Health Benefits of Red Light Therapy and How to Get It
By: Julie Hand
Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or light box therapy, has been around for 40 years – since the invention of lasers. What is it, specifically? Red light therapy uses certain wavelengths of light to restore, repair, and protect tissue that is either injured, degenerating, or at risk of dying. While varying wavelengths affect the body differently, as far as healing with red light is concerned, the most effective wavelengths range from 630-670 and 810-880.
How does red light therapy work?
Red light wavelengths affect bodily cells on a biochemical level by increasing mitochondrial function – the ability to produce cellular energy. The more cellular energy production, the better the body functions as a whole. When red light wavelengths are used on the skin’s surface, they penetrate 8-10 millimeters into the skin. So depending upon where the red light is deployed (head or knee, for instance), all of the surrounding skin layers, blood vessels, lymph pathways, nerves, and even hair follicles are affected.
What are the benefits of red light therapy?
Red light therapy works from the inside-out to enhance mitochondrial function in cells. This, in turn, leads to several skin benefits. Red light decreases skin inflammation, smooths skin tone, repairs sun damage, fades scars and stretch marks, and even builds collagen in the skin, which reduces wrinkles. It also heals wounds and can prevent recurring cold sores or herpes simplex. Red light works on the lymphatic system to improve your body’s detoxification abilities by increasing blood flow. It may even stimulate hair growth in your hair follicles.
Studies reveal that red light heals age-related macular degeneration of the eyes. It’s also used to treat knee osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, cognitive dysfunction following brain injury, and fibromyalgia.
What are the best sources of red light therapy?
- You can undergo red light therapy with a qualified professional like a trained rheumatologist or dermatologist. Ask your doctor for a referral.
- Some medical spas offer red light therapy for about $50-100 per session. Infrared saunas are unique from regular saunas in that they heat the body from the inside-out. Both red light therapy and infrared saunas enhance mitochondrial function, though in different ways. Unlike red light therapy, infrared sauna light is visible – though it penetrates much deeper into the body. You’ll have to experiment to see which works best for you. Learn more about the benefits of infrared sauna use here.
- Reap the benefits of red light at home with a lightbox like Joov Lightbox. Or, install red lights around your home – there are red lights on Amazon that sell for as little as $6. Use them in the early morning and later at night, as well as therapeutically to increase mitochondrial function and collagen production. Hold the light over an injury for a few minutes a day. You can also find LED colored lights with a brightness and color remote controller. (This lets you switch from blue to red, depending on what time of day it is.)
- The newest addition to the red light family is actually getting it from your computer or phone screen. Color Tint is a new feature on the Apple iOS 10 that turns your entire screen red, which Apple notes has its own benefits. While they are not necessarily all health-related like a red light therapy box, it is possible that you’ll squint less looking at your screen in the middle of the night due to the red light.
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