Red Light Therapy Benefits

6 months ago
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From its origins in NASA experiments on plant growth in space and helping heal wounds in astronauts to eventually treating skin cancers and a multitude of other issues, red-light therapy “is already widely medically accepted in its use in photodynamic therapy” according to the Cleveland Clinic.

Red-light therapy works by acting on cell mitochondria, the “power plant” of the body’s cells, supplying extra energy to boost new cell growth to repair and enhance the skin, reduce pain, improve circulation, sleep, and much more.


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Benefits of red-light therapy include

Combats Fibromyalgia and Fights Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism — Researchers in Brazil have been studying the effects of low-level laser therapy on the thyroid gland in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the results have been astonishing. Most significantly, they found that all patients who received the therapy were able to reduce their levothyroxine dose, while 47% were able to discontinue levothyroxine and have normal thyroid function during the nine-month follow-up.


Decreases Pain — As light penetrates the body, a photochemical reaction is induced in the cells, a process referred to as “photobiomodulation” or PBM. Cascades of therapeutic chemical processes that support the body’s own innate healing capabilities are being released. Radiation of tissue with light causes an increase in mitochondrial products such as ATP, NADH, protein, and RNA. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) provides cellular energy and fights oxidative stress. Nitric oxide is also released, which plays an important role in phototherapy pain relief.

Lowers Inflammation and Potential Inflammation-Related Diseases – Red-light therapy alleviates chronic inflammation by increasing blood flow to the damaged tissues, and has been found in numerous clinical trials to increase the body’s antioxidant defenses.


Improves Circulation — The diodes in a red-light therapy device release photons of light of specific wavelength and intensity, which penetrate deep into the body and triggers a cascade of beneficial chemical reactions, especially the instant release of nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is the human body’s natural vasodilator, instantaneously widening the blood vessels and capillaries and allowing for improved circulation in the local area under the red-light therapy device. This improved blood flow brings nutrient-rich and oxygen-rich blood into the nerves and other tissues, which reduces pain. This increased flow of blood helps the body to operate in a state of homeostasis, or a stable equilibrium of physical and chemical conditions, thereby promoting optimal functioning where circulation is increased and pain is reduced.


Help Tendonitis, Improves Joint Health and Combats Arthritis — As red and NIR photons enter the cells, they stimulate the production of the high-energy molecule ATP which energizes cells. More cellular energy equals better performance, much the same as you perform at your best when you are filled with energy. Peak cellular functioning is critical to overall health, a strong immune system, reduced inflammation, physical energy, and longevity. Improves Body Detoxification Ability — Red light works on the lymphatic system to improve your body’s detoxification abilities by increasing blood flow.

Improves Brain Health and Cognitive Performance — Red light stimulates the regrowth of neurons, which is a process known as neurogenesis. It also stimulates synaptogenesis (the formation of synapses between neurons), which influences the brain’s neuroplasticity (the brain’s natural ability to reorganize itself by forming new neural connections). This is especially helpful in cases of TBI where cognitive functions have been impaired. Red light therapy may be used as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes behavioral and/or cognitive therapy.


Increases Fat Loss and Burns Off Fat — Red light triggers the formation of small openings, or pores, in fat cells which then releases fatty acids known as lipids. One study found that just four minutes of exposure to 635nm red light caused 80% of lipids to be released from fat cells, and by six minutes almost all the fat had been released.


Speeds Up Wound Healing and Scarring – Red-light therapy devices work by emitting wavelengths of light, stimulating the production of ATP, cellular regeneration, and removing oxidative stress. Your body’s healing process now becomes faster because of red light therapy.

Improves Sleep Quality, Fall Asleep Faster — During a red-light therapy session, retinal cells in the eyes perceive the light from the red light therapy device, affecting certain chemicals in your brain. These chemicals are melatonin and serotonin, and they are responsible for regulating your sleep-wake cycle. The perception of light delays your brain’s melatonin production, waking you up and lifting your mood.


Increases Energy Levels and Combats Chronic Fatigue — The primary function of red-light therapy is to increase energy production


The sun gives plants the energy they need to convert light energy into chemical energy. Similarly, red light gives our skin energy to charge our power cells, the mitochondria,” says celebrity aesthetician and dermatological nurse Natalie Aguilar. “With this energy, cells are able to repair themselves, become healthier, and can promote healing in skin and muscle tissue.” 


Thankfully, the therapy itself does not hurt. “LED therapy is completely painless. For the most part, you feel nothing but a slight warmth,” says Aguilar. 

However, the bulbs are so bright that you will need to wear protective goggles during treatment. “Red light therapy is that one device that is always working overtime at both dermatology offices and spas. Often, clients who received an aggressive laser or incurred an accidental burn are immediately put under LED lights to speed up recovery and healing,” says Aguilar.

There are other benefits that red light therapy may provide that aren’t skin-related, too, such as:


Improved mental health

“I have a client who is a psychiatrist and treats her patients with seasonal depression by using red light therapy,” says Aguilar. “Because the amount of sunlight we are exposed to decreases during winter, light therapy helps to ease symptoms by increasing energy levels.” Early studies have found this to be a possible effective treatment.


