The Power of Light
The term “light” can be viewed in a multitude of classifications; however, did you know that “light” plays a role in our health and is extremely important to our survival? The energy derived from light has been studied for centuries. Some of us have heard about light spectrum, visible/invisible light, etc…but, what does that mean to us and how does that impact our health?
Until recent decades, science can now prove and support the power of light on the human body! Light therapy, also known has low level light therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, uses the application of light to produce various physiological benefits to the human body.
As the complexity of electromagnetic spectrum is broad and health implications vastly differ, this review will specifically focus on red and infrared light. Before we dive into light therapy and how it relates to our health, we need to discuss the basic understanding of red and infrared light and the different classifications of infrared light.
What is Red and Infrared Light?
Visible and invisible light plays one of the largest roles in producing biological processes within most living species, meaning, we need it to survive! We can obtain red and infrared light from the sun, a fire, and more. Red light is considered “visible” light, whereas, infrared rays are “invisible” wavelengths on the electromagnetic spectrum.
It is important to discuss the various wavelength/rays, as all wavelengths of the light spectrum independently effect our health ranging from the depth of penetration to the biological changes. For example, the ray of red light can only penetrate a certain depth/layer of the skin (dermis). Whereas, infrared rays can penetrate deeper within the tissues of the body. Both red light and infrared rays differ on their effects on the human body; however, both stimulate various physiological changes and benefits.
The figure above illustrates an example of tissue depth of blue, red and infrared light/wavelength penetration.
Before discussing the various biological benefits in which red and infrared energy stimulate within the body, a brief anatomical overview of the body will be reviewed.
All living species have an organization of function. As illustrated in the basic diagram below, like all species, a functioning human body has a process of organization, beginning from atoms to the human organism.
It is vital to understand organization of a functioning organism beginning from a cellular level… simply put, we rely on our cells to function and live! Our body functions on a cellular level, therefore, our health is impacted on a cellular level. If our cells become damaged or unhealthy, then various chain reactions can occur negatively impacting the tissues, organs, and so on. This is where the benefits of “light therapy” can improve our health.
The Power of Red Light
Red light wavelengths range from 620 nm (nanometers) to 700 nm. As illustrated in figure 13, red light wavelengths penetrate through the superficial, epidermal skin layer into the dermis.
The dermis is the thick, inner section of the skin contains collagen and elastin, whose primary function is to support the epidermis, enabling the skin to thrive. In addition, the dermis contains nerve endings, sweat glands, sebaceous glands, hair follicles, and blood vessels, immune cells and more, all aiding to the functioning integumentary system. The wavelength of the red light directly stimulates the cells of the dermal organisms, therefore, increasing microcirculation. For example, the stimulation of collagen production is due to the deliverance of red wavelengths directly stimulating collagen cells, as shown in the diagram below.
While the visible lights, such as blue and red light, impacts the superficial and dermal layers of the human skin, infrared energy can penetrate deep within the body reaching tissues, muscles, bones, etc.
If infrared wavelength can penetrate deep within our body, then what is infrared energy doing to our body and health? There are 3 main classifications of infrared wavelengths: near, mid and far infrared (see figure 2). Each infrared wavelength varies in the depth of penetration in the human body. While all three classifications of infrared are absorbed through the body, near and far infrared energy largely produce many health benefits, however, the process in which they do so differ.
The Power of Near Infrared
Near infrared rays range approximately between 750 nm to 1200 nm. Near infrared wavelengths are on the lower end of the infrared spectrum aiding in maximal depth to create penetration (1). These wavelengths can penetrate tissue, muscles, organs, the skull/brain and more. More specifically, near infrared energy directly penetrates through the cells… essentially, ALL cells!
This diagram illustrates near infrared light directly impacting a cell, more specifically, stimulating the cellular organelle, the mitochondria, our energy “powerhouse”. This process is also known as photobiomodulation. Near infrared light stimulates the cell to convert molecules into energy (ATP), producing systematic effects resulting in various health benefits (as showing in the diagram above!)
According to NASA, biologists have found that cells exposed to near infrared light from LEDs grow between 150-200 times faster than cells that are not exposed to near infrared light! (8)
In addition to increasing energy production within the cells, near infrared energy acts as an antioxidant to our cells. Our cells are exposed to free radicals, which are un-stabilized molecules that can damage our cells. We cannot avoid free radicals, as we are exposed to them through our lifestyle, environment, and can occur through biological process within our cells, known as cellular respiration.
For example, free radicals can damage the DNA within the cell causing mutations. These mutations can become cancerous to the cells. Furthermore, the respectively damaged cell can also commit cell suicide (apoptosis) and is also responsible for aging. These examples are among many examples in which free radicals are damaging to our health. Therefore, to stabilize the free radical, an electron atom (antioxidant) must be delivered to the unstable free radical. Foods/vitamins enriched in antioxidants can help to stabilize the free radical within our cells. However, near infrared energy can directly deliver the electron atom needed to stabilize the free radical. Once the free radical is then stabilized, the cell can excrete the molecule from the cell.
