How Does Infrared Light Therapy Work?
Coherent photons, which are particles of electromagnetic energy, are emitted from an infrared cold laser (also referred to as low level laser, soft laser or therapeutic laser). These particles enter the tissues and are absorbed in the mitochondria – which are tiny structures within the substance of each individual cell. The energy is converted to chemical energy within the cell.
The permeability of the cell membrane then changes, which in turn produces various physiological effects. These physiological changes affect a variety of cell types including macrophages, fibroblasts, endothelial cells and mast cells, resulting in wound healing, pain relief, reduced inflammation, drainage, etc.
When comparing lasers, two measurements are key. The first is the wavelength, which determines the color of the light and is measured in nanometers (nm). The second classification is the power of the laser, which is measured in milliwatts (mW). A laser of 500 mW or less is classified as a Category 3, cold laser. This means there is no danger of burning the skin or tissues, or causing damage from overheating. Lasers that are stronger than 500 mW are classified as Category 4 lasers and these should only be used by professionals, or in conjunction with a device that monitors the temperature of the tissue during exposure.
Another defining characteristic of laser light is that it is coherent light. This means that if you shine the light against the wall and then you back up farther and farther away, the laser point will stay the same size. If you happen to have a laser pen that is just an LED, then as you back away the light will fan out – this is the quick way to tell the difference between the two.
Simple colored laser lights have an affinity for the same color. For example, if you set up a green balloon that has a red balloon inflated inside it, and then you shine a red laser light on the balloons, the red balloon inside will pop, but the green one will stay intact. This is because the red laser has an affinity for the red balloon only.
However, infrared lasers are “colorblind” so they will penetrate deeply into tissue. An infrared laser light needs to be a minimum of 650 nm and 5 mW – at this strength it will penetrate almost half an inch into the skin. So if you have a shallow wound or an abscess, this strength is probably sufficient and infrared laser pen lights of this strength can be purchased fairly inexpensively.
If you have a deeper wound or a fistula, then you may want to invest in an infrared laser that can penetrate deeper into the tissue. Unfortunately, these infrared lasers can be very expensive. The ones I found ranged from $1,200 – $13,000. How many people suffering from fistulas are likely to be able to afford that? So I went “outside the box” and I found an infrared laser – called the Vetrolaser II – that is sold for animal-use, for only $525. This is exactly the same quality, technology and strength of the expensive human-use lasers. It has three 808 nm diodes (lasers) in one unit, at a strength of 200 mW. Thus it can penetrate two inches when used on Caucasian skin (darker skin results in less penetration).
To sell or advertise a laser for human use, you have to submit it to the FDA and get approval – this is possibly the cause of the high price tag on human-use lasers. But if you specify that it is for animal use only, then you can avoid the FDA process.
I spoke with Dr. Daniel Kamen D.C, who sells this “veterinary laser” and he said that the ideal way to use the laser (to get the fastest results) is to put the laser directly in contact with dry skin. However, if the skin is wet, or the wound is open, then you need to hold it off the skin to avoid wetting the laser, but hold it as close as you can.
It’s worthwhile to note Amy Spiegel’s article about healing her son’s peri-anal abscess: She used an infrared laser pen light and the healing took six months when used for 1-2 minutes per day. We couldn’t get any information about the wavelength and power of the laser she used. But I did find a photo that looked just like it and the seller said that whilst the laser was 635 nm, it was less than 5 mW in power. So this is perhaps why her son’s abscess took so long to heal.
Interestingly the infrared laser pad Amy’s son is using now (for maintenance) contains 50 diodes (infrared lights) of 880 nm and 100mW for each diode – which a lot stronger than the pen light used to heal the fistula (and, at $844, is a lot more expensive).
Below are some places to purchase therapeutic-quality lasers at the cheapest prices I could find. And, as per usual, if you try this therapy, please let me know how it worked in the COMMENTS section below.
Infrared Laser Sources
Red Laser Pen (635 nm, 5 mW, 1/2″ penetration) – has a button you need to press and hold down, which personally I don’t recommend as it gets very tiring. However, if price is an issue, then this is a good option at $69.95 since it also includes a case and about 14 disposable tips in varying sizes. Good red laser pen of same strength as the professional one – just with less attachments and does not have an on/off switch that stays in position – must be held down continuously.
Doctors Red Laser (635 nm, 5 mW, 1/2″ penetration) – has on/off switch and comes with a wide variety of tips, both straight and angled (for dental applications) and a padded travel case. Useful for treating thinning or receding gums or gingivitis. This professional red laser is a good deal for $149
Blue Laser (450 nm, 5 mW) – has on/off switch and comes with a wide variety of tips, both straight and angled (for dental applications) and a padded travel case for $219. Tips can be interchanged with the Doctors Red Laser as using the two lasers in combination can work well for stubborn cases. The Blue Laser has been documented to help the body’s defenses eliminate bacteria or other infections. (With a photochemical effect). For this reason, if your fistula has a lot of infection, this blue laser may work better than the red ones. It is also better for treating (softening, dissolving) scar tissue. Good for oral treatment of gingivalis. This company used to carry a Violet Laser, but switched to this blue one because, “At the cellular level it stimulates the cytrochomes. Most effective for Propionibacterium Acne and most skin conditions. This wavelength has a broader spectrum for killing bacteria than violet.”
These three lasers are all sold by Dr. John Schimmel – who specializes in acupuncture applications. However, he has 30 years experience and countless seminars on laser therapy under his belt, so is very informative to speak with on many applications/problems. You can contact him via his site, or phone 719-201-8581
Vetrolaser II – Triple Diode Infrared Laser (3 x 808 nm, 200 mW, 2″ penetration)
This is the “veterinary-use” laser I wrote about above and it currently retails for $525.
Tel: 1-800-742-8433 and Dr. Kamen can answer any questions you might have.
Infrared Laser Pad (8 rows of 660 nm, 7 rows of 880 nm)- I recently found this very reasonably priced laser pad on Amazon, but it doesn’t list the mW. Still, since it is at 660 nm and 800 nm, it can do the job and would likely be more powerful than the laser pens:
NOTE: This article is part 3 of a 3-part series, which together give you the FULL instructions on how to heal a fistula or perianal abscess. So make sure you read EACH post to get the full instructions:
1. Natural Remedy for Perianal Abscess and Fistula
2. How to Use Infrared Lasers to Speed Healing of Fistulas – this post above
3. Amy’s story: How She Used Jini’s Natural Remedy and Infrared Lasers to Heal Her Son’s Perianal Abscess
Click here if you have a rectovaginal fistula for specific instructions for this condition.
If you still need additional guidance, then consider booking with a doctor familiar with my protocols to help you.