By Andrea Rivera
We have a TDP lamp, and we love it!
The TDP (short for the Chinese word Te-Ding Dian-ci-bo Pu, Special Electromagnetic Spectrum) is the gangly looking contraption hanging out in our treatment rooms. It has also been referred to as a Far Infrared Mineral Lamp. As practitioners, we like to use the lamp over the areas of complaint or areas we think could benefit the most while acupuncture needles are in place. We like to think that the electromagnetic waves (the good kind) and heat it emits increases the efficacy of the needles as well. We may also use it before we massage trouble areas as a way to “pre-heat” the musculature. We are able to feel a softness in the tissues after they’ve been exposed to the lamp. The tissue becomes warm pliable putty in our hands. We generally keep it in one area for 15-25 minutes.
In our practice we apply our lamp most commonly to provide temporary relief of minor muscle and joint pain or stiffness. The TDP lamp is also able to reduce joint pain associated with arthritis, to induce an increase in local circulation where applied, and to relax muscles. It can also reduce muscle spasms, and aid in the healing of minor sprains and strains. This is the cut and dry of it. Where it came from and how it works is quite neat and a little complex, if you’re curious, read on.
The story goes that early in 1970's, an odd and interesting phenomenon was noted at a century-old ceramic factory in a rural area in China. This factory had extremely poor working conditions. The workers there stood in mud for much of the work day and the new production manager recognized these abject working conditions, becoming concerned that the workers would be troubled with arthritis and other related ailments due to these conditions. After some investigation, it was found that the side effects of standing in the mud were the opposite of the original concerns. They found that there was not a single case of arthritis among the workers. After interviewing elderly factory employees, the same findings were indicated: no residual effects of any kind were found among the people who had been employed at the factory. Upon a full-scale scientific investigation, scientists discovered a single anomaly: an electromagnetic reading in the far-infrared spectrum emanating from the kiln used to fire the ceramics. Analysis of a metallic slag in the kiln, accumulated over years of buildup, showed it was made up of 33 minerals. These minerals happen to correspond with 33 essential minerals in the human body, and when heated sufficiently, radiate far infrared energy exactly like the human body. Scientists worked feverishly to reproduce the effect in a portable device, resulting in the TDP lamp.
The key part of this lamp is its heat-treated black clay, which contains 33 different essential mineral elements for the human body. Most heat lamps use a common infrared bulb. When activated by a built-in electric heating element, the ceramic plate emits a unique spectrum of electromagnetic waves in the infrared range of 2 to 25 microns which is compatible with the bio-spectrum waves released by the human body. This allows for maximum absorption. The absorbed energy promotes microcirculation, metabolism, and strengthens the immune system as well as tranquilizes pain in the body. In China, the TDP Lamp is called a 'Miracle Lamp' because it does not give off any visible light and it has been widely used to treat over 100 chronic conditions.
According to Alternative Medicine Magazine, “Although the wave lengths of far infrared radiation (FIR) are too long for the eyes to perceive, we can experience its energy as gentle, radiant heat, which can penetrate up to 3.5 inches beneath the skin. Among FIR's healing benefits are its ability to stimulate inflammation, which is necessary for a period of time in order to heal injuries such as a pulled muscle. FIR also appears capable of enhancing white blood cell function, thereby increasing immune response and the elimination of foreign pathogens and cellular waste products. Additional benefits include the ability to stimulate areas of the brain which control the production of neurotransmitters involved in biological processes as sleep, mood, pain sensations, and blood pressure thus enhancing the delivery of oxygen and nutrients to the body's soft tissue and the removal of accumulated toxins by improving lymph circulation."
Many of our patients especially enjoy the lamp in the winter months, due to it’s deeply warming effect. We’ve even had a patient buy a lamp of her own after she found it to be incredibly effective in comforting her raynauds symptoms and surrounding muscle and joint pain. She found the TDP lamp to give her relief while a far infrared bulb was quite irritating and resulted in unwanted inflammation. It’s hard to say why she found that one is better than the other, perhaps the clay plate’s spectrum was easier for her to absorb. At any rate, we’re enjoying having one more effective tool in our toolbox and hearing the positive feedback from our patients.
Cheers to good old fashioned heat, electromagnetic waves, far infrared radiation, and mineral rich clay!
Andrea is a licensed Acupuncturist, Massage Therapist and Chinese Herbalist living and practicing in the beautiful city of Missoula, Montana.