Near Infra Red (NIR) Therapy
An Effective Method for Alleviating Pain and Inflammation
WHAT IS NIR THERAPY?
Near infrared light therapy uses invisible, near infrared wavelengths to irradiate cells in the body,, to stimulate the healing response, generate energy and relieve pain. Infrared light therapy has been proven effective by hundreds of studies world-wide, is 100% natural and has no known adverse side effects.
WHAT IS NIR LIGHT ?
Our whole created universe is made up of energy. Energy vibrates at different frequencies with different wavelengths, This is what has given rise to the electro-magnetic spectrum.
The shortest wavelengths (that we know of) are cosmic rays. These also travel the quickest and penetrate through all matter.
As wavelengths increase, we experience gamma, then x-rays, ultra-violet rays, visible light, infrared rays, microwaves and radio waves. Infra red rays are part of the spectrum just outside of visible light. They are invisible, slightly longer in wave length than visible light, and often give off heat.
Within the Infra Red spectrum, there are near, mid and far infra red rays. Only mid and far IR rays generate heat.
NIR are closest to the red light of visible light, just outside of the deep reds, and generally span from a wavelength of 750 to 1400 nm (nanometers). 30 % of sunlight is within the biologically active range from 630 to 900 nm, which is able to penetrate through blood and water to reach the mitochondria in our cells. Anything below 630 nm is absorbed (and therefore blocked) by haemoglobin molecules in blood, and any waves over 900 nm is also absorbed (and blocked) by water.
WHY USE NIR THERAPY?
Near Infra Red light therapy invigorates blood flow, relieves pain and improves the microcirculation of deep tissue layers,
It is safe, non-invasive, totally natural and extremely effective.
NIR Therapy is particularly useful for joint pain, chronic (and acute) injuries, wounds, poor neurological function (such as Altzeimer's Disease, depression, Post-Traumatic Stress conditions, tinnitus, migraines, headaches and a multitude of other inflammation / poor circulation based conditions.
One of the reasons why near infrared light is used therapeutically is its ability for deep penetration (from 5 to 7.5 cm), which allows it to work through the two layers of skin (dermis and epidermis), the underlying fat areas (adipocytes) all the way to the muscular, tendon and joint region. It is even used to penetrate through the skull to brain regions (transcranial therapy).
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF NIR THERAPY?
One of the greatest benefits of NIR therapy is its ability to reduce inflammation, which is now considered to be the leading cause of pain in the body. Inflammation is also linked to an array of chronic conditions such as cardio-vascular problems, cancer, altzeimer’s, autism, diabetes and more. (For more information, read this article – ‘How Inflammation Affects Every Aspect of Your Health’ by Dr Mercola)
Here are a list of benefits of NIR therapy –
Reduces Inflammation – particularly useful for chronic soft tissue injuries which stubbornly refuse to heal.
Reduces Pain – NIR floods an area with extra blood, causing changes in pain levels. One research study conducted on 21 patients with chronic low back pain (of duration more than six years) showed a reduction in pain from average pain score of 6.9 to 3 after six weeks treatment. (13)
Lessens Joint and Muscle Pain & Increases Flexibility - Penetrating heat from NIR has long been proven to reduce pain and increase circulation to areas of discomfort. NIR has also been shown to significantly increase the range of flexibility. (1)
Heals chronic injuries – NIR creates mild oxidants (Reactive Oxygen Species) that leads to gene transcription and then to cellular repair and healing.
Improves Micro-Circulation – NIR helps body release Nitric Oxide, which dilates blood vessels
Boosts Metabolism – Mitochondria in cells produce more energy when NIR is introduced
Reduces Body Fat - A group of 20 women riding stationary bicycles 3 times per week for 4 weeks exposed to NIR lost an average of 8 cm’s or 444% more as compared to 20 women doing the same exercise without NIR. (2)
Increased Energy - NIR activates photo sensitive chromophores & cytochrome c oxidase in mitochondria to depths of up to 23 centimeters, stimulating the production of energy (ATP) processes in cells. (3)
Improved Circulation to Muscles - NIR causes the release of nitric oxide which stimulates vasodilatation of the microcirculatory system, bringing more blood to the muscles. (4)
Better Endurance - Muscle fatigue was reduced by up to 42.2% when exposing muscle to NIR. (5,6)
Increased Strength - Growth hormone release is induced by an increase in body temperature and not by exercise itself. Growth hormone increases muscle mass, calcium retention, and lipolysis (the breakdown of stored fat). (7)
Faster Recovery Time - Certain tissue regenerating genes including integrins, laminin, gap junction proteins and kinesin proteins have shown a two- to five-fold increase upon exposure to NIR. (8,9)
Workout in Less Time - Due to increased production of ATP and quick dilation of the microcirculatory system, a person can lessen warm-up time and work at a higher level of exertion without increasing blood pressure. (3,9,10)
