How Infrared Sauna and Red Light Therapy Create Powerful Healing Effects When Combined
December 7, 2022
In order to understand why infrared sauna and red light therapy are so complementary to each other, we must first understand the wavelengths of red light.
Below I list five wavelengths that are the most effective for red light therapy, and I’ll explain why, beginning with the red-light visible spectrum, which extends from approximately 620 nm to 750 nm.
Within this range are two specific wavelengths scientifically proven to yield benefits: the 630 nm and 660 nm bands.
- The 630nm wavelength is ideal when looking at dermatology concerns. As they penetrate the skin cells and sebaceous glands, these bands smooth out uneven pigmentation and rejuvenate the skin’s tone and texture. They’ve even been shown to help reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and can also stimulate hair regrowth.
- The 660nm wavelength penetrates a little deeper than the 630nm wavelength and addresses issues pertaining to the entire range of skin tissue. In multiple studies, the 630 and 660nm wavelengths have been shown to deliver anti-inflammatory effects, such as reducing swelling following an injury and reducing nerve pain. They also will accelerate wound healing and reduce fatigue.
- Another important fact is that these wavelengths are instrumental in stimulating the mitochondria to help produce more ATP.
The next set of wavelengths is what’s known as non-visible red light therapy.
In the infrared spectrum (750 nanometers to 1,200 nm) are three other bands of light that have shown evidence-based benefits to humans.
These are the 810 nm, 830 nm, and 850 nm wavelengths.
- The 810nm wavelength can penetrate the skull and the brain, which means it offers a wealth of neurological benefits and could even play a role in future medical treatments for brain disorders. Studies of the 810nm wavelength suggest that it improves healing and post-exercise recovery. It might have some benefits in helping to alleviate depression.
- The 830nm wavelength penetrates deeper through skin and tissue into the bone to promote healing deep in tissues. Studies of 830nm wavelength demonstrate it accelerates wound healing and may help to ward off infection. It’s also been shown to promote bone repair and helps athletes recover faster post-injury.
- The 850nm wavelength works with the other wavelengths mentioned to provide a wide range of therapeutic and anti-inflammatory benefits, such as wound healing, tendon, and muscle recovery. It also stimulates the production of collagen, which has far-ranging effects from soft tissue healing to more radiant-looking skin.
Whether used individually or combined, these five wavelengths generate potent effects that comprise red-light therapy’s (scientifically backed!) magic.
Now let’s compare what we’ve learned about red light therapy with the benefits of using an infrared sauna.
Saunas are one of the oldest-known therapies in the world. The use of controlled heat in a confined space for pain relief can be traced back to the ancient Greeks and Romans. In our modern age, red light therapy is a cutting-edge technology that can provide the same benefits as a sauna – but instead of using a heated room, the red light is the heat source for your body.
Sunlight, red light, and its cousins, infrared lights (IR), are initially produced by the H+ ions in the sun. These red and infrared lights from H+ reactions in the sun resonate with H+ in our bodies. Resonance signaling uses specific frequencies (remember, light is a frequency) to modulate cellular function for achieving homeostasis.
Electromagnetic fields are involved in cell regulation. H+ is the dominant atom in the sun. When H+ becomes ionized by the sun’s plasma, it emits red and IR light. This means hydrogen loses its electron, becomes H+, and glows red when it is ionized. It must be true that red and IR light photons from the sun can control and program things with H+ at any distance.
This is how nuclear and molecular resonance with light waves work. So, the light therapy will affect H+ ions in the body. H+ ions in the body are crucial in forming ATP and the electron transport chain.
When we talk about light waves, the shorter the wavelength of light, the less the light will penetrate the body.
Here we see the differences in penetration between the three red light wavelengths:
Let’s also look at the penetration of red light versus other wavelengths. Here we see the depth of penetration of the different colors of light wavelengths:
This is why red light is very important – it penetrates deeper than other light colors.
At the most basic level, light therapy acts by inducing a photochemical reaction in the cell, a process referred to as biostimulation or photobiomodulation.
Photo modulation therapy has a wide range of effects at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels.
Several pieces of evidence point to a chromophore within mitochondria being the initial target of light therapy. Within the cell, studies suggest that light therapy acts on the mitochondria to increase adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, modulation of reactive oxygen species, also known as free radicals, and induction of transcription factors.
This means to the layperson that light will make ATP, which is the body’s energy currency. At the same time, it helps produce transcription factors that affect genes, giving them directions to create a variety of beneficial compounds. These compounds include a variety of proteins, such as collagen, which can contribute to healing and anti-aging.
Other benefits include the production of nitric oxide (NO), which acts as a vasodilator. This can help reduce blood pressure and, in some instances, function similarly to Viagra and other similar compounds enhancing sexual well-being.
Red light also reduces inflammation, allowing for quicker healing and less pain. Other benefits include decreased exercise-induced muscle fatigue, improved post-exercise recovery, and muscle regeneration. Red light also helps the body release endorphins to inhibit pain.
