We love the science.
Scientific studies have shown infrared to successfully treat many conditions, including cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, rheumatoid arthritis, chronic fatigue and pain, digestion issues, and depression. Below we highlight the specific benefits of infrared light therapy, as well as key articles & studies from reputable sources. As always, we recommend consulting your medical provider if you have a prior medical condition before booking your session. Please see below for some studies that we have referenced in our research - we are always adding new ones we find along the way!
Benefits of Infrared Light Therapy
Far-Infrared Light Benefits
Far infrared light is an invisible frequency on the spectrum of light that our bodies perceive as a gentle radiant heat that penetrates up to 1.5" below the skin's surface and raises body temperature by nearly 3 degrees Fahrenheit.
Far infrared light can affect the formation of molecular bonds and improves health at a cellular level.
The increase in core body temperature produces a deep, detoxifying sweat, lowers systolic and diastolic blood pressure and dramatically increases circulation throughout the body.
Numerous studies have proven that far infrared therapy improves cardiac and vascular function, reduces oxidative stress, and is overall beneficial to heart health.
Other benefits of infrared therapy includes decreasing cortisol (stress hormone), reducing fatigue and pain, boosting mood and endorphins, and treating diabetes and chronic illnesses.
Near-Infrared Light Benefits
Near infrared light falls on the spectrum just beyond what is visible to the eye and is the shortest infrared wavelength.
It has been used in cosmetic and wound healing devices for years - if you get a facial and they use light therapy, it is very similar.
Scientists believe that light at this wavelength can quadruple cell health and boost tissue growth.
Other benefits of near-infrared light include: boosted immune system, cell regeneration, collagen production, injury recovery, and pain relief.
Mid-Infrared Light Benefits
Our Sunlighten saunas emit all three types of infrared light, including mid-infrared. They use a technology called Kapton polyimide, used in space applications, to tolerate the high heat required to produce mid-infrared wavelengths.
Mid-infrared wavelengths penetrate the body's soft tissue where inflammation occurs and expands blood vessels to increase circulation.
It also increases core body temperature and stimulates the cardiovascular system, simulating the cardiac output and metabolic rate increase of a vigorous walk or light jog.
Benefits include reducing pain, increased healing speed and boosted circulation and heart health.
Studies & Articles
Using far-infrared saunas at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 minutes for five days consecutively then twice a week (known as ‘Woan therapy’), significantly reduced cardiac events in patients with chronic heart failure. Cardiac events due to heart failure or cardiac death occurred in 68.7% of the control group but only 31.3% of the Waon therapy group at 60 months of follow-up. In another study, at baseline and 3 weeks after starting Waon Therapy, cardiac function scores were significantly improved by both physical and mental components.
Yet another study demonstrated that the therapy improved symptoms, status, and blood flow in patients with peripheral arterial disease. One patient in that study had a large skin ulcer that healed completely after 15 weeks of therapy and limb amputation was avoided.
A study on Finnish men found that increased frequency of sauna bathing is associated with a reduced risk of sudden cardiac death, fatal coronary heart disease, fatal cardiovascular disease, and all-cause mortality. The more often the subjects used the saunas (four to seven sessions a week), the greater the benefits: compared with those who had just one sauna session a week, frequent sauna users had a 63% lower risk of sudden cardiac death, 50% lower risk of cardiovascular disease death, 48% lower risk of coronary heart disease death and were 40% less likely to die from all causes.
Scientific Articles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25740582, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748743, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3865971/, https://www.journal-of-cardiology.com/article/S0914-5087(08)00328-6/abstract, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0735109707028550, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2130724
Chronic Fatigue and Pain
In one study, perceived fatigue significantly decreased after therapy, although no significant reductions were observed during therapy. In addition to significantly reducing fatigue symptoms, a negative mood, including anxiety, depression and fatigue, and the performance status significantly improved after therapy.
In a study of Waon therapy (140 degrees Farhenheit for 15 mins 2-5x a week) and fibromyalgia, all patients experienced a significant reduction in pain by about half after the first session of Waon therapy (11-70%), and the effect of Waon therapy became stable (20-78%) after 10 treatments. Pain and symptom scores were significantly decreased after Waon therapy and remained low throughout the observation period.