Detoxify the Body - Increased blood circulation stimulates the sweat glands, releasing built-up toxins and waste. Sweat is the only way to remove certain carcinogenic PCBs, dioxins, phthalates, and volatile organic hydrocarbons. (11)
Reduced Visible Cellulite - Cellulite is fat mixed with toxins that are trapped, partly due to an underactive circulatory system. Cellulite is visible due to weakened connective tissue. NIR helps rebuild connective tissue and has been shown to reduce cellulite. (12)
Rejuvenates Skin – NIR increases – NIR increases DNA synthesis of fibroblasts (which affects the elasticity of skin) by five-fold. The result is younger-looking, more beautiful skin. (3,8)
Demura S., Noguchi T., and Matsuzawa J., Effect of Linear Polarized Near-infrared Irradiation on Flexibility of Shoulder and Ankle Joint
Mockel F., Hoffmann G., et al Einfulss von Wassergefiltertem Infrator A auf die Reduktion von Lokalem Fett und Korpergewicht unter Korperlicher Belastung
Whelan H.T., Buchmann,E.V., et al, NASA Light-Emitting Diode Medical Applications From Deep Space to Deep Sea
Gilligan D.M., Panza J.M., et al, Contribution of Endothelium-derived Nitric Oxide to Exercise-Induced Vasodilation
Lopes-Martins R.A., Marcos R.L., et al, Effect of Low Level Laser on Skeletal Muscle Fatigue Induced by Electrical Stimulation in Rats
Abou-Hala A.Z, Barbosa D.G., et al, Effects of the Infrared Lamp Illuminationduring the Process of Muscle Fatigue in Rats
Christensen S.E., Jørgensen O.L., et al, Characterization of Growth Hormone Release in Response to External Heating
Wong-Riley M.T., Whelan H.T., Effect of 670-nm Light Emitting Diode Light on Neuronal Cultures
Savard, G.K., Nielsen B., et al, Muscle Blood Flow is not reduced in Humans during Moderate Exercise and Heat Stress
Hannuksela M.L., Ellahham S., Benefits and Risks of Sauna Bathing
Rogers S., Reversing the Neuro-degeneration from Ubiquitous Environmental Endocrine Disruptors
Alster T.S., Tanzi E.L., Cosmetic Laser Therapy
Gale, G, Rothbart, P, Ye Li, 2006, Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial.
HOW IS NEAR INFRA RED THERAPY APPLIED?
There are many different ways NIR can be applied to the body - some are :
NIR Low Level Laser Light devices,
LED hand-held devices and lamps.
NIR LED 'WAND'
NIR rays can be irradiated directly onto the body by means of a portable hand-held device, such as the monocrom 'light wand'.
NIR therapy devices derive their light source usually either from low level laser or LED (Light Emitting Diodes). Its important that there is sufficient power (milliwatts) to bring beneficial results. Tina Karu, Russian research scientist demonstrated that higher powered NIR light has greater therapeutic results than low. If the power is insufficient, the biochemical reactions in the body will not occur, or they will need extremely long periods of time to work.
The Monocrom Light Wand is a good example of a high powered NIR therapy device which is used in our clinic. It is powered by multiple LED diodes, delivering a high output power of 4300 mW. It emits wavelengths of 840nm with a bandwidth of 30nm, essentially making it monochromatic infrared light.
Monocromaticity (meaning the colour is pure with a narrow range of wavelength) enhances the biological effect . This makes this device highly effective and efficient time-wise. It is placed on specific injured or painful areas, until a warming sensation is felt (usually only seconds) and then moved to the next area.
The wand can be used in clinic situations or in the home environment where self treatment can be administered regularly. See this link for purchasing a monochrom light wand for yourself.
It is ideal for sprains and injuries resulting from contact sport or heavy exercise. Chronic pain and old wounds respond well to the invisible light dose.
NIR LOW LEVEL LASER
NIR treatment can also be admistered via Low Level Laser devices, such as the Avant LZ30, in a similar way to the 'wand' below (directly on the body). In this particular system, the power output is 900 mW (strong and within therapeutic range), pulsed at specific frequencies, has both monocromaticity (narrow band wavelength) and coherence (in phase) light.
Low level lasers of this strength can usually only be used by practitioners and safety precautions are taken to protect eyes.
INFRA RED RAY LAMPS
Lamps can be used which have wavelengths in the IR range (including Near, Mid and sometimes Far IR). The effect of IR rays is heating upon body tissues. It provides many of the health benefits of natural sunlight without any of the dangerous effects of Ultraviolet B rays in solar radiation. Infrared heat is not ultraviolet radiation. The Infrared energy travels 2-3" deep into the body and increases blood circulation and nourishes damaged tissue.
The advantages of IR lamps is that they can be applied to larger areas of the body, can be applied at home and can induce a warming perspiration effect (and therefore detoxifying). In fact, there are methods of making home-made Infra Red Saunas, by mounting several IR lights onto a stand and placed into an enclosed small area (such as a shower recess). See link for plans.
The IR lamps are used in our clinic often in conjunction with acupuncture or acu-massage to assist in soft tissue repair, healing and micro-circulation stimulation.