Light therapy has long been used for treating skin issues, seasonal affective disorder, jaundice in babies, and even cancer treatments. Now, many are learning more about the many benefits of red light therapy and near infrared (NIR) exposure.
Although it may be hard to believe that light could have such an impression on us, human bodies are very sensitive to the environment we live in — lighting included.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red light therapy is the use of low-level red wavelengths to treat different skin issues an individual may have. This practice goes by many names, such as photobiomodulation, low level light therapy, and cold laser therapy, just to name a few.
Sometimes red light therapy is used as the antidote itself or to activate or aid certain treatments for various afflictions. It can be hard to track down every cancerous cell there is, so when light therapy is partnered with a tracking system, it makes it possible for surgeons to more accurately target and remove any remaining cells with mesothelioma.
Unlike other forms of light therapy, this method does not involve lasers, but is more similar to a lamp shining on your body. Even though the NIR and red light is penetrating your skin up to 10 millimeters, no pain or discomfort is ever felt during a session.
The Science Behind Red Light Therapy
Our bodies are very reactive to the presence and absence of light. It is because of light that we know when to wake up and go to sleep. It’s the essential ingredient to the production of vital nutrients and chemicals within us. However, not all lights on the electromagnetic field are as good for your health as red light appears to be. The electromagnetic spectrum is made up of energy.
Different wavelengths of light facilitate or prompt different bodily reactions — with some reactions better than others. At the extreme ends of the electromagnetic spectrum reside harmful wavelengths such as X-rays, gamma rays, and electromagnetic frequencies (EMFs). In the middle, though, are wavelengths that contain healing properties.
Each hue of light is unique in the effects it can produce. So red light does not do the same things as white, blue, or green lights and vice versa. Being exposed to red light activates a chemical reaction within our cells that provides the mitochondria with power. Cells contain chromophores that produce energy when they absorb red and infrared light that the mitochondria can then use to work.
When charged up, the mitochondria create energy molecules known as ATP (adenosine triphosphate). When cells have an abundance of ATP at their disposal, cells are able to work more efficiently, which means abilities like damage repair and immune function among other things are performed even better.
The Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red light stimulates both the functioning of fibroblasts and our circulation to aid in faster wound repair times. That’s why this therapy has been used to treat injuries such as burns, infected injuries, and amputation wounds to ensure a higher success rate for healing. Another thing fibroblasts are responsible for is the production of collagen.
Natural sunlight is a combination of the entire visible light spectrum (400-700 nm) as well as ultraviolet (UV; 300-400 nm) and infrared (700-1000 nm) light. Most people are well aware of the potential dangers of too much sunlight due to damaging UV rays. However, the body has specific positive responses to light in the 600-900 nm wavelength range, also called the “therapeutic window”.
This light energy can pass through human tissue much easier than other wavelengths. Specifically, light in the mid-600 nm and mid-800 nm range has been shown to provide optimal biological responses.
This energy is absorbed by the body and stimulates adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the mode of chemical energy transportation at the cellular level. In other words, cells that receive this rejuvenating, anti-aging energy boost are able to perform their natural functions at a heightened level.
Some of the documented benefits of light therapy include:
· Improved skin tone and complexion
· Stimulated production of collagen and elastin – we combine red light therapy with drinking collagen peptides.
· Enhanced muscle recovery and athletic performance
· Reduced joint pain, inflammation, and arthritis
· Improved appearance of wrinkles, fine lines, and stretch marks
· Reduced acne, rosacea, and eczema
· Increased circulation
· Faster healing of wounds and injuries
When your fibroblasts are exposed to red light, they create more collagen as well. Collagen makes up more than half of the protein found in our skin, so by having more of it present, wrinkles, stretch lines, and other skin blemishes begin to fade and become less noticeable.
Red light therapy treats other skin conditions as well such as psoriasis. One study found that people with psoriasis who were treated with NIR and red light therapy saw significant results due to near infrared’s anti-inflammatory nature and red light’s ability to heal wounds quickly. This inflammation relief also alleviates joint pain from conditions such as arthritis.
Another plus of using red light therapy is hair growth. This method doesn’t encourage the growth of hair all over your body, but does show promise in helping individuals with thin or balding hair obtain thicker locks.
Light has amazing qualities that affect us in ways we could never imagine, especially when it comes to NIR and red light. Red light therapy shows much potential in the healing process of our skin and bodies on a molecular level and beyond.