Red Light Therapy: The Best Way to Boost Your Immune System Today
“How to boost the immune system” is a top Google search today, and in this article we will explore ways to keep yourself healthy, minimize the risk of infection, and how red light therapy boosts the immune system.
Before we dive into ways to support the immune system, it’s important to know how the immune system works, so you can understand how red light supports different aspects of this remarkable system.
How Does the Immune System Work?
Your immune system’s job is to keep you healthy by preventing or limiting infection. It does this by identifying and destroying harmful pathogens, including viruses, bacteria, and more.
The key to this process is a cell’s ability to distinguish between normal, healthy cells (the “self”) and other more nefarious microorganisms. When harmful cells are identified, the body gets to work dispatching them using the warriors of the immune system: white blood cells.
The Immune System Starts With White Blood Cells
White blood cells keep your body healthy and eliminate disease by attacking hostile and foreign pathogens in the body. A few of the most important varieties include:
- NK cells, which target tumor cells and viruses by inserting a protein into them, which destroys them completely;
- B cells, which create antibodies that bind to an antigen (any toxic substance in the body), signaling other immune cells to destroy it;
- T cells, which automatically destroy foreign or damaged cells;
- Neutrophils, the most abundant type of white blood cells, which engulf and digest pathogens and cellular debris; and
- Macrophages, which attack foreign substances, cancer cells, and infectious microbes.
Together, these cells create a formidable barrier against any disease or internal threat to your body. All other parts of your immune system--including the thymus, spleen, lymphatic system, and more--support the body by helping white blood cells function optimally.
The takeaway then, is that in order for your immune system to stay strong, the body has to be healthy at the cellular level. And while using red light therapy is a great way to support your cells, it’s important to start with the basics and make sure your lifestyle will support positive changes.
Start With a Healthy Lifestyle
Creating a healthy lifestyle starts with the basics: diet, exercise, sleep, and exercise. Of course, it’s also a good idea to avoid smoking, watch alcohol consumption, and wash your hands often (especially if you come in contact with anyone who’s sick).
You can even take immune-boosting vitamins like Vitamin C, or supplements like echinacea. However, while these may have a positive effect on some parts of the immune system, there is no evidence that they have any measurable effect, and scientists still don’t know how much of a substance is optimal.
Overall, it’s important to make sure your body has everything it needs to stay healthy so your cells can maintain optimal function. Once you have this solid base in place, consider giving your immune system a boost using cutting edge technology, such as red light therapy.
Supporting the Immune System with Light Therapy
The human body reacts positively to light, much like a plant. When light hits your skin, the energy is absorbed, providing your body with a variety of benefits. The specific impact varies greatly though, depending on the wavelength of light that is absorbed.
For example, UVA and UVB light are both highly therapeutic for the skin and body in general, though the major downside is that too much exposure can cause accelerated aging and even cancer. Other alternatives, such as green light, are not harmful, but also don’t provide any substantial benefit.
The trick to taking advantage of light exposure is to isolate the most helpful, but least harmful wavelengths. And that’s where red light comes into play.
Doctors and scientists have been investigating the use of light as a treating for ailments for more than a century, but the idea of using red light specifically originated with NASA. Initial tests started with plants, but eventually scientists discovered that red and near-infrared light helped limit bone and muscle loss in astronauts living for extended periods in zero gravity. This sparked interest in the more general therapeutic effects of red light, including benefits to the skin, muscles, organs, and yes--the immune system.
Red Light: The King of Phototherapy
The body responds beneficially to red light by creating more energy at the cellular level (much like photosynthesis in plants). Red light therapy--also called low-level light therapy, LLLT, or phototherapy--uses high-power LEDs to saturate your body with specific wavelengths of light between 630 and 700 nanometers.
The wavelength you use is important, because each one penetrates your body to a different degree. Green or blue light, for example, only penetrates the uppermost layers of your skin, while infrared can reach all the way to internal organs.
LLLT penetrates the skin to a depth of 8-10 millimeters (⅓”). There, it interacts with mitochondria--the power generator of the human cell. This leads to a chain reaction and creates an abundance of benefits for the body, including:
Stimulation of the production of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP). Typically, mitochondria convert food molecules into energy in the form of ATP. But red light boosts this performance, allowing cells to function more optimally, replicate successfully, and fight any infections.
Increase in the creation of new capillaries. Creating more capillaries improves blood flow throughout the body, which helps to bring nutrients to cells and remove cell-damaging (and potentially toxic) waste.
