"Give with a free hand, but give only your own."
 -- J.R.R. Tolkien The Children of Hurin
- Infrared -

General Information:

Wikipedia entry:
Dr. Ray Shahelien entry: 



There has been some recent reports that near-infrared light at a wavelength of 1072nm has proven to have beneficial therapeutic effects. 
http://www.sciencebasedmedicine.org/?p=32 http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/01/080124104917.htm  That something this simple could actually stimulate the restoration of neurons definitely stretches one's credulity, but given the simplicity of the technique, it certainly seems worth exploring further.

The researchers created an helmet with several infrared light emitting diodes (LEDs) with light output centered at 1072nm on the inside.  It is claimed that a mere 10 minute per day treatment would be all that is required.  The research was first performed, as is usual, on mice.  "Emotional responses and memory performance of middle-aged CD1 mice in a 3D maze: Effects of low infrared light" by S. Michalikovaa, A. Ennaceura, Author, R. van Rensburgb and P.L. Chazot

Seems simple enough for someone handy with electronics and making things to create such a device.  But a quick search of the Internet for 1072nm LEDs will result in a problem.  1072nm LEDs can't be found.  1070nm LEDs are manufactured, but the cost is prohibitive.  Add to this that it is not clear how much light power, and therefore, how many LEDs are required.

I noticed on
Restorelite's web page about the device they sell to treat cold sores with 1072nm near infrared (NIR) light, that they claim that water is opaque to most of the IR spectrum, EXCEPT for a "window at 1072nm". So, I thought, could an ordinary infrared heating lamp be used as a broad-spectrum source with an interposed zip lock bag full of water as a filter to block the heating IR while allowing the only the 1072nm light to pass? I found sources for industrial IR lamps that target the NIR spectrum too. However, one can buy a 250W IR heating lamp of the type used in bathrooms or to keep food warm in restaurants for about $3.  Since the treatment time per day is short, about 10 minutes, such a lamp connected to a timer switch and a bag full of distilled water might be a very inexpensive source for this light.
Yes, 250W is a lot of power, most of which is not useful for this purpose.  It reminds me of that old Star Trek episode where these light sensitive parasitic creatures (which reminded me of flying fried eggs!) make people go crazy.  One gets Spock in the back and to cure him, they expose him to the full spectrum and intensity of the sun at a close distance.  Of course, this blinds poor old Mr. Spock.  Then, Dr. McCoy figures out that only one wavelength was needed to destroy the parasite.

I have not been able to confirm that water is transparent to IR light at 1072nm.  All I've been able to find is the following from Restorelite http://www.restorelite.co.uk/science.php

"Looking at the graph we can see how water transmits virtually all of the light within the ultraviolet and visual spectrum wavelengths. Within most of the infrared wavelengths water acts as a barrier to light apart from a peak transparency at 1072nm and a smaller optical window at 1280nm. If we compare this transmission spectrum with the known and recognised wavelengths at which photobiological reactions occur we can see quite clearly that living cells have adapted by evolution to light transmitted by water."

So, according to Restorelite, water is opaque to most of the IR spectrum, and transparent at 1072nm.

My thoughts were that if water is transparent at 1072nm, then a layer of water would act as a filter.  Only 1072nm (and 1280nm) should pass through, all other IR light should be blocked.  An incandescent heat lamp will produce a wide spectrum of light, from visible to far infrared (heating).  Somewhere in there should be 1072.  A layer of water in a plastic bag would filter out the heating IR.  Of course, a timer switch as is commonly found connected to the heat lamps used in showers and bathrooms would be crucial in order to limit the time that the light was on, prevent burning someone and prevent catching something on fire.  These bulbs get HOT!

In order to test this, it will be necessary to measure the spectrum and intensity of the 1072nm infrared light that passes through such a water filter.  Perhaps this could be accomplished using a standard prism, a light sensor, a protractor, and Snell's law.  Based on where a certain color of visible light appears when passed through the prism, one could predict using Snell's law what angle 1072nm (invisible) light would be at, and measure it's presence.  If water is transparent at 1072nm, then this method should work.  It will also be important to know what the IR transmission spectrum of zip lock plastic bags is.  Using LEDs would be preferable, but until these can be easily obtained, this may be the only option.

Perhaps there is a ionized gas light source, like neon lights, that instead of emitting visible light, would emit NIR light.

More articles:


Dementia patient makes 'amazing' progress after using infra-red helmet
15th July 2008

Terry Pratchett Battles Alzheimer’s With Retro-Futurist Headgear
Jan 20, 2009

Emotional responses and memory performance of middle-aged CD1 mice in a 3D maze: Effects of low infrared light

Infra Red Helmet For Reversing Early Alzheimer's To Be Tested

Clinical Trials

Go to clinicaltrials.gov and search for - infrared alzheimer's - and you'll see this:

1 Active, not recruiting - Far Infrared Treatment for Alzheimer's Disease Condition: Alzheimer Disease

2 Recruiting - Efficacy of 1072nm Infrared Stimulation on Executive Functioning in Dementia

3 Active, not recruiting - Far Infrared Radiation Treatment of Dementia and Other Mental Illness

For more info on the actively recruiting clinical trial, see:


Cold Sore Cure Gives Ray of Light for Alzheimer's

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Updated: July 2, 2012
Inception: July 2, 2012