- 1 Far Infrared Heat 101
- 2 What Are FIR Benefits?
- 3 Full Body Detox
- 4 Blood Circulation
- 5 Reduces Cardiovascular Risk Factors
- 6 Sunburns
- 7 Chronic Fatigue
- 8 Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula
- 9 Quality Of Life For Diabetics
- 10 Arthritis
- 11 Improved Overall Well-Being And Function
- 12 Back Pain
- 13 Cancer
- 14 Nerve Function And Motor Abilities
- 15 Allergic Rhinitis
- 16 Obesity And Weight Loss
- 17 Common Cold
- 18 Does FIR Have Precautions?
- 19 Types of Far Infrared Devices
- 20 Thinking About Giving A Far Infrared Product A Try?
So, you’ve heard the buzz about far infrared rays benefits and want to learn more?
You’ve come to the right place.
Once you discover how many health benefits this amazing technology holds, you’ll likely be thinking that it’s simply too good to be true.
That’s why we break all the common far infrared data and health benefit questions and answers down for you.
By the end, you’ll only be left wondering why you haven’t read this sooner.
Far Infrared Heat 101
Let’s start with the most basic question – what is far infrared heat?
You likely already know that you need sunshine for vitamin D.
But, did you know that all living matter also relies upon sunshine for FIR, or far infrared heat rays?
These rays are warming energy from the sunlight, and all living matter must have it for survival. In the human body, FIR intensity continually fluctuates.
High levels equate to good health and the ability to handle stressors.
Low levels equate to being more prone to pathologies, susceptible to environmental toxins, and impacted by aging processes.
Can you get too much FIR?
You can actually be exposed to this type of heat for hours without any harm.
Eastern medicine actually commonly uses FIR technology to treat sunburns and encourage healthy skin.
Amateur astronomer Sir William Herschel is famous for two discoveries – Uranus in 1781 and infrared in 1800.
He theorized that the various colors might be representative of heat and validated it with a spectrum that measured each color’s temp.
He was right, and he ultimately discovered that the temperature just beyond red radiated the most heat at the highest temp.
It was named infrared light – infra being Latin for below and red having the longest visible light wavelength.
Thus, infrared signifies a lower frequency than its red counterpart.
All but around 20 percent of the sun’s rays fall under infrared.
This is the band of invisible light present on the electromagnetic spectrum.
The radiant heat produced is called infrared energy.
Note that far infrared is the energy occupying the 5.5 to 15 microns portion of the wave frequencies.
What Are FIR Benefits?
The next logical question is how this far infrared heat could be of benefit to your body, right?
Following it’s discovery, innumerable scientific studies have been devoted to answering that very question, and the results leave most people astonished.
Thanks to science, we know far infrared radiation can be used to treat pathologies ranging from pain and circulatory issues to fatigue and cancer.
Compromised bodies are often unable to heal themselves as energy is depleted and critical toxins and stressors rise.
Far infrared processes that naturally occur in the body as part of the healing process are disabled or blunted.
Far infrared treatment steps in to restore those natural healing and disease prevention measures.
Your body is left relaxed and energized.
Let’s take a closer look at the what, how, and why FIR is beneficial in the following medical conditions:
Full Body Detox
Our bodies are like sponges when it comes to bio-toxins.
After contact, the body absorbs and stores the toxins.
Toxic gasses and heavy metals aren’t easily or quickly expelled.
As they encounter the body’s large water molecules, they become encapsulated.
Trapped toxins block vital blood circulation and impair vital cellular energy.
The result? Illness and disease.
Health-conscious consumers spend hundreds to thousands of dollars on the latest fad detox formula promising to “cleanse” the body.
Yet, many of these ingested cleanses have been proven to be unhealthily.
Why? They deprive the body of key nutrients and misbalance electrolytes.
FIR, on the other hand, has been proven seven times more effective than steam saunas and other conventional heat detoxification options.
