Infrared Therapy and Oxidative Stress

IR and Oxidative Stress

Using Infrared Therapy Reduces Inflammation

In our previous article we discussed the health benefits of infrared therapy, as explained by an international group of researchers. One of the benefits mentioned in that study was the reduction of oxidative stress. Therefore, it is appropriate for us to discuss briefly what is oxidative stress, how is it potentially harmful, and how can infrared therapy at the Brain Health Clinic benefit our clients by reducing oxidative stress.

It’s All About Oxygen

Most living tissues require oxygen for survival. This critical molecule is an important ingredient for cellular energy production. In part, we breathe so that our cells can continue to make energy and survive. Cellular energy production and other processes produce molecules called reactive oxygen species, or ROS. These include free atoms of oxygen, molecules of hydrogen peroxide, and hydroxyl ions (one oxygen atom combined with one hydrogen atom). Normally, biological mechanisms transform these ROS into stable oxygen and water. If ROS are in excess, however, they begin to do damage to cellular tissues by breaking apart tissue layers and disrupting tissue cohesion. This leads to inflammatory reactions and is defined as oxidative stress.

Not All Oxidation is Bad

Biological systems can use ROS (also called oxidants or free radicals) for beneficial purposes. For example, immune cells called phagocytes store free radicals and then release them onto pathogens in order to destroy the invasive substances. One free radical, nitric oxide, is known for its beneficial effects. The presence of nitric oxide relaxes endothelial tissues and improves blood flow, thus leading to its common use via nitroglycerin tablets for patients with cardiovascular issues. The problems with free radicals start when they exist in excess, and that is usually caused by trauma, harmful habits, and exposure to damaging substances that produce more ROS than the body can successfully stabilize.

Causes of Oxidative Stress

Traumatic injury is one of the most common causes of oxidative stress. Motor vehicle accidents, falls, surgical procedures, and sports injuries are typical ways that people experience the inflammation that comes with damage to bones and tissues. But various types of pollutants can also damage cellular tissues and cause oxidative stress. Examples are lead, cadmium, mercury and arsenic. These heavy metals are found in tobacco products and are also byproducts of vaping. As these metals accumulate in the human body, oxidative stress results.

Oxidative stress is also the result of a high-fat diet. One article in the journal Nutrients focused on how eating too many fats leads to oxidative stress and cognitive dysfunction. The researchers stated:

Extensive studies have shown that accumulation of [fat] tissue is predominant in sites that produce systemic inflammation.

Therefore, limiting fat intake is a critical component of any therapy regimen designed to reduce inflammation and oxidative stress.

Excessive alcohol consumption also causes oxidative stress. When the liver metabolizes alcohol, ROS are created. In normal amounts, these free radicals can be stabilized by the body. In excess amounts, cellular damage is the result. As an article from the journal Alcohol Research & Health stated:

Alcohol breakdown in the liver results in the formation of molecules whose further metabolism in the cell leads to ROS production. Alcohol also stimulates the activity of enzymes…which contribute to ROS production. Further, alcohol can alter the levels of certain metals in the body, thereby facilitating ROS production. Finally, alcohol reduces the levels of agents that can eliminate ROS (i.e., antioxidants). The resulting state of the cell, known as oxidative stress, can lead to cell injury.

So, while oxidative stress can be the result of traumatic injury to body tissues, it can also be caused by habits that introduce damaging substances to the body, or that overwhelm the body’s ordinary processes for dealing with oxidative molecules. Any therapy regimen for inflammation and oxidative stress must take into consideration the need for lifestyle changes that promote significant health improvements.

How Infrared Therapy Reduces Oxidative Stress

Many research studies point to the benefits of infrared (IR) therapy for reducing oxidative stress. Although researchers are not always clear regarding the exact biological mechanism causing the benefits, they have evidence that the therapy works. As discussed in our prior article, IR may be stimulating the production of antioxidants, it may be accelerating biological reactions that stabilize free radicals, or it may be increasing the production of anti-inflammatory molecules that counteract the results of oxidative stress. IR may even be causing a combination of all three of these therapeutic processes.

The Brain Health Clinic offers two different types of infrared therapy. One uses the BioMat, an infrared producing device that works while you relax on a comfortable therapy table. The other therapy uses photonic stimulation via the Global Physioware Regenesis3 device. While the BioMat is good for full-body therapy, photonic stimulation therapy is more effective when the pain, inflammation, and oxidative stress is specific to a certain body part, or to the head, neck or face.

If you believe that infrared therapy would be beneficial to help you deal with inflammation, pain, and oxidative stress, contact the Brain Health Clinic for a free consultation.

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