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Red Light Therapy: All You Need to Know

For those of you who don’t know what light therapy is, or may have probably heard of it, and want to give it a try, perhaps you should understand what light treatment entails.

Light therapy is a skin therapy, where exposure to a certain kind of light, affects the skin, which in turn clears the skin, clearing sunburns, scars, and even curing some skin conditions. The effects of the light are dependent on the color of the light. But whatever color it is, it is usually for the clearing and treatment of the skin. For this article, we will be considering the red light therapy, its effect (both positive and negative, and how it works).

What is Red Light Therapy?

The red light therapy (hereafter called RLT) is a therapeutic technique (with some controversies), that uses a low wavelength light signal, emitting light to the skin, which clears the skin of its wrinkles, persistent wounds, scars, acne, and other skin conditions you might want to get rid of.

Initially, the RLT was used to grow space plant; this experiment was in the 90s. What the scientists did was that they found red light-emitting diodes (LEDs) with high intensity that could promote photosynthesis in the plant, and decided to use this light for the plant.

Over time, the study of RLT and how it could enhance the human cell became more prevalent in medicine. What the researchers found was that the light could be used to treat muscle atrophy, and heal wounds slowly, as well as treat bone density problems that were caused during space travel.

Some of the Red Light Therapy, you might know includes today;

  • The cold laser therapy
  • Photo-bio-modulation (PBM)
  • Soft laser therapy
  • Bio-stimulation
  • Low-level light Therapy
  • Photonic Stimulation

These are to mention a few. So basically, RLT also uses photosensitizing medication with it, to produce the result you want. This process is called photodynamic therapy. In this therapy, the light is just an agent for the medication.

Red light therapy varies in its mode of application; for instance, you have the red light therapy bed, where you find in salons. This red light therapy bed helps to remove stretch marks and wrinkles.

But you’ll mostly find the red light in medical offices as they are more active there to get rid of more severe conditions like psoriasis, and a healing wound that are healing slowly. Sometimes the light is used to cure side-effects of chemo treatments.

How does the RLT work?

The way this light works is something some people don’t understand, but its working is not so complex. Now, light works by producing biochemical, which affects the cells, and strengthens the mitochondria. Mitochondria is which the cells get its energy from, and the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is what holds the energy. When the function of the mitochondria’s function is increased as a result of the RLT, the cell will be able to make more ATP, thereby gaining more energy for itself.

Why RLT is different from the intense pulsed light (or the IPL for short) and the laser is that it doesn’t damage the surface of the skin; instead it rejuvenates the skin. What the other two light does, is to damage the skin (which is usually controlled) intentionally, thereby causing a reduction in tissue repair; but the RLT, on the other hand, skips all the harsh process of damaging your skin, and goes straight to skin regeneration. And this works well because the light the RLT emits goes just 5millimeters below the surface of the skin.

What are the benefits of using the light?

Since the inception of initial test running up in space, many studies and researches have been made, most of them, in efforts to know what the medical benefits of the RLT are. Most of the results have proven to be beneficial and resourceful, but others have given rise to some controversies; a case in point would be the recent research by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), where they showed that this device couldn’t give enough evidence that they currently can treat wounds and pains and ulcer.

So, to show that this the RLT is very effective, then other researches need to be made. However, here are some of the effects of the Red Light Therapy

  • Improves the growth of hair for androgenic alopecia persons
  • It stimulates and hastens the healings of wounds that slowly heal; wounds like an ulcer
  • Heals wounds and repair tissues
  • Has a short-term treatment feature, for people with carpal tunnel syndrome
  • Its lessens psoriasis lesions
  • Reduces some of the side-effects when treating cancer
  • Helps to clear and mend sunburn and damage
  • Enhances joint health, for degenerating and aged people.
  • Clears scars
  • Relieves the pain that is suffered when a person has inflammations or persons with Achilles tendons
  • It gets rid of and prevents the recurrence of cold sores, for herpes simplex virus patients

These are most of the major benefits you can get from using the RLT. But one thing you should probably have in mind is that; any insurance company has not endorsed the RLT, they have no coverage from any of these companies. However, because some of the red light is used to protect and prevent oral mucositis (an effect of cancer treatment), some insurance companies have decided to cover it.

Is there proof that the RED LIGHT THERAPY works?

This treatment is a relatively new treatment, and the word on the street is that it is a new miracle treatment, and can solve most (if not all) of your health condition, but let’s make one thing straight; Red Light Therapy is not the cure for everything. You should know this, that the red light therapy is an experimental treatment, for certain health conditions.

