Red light therapy is an emerging treatment receiving a lot of attention in the world of cosmetics, athletics, and general health. Aside from the benefits red light therapy can have on your body, people are also drawn to it as a chemical and drug-free way to get the results they’re looking for. Sound too good to be true? Today we will weigh in on the illuminating advantages of adding red light therapy into your wellness routine.
What Is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy uses a specific natural wavelength of light for therapeutic benefits, both medical and cosmetic. It is a combination of LEDs that emit infrared light and heat.
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.
Red light therapy uses low wavelengths of red light as a treatment because, at this specific wavelength, it is considered bioactive in human cells and can directly and specifically affect and improve cellular function. Thus, healing and strengthening skin and muscle tissue.
Red light therapy can penetrate from the top layer of skin into the deep levels of the dermis. Red light therapy uses very low levels of heat and doesn’t hurt or burn the skin. Another big bonus is that it’s not the same type of light used in tanning booths, so it doesn’t expose your skin to damaging UV rays.
As a treatment, red light therapy is a fabulous alternative for those who prefer non-invasive therapy over medication as the latter can have serious side effects. To date, there have been various studies done into red light therapy, and research is still ongoing as to its effectiveness for a multitude of health uses.
What Is The Difference Between Red Light And Infrared Light?
It may come as a surprise that not all red light therapy is the same. There is red light and infrared light. The difference lies in how the depth of their wavelengths penetrates the body. Red light occupies the “long end” of the visible spectrum with wavelengths of 630nm-700nm whereas infrared sits right next to red light on the electromagnetic spectrum at 800nm to 1000 nm. Depending on what benefits you’re looking to receive from red light therapy, it’s imperative to know the variations between them. Let’s investigate the ways as to how they provide some similar, yet equally different benefits.
Since red light resides at the end of the spectrum with the longest visible wavelengths, it works primarily on the skin’s surface. This form of red light therapy targets imperfections in the skin and improve signs of aging. If you are looking to give your cosmetic routine a boost, red light therapy could be the key you have been looking for. Its benefits include:
Red Light Benefits
Red light therapy can help with acne as it penetrates deep into the skin which affects sebum production, while also reducing inflammation and irritation in the area. The less sebum you have in your skin the less likely you are prone to breakouts.
The treatment stimulates collagen production in the skin, which helps smooth fine lines and wrinkles that come with aging and damage from long-term sun exposure.
Some studies have shown massive improvement in skin conditions with only one 2-minute session of red light therapy per week. Aside from improving the overall look of the skin, it was also said to improve itchiness. Similar results were found in psoriasis patients as well as diminishing redness, inflammation, and speeding up the skin’s healing process. Even cold sores have gone down with the use of this treatment.
While helping to reduce acne and skin conditions, red light therapy also improves the overall facial texture, rejuvenating the skin. This is achieved by how it increases blood flow between blood and tissue cells. Regular use can also protect the cells from skin damage, helping to maintain your complexion in the long term.
Research has shown that red light therapy can assist in healing wounds quicker than other products or ointments. It does this by reducing inflammation in the cells; stimulating new blood vessels to form; increasing helpful fibroblasts in the skin; and, increasing collagen production in the skin to help with scarring.
Beyond the range of visible wavelengths lies infrared light, which makes it invisible to the human eye. For those of us looking for a full-body benefit infrared light is the ticket! Infrared light penetrates deeper into the body, which allows it to treat muscle and nerve pain.
These are the ways you can profit from infrared light therapy:
Infrared Light Benefits
Increased Blood Flow
The light energy your cells absorb makes them more active, which increases blood flow to the area. Increased blood flow can support cellular regrowth and regeneration, a combo that works to reduce inflammation and repair wounds or injuries so you can stay on track with your fitness goals.
Infrared increases the production of nitric oxide, a vital signalling molecule that is important for the health of blood vessels. This molecule helps relax the arteries and prevents blood from clotting and clumping in the vessels. Nitric oxide is essential in improving blood circulation, which provides more oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues.
Pain And Inflammation
With more oxygen and nutrients, infrared light therapy promotes healing in the body. It eases pain, and inflammation and protects against oxidative stress. This means less pain in your day-to-day life as well as during and after your workouts!
Infrared light can trigger the growth and repair of new muscle cells and tissues. Are you looking to speed up healing after an injury? This could be the answer you have been looking for!
If you apply infrared therapy through saunas, it may strengthen your immune system by increasing your core temperature to detoxify on a cellular level. This detoxification could also improve food digestion. Some have also found it helpful with weight loss in that it boosted metabolism and broke up fats in cells to release from the body.
Emerging research is showing that red light therapy treatments can help people produce more of their own, natural melatonin so they can have improved sleep quality and duration. Artificial blue light can have a negative effect on our circadian rhythm. Red light therapy treatments supercharge your cells with the natural light they need to make more core ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy, which in some peer-reviewed studies has improved insomnia for patients.
Using Red Light Therapy At Home
Choosing to bring a red light device into your home can be a wonderful way to bring red light therapy into your wellness routine without having to pay the high prices of a doctor’s office or salon. Though it is imperative that you do your research first and get some feedback from a professional before diving right in. A practitioner with little experience or someone who exposes themselves to too much of the treatment may cause you to have tissue and cell damage leading to burns or skin damage.
What will also help you avoid this outcome is by choosing a device that comes from a trusted source. Make sure it is up to government standards before letting it get anywhere near your skin! In general, the at-home devices you buy are less intense than ones you will experience at a doctor’s office or salon, so know what you’ll need it for before you buy.
