Far Infrared’s Place in Medicine


From Tom Brady to Harvard Medical School, the use of far infrared technology in the health and wellness industry has reached a new high. Fresh off his Super Bowl win, Tom Brady has become the new face of Under Armour’s recovery sleepwear that incorporates bio-ceramic imprints to produce far infrared energy while you sleep. The company claims the gear will reduce inflammation, regulate cell metabolism, improve circulation and help the body recover faster and foster better sleep. Others in the medical field like Michael Hamblin, principal investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital, and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School, say “people who use far infrared can expect various benefits. And better sleep is almost certainly one of them.

Moving beyond saunas and regenerative athletic gear, we find some quite advanced far infrared solutions that offer very interesting therapeutic benefits. We took a deeper look at far infrared’s place in medicine, and here’s what we found.

Benefits of Far Infrared Therapy

When most people think of infrared rays, they think of the Sun. More than half of the Sun’s power output is in the form of infrared light. But did you know your body emits infrared light? Since ancient times, people have used this knowledge as a way for therapeutic healing. ‘Palm Healing’, an ancient tradition in China similar to Reiki, has used the healing properties of far infrared rays for thousands for years. However, it wasn’t until recent decades that we’ve been able to find scientific evidence linking this energy to health.

Sir William Herschel, an amateur astronomer, first discovered infrared light in the early 19th century during an experiment to measure the difference in temperature between the colors in the visible spectrum. Further research and development, most notably in Japan, China and Germany over the past 30 years helped evolve heat therapy (or thermal therapy) and introduced far infrared thermal technology. According to an article published in the Annals of the Academy of Medicine in 1996, “Compared to other countries, Japan has the highest number of hyperthermia equipment installed, and the most doctors involved in hyperthermia therapy. The main reasons for the advanced state of hyperthermia research in Japan include the development of excellent heating equipment…grant-in-aid by the Japanese government, and coverage by insurance for this form of therapy.

Far infrared light therapy treatment, also known as FIR, has been known to relieve a variety of forms of pain and for improvement in conditions such as arthritis, asthma, diabetes, lyme disease, osteoporosis, parkinson’s, and many other ailments.

  • Compatible with Humans – Although light and heat therapies have been used for centuries, the far infrared wavelength is the most compatible with human tissue because it vibrates at the same frequency as human cells. It is easily absorbed, penetrating as far as 2.3 inches below the skin, bringing heat to muscles, blood vessels, lymphatic glands and nerves (source).
  • DetoxificationDr. Ronald Peters, MD, MPH of the MindBody Medicine Center in Scottsdale, Arizona, utilizes far infrared saunas in practice primarily for detoxification. There is no question that toxicity has become a predominant cause of a plethora of health issues in modern times, and as Dr. Peters points out, “we’ve polluted the planet so extensively that even baby seal pups born in the Arctic Circle are born with mercury in their bodies”. Dr. Peters has found success in treating patients with chronic fatigue, depression and fibromyalgia. “The way I look at the Far Infrared Therapy is primarily a powerful and useful tool for the detoxifying the body of chemicals as well as heavy metals.”
  • Reduces InflammationDr. Leigh Erin Connealy, MD of Center for New Medicine in Irvine, California, also utilizes far infrared therapies not only for the detoxification benefits, but also anti-inflammatory effect. She explains that “it also helps to improve circulation, bring oxygen to tissues, and improve cardiovascular and pulmonary function, and helps resolve inflammation and edema.” Dr. Connealy has found success in incorporating lymphatic drainage therapies, dry skin brushing, and epsom salt baths to optimize FIR treatment amongst her patient population.
  • Anti-Pathogenic Action – Far infrared therapy increases cellular metabolic rates by stimulating the activity of mitochondria, and triggering enzyme activity, therefore promoting the killing of many pathogens: bacteria, viruses, fungi and parasites. FIR energy strengthens the immune system by stimulating increased production of white blood cells (leukocytes) by the bone marrow and killer T-cells by the thymus gland.
  • Anti-Aging / Skin Health – Infrared radiation is increasingly used for cosmetic and wellness purposes. In a 2006 study, doctors looked at the impact of infrared on collagen and elastin in the skin, two of the most important ingredients to healthy skin. They found that both collagen and elastin increased after exposure to infrared, and all patients included in the study reported enhanced skin texture, less roughness, and improvement in color.
  • Other Benefits – Some of the various benefits include improvement of blood circulation by expanding the capillaries that carry blood, balancing of the autonomic nervous system, improvement of metabolism and removal of waste in blood cells, and a reduction of swelling and inflammation due to improvement in lymphatic flow.

Top athletes like Tom Brady and Misty Copeland are using far infrared technology in their rest and recovery regimen.

