Infrared therapy is a light therapy that penetrates deep into your body and is often used to treat joint, fascia or muscle pain, promote healing, boost circulation and encourage cell regeneration and renewal. Overall, red light / infrared therapy can deliver a wide range of therapeutic benefits to your entire body and there are many online published studies to support this.
Infrared -V- Red Light Therapy
Infrared and red light are terms that you will hear quite often. But what are they exactly and is there a difference between them?
Red Light is a visible part of the light spectrum and penetrates superficially into the body, usually to the depth of your skin and is therefore more beneficial in treating the skin or body surface e.g. collagen production, anti aging treatments, skin conditions etc.
Infrared light is an invisible light (at least to us, as our eyes cannot see this end of the light spectrum), which penetrates more deeply than red light, down to the level of our bones.
Modern light therapies generally use a combination of both to gain the maximum benefits in a single treatment. For the purpose of this article, all treatments we mention will include a combination of both infrared and red light.
What Is Infrared Therapy?
Infrared therapy is a near infrared light based method of treatment where light photons are aimed into your body to affect the mitochondria (explained later) in your cells to bring about a beneficial effect. It is completely painless with most people will only feeling a pleasantly light or moderate heat. One of the characteristics of infrared light is its ability to penetrate deep below the skin layers thus providing a much greater depth of treatment, which is why it can effectively provide pain relief and a host of other health benefits without side effects
Benefits of Infrared Light
By effecting change and promoting healing at a cellular level, infrared therapy can boast a wide range of therapeutic health benefits including;
- Reducing pain
- Reducing Inflammation
- Triggering endorphin release
- Promoting healing
- Encouraging cell regeneration
- Boosting circulation
- Lifting your mood
- Stimulating collagen production
- Increasing energy at the cellular level
- Benefiting skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema
- Promoting hair growth
- Tonifying the immune system
- Boosting metabolism.
Reducing Pain & Inflammation
Infrared light has the ability to penetrate deeply into the body and can naturally reduce inflammation and pain in skin, muscles, joints, fascia and other tissues. How does it do this? As the light penetrates through your multiple layers of skin and muscle your cells absorb the infrared light photons, making them more active. Blood flow is increased to the area, delivering a wash of nourishing fluids and removing free radicals and cell debris as well as pain and inflammatory markers. This is a winning combination in both rejuvenating and strengthening your cells while encouraging antioxidant activity and reducing pain and inflammation.
Infra red light directly targets the mitochondria of your cells (the energy powerhouse of the cell) helping it to produce energy carrying molecules known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate). These ATP molecules carry energy from food to each and every cell in your body enabling them to carry out their metabolic functions including cell repair and regeneration. ATP is vital in giving your body the energy for producing collagen, healing itself and maintaining all your body structures.
ATP is also necessary in triggering the release of endorphins, which have a direct pain relieving effect and also enhance your mood. Without sufficient ATP your cells will not carry out their repair functions properly, you will heal slowly or not at all, age more quickly and generally experience more pain and inflammation. You will also suffer from a general lack of energy, lethargy and low mood.
Read the study on Infrared Radiation in the Management of Musculoskeletal Conditions and Chronic Pain
Some of the conditions that can benefit from infrared light therapy include fibromyalgia, joint pain, inflammation, back pain, muscle pain, soft tissue inflammation, neck pain, hip pain and general pain from injuries.
Cell Repair & Regeneration
Given it’s ability to penetrate deeply into the skin, the activity of infrared increases the production of nitric oxide in your body, a vital molecule that is important in blood vessel health.
This essential nitric acid molecule is needed to help relax your arteries, keeping them elastic and assisting in preventing blood from clotting in the blood vessels. It is also an essential component in maintaining a good blood circulation to provide optimum oxygen and nutrients to the injured tissues and thereby speeding up the healing process.
Thanks to the action of infrared on nitric acid production within your body, your cells receive a rush of oxygen and nutrients when needed, greatly boosting their regenerative power while at the same time clearing out cell debris and free radicals.
Boosts Immune System
Getting sick is a normal part of life, we cannot avoid coming into contact with bacteria, viruses and other toxins. A strong immune system is the perfect defense against most of what life throws at us. Poor lifestyle, lack of sleep, a diet lacking nutrition, environmental toxins, smoking or a combination of all weakens our immune system, making it more likely that we will become sick. As well as a healthy lifestyle, infrared light is one of the best methods we can use to boost our immune system. Penetrating to the cellular level, infrared light photons act on every cell in the body, boosting their effectiveness, nourishing them, cleaning them and allowing them to work to the best of their ability.