What You Need to Know About Infrared Saunas
The word sauna comes from Finnish, meaning an earth or snow pit. The body is heated from the outside in a traditional wet or dry heat sauna (such as Finnish saunas), with temperatures around 176°F – 212°F.
Infrared saunas, on the other hand, use infrared wavelength energy (typically in the mid to far infrared range, though occasionally with near-infrared wavelengths as well) to heat cells from the inside out. These temperatures range from around 120°F -140°F. Infrared saunas are an effective tool for natural healing and prevention of many diseases. An infrared sauna uses specific non-visible red light to penetrate the skin and deeper tissue.
We utilize the “Sunlighten Sauna” at PUR-FORM.
Sunlighten’s highly efficient, patented SoloCarbon® infrared heating technology gives you the best detoxification experience because it is clinically proven to raise core body temperature by three degrees. With that, you experience a deep, productive sweat from your cells as the SoloCarbon infrared waves penetrate your skin and heat your core to expel the toxins. This differs from a traditional, more well-known sauna, where you sit in hot, ambient air that only heats your outer skin.
An infrared sauna stimulates blood vessels and cells to produce sweat and increased blood flow. Infrared saunas are more beneficial than regular steam saunas due to the use of infrared rays, which can penetrate deeply through the skin and tissues to produce a host of health benefits.
Infrared sauna benefits include improved blood flow, circulation, and post-workout recovery. Additionally, the infrared sauna is excellent for general detoxification.
Sweating is also one of the best ways to get rid of toxins. In fact, certain toxins, like cadmium and nickel, will be more concentrated in our sweat than in our urine. You can increase your sweating through numerous ways, such as exercise, hot yoga, and hot baths.
However, infrared saunas carry additional health benefits not found in the other therapies, including anti-aging health benefits, lowering the risk of cardiovascular disease, general detoxification, and even deep cellular health.
Another bonus is that infrared therapy may improve the amount and quality of sleep. The mechanism for this effect has not been firmly established but may be related to the ability of infrared to act as an “exercise mimetic.” It is well known that physical exercise will improve disturbed sleep. Infrared radiation can increase blood flow and oxygen metabolism in the muscles and the skin and could trigger a biochemical cascade resulting in improved sleep.
Regular use of broad-spectrum infrared sauna therapy capitalizes on the radiant heat from these light waves to enhance the production of heat shock proteins.
If you aren’t familiar, heat shock proteins are a family of proteins our cells produce in response to stressful conditions, such as excessive heat. They are important in several cellular processes, such as cell cycle regulation, cellular signaling, and immune system functioning. One of their most important functions is to help fold proteins into the cells.
Large amounts of misfolded proteins are also a feature of many neurodegenerative diseases. These damaged proteins can aggregate together to form clumps associated with Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. Misfolded proteins are believed to be another reason we age. Increasing our heat shock proteins may potentially protect us from these neurodegenerative diseases. One also gets heat shock proteins from cold therapy, such as a cryotherapy chamber.
The benefits of using an infrared sauna seem to know no bounds!
If you’re experiencing stress, a session in an infrared sauna can help you relax. Infrared saunas can help with weight loss, circulation problems, sore muscles, and detoxification. Heat stress from a sauna is enough to activate Nrf2, a potent pathway that reduces inflammation.
Infrared saunas can also have a significant effect on the immune system. Many aspects of immune function are heat-sensitive and are designed to be mobilized in response to a fever. Specifically, fever-range body temperature causes the body to favor the anti-viral and anti-bacterial immune response (Th1) over the antiparasitic or allergic (Th2) immune response.
In addition, fever-range temperature helps the immune system better remember germs you are exposed to so that your body can fight them off the next time you encounter pathogens. On the same note, the immune system continually replenishes by immune stem cells in the bone marrow, and the thymus is one of the most sensitive systems to aging. This is why people 65 and older are more likely to get sick and develop complications from colds and flu.
With aging, our immune stem cells cannot regenerate more white blood cells. This phenomenon is called immunosenescence. Interestingly, photobiomodulation, especially the near-infrared spectrum, may stimulate the mitochondria of these stem cells and help mitigate the age-related immune decline.
Dr. Purita’s Final Analysis on Red Light Therapy and Infrared Saunas
Red light therapies and infrared saunas are noninvasive procedures that enhance almost all types of healing and help improve health span.
The LightStim bed mainly delivers visible red-light therapy, while the sauna provides infrared spectrums. When determining whether you’d like to use both treatments, think about exercise habits.
Most people indulge in more than one activity: yoga, running, lifting, swimming, elliptical and rowing, or whatever you have time for.
Red light therapy and infrared saunas are different enough to be complementary and compelling. As you’ve seen, they work together quite well!
In addition, we can enhance both modalities by giving the patient intravenous methylene blue before the light treatment. This can increase ATP production. Another IV treatment to potentially improve these modalities is the use of curcumin. Curcumin is one of the most extensively investigated phytochemicals with a wide range of therapeutic properties.
The final question I’m often asked is, “Who can benefit from the two forms of therapy?” My answer is simple: “Just about everyone!”
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