FIR removes toxins like heavy metals, nicotine, alcohol, sulfuric acid, cholesterol, and ammonia from the body (1).
How does it work?
A FIR wave of 7 to 14 microns attacks those large water molecules carrying those harmful toxins.
It vibrates the water to reduce the ionic bond between the water’s atoms.
Unable to hold itself together, the evaporating water molecule must release the toxins.
No longer trapped, the toxins and gasses are released for easier excretion.
Healthy blood circulation is the basis of life.
It’s what keeps all the body’s tissues and organs in supply of critical oxygen and nutrients.
One of the explorations within FIR therapy benefits is improved vascular circulation.
While the research is still young, the premise dates back to the beginning of medicine.
Vasodilation (widening of blood vessels) occurs when your body is exposed to warmer temperatures.
It’s why acute injuries involve heat after initial RICE measures.
Topical heat increases blood flow to the area to promote healing and pain relief.
When circulation is impaired long-term, tissue damage occurs, muscles cramp, joints stiffen and ache, wear and tear increase, digestion suffers, cognitive problems arise, stress rises, and the body is fatigued and not rested.
Nothing is left untouched by chronic poor circulation.
Studies have indicated that FIR therapy can promote healthy blood circulation and oxygenation to damaged tissues.
Problems such as the above can be avoided or reduced.
Reduces Cardiovascular Risk Factors
Cardiovascular risk factors, such as hypertension, chronic fatigue syndrome, obesity, and cholesterol levels were reduced by far infrared saunas, says nine independent studies (2).
All findings strongly suggested that FIR accomplished blood pressure normalization.
German researchers found these key cardiovascular benefits:
- Persisting peripheral blood vessel dilation and decreased resistance
- Decreased cardiac ejection resistance and increased ejection fraction
- Improved blood viscosity
- Significant blood pressure reduction
- Increased heart rate
- Increased cardiac stroke volume and output
The participants of the German study spent just a single hour in FIR therapy.
It’s very promising findings, especially for those with congestive heart failure and hypertension, but the review concluded that more research would be needed to draw a consensus.
The study’s editor noted that warm air doesn’t penetrate as deeply as far infrared sauna heat.
The latter draws a lower temperature for vigorous sweat to stimulate a cardiovascular demand that’s akin to paced walking.
It was speculated that this could be of major benefit to sedentary groups, particularly those limited to physical activity because of osteoarthritis, respiratory, or cardiac conditions.
Yes, heat to prevent sunburns. In an animal study, pre-exposure to infrared radiation that elevated ear lobe temperature to 37 to 72 degrees C was found to significantly decrease sunburn cell formation from ultraviolet-B (UVB) radiation exposure (3).
The researchers concluded that infrared’s positive effects on UAV and sunlight burns is due to cell cycling.
The heat from infrared exposure alters that cell cycle to decrease sunburn cell formation.
Chronic fatigue syndrome is a complicated and poorly understood medical condition that’s characterized by idiopathic, long-lasting, and extreme fatigue.
Both activity and rest worsen the fatigue, and it’s typically accompanied by sleep and pain syndromes.
Treatment is just as poorly represented.
Currently, there aren’t any approved treatments or cures for this very disruptive pathology.
A small 2005 study, which was published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, showed promise for far infrared dry saunas as a treatment in chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS.) (4).
The two CFS patients hadn’t had success with previous treatment trials.
Thermal therapy via a 60 degree C far-infrared ray dry sauna and post-sauna warming was used once per day for 35 treatments.
Both patients experienced long-lasting improvement in sleep, pain, fatigue, and fever symptoms.
Arteriovenous (AV) Fistula
This is a medical condition that allows abnormal blood flow from an artery to a vein.
When a major artery is involved, the heart strains to efficiently pump blood through the circulatory system.
The abnormal connection also bypasses smaller capillaries, which reduces blood supply to their connected areas.
