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11 Surprising Benefits of Red Light Therapy

Benefits of red light therapy

Key Points

  • Red Light Therapy, also known as Photobiomodulation is a proven, safe, and effective practice that uses red and near infrared light to improve health and wellbeing
  • Light from Red Light Devices penetrates into our cells and induces a series of photochemical reactions that improve cellular energy (via mitochondria) and modulate gene expression
  • Since its discovery in the 1950s, research on photobiomodulation is growing rapidly, with an increasing number of benefits being identified and studied
  • Red Light Therapy can benefit you in many ways – some of the top benefits include skin repair, hair growth, scar removal, fat loss, muscle recovery, reduced inflammation, cardiovascular health and even improved depression symptoms
  • Red Light Therapy can be done from the comfort of your home. You can find one online for less than $300 USD (I use the EMR Tek devices, get 20% OFF at checkout with this link by using code: “360UPGRADE”!).
red light therapy benefits

Introduction

Red light therapy (RLT) may not be on your radar yet, but that’s about to change. This safe and effective treatment, which you can do right in your own home or office, can help you build muscles, reduce wrinkles, improve your skin tone and texture, fight acne and much more. The process itself is simple, safe, and relatively inexpensive, which explains why many are opting to use red light therapy to improve their wellbeing and power their body and mind. Here are some surprising benefits of red light therapy that you may not know about, the last benefits are particularly exciting!

What is Red Light Therapy?

First, let’s clear up what red light therapy is. It’s a type of light that can be emitted from various devices such as LEDs and lasers by emitting energy at near-infrared wavelengths (the light closest to our skin on the spectrum). The wavelengths are low enough to pass through your skin and reach mitochondria—the part of your cells that generates energy. By emitting these near-infrared rays at your body, you stimulate cell metabolism and beneficial gene expression, which leads to a myriad of benefits.

Red light therapy is also known under different names including

  • Photobiomodulation
  • Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)
  • Led Light Therapy
  • Cold Laser Therapy

Many people have used red light therapy—also known as photobiomodulation— for decades. Soon after the discovery of lasers in the 1960s it was realized that red and near infrared light had the potential to improve wound healing and reduce pain, inflammation and swelling. Since then, many additional benefits have been extensively studied. In fact, researchers at Harvard Medical School are currently investigating its effectiveness for cancer patients! 

photobiomodulation research

Most importantly, red light therapy is completely safe. The light from red lamps is considered to be far-red. It isn’t damaging to your eyes and skin (as opposed to ultraviolet radiation), and it’s also not damaging to your health.

Now let’s go through some of this therapy’s most exciting benefits.

1) Skin Rejuvenation

red light therapy skin

As we age, our body’s production of collagen and elastin slows down, which leads to wrinkles and sagging skin. Fortunately, red light therapy can trigger your body’s production of new collagen—helping you fight these signs of aging without dangerous surgeries or risky injections. In fact, many dermatologists recommend light therapy as a way to keep aging at bay while maintaining a youthful appearance. This kind of treatment can even reverse some signs of aging in people who are already showing visible signs!

A 2002 review of scientific studies found that red light therapy, applied for two to three minutes twice a week, could reverse skin aging by stimulating cell renewal and collagen production. The treatment also had an anti-inflammatory effect on photoaged skin and promoted healing. While it’s unclear whether red light therapy can actually prolong your life (though it likely can’t hurt), there is some evidence that regular use may keep you looking younger for longer. 

2) Skin Damage Repair

red light therapy skin damage repair

If you’re looking for a way to deal with acne scars, brown spots or wrinkles, try using red light therapy. High-intensity light therapy (HLT) in particular, is useful for skin damage repair because it helps with cellular repair. HLT stimulates your body’s production of collagen. It also encourages healthy cell regeneration by speeding up metabolism and increases energy production from within. 

In fact, it is often recommended as a treatment for mild to moderate acne. It’s been shown to kill bacteria, reduce swelling and speed up wound healing time. If you have Rosacea or eczema, red light therapy can help ease inflammation. Your skin will naturally become clearer over time. No need for harsh chemical peels or laser treatments! 

Red light therapy also reduces pigmentation by accelerating cell turnover and increasing activity within cells responsible for melanin production.

3) Scar Removal & Wound Healing

If you’ve ever had a scar, you know how hard it is to live with. These unsightly marks not only make us look older than we are but can also impact our self-esteem in negative ways. Luckily, red light therapy has been shown to improve scar quality and appearance. Studies have revealed that receiving red light treatment for burns have scars that appear significantly smoother, flatter, and less pigmented following treatment. Research has also found that RLT can even help minimize stretch marks after a pregnancy and reduce acne scars over time through its ability to influence stem cells. 

In addition to improving scars themselves, researchers also indicate that red light therapy can speed up wound healing through accelerated cell proliferation, faster wound closure and reduced scarring! This makes red light therapy an excellent option for anyone looking to maintain a more youthful appearance while simultaneously getting rid of unsightly scars.

