We are huge fans of red light therapy for both beauty and wellness benefits. Previously confined to doctors’ offices, light therapy has now fully broken into the mainstream, with several brands offering at-home devices promising transformative results. Red light therapy is an innovative technique that utilizes specific red and near-infrared wavelengths from the light spectrum to promote health, wellness and longevity. For the best long-term, deep results, make sure to include red and possibly near-infrared light in your LED light therapy routine.
Light therapy is an effective non-invasive treatment that delivers natural light to the skin and cells and can help with a wide variety of skin and health conditions, all supported by a robust amount of clinical evidence. It is not just any natural light, though. Only specific red and near-infrared (NIR) wavelengths have been found to be the most clinically therapeutic, without harmful UV rays, chemicals, excess heat or side effects.
Red light – also known as LED light therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT), photobiomodulation and cold laser therapy – works at the cellular level in the mitochondria, which are the powerhouse of the cells. They are always hard at work, making more ATP (adenosine triphosphate) energy to fuel the body. The more energy cells can make, the better the body functions and the better one will feel.
What is red light therapy?
Red light therapy has been studied and tested across hundreds of peer-reviewed clinical trials, with overwhelmingly positive results for skin health, collagen production, physical performance and muscle recovery, sleep, joint pain, inflammation and a lot more. That is all done without drugs, chemicals and UV rays, in a completely non-invasive, painless manner without side effects.
A quality red light therapy device uses medical-grade LEDs to deliver concentrated wavelengths of red and near-infrared light to skin and cells. This natural light is free from dangerous UV rays or excess heat. Just sit or stand near the device for 10-15 minutes a day to charge the cells. The more surface area of the body that is covered, the more natural light cells absorb, and the more full-body benefits will come with consistent use.
Red light therapy benefits
Light therapy has been studied extensively, and there are so many scientifically-backed benefits that it is hard to list them all. Some of them include:
- Improved skin tone, clarity and texture
- Reduced appearance of fine lines and wrinkles
- Increased production of collagen and elastin
- Reduced symptoms of skin conditions, such as acne, rosacea and eczema
- Increased blood circulation
- Faster muscle recovery to boost training and athletic performance
- Reduced inflammation
- Reduced joint pain and arthritis symptoms
- Accelerated healing of wounds and injuries
- Improved sleep and increased natural melatonin production
- Improved thyroid and hormone health
- Enhanced mood, cognitive function and mental clarity
How does light therapy work? Natural light powers our cells
How does red light therapy work? How do natural wavelengths of red and near-infrared light lead to these positive biological effects in our bodies?
On a basic level, it is rather simple. A quality face or full-body light therapy device harnesses the therapeutic power of natural light, which is delivered to and absorbed by our skin and cells.
What happens next is pretty complex, but here is the basic picture of how light therapy works:
Similar to the way plants convert light energy into chemical energy via photosynthesis, the mitochondria – the power plants of our cells – turn light, oxygen and the food we eat into energy in the form of adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is essential to restoring, repairing, energising and maintaining our bodies. Basically, the more energy cells can make, the better our body functions and the better we feel. However, when we are stressed, tired or injured, our mitochondria also produce excess nitric oxide, limiting ATP production by competing with oxygen. This increases oxidative stress, leading to cellular death, which is why red light therapy – helping the cells that produce ATP – is even more important.
The photons in red and near-infrared light excite the electrons involved in cellular respiration, breaking up nitric oxide bonds and letting hydrogen and water move through the respiration process. In addition, natural red and near-infrared light helps promote antioxidant production, which plays a central role in reducing the oxidative stress associated with cell injury and things such as muscle fatigue, joint pain and inflammation Antioxidants also increase the production of heat proteins – special enzymes that help protect cells from stress and early death.
Studies have also identified an increase in circulation following red light therapy, which indicates tissues are receiving more oxygen and other nutrients essential for healing, while also ridding themselves of toxic by-products.