While these fistulas can occur anywhere, they’re particularly common in the legs and amongst dialysis patients.
A 2014 Taiwan study showed that FIR was highly beneficial to dialysis patients with an arteriovenous fistula (5).
FIR application reduced the risk of malfunction and improved blood flow around the fistula.
Researchers noted that such benefits are often drawn from a ball grip technique, but the age and health states of many dialysis patients make the ball technique inapplicable.
FIR doesn’t have such application limits.
Quality Of Life For Diabetics
The symptoms of diabetes reach far beyond just glucose levels.
Many qualities of life are altered due to chronic fatigue and pain, depression, and cardiovascular and kidney issues.
As quality of life suffers, so do health outcomes.
A 2010 study, which was published in the Journal of Complementary and Alternative Medicine, looked at such quality of life measures in participants with type ll diabetes (6).
The objective was to determine if far infrared sauna use had an impact.
The participants underwent 20-minute FIR therapy sessions three times per week for three months.
Questionnaires were used to assess quality of life throughout the study.
Researchers found that all measures (physical, social, and general health) improved with FIR sauna use.
Rheumatoid arthritis is a debilitating autoimmune disorder characterized by chronic inflammation.
It causes joints to become painful and stiff.
The damage can be deforming, and it can impact other body systems, such as the muscles, skin, eyes, heart, and lungs.
Ankylosing spondylitis is another debilitating inflammatory arthritis.
It often begins in early adulthood, especially in men, and attacks the small bones of the spine.
The body attempts to heal itself with new bone.
The gaps are fused by this new bone.
The result of added bone is stiffness, pain, and posture changes.
Far infrared targets and stimulates your immune system with subtle body temperature changes.
Your immune system responds by increasing killer t-cells and white blood cells.
Furthermore, the heat offers healing and soothing for arthritic soreness, aches, and spasms in muscles and joint pain and stiffness.
Superficial heat has long been a standing short-term relief measure for pain.
FIR takes that ancient practice a step further by offering safe whole-body hyperthermia.
Clinical Rheumatology found that infrared saunas can offer short-term improvement and long-term benefits related to rheumatoid arthritis and ankylosing spondylitis pain and stiffness (7).
Improved Overall Well-Being And Function
Whether it’s chronic pain, mood disturbances, sleep issues, or a generalized feeling of disconnect between you and your body, FIR therapy has been shown to boost your overall sense of well-being and quality of life.
Thermal heat has the greatest body of research supporting its use in chronic pain relief.
With long-term, consistent application FIR offers a holistic option that can mitigate the need for oral medications.
Of course, FIR benefits can also be coupled with other holistic treatments, such as cognitive behavioral therapy, artistic therapies, exercise rehabilitation, and so forth for even better results.
A 2005 Japanese study coupled heat, cognitive, and exercise therapies for some impressive results (8).
The 46 participants were split into two groups, one receiving multidisciplinary therapies with FIR once per day for four weeks and one without it.
Two years later, researchers found that 77 percent of those in the FIR group had returned to life and work as normal, which was comparative to only 50 percent in the group without FIR.
Did you know that back pain is one of the most common medical complaints and the leading cause of missed work days in America?
At some point in life, it will affect eight of every 10 people.
Surgery is an expensive and invasive treatment option, and the results are quite inconsistent.
In fact, it can worsen back pain and debilitating symptoms.
Likewise, potential for abuse and addiction exists within pain management using prescription narcotics.
This is why research is mainly focused on holistic, non-invasive approaches to chronic back pain.
A 2015 study examined far infrared wavelength treatment for low back pain (9).
The subjects used a FIR pad device for 45 minutes while at work.
After four weeks, subjects showed lower back pain scales and significant improvements to their general health and work-life quality.
The body temperature changes of FIR device treatment is shown to inhibit cancer cell proliferation in certain types of cancer cells.
It’s a complex process, but the irradiation is controlled by the basal expression level of heat shock protein.
