Biological effects and medical applications of infrared radiation

. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 May 1.
Published in final edited form as:

Infrared (IR) is a type of electromagnetic radiation, including wavelengths between the 780 nm to 1000 μm. IR is divided into different bands: Near-Infrared (NIR, 0.78~3.0 μm), Mid-Infrared (MIR, 3.0~50.0 μm) and Far-Infrared (FIR, 50.0~1000.0 μm) as defined in standard ISO 20473:2007 Optics and photonics — Spectral bands []. Several studies have reported that IR can improve the healing of skin wounds, photoprevention, relieve pain, stiffness, fatigue of rheumatoid arthritis, ankylosing spondylitis, potentiate photodynamic therapy, treat ophthalmic, neurological, and psychiatric disorders, and stimulate the proliferation of mesenchymal and cardiac stem cells [].

Low-level light therapy (LLLT) is defined as “Treatment using irradiation with light of low power intensity so that the effects are a response to the light and not due to heat. A variety of light sources, especially low-power lasers are used.” in the Medical Subject Headings (MeSH) Descriptor Data 2017. Photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy is “A form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing forms of light sources, including lasers, LEDs, and broadband light, in the visible and infrared spectrum. It is a nonthermal process involving endogenous chromophores eliciting photophysical (i.e., linear and nonlinear) and photochemical events at various biological scales. This process results in beneficial therapeutic outcomes including but not limited to the alleviation of pain or inflammation, immunomodulation, and pro-motion of wound healing and tissue regeneration.” as a defined in Anders et al. []. It is now agreed that “PBM therapy” is a more accurate and specific term for the therapeutic application of low-level light compared with “LLLT”.

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