FIR – MENSTRUAL CRAMPING AND BLEEDING
Written by U.S double board-certified Urogynecologist.
June 27, 2018
Far infrared energy refers to the only region of the infrared band that transfers energy solely in the form of heat (Vatansever & Hamblin, 2012). Human skin detects FIR as radiant heat add to be absorbed into the body. It has been hypothesized that FIR has useful biological effects including the treatment of pain, cancer, promotion of revascularization and reduction of muscle fatigue. While FIR wavelengths (λ = 3–100 μm) are not perceivable by the naked eye, the nature of the radiant heat allows the FIR energy to penetrate up to nearly 4 cm (1.5 inches) beneath the skin.
Biomedical laboratories in The United States and other countries have investigated various FIR energy sources (e.g., FIR heat lamps, FIR emitting ceramics and fabrics, FIR saunas, et al.) as therapeutic methods of alleviating different symptoms associated with chronic pain or other related medical concerns. A pilot study investigating the effects of somatothermal FIR energy on dysmenorrhea (Ke et al., 2012) found that FIR resulted in both thermal and nonthermal effects associated with the pain relief of dysmenorrhea. Another pilot study investigating the effects of ceramic powder far infrared energy (cFIR) on physiology found that cFIR may reduce muscular fatigue and regulate the acidification of relaxed muscles (Leung et al., 2011).
Other studies (e.g., Bagnato et al., 2012; Lai et al., 2014; Inoué & Kabaya, 1989) have found significant effects suggesting FIR technology can ameliorate chronic pain and related disorders. In assessing the combined findings of the various aforementioned studies, it is worth noting several implications. (1) FIR energy may be advantageous in treating menstrual pain; (2) FIR energy may assist in diminishing the bleeding particularly associated with menstruation, given its effect on blood circulation; and (3) medical devices or accessories utilizing FIR energy may help to promote more comfort for women experiencing gynecological complications associated with menstruation. Extant research shows that applying this treatment technology to such a device such as a garment belt worn during menstruation (Liau et al., 2012) showed a statistically significant reduction in painful menses. Another study of 104 subjects randomized to treatment and placebo controls wearing similar FIR technology (Lee et al., 2011) found an improvement in pain reduction after two cycles.
A placebo-controlled study administered by WSS in the UK with 52 subjects, single-blinded, provided its subjects with NannoPads as a home use kit, along with historical data regarding the prior 2-3 cycles that had been collected before. The subjects who agreed to participate were sent a package containing 8 superpads, 11 regular pads, 11 pantyliners, and a questionnaire to complete. The following information was assessed comparing the pre- and post-conditions using several statistical models: (1) reduction in intensity of menstrual pain using a 10-point Likert-type scale; (2) reduction in days of menstrual flow; (3) reduction in bowel symptoms of constipation; (4) reduction in mood swings, and (5) a significant reduction in non-prescription pain medication.
Additionally, a survey conducted in the United States with 24 subjects and in Shanghai with 161 subjects all using the NannoPads reported a reduction in pain. Thus, this revolutionary innovative technology shows promise in assisting women who have suffered painful menstruation.
Future research will be necessary to conduct a comprehensive study with three clinical sites powered to attain statistical significance in order to further analyze and understand this groundbreaking technology.
Bagnato, G. L., Miceli, G., Atteritano, M., Marino, N., & Bagnato, G. F. (2012). Far infrared emitting plaster in knee osteoarthritis: a single blinded, randomized clinical trial. Reumatismo, 64(6), 388-394.
Inoue, S., & Kabaya, M. (1989). Biological activities caused by far-infrared radiation. International Journal of Biometeorology, 33(3), 145-150.
Ke, Y. M., Ou, M. C., Ho, C. K., Lin, Y. S., Liu, H. Y., & Chang, W. A. (2012). Effects of somatothermal far-infrared ray on primary dysmenorrhea: a pilot study. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2012.
Lai, C. H., Leung, T. K., Peng, C. W., Chang, K. H., Lai, M. J., Lai, W. F., & Chen, S. C. (2014). Effects of far-infrared irradiation on myofascial neck pain: a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled pilot study. The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, 20(2), 123-129.
Lee, C. H., Roh, J. W., Lim, C. Y., Hong, J. H., Lee, J. K., & Min, E. G. (2011). A multicenter, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial evaluating the efficacy and safety of a far infrared-emitting sericite belt in patients with primary dysmenorrhea. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 19(4), 187-193.
Leung, T. K., Lee, C. M., Tsai, S. Y., Chen, Y. C., & Chao, J. S. (2011). A pilot study of ceramic powder far-infrared ray irradiation (cFIR) on physiology: observation of cell cultures and amphibian skeletal muscle. Chin J Physiol, 54(4), 247-54.
Liau, B. Y., Leung, T. K., Ou, M. C., Ho, C. K., Yang, A., & Lin, Y. S. (2012). Inhibitory effects of far-infrared ray-emitting belts on primary dysmenorrhea. International Journal of Photoenergy, 2012.
Vatansever, F., & Hamblin, M. R. (2012). Far infrared radiation (FIR): its biological effects and medical applications. Photonics & lasers in medicine, 1(4), 255-266.