Hana is Auckland’s newly opened go-to wellness haven tucked away in the heart of Grey Lynn’s industrial chic development, The Scrap Yard. Brought to life by former pharmacist, Sara Higgins, the creation of Hana – which in Māori means to shine, glow and give out radiance – emerged from an interweaving of her medical background and her own personal health struggles. The result? The offering of a holistic slate of hot healing therapies in the form of full-spectrum infrared sauna, alongside a modern take on contrast therapy and the perhaps lesser-known but equally beneficial Photobiomodulation or PBM Therapy for those in search of ultimate relaxation and inner radiance that “caters to your whole being.” M2woman caught up with Sara to delve a little deeper into the beneficial workings of PBM and to get her take on what the modern journey of wellness means today.
What inspired you to embark on your new journey with Hana?
I went through a significant wellness journey where my health challenges were not shifting with conventional medicine, which led me to explore alternative treatments. Through that journey, I discovered the healing power of infrared saunas, light therapies and wanted to share the therapeutic benefits of these treatments with others.
How did your pharmacy background influence your path to founding Hana?
I have always had a desire to help people with their health. My work as a pharmacist provided the medical background and experience managing a team, which have been fundamental to the creation and success of Hana.
If you could sum up Hana’s mission statement in one sentence, what would it be?
Hana is a sanctuary for people to retreat from the busy-ness of their lives, immersing their entire being in treatments that provide a range of therapeutic benefits and work in alignment with nature.
How do you think people’s wellness journeys are changing and evolving in this modern day and age?
The busy-ness of modern life and lack of balance between time indoors in front of screens and restorative time outside in nature has contributed to an increased number of people suffering from burn-out and poor health. This widespread malaise has led many to seek alternative approaches to wellness and has created a collective awareness of the holistic nature of health.
The importance of the mind, body and spirit connection and living sustainably and in alignment with nature has become mainstream concepts. So it’s truly an exciting time to be immersed in the world of wellness!
If we look at the science behind PBM, how does it actually work in relation to being beneficial for our skin and cells?
The science behind PBM is super-complex, so I will try my best not to overcomplicate things! The red and near-infrared wavelengths of light emitted by the PBM light pod are found naturally in sunlight, particularly in the early morning and evening. These wavelengths of light can penetrate our tissues, entering our cells to become absorbed by mitochondria (cellular organelles). This light triggers more ATP (energy) production, a rise in nitric oxide, antioxidant defence regulation, and a reduction in oxidative stress, which protects our cells. The overarching benefits of this treatment include a reduction in inflammation and pain, reduction in oxidative stress and boost in collagen synthesis, which improves skin quality and texture.
How is this different from tanning?
Sunbeds emit UV wavelengths of light, which increase melanin production by melanocyte cells in the skin, providing a tanning effect but also contributes to skin damage. In contrast, the PBM light pod emits red and near-infrared wavelengths that stimulate the skin to repair and heal, and lacks any skin-damaging UV.
Can PBM assist as a supplement for the lack of sunlight we experience, especially over the Winter months?
PBM can supplement some of the therapeutic wavelengths found in natural sunlight, but not all of them. Therefore, it is essential that over the winter months, vitamin D levels are adequately supported through nutrient-dense foods and supplements. Unfortunately, we rarely expose our skin to sunshine long enough to get the UVB exposure required to produce this essential vitamin.
How is PBM best incorporated into our busy lives as part of an holistic approach to maintaining or improving our general and overall health? How can we get the best results?
For supporting general health, skin health and energy levels, we would recommend starting with one to two PBM sessions per week. If you’re looking for more targeted treatment of a health condition, for example, autoimmune disease, two to three sessions per week is ideal. PBM therapy may start to produce noticeable shifts after two to three months of regular use.
Are there any patient stories that really stand out in your mind?
Nothing is more rewarding than when we receive positive feedback from our clients! Two stories stand out for me. Firstly, a client with severe psoriasis came to us for PBM treatments and saw a reduction in skin inflammation and redness after only a few treatments. Another client had sprained her wrist, making it extremely difficult for her to work. However, after three PBM sessions per week over two weeks, she was able to work again!
What other wellness therapies can be incorporated to maximise results?
PBM can be used alongside our infrared saunas and contrast therapy to maximise the anti-inflammatory and circulation-boosting benefits. These therapies provide the additional benefit of detoxifying the body to help regulate hormones, support energy production and eliminate impurities from the skin.