Is it Safe?
Though researchers are still investigating how and why red light therapy works, it is generally considered safe to use. Although it is perhaps best to speak to your doctor first if you are pregnant, have any medical conditions, or you are taking any medications. Should you be the kind of person who has sensitivity to light, sunburn, or you recently applied topical agents or solutions such as chemical peels, you may want to skip this treatment for now.
One of the most recommended tips in doing red light therapy is to avoid looking directly at the red light as it might cause glare or visual discomfort. For some people, this could trigger migraine or seizures. LED light therapies usually include goggles to be worn when the light is operated to prevent such occurrences.
Alternatively, red light therapy does not have the same risks sun exposure. Red and infrared LEDs produce non-ionizing forms of radiation. This means red and infrared light therapy devices do not pose the same risks as UV light or X-rays.
While ionizing radiation contains enough energy to affect the structure of atoms, non-ionizing radiation in LED light therapy treatments does not have that same negative effect.
You have likely come to find that both infrared and red light therapy can provide diverse results for multiple health conditions from your skin’s surface to deep inside the muscle tissue. While both therapies are beneficial, the type you should choose depends on the outcome you desire. If you want to treat skin conditions on the surface, a red light session is focused and effective. If there is toxicity in the body or stronger metabolic effects are desired, an infrared session may be the optimal choice. Red light therapy can benefit anyone and get you feeling in top form each day. So, what are you waiting for? Get started now!
Looking to give red light therapy a try before making the investment in your on a panel? Fast Twitch in Klemzig, SA offer red light therapy sessions with BlockBlueLight's Mega Red Light Therapy PowerPanels.
The ultimate guide to red light therapy and near-infrared light therapy. (2018). Available at: https://www.theenergyblueprint.com/red-light-therapy-ultimate-guide
Hamblin. (2017). Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5523874/
Tumilty et al. (2010). Low level laser treatment of tendinopathy: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19708800
Wunsch & Karsten. (2014). A controlled trial to determine the efficacy of red and near-infrared light treatment in patient satisfaction, reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, skin roughness, and intradermal collagen density increase. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3926176/
Zane et al. (2008). Non-invasive diagnostic evaluation of phototherapeutic effects of red light phototherapy of acne vulgaris. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18811865
Alsharnoubi et al. (2018). Evaluation of scars in children after treatment with low-level laser. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29974280
Brassolatti et al. (2018). Evaluation of the low-level laser therapy application parameters for skin burn treatment in experimental model: a systematic review. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29730821
Baez & Reilly. (2007). The use of light-emitting diode therapy in the treatment of photoaged skin. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17760698
Avci et al. (2014). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
Ablon. (2010). Combination 830-nm and 633-nm light-emitting diode phototherapy shows promise in the treatment of recalcitrant psoriasis: preliminary findings. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19764893
de Abreu Chaves et al. (2014). Effects of low-power light therapy on wound healing: LASER x LED. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4148276/
de Oliveira et al. (2014). The effects of LED emissions on sternotomy incision repair after myocardial revascularization: a randomized double-blind study with follow-up. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24337350
Shashi Kumar et al. (2015). Efficacy of low level laser therapy on painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4639677/
de Almeida. (2012). Red (660 nm) and infrared (830 nm) low-level laser therapy in skeletal muscle fatigue in humans: what is better? Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21814736
Ferraresi et al. (2012). Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) on muscle tissue: performance, fatigue and repair benefited by the power of light. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23626925/
Nampo et al. (2016). Low-level phototherapy to improve exercise capacity and muscle performance: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27272746/
Leal-Junior et al. (2015). Effect of phototherapy (low-level laser therapy and light-emitting diode therapy) on exercise performance and markers of exercise recovery: a systematic review with meta-analysis. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24249354/
Hegedűs et al. (2009). The effect of low-level laser in knee osteoarthritis: A double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled trial. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2957068/
Brosseau et al. (2005). Low level laser therapy for rheumatoid arthritis. Available at: https://www.cochrane.org/CD002049/MUSKEL_low-level-laser-therapy-for-rheumatoid-arthritis
Pinheiro & Gerbi. (2006). Photoengineering of bone repair processes. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16706695
Kim et al. (2013). Low-level light therapy for androgenetic alopecia: A 24-week, randomized, double-blind, sham device–controlled multicenter trial. Available at: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/dsu.12200
Lanzafame et al. (2014). The growth of human scalp hair in females using visible red light laser and LED sources. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25124964
Loeb et al. (2018). Botulinum toxin A (BT-A) versus low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in chronic migraine treatment: a comparison. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30427505
Koev et al. (2018). Five-year follow-up of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) in patients with age-related macular degeneration (AMD). Available at: https://iopscience.iop.org/article/10.1088/1742-6596/992/1/012061
Albarracin et al. (2011). Photobiomodulation protects the retina from light-induced photoreceptor degeneration. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21421867
Höfling et al. (2013). Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Randomized controlled trial. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22718472/
Barrett & Gonzalez-Lima. (2013). Transcranial infrared laser stimulation produces beneficial cognitive and emotional effects in humans. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23200785/
Zhao et al. (2012). Red light and the sleep quality and endurance performance of Chinese female basketball players. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23182016
Ruaro et al. (2014). Low-level laser therapy to treat fibromyalgia. Available at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24801056
Healing the body with photobiomodulation. (2017). Available at: https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/02/26/amp/photobiomodulation.aspx