Red Light Therapy for Migraines: Break Free from Pain

Red Light Therapy for Migraines: Break Free from Pain


Migraines are said to affect as many as 47 million Americans. Many patients have turned to pharmaceutical solutions that mask the pain rather than treating the underlying cause of the problem.

In this article, we explore natural alternatives for migraine treatment, including red light therapy. 

It has been understood for centuries that sun exposure is beneficial in reasonable doses. Red light therapy panels emit wavelengths that simulate the mitochondria, addressing underlying issues, without exposing the skin to UV rays. 

Read on to learn about how this novel treatment may be able to help with migraines, among its many other benefits.  


Red Light Therapy for Migraines

Red light therapy (RLT) is a natural, non-invasive, and safe treatment that uses red and near-infrared light to reduce pain, lower inflammation, and support optimal cellular function. It can have an immediate pain-relieving effect, and it may help prevent migraines as well.

Red light therapy has a myriad of uses for all-over pain relief including migraines, tooth pain, and osteoarthritis joint pain.

It can also help treat systemic inflammation deep in the body which could be contributing to migraines.

Red light therapy may be effective at treating migraines simply because of its absorption into human tissue.

It may seem counterintuitive to use a bright light source to treat migraines since bright lights can trigger migraines and migraines heighten sensitivity to light. However, RLT is meant to be used with light-blocking goggles. This way, the light absorbs into your skin, not your eyes, to stimulate cellular repair and reduce pain and inflammation. 

Let’s look into how this natural treatment can reduce migraine pain and prevent future migraines.


How RLT Treats Migraines

As the body of research into red light therapy continues to grow, researchers are beginning to understand the mechanisms by which light can affect the nervous system.

The benefits of red light therapy occur at the cellular level. 


Reduced Inflammation

Chronic inflammation is a leading cause of migraines. One of the hallmark properties of red light therapy is its ability to decrease inflammation. This could reduce the severity of migraines and even reduce their frequency.


Increased Cellular Metabolism

When your mitochondria don’t produce enough energy to fuel cells, the whole body suffers. Mitochondrial dysfunction is one of the main causes of chronic inflammation. Healthy cells are better at repairing themselves from damage caused by oxidative stress and inflammation. 

Therefore, treating individual cells so that they produce more energy and function optimally is at the heart of treating any physical condition, including migraines.


RLT and Migraines: Clinical Results 

Research supports the use of red light therapy for migraines. 


RLT vs. Medication

In one study, researchers compared the effects of red light therapy with BT-A, a well-known migraine medication. The study included assessments of pain intensity, pain days, anxiety, sleep problems, and frequency of self-medication. 

The results showed that red light therapy and BT-A were equally effective at reducing headache days, pain intensity, and the need for self-medication. The BT-A group experienced somewhat less anxiety and the light therapy group experienced somewhat better sleep. 

Meanwhile, red light therapy users do not experience the side effects associated with BT-A.


Regulated Blood Flow and Pain Relief

In another study, patients with migraines stemming from temporomandibular disorders (TMD) received treatment with 830 nm near-infrared light. 

Blood flow was measured before and after the treatment. Blood flow velocity decreased after the treatment, and pain decreased by 64%. In a follow-up exam, the patients exhibited normal blood flow three days after the treatment.

Headache sufferers will often complain of intense throbbing, which is caused by an increase in blood flow velocity in the temporal artery on the side of the head, where migraine pain is most intense. Reducing blood flow velocity may lead to relief from throbbing pain. 


Increased Serotonin Release

In the same study, researchers also found that red light therapy modulates serotonin levels, which contributes to relief from the nausea and the pain caused by migraines.


Long-term Success

In another study, researchers found that migraine pain could be alleviated both in the near and long-term with 890 nm near-infrared light treatment. Here, patients received 10 treatment sessions every other day. Both the treatment group and the control group were allowed to continue using acetaminophen or ergotamine, as needed, for pain management. 

Drug consumption was dramatically lower in the RLT group vs. the control group, both immediately after the treatment and 6 months later.


What Causes Migraines?

Migraines are recurring headaches that cause throbbing pain that is potentially debilitating, often lifelong. Migraines are often accompanied by nausea and can sometimes last for days. 

Knowing what causes migraines is the first step in preventing them and treating them quickly if they do occur. 

Common migraine triggers include the following:


Stress: both acute and chronic stress can cause migraines.


Alcoholic drinks: especially red wine, may lead to migraines.


Too much caffeine: while caffeine is routinely used to ease migraine symptoms, everyone’s body is different, and excessive caffeine use could trigger and/or make a migraine worse.


Hormonal fluctuations in women: fluctuations in estrogen levels during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause may trigger migraines. Hormonal medications such as birth control pills may also have an effect. In some women, oral contraceptives make migraines worse. In other women, they may ease the symptoms.


Sensory stimuli: especially through the eyes, ears, and nose: bright or flashing lights, loud noises, and strong smells can trigger migraines.


Physical exertion: if you’re a “weekend warrior” and aren’t used to regular exercise, a sudden burst of physical exertion can be a trigger.


Sleep disturbances: getting too little or too much sleep can cause migraines.


Foods: salty food and aged cheeses are known migraine triggers. An individual may also have other food sensitivities that cause migraines. Heavily processed food often contains additives that cause migraines. These include aspartame (a sweetener) and monosodium glutamate (MSG) which is commonly used as a preservative and flavor enhancer.


Weather: barometric pressure or temperature changes may bring on a migraine.


Medications: vasodilators and oral contraceptives may prompt a migraine. Other medications can also have an effect, depending on the individual.

Imbalance of brain chemicals: people with low serotonin levels are at higher risk of migraines. Serotonin regulates pain in the nervous system. Imbalances of other neurotransmitters may also play a role.


Chronic inflammation: inflammation is at the root of most disorders and diseases.  


Metabolic syndrome disorders: including insulin sensitivity/diabetes, hypothyroidism, and excess body weight can increase the chance of having migraines.


Genetics: unfortunately, some people are predisposed to migraines, but lifestyle changes and treating underlying health conditions could help.


                              Practical Solutions for Migraines

                              Lifestyle changes are the first place to start to prevent migraines and lessen their impact. 

                              To help prevent migraines, we recommend adding magnesium and vitamin B supplements to your diet, especially if you don’t eat enough leafy greens or vegetables.

                              Studies have shown that the color green can reduce headache pain. Spending more time in nature can help prevent migraines. 

                              Treat migraines with over-the-counter pain relievers, ice packs, caffeine (be careful not to overdo it), and avoid bright lights and loud noises. Pain relievers have mixed reviews when it comes to headache relief, and may come with side effects.


                              PlatinumLED for Migraine Treatment 

                              The versatile BIOMAX Series LED light therapy panels offer a unique solution to migraine pain, treating both the immediate symptoms and providing support for overall cellular health. 

                              Small panels are ideal for treating migraines as well as targeted applications like facial rejuvenation. Larger panels can treat widespread skin disorders, muscle pain, joint pain, neuropathy, and much more. 

                              BIOMAX Series panels can also be linked in a modular system, and placed on horizontal racks so you can lie comfortably in bed while treating your migraine and other pain.

                              Discover how red light therapy can treat many health conditions in the Learning Center!




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