Here are some of the evidence you might need to show that the light works

  • It treats seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression and depression
  • Helps to boost the immune system
  • Treats both neck and back pain
  • It also helps in weight loss
  • Helps in detoxifying the body, by activating the lymphatic system in the body
  • Aids in the reduction of cellulites
  • It also fights both dental infections and periodontitis
  • Helps in the prevention of cancer
  • It clears and cure acnes

It would also interest you to know that, when you use this light to treat cancer, it also does the work of activating other medications. You can also use other light therapies and gets some of the results listed above. Like the blue light can also clear skin acne, but it has some limitations to its effectiveness.

How Long will it take to see the Red Light Effects (benefits)?

It is essential that you know that, the clinical dose of time to spend under the light, will be dependent on the intensity of the light. Also, the time you spend under the light varies according to the symptom, or the problem. But all in all, it is going to take some time for you to start experiencing the effects of red light therapy.

Regarding symptom, you might get speedy benefits, which can be after each session. You can find these kinds of effect on symptoms like inflammations and pain. But for some other problems, like skin related problems (like wrinkles and acne), you might begin to see the change within the eighth to twelfth week. You can only get results like this after faithfully following the sessions.

Why Use the LED red light therapy?

The different kinds of light emit different kinds of substance, and for some, it might have UV rays (much like the sun) which is terrible for you. Now, there are different kinds of light, producing various types of energy, some stronger than others.

For instance, the incandescent bulb, by Thomas Edison, produce more of heat than energy; only less than 5% of this light is energy, the rest is just heat, and this heat is not good for you. Just so you know, the bulb is a 100w bulb, with over a 1000 lumens (or roughly about 10 lumens for 10w); and only 5% is given to producing energy.

For Fluorescent bulbs, they have about 65 lumens per watt; but the 360® rotation allows the bulb to give out only 20-30 lumens per watt. But they are not good for the light therapy, because of the mercury found in them. If it breaks, then you could be in real problem.

But the LED is built perfectly and uniquely, and they only deliver the specific wavelength of light; even when they are working efficiently at over 1000 lumens per watt. It does not have mercury or UV rays that should get you worried, making it the perfect light for you.

The LED light is not fragile, so they don’t break easily. Also, the bulbs of the LED last 25 times longer than the incandescent bulb; and over 2.5 times longer than the fluorescent bulb.

With LED, you can perfectly deliver the specific wavelength of energy as well as light intensity, that would get the job done, without emitting so much heat that could burn your skin.

The LED light is designed for an optimal result, making it the perfect light to use. Even though it was an experimental light (which is still under contention), it is perhaps the safest light you can use without the fear of major side-effects.

Some Safety Measures when Using the Red Light Therapy

You may want to use the red light therapy at home, which is a good idea, but to do that would mean that you have to put some safety measures in place, to ensure the light doesn’t affect you in terrible ways.

First of all, in other that the intense light doesn’t affect your eyes, (or gives you eye based diseases); you would need to use specially made goggles to protect your eyes. Also, if you have had a history of skin cancer, or you probably have had a symptom known as systemic lupus erythematosus; then you should avoid the use of this therapy; you don’t want to agitate the disease again.

This treatment usually requires some trained usage; meaning, if you have the Red Light Therapy at home, then you should probably contract trained personnel to help you work the machine.

When you choose to the photodynamic therapy, you have to beware of some physical hazards like non-ionizing radiation. The light emitting device causes that. This kind of bio-hazard is not something you should take likely, even though it does not have an instantaneous effect; you’ll need a healthcare professional to help you set up your machine and probably educate you as well, on the dangers of using this machine and other safety measures.

Some of the side-effects of Red Light Therapy

For every new or recent technology out there, there is usually a possibility that it may still have some side-effects that would need figuring out. The Red Light Therapy is no exception. The Red Light Therapy, may although be safe, have some side-effects that you can relate with all too well.

Short-Term Side Effects

Since the LED Red Light Therapy, doesn’t penetrate the skin too deep, it doesn’t cause any adverse side-effects; but you’ll still experience some side effects. These effects are usually minor, and they do not last very long. Some of these side effects include;

  • Headaches
  • Irritability
  • And eyestrain

These are just some of the major (minor) effects that you would experience when you use the red light therapy. This effect is as a result glares from the red light, especially when the light is intense. If you do not want to suffer this side effect, then avoid staring directly into the light source.

Long-Term Side effects

Although the FDA considers the RLT treatment a safe treatment that you can use; it has some minimal long-term side effect, that you should probably prepare yourself for. One of the side-effects include overheating of the tissue; for instance, eye tissue.

Now, although this side effect mainly happens when you use the infrared light (because the heat is intense and affects other tissues other than the eyes), it can also happen when you use the RLT over a long period. So the best thing to always do is to wear a google when you’re treating yourself with the red light. Now it is unlikely that you get this kind of problem when you use the Red Light Therapy; but it would safer to use the googles and read more red light therapy reviews.


  1. firtuklo imutrzas

    April 4, 2019 at 11:12 pm

    I got what you mean ,saved to fav, very decent site.

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