Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy is a form of phototherapy involving red and near-infrared light to treat various skin conditions. It has been available since the 1930s, but it’s only recently become a popular treatment for psoriasis, acne vulgaris, alopecia areata, and vitiligo.

Red light therapy is a treatment that has been around for decades. The benefits are still being discovered, but there are claims that it can help with acne arthritis.

Medical laser therapies such as red light therapy celebrated their 50th anniversary in 2010, with a plethora of data supporting their efficacy.

Red light treatment may naturally jump-start the process of tissue healing and other kinds of rejuvenation by releasing red, low-light wavelengths through the skin. It’s thought to operate through improving blood flow and encouraging collagen formation, among other things.

Red light therapy has gone a long way, but are they effective? Because of how red lightbox treatments influence the human endocrine and immunological systems, clinical investigations demonstrate that they have some therapeutic and medicinal uses.

The FDA has already approved this medication for ailments such as chronic joint pain and slow-healing wounds, and as research progresses, we may expect to see additional approvals shortly.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Low-power red light wavelengths are emitted directly through the skin in red light therapy, but the process isn’t felt and isn’t painful because it doesn’t produce heat.

Red light may penetrate the skin to a depth of eight to ten millimeters, where it has beneficial effects on cellular energy and a variety of nervous systems and metabolic functions. However, this sort of light is referred to as a “low level” since its energy density is lower than other laser treatments.

Suppose you’ve never heard of red light therapy before. In that case, you may be acquainted with terminology like photobiomodulation (PBM), Low-Level Light Therapy (LLLT), biostimulation (BIOS), photonic stimulation, or simply light box therapy.

Although there is still debate over this treatment and more study is required, according to some studies, red light therapy treatments have practically no known adverse side effects, instead of providing a growing list of anti-aging advantages.

What is the mechanism behind it? Red light is utilized in three primary ways, according to a 2012 paper published in Annals in Biomedical Engineering: “to decrease inflammation, edema, and chronic joint diseases; to enhance wound healing, deeper tissues, and nerves; and to treat neurological disorders and pain.” In addition, it has been discovered that enhancing cell proliferation and migration and altering the amounts of cytokines, growth factors, and inflammatory mediators may assist promote more excellent immunity and lifespan.

Because of how red-light affects our central nervous system, Leanne Venier, an engineer, scientist, and expert in light frequencies and the healing effects of color therapy, explains that red light is naturally attention-getting, energizing, stimulating, and “representative of survival, joy, and passion” in humans.

According to her studies, as well as substantial research conducted by reputable institutions such as NASA, red light may activate the sympathetic nervous system and hence the “fight or flight reaction.”

Improved blood circulation, fast heartbeats, increased perspiration, and high concentration is all symptoms of being in fight-or-flight mode. Activating our stress response is often negative, but it may also be beneficial since it transports nutrients to our cells and regulates inflammatory reactions.


What is the purpose of red light therapy? Some of the ways red light wavelengths act to boost general Health have been discovered in studies:

  • We promote the release of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from mitochondria in cells to increase energy levels.
  • DNA/RNA synthesis stimulation
  • We are activating the lymphatic system, a vital component of our immune system that aids in the removal of waste from the body.
  • Increased blood flow and circulation aid in the delivery of more oxygen and nutrients to our cells and tissues.
  • New capillaries are being formed (tiny blood vessels)
  • Improving natural collagen and fibroblast synthesis, which is vital for skincare as well as joint and digestive Health
  • Repairing and repairing soft connective tissue that has been injured
  • Inflammation may be stimulated or reduced, which aids in the regulation of our natural healing capacities.
  • minimizing the effects of oxidative stress/free radical damage, which is linked to a variety of aging symptoms

Here are some of the primary red light treatment advantages that have been shown in scientific studies:

1. Increased Immunity and Reduced Cancer Treatment Side Effects

According to NASA research, red light technology may effectively relieve symptoms suffered by cancer patients, including unpleasant side effects induced by radiation or chemotherapy.

The use of far-red/near-infrared light-emitting diode devices (referred to as HEALS in some research) has been demonstrated to deliver long wavelength energy in the form of photons that excite cells and help in healing.

NASA investigated if this technique may help patients suffering from oral mucositis, a severe side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. They concluded that 96 percent of patients improved their pain as a consequence of the HEALS therapy.

“The HEALS device was well tolerated with no adverse effects on bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients,” researchers said. In addition, because the HEALS device is less costly than one day in the hospital, it may be a cost-effective treatment.”

Pediatric brain tumors, slow-healing wounds or infections, diabetic skin ulcers, and catastrophic burns are treated using similar HEALS technology.

2. Tissue Repair and Wound Healing

Light in the spectrum range of 600 to 1,300 nanometers has been proven beneficial for wound healing, tissue regeneration, and skin rejuvenation; however, it works differently than many other laser resurfacing procedures.

