amazing benefits that infrared has to offer, it would be crazy not consider it as a viable treatment option. There are different ways in which you can benefit from infrared therapy, but infrared saunas are definitely the most convenient option. They work just like a regular sauna with the exception that your body is heated through infrared waves rather than hot air. As a result, they are much more bearable since the air around you isn't heated to extreme temperatures.

Adding infrared saunas to your routine, whether it is at the end of your workouts or just before sleep can greatly impact your overall health and make you feel younger and better than ever.

Infrared Therapy In A Nutshell: Infrared is a part of the electromagnetic spectrum, Infrared separates into: near infrared, mid infrared and far infrared, Each 3 affect the body differently, offering their own unique health benefits, Benefits include detox, better skin, improvements to heart health, and boosts in endurance (to name a few)

Resources:

[1] Malacoff Julia. "The Pain Relief Method Lady Gaga Swears By." Shape.com. Shape Magazine, https://www.shape.com/celebrities/news/pain-relief-method-lady-gaga-swears.

[2] Dold Brian. (2016). "Infrared Radiation in Modern Technology." Researchgate.net, Research Gate, April 2016, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/301553918_Infrared_Radiation_in_Modern_Technology.

[3] Aboud Salam, Altermimi Ammar, Al-Hilphy Asaad, Yi-Chen Lee, Cacciola Francesco. (2019). "A Comprehensive Review on Infrared Heating Applications in Food Processing." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, November 2019, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6891297/.

[4] Vatansever Fatma, Hamblin Michael R. (2012) "Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center For Biotechnology Information, 16 October 2012,  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3699878/ .

[5] Laukkanen JA, Laukkanen T, Kunutsor SK. (2018). "Cardiovascular and Other Health Benefits of Sauna Bathing: A Review of the Evidence" Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, August 2018, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30077204.

[6] Bauer Brent. (2017). "What is an infrared sauna? Does it have health benefits?" Mayoclinic.org, Mayo Clinic, 7 June 2017, https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/expert-answers/infrared-sauna/faq-20057954.

[7] Oosterveld FG, Rasker JJ, Floors M, Landkroon R, van Rennes B, Zwijnenberg J, van de Laar MA, Koel GJ. (2009) "Infrared sauna in patients with rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis. A pilot study showing good tolerance, short-term improvement of pain and stiffness, and a trend toward long-term beneficial effects." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnology Information, January 2009,  https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685882.

[8] Pinar Avci, Asheesh Gupta, Magesh Sadavisam, Daniela Vecchio, Zeev Pam, Nadav Pam Michael Hamblin. (2013). "Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring.", March 2013, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/.

[9] Hussain Joy, Cohen Marc. (2018). "Clinical Effects of Regular Dry Sauna Bathing: A Systematic Review." Ncbi.nlm.nih.gov, National Center for Biotechnological Information, 34 April 2018 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5941775/.

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