The more efficiently our cells create ATP energy through cellular respiration, the better they can function on all levels, and the better our bodies feel and perform. Making energy more efficiently throughout our bodies improves physical function, speeds healing and lowers inflammation and pain. Also important, it significantly improves skin health and appearance.
The right wavelengths make all the difference
Not all wavelengths on the light spectrum are created equal, and not all wavelengths of light are effective.
Clinical research has consistently shown that red and near-infrared light, ranging from about 600 to 1,000 nanometres, is most effective for human health. But even in that window, not every wavelength is effective. Red light in the mid-600 nanometre range and near-infrared light in the mid-800 nanometre range are recommended because they have the most documented benefits at the cellular level.
Red light is easily absorbed by our skin’s outer layers and has been clinically proven to enhance skin health in numerous anti-ageing ways. NIR light generates the same healthy cellular response as red light, but with the added ability to penetrate deeper into skin tissue and muscle. This deeper treatment leads to benefits such as the reduction in joint pain and inflammation, as well as faster healing and muscle recovery.
These red and near-infrared wavelengths do not burn or damage the skin, but they are thought to be absorbed by the skin a lot deeper than any serum or cream can penetrate.
Using both types of light at their optimal intensity provides the most powerful combination since our bodies benefit from both skin-level and deep-tissue enhancements.
Anti-ageing benefits for healthier, younger-looking skin
Red light therapy can be found at some of the world’s leading spas, dermatologists’ offices and salons because of its natural skin rejuvenating and healing abilities. Red light treatments can improve appearance, boost collagen, improve healing times, lower inflammation and reduce acne and scarring.
Benefits of red light therapy include:
NATURALLY ANTI-INFLAMMATORY: Red light therapy alleviates both acute and chronic inflammation by increasing blood flow to the damaged tissues. It has been found in numerous clinical trials to increase the body’s antioxidant defences as well. This natural anti-inflammatory effect of red light therapy is key to its skin-healing and appearance-improving effects.
INCREASED LEVELS OF NATURAL COLLAGEN AND ELASTIN PRODUCTION: Red light therapy boosts the production of collagen, which provides suppleness, as well as elastin, which provides elasticity for healthier, younger-looking skin.
Collagen is the most abundant protein in our bodies and is critical for skin health, as well as joint and bone health. Collagen literally holds us together and the more we can produce naturally, the better for our skin, joints and general appearance.
Many people take collagen supplements or use collagen creams, but there is no substitute for our body producing it naturally. As we grow older, the outer layer of our skin, the epidermis, becomes thinner and loses elasticity through a process called elastosis, which is the reason for those signs of ageing and why we get more wrinkles. Red light therapy restores a healthier cellular function, stimulating the production of collagen. This is why so many people have experienced the skin and anti-ageing benefits of red light therapy.
SKIN REJUVENATION AND REDUCING WRINKLES AND FINE LINES: Red and near-infrared light have been shown to boost collagen, smooth wrinkles and enhance skin tone for an overall younger look. Researchers have noted that red light is particularly effective for healing and skin regeneration, as well as reducing inflammation.
IMPROVES ACNE, ECZEMA, PSORIASIS, COLD SORES AND VITILIGO: Trials and studies have shown red light’s positive effects on a wide range of skin conditions, both in terms of reducing pain, inflammation and itchiness, and improving appearance.
SKIN-HEALING PROPERTIES: In addition to its rejuvenation and anti-ageing properties, red light therapy is also a safe, natural way to speed up the healing process for burns, wounds, surgery incisions and scars. Patients recovering from injuries and medical procedures have experienced much less pain and inflammation, with faster healing results, when using red light treatments.
Clinically proven health benefits
Light therapy has been well established through hundreds of peer-reviewed trials as a safe, effective and natural treatment, producing all kinds of health benefits.
ENHANCES ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE AND SPEEDS MUSCLE RECOVERY: Longer and stronger workouts can translate to more muscle soreness, fatigue and potential pain and inflammation. Muscle soreness and joint pain can stop us from working out or lead to injuries if we push too hard.