In most dermatological practices, intense pulsed light enhances skin renewal by stimulating secondary tissue regeneration. In other words, they intentionally injure the epidermis or dermis of the skin to create inflammation, followed by healing.

RLT, on the other hand, skips the first damaging stage and instead accelerates regeneration processes in the skin by increasing cell proliferation, migration, and adhesion.

It may also aid in treating skin diseases by stimulating the regeneration of fibroblasts, keratinocytes, and immune cells (such as mast cells, neutrophils, and macrophages) present in skin tissue.

3. Skin and Hair Loss Anti-Aging Effects

Treating skin disorders and reversing indications of age on the skin is one of the most prominent uses of red light laser treatment (i.e., wrinkles and fine lines).

Compared to controls, the results of a 2014 research published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery showed that red light treatment was effective and safe in boosting anti-aging skin regeneration and intradermal collagen growth. “Red infrared therapy offers a safe, non-ablative, non-thermal, atraumatic photobiomodulation treatment of skin tissue with excellent patient satisfaction ratings,” the researchers found.

As determined by ultrasonographic testing, subjects treated with RLT had dramatically improved skin complexion, tone, texture/feel, decreased skin roughness, reduced indications of wrinkles and fine lines, and enhanced collagen density. In addition, patients with rosacea and redness, even those unable to handle higher-heat laser therapy, have experienced relief utilizing PBM for skincare.

Reversing hair loss and increasing follicular hair growth is another anti-aging benefit of red light therapy, which works in many ways as red light therapy for wound healing. According to research, hair growth outcomes have been varied. However, at least a considerable number of male and female patients have had favorable results while utilizing PBM to reverse baldness/hair loss.

4. Improved Musculoskeletal and Joint Health

Because of its capacity to stimulate collagen formation and restore cartilage, RLT is increasingly being utilized to treat arthritic symptoms.

“LLLT might be explored for short-term treatment for reduction of pain and morning stiffness for RA patients, especially as it has minimal side-effects,” according to a 2009 Cochrane study of red light therapy for rheumatoid arthritis.

Even if you don’t have arthritis but have other indicators of tissue damage or degeneration due to aging, LLLT may help. “LLLT improves pain immediately after therapy in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in individuals with persistent neck pain,” according to a 2009 research published in The Lancet.

According to other research, patients with musculoskeletal diseases are likely to receive “substantially improved functional outcomes,” such as a more excellent range of motion, even if they don’t feel reduced pain after red light therapy treatments.

Red light treatment improves cellular renewal and blood flow, two essential joint and tissue health components. LLLT also helps soft/connective tissue by reducing oxidative damage, which causes joint degeneration and controlling inflammation.

5. Better Sleeping Conditions

The human body needs exposure to natural light to control many biological processes, which can only be obtained outside. Our cellular energy systems and circadian rhythms suffer when we spend the day inside and seldom “see the light of day,” resulting in concerns such as poor sleep, exhaustion, mood-related disorders, and weight gain.

RLT is a simple technique to expose your body to more natural light if you can’t go outdoors more. This may assist your “circadian clock” reset and aid in releasing melatonin, which is necessary for good sleep.

6. Decreased Fatigue and Depression

The advantages of red light may also be explained via the perspective of Eastern medicine. For example, when you ask a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner how light may aid with Health, immunity, and healing, they will most likely equate it to the mechanism of action of acupuncture:

  • This is because our bodies are enormous energy systems, and light is a kind of energy.
  • Light can trigger specific meridian points and chakra zones in the human body.
  • The first chakra is considered to be stimulated by red since it is most closely associated with our survival drive (hence why it gives us energy and makes us act quickly, motivating us to pursue things like money, food, sex, power, etc., etc.).
  • According to a study, red light treatment increases self-confidence, optimism, passion, joyfulness, laughing, social awareness, conversation skills, and sensory stimulation, all associated with better moods.

Unsubstantiated Claims

Although studies show that RLT may give the advantages mentioned above, there isn’t enough information to say if it can assist in treating other disorders, including cancer, clinical depression, or severely reduced immune function.

It’s also not the only wavelength that has advantages. For example, blue wavelengths, and even saunas, may be more effective if you’re struggling with skin or muscle issues, as detailed more below.


Red and blue light therapy are two different types of light therapy.

  • Although they act in distinct ways, blue and red light treatments, two types of phototherapy, have some comparable advantages and applications.
  • Both devices’ mechanisms of operation are currently unknown. Still, PBM devices are thought to emit light with wavelengths comparable to blue light lasers but with more giant output peaks (they’re less monochromatic and don’t cause heat or friction).
  • Blue light from light-emitting devices is increasingly routinely employed at home, notably for acne therapy. Blue light has been discovered to penetrate the sebaceous (oil) glands in the skin and may aid in the killing of porphyrins, which are chemicals prevalent in acne bacteria.
  • Red light is thought to enter the skin deeper and may aid in treating acne and other skin conditions by lowering inflammation and speeding up the healing process.
  • Tabletop light therapy systems (which are used at home and are generally weaker, taking around 30 minutes to one hour of treatment time twice each day) or more robust devices used in physicians’ clinics that function faster may generate blue and red light (sometimes within just several minutes or less).
  • The Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital notes that at the molecular, cellular, and tissue levels, there is still a lot of misunderstanding and confusion about how these light treatments, particularly LLLT, work. There are also many factors that clinicians must examine before treating individual patients (wavelength, fluence, irradiance, treatment time and repetition, pulsing, and polarization), which may contribute to the complexity and patient diversity in terms of outcomes.