Reduction of cell apoptosis (a form of cell death) and improvement of cell proliferation and migration. Reduction of apoptosis means that more cells are available to “educate” immune cells in the thymus and the bone marrow, in effect teaching them to differentiate between the “self” and foreign bodies.
Improvement of thyroid health. The thyroid hormones, specifically T(3) and T(4), are modulators of the immune response. Hypo- and hyperthyroid disorders adversely affect the activity of macrophages, leukocytes, natural killer cells, and lymphocytes; restoring normal thyroid activity will positively affect the activity of these immune cells.
Improvement in liver regeneration. Red light stimulates liver regeneration, enabling the liver to “sort” nutrients and toxins and determine which should be absorbed or eliminated.
Stimulation of the lymphatic system, which is critical for a strong immune system.
Activation of stem cells which are then mobilized to become active in the immune response.
Decreased inflammation, which is a leading cause of autoimmune diseases.
Increased melatonin production to promote restful sleep.
Together, these benefits all help boost your general health, and more specifically, the immune system.
Better With Near-Infrared
Red light therapy becomes especially potent when aided by near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths. NIR includes light above 780nm and is powerful because it penetrates the body more deeply than other colored alternatives. So while red light provides benefits to the deepest layers of your skin and muscle, near- and full-infrared rays can penetrate all the way to your inner organs, providing countless additional benefits.
At this deeper level, the same cellular regeneration process happens that is typical of red light, but with increased benefits for your liver, spleen, kidneys, and more. When you combine the two sets of wavelengths, the entire body is affected, not just the first few layers of skin, muscle, and organ tissue.
That’s why every light array at PlatinumLED is available with optional 830nm and 850nm wavelengths, depending on the specific model selected. Of all NIR wavelengths, these are the two with the most scientific research backing their use for a variety of applications, including immune system support.
LLLT Causes a Positive Chain Reaction
The immune system isn’t an isolated system. In fact, all bodily systems are closely interrelated and interdependent, and improvement in one will positively affect others, creating an upward spiral of beneficial activity.
Daily exposure to red light will help all of these interconnected systems by giving your body continued support on a cellular level. And when your cells--including white blood cells--are functioning optimally, your body can fight disease more effectively.
Other Benefits of Red Light
Red light affects the body from inside out. This means it starts in your cells, but quickly expands to all levels of your body, quite literally from your head to your toes.
For example, LLLT is rapidly becoming the go-to for many skin conditions including wrinkles, sun damage, acne, rosacea, psoriasis, hair loss, and other chronic and acute skin conditions. It can even be used to minimize the appearance of scars and to accelerate skin wound healing.
It’s even helpful for athletes and chronic pain or arthritis sufferers, who need to recover quickly or boost the body’s natural healing process. Specifically, studies have shown red light therapy to be an effective aid for back pain, chronic pain, joint pain, and muscle recovery.
It Doesn’t Take Long to See Results
As a bonus, just a few minutes of exposure to red light per day (we recommend 10-20 minutes), is enough to provide fantastic results. For injury recovery, or more serious conditions, it’s best to continue treatment several times a week for up to a month or more.
If you’re just feeling a bit under the weather though, just a few total sessions should be enough to kick your immune system into high gear. And as an added bonus, the red glow can feel comforting and cozy, similar to a warm fireplace on a stormy night.
Better Health Through Red Light and Near-Infrared Light
On a final note, it’s worth mentioning that red light is even better when combined with near-infrared rays. The latter has amazing therapeutic effects on the immune system, and all layers of your skin, while near-infrared (NIR) uses longer wavelengths of light (810-850nm) to penetrate deeper into the body. This provides for more systemic healing throughout the body, effectively amplifying the effects of red light.
The combination of red light and NIR may be the best combination for boosting immune function, since it can penetrate to the liver as well as other organs; again, facilitating an upward spiral of positive effects between the body’s systems.
Give Viruses, Bacteria and Other Pathogens the Red Light
It’s been said that health is our greatest treasure. And while the first step to top-notch health is creating a great lifestyle, red light therapy is a fantastic way to boost the immune and restorative systems in your body.
Truly, the best way to see consistent results is to add red light to your daily routine. Maintaining your health using red light therapy in the comfort and convenience of your own home will minimize the effect of viruses, bacteria, and other pathogens to keep you healthy, so you can enjoy your life to its fullest.
At PlatinumLED, we offer high quality LED devices with the highest power output and most advanced spectrum on the market. Don’t be fooled by lower end devices that just use a red bulb in a standard light fixture. If you’re ready to give red light a try, get educated, then take a look at our shop to find the best device for you.