In summary, near infrared light can create an energized cell with increasing energy conversion AND a healthier cell is created by stabilizing the damaging free radicals. These healthy, energized cells aid to optimize cellular regeneration thus producing various health benefits, such as improved cell-to-cell communication, reduction in inflammation/pain, improved cellular regeneration, and more.
The Power of Far Infrared
Far infrared rays also produce numerous biological benefits. On the higher end of the electromagnetic spectrum (approximately 1200 nm and above), far infrared rays are unable to penetrate as deeply into the body in comparison to lower near infrared rays. Far infrared rays are absorbed by water, therefore, unable to penetrate as deeply into the body as lower near infrared rays (1).
So, if far infrared rays are absorbed by water in your body, how does this produce health benefits?
Once again, we need to look at this on a cellular level.
According to Dr. Mercola (2017) “Virtually all membranes in principle can have nanostructured water … The idea is that a small amount of vibrational energy in the water molecules can perturb tertiary protein structures, which is particularly important — things like ion channels [which] have a huge number of biological pathways”
In a nut shell, our cells have water molecules surrounding the membrane (outer layer of a cell). The far infrared wavelengths stimulate water molecule vibrations on the cellular membrane creating a series of biological reactions to occur within the cell and surrounding substances. These vibrations create a thermal effect, resulting in heating the body internally. Similar to a light-moderate exercise, as the body internally heats up, the body releases endorphins to dilate the blood vessels and a systematic response kicks on in attempt to regulate the body temperature. This systematic response stimulates the circulatory system, therefore, increasing the movement of blood flow within the body.
Far infrared energy helps to improve blood circulation and stimulates cellular metabolic functions, aiding in the removal/reduction of toxins within the body. (6)
What does this mean to our health?
After briefly discussing how red light, near and far infrared light biologically impacts the body, how does this apply to our health?
As previously mentioned, we need “light” to function; however, many of us are not obtaining a healthy dosage of light… either we are getting too much or too little. That is where light therapy can be beneficial, one can adequately obtain a proper therapeutic dosage. Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, is a safe and effective holistic technology that helps to stimulate healthy cellular functioning, aiding in tissue healing and reducing inflammation and pain. Many therapies only address symptoms, without addressing the source. With that said, chronic degenerative changes often cannot be "healed", instead they must be managed. With the pervious cellular overview, light therapy is able to address the source of the problems (on a cellular level), therefore, improving the symptoms, resulting in benefits.
Here at CryoSPA Mind & Body Wellness, we have two amazing services, the NovoTHOR Wellness Light Pod which delivers both red & Near infrared energy and the Cocoon Infrared Sauna Pod, which delivers all three—red, near & far infrared energy. Below we will go into detail on how each of these services deliver that energy as well as their amazing benefits.
Red light and NEAR Infrared Light Therapy – The NovoTHOR Wellness Light Pod
The NovoTHOR is one of the elite, cutting-edge technologies for red/near infrared light therapy. The NovoTHOR, which was awarded Invention of the Year at the recent Elite Sports Rehabilitation Expo 2016 (15), is a safe and effective way to manage pain and inflammation. This light bed can deliver either red light OR a mix of red/near-infrared light. Speak with our consultants so we can tailor sessions based on your personal wellness goals.
The benefits from the NovoTHOR's red and near infrared rays include:
To see a detailed list, go to https://www.cryospaiowa.com/services/light-pod
FAR Infrared Rays – The Cocoon Infrared Sauna Pod
The Cocoon is a unique, infrared sauna pod that delivers predominately far infrared rays. While heating the air (like a traditional sauna) raises the temperature throughout the entire pod, the infrared wavelengths directly warm the object inside the pod — your body. Keep in mind, the Cocoon infrared sauna pod is not like traditional saunas, which deliver only dry or humid air. The Cocoon’s therapeutic advantages come from the far infrared rays, internally heating the body. In addition, hot, dry air circulates within the pod, which allows one’s sweat to evaporate and to heat body core temp. When Cocoon users undergo high-heat sessions, heat from the ambient air inside the sauna pod is absorbed by the body which causes the body temperature to rise. The body automatically modulates the resulting increase in core temperature via a process called “thermogenesis”, thus stimulating systematic, physiological changes and benefits.
The benefits from the Cocoon’s far infrared rays include:
For recommended session times, go to Cocoon Session Recommendations
Why is this information about light important to you?... It will help enhance how you feel and function! Stop by or give us a call and talk to our knowledgeable staff on our services here at CryoSpa Mind & Body Wellness, we’d love to be a part of your wellness journey!