Infrared Sauna Treatment vs. Photobiomodulation

  • Saunas employ heat to induce biological effects; however, red light treatment does not rely on heat alone to produce benefits.
  • Infrared saunas, unlike regular saunas, heat items within the sauna area rather than the air itself. To provide infrared heat, they use charcoal, carbon fiber, or other kinds of emitting surfaces.
  • Heat is a kind of stress that may improve cardiovascular health, detoxification, and physical performance, among other things. Instead of employing heat, the goal of PBM is to send light directly into your skin to influence cells favorably. Because these two therapy procedures have different results, they may be combined. So don’t be frightened to try them both.


You may now benefit from red light treatment at home using cutting-edge technology.

A light bed called TheraLight 360 HD is one example. Because it may be used by anybody and does not need a healthcare license to operate, TheraLight is regarded as the most potent commercial alternative for consumers and practitioners.

This light bed (also known as a pod or capsule) features a unique 360° light exposure design and delivers quick yet decisive 10–15 minute sessions. It has four deep penetrating wavelengths (1 red and three near-infrared), each with changeable frequency and power output, controlled via a Bluetooth tablet.

TheraLight360’s creators claim that the bed may be used for both general wellness and as medical equipment for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Joint stiffness and discomfort are relieved.
  • Minor arthritic pain or muscle spasms are temporarily relieved.
  • Blood circulation improves
  • Injury healing time is reduced.


Joovv is a firm that provides a more cheap solution for customers.

If you’re having trouble sleeping because of a lack of exposure to natural light, Joovv light panels can be a decent solution. If you can’t go outdoors to acquire the light you need to reset your circadian rhythm, try using natural light therapy for 10–20 minutes each day at your home or workplace.

Will insurance cover PBM?

Many mainstream physicians still see red light therapies as alternative treatments, citing the need for additional study to confirm their usefulness and that outcomes might vary.

Most medical insurance companies consider low-level laser light therapy an “experimental treatment”; hence they will not cover it.

Depending on the problem you’re addressing, you may discuss treatment choices with your dermatologist, oncologist, orthopedic, rheumatologist, or neurologist. In addition, a referral from your primary care physician or a chiropractor may be possible.

What is the recommended frequency of red light therapy?

Each person will uniquely respond to RLT. A standard guideline is to regularly attempt this kind of treatment for 8–12 weeks. You may start with shorter sessions and work your way up after you’ve gauged your response. Aim to complete 3–5 sessions each week for the first 1–4 weeks to get the most significant benefits.

Side Effects and Risks

Is red light treatment harmful to your Health? Even though low-level laser light treatment seems well-tolerated and unlikely to induce adverse effects, it is still debatable whether it can benefit all patients. Researchers have faced one challenge in compiling data from red light therapy trials to determine which light ranges are best for treating various health issues and people.

RLT might elicit unfavorable effects when the light source is chosen incorrectly, or the dose is administered poorly, according to some published research findings. However, for each given use, there is an ideal dosage of light, and in the case of red light treatment, lesser amounts are frequently found to be more helpful than larger ones.

What are the risks associated with red light therapy? Burning, swelling, disorientation, muscular weakness, and nausea are all possible symptoms.

Remember that seeing outcomes from red-light therapies may take some time, and that response may vary. When undergoing treatments, be sure to consult with a certified PBM practitioner and report any adverse effects.

Last Thoughts

  • Red light treatment (also known as near-infrared light, photobiomodulation, or photobiomodulation) and LLLT (low-level laser therapy)? It involves the skin generating red and near-infrared wavelengths.
  • What is the mechanism of action of red light therapy? It may aid with cellular regeneration, blood flow, collagen stimulation, and fighting free radical damage, among other things.
  • PBM may help with cancer treatment side effects, skin issues including rosacea and wounds, wrinkles or fine lines, hair loss, arthritic symptoms, musculoskeletal disorders, and neurological impairment, among other things.
  • Red light treatment side effects are uncommon since most people handle it well, although outcomes may vary.
  • 4,000 laboratory experiments, 550 RCTs (randomized controlled trials), 167 systematic reviews, and 30 new research publications are published every month.

Frequently Asked Question

How many red light therapy sessions do you need to see results?

A: Red light therapy requires a more extended treatment period to see any results. It typically takes about 20-30 treatments for the positive effects of red light therapy to become noticeable, and this will vary from person to person.

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