A Guide to Red Light Therapy
Chances are, you’ve heard about red light therapy. It’s regularly featured in the news, and everyone from celebrities to professional athletes and Instagram influencers is hopping on the red light therapy bandwagon. Although the benefits of red light therapy might seem like a modern-day miracle, it’s not a new concept to the medical community. In fact, red light therapy was first discovered more than 100 years ago. However, as red light therapy has grown in popularity, so have questions surrounding its efficacy and treatment potential. Here’s a red light therapy guide to help you understand its origins and what to look forward to.
How Long Has Red Light Therapy Been Around?
Red light therapy first gained prominence in 1903, when Danish physicist Niels Ryberg Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize for his invention of light therapy for skin tuberculosis.
However, red light therapy has come a long way in the 100+ years since.
NASA scientists first used red light therapy to stimulate plant growth on space stations in the 1990s and then began wondering “what can light therapy do for astronauts?” shortly after.
Astronauts are required to work in very irregular conditions, and they often become susceptible to health risks such as muscle and bone atrophy and delayed wound healing during long-term space missions. This observation led scientists to discover that human cells require gravity to stimulate growth, and any fluctuation in gravity will disturb overall cellular function.
Using that logic, NASA tested red light therapy on astronauts and found that it had the ability to improve cellular function and combat the effects of living in zero gravity environments. According to a NASA-led abstract from 2002, “LEDs stimulate the basic energy processes in the mitochondria (energy compartments) of each cell,” and an LED blanket device was found to be effective in the prevention of bone and muscle atrophy.
Based on NASA’s findings, the medical community at large began to recommend red light therapy for its therapeutic treatment potential.
Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy is the application of specific wavelengths of light energy to human tissue to obtain therapeutic benefits. Red wavelengths penetrate deep into the skin’s dermal layer to specifically target cells at the source. The energy absorbed by the cells is then used to naturally improve cellular performance.
Low-level light therapy is delivered through light-emitting diodes (LEDs), and it has the potential to treat a variety of skin and pain conditions.
You might have heard people refer to red light therapy in a number of ways:
- Low-Level Light Therapy
- Light-Activated Biostimulation
- LED (Light Emitting Diode) Therapy
No matter what you call it – the science behind red light therapy is the same.
How Does it Work?
Like plants absorb sunlight to power photosynthesis and boost tissue growth, human cells can absorb light wavelengths to stimulate the production of collagen and elastin. Red light therapy also boosts circulation to deliver oxygen and nutrients to living tissues.
In other words, human cells can absorb particles of light (photons) and transform that energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the main source of energy that cells need to power metabolic processes. The resulting elevation of ATP is then used to upregulate cellular performance and repair tissue damage.
When your body absorbs particular wavelengths of light energy, it converts that energy to produce more ATP, thus boosting the body’s natural ability to regain and maintain vitality.
What Can it Do?
Red light therapy is constantly being tested and trialed to evaluate its efficacy for a number of different treatments, and the FDA currently recognizes light therapy as a proven solution for acne, anti-aging, and pain management.
There is evidence to suggest red light therapy can also treat/relieve the following conditions:
- Delayed wound healing
- Hair growth in people with alopecia
- Pain from carpal tunnel syndrome & arthritis
- Faster healing of diabetic foot ulcers
- Inflammation from psoriasis
- Fine lines, wrinkles, and sunspots
- Recurring cold sores from herpes virus
- Scar tissue formation/appearance
- Muscle & joint recovery after physical activity
- Itching from eczema
- Reduces chemotherapy side effects
- Muscle stiffness and spasms
- Reduce the appearance of stretch marks
The list of red light therapy benefits is impressive, and it has the potential to grow as additional clinical trials are performed.
Is Red Light Therapy Safe?
Red light therapy is safe and clinically proven for the treatment of a variety of skin and pain management conditions. Red light therapy is also non-toxic, non-invasive, and an affordable alternative to prescription drugs and harsh topical treatments.
Unlike other types of light therapy treatments, LEDs do not contain ultraviolet (UV) rays, so there is no risk of cancer-causing damage to skin tissue.
In comparison to lasers, LEDs generate negligible amounts of heat and are not considered a significant risk to the general population.
What are the Side Effects?
In general, side effects from red light therapy are rare. If they do occur, they typically involve temporary redness of the treated area. Side effects are minor and do not last long. Red light therapy treatment is non-invasive, painless, requires no recovery time, and can be used on all skin types and tones.
How Much Does Red Light Therapy Treatments Cost?
Rates vary depending on where you live, but in Holmen, WI at Serenity Waters, one treatment costs $15 for 20 minutes or you can purchase ten 20 minute sessions for $130.
Generic “at-home” red light therapy kits can cost $25 – $250+, but not all devices are created equal. Cheap options typically do not deliver the same results as professional-grade equipment.
If you’re looking to incorporate red light therapy into your weekly self-care routine, give Serenity Waters a try – book online here.