Many of our clients use our infrared saunas to manage their inflammatory diseases. Some of these diseases are most evident in people’s lungs including: asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and pulmonary fibrosis. All of these are the result of ongoing inflammatory processes. The recent Covid-19 pandemic has created acute lung disfunction and inflammation which is why we need to look at all potential ways to help restore lung function; It is truly a matter of life or death!
What if light, particularly red light and near infrared light, could help the lungs heal and reduce inflammation? Let’s look into the possibilities and studies behind this hypothesis!
The recent Covid-19 pandemic has put a strong emphasis on lung health. Many of the deaths that are associated with Covid-19 begin with an impairment in the lungs. This impairment can seriously affect those with compromised organs that need high amounts of oxygen saturation. Even a slight decrease of oxygen (hypoxia) can further cause damage to these already compromised organs.  The inflammatory response of SARS-CoV-2 is likely the reason for death as a result of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). While steroids are generally used to prevent the inflammatory response, they have mostly proven ineffective or even dangerous in the early phases of the disease or to young patients.1 This is where Near Infrared Light, aka Photobiomodulation (PBM) could bring us some hope!
Many laboratory experiments show that red and near infrared light, with wavelengths in the range of 600–700 nm and 700–1000 nm respectively, have the potential to reduce pneumonia, lung inflammation and fibrosis, and hence acute respiratory disorder syndrome, a major cause of death in every coronavirus infection. Our ONYXred light therapy device includes 6 different wavelengths that fall within the spectrum indicated for this potential treatment.
In a pulmonary fibrosis study, involving mice, mice were treated with 660 nm light. They found that it reduced inflammation of the alveoli, reduced proinflammatory cells, decreased the thickness of interstitial fluid, decreased deposits in the lungs & increased elasticity.2
In another study, 780 nm near infrared light had some of the similar benefits but included reduction in lung fibrosis, reduction of TGF beta which is expressed in diseased states, & increase of IL-10 which is an anti-inflammatory cytokine.3
Taken together, these early results suggest that red and near infrared light have the potential to reduce some of the critical complications of coronavirus infections. In a human trial, patients were suffering with bronchial asthma and/or allergic rhinitis. The results showed a significant improvement in those receiving the light treatment vs those who were not.5,6
A systematic review of 17 papers concluded that: “PBM could be helpful in reducing the lung inflammation and promoting the regeneration of the damaged tissue. PBM can increase the oxygenation indirectly in order to rehabilitate the affected organs. Thus, the infra-red lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are recommended in this regard.” 7
Awaken for Wellness offers our red light within our saunas. We believe that this only compounds the positive effects of the PBM light. To support this concept, we looked at a 25 year study that looked at those that used the sauna 1 time per week vs 4 times per week. This long term cohort study concluded that frequent sauna sessions may be associated with a reduced risk of acute and chronic respiratory conditions.8 The combined effect of heat therapy and red light could bring faster healing and increased thinning of mucosal fluid.
Our ONYXred lights include 6 wavelengths: red light 630nm, 660nm, Near Infrared 810, 830, 850, & 908nm. The significance of near infrared is that near infrared will penetrate deeper than red light and doesn’t get absorbed as quickly by the skin layers. Our panels have the option to use both at the same time, which we do recommend, however the near infrared will have the strongest effect on the lungs. Generally 6 inches away would be optimal to target the lungs with a recommended maximum of 10 minutes on the front and 10 minutes on the back.
After the review of multiple studies and cases, we can conclude that using near infrared and red light in all chronic and acute respiratory diseases is offering strong promise. Awaken for Wellness & SweatWorks studio are excited to offer this potential healing to our clients.
- https://www.jcvaonline.com/action/showPdf?pii=S1053-0770%2821%2900287-1 Marilena Marmiere, MD* Filippo D’Amico, MD* Alberto Zangrillo, MD*,y Giovanni Landoni, MD*,y *Department of Anesthesia and Intensive Care, IRCCS San Raffaele Scientific Institute yFaculty of Medicine, Vita-Salute San Raffaele University, Milan, Italy https://www.jcvaonline.com/action/showPdf?pii=S1053-0770%2821%2900287-1
- Brochetti R.A., Leal M.P., Rodrgues R., da Palma P.K., de Oliveira L.V.F., Horliana A.C.R.T., Damazo A.S., de Oliveira A.P.L., Paula Vieira R., Lino-Dos-Santos-Franco A. Photobiomodulation therapy improves both inflammatory and fibrotic parameters in experimental model of lung fibrosis in mice. Lasers Med. Sci. 2017;32:1825–1834. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]
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- Marzieh Nejatifard1, Sohrab Asefi 2, Raika Jamali 3, Michael R Hamblin 4, Reza Fekrazad 5 Affiliations expand, PMID: 33128927, PMCID: PMC7550078, DOI: 1016/j.cyto.2020.155312
- Sauna bathing reduces the risk of respiratory diseases: a long-term prospective cohort study, September 2017, European Journal of Epidemiology32(4):1-5, DOI:1007/s10654-017-0311-6, Project: Sauna and Health