4) Increase in Hair Growth

Laser Red Light Therapy Hair Loss

It may sound strange, but red light therapy stimulates hair growth. Not only can you stop your hair from falling out, but also encourage it to grow back. A study has found that RLT is more effective than minoxidil (Rogaine) at treating androgenetic alopecia—aka male pattern baldness. In just four months, 90 percent of patients experienced either new hair growth or significant regrowth versus 35 percent with Rogaine. What’s happening? The wavelengths used in red light therapy activate hair-producing cells within follicles, increase blood flow to follicles and reduce inflammation and stress caused by free radicals. As a result, hair benefits from better conditions for cell regeneration and growth.

These benefits apply to both genders, men and women. Most dermatologists report seeing positive results in as little as three months, but it may take up to two years before you notice a significant difference. In general, studies have shown that men and women who undergo red light therapy report having thicker and fuller hair; those who’ve undergone chemotherapy or radiation therapy report less severe hair loss as well.

5) Fat Loss & Muscle Gain

Red light therapy for weight loss

When looking for a workout, there are two types of goals that most people have: to lose fat and get lean, or to gain muscle and get big. It’s not hard to figure out why red light therapy is beneficial for both because it increases blood flow (to deliver oxygen and nutrients) as well as speeds up recovery. This means you can lift more weight in a shorter period of time—and therefore burn more calories or build more muscle. These gains are especially important for active individuals who want to improve their athletic performance or increase their endurance without overtraining. Basically, red light therapy helps them go harder and recover faster.

Furthermore, the benefits of red light therapy are tied to its effects on your body’s natural production of human growth hormone (HGH). As you age, your body produces less and less HGH. By stimulating cells to produce more, red light therapy helps you lose fat while also building muscle—which means that in addition to looking younger and fitter, you’ll also have more energy! In fact, studies have shown that those who undergo regular treatments increase their HGH by up to 2,000 percent! 

6) Faster Muscle Recovery

red light therapy muscle recovery

Muscle soreness is a physiological process that can last for up to 48 hours after exercise. When you’re sore from a hard workout, your muscles are damaged. A small molecule called adenosine diphosphate (ADP) is produced in large quantities when muscle cells break down and can no longer produce energy efficiently. When you have muscle pain, levels of ADP increase. 

Not only does that mean you can’t exercise, but you’re also going to have difficulty doing everyday activities. You don’t want to be slow and stiff after an intense workout—it actually makes your next workout less effective because you won’t push yourself as hard if your muscles are already tired. Exposing sore muscles to red light causes the high levels of ADP to revert back into adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is an energy molecule that allows your muscles to work properly. By increasing ATP, red light therapy helps reduce muscle soreness so you can recover faster and train harder. 

7) Reduced Inflammation and Pain

red light therapy pain analgesic

There are a number of studies that have found red light therapy to be effective in reducing inflammation and pain. In 2015, a study done on plantar fasciitis showed that it was effective for both conditions, and another study done on knee osteoarthritis found similar results. Red light therapy’s ability to reduce pain is due in part to its stimulation of nitric oxide, which relaxes blood vessels and increases circulation. It’s also been shown to increase ATP levels and lymphocyte activity, which helps your body release metabolic waste more quickly and efficiently. 

Researchers have also discovered that certain wavelengths in red light have anti-inflammatory properties that can help with arthritis pain.

8) Improved Sleep Quality

red light therapy for sleep

For many people, getting a good night’s sleep is a challenge. Studies show that more than half of us have trouble falling asleep at least three nights a week. Whether it’s due to stress, work demands or other factors, insomnia can be debilitating and even dangerous—it increases your risk for serious conditions like heart disease and stroke. 

Fortunately, Red light therapy helps reduce insomnia, as it has been found to improve blood circulation in major organs. Studies show that after just two weeks of regular treatment with red light therapy, participants experienced significant improvements in their sleep quality as well as reduced anxiety levels and enhanced mood and cognitive functioning.

If you want to fall asleep faster or get a better night’s rest, try adding red light therapy to your nighttime regimen! Even those who were able to doze off quickly reported longer and more comfortable sleeps while using red light therapy; they also said that their quality of sleep had improved. 

9) Heart Health

red light therapy for heart disease

Red light therapy benefits heart health in two primary ways. First, it increases blood flow and oxygen delivery to vital organs such as your brain and heart. When you have more oxygen-rich blood flowing through your arteries, you have better cardiovascular function and can maintain a healthy metabolic rate, which helps with weight loss or maintenance. Second, red light therapy reduces inflammation throughout your body. Inflammation is a major contributing factor to numerous chronic conditions including diabetes, cancer, heart disease and depression. 

