In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in red light therapy as a home treatment for a variety of ailments.
In this article, we address whether red light therapy (RLT) is actually effective, drawing upon numerous academic findings in recent years.
Red light therapy is sometimes also referred to as low level laser therapy (LLLT) and level laser light therapy.
Whether you’re seeking affordable, at-home treatment for yourself or for a loved one, read on to learn more about how red light therapy may be able to help, including academic findings from randomized trials on the effectiveness of RLY.
Is Red Light Therapy an Effective Treatment?
Aside from the innumerable accounts of successful treatment, research findings are important to turn to in asking whether red light therapy is an effective treatment.
This section begins with a digestible review of peer-reviewed studies and clinical trials on red light therapy, spanning a variety of different health benefits.
The benefits of health due to low level laser therapy include but are not limited to skin health, hair regrowth, eye health, brain health, improved sleep, reproductive health, and a variety of others
With consistent treatment, outcomes can include the following:
Younger looking skin with RLT
It also stimulates the growth of capillaries under the skin, which will reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and restore youthful skin thickness, firmness, and elasticity.
Hair regrowth in Men and Women
Low level laser therapy increases blood flow to the scalp, boosts collagen production, and stimulates activity in dormant hair follicles, helping foster hair regrowth and treat hair loss.
Better sleep with RLT
Low level laser therapy stimulates melatonin production and helps regulate the circadian rhythm.
This has to do with maintaining more consistent sleeping schedules and getting nights of fuller, uninterrupted sleep, which also in itself helps treat a variety of ailments.
Pain Relief and Exercise Recovery
RLT is also used extensively in professional athletic programs for faster recovery from exercise while treating osteoarthritis and treating carpal tunnel syndrome. It can relieve knee pain and low back pain by reducing inflammation and accelerating healing. These and other extensive studies show that RLT can be effective at pain relief and quicker injury recovery.
Brain health with RLT
Red light therapy has numerous positive effects on the brain. RLT acts as a neuroprotector, protecting the brain from neurodegenerative disorders. Red light therapy accelerates healing from traumatic brain injuries.
This works partly by reducing oxidative stress, and partly by stimulating the normal, healthy growth of neurons. Oxidative stress is linked to Alzheimer’s disease and non-seasonal depressive disorders, so it can be a significant help to seek a way to reduce it.
Red light therapy can preserve vision and treat age-related macular degeneration, glaucoma, and eye injuries. Exposure should typically be limited to 20 minutes per day.
When it comes to blue light therapy, this treatment does not have a negative impact on eyesight when used sparingly and in accordance with treatment guidelines. Treatment should be differentiated from overexposure to blue light from excessive screentime.
Red light therapy can help relieve the symptoms of an underactive thyroid. These include weight gain, fatigue, hair loss, and muscle weakness. This can also help with weight loss.
Male sexual and reproductive health
Level laser light therapy stimulates energy production in testosterone-producing Leydig cells and improves sperm motility, which can also increase the chances of conception.
Chronic skin disorders
Red light therapy minimizes symptoms and treats inflammation that contributes to (and aggravates) acne, psoriasis, and eczema. RLT also helps treat rosacea.
Red light therapy does a number of things to decrease recovery time from intense physical activity and help with workouts. This includes decreasing muscle fatigue, increasing muscle mass, and minimizing delayed onset muscle soreness.
Red light therapy boosts the production of stem cells, which are key elements of the immune system. Stem cells can transform into specialized cells as needed to help heal wounds or diseases.
Peripheral nervous system health
Red light therapy stimulates nerve regeneration and the production of connective tissue cells known as fibroblasts.
These are critical in restoring communication between nerve cells when one or more are damaged.
Red light therapy reduces chronic inflammation, increases blood flow, and stimulates collagen production and collagen density increase, which helps heal wounds faster.
By supporting the normal organization of collagen and activating stem cells, level laser light therapy can help reduce scarring. In existing scars, red light therapy helps replace scar tissue with healthy skin tissue as scar cells die off.
If applied immediately after injury, red light can stimulate the growth of normal tissue rather than scar tissue at the site of the wound. Additionally, it can help with the reduction of fine lines. It can treat skin roughness and intradermal collagen, affecting intradermal collagen density.
In summary, a wide variety of studies show that red light therapy is medically reviewed and has far-ranging benefits.
Take a look at the most advanced red light therapy panels on the market to learn about how to get started with affordable, at-home treatment.
How Does Red Light Compare to Other Wavelengths?
All visible and invisible light, including low level laser light, has a bioactive effect on the human body.
Plants are not the only organisms that generate energy from sunlight.
Light also affects human cells, and our physical and emotional well-being depends on our having consistent light exposure.
How the Human Body Responds to Light
In numerous research projects, Scientists have discovered and expanded upon our understanding of how light affects the body.
For example, ultraviolet (UVA/UVB) light is now known to stimulate vitamin D production, which is a key contributor to mental health.
Ultraviolet light has been used to treat psoriasis, scleroderma, and multiple sclerosis.
Meanwhile, Blue light boosts physical energy and alertness, cognitive functioning, memory, and mood in addition to regulating the circadian rhythm, which is the natural sleep/wake cycle. Blue light also kills bacteria.
The therapeutic effects of light depend largely on the depth to which wavelengths of light are absorbed into the body's tissues.
Blue light, for example, has a shorter wavelength than red or NIR light. The therapeutic uses of blue light are limited to the surface of the skin, where it has powerful antibacterial properties, nonetheless.
The wavelength range of red and infrared light is 650-850 nm, which is optimal for treatment and is regarded as deep penetrating healing light therapy.
This range of wavelengths is also referred to as the ‘therapeutic window,’ given its effectiveness in therapeutic contexts.