According to a review of Far infrared radiation published by Harvard Medical School in 2012, “this waveband, that has been observed in both in vitro and in vivo studies to stimulate cells and tissue, is considered a promising treatment modality for certain medical conditions.” Furthermore, the same article articulates that “all living organisms are subjected to the natural electromagnetic radiation reaching the earth from the sun. Living organisms experience the beneficial as well as adverse effects of it at all levels, starting from subcellular organelles and ending with the whole body. Thermal radiation (or infrared) is a band of energy in the complete electromagnetic spectrum and it has been used effectively for millennia to treat/ease certain maladies and discomforts…with the development of better technology to deliver pure infrared radiation the benefits from its effects have widened. Nowadays, specialty FIR emitting heat lamps and garments made up of filaments impregnated with FIT emitting nanoparticles are becoming used to deliver these thermal radiation effects.”

While all of these applications are beneficial, the medical industry in our country is just beginning to embrace FIR as a valuable form of treatment. Now let’s review a few advanced Innovative Medicine therapies that incorporate far infrared.

Onnetsu Far Infrared Therapy

One very interesting far infrared medical application is Onnetsu Therapy. The basis of Onnetsu therapy, and all FIR treatment methods for that matter, is the understanding that a body in low temperature is more susceptible to disease. First developed by Japanese acupuncturist Dr. Mitsui, Onnetsu Therapy utilizes a specialized medical device designed and based on the modern science of far infrared discovered by NASA and the ancient traditional moxibustion concept that unhealthy cells are cold and lack energy. Onnetsu therapy aims to restore proper heat inside the body through far infrared waves that can reach 10 inches deep while not causing negative side effects. The device provides the body with a rich source of oxygen, and increases blood circulation and oxygen supply to damaged tissues, promotes relaxation and comfort, and induces sleep and relieves stress.

A Japanese study tested the effects of far infrared rays on chronic pain. The investigators studied far infrared efficacy in patients suffering from fibromyalgia, a condition characterized by sleep disturbances and widespread pain with tenderness in specific areas. Thirteen female patients received far infrared therapy once per day for two or five days per week. All of the patients experienced a significant reduction in pain (by about half) after the first session. The effects of treatment became stable after 10 sessions, with participants experiencing up to a 78% reduction in their pain (source).

Amethyst BioMat Far Infrared Therapy

The Amethyst BioMat is another specialized therapeutic product using a combination of far infrared rays, the effects of negative ions, and the conductive properties of amethyst channels. These three powerful health stimulators are combined in a single, easy-to-use medical product with remarkable healing properties that allows far infrared rays to penetrate 6-8 inches through the body.

The BioMat’s unique medical and therapeutic properties are based on the Nobel prize winning research into ionic channels and the same infrared technology that NASA identified as the safest and most beneficial type of light wave. By producing deep-penetrating far infrared rays along with negative ions that activate the body at the molecular level, the BioMat is capable of administering deep stimulation and healing.

The BioMat delivers soothing, deep-penetrating heat while stimulating the regeneration of damaged cells in the body. Benefits include pain and stress relief due to blood vessel expansion and increased circulation, detoxification due to the elimination of toxins and carbon dioxide in the blood, balancing of the autonomic nervous system, and much more. The treatment is quite simple and painless.

A study conducted by Dr. George Grant, Canadian pioneer of Quantum Integrative Medicine, shows that twelve subjects who were tested before and after using the BioMat for 1 hour daily over a 3 month period received an average of 78% improvement in stress reduction, better sleep quality, decrease in cortisol levels and a general sense of wellbeing (source).

About Dr. Ronald Peters

Ronald Peters, MD, MPH is trained in family medicine and has earned a Masters of Public Health in the prevention of disease. Dr. Peters has 30 years of experience in nutritional biochemistry and holistic health care. He has studied with Master teachers, leading to a understanding of the formative power of the conscious and unconscious mind, which he summarized in his ground-breaking book, Edgework, Exploring the Psychology of Disease. His approach to patient care is to restore the natural wisdom of the body and then assist patients in changing the lifestyle and mind-style factors that contribute to illness. He has had successful medical practices in California and Oregon, is an accomplished writer and lecturer, and is highly effective in helping people learn from their health problems and restore their health both physically and psychologically.

About Dr. Leigh Connealy

Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D. attended the University of Texas School of Public Health, and then attended the University of Health Sciences Chicago Medical School. She completed her post-graduate training at the Harbor/UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles, California. Dr. Connealy began practicing medicine in 1986. In 1992, she founded the Center For New Medicine in Irvine, California, where she serves as Medical Director. In 2009 she opened Cancer Center For Healing and in 2015 she opened Addiction Center For Healing. With over thirty years of experience in finding the ‘root cause of an illness’, Dr. Connealy has taken numerous advanced courses, including homeopathic, nutritional and lifestyle approaches, while studying disease, chronic illness, and cancer treatments. She has a true passion to change her patients’ lives, and give them their life back.

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