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What Is Infrared Radiation, and How Can It Benefit Us?

Last Updated on: May 4, 2022

Man holding a phone with a infrared radiation picture on it

Some forms of radiation are harmful. But did you know that infrared radiation is virtually harmless and can help you detoxify? Read on to learn more about the benefits of this natural healing power.

In 1800, German-born British astronomer and composer William Herschel attempted to measure the difference in temperature between colors in the visible spectrum. His results showed an increase in temperature from blue to red. Then he noticed an even warmer temperature measurement just beyond the red end of the visible spectrum. Herschel had discovered infrared radiation! (1)

Two Main Types of Radiation

Sometimes the word “radiation” evokes images of mushroom clouds and nuclear disasters. Indeed, overexposure to this ionizing radiation is highly toxic and wreaks havoc on living tissue. This is rare, however — something most human beings will never experience. (2)

Every day, however, people do come into contact with non-ionizing radiation, which is much weaker but can impart heat. Non-ionizing radiation includes radio-frequency waves, microwaves, and UV radiation from the sun, the exposure to which is harmful in long stretches and results in tissue damage in the form of a sunburn. However, damage from other types of non-ionizing radiation is uncommon and mainly concerns those who work with instruments that emit this type of radiation in large amounts. (3)

How Does Infrared Fit In?

Non-ionizing radiation also includes infrared (IR), also called radiant heat. With infrared radiation, there is little to fear. That doesn’t mean it can’t cause damage; because it is a source of heat (thermal radiation), overexposure can cause adverse reactions. However, just as with radio waves and microwaves, ill effects from infrared are rare and the benefits are many — including the fact that it is painless and noninvasive. In fact, infrared therapy is widely used in medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine, providing an alternative treatment for various health conditions. (4)

Infrared radiation image from an infrared gun
An image taken with an infrared camera (aka thermal imaging). Red and orange show heat. Green and blue show cooler temperatures.

Infrared: The Lowdown

Infrared is a type of light whose wavelengths are too long for humans to see — even though they are only about 0.00003 inches to 0.04 inches long. Everything, whether animate or inanimate, emits a tiny bit of light, and much of it is part of the invisible IR spectrum. Even very cold objects, such as ice cubes, emit IR. When an object is not hot enough to radiate visible light, it will emit most of its energy as IR, but the warmer the object, the more IR it emits. (5)

Why study IR? Turns out, science can learn a lot about objects by detecting their infrared wavelengths. For example, scientists use infrared cameras to study the composition of distant celestial bodies. (5)

Back down on Earth, some animals have evolved to take advantage of IR light. Pit vipers, for instance, can sense the heat from their prey in the dark thanks to their infrared vision. Similarly, blood-sucking insects detect IR emitted by prey in the form of exhaled carbon dioxide. Some fish use IR to “see” in murky waters, as do some species of frogs. (6)

Human beings, however, mainly benefit from IR as warmth — from the sun, a fire, a radiator, and even from the body’s own tissues as it repairs itself. Manmade IR sources, such as lamps that heat food, lasers, steel and iron production, and IR saunas, are also beneficial. (7, 8)

Types of Infrared

  • Near IR: wavelengths closest to the spectrum of visible light; they do not emit warmth (our remote controls use near infrared). (9)
  • Mid IR: wavelengths farther away from the visible spectrum of light than near (the human body emits heat at mid IR). (9)
  • Far infrared (FIR): wavelengths closer to the microwave end of the electromagnetic spectrum; the thermal radiation known as heat.
Infrared radiation therapy sauna | portable infrared sauna
Infrared region of the electromagnetic spectrum; far, mid, and near infrared waves.

And Now for the Good News!

Far infrared radiation therapy, such as that from specialty FIR lamps and FIR saunas, can help you relax and heal. Because FIR penetrates the skin up to about 1.5 inches, its gentle heat brings oxygen and nutrients to injured areas. Tissues requiring a healing boost absorb what they need. Any remaining infrared energy passes harmlessly from the body. This is one reason FIR therapy has become a safe, effective, and widely used source of natural healing. (10)

Another reason is that FIR saunas like the Synergy Sauna™ heat the body without using the ambient air as a heat transfer medium. This means that you can experience the same benefits as a traditional sauna but at lower temperatures. (10) FIR can also help improve circulation through increased nitric oxide, a crucial molecule that prevents blood from clotting and clumping. Some studies even suggest that IR therapy can help with weight loss, diabetes, and blood pressure, and there is ample science to support the fact that it combats free radicals for detoxification. (4, 11)

Syngery Sauna setup in a living room | portable infrared sauna
Infrared radiation therapy being administered.

The Synergy Sauna™ Difference

Our (portable!) sauna offers full-spectrum infrared employing near, mid, and far IR at a therapeutic temperature range for a deep, cleansing detox experience. Near IR has gained attention in the medical world for its ability to activate anti-inflammatory processes, mid IR has shown promise in mice for improved learning and memory abilities and normalizing gut microbes, and far IR has been shown to improve the health of patients with cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and chronic kidney disease. (12)(13)(14)

These three types of IR work together in the Synergy Sauna™ to offer you a safe, effective supplement to your healthcare routine. Curious about how infrared therapy from the Synergy Sauna™ can boost your health? Read more about the Synergy Sauna™ here!

Disclaimer: IR heat injuries can happen and can even occur without pain. Pregnant women should avoid infrared radiation, and people with heart diseases and those who are sick should check with a doctor before undergoing infrared therapy. Also, experts say you should not use infrared therapy to treat chronic diseases in place of medications or other forms of treatment. Instead, it should be considered in conjunction with adherence to prescribed medical treatment. (4)

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