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Far Infrared Technology

Filed in Product Info by on May 10, 2015 • views: 2618

fir-technology-breakdown

All living organisms are subjected to the natural electromagnetic radiation reaching the earth from the sun. Living organisms experience the beneficial as well as adverse effects of it at all levels, starting from sub-cellular organelles and ending with the whole body.

Thermal radiation (or infrared) is a band of energy in the complete electromagnetic spectrum and it has been used effectively for millennia to treat/ease certain maladies and discomforts. Heated saunas are only one of the avenues (and perhaps the oldest) to deliver the radiation in a controlled environment and within a convenient treatment time. With the development of better technology to deliver pure far infrared radiation (FIR), the benefits from its effects have widened.

Nowadays, specialty FIR emitting heat lamps and garments made up of filaments (fibers) impregnated with FIR emitting nanoparticles are becoming used to deliver these thermal radiation effects.

FIR emitting ceramics and fabrics

FIR emitting ceramics have been known for some time. All ceramics have the property of emitting IR radiation depending on their temperature. In the age of gas lighting, ceramic mantles were heated by gas flames to emit both IR and visible radiation depending on the temperature attained. The exact chemical composition of the ceramic material governs the relationship between the temperature and the amount of IR radiation. The radiated energy follows the Stefan-Boltzmann law which says that the total energy radiated per unit of surface area per unit of time is directly proportional to the fourth power of the black body’s absolute temperature. The wavelength range also depends strictly on the temperature according to Wien’s displacement law.

Small particles (nanoparticles and microparticles) of FIR-emitting ceramic material have been incorporated into fibers that are then woven into fabrics. These fabrics can be manufactured into various garments that can be worn on different parts of the body.

When FIR emitting ceramics or fabrics are employed as therapeutic devices, it is pertinent to analyze the thermodynamics of the process. The first law of thermodynamics states that energy can neither be created nor destroyed. Heat (molecular vibrational energy) is transferred from one body to another in three forms: radiation, convection and conduction. Thus, it is clear that the principle source of energy needed to power the FIR emission from the garments comes from the human body, since it is at a significantly higher temperature than the surrounding air. So energy from the human body is transferred to these ceramic particles, which are acting as “perfect absorbers”, maintain their temperature at sufficiently high levels and then emit FIR back to the body. It is plausible that FIR emitted from the skin is absorbed by the ceramic particles, which then re-emit the same FIR back to the skin. Although this may appear to be an energy neutral process and to cancel itself out, this is not in fact the case because the FIR emitting material will prevent the loss of FIR that would otherwise have escaped through normal clothing. However the same effect could have been achieved with a FIR reflective foil suit or suchlike. Other sources of heat that can transfer energy from the body to the ceramic particles with a net gain of FIR are either convection, conduction, or both. The balance between conduction and convection will depend on how close the contact is between the garment and the skin. If the garment is skin tight, then conduction may be important, while if it is loose fitting then convection (heating up a layer of air between the skin and the garment) may be important.

Ting-Kai Leung and colleagues have studied the effect of FIR-emitting ceramic powders in a range of biological studies. In one set of studies, they cultured murine myoblast cells (C2C12) with bags of ceramic powder under the culture plates and found that FIR irradiation improved cell viability and prevented lactate dehydrogenase release under hydrogen peroxide (H2O2)-mediated oxidative stress, and also elevated the intracellular levels of NO and calmodulin. In the study, they used electro-stimulation of amphibian skeletal muscle and found that FIR emitting ceramics delayed the onset of fatigue, induced by muscle contractions. In another set of studies, they showed that ceramic-emitted FIR (cFIR) could increase the generation of intracellular NO in breast cancer cells and inhibit growth of murine melanoma cells. Similarly, they found that cFIR increased calmodulin and NO production in RAW 264.7 macrophages. cFIR also has been shown to increase the viability of murine macrophages with different concentrations of H2O2. In this study it was shown that cFIR significantly inhibited intracellular peroxide levels and lipopolysaccharide (LPS)-induced peroxide production by macrophages. In the same study, it was also demonstrated that cFIR blocked ROS-mediated cytotoxicity (shown by measurements of cytochrome c and the ratio of NADP+/NADPH).

Conclusion

If it can be proved that non-heating FIR has real and significant biological effects, then the possible future applications are wide ranging. Not only could bandages and dressings made out of NIR emitting fabrics be applied for many medical conditions and injuries that require healing, but there is a large potential market in lifestyle enhancing applications. Garments may be manufactured for performance enhancing apparel in both leisure activities and competitive sports areas. Cold weather apparel would perform better by incorporating FIR emitting capability and sleeping environments could be improved by mattresses and bedding emitting FIR.

Source: US National Library of Medicine – National Institutes of Health

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