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Red Light Therapy: A Fountain Of Eternal Youth And Health?

Aug 04, 2018
 

Summary.

Some things sound to good to be true.

Red light therapy might be one of them. 

Or not?

Let me explain:

Some things are too good to be true, and yet, they're still real:

I've been told that getting your first child is too good to be true (I'm no expert there)

Finding the love of your life is the same. Graduating? Finding your dream job? Finally retiring with enough money?

All those instances are too good to be true and they still happen.

Then there's the change in people lives when they find out the effects (sun)light have on their health.

Enormous impact...

Yes:

Over time, red light therapy can change your life. Sure, it's not like the heavens are opening up by using a simple device, but small changes over time the changes will have a dramatic positive influence.

So let me tell you about red light therapy:

Just as the sun at sunset you see in the picture above, the following red light therapy LED panels also emit both red and infrared light:

- PlatinumLED Therapy Lights BIO-450 R/NIR

(You'll more learn about red and infrared light soon).

And you know what?

The list of claimed red light therapy benefits is absolutely astounding - red light therapy: 

  • increases energy production during the day, and your sleep quality at night
  • reduces inflammation, which lies at the basis of many modern diseases
  • helps wound healing, lowers sensations of pain, and inhibits swelling
  • increase muscle gains and recovery in athletics
  • makes (possible) injuries heal quicker
  • helps your brain function at a higher level, especially if you've got a brain disease.
  • even helps your skin become healthier and look better, and can cause your hair to regrow.
  • has no problems with skin issues such as acne, cellulite, or psoriasis either.

Too good to be true?

Not really!

It turns out that literally thousands of studies verify that red light therapy actually works. 

But there's more:

Red light therapy may even help if you've got illnesses such as Alzheimer's, heart disease, diabetes, depression, or (chronic) pain.

More on that later...

By the way, I'm not claiming that red light therapy cures all disease. I'm arguing instead that red light therapy can help in the management of many diseases, or encourages preventing them.

You might be thinking: "great, I'll just buy a red light therapy device today!"

Not so quick... 

Not all red light therapy devices are created equal. In fact, there are lots of low-quality red light therapy devices on the market. Such devices are so underpowered that they never result in an optimal treatment.

So let's talk about dosage...

It's essential to get the dosage right if you use red light therapy. If you use a dosage that's too low (such as present in many of the low-quality red light therapy devices), you won't have any results. If you use a dosage that's too high, moreover, you won't have any results either. 

Solution?

You need to use just the right dose to get the best effects.

Before we discuss red light therapy doses though, let's look at how red light therapy fundamentally works. As you might know, light not only acts as illumination in your environment but also affects the functioning of your body.

An example of how light influences your body is the creation of vitamin D in your skin when the sun is high up the sky (and your skin is exposed to that light).

Contrary to what many people believe, light literally penetrates your body - thereby specifically reaching your cells. 

There are different types of light, of course. Sunlight, for example, emits a combination of 1) ultraviolet light; 2) visible light, consisting in all the colors of the rainbow; and 3) infrared light.

Different types of light have different wavelengths. Visible light, for example, ranges from the 400-nanometer to the 780-nanometer wavelength. E.g., the blue color has a wavelength between 400 and 500 nanometers.

Red light therapy devices only emit a small part of the visible light spectrum - the red part. Additionally, red light therapy devices yield a small part of the infrared light spectrum.

Furthermore, red light therapy devices most often exclusively project light at very specific wavelengths, such as 630, 660, 760, and 830 nanometers.

Why?

It turns out that in your body's cells, "mitochondria" can be found - which specifically react to very specific red and infrared wavelengths.

Why does that matter?

Well, red light therapy devices have been specifically built to only emit the light that maximally influences your mitochondria.

If you've been reading my work, you'll know what "mitochondria" are. Mitochondria are the main "energy producing factories" in your cell. The better these mitochondria work, and the more and bigger mitochondria you have, the more energy you'll get.

Energy matters a lot, because you need the energy to do absolutely everything in life. The more energy you have, the better your life gets. Red light therapy devices increase the energy production in your mitochondria.

Good stuff right?

Yes...

Let's get back to the dosing question.

