What You Need To Know About Red Light Therapy
What Is Red Light Therapy? Red light therapy
(RLT) is a treatment that may help skin, muscle tissue, and other parts of your body heal. It exposes you to low levels of red or near-infrared light. Infrared light is a type of energy your eyes can’t see, but your body can feel as heat. Red light is similar to infrared, but you can see it.
Red light therapy is also called low-level laser therapy (LLLT), low-power laser therapy (LPLT), and photobiomodulation (PBM)
Red light therapy also referred to as low-level laser therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation—is the act of using red light (or near-infrared light) for beneficial properties on the body.
These beneficial properties are outlined in detail below, but red light (in the proper intensity and dose) has a therapeutic or healing effect on the tissue and body.
Red light therapy may involve using a laser that emits light in the red light spectrum onto an injured body part or using a red light LED shone on the body, as practical examples.
Research has shown that light in the red and near-infrared spectrum has a lot of benefits on the body. This light typically ranges from 620 nanometers (nm) in length to around 1000nm in length.
These specific wavelengths penetrate very deep into the bodily tissues and are also absorbed very well by the body.
How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
With red light therapy, you expose your skin to a lamp, device, or laser with a red light. A part of your cells called mitochondria, sometimes called the “power generators” of your cells, soak it up and make more energy. Some experts think this helps cells repair themselves and become healthier. This spurs healing in skin and muscle tissue.
Red light therapy uses very low levels of heat and doesn’t hurt or burn the skin. It’s not the same type of light used in tanning booths, and it doesn’t expose your skin to damaging UV rays.
As you can see, red light has a greater penetration depth compared to other forms of light, such as UV, blue, green or the longer infrared wavelengths meaning that the red light can reach deeper bodily tissues.
Other non-red wavelengths cannot reach that deep and cannot affect the underlying tissue in the way that red light therapy with stand
The deep-tissue penetration also means that red light can have a systemic effect on the human body instead of the biological effects remaining localized in one specific area.
The reason for the systemic effects is due to the red light's ability to stimulate ATP production.
This quote from the paper titled 'Low-Level Laser Therapy for Fat Layer Reduction: A Comprehensive Review' states: The mechanism is based on absorption of red and near infrared photons by chromophores in the mitochondria (particularly cytochrome c oxidase), leading to increases of mitochondrial membrane potential, oxygen consumption, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), and a transient increase in reactive oxygen species (ROS).
A reader of mine simplified this paragraph with the following comment:
It's the energy of the photon that's being utilized by the body. Just as a plant uses light energy to generate complex molecules via chlorophyl, our chromophores utilize the energy of the photons to do much the same, just for a different set of reasons: changing membrane potential, enhancing oxygen utilization, generating ATP, etc.
Because red light therapy devices (and the LEDs often used in them) can be made in such a way that they emit very specific light wavelengths, such as 630nm or 670nm, these LEDs have other advantages. Red light therapy devices aim to affect the mitochondria throughout the body. Mitochondria are the energy-producing units of our cells. Improving mitochondrial function will improve the overall health of your body.
Not all wavelengths of red and infrared light are optimally absorbed by the mitochondria. By targeting the LEDs towards a few very therapeutic wavelengths, maximal absorption is accomplished.
Therefore, if you were to choose wavelengths that are not optimal, the energy would be mostly wasted. Traditional bulbs, such as incandescent or halogen, use a lot of these intermediary wavelengths that do not have any proven therapeutic effects because they do not emit enough light at the very specific wavelength peaks.
If you want to geek out on the technical explanation behind how red light therapy works.
Yes! It has even been approved by the FDA!
There are 100s, maybe even 1000s, of peer-reviewed published studies showing the benefits of red light therapy.
I will not list them all here, as it will be too much information. Instead, I highly recommend you look at my article titled 36 Powerful Red Light Therapy Benefits and the references and links included in that article.
Alternatively, read about my own positive experiences using red light therapy at the bottom.
What Does It Treat?
Researchers have known about red light therapy for a while. But there aren’t a lot of studies on it, and they don’t know if it’s better than other types of treatment used to help you heal. Red light therapy may help with:
Dementia. In one small study, people with dementia who got regular near-infrared light therapy on their heads and through their noses for 12 weeks had better memories, slept better, and were angry less often.
Dental pain. In another small study, people with temporomandibular dysfunction syndrome (TMD) had less pain, clicking, and jaw tenderness after red light therapy
Hair loss. One study found that men and women with androgenetic alopecia (a genetic disorder that causes hair loss) who used an at-home RLT device for 24 weeks grew thicker hair. People in the study who used a fake RLT device didn’t get the same results.
Osteoarthritis. One study found red and infrared light therapy cut osteoarthritis-related pain by more than 50%.
Tendinitis. A very small study of 7 people suggests RLT lessens inflammation and pain in people with Achilles tendinitis.
Wrinkles and other signs of skin aging and skin damage. Research shows RLT may smooth your skin and help with wrinkles. RLT also helps with acne scars, burns, and signs of UV sun damage.
You've done your research on red light therapy, and you know that it can be a life-changer. A quality red light panel is an investment in your health and well-being, so you want to be sure you choose the right one.
If you're wondering which red light therapy panel
or array you should choose to experience the clinically proven benefits of red and near-infrared light, here's an explanation of the various devices, and how to choose which red light therapy device is best for you.
Start with specific objectives you want to achieve with your red light panel, such as facial rejuvenation, alleviating arthritis-related knee pain, treating neuropathy, treating eczema or other chronic skin conditions, or improving athletic performance.
Identifying your objectives will help you narrow your choices based on the condition you’re treating, and the size of the treatment area.
While thinking about your objectives for red light therapy, you might like to read about the many acute or chronic conditions it is commonly used for. Our collection of informative articles is a great starting point for learning about the potential of red light therapy.
If you want to treat a localized area, such as your face, neck, scalp, a pulled muscle, or an aching knee, a small red light panel could be ideal. Larger panels are more effective at treating widespread conditions and for whole-body treatment.
One of the most important considerations is the treatment area. While you can use a small red light device to treat larger areas of the body, this could result in lengthy therapy sessions. To effectively reach all the areas you want to treat, you would need to reposition the device several times.
Red Light Torch App
You can use a red flashlight app, if you don’t have a flashlight that’s red. This is one way to improvise. For Apple, check out NightVision Light at the App Store and for Android, Red Telescope Flashlight at Google Play.
How Do You Make A Red Light In Astronomy?
Here’s how to make a red light torch
: You simply adapt a conventional flashlight using a red filter.
Get some red cellophane and cover the front of the torch or flashlight with layers of the cellophane and then secure these layers with a rubber band. Trim the excess red cellophane and there you have it.
Or you can fit red gel light filter pieces over the lens. Art supply stores stock these, but they are also available at Amazon (click on image below to see details and price).