Light therapy has become very popular recently. In this article, we will take a look at NIR Light therapy.
Light therapy that uses low-level laser therapy (LLLT), which also goes by the name photobiomodulation, is a type of therapy that uses a low-level laser or light-emitting diode to repair and improve tissue and reduce pain and inflammation. Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy is very similar to red light therapy. The major difference is that the eyes cannot see infrared energy; it is invisible, and because of its very properties, it can penetrate the body to a much deeper level than red light. This makes the light reach deep into soft tissues, joints, bones, and muscles.
Studies have shown that NIR wavelengths of light are able to penetrate much deeper than other types of light wavelengths through the skin and bones. It is important to mention here that skin depth varies around the body and that the transmission of light can be very much affected by the skin’s pigmentation levels.
This type of light, NIR light, has been used in light therapeutic devices and has been able to assist in addressing a wide range of injuries. This type of light can penetrate deeper than UV or other types of visible light, and the other amazing thing is that it has no side effects. When this type of light is used, a negligible amount of heat is produced and is not at all concerning for anyone using this therapy method. LED is also a type of light that is very well tolerated by biological tissues, and there have been no known adverse effects as well. For therapeutic purposes, LED has gotten a low-risk general wellness status from the FDA.
What is Light Therapy
Light therapy is a type of therapy where the light of certain specific wavelengths is used in order to bring about changes in our physiology. In almost all cases, the effects of light therapy cannot be mediated through eyesight; rather, it works by directly affecting the targeted cells.
This type of therapy has been studied and examined for over 100 years now. Nowadays, different light spectrums are prescribed for different medical conditions. Examples of this type of therapy include:
- Exposure to UV light to get more vitamin D into the body as well as control autoimmune and skin conditions that are allergic, such as vitiligo, psoriasis etc
- Use white, blue, or blue-green light to cure and manage jaundice in newborns.
- The use of bright blue or white light therapy to combat seasonal affective disorders, irregularities of the circadian rhythm, etc.
- Photomodulation by using red light or near-infrared wavelengths gives more energy to the mitochondria. This will have anti-aging effects, help heal wounds, and better manage inflammation.
The sight of colors has also been related to symptoms and as having health benefits. This is especially true in the case of traditional medicine such as Ayurveda. In recent times, scientists have looked into how colors affect us and are also looking into the medicinal use of color therapy.
What is NIR Light Therapy?
On the other hand, NIR light therapy is a type of light therapy that basically includes exposure to certain specific types of NIR light that have beneficial effects on health. The infrared light spectrum consists of invisible wavelengths to the naked eye, and its frequencies are lower than red light. This is the reason why we feel a certain radiant type of heat when we are exposed to the sun for a while, as the infrared light from the sun is responsible for creating heat in the tissues of the body. The infrared light spectrum is such that it also affects our physiology in different ways as well.
The spectrum of infrared light falls between 700 nm to 0.1 mm in wavelength. This is, in turn, divided into four types, namely near, mid and far-infrared spectrum. The wavelength of the longer variety has lower frequencies. The three types of NIR are listed below:
- Near-infrared light- This type of NIR has wavelengths of between 700 to 1400 nm. It generates the most amount of heat among the three varieties but it cannot penetrate too deeply into the tissues of the body. The infrared light with wavelengths between 760-865 nm range has the ability to start mitochondria function in the body. The benefits of this is that it can increase metabolism and tissue repair and reduce inflammation as well.
- Mid-infrared Light: This light has wavelengths between 1400 and 3000 nm. It also has the ability to penetrate much deeper than near-infrared light and is also able to produce more heat in the body. The therapy types that use this type of light can help expand the blood vessels and increase blood circulation so that it can reach the injured or inflamed parts of the body.
- Far- infrared light: This type of light has wavelengths ranging from 3000nm to about 0.1 mm. This type of light has the ability to penetrate the deepest into the tissues of the body. Its health benefits are a result of its ability to produce heat in the body and also some other properties as well. Therapy that uses this type of light can help with inflammation and also help us relieve oxidative stress. This type of light when used for therapeutic purposes has the potential to increase circulation of the blood, improve the functioning of blood vessels and the heart, it can also reduce pain and fatigue and help us normalize blood pressure.