A 2018 study specifically looked at FIR wavelengths between 4 and 20 microm (7-12 microm) in relation to breast, tongue, lung, and vulva (10).
The treatment inhibited the growth of the cancer cells.
Nerve Function And Motor Abilities
Nerve anatomy, structure, and function is one of the most complicated elements of health.
It’s a vast system that basically coordinates the entire body. Information about our environment is received via sensation.
A motor function response is created in reply to that info.
Any nerve tissue damage, neuropathy, or lapses in function thus impact your motor abilities, which is how your body moves.
Gross motor skills are those of big movements – think walking or swatting at a fly.
Fine motor skills are those little movements – think steady writing or buttoning a shirt.
Without proper nerve signals, motor abilities can be greatly impacted in both function and strength.
A 2015 animal study by the Department of Radiology in Taiwan found that far infrared radiation therapy promotes nerve repair and function, which may make it a viable non-invasive treatment model for nerve regeneration and peripheral nerve disease and injury (11).
You may know it as hay fever, but it’s one of the most common chronic illnesses known to man.
Your nose runs. You sneeze. Your nose itches. It’s horrible.
The basic response is inflammation within the nose that’s caused by an airborne allergen.
Your immune system overreacts to the intruding allergen, which is often caused by increased vascular permeability.
There are a plethora of over-the-counter and prescription medications available to manage the symptoms, not treat the condition.
Immunotherapy is also a common prescription. Of course, if possible, you can also practice allergy avoidance.
However, these treatments are often only considered marginally helpful to ineffective.
Yet, consumers spend over 5.6 billion annually in the quest for relief.
Research has concluded that the most effective hay fever treatment involves increasing blood flow to the nose.
According to a 2007 Engineering in Medicine and Biology Society study, FIR therapy improved rhinorrhea, stuffiness, sneezing and eye and nose itching (12).
Obesity And Weight Loss
The statistics for obesity show epidemic proportions.
Almost half of the world’s population is obese, and the secondary effects range from heart disease and diabetes to digestive issues and joint damage.
While a nutritious, well-balanced diet and exercise are the most effective measures to combat obesity and weight issues, these often fall low on our list of priorities.
Between cost of living expenses, financial obligations, long work hours, multitasking as caregivers and employees, and so forth, time and money can be deterrents from healthy lifestyle choices.
FIR has been proven to naturally stimulate weight loss.
The resonant frequency of FIR is akin to that of water molecules and organic substances within the body, which allows it to be absorbed easily.
In theory, it could also break apart fat and cellulite cells via the same mechanism.
A report published in the Journal of the American Medical Association claims that just one far infrared sauna session is equivalent to the calorie-burn of rowing or jogging for 30 minutes.
While the initial theories and science are promising for these far infrared rays benefits, much more research is needed before FIR becomes a mainstream treatment recommendation for obesity.
As mentioned above, FIR therapies have the natural ability to bolster the immune system by gently and subtly raising your body’s core temperature.
While not specific to FIR, many studies in other areas suggest that such body temp changes strengthen the immune system and its responses to stimuli.
Research is underway to look specifically at FIR’s impact on flus and colds.
Does FIR Have Precautions?
Yes. While the range of potential therapeutic and pathology far infrared rays benefits are vast and supported by global research efforts, there’s much more to still be learned.
As such, the following groups should always consult their primary care giver before using FIR:
- Take medications.
- Have an ailment where heat could be counterproductive.
- Have a joint injury that’s less than 48 hours old
- Recently had surgery.
- Are menstruating or prone to bleeding.
- Are pregnant or lactating.
- Have a silicone or metal implant or prosthesis.
In addition to the above, if you experience increased pain or worsening of your condition while/after using FIR, you should discontinue use until discussing the occurrence with your physician.
Types of Far Infrared Devices
Traditional direct heat therapies are as uncomfortable and inconvenient as they are hazardous, unhygienic, and ineffective.
