Guide to Red Light Therapy

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Red light therapy is an every-day term for the science of photobiomodulation. It has been proven effective for a wide range of healing and rejuvenating uses including anti-aging, hair loss prevention & regrowth, wound care, pain relief, and much more. It is a 100% natural therapy with zero side effects.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a natural, alternative therapy with a long list of benefits and no known adverseside effects. To put it very simply, red light therapy is the practice of shining red light on yourself in a prescribed way in order to make you look youngerheal faster, reduce pain, or bring overall balance to your energy and endocrine systems. And yes, it works.

What red light therapy is depends on who you ask. There are two very different ways to look at it: first, from the viewpoint of Western traditional medicine; and second, from the viewpoint of Eastern, energy medicine.

Red Light Therapy & Western Medicine

Western traditional medicine likes to deal with what we can measure in a lab and prove to the FDA. Once NASA came down with undeniable wound healing results from red light therapy, conventional medicine started paying attention. Over 10 years later, red light therapy has now been thoroughly researched and FDA approved for anti-aging and pain relief, with wound care applications soon to follow.

Western doctors and researchers often call red light therapy by other names such as:

  • LLLT (low level laser or low level light therapy)
  • LILT (low intensity light therapy)
  • photobiostimulation
  • biostimulation (BIOS)
  • photobiomodulation
  • photonic stimulation
  • photorejuvenation
  • and others

All of those are red or near infrared light therapy just the same, and all the information on this website applies to them.

Red Light Therapy & Eastern Medicine
Red light therapy is also used in Eastern medicine practices which focus on the energy systems of the body, specifically meridian points and chakra zones. For example, “Colorpuncture” uses a narrow beam of red light to stimulate acupuncture points instead of needles. A brand name “Photonic Light Therapy” does the same thing for animals. Red light therapy could also be called red color therapy and used to fuel overall vitality.

While western science and eastern medicine may not often agree, the facts remain: light is energy, and our body is energy. Red and infrared light energy penetrate deep into the body, and has profound effects in the hands of both western and eastern healing professionals alike. The good news is, it will likely have the same rejuvenating, healing and balancing effects in your hands as well, at a fraction of the cost.

How Red Light Therapy Works

Visible red light is capable of penetrating the skin to a depth of about 8 to 10 mm. Once absorbed, the light energy is converted to cellular energy, stimulating the body’s natural processes on a cellular level and kicking off a whole series of metabolic events, including:

    • Increased circulation and the formation of new capillaries.
    • Increased lymph system activity.
    • Increased production of collagen and fibroblasts.
    • Increased release of ATP, or raw cellular energy.
    • Increased phagocytosis, or cellular clean up.
    • Tissue granulation stimulated.
    • Inflammation reduced.

All of these things work together to produce many benefits for you in the areas of anti-aging, the healing of wounds and injuries, and the relief of pain, as we’ll see below. But no matter what the application, red and infrared light therapy share the same benefits overall.

Risks & Benefits of Red Light Therapy

There are so many benefits of red light therapy that we gave them their own page and you can find that here.

In study after study all over the world, there are no reported adverse side effects from red light therapy. There are some precautions you should consider before beginning your treatment

The Wavelengths of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy uses wavelengths of light roughly between 620 nm and 700 nm. Popular wavelengths used in research and in-home products are 630 nm and 660 nm.  Regardless of claims of only “specific wavelengths” being effective, the whole range of visible red light wavelengths are effective and beneficial.  In fact, many devices today are including two or three of them instead of just one. Those same qualities made later research more accurate, and, to date, hundreds of studies from around the world have shown the benefits of red light therapy in the fields of anti-aging, healing, and pain relief.

