In the United States, chronic diseases and the associated health risk behaviors account for most health care costs. Eighty-six percent of the nation’s $2.7 trillion annual health care expenditures are for people with chronic and mental health conditions. According to Deepak Chopra, MD, “In the last decade or so mounting research has shown how lifestyle changes, including exercise, stress management, and diet can prevent almost ninety percent (90%) of chronic illnesses in our society. It is now known that only five percent (5%) of disease-related gene mutations are fully penetrant. In other words, the gene expression of these mutations cannot be stopped unless a future drug or technology is developed to stop that expression. In most of the other gene-related mutations related to chronic disease, lifestyle can affect gene expression. (State of Health: Prevention is What Matters, Chopra Foundation – March 25, 2014). Consumers are now becoming more aware of the importance of lifestyle modification as key to transforming their personal wellbeing.
Shared economy and crowd sourcing is in parallel enabling new product introduction at a rapid pace. Research from organizations such as NASA and NIH, which were at one point only feasible to be commercialized by MNC’s are now being made available to consumers via Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns. In 2018 we will see the acceptance and deployment of key technologies that will be focused on transforming personal wellbeing. Technologies such as Far-Infrared Saunas (FIRS), Photobiomodulation, Photic Stimulation/Binaural Beats and Grounding will proliferate into commercial devices and wellness solutions.
These technologies will have to adhere to the general wellness FDA policy for low risk devices. The FDA guidance document has been issued by the FDA to provide clarity to industry and FDA staff on the Center for Devices and Radiological Health’s (CDRH’s) compliance policy for low risk products that promote a health lifestyle (general wellness products). The FDA and the CDRH define general wellness products as products that meet the following two factors: (1) are intended for only general wellness use and (2) present a very low risk to users’ safety. A general wellness product, for the purposes of this guidance, has (1) an intended use that relates to a maintaining or encouraging a general state of health or a healthy activity, or (2) an intended use claim that associates the role of health lifestyle with helping to reduce the risk or impact of certain chronic diseases or conditions and where it is well understood and accepted that healthy lifestyle choices may play an important role in health outcomes for the disease or condition.
1. Far Infra Red Saunas (FIRS)
Traditional saunas use either wood stoves or 220-V heaters to heat the air to approximately 85°C, which then heats the occupant, mainly via convection. In contrast, FIRS heat to approximately 60°C, providing a more comfortable and relaxing experience. They utilize 120-V infrared elements, similar to the infrared warmers on neonatal resuscitation beds, to radiate heat with a wavelength of around 10μm. Because infrared heat penetrates more deeply than warmed air, users of far-infrared saunas (FIRSs) develop a more vigorous sweat at a lower temperature than users of traditional saunas.
The cardio- vascular demand imparted by thermoregulatory homeostasis via FIRS may have positive impact on systolic hypertension, congestive heart failure, premature ventricular contractions, vascular endothelial function, oxidative stress, chronic pain, and possibly weight loss and chronic fatigue.
Photobiomodulation (PBM) uses red, blue or near-infrared light to stimulate, heal, regenerate, and protect tissue that has either been injured, is degenerating, or else is at risk of dying. There is a substantial body of research by organizations such as NASA and NIH in the area of biophotonics, cellular communication, tissue optics, aging management and stress reduction.
Photobiomodulation can be leveraged to address brain related disorders: traumatic events (stroke, traumatic brain injury, and global ischemia), degenerative diseases (dementia, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's), and psychiatric disorders (depression, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder). PBM could be used for inflammation reduction and cognitive enhancement in normal healthy people and performance enhancing for peak performing athletes.
With the latest advances in LEDs, they can be regulated to produce incoherent or scattered light in very intense and focused wavelengths. LEDs can be intense enough to penetrate 2–4 cm into the body and be absorbed by the cells. Infrared light penetrates farthest, Red’s penetrate the skin and green and blue are more intense energies that have lower levels of penetration.
The NASA International Space Station - Commercial Plant Biotechnology Facility (CPBF) uses high-intensity red (670 nm), blue (470 nm), and green (525 nm) light emitting diodes (LEDs) along with high-output fluorescent lights.
3. Photic Stimulation and Binaural Beats
Brain entrainment with photic stimulation and binaural beats can create the right conditions for deep relaxation and access to propitious states of consciousness. Binaural beats provide potential consciousness-altering information to the brains reticular activating system. The reticular activating system in turn interprets and reacts to this information by stimulating the thalamus and cortex, thereby altering arousal states, focus, and the level of awareness.
- Gamma Waves: These are involved in higher processing tasks as well as cognitive functioning. Gamma waves are important for learning, memory and information processing. Frequency range: 40 Hz to 100 Hz
- Beta Waves: These are known as high frequency low amplitude brain waves that are commonly observed while we are awake. They are involved in conscious thought, logical thinking, and tend to have a stimulating affect. Frequency range: 12 Hz to 40 Hz
- Alpha Waves: This frequency range bridges the gap between our conscious thinking and subconscious mind. In other words, alpha is the frequency range between beta and theta. It helps us calm down when necessary and promotes feelings of deep relaxation. Frequency range: 8 Hz to 12 Hz
- Theta Waves: This particular frequency range is involved in day dreaming and sleep. Theta waves are connected to us experiencing and feeling deep and raw emotions. Frequency range: 4 Hz to 8 Hz (Slow)
- Delta Waves: These are the slowest recorded brain waves in human beings. They are found most often in infants as well as young children. They are associated with the deepest levels of relaxation and restorative, healing sleep. Frequency range: 0 Hz to 4 Hz (Slowest)
Grounding, or earthing means, touching your bare skin to the Earth. This is an essential connection for good health and overall wellbeing. With the invention of rubber soled shoes and synthetic flooring our modern society has lost this connection, causing disease in the form of chronic pain and inflammation. Throughout history, our ancestors maintained this connection at all times, through walking barefoot and sleeping on the earth.
Technology via grounded mats (desk, chair, bed), chair and floors enables us to stay “grounded” and in harmony with the earths rhythm. Based on the emerging research on grounding the human body to earth reduces levels of cortisol, resynchronizes hormone cortisol secretion more in alignment with the natural 24-hour circadian rhythm profile, improves sleep and reduces pain and stress. Grounding the body to the earth has also shown to reduce inflammation and speed recovery from Delayed-Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS)
In 2018 we will see the integration of these technologies to provide the consumer with an integrated solution to reduce overall inflammation in the bodymind and transform wellbeing. Stay tuned for the next generation spa that integrates a Grounded far-infrared sauna, with photobiomodulation and engages you in an immersive photic and binaural experience meditation to enable you to harness altered states of consciousness.