Does Red Light Therapy Work?
Red light therapy is said to do everything from slow aging and improve your skin’s appearance to help you get over jet lag, overcome seasonal affective disorder, and boost muscle recovery. As a result, the industry has seen an explosion in the popularity of red light therapy and a massive increase in devices in the last few years — all promising big results.
But can you rely on those promises? Are all the things red light therapy claims to do too good to be true?
And what you’re likely wondering, does red light therapy actually work?
Yes, red light therapy actually works. We promise to go into more depth about the science behind that “yes” below, but let’s first dive into what red light therapy is so you can better understand the pros and cons of this approach to therapy and how it can improve your health and your life in general.
What is red light therapy and how does red light therapy work?
Red light therapy is a general term that encompasses a wide range of devices that use a variety of different wavelengths and dosages to achieve all kinds of results – from healing wounds more quickly to reducing the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy . Because of the range of applications of this type of therapy, questions are often raised including “What is red light therapy?” and “How does red light therapy work?”
So, let’s get into it.
Red light therapy is a healing modality that works by stimulating the mitochondria in your cells to function at a higher level and produce energy more efficiently. In short, red light therapy energizes your body and its cells. It does this by way of being absorbed by your skin, which leads to skin rejuvenation and healing. Infrared light is able to penetrate more deeply beyond the layer of skin and into your tissues, muscles, and body to aid in reducing pain, inflammation, healing, and more. It does this by activating your stem cells to repair and heal .
What is the history of red light therapy?
The experiments were a success and showed that red LED wavelengths had the power to stimulate plant growth. So how did that translate to the use of red light therapy for humans? A scientist who was working on the NASA plant experiment found that exposure to the red light caused his skin lesions to heal more quickly. With unexpected results like this, NASA decided to start using red light therapy to study the effects on the metabolism of human cells as well as the loss of bone muscle. This is a common issue for astronauts who spend time in space. The success of these studies opened up the doors for additional research to understand and expand upon the potential red light therapy benefits .
Throughout all the peer-reviewed clinical research, red light is observed to be safe and effective at promoting a wide range of health benefits with very few side effects or adverse reactions. You can do a simple PubMed search for “red light therapy” or “photobiomodulation” and find a great deal of research on this approach to therapy.
Over the years, red light therapy has been called by many names: photobiomodulation, low-level laser therapy (LLLT), soft laser therapy and cold laser therapy are all examples. They all mean essentially the same thing which is this: this modality of treatment uses low-level lasers or light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to stimulate cellular activity in the body.
Red light therapy is a general term that encompasses a wide range of devices that use a variety of different wavelengths and dosages to achieve all kinds of results – from healing wounds more quickly to reducing the side effects of radiation and chemotherapy .
What science says: Does red light therapy actually work?
The growing body of evidence of red light therapy benefits is stronger than ever as the world’s top dermatologists, estheticians, and salon experts are adopting the technology at a rapid pace. We are just scratching the surface of the power of red light therapy on human health. The results speak for themselves.
The science-based benefits of red light therapy
But there’s more to it than that.
Red light therapy is known to affect the cells that are responsible for generating energy in all living organisms, commonly known as mitochondria. These cell structures absorb light and use it to produce more energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is what cells use for fuel. The more available energy a cell has, the better it functions. Red light therapy works by increasing the amount of ATP within the cell so that your cells can perform at a higher level . Because red light therapy works on a cellular level, its benefits can be seen throughout the entire body.
Proven benefits: Does red light therapy actually work?
When red light therapy first hit the market, it was used to treat a variety of skin conditions, including hair loss . But since its introduction, researchers have discovered that red light therapy can offer a wide range of health benefits.
The benefits of red light therapy are numerous and ever-growing. Research is ongoing, with scientists studying its effects on skin health, cellular regeneration, wound healing, inflammation, and more. Currently, red light therapy treatments have been proven effective in fighting acne, improving rosacea symptoms, lightening age spots, and boosting collagen production. Below we break down some of the most significant findings of how red light therapy can help.
At-home red light therapy treatments vs. at a clinic: what’s the difference?
You may have heard of red light therapy and its health benefits while visiting a health spa, a dermatologist’s office, or a functional medicine doctor. Until recently, if you wanted to reap the benefits of red light therapy, you had to either visit a clinic or invest in an expensive laser device. These devices (known as low-level laser therapy, or LLLT) can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $40,000. And a single 15-minute treatment at a spa or doctor’s office could cost around $100 . Getting treatments weekly for several months would end up costing you thousands of dollars. Because of this, it was not very feasible for most people to use red light therapy regularly.
Luckily, red light therapy has now become more affordable and accessible with the advent of LED technology. LED stands for “light-emitting diode.” LEDs are a type of semiconductor that emits light when an electrical current passes through it. Because they don’t overheat as lasers do, LEDs are safer and easier to work with than lasers. In addition to that, LEDs are the most cost-effective for at-home treatments.
Recent studies have shown that lasers are not any better than other kinds of lights with similar wavelength and power output. This means that affordable home devices like the Vital Red Light Vital Pro can provide the same great results as much more expensive lasers.
What is the best red light therapy device for at-home use?
Choosing a red light therapy device can be confusing and overwhelming. There are so many options out there and it can be difficult to know where to start. Unfortunately, there is a lot of misleading information as well, which doesn’t make the decision any easier.
When you are looking to purchase red light therapy devices, you should be looking to purchase medical-grade lights or, even better, FDA-cleared lights. There are many different types of red light therapies on the market and in order to get the right device for you, it is important to understand how these complex devices work so you can make an informed buying decision.
Vital Red Light devices have a precise spectrum, have certified medical-grade power, are manufactured with the highest standards, and comply with safety and regulatory agencies.
Some of the benefits you can gain from regular use of red light therapy include:
- Improving brain function
- Reducing inflammation
- Reducing pain
- Treating menstrual pain
- Improving sleep
- Boosting muscle recovery
- And much more
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 Shiffer, Emily. “Red Light Therapy Is Surging in Popularity, and Not Just Because of Its Anti-Aging Benefits-Here’s Everything You Need to Know.” Parade, Parade: Entertainment, Recipes, Health, Life, Holidays, 23 Dec. 2021, https://parade.com/1187636/emilyshiffer/red-light-therapy/