Proven Benefits of Red Light Therapy for You and Your Family

The Benefits of Red Light Therapy Overall

  • 100% natural
  • drug free
  • chemical free
  • non-invasive (no needles or knives)
  • non-ablative (does not damage the skin)
  • painless (does not itch, burn or sting)
  • requires zero downtime
  • safe for all skin types
  • safe for all ages
  • no adverse short or long term side effects
  • easily self-administered in your own home
  • FDA approved

 

The Benefits for Your Skin

  • Increases circulation and the formation of new capillaries.1  (healthy glow)
  • Increases lymph system activity.
  • (less swelling & puffiness)
  • Stimulates the production of collagen.
  • (protein for firmness & plumpness)
  • It causes the release of ATP, or raw cellular energy.2 (speeds healing & rejuvenation)
  • It stimulates tissue granulation 3 (healing)
  • It increases phagocytosis 4 (cellular clean up)
  • It stimulates the production of fibroblasts. 5 (healing)

 

Use these benefits for your:

Acne * Bites * Bruises * Burns (minor) * Collagen Production * Cuts & Scrapes * Dry Skin * First Aid * Hair Loss * Psoriasis * Red Marks from Acne * Stretch Marks * Rosacea * Flushing * Scars * Sun Damage * Wound Care * Wrinkles * Uneven Skintone

The Benefits for Wounds, Injuries & Pain

First Aid, Injuries & Pain Relief

When you hear the word “wound”, it might bring to mind a surgical wound, or a non-healing wound like a bedsore or a diabetic ulcer. The fact is, we get little wounds every day. Think of the small cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites, or burns you might encounter on any given summer day. With bacteria becoming more and more antibiotic resistant, the faster you can close an open wound the less chance you have of a potentially life threatening infection.

Red and infrared light therapy has been shown to close a wound, even non-healing wounds, 200% faster and with less scarring.  How?

Red light therapy…

1. Increases circulation and the formation of new capillaries. Increased circulation and the formation of new capillaries means the wounded area receives more of the oxygen and nutrients it needs to initiate and maintain the marvelous healing process.

2. Increases phagocytosis, or the clean up of dead or damaged cells, including dead bacteria, helping in infection control.

3. Increases lymph system activity. This helps to ensure efficient clean up and detoxification of the wounded area without overtaxing the lymph system. Helps in prevention of lymphedema.

4. Stimulates the production of fibroblasts. Fibroblasts synthesizes collagen, elastin, and proteoglycans in the final healing phases.

5. Stimulates the production of collagen, the key protein involved in wound closure.

6. Stimulates tissue granulation, the forming of new connective tissue and tiny blood vessels that form on the surfaces of a wound during the healing process. 7. Causes the release of ATP, or raw cellular energy. This provides energy to the damaged and surrounding cells to do what they were designed to do – heal themselves.

Uses:

bed sores * burns * diabetic ulcersd * dermal ulcers * oral lesions * surgical wounds * every day cuts and scrapes * pressure ulcers * oral mucositis * cold sores * nerve regeneration * acne * eczema * psoriasis * herpes * rosacia * stretch marks

Pain Relief

If your pain is caused by a wound or injury, such as surgery, a sprain, tear or break, first, apply all the benefits of red light therapy listed above, then add the following benefits:

1. Red and Infrared light therapy reduces inflammation.

2. Red and Infrared light therapy blocks or desensitizes the nerves to pain.

Some websites may say that only “specific” wavelengths of light do this, such as 980 nm, but the fact is, the whole visible range of red light through near infrared energy (700nm – 1100 nm) all have the same benefits. The only difference? The longer the wavelength, the deeper it penetrates the body.

If your injury or pain is superficial, red light alone will work fine. If your injury or pain goes deep, you want to use the combination of red and infrared light or infrared alone for the treatment of conditions like these:

Uses:

back pain * low back pain * arthritis * sciatica * knee pain * post surgical procedures * neck pain * foot pain (plantar fascistis) * carpal tunnel syndrome * tendonitis * fibromyalgia * sprains, tears or bone breaks

Here’s a great supporting article from the Chiropractic Association: 

http://backtowellnessclinic.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Laser.pdf

Does Red Light Therapy Work?