By increasing our body’s cellular energy production, red light therapy helps us train harder by preventing muscle soreness and regenerating depleted muscle tissue faster. Also, elite pro athletes, trainers and sports medicine professionals have incorporated red light therapy into their daily fitness training and routines to recover from sports injuries faster, with less pain and inflammation.
DECREASES INFLAMMATION AND JOINT PAIN: There are clear physical causes of inflammation such as injuries and wounds, bruises, burns and splinters. But inflammation is not just a symptom, it is a complex process that takes place in every living thing. Inflammation also occurs in response to biological factors such as infection from germs and stress. Chemical irritants, toxins and alcohol can also trigger inflammation. Our bodies can become inflamed in response to environmental conditions as well, things like poor sleep, poor nutrition, dehydration and excessive exposure to blue light and radiation. These environmental factors likely play a role in the development of chronic inflammation.
Natural red and near-infrared light therapies have shown immense potential as a natural inflammation treatment without the pharma risks of traditional NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). Red light therapy alleviates chronic inflammation by increasing blood flow to the damaged tissues and has been found in numerous clinical trials to increase the body’s antioxidant defences.
As red and near-infrared light penetrates deeper than other wavelengths, they have a unique ability to treat issues below the skin’s surface. The positive effects on arthritis, joint pain and inflammation have been well-documented across hundreds of clinical trials over the last three decades. While conventional medicine manages the symptoms of arthritis, it does not offer a cure. Emerging laboratory research shows that red light therapy can treat arthritis at a cellular level and address the root causes.
FASTER HEALING OF WOUNDS AND BURNS: For those who have recently experienced burns or if wounds tend to heal slowly, or for acne scars, then red light therapy could be an option. By inducing the release of cytokines and chemokines in cells, red light therapy has been shown in trials to help heal wounds and help skin cells function more efficiently and repair damage faster.
SLEEP OPTIMISATION: Having trouble sleeping? Surrounding oneself with unnatural blue light every night is likely to be a significant factor. Exposure to artificial light after dark inhibits the body’s ability to release melatonin, increasing the time it takes to fall asleep and reducing the odds of staying asleep.
On the other hand, for those exposed to therapeutic red light before bed, they will produce more melatonin, and that can help them fall and stay asleep. Using a quality red light therapy device during the day has been clinically shown to increase natural melatonin output.
INCREASED ENERGY LEVELS: Red light therapy generates cellular energy, thus giving an amazing boost to mood and energy levels.
SUPPORTS DETOXIFICATION AND CIRCULATION: Light therapy stimulates an increase in lymphatic system activity, assisting with detoxification. It also increases circulation via the formation of new capillaries, allowing more blood and oxygen to deliver nutrients throughout the body.
BENEFITS FOR THE THYROID AND HORMONES: Researchers have found that it also has a beneficial impact on thyroid function, which regulates many of the body’s processes, such as metabolism, energy generation and mood. There is also some evidence to suggest it may increase testosterone production in men.
REDUCES SIDE EFFECTS OF CANCER TREATMENT: Research published in Supportive Care in Cancer found that red light therapy helps counter a side-effect of chemotherapy called oral mucositis, characterised by extremely painful sores, redness, dryness and burning sensations in the mouth and throat.
SUPPORTS HAIR GROWTH, THICKNESS AND SHINE: Several studies have found that red light therapy can increase hair follicle activity. Hair thickness, density and shine might be improved with light therapy.
SUPPORTS HEALTHY EYES AND VISION: Red light therapy is not just safe for the eyes, it is actually an excellent therapy for maintaining good vision and/or healing eye damage. Red light treatments improve vision and prevent signs of vision loss in people over 50, as shown across numerous studies. Also, red light treatments improve glaucoma outcomes by protecting the cornea and retina against pressure and fluid build-up. Ocular inflammation increases oxidative stress and can lead to vision loss. Numerous studies show red light therapy reduces inflammation.
DISCLAIMER: Features published by THE GREAT ADDRESS are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. Always seek the advice of your GP or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health-related programme.