Traditional saunas, for example, expose you to high temps of heat stress that are actually detrimental, particularly for those with cardiovascular and lung diseases.
Thermal compressions, wraps, and pads, for example, offer inconsistent temperatures at a price of discomfort.
Heating pads are just a dangerous nightmare all around.
Thankfully, science has expounded upon the ways that thermal heat therapy can be applied to the body.
We now have FIR therapy, and researchers continue to strive to develop innovative FIR applications to improve the efficiency, comfort, and safety of deep heat penetration. Let’s take a brief look at your options:
Far Infrared Mats
These are a convenient way to apply heat therapy to sports injuries, back pain, and other fatigued and stressed areas in need of an energy boost, circulation prompt, detoxification, or relaxation.
They’re designed to be a surreal source warmth without negative effects.
Sleep on it to soothe your body into a restful night’s sleep without worrying about burns or skin drying, or you can apply it for just a few minutes each day to immediate relieve nerve, muscle, joint, and bone dysfunctions.
For more info on specific brands, check out our handy infrared mat reviews.
Far Infrared Lamps
A curing plate that’s formulated with essential minerals is used to emit highly therapeutic and evenly distributed infrared rays.
When heated, it emits a 6-25 micron spectrum of electromagnetic waves that can be absorbed up to five inches deep.
Do keep in mind that this application is for short-term, intermittent exposure (20-30 minutes per day max) only.
No sleeping with this application because it can cause burns to the eyes and skin.
It’s recommended to protect yourself with goggles and exposure barriers.
Lamps have several other safety precautions.
So, always ensure you carefully follow the manufacturers use and safety recommendations.
Various brands purport user benefits to millions of consumers with hundreds of different chronic conditions.
The energy benefits metabolism, immune system, and circulatory function.
Far Infrared Saunas
By a different name, this application is as old as time itself.
Ancients called them hot air baths.
Native Americans called them sweat lodges.
Today, innovation has brought holistic spas the far infrared sauna.
Light-emitting sauna devices can even be purchased for use in your home.
This sauna uses a much lower and stabilized temperature than traditional applications.
The infrared rays directly penetrate the skin to warm the body without heating the air.
This makes it more appropriate for those that can’t/shouldn’t tolerate a traditional sauna’s extreme temps and heat.
It’s designed to promote detoxification through sweat, relax the body with precise amounts of thermal heat, reduce aging effects, promote a parasympathetic healing effect, and reduce pain and inflammation within the body.
Users report decreased insomnia, total body relaxation, relief from autoimmune diseases, anger management, fatigue relief, arthritis relief, diabetic symptom management. and improved mental and physical wellbeing.
More and more studies are coming forward to support the multitude of uses and benefits from FIR saunas, and none are indicating any negative side effects.
Users appreciate the comfort and ease of use with this gentle radiant heat.
Because FIR wavelengths are not visible to the naked eye, there’s also not the caveat of eye protection.
Whether it’s a sensitive skin issue or mobility issue, almost anyone can use an infrared sauna.
Home devices look similar to a tanning bed, and offer up to 1.5 inches of heat penetration.
Thinking About Giving A Far Infrared Product A Try?
In conclusion, far infrared radiation utilizes all the beneficial healing properties of the sun whilst saving you from the negative ultraviolet radiation effects.
Unlike the sun, it offers targeted, precise thermal heat however and wherever it’s most needed.
Unlike traditional thermal wraps, heating pads, and saunas, FIR treatments offer comfort, hygiene, safety, ease, consistency, and efficiency.
The medical conditions FIR has been studied in treating and benefiting are extensive, and all have yielded positive results without negative side effects.
In Eastern medicine, many such applications are already being officially supported and recommended.
While, more research is needed before the same can be said of Western medicine, the body of evidence is certainly causing many consumers to consider far infrared devices and therapies.