So, does red light therapy work? Yes, yes it does.

Does red light therapy work?

Even though science is just beginning to learn how red light therapy works, it’s effectiveness has been known for decades and proven by hundreds of studies all over the world. Long before FDA approval, red light therapy has been in use by European countries, NASA, the US military, professional athletes and veterinarians.

Setting Your Expectations

Although there’s no question that red light therapy really works, it does help to set your expectations properly. Take, for example, the very popular anti-aging applications, such as the elimination of fine lines and wrinkles and hair loss. You did not age over night. So, too, you can not expect to reverse aging over night. You can expect to see gradual, consistent improvement with consistent treatment. Expect it to be about three months before you are “before and after” photo ready.

The same principle applies when using red light therapy for wound care. If a wound has been there for three months, you can not expect it to close in three days. Again, you should expect to see gradual, consistent improvement with consistent treatment.

When using red or red / infrared light for pain relief, however, you can expect to feel somewhat better right away. However, it’s not like taking an Advil, which will cover the pain for awhile. Consistent treatment with red light therapy will often heal the cause of the pain.

So, whether you are looking to turn back the hands of time, speed the healing of any wound, or sooth your aches and pains, be assured that red light therapy really does work. Now is the time to put it to work for you!

Effective red light therapy can be accomplished with any red light source including incandescent, halogen, fluorescent, LED, low level laser or cold laser. Each type of light has its benefits and drawbacks, but ineffectiveness is not one of them.

Guide to Infrared Light Therapy

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Near infrared light therapy is an every-day term for the science of photobiomodulation. It uses invisible, near infrared wavelengths between 700 and 1200 nm to deliver energy to the cells, stimulating healing and relieving pain. Infrared light therapy has been proven effective by hundreds of studies all over the globe, is 100% natural and has no known adverse side effects.

What is Infrared Light?

Infrared light immediately follows red light on the electromagnetic spectrum.  Infrared (IR) light energy is broken down into three groups:

  • Near Infrared,  also called infrared A (IR-A).  Near IR spans wavelengths 760 to 1,400 nm.  Most home therapy devices use these wavelengths.
  • Mid Infrared, also called infrared B (IR-B) – These wavelengths are used in many household electronic devices such as remote controls.
  • Far Infrared,  or IR-C– also known as long wave infrared , thermal infrared (thermal-IR).  This is the largest part of the IR spectrum, used in infrared saunas.
Infrared Light Therapy

Infrared light therapy is essentially the same as red light therapy, except infrared energy is invisible, and it penetrates the body deeper than red, reaching deep into soft tissues, muscles, joints, and bone.

Infrared light therapy is where light therapy gets serious. The combination of red light therapy with near infrared energy is being researched for amazing things such as the reversal of traumatic brain injury, stopping and healing the debilitating effects of stroke and heart attack, and the regeneration of damaged nerves and severed spinal cords. I saw the slides of the stroke, nerve and spinal cord regeneration examples with my own eyes at the 2009 LLLT conference in Rochester, NY.

While all of that is unfortunately still years away from common practice, the power of infrared light therapy has already been FDA approved and is available in-home for the relief of chronic pain. As with red light therapy, near infrared light therapy does not mask the symptoms of pain, it encourages the healing of the actual cause of the pain and so, in many cases, after a course of treatment with infrared light, the pain is gone for good.

The Wavelengths of Infrared Light Therapy

Near infrared light therapy is also often referred to as LLLT, biostimulation, photobiostimulation, or a fist-full of other medical sounding terms. The fact is, however, it is all the simple application of red light and / or  near infrared energy to the body.

Effective wavelengths of this therapy include 700 nm to 1400 nmThe whole range of wavelengths have the same healing and therapeutic effect, the big difference is this: the longer the wavelength, the deeper it penetrates into the body. So, for example, for applications effecting the surface of the skin, red light therapy (620nm-700nm) would be adequate. For the healing of deep wounds or the relief of deep muscle and joint pain, the longer wavelengths of near infrared are more beneficial. 850nm and 980 nm are common.

