Near and Far Infrared Therapy

Near Infrared Therapy (NIR) enhances cell function and the function of the extracellular matrix in many different ways. NIR is widely used as a cosmetic treatment for regenerating collagen and elastin under the skin. Collagen and elastin are primary constituents of the connective tissue matrix which underly both posture and movement. Here is an image of a mitochondria stimulated by an infrared light source:

Mitichondria-IR w labels

The original research on NIR therapy was done by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA early 1960’s). NASA researchers found that the NIR band of energy penetrates deeply into the body (both soft tissue and bone), with regenerative cellular responses, including an increase in cellular metabolism, protein synthesis (including collagen), anti-oxidant activity, increased vascular circulation and reduced inflammation and pain. A search of research literature will uncover thousands of papers spanning nearly 60 years on NIR therapy such as this 2018 PubMed paper: AGING IS A STICKY BUSINESS



I have tried a few LED type NIR devices, and know from experience that they have helped me to:

  • reduce inflammation
  • increase the rate of healing from injuries (strains, sprains and wounds)
  • soften old scar tissue
  • eliminate joint pain
  • increase range of motion

These devices are often quite expensive, and I have struggled to find a product I liked well enough to recommend that stayed on the market. However LED lamps are very convenient and you may find one you like.

I recently evaluated the THERABULB, which is a bit “old school” by comparison with the LED products. However, it’s low cost and the subtle warmth in addition the the NIR have made me an enthusiastic advocate for this product. The main drawback is finding a suitable holder. A painters clamp on heat lamp base is often used. The base and lamp can be had for <$40.00. This product has quickly become my enthusiastic recommendation for Near Infrared Therapy.

Treatment Recommendation: Less than 10 minutes on any one spot, up to three or four times per day. Lamp should be at a distance where it feels just comfortably warm (the bulb runs hot enough to burn, but not nearly as hot as you might expect). If you are treating an injury, its can be very helpful to treat the tissues that are not injured, but associated with the injury (ie: in treating a knee, also expose the thigh, calf and foot).


If you are looking for a more permanent lamp base solution, here is a suggestion:


Another option is the lamp holder on the Therabulb website




The Mineral Heat Lamp is a further exploration of the benefits of infrared therapy. The heating element heats a plate composed of a proprietary mineral formation consisting of 33 elements essential to the human body. When heated, this plate emits light at the energy spectrum of these minerals, stimulating their action in cellular and extracellular functions. Far Infrared penetrates very deep into the body, and some light may pass all of the way through.

I can highly recommend the therapeutic effects of the Mineral Heat Lamp, but caution that you should build up your tolerance as the detox effect can be quite dramatic, and initially felt a little sick after long (>45 minute) exposures. For example, I have used it on my face to get at a chronic periodontal issue, and for the rest of the day I could taste dental anesthetic.

The lamps are quite inexpensive, but not particularly robust, and must be handled gently to avoid breaking, especially when hot. Replacement heads for the TDP brand are available.