How Does Infrared Light Therapy Work?

By Jini Patel Thompson

infraredCoherent photons, which are particles of electromagnetic energy, are emitted from an infrared cold laser (also referred to as low level laser, soft laser or therapeutic laser). These particles enter the tissues and are absorbed in the mitochondria – which are tiny structures within the substance of each individual cell. The energy is converted to chemical energy within the cell.

The permeability of the cell membrane then changes, which in turn produces various physiological effects. These physiological changes affect a variety of cell types including macrophages, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and mast cells, resulting in wound healing, pain relief, reduced inflammation, drainage, etc.

When comparing lasers, two measurements are key. The first is the wavelength, which determines the color of the light and is measured in nanometers (nm). The second classification is the power of the laser, which is measured in milliwatts (mW). A laser of 500 mW or less is classified as a Category 3, cold laser. This means there is no danger of burning the skin or tissues, or causing damage from overheating. Lasers that are stronger than 500 mW are classified as Category 4 lasers and these should only be used by professionals, or in conjunction with a device that monitors the temperature of the tissue during exposure.

Another defining characteristic of laser light is that it is coherent light. This means that if you shine the light against the wall and then you back up farther and farther away, the laser point will stay the same size. If you happen to have a laser pen that is just an LED, then as you back away the light will fan out – this is the quick way to tell the difference between the two.

Simple colored laser lights have an affinity for the same color. For example, if you set up a green balloon that has a red balloon inflated inside it, and then you shine a red laser light on the balloons, the red balloon inside will pop, but the green one will stay intact. This is because the red laser has an affinity for the red balloon only.

However, infrared lasers are “colorblind” so they will penetrate deeply into tissue. An infrared laser light needs to be a minimum of 650 nm and 5 mW – at this strength it will penetrate almost half an inch into the skin. So if you have a shallow wound or an abscess, this strength is probably sufficient and infrared laser pen lights of this strength can be purchased fairly inexpensively.

vetro laser

After 6 Weeks of Vetrolaser Use

If you have a deeper wound or a fistula, then you may want to invest in an infrared laser that can penetrate deeper into the tissue. Unfortunately, these infrared lasers can be very expensive. The ones I found ranged from $1,200 – $13,000. How many people suffering from fistulas are likely to be able to afford that? So I went “outside the box” and I found an infrared laser – called the Vetrolaser II – that is sold for animal-use, for only $525. This is exactly the same quality, technology and strength of the expensive human-use lasers. It has three 808 nm diodes (lasers) in one unit, at a strength of 200 mW. Thus it can penetrate two inches when used on Caucasian skin (darker skin results in less penetration).

To sell or advertise a laser for human use, you have to submit it to the FDA and get approval – this is possibly the cause of the high price tag on human-use lasers. But if you specify that it is for animal use only, then you can avoid the FDA process.

I spoke with Dr. Daniel Kamen D.C, who sells this “veterinary laser” and he said that the ideal way to use the laser (to get the fastest results) is to put the laser directly in contact with dry skin. However, if the skin is wet, or the wound is open, then you need to hold it off the skin to avoid wetting the laser, but hold it as close as you can.

It’s worthwhile to note Amy Spiegel’s article about healing her son’s peri-anal abscess: She used an infrared laser pen light and the healing took six months when used for 1-2 minutes per day. We couldn’t get any information about the wavelength and power of the laser she used. But I did find a photo that looked just like it and the seller said that whilst the laser was 635 nm, it was less than 5 mW in power. So this is perhaps why her son’s abscess took so long to heal.

Interestingly the infrared laser pad Amy’s son is using now (for maintenance) contains 50 diodes (infrared lights) of 880 nm and 100mW for each diode – which a lot stronger than the pen light used to heal the fistula (and, at $844, is a lot more expensive).

Below are some places to purchase therapeutic-quality lasers at the cheapest prices I could find. And, as per usual, if you try this therapy, please let me know how it worked in the COMMENTS section below.

Infrared Laser Sources

Beurer Softlaser (635 nm, 5 mW, 1/2″ penetration) – has on/off switch

If you order this from the UK it’s cheaper than any supplier I could find in the U.S. The price was 50 pounds ~ $82 but check what the shipping would be as the shipping (and customs duties) may be so expensive it cancels out the savings if you live in North America. If you live in Europe, then this may be a good supplier for you.

If you order this from the UK it’s cheaper than any supplier I could find in the U.S. The price was 50 pounds ~ $82 but check what the shipping would be as the shipping (and customs duties) may be so expensive it cancels out the savings if you live in North America. If you live in Europe, then this may be a good supplier for you.

The cheapest place in the US I found, was retailing this laser at $149

Vetrolaser II – Triple Diode Infrared Laser (3 x 808 nm, 200 mW, 2″ penetration)

This is the “veterinary-use” laser I wrote about above and it currently retails for $525. Tel: 1-800-742-8433 and Dr. Kamen can answer any questions you might have.

 

(c) Jini Patel Thompson. You can copy or distribute this article as long as you include the author's name and this bio: Jini Patel Thompson's books on natural healing for digestive diseases have sold in over 40 different countries. Her health articles have been published in journals and magazines in the U.S., Australia and U.K. www.ListenToYourGut.com