How Does it Work?

Red infrared light therapy works exactly the same way red light therapy works. Visible red and invisible near infrared energy are absorbed by photoreceptors in each cell. Once absorbed, the light energy kicks off a whole series of metabolic events, stimulating the body’s natural processes on a cellular level. There is an increase in blood flow, allowing the parts of the body to receive the oxygen and nutrients they need in order to function more effectively. Regeneration is stimulated. Inflammation and pain are reduced. For more details, and a list of possible ways you can put red or red infrared light therapy to work for you, please visit the Wound Care & Pain Relief Page.

What Kind of Light Do You Need?

As with red light therapy, the light source does not matter. Effective red infrared light therapy can come from a low level laser, high power LED, and array of low power LEDs, incandescent, fluorescent or other light source, as long as the proper wavelengths are emitted.

Although red infrared light therapy is safe, one should follow the same precautions as for red light therapy before beginning treatment.

Red Light Therapy for Collagen, Wrinkles & Anti-Aging

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When I got introduced into this tanning business, I was only 21 years old. Not a wrinkle in sight. Still a tad idealistic, I thought people who worried about their wrinkles were vain, and I was disillusioned when the anti-aging uses for red light therapy made it to market way before the potentially life saving uses did.

Then I turned 38. I will never forget the first time I looked in the mirror and saw a line going across my forehead. I moved in to inspect it. What was it? Would it rub off? No? I made faces in the mirror to see if it would disappear. I relaxed my face entirely to see if it would disappear. To my shock and horror it did not disappear. There was what looked like a chasm across my forehead. I burst out of the public bathroom I was in, hunted down my friend in the store, tore off my hat and revealed to her what was, in effect, the end of my youth. Only at that moment did I understand why the anti-aging use for red light therapy was such a big deal.

Too Good to be True?

Most red light therapy products on the web today are designed and marketed to sell you your youth back. To eliminate those fine lines and wrinkles. To bring back the spring and the glow to your skin. You read the promises and see the before and after pictures, and it all seems way too good to be true. I’ll be straight with you. It is true Red light therapy can really do most all that they promise. Here’s how.

How & Why Red Light Therapy is Going to Make You Look Younger

Stressed or aging skin before red light therapy.1. Increases circulation and the formation of new capillaries.(references) This brings an immediate healthy glow to the skin, and paves the way for you to maintain a more youthful and healthier appearance, as new capillaries mean more oxygen and nutrients to each skin cell every day.

2. Increases lymph system activity. This reduces swelling and puffiness. These results would also be noticed after the first and each subsequent treatment. Again, this paves the way for less puffiness in the future as the lymph system is actually made more efficient over time, resulting in healthier skin overall.

Skin Rejuvenated by Red Light Therapy3. Stimulates the production of collagen and fibroblasts. Collagen is what is responsible for the elasticity, firmness, and fullness of your skin. The  increased production of collagen and fibroblasts is what will smooth out your fine lines and wrinkles, smooth the texture of the skin, and reduce pore size over time. Collagen cells grow slowly, so be patient, and expect to see “before and after” results at about three months of consistent treatment.

4. Causes the release of ATP, or raw cellular energy. This provides energy to the cells to make the most of the additional blood, oxygen, nutrients, detoxification, growth, and repair already initiated by your red light therapy treatments.

The Anti-Aging Results of Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy:

  • creates a healthy glow about your face
  • smooths overall skin tone
  • reduces wrinkles, including crow’s feet, under eye wrinkles, forehead wrinkles & laugh lines
  • speeds the healing of blemishes, like acne and rosacea
  • repairs sun damage
  • reduces redness, flushing, and broken capillaries
  • fades scars and stretch marks
  • brings more moisture to your skin
  • prevents hair loss & stimulates regrowth

Add all that to the already impressive list of benefits red light has to offer and you have no reason at all not to give it a try.