In one study, red light therapy increased blood flow by an average of 9% and cut harmful LDL cholesterol by 19%. And there’s some evidence that it may even increase HDL cholesterol levels—the good kind. Research is still ongoing, but results look promising so far. 

To help relieve heart symptoms, sit for a session about 10 minutes per day at least three times a week; consult your doctor first if you have any health conditions or are taking medication.

10) Improved Diabetes

red light therapy diabetes

Research has shown that red light therapy can improve insulin sensitivity and reduce blood sugar levels in people with type 2 diabetes. This is due to its effects on cellular mitochondria, which produce energy for cells throughout your body. Once activated by red light therapy, these mitochondria are able to produce more energy, which helps reduce blood sugar levels and improves cell function throughout your body. In addition to improving overall health, it has also been shown to treat nerve pain related to diabetic neuropathy, a common side effect of diabetes.

One study in a recent issue of Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine concludes that red and infrared light is able to improve glucose disposal in people with type 2 diabetes. The study also found that light therapy improved participants’ cholesterol levels and their sensitivity to insulin, which is crucial for preventing diabetes complications. 

11) Depression

red light therapy for depression

Depression is a devastating condition, both to those who suffer from it and to their loved ones. The most common forms of treatment include medication, therapy, electroconvulsive therapy (ECT), and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). A relatively new form of depression treatment is red light therapy. A growing body of research supports how effective red light therapy can be in alleviating depression in certain patients. In fact, red light therapy has been proven to alleviate symptoms associated with multiple forms of depression including seasonal affective disorder (SAD), premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), postpartum depression and other mood disorders. It works by increasing the natural production of serotonin in our brain, and modulating a number of neurotransmitters including dopamine, oxytocin, and GABA.

It is still not FDA-approved as a viable method for treating depression, however, as more studies are conducted on how red light therapy can help fight off depressive symptoms, we may see an upswing in its popularity among medical professionals. Especially given that for many individuals, using red light therapy is much easier than taking antidepressants which often take several weeks before they start to work and only provide temporary relief.

Experts recommend two treatments a week for two months and note that continuing treatment beyond those first four weeks is usually necessary in order to see lasting results. While there’s no quick fix when it comes to curing depression, red light therapy could be an effective starting point for those who suffer from bouts of feeling down or hopeless.

Conclusion

Red light therapy is an inexpensive, safe, and effective way to improve your health and wellbeing from the comfort of your home. It has been used for decades to promote wound healing and tissue repair; to relieve inflammation; and as an analgesic and a treatment for other neurological problems. Recently, mounting research has shed the light on more exciting applications including anti-aging, muscle performance, and to improve health conditions such as heart disease and diabetes. New research on animals is even demonstrating protection against Alzheimer, infarctus and stroke.

Essentially, by sitting in front of one or two lights several times a week you can reap all the benefits discussed above and improve your overall health! The kicker? The lamps don’t cost much at all – you can find one online for less than $300 USD (I use the EMR Tek devices, get 20% OFF at checkout with this link by using code: “360UPGRADE”!). So if you have any of the conditions above, or simply want to improve your wellbeing, give red light therapy a try today!

You can learn more about how to use red light therapy at home here.

Sources:

Afifi L, Maranda EL, Zarei M, Delcanto GM, Falto-Aizpurua L, Kluijfhout WP, Jimenez JJ. Low-level laser therapy as a treatment for androgenetic alopecia. Lasers Surg Med. 2017 Jan;49(1):27-39. doi: 10.1002/lsm.22512. Epub 2016 Apr 25. PMID: 27114071.

Darwin E, Heyes A, Hirt PA, Wikramanayake TC, Jimenez JJ. Low-level laser therapy for the treatment of androgenic alopecia: a review. Lasers Med Sci. 2018 Feb;33(2):425-434. doi: 10.1007/s10103-017-2385-5. Epub 2017 Dec 21. PMID: 29270707.

Mussttaf RA, Jenkins DFL, Jha AN. Assessing the impact of low level laser therapy (LLLT) on biological systems: a review. Int J Radiat Biol. 2019 Feb;95(2):120-143. doi: 10.1080/09553002.2019.1524944. Epub 2019 Jan 7. PMID: 30614743.

 M A, Ummer V S, Maiya AG, Hande M. Low level laser therapy for the patients with painful diabetic peripheral neuropathy – A systematic review. Diabetes Metab Syndr. 2019 Jul-Aug;13(4):2667-2670. doi: 10.1016/j.dsx.2019.07.035. Epub 2019 Jul 13. PMID: 31405692.

Dima R, Tieppo Francio V, Towery C, Davani S. Review of Literature on Low-level Laser Therapy Benefits for Nonpharmacological Pain Control in Chronic Pain and Osteoarthritis. Altern Ther Health Med. 2018 Sep;24(5):8-10. PMID: 28987080.

3 thoughts on “11 Surprising Benefits of Red Light Therapy”

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