A Lay Person’s Guide To Understanding Light

  • What Spectrum Of Light Can Harm The Skin?
  • Where Does Visible Color Light Fall On The Spectrum?
  • What Is Infrared Light And How Is It Subdivided: Near, Mid, And Far?
  • Where does Microwave  And  X-Rays Fall In The Light Spectrum?
  • What Light Is Therapeutic And Beneficial For Humans?

Light is a basic element of every person’s experience, it becomes complicated because the majority of it is invisible to the human eye. Some portions of the light spectrum can be dangerous to humans, while others are deeply beneficial and therapeutic.

So, how can the average person know the difference and learn to use light in the most beneficial way?

Take a look at the light spectrum as illustrated below, we will use this as a map to understanding light: 

(1)

As you can see in the above visual guide, color light, meaning what humans can actually see with the naked eye, is a very small percentage of the entire field. This means that knowing that the rest of the spectrum is present requires, quite literally, blind faith!

Light and Its Origins: You’ve Got The Good Vibration!

The sun itself is the original source of all light, and emits the entire spectrum of light. This allows planet earth,and its relationship to the sun, to be ideal for plant, animal, and human life. Earth, the goldilocks planet of our galaxy, is such because of the life-giving properties of the sun. 

The purpose of this article is not to go far into the realm of academic research on light, but rather just to give the average person a sense of what light is and how each individual can benefit from its use in therapeutic quantities. 

While much of the light spectrum is invisible to the eye, many times it can be sensed with other perceptual apparatus, such as the skin when heat is experienced, or sometimes a headache after too much exposure, for example the x-ray range. It is possible to use how we feel and react as clues to what kind of light we have been exposed to.

Light is measured in nanometers, similar to any other form of measurement, for instance, miles to measure distance, gallons and liters for volume, pounds and grams to measure weight and mass. So, nanometers is the measurement used for light. 

Understanding nanometers does not require an overtly scientific perspective, but rather is used just as a means to categorize and discuss light frequency. All light travels in waves and expresses a unique frequency just as each individual has their own fingerprint. 

The specific light frequency or vibratory patterns of each spectrum determines its relationship to plants, water, animals, humans, and all portions of life on our planet.

Some frequency serves the health and wellness of people, while others may be detrimental, particularly with over exposure.

What Spectrum Of Light Can Harm The Skin?

With the shelves of pharmacies overflowing with various brands of ‘Sunscreen’ and with all the information about the dangers of skin cancer as a result of overexposure to the sun, few are stranger to the threat that light may have on the skin and eyes.

So, what portion of the light spectrum burns or conversely tans the skin? Looking at the map of the light spectrum, turn your gaze just to the left of color light and you will find the Ultra Violet (UV) spectrum of light. Some UV rays are necessary for the proper absorption of Vitamin D, so it is important not to demonize this entire band-width.  However with overexposure the skin may burn, and over time a variety of skin related illnesses may ensue.

It is the UV spectrum that you will find in tanning beds, and it is very important to protect the eyes from this potentially harmful bandwidth of light. It is best to take in UV rays in very small amounts. 

UV rays have a shorter wave frequency than visible light and are measured between 10-400 nanometers. 400 nanometers is where the human eye can begin to detect the color light spectrum, specifically the color violet. (2)

In short, protecting the eyes and skin is important to limit the amount of UV rays exposed to the body; however, some exposure is important for Vitamin D absorption. (UVB is the frequency that is responsible for Vitamin D Absorption) (3)

The morning hours of the day is when infrared light is at its most potent and is a very safe time of day to spend in the sun. 

What Is Visible Light And Where Is It Expressed On The Light Spectrum?

As UV rays begin to dwindle out, the visible spectrum fades in at 400 nanometers and here begins the story of the color palette. In many ways color light really steals the show from the rest of the light spectrum because humans can see it. It is however a very small portion of light.

Most folks can visualize the color wheel or a rainbow in an instant. In addition to being very beautiful, color light also boasts many benefits to human health. When color light is used for therapeutic purposes it is called Chromotherapy. Each color fosters a unique benefit to human physiology and psychology, including, but not limited to:

Color LIght Benefits

  • Radiant Skin
  • Bacteria Free Skin (as a therapy for acne)
  • Scar Reduction
  • Reduction Of Biological Skin Age
  • Improved Serotonin Uptake
  • Balance Circadian Rhythm
  • Deeper More Restful Sleep

For more details on color light therapy and chromotherapy, please click here.

Color light over all is not only safe, but moreover potentially beneficial for health and wellness.

From Color Red To Near Infrared: The Plot Thickens

  • Enhanced Mitochondrial Health
  • Improved Collagen Production
  • More Efficient Circulation
  • Neurogenesis

As the eye moves across the light spectrum map from left to right, eventually the visible color red becomes apparent. This frequency of light offers a unique set of benefits for human biology and is also the bridge into what is called the infrared red spectrum.

As the color red fades out in the 600-700 nanometer range it becomes invisible to the human eye, but can be experienced tactfully as heat. This is the near infrared range.