How to Get Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging

Through a Professional

Depending on the area you live, red light therapy might be available to you at your local dermatologist, medical spa, day spa, or salon.  Many gyms and spas are putting full body red light therapy beds in right alongside their tanning beds.

Red light therapy administered in a professional setting can be a luxurious experience, and it can be time-saving, as professional devices can usually cover your whole face or body in a single treatment.  However, be prepared to pay for the experience, and to keep paying for it, because many consecutive treatments are necessary to achieve results, and regular treatments are necessary to maintain them.

Red light therapy has been thoroughly researched and proven to be safe and effective by hundreds of studies all over the world.  As a result, red light therapy has been FDA approved for the elimination of fine lines and wrinkles.

 

What a Red Light Therapy Treatment is Like

Red light therapy treatments for collagen production and wrinkle reduction vary depending on the product you choose, but they all have many things in common:

  1. You will be directed to cleanse your face in order to remove anything that could block or interfere with the light.
  2. You will shine the light on your skin for a period of time ranging from 90 seconds to 20 minutes depending on the product you choose.
  3. Treatments are recommended once daily until the desired result is achieved, then reduced to twice weekly to maintain the results.
  4. The treatments are painless, in fact, it’s most likely that no sensation will be felt at all.
  5. You can apply makeup or other skin care products immediately after your treatment is done.
  6. A topical antioxidant is not necessary for good results, but has been shown to help produce better results faster.
Setting Your Expectations

You’ve seen all those before and after pictures – but let’s set your expectations properly.  After a red light therapy treatment, certain things happen right away, and certain things take longer. For example, you will have a healthier, more radiant glow about your skin within minutes after each treatment.  Use this to your advantage and, instead of doing your treatment before you go to sleep, do it before you go out.

The imperfections that you gained slowly over time will fade in the same way – slowly, over time. Gradually, uneven redness and spider veins will diminish. Collagen and elastin will grow slowly with each treatment, gradually smoothing out those fine lines and wrinkles.  This happens so gradually you might not notice it, but others will.  It might help to take a picture before you start, and another 8 weeks later, so the progress will be more obvious to you.  It will take about 8 weeks of consistent treatment for “before and after” type of results.    

Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss & Regrowth

Hair loss is a condition that impacts both men and women and can be very upsetting and even embarrassing for many people. Although there are some prescription medications that can be effective in certain cases, a growing number of people are choosing alternative effective treatments such as red light therapy.

If you have been thinking about red light therapy to help to grow your hair back, then you may have a number of questions about what it entails and even whether or not it actually works. The following information is here to help you to inform yourself regarding this state of the art hair loss treatment method.

What is LLLT and how does it differ from red light therapy?

LLLT stands for “low level light therapy” or “low level laser therapy”. It is a simply a medical term for the use of red and near infrared light therapy.

Have to be laser light to be effective for the treatment of hair loss?

No.

“What are the wavelengths that have been found to be effective for preventing hair loss or re-growing hair?”

The most commonly used wavelengths for treating hair loss with red light therapy are in the range of 630 to 670 nanometers (nm).

Visible red light is capable of being absorbed by the molecules of the hair follicle and can stimulate the growth or re-growth of the hair following a natural biological reaction. The light must be absorbed for this reaction to occur.

From a more technical standpoint, the reason that red light is absorbed is because of a substance called cytochrome c, which is an intracellular enzyme. That enzyme can absorb the light within that range and is also responsible for stimulating the hair follicle by sending it certain signals. Those signals promote gene activity and lower apoptosis (cell death regulated by the genes), as well as other reactions.

This has been known since 1967 when it was accidentally discovered by a Hungarian scientist who noticed that exposed, shaved mice experience faster hair re-growth.

What are the FDA approved LLLT wavelengths for hair loss therapy?

The first FDA approval of a hand-held LLLT device for the treatment of hair loss was in January 2007. This was specific to androgenetic alopecia (male pattern hair loss). This was a laser device at 635nm.