Scientific Articles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21951023, https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/internalmedicine/47/16/47_16_1473/_article, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25748743, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685882, https://www.sunlighten.com/pdfs/manuals/auburn-flexibility-study.pdf
Depression, Brain Injury & Alzheimers
Scientists are just beginning to discover how infrared therapy, namely near-infrared light, benefits the brain, and could possibly be an effective, healthy treatment for everything from depression to dementia.
One study found that hyperthermia (i.e. heating the body to about 100 degrees Fahrenheit) stimulated the skin in a way that activated serotonin production, which in turn changes brain functionality. Serotonin is the positivity neurochemical and it regulates mood, happiness and anxiety and low-levels trigger depression. Infrared decreases inflammation, and this decreases and heals cell damage in the brain.
A variety of studies are finding that near-infrared light increases connections in between neurons, stimulates the formation of new ones, and promotes the repair of tissue throughout the body, and this function in the brain is the mechanism that has been shown to combat depression and other neurological issues. Scientists have been applying this theory to the brain with stroke patients, and animals, and have discovered that near-infrared light increases the connections between neurons and stimulates the formation of new ones. It has been proven to restore brain function in stroke patients. Other animal models of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease have reported that low-level near-infrared light has neuroprotective effects and slows the death of neurons.
These two studies were conducted on real people suffering with depression, with rigorous trial standards, and had remarkable results. They are the first of their kind, with hopefully many more trials on humans using infrared to replicate these promising results to come. Researchers concluded that using infrared light to heat the body “holds promise as a safe, fast-acting anti-depressant modality with a prolonged therapeutic benefit.” Patients a separate trial of infrared light therapy experienced dramatically decreased levels of sadness, anxiety, lethargy, and agitation.
Scientific Articles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5627142/, https://behavioralandbrainfunctions.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/1744-9081-5-46, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556873/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5627142/, https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(03)01026-6/abstract, https://www.biologicalpsychiatryjournal.com/article/S0006-3223(98)00252-2/abstract?code=bps-site, https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapsychiatry/fullarticle/2521478, https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/infrared-heat-eases-depression-symptoms-study-finds-1.2905272, https://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/national/2016/03/03/brain-hacking-hot-wired-for-happiness/?noredirect=on&utm_term=.4d98a351d927, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4556873/, https://www.quora.com/Whats-the-difference-between-dopamine-serotonin-oxytocin-and-endorphins, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707222/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4707222/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5066074/
Skin & Wound Healing
Studies conducted by NASA concluded that NIR LED light significantly promotes faster cell regeneration, wound healing and human tissue growth. Human cell growth increased by 155%-171% in some cases and wound size decreased by 36%. One study using far infrared radiation on patients with mild to moderate facials and hyperpigmentation received infrared treatments over six months, and results suggest that infrared radiation may have beneficial effects on skin texture and wrinkles by increasing collagen and elastin contents from the stimulated fibroblasts.
ScientificArticles:https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4745411/, https://www.liebertpub.com/doi/abs/10.1089/104454701753342758, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2687728/
Diabetes, Weight Loss & Cellulite
A study of patients with type 2 diabetes found that infrared sauna was beneficial for lowering blood pressure and waist circumference. Further, it was easier to get subjects to use the saunas than other lifestyle interventions, which makes it an attractive option for treating the illness.
Infrared saunas boost the cardiovascular system in a way similar to running or aerobic exercise, and coupled with the sweat, has the potential to burn calories and create weight loss. It needs further study, but has shown significant promise in a study on patients suffering from diabetes and one using dry saunas studying loss of body mass index and body mass loss in sedentary young women and men. There is also some science to support that infrared’s increase of metabolic function can help reduce cellulite, reducing the accumulation of liquids in fat cells and leaving to a smoother appearance of skin.
Scientific Articles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4295591/, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16537213, https://www.canadianjournalofdiabetes.com/article/S1499-2671(10)42007-9/abstract
In a study conducted in the Netherlands tested far infrared treatments on rheumatoid arthritis patients with twice a week infrared therapy for four weeks. Pain and stiffness decreased clinically and improvements were statistically significant on a short-term basis, with no adverse affects.
Scientific Articles: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18685882