Near infrared light is perhaps the most valuable light frequency for human health because of its relationship to mitochondrial metabolism, collagen production, circulation, and even neurogenesis. (4)

The mitochondria is essentially the energy plant of each individual cell. Surrounding the mitochondria is the cytoplasm C, within this membrane are photoreceptors. These photoreceptors are particularly sensitive to near infrared light and absorb this light efficiently. (4)

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has published a plethora of journals surrounding the relationship between near infrared light and cellular energy production, believed to be the root cause for a variety of illnesses ranging from Parkinson’s to cancer. Many medical professionals have argued that by improving mitochondrial metabolism a plethora of illnesses could be healed. (4)

From a journal published in April of 2020 by NIH, the authors elaborate on the specific details of how near infrared light improves energy conversion within each cell of the body:

“The transfer of electrons from cytochrome C to O2 is coupled with the expulsion of 4 protons from the mitochondrial matrix across the IMM, contributing to the transmembrane electrochemical gradient that drives ATP synthesis. Nitric oxide (NO), a molecule known for its vasodilatory properties in vivo, competes with O2 for its binding site on the CuB center of COX” (4)

Stemming from the profoundly positive effects that near infrared light has on mitochondrial health and improved ATP synthesis, vasodilation (widening of blood cells) occurs to promote improved circulation which positively affects heart health, as well as injury recovery. Positive circulation is necessary to decrease inflammation and therefore pain. (5)

Collagen is a protein that is necessary to maintain skin’s elasticity, healthy bone marrow regeneration, and to maintain the integrity of the connective tissues of the body. Near infrared light’s relationship to the mitochondrial also influences collagen production. 

Consider that collagen is the glue that keeps it all together. This protein is critical to the physical well being of almost every system in the body. 

When near infrared light is combined with red color light and used for therapeutic purposes it is called Photobiomodulation. For more on the science behind photobiomodulation please click here.

For being a light frequency that is invisible to the human eye, near infrared light is mighty and powerful in its positive effects on health and wellness.

From Near To Far: Explore The Mid And Far Infrared Spectrum

a man enjoying an infrared sauna

“Infrared is usually divided into 3 spectral regions: near, mid and far-infrared. The boundaries between the near, mid and far-infrared regions are not agreed upon and can vary.” -NASA & ipac 

Moving along the light spectrum from right to left, near infrared light blends into mid and far infrared light. Light is fluid, and unlike other realms of the material world it cannot be these electrons move in waves unlike their particle counterparts.

In terms of nanometers, mid and far infrared light occupies anywhere from 800-1350 nanometers. This frequency of light moves and vibrates in a profoundly different way from near infrared light and was made popular by its impact on life in the oceans. (6)

Far infrared light is unique because of its ability to penetrate deeply through matter, including your body. This action becomes beneficial to health because of its ability to increase the core temperature of the body. This serves to create an artificial fever, and begins the profound detoxification protocol through perspiration.

All forms of sauna bathing induce a detoxification protocol through intense sweating, but none so profound as the experience of far infrared within the chamber of the sauna. 

Organ health is dramatically improved with far infrared light sauna bathing, as is the body able to rid itself of lingering bacterial infection. Immunity is improved as the body is cleansed of harsh toxins and bacterial infection. 

So what happens as the infrared spectrum fades out? What is next of the light spectrum?

After Infrared Light: Microwave to Broadcast

The healing rays of far infrared light blend into the microwave frequencing and then the broadcasting band where radio and television signals abide. 

The exodus out of the 1350 nanometer range and beyond can be dangerous for humans, as seen in results from over exposure to the microwave frequency. As much as possible this frequency ought to be avoided. Of course, there is use in the broadcast band, without it radio and television would be impossible. (8)

Although this technology has served the human kind as a means of communication and sharing information in large doses, it is not at all healthful for human physiology.

Enlightened Understanding Of Light Frequency

An understanding of the basic mechanism of light allows each individual to make informed choices for themselves about how much, if any, forms of light frequency they invite into their daily activities.

Some exposure to UV rays are necessary for vitamin D absorption, but should be limited in doses. Color light and all portions of the infrared light band are deeply beneficial to humans and can be used in therapeutic doses in infrared sauna therapy, as well as in photobiomodulation devices. 

Before beginning any protocol therapy using light, be sure that you understand the basics of how light works so that you can incorporate specific spectrums into your practices. 

Sources:

  1. https://news.californialightworks.com/light-spectrum-and-plant-growth/
  2. https://scied.ucar.edu/ultraviolet-uv-radiation
  3. https://www.skincancer.org/blog/sun-protection-and-vitamin-d/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7145956/
  5. https://www.health.harvard.edu/heart-health/exercise_and_your_arteries
  6. http://www.icc.dur.ac.uk/~tt/Lectures/Galaxies/Images/Infrared/Regions/irregions.html
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4246346/
  8. https://www.fda.gov/radiation-emitting-products/resources-you-radiation-emitting-products/microwave-oven-radiation