Far Infrared is part of the electromagnetic (light) spectrum that has biologic effects which stimulate cells and tissue, and which is considered a promising treatment for certain medical conditions, as well as improving physical performance. Light therapy has been used in many cultures for thousands of years. With the development of better technology, including FIR fabrics, to deliver FIR to the body, the benefits from its effects have widened. Special FIR lamps (saunas) as well as garments made of fibers containing FIR emitting nanoparticles are now being used to deliver these effects.
Biologic effects: FIR interacts with biological structures including cells, cell membranes, water, and DNA/proteins. FIR’s interaction with biological mechanisms can be framed in terms of altered cell membrane potentials and altered mitochondrial metabolism. The mitochondria are the energy factories within each cell. FIR wavelengths are invisible-too long to be perceived by the human eye, but the body experiences FIR energy as a gentle radiant warmth which can penetrate up to 1.5 inches beneath the skin. However, even levels of FIR that do not produce any detectable skin heating can also have biologic effects.
Some biologic effects observed in medical studies include: An in vitro study (Yu, et al) revealed significantly quicker wound healing and growth factor expressing myofibroblasts and collagen content were increased. In induced limb ischemia, blood perfusion as well as significantly increased capillary density was observed by Akasaki et al, during an in vivo study. In another exciting study, Ishibashi et al demonstrated that FIR may be used as an effective medical treatment for certain cancer cells.
By Susan Wozniak, RN, MSN
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Sources: Vatansever, F. and Hamblin, MR. Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Photonics Lasers Med. 2012 Nov 1;4 255-266. (PubMed)
Yu SY, Chiu JH, Yang SD, Hsu YC, Lui Wy, Wu CW. Biological effect of far-infrared therapy on increasing skin micro-circulation in rats.
Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2006; 22 (2): 78-86. (PubMed)
Ishibashi J, Yamashita K, Ishikawa T, Hosokawa H, Sumida K, Nagayama M, Kitamura S. The effects inhibiting the proliferation of cancer cells by far-infrared radiation (FIR) are controlled by the basal expression of heat shock protein (HSP) 70A. Med Oncol. 2008; 25(2):229-37. (PubMed)