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Symposium on water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) in medicine and research

In a two-day English language symposium at the Technical University (TU) Darmstadt on 11./12. April 2013, hosted by the working group of Prof. Dr. Paul G. Layer (TU Darmstadt, faculty of biology) in cooperation with the Dr. med. h.c. Erwin Braun Foundation, the state of the art concerning fundamentals and applications of water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) in medicine is discussed by 15 speakers from Germany, Switzerland and the USA.

Water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) is a special form of infrared radiation (heat radiation) in the range 780-1400 nm, which is used in medicine for prevention and therapy, as it is very well tolerated. wIRA increases tissue temperature, tissue oxygen partial pressure and tissue perfusion.

These three factors are decisive for a sufficient supply of tissue with energy and oxygen. Main clinical effects of wIRA are – independently from indication – a remarkable decrease of pain, inflammation and increased exudation and an improvement of infection defense and regeneration. Numerous physicians and hospitals, especially in Germany, use wIRA already.

wIRA corresponds to the major part of the water-filtered sun’s heat radiation in moderate climatic zones on the surface of the Earth (filter effect of water and water vapour of the atmosphere of the Earth). The filter effect of water decreases those parts of infrared radiation, which would cause – by reacting with water molecules in the skin – only an undesired thermal load to the surface of the skin.

Technically wIRA is produced in special radiators, whose full spectrum of radiation of a halogen bulb is passed through a cuvette, containing water, which absorbs or decreases the described undesired wavelengths of the infrared radiation. While conventional infrared radiators emit between 50–80% of their radiation in the undesired ranges of infrared-B and -C, wIRA radiators emit less than 0.5% in these ranges.

wIRA acts both by thermal (related to heat energy transfer) and thermic (temperature dependent) as well as by non-thermal and non-thermic effects.

wIRA can be used as therapy of acute and chronic wounds, in skin diseases (common warts, Herpes labialis, Herpes Zoster, sclerodermia, morphea, acne papulopustulosa), for improvement of resorption of topically applied substances, within a photodynamic therapy (PDT; as therapy of actinic keratosis (light induced damages of the skin)), in illnesses of the musculosceletal system (myogeloses, low back pain, lumbago, tennis elbow, rheumatic disorders, Morbus Bechterew, osteoarthritis, fibromyalgia), for regeneration after sports, to improve body composition, especially local fat distribution, and the reduction of fat and body weight in obese persons, and for keeping or increasing of the body temperature (e.g. in newborn children) including compensation of a hypothermia. Besides wIRA can be used for local or systemic hyperthermia in oncology in order to increase the effectiveness of radiation therapy or chemotherapy.

wIRA can considerably alleviate pain (in a wound healing study without any exception during 230 irradiations) with substantially less need for analgesics (52–69% less in the groups with wIRA compared to the control groups). It also diminishes exudation and inflammation and can show positive immunomodulatory effects. Even the normal wound healing process can be improved with wIRA.

Currently in Germany alone, more than 1000 dermatologists and a variety of well-known surgical hospitals use wIRA. Besides wIRA is used with success in physiotherapy. In addition the application of wIRA in the domestic environment of patients is easy to perform, e.g. of patients with chronic wounds or other diseases or complaints like low back pain.
The symposium presents fundamentals, overviews concerning the broad range of clinical applications and in addition new approaches of therapeutical use of wIRA. To the latter belongs the use of wIRA as therapy of infections, both alone (e.g. in chlamydial infections) and in form of an „antibacterial photodynamic therapy“, where a photosensitising substance is combined with visible light and water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA). As well the application of wIRA in tropic infections is discussed. A special block of presentations is dedicated to the use of wIRA within oncology including effects of wIRA with and without hyperthermia of the tissue: especially the combination of wIRA with conventional radiotherapy e.g. in breast cancer has been in use already for a longer time successfully, for some time past as well in a technically sophisticated form, where monitoring and closed loop control of the irradiation with wIRA is performed using infrared thermography in order to reach a therapy success as high as possible. Concerning this, at the symposium for the first time in this form an ensemble of two wIRA radiators and two infrared cameras is presented. A further focus is laid on the even more detailed clarification of biological fundamentals and working mechanisms of wIRA on cellular and molecular level also in regard to health promotive effects of the infrared radiation of the sun and of wIRA.

Due to limited capacity, a formless registration under is necessary.

Additional freely accessable informations about water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA):

In German:
Hoffmann G. Wassergefiltertes Infrarot A in Chirurgie, Dermatologie, Sportmedizin und weiteren Bereichen. In: Krause R, Stange R (Hrsg): Lichttherapie. Berlin, Heidelberg, New York: Springer, 2012, S. 25-54. ISBN 13: 978-3-642-16938-0. Also online available from:
URN: urn:nbn:de:hebis:30:3-241715 ;
Bilingual publication (full text in English and in German):
Hoffmann G. Water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) in acute and chronic wounds [review]. Wassergefiltertes Infrarot A (wIRA) bei akuten und chronischen Wunden [Übersichtsarbeit].
GMS Krankenhaushyg Interdiszip. 2009;4(2):Doc12.
DOI: 10.3205/dgkh000137
URN: urn:nbn:de:0183-dgkh0001373
Online available from: (PDF, approximately 15 MB) and (shtml).

In English:

Hoffmann G. Principles and working mechanisms of water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) in relation to wound healing [review]. Grundlagen und Wirkprinzipien von wassergefiltertem Infrarot A (wIRA) in Bezug zur Wundheilung [Übersichtsarbeit]. GMS Krankenhaushyg Interdiszip. 2007;2(2):Doc54. Online available from: (PDF) and (shtml).

Hartel M, Illing P, Mercer JB, Lademann J, Daeschlein G, Hoffmann G. Therapy of acute wounds with water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) [review]. Therapie akuter Wunden mit wassergefiltertem Infrarot A (wIRA) [Übersichtsarbeit]. GMS Krankenhaushyg Interdiszip. 2007;2(2):Doc53. Online available from: (PDF) and (shtml).

von Felbert V, Schumann H, Mercer JB, Strasser W, Daeschlein G, Hoffmann G. Therapy of chronic wounds with water-filtered infrared-A (wIRA) [review]. Therapie chronischer Wunden mit wassergefiltertem Infrarot A (wIRA) [Übersichtsarbeit]. GMS Krankenhaushyg Interdiszip. 2007;2(2):Doc52. Online available from: (PDF) and (shtml)

Jörg Feuck | idw
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