Near-infrared light absorbs more deeply into the body than red light. It has the ability to penetrate bone, which makes it an ideal solution for deep-muscle therapy, joint pain, and brain health as well as having an impact on intradermal collagen density. Yet, it does not have the negative effects of ultraviolet uv rays.
Thousands of peer-reviewed studies on photobiomodulation and low level laser light have shown the most pronounced therapeutic effects of red light to be from exposure in the 630nm to 660nm range and NIR light in the 810nm to 850nm range.
When light is shone on the body, the energy of light photons interacts with cellular mitochondria, which are inside cells and are colloquially termed the “power generators” of cells. Much like the process of photosynthesis in plants, mitochondria soak up light and convert its energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which serves as energy-rich cellular fuel.
Red light therapy stimulates the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP)—the fuel for cellular activity.
Increased ATP production means increased energy within each cell. A cell with high energy is better able to perform its specialized functions, repair itself, and replicate after exposure to low level laser light.
Improved cellular functioning results in stimulated collagen creation, and increased circulation. This leads to a ripple effect that can vastly improve overall health.
In general, red light therapy has a whole host of therapeutic benefits. Read on to learn more about some of its additional uses.
The Many Uses for Red Light
The red light therapy uses are many. RLT is approved by the FDA for the treatment of fine lines and wrinkles, joint pain, and many other conditions.
Red light therapy has furthermore been studied in a number of placebo controlled clinical trials, controlled trials, and randomized controlled trials, where specific wavelengths were tested to determine the efficacy and side effects of low level light therapy.
In 2017, Dimitrova et al. found that short treatment sessions conducted over time resulted in a reduction in patient depression. In another study in 2017, Kagan and Heaton found that red light therapy successfully reduced vocal fatigue in patients.
In 2001, Wileman et. al used light therapy to successfully treat seasonal affective disorder, finding that dim red light treatment was just as effective as bright white light treatment. I
n 2013, Avci et al. conducted a study to determine the efficacy of RLT in restoring hair loss, finding that "LLLT for hair growth in both men and women appears to be both safe and effective."
Near infrared light stimulates the body’s self-healing mechanisms and can also help with weight loss. This effect is evident, whether treating specific body parts or the body as a whole. Near infrared light treatment addresses the underlying causes of many chronic conditions and stimulates healing, which medication often doesn’t do.
You may experience peak results in a few weeks, or even as long as several months. In some cases, such as eczema, you may need ongoing maintenance therapy once your skin has cleared up.
RLT Self Treatment
Depending on the severity of the condition, the initial light therapy period usually involves 10 to 20 minutes of exposure to red and/or NIR light therapy three to five times per week for one to four months.
You can even use light therapy indefinitely for an ongoing boost to your overall cell functioning and health and wellness.
Fortunately, you can self-administer light therapy in the convenience of your home. This can lead to significant healthcare savings, as you don't have to visit a medical professional every time you want to apply the treatment, and you can simultaneously treat several conditions at once.
Although we do strongly recommend consulting a doctor about various conditions. We would never want other key treatment options to be forgotten, especially in particularly serious circumstances.
How to Use Red Light to Improve Your Health
As mentioned previously, benefits of red light therapy have been proven & effective in boosting immunity, pain relief, various skin conditions and much more. However, to achieve the same (or better) results as in scientific studies, you need to use high-quality LED devices that have the following qualities:
They deliver the highest possible light energy output. Only a high-output device will ensure that the greatest number of red light photons are absorbed into the body’s tissues from its light emitting diode. LEDs deliver a specific wavelength of light therapy with high efficiency and nearly no heat. Low-powered handheld or battery-operated devices are often less effective and worse value, and tend to have light emitting diodes that have far less physical body coverage, whereas full body treatment is often superior.
Seek panels that emit wavelengths within the therapeutic window: red (620nm to 660nm) and/or near-infrared (810nm to 850nm).
A combination of both will give you the broadest range of absorption and therefore the most benefits and the optimal experience with light therapy.
Purchasing a near infrared light treatment panel with high power output (irradiance) and an advanced array of therapeutic light wavelengths is key to see the best results from light therapy. Many people purchase a red light therapy device to treat a specific condition such as wrinkles, but quickly find that there are other benefits.
If they have chosen a device that emits only red light, they limit their ability to treat inner conditions that require deeper light penetration. For that, they need NIR light.
Some tanning salons offer red light therapy beds, although it's important to learn about what wavelengths of light are being used. A number of clinics also offer medical advice around red light therapy and treatment.
We recommend seeking medical advice when considering RLT, not due to any concerns about the side effects, but rather because it's important to ensure that a patient receives the best overall treatment.
The PlatinumLED BIOMAX series gives you the most comprehensive therapeutic effects with a unique array of five different wavelengths within the red and NIR spectrum in one device.
One can use red light therapy for treatment and recovery, affordably and at home.
As thousands of studies have revealed, red light therapy work is safe and painless. There are no serious side effects, although some sensitive individuals may experience temporary redness and tightness.
The most important consideration is getting an accurate diagnosis from a medical professional before using red light therapy to self-administer treatment.
The danger of misdiagnosis—and therefore improper treatment—is very real. You don’t want to treat what you think is photoaging (sun spots), for example, when you may in fact have melanoma. Once you have a correct diagnosis, you can safely start using red light therapy at home.
Red Light Therapy Solutions
It is not only safe but effective as well. With a powerful light emitting diode, Red light therapy supports wellness at the cellular level.
It is a viable choice for anyone seeking an effective, non-invasive, natural treatment with no side effects or pain, whether for the reduction of fine lines, to reduce signs of aging, wound healing, skin rejuvenation, collagen density increase, treat skin roughness and intradermal collagen, stimulate hair growth or standard exercise recovery or for a variety of other ailments.