In 2009, the FDA first gave its approval to a similar device that could treat alopecia in both men and women. The device at that time was 655 nm.

At the moment, the devices with FDA approval are laser only, though there are LED device companies that are currently in the process of performing studies to gain their FDA approval for being a medical device instead of merely cosmetic.

Is the therapy good for one type of hair loss and not for others?

No known therapy will work for all forms of hair loss. Moreover, the earlier a treatment is started, the better the chances of success through its use. Once a follicle has actually died, there isn’t anything that can be done to resurrect it. Therefore, it is typically recommended that when using any treatment for hair loss, beginning early will be critical to optimal success.

There are many different causes of hair loss. The primary target of LLLT and red light hair loss therapies are individuals who have temporarily lost their hair due to issues such as stress, surgery, medication side effects, or other conditions, such as male pattern baldness or menopause.

Are there any side effects?

Red light therapy using LED is a non-invasive treatment that has not been connected with any negative side effects or pain when the devices are used according to their directions.

“Will red light therapy cause hair to grow in other (unwanted) places?”

Red light therapy does not cause hair to grow in places where it has never existed. It can stimulate follicles that have stopped producing hair or that have been growing very small, thin hairs and encourage them to grow healthier hair once more. However, it will not lead to hair growth where no hair was previously present.

Setting Your Expectations

You didn’t lose your hair over night, it’s not going to grow back over night. What it might do over night is stop falling out, though, which is a great start. Allow two or three months to see significant results.

An Antioxidant Could Improve Results

Red light therapy produces oxygen as a byproduct of it’s process. If there is some type of daily topical antioxidant for the scalp, that would lend itself to faster, better results.

Don’t Over Do It

The maximum treatment time for any red light therapy application is 3 minutes per area. Longer treatment times do not yield better results, and shorter treatment times, as little as 60 seconds per area, are often ideal.

Red & Infrared Light For Psoriasis Treatment

Light therapy, usually UVB, is one of the oldest known psoriasis treatments. In fact, sunlight was one of the first treatments that was used to help to ease the symptoms of the condition.  Now, there is a new type of light therapy that is proving beneficial for psoriasis treatment.Red & Infrared Light For Psoriasis

recent study showed that the use of red and infrared LED light therapy is very promising in treating psoriasis.  In the study, patients used a combination of near infrared light (830nm) and red light (633 nm).  Over a period of 4 to 5 weeks, with two 20-minute sessions every 48 hours, clearance rates during the follow up period were 60 to 100 percent.  All of the participants were happy with the therapy.

An additional study concludes: “Inflammatory diseases such as psoriasis and acne can also be managed. The noninvasive nature and almost complete absence of side effects encourage further testing in dermatology.”

Although the research is relatively new regarding the use of red and infrared light therapies for psoriasis, each additional study suggests that the treatments are effective and offer hope of a drug-free option for sufferers of this chronic disease.

Red & infrared light therapy specifically for psoriasis treatment is still in the research stages, so you won’t find in-home devices advertised for that purpose yet.  However, light therapy products containing the same or similar wavelengths have already been FDA approved for other things such as pain relief and anti-aging.

Don’t Settle For Treatment – Go For the Cure

Think about this:

the best treatments medical science has come up with for psoriasis are light based. UVB, in particular, is what you get from sunlight.  How much time to do you spend in direct sunlight every day? I’ll bed you could count it in seconds. Your relationship to the sun, or lack thereof, is reflected in the level of Vitamin D in your blood.

Red & infrared light may be another excellent treatment for psoriasis, but other science is finding that psoriasis is likely a visible symptom of Vitamin D deficiency, and correcting that deficiency may well be the cure.  If you are suffering from psoriasis, I urge you to consider the research in this area and speak to your doctor about having your vitamin D level tested.

All above information are reference from redlighttherapy.lighttherapyoptions.com