Infrared light has been widely used to treat chronic skin conditions, accelerate muscle recovery, ease pain, reduce inflammation, reduce the signs of aging and it even helps to boost the immune system. Now scientists are researching its ability to enhance our cognitive functions and mental performance. REsearch is underway investigating its ability to help escape stress from electromagnetic transmissions.
Here’s how infrared therapy works.
1. Infrared red light penetrates into the cellular level stimulating metabolic energy production in the mitochondria. Mitochondria are the energy centres of the cells and when they are energised, they function more efficiently.
2. By increasing blood flow including cerebral blood flow and brain oxygenation, which also helps to remove waste products and toxins from the body. This process accelerates regeneration and alleviates any neurovascular dysfunction caused by low brain oxygenation.
3. Balances levels of pro and anti-inflammatory cytokines to reduce the effects of chronic inflammation. This helps with neuroprotection and slows the onset of cell death due to inflammation. Whilst the inflammatory response – which is an immune defense against foreign bodies such as bacteria or virus – is a necessary part of healing, any chronic inflammation in the brain brings with it serious side effects.
4. Thought to stimulate the regrowth of neurons and increase the brain’s neuroplasticity.
There is a growing body of research on the beneficial effects of infrared light assisting in the size and severity of brain injury and stroke, as well as diminish damage and physiological symptoms in depression, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), Parkinson disease and Alzheimer disease through the use of infrared photobiomodulation (PBM). It is important to say that this research is young and requires more time to offer conclusive findings. Early indicators suggest that the effectiveness of infrared is related to the powerfulness of the infrared device.
There’s a sharp divide between LED-based treatment technologies which offer minimal results and may not even reach the brain, and multi-Watt technologies such as the Sunlighten Sauna mPulse we use at Gravity.
For the majority of our clients looking to improve sleep, alleviate stress or lose weight, the pre-set programs in our saunas are specifically designed to stack on the incremental benefits with regular use. Whilst these may not be specifically programmed to improve cognitive function, clinical trials into infrared light therapy from similar multi-watt devices have shown significant improvements in cognitive issues as well as reduced sleep disturbances, irritability and depression – all important factors that enable us to have better brain function for work, life and play.
What does improved brain function actually mean?
When brain function is improved, it means faster learning, better memory retention and better recall. We might describe this as sharper thinking.
Infrared light therapy has been shown to increase alpha, theta and delta brainwave activity whilst decreasing beta brainwave activity, mirroring what is similar to the effects of deep meditation which we already know to have significant positive effects on cognitive functioning.
- Beta brain waves are usually associated with our normal waking state that’s necessary for focused attention. They are usually characteristics of a highly engaged mind. However, there is a catch – MRI imaging has shown that this logic-driven state of mind often puts a cognitive barrier against creative thinking.
- Alpha brain waves. This state is synonymous with relaxed attention often when we are absorbed in a complex task or a passion project. Alpha brain waves are slower and higher in amplitude. Rest is a state that is characterised by alpha brain waves.
- Theta brain waves are often associated with daydreaming or intuition, having the ability to tap into creativity and innovation without the constraints of logic or our inner critic. It does not have to be a state of inactivity – quite the contrary – individuals who do a lot of freeway driving, or running outdoors, are often in a state of mental relaxation that is slower than alpha. When they tap into this theta state they are prone to a flow of ideas.
- Delta brain waves are associated with deep, dreamless sleep and is the slowest and of the greatest amplitude of all the brain waves.
Time to give infrared therapy a go?
Initial clinical studies utilising infrared light therapy have been extremely encouraging to boost brain health and regeneration. Based on available evidence infrared light therapy shows major promise as a natural, non invasive and drug free treatment with no harmful side effects.