Currently, studies are also being done on the effects that red light therapy may have on dementia. 


Muscle health

There are also LED body beds that help muscle tissue, and other parts of your body heal. Studies have found that red light can help muscle growth and decrease inflammation.


Bone health

In addition, LED is being studied for dental pain and plaque reduction, chronic pain and osteoarthritis by helping to decrease inflammation that can contribute to pain. 


Fertility

Red light therapy may help with infertility or other fertility issues. However, this is still being studied, and remains inconclusive.


“Fertility connection is all speculation. At this point, there are not any significant studies in support, so we do not have date endpoints to truly make that correlation,” says Dr. Shamban.


Related: Can’t Get Pregnant? Here Are Some Possible Reasons Why

How many red light treatments do you need?

Red light therapy treatments can be done in an office or at home. “In-office treatments are stronger and more powerful than home versions, but always follow instructions and timing on your home device,” notes Dr. Shamban.

It’s also important to note that not all at-home therapies are the same, and you should do research or consult your dermatologist or skincare provider on the tool you choose to invest in.

“The quality of red light devices varies greatly; some aftermarket devices might not deliver the light intensity required to provide therapeutic benefits,” says Aguilar.

Depending on which one you use, the amount of treatments can range based on your individual goals. “One can receive a professional treatment once a week, or use an at-home device as often as desired,” says Aguilar. “For example, a 20-year-old can benefit from a weekly at-home treatment, whereas someone in their 50’s would need to treat themselves more often to see a visible difference.”


In-office treatments will require more frequent visits. “Usually, about 10 treatments are usually required. They can be daily (or 2-3 times a week) for about 15-20 minutes,” says Dr. Shamban.


When it comes to results, keep in mind that they’re more cumulative than immediate. “There may be some immediate, superficial and temporary improvements after each treatment, but ultimately, light therapies are a cumulative effect,” adds Dr. Shamban.

 

misunderstanding
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many people are still unaware that this sort of treatment exists, and myths abound over what exactly red light therapy is and how it can help you.“We’re excited to bust some myths and educate the public on the wonders of this innovative treatment.”

Myth 1 - All light therapy is the same
“This could not be further from the truth,” says Steven. “There are many different forms of light therapy, including red, blue and green light therapy devices. Red light therapy is specifically designed to treat skin conditions like psoriasis and acne, and is also successful at rejuvenating the skin, boosting collagen production and reducing wrinkles and fine lines.”        
           
Myth 2 - Red light therapy works like a tanning bed
Steven insists that while the machines used for red light therapy could resemble tanning beds, that’s where the similarity ends. “For starters, red light therapy uses red and infrared light, unlike tanning beds that make use of ultraviolet rays. Also, tanning beds have one application, while red light therapy can be used for multiple conditions, including wound healing, joint pain and chronic pain treatment.”
           
Myth 3- You need to spend many hours in-studio to enjoy the benefits of red light therapy

“With red therapy, you don’t have to worry about going into the studio to get your regular red light therapy treatment. Our at-home devices, which can be purchased online, are designed to fit into your daily life for fast and effective results in as little as 20 minutes a day. The Red Lab Big Bank is perfect for daily full body and mind benefits, while the portable Flex Pad can be quickly strapped on to provide pain relief anytime, anywhere.”

“Finally, our Handheld Unit offers red light, near-infrared light and blue light, which is great for acne. This is the ideal entry-level device for those looking for a cost-effective solution with broad-spectrum results including anti-ageing, acne treatment, scar and wound healing, and the treatment of muscle spasms or injury. Whether it’s a Christmas gift or a present for the new year, our at-home devices are the perfect addition to your health and beauty regimen.”

Myth 4 - Collagen has to be ingested in order to stimulate the production

One of the biggest beauty myths about collagen levels is that you can apply it directly on the skin,” says Steven. “Many believe that body creams, lotions, ointments, and moisturisers can boost collagen levels but, in truth, most of those products are a waste of money. Another myth is that collagen can be added to your morning cup of coffee with the help of a supplement, but studies have found that caffeine actually has a negative effect on the ageing process.”

“The positive effects of red light therapy on our skin are widely studied with resoundingly positive results. The results indicate that its primary benefit is its ability to stimulate collagen production to create softer, fuller, smoother and more elastic skin. Red light therapy is a great way to tighten your skin, treat skin conditions and promote overall health and vitality. But for optimal results, make sure to include red and possibly near-infrared light in your normal skincare therapy routine.”


Myth 5 - Red light therapy burns the skin

“Another common misconception is that red light therapy uses heat that can burn the skin,” says Steven. “While this therapy does emit a red glow, which most people associate with heat, it is designed to dissipate heat, creating a beam of light that doesn’t burn the skin in any way. Red light therapy is completely safe and will improve the skin, not harm it.”