Infrared healing is a form of therapy that uses infrared light, also known as thermal radiation or heat radiation, to improve physical health, promote the healing of tissue, and also treat certain psychological problems. It is mainly used as a treatment in alternative medicine. Different types of devices can be used to provide the infrared light for infrared healing, for example infrared lamps and infrared saunas. Common physical problems treated with infrared healing include joint- and muscle pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, and slow-healing wounds. Research does indicate that infrared healing therapy can be beneficial in some cases, but not all claims made about the benefits of this kind of light therapy have been scientifically proven.
Infrared light is a form of electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength that is longer than that of visible light, meaning it cannot be seen by the human eye. Most kinds of heat, including the heat from a heater, the sun or the human body, are infrared light. Ordinary sunlight is made up of infrared light, ultraviolet light and visible light. Lamps and other devices used in infrared healing usually only produce a specific wavelength of infrared light, and no ultraviolet light or visible light.
In infrared healing therapy, a device such as a lamp is often used to expose parts of the body to infrared radiation, while an infrared sauna can be used to expose the entire body. Scientific studies indicate that tissue such as skin, bone and muscle heals faster after exposure to infrared light, though the process is not fully understood. One suggested explanation is that infrared light promotes the formation of very fine blood vessels called capillaries, improving circulation and thereby speeding up the healing process. It has also been suggested that infrared light stimulates collagen production in the body, helping heal skin faster and reducing the formation of scar tissue.
Proponents of infrared healing claim it can also be used to lose weight, detoxify the body, and as a treatment of anxiety and depression, though these claims have not been scientifically proven. Infrared healing is also used to treat certain medical problems in animals, for example hip pain and arthritis in dogs. Pregnant women, infants and children should be cautious about using light healing therapies, because of the possible side effects of infrared radiation. For example, there have been reports of skin aging, DNA damage, and reproductive problems after using some forms of light healing. It is very important to only use approved infrared devices for this type of therapy.