Some of the immune system boosting benefits of infrared include;
- Increased production of white blood cells: Your immune system’s first line of defense in any infection and the more you have, the more effectively your body can fight off illnesses,
- Priming the immune system: By slightly raising your body temperature, infrared allows your immune system to be more effective in eliminating bacteria/virus invaded cells and detecting and destroying tumour cells,
- Detoxification: Infrared is a powerful tool in detoxifying your body. It boosts lymphatic circulation to clear free radicals and impurities from your cells and promotes sweating to naturally eliminate toxins.
Skin Health & Anti Aging
Infrared therapy is becoming more popular as a treatment for improving skin health and appearance. It boosts blood flow to bring oxygen and nutrients to your skin cells, encouraging healing, reducing inflammation and boosting blood and lymph circulation. It also increases the production of collagen by stimulating your skin’s collagen producing cells (fibroblasts).
Collagen is the most abundant protein in your body, being found predominantly in connective tissue and acts as the “glue” that holds everything in your body together. It also gives your skin it’s strength and elasticity, the more elastic your skin the more youthful it looks.
Poor nutrition and lifestyle as well as age itself decrease your body’s production of collagen, leading directly to an aging body and older looking skin. By encouraging collagen production, infrared therapy has a direct impact on your skin, making it firmer, reducing fine lines and wrinkles and generally improving it’s appearance. But red light doesn’t just make your skin just LOOK younger, it actually MAKES it younger.
Would you like strong healthy hair? Who wouldn’t! Red light therapy is the perfect natural, effective and non invasive method to encourage healthy hair growth and reduce hair loss in both men and women. By stimulating the hair follicles, boosting blood circulation and promoting efficient lymphatic drainage, red light can have a dramatic and lasing effect on the health of your hair and scalp. The rush of oxygen and nutrients delivered to the base of your hair follicles encourages them to grow to the best of their ability and allows them to become thicker and more resilient. Red light is also commonly used in the treatment of alopecia and other hair loss conditions.
Infrared and red light can induce a deep sense of relaxation, expanding your body’s blood vessels to increase the flow of blood and heat to your muscles and tissues. Red light also stimulates the release of anti-stress and mood improving hormones making it a very beneficial ‘pick up’ at the end of the week or after a particularly stressful time. The light photons in infrared encourage the release of endorphins, relieving pain and imflammation and naturally boosting your mood.
The mitochondria present in every cell in our bodies are responsible for energy production and also determine our basal metabolism (the amount of calories we burn at rest.) Passive heat (infrared) increases muscle mitochondria proteins and activity in the same way as exercise and can therefore help in achieving weight loss. Combined with healthy diet and exercise, infrared can result in reduced insulin resistance, increased basal metabolism and more effective muscle activity.
Infrared - The Sciencey Bit
Infrared light penetrates approximately 2 – 7 cm deep into the body, reaching down to the muscles, nerves, bones and cells. Studies show that infrared light with frequency wavelengths from 700 to 1,000 nanometers is best for treating most conditions.
The use of electricity for healing purposes is many centuries old, as early as 2,700 BC when electric eels were used to administer shocks for various conditions. Up until modern times, these treatments were generally hit and miss. In 1975, TENS therapy (transcutaneous electrical stimulation) was developed to treat chronic pain conditions and more recently infrared therapy was developed to improve healing, reduce pain, increase endorphin levels and boost bioactivate neuromodulator activity (a neuromodulator is a messenger released by a neuron that affects the transmission of signals between neurons and has a direct effect on the health and efficiency of your nervous system).
Some of these studies include;
Far-infrared therapy for cardiovascular, autoimmune, and other chronic health problems: A systematic review
Infrared Light Prevents Dementia?
From Pain Relief to Better Mood: Benefits of Infrared Saunas
Red Light Therapy Research: Clearing Up The myths And Uncertainty
I hope you enjoyed my article on the benefits of red light and infrared therapy. I am a personal fan of both and the more research I do, the more I love them.
Thank you for reading our article and we hope you enjoyed reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it, please feel free to contact us or leave a comment below. As always, we ask that you read our Disclaimer and if you would like to keep up to date on more future articles and news, please subscribe to our newsletter below.