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A couple of years ago some friends told me about red light being a cure for various health problems. I thought that was not very likely because there didn’t seem to be any health problems related to light except for the ultraviolet portion of sunlight. Exposure to strong and persistent ultraviolet light is known to cause sunburn and skin cancers.

I had a personal experience with sunlight on June 1, 1953, when I climbed Mt. Hood in Oregon with some friends without using any form of sunscreen, not even a hat. The next day I looked as red as a lobster and two days later, the morning before my graduation from high school, I looked like a peeling monster from a science-fiction horror movie. However, the next evening when my grandparents had driven four hours to visit my parents and to attend my graduation ceremony, the dead skin had peeled away and I looked as smooth and beautiful as a newborn babe. I learned my lesson and have never had another serious sunburn.

About a year ago the question of colored lights affecting health came up again and I improvised an infrared experiment. It began with setting up a projected heat radiation style floor heater on top of my pellet stove. It takes only a few seconds to place it there in a stable position and turn it on, so this is an easy experiment for me to do.

My first experiments were to stand back with my face about 20 inches from the glowing rods, and that’s about 15 inches from the protecting screen. I take 8 seconds to turn 180° full left-facing to full right-facing and enjoy the warmth on my skin. Doing a complete cycle, back to the right, takes 16 seconds and doing four cycles takes about a minute. I typically do this about every twenty minutes, to take a short break standing up and stretching a bit and enjoying the infrared heat.

I discovered that I can feel the heat on my tongue as my face passes the direct forward position. That was strange because the inside of my mouth wasn’t heating up like the outer surface of my skin was heating up. I verified this sensation, by holding an ounce of cool tap water between my front teeth and my tongue while rotating my head back and forth. My tongue couldn’t be heating up, but I could feel the sensation of heat on the portion of my tongue that was facing the glowing bright orange rods.

How could that effect be taking place? Was the sensation on my tongue not the red light, or the near-infrared light, but a deeper infrared light? To test that possibility I started an experiment with the heater turned off, turned it on only long enough for it to barely start glowing and then turned it off. Because of the lower heat on the rods, they weren’t glowing visibly, but I could still feel the heat on my tongue when I rotated past those hot but not glowing rods. I surmised that it must be deeper infrared light that passes through the flesh of my lips and through my teeth and is being sensed by my tongue.

Now for my thoughts on why that deep infrared might have healing properties. For the half-billion years that our ancestors were out in the sun and getting skin cancers from the ultraviolet light, there evolved a process of energizing the tissues beneath the surface injuries. The deep infrared was providing the deeper tissues the information that they needed to generate some form of healing to the surface tissues. These deeper tissues then evolved to generate melanin to filter out the harmful light from going deeper and to begin growing new cells just beneath the ones injured at the surface by the over-abundant ultraviolet light just endured.

The fact that I was feeling deep infrared light on my tongue is proof that the deep infrared light is passing through the tissues and that it is available to inform the deeper tissue in the skin to be doing a new job of protecting and healing.

Maybe this reason for the healing effects from deep infra-red light is common knowledge, and I just rediscovered it.