Remember I mentioned that most devices are too underpowered to give you the maximum benefits of red light therapy. For that reason, I'm only recommending to buy high-quality devices that actually allow you to treat the deeper tissues of your body.

Weaker and lower-quality red light therapy devices often do not allow you to treat deeper tissues, such as muscles or organs. 

There's another problem with low-quality devices though. Besides being underpowered, low-quality devices often have other disadvantages, such as not being able to treat a large body area at one time.

What's my recommendation then?

I'll talk about my recommendations in a moment...

Let me first say something about red light therapy devices. Red light therapy devices all have wattages, which roughly signifies their light output. The higher the wattage of your device, the more light output you'll get. 

And the more light output you'll get, the deeper the light can penetrate into your body...

One problem is that higher wattage devices that contain more LED lights are usually also more expensive. You'll thus want the highest wattage of output - that allows for deep tissue treatment - for the lowest possible price.

I've helped you with that search.

(The list below is a summary. A more elaborate analysis is included in the full article.)

I've assembled a top three of medium to large sized red light therapy devices:

(prices as per September 9 2018)

  1. Platinum LED Therapy Lightswho offer a 450 Watt light panel that costs $1,00 per Watt, for a price of $449.

    (use affiliate code NBH1 to get 5% off)

  2. Red Light Therapy company, who offer a 360 Watt light panel at $1,25 per Watt, for a price of $449.

  3. The Full Stack Red Light, who offer a 600 Watt light panel that costs 1,50 per Watt, for a total price of $900 (assumed GBP to USD ratio of 1,30)

    A big plus is that this device comes with free shipping.

(Honorable mentions: Red Light Man and Joovv panels, which arrive at a combined fourth place, but are priced 2-3 times higher.)

I hope you see there are massive price discrepancies between these different products. Choose wisely.

But there are other options for red light therapy: "tanning beds":

In addition to not support buying small red light therapy devices, I do not recommend buying $25,000+ red light therapy "tanning" beds either.

"$25,000 to get better fur human?"

(Of course, these devices are not really tanning beds because red and infrared light does not tan your skin. There's no ultraviolet light emitted by these beds).

Why my choice?

The extremely expensive "tanning" beds are totally overpriced and less useful for 99% of people out there, because you can already get treatment time down to a 5-10 minute period by using one or two 450 Watt panels.

Even two 450W panels - which together form a whole-body unit - will cost you under $1,000. Moreover, they're even less expensive with the discount code I've posted above.

There's thus no need to spend more than $1,000 dollars to get a red light therapy setup at your home because with that setup, you can already treat your whole body very quickly.

What about lasers, which are often used in clinics?

Same story, lasers are not better than LED lights. LED lights are nowadays are used in almost all consumer-available products. Read the entire blog post for all details.

And yes, you might be thinking: "prices for red light therapy are really coming down."

That's fully correct.

That's a great outcome for health around the world. Those lower prices will give a massive impulse for people to get red light therapy devices into their homes.

My overall advice?

Please don't buy the newest iPhone. Use an old iPhone 4, like I do, and use the excess money to buy a red light therapy device. Your health will thank you!

By the way, do you want an infographic summary with 10 Red Light Therapy Laws? Sign up below:

Red Light Therapy: A Fountain Of Eternal Youth And Health? 

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*Post can contain affiliate links. Read my affiliate, medical, and privacy disclosure for more information.

Author: Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MSc - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MSc).



Table Of Contents

How Red Light Therapy Fundamentally Works:

1. Introduction
2. How Red Light Therapy Works In Your Body
3. Red Light Therapy Benefits And (Possible) Side-Effects
4. Red Light Therapy For Managing And Preventing Disease

How To Use Red Light Therapy:

5. A Simple Guide For Red Light Therapy Dosing
6. Different Red Light Therapy Devices
7. Do It Yourself Red Light Therapy (Devices)
8. Who Should Use Red Light Therapy?

Assorted:

9. Conclusion: The Fountain Of Eternal Youth And Health?
10. Frequently Asked Questions

1. Introduction

Before I dig deep into "red light therapy", let me first clarify what exactly I mean by those words... 

There are many names to describe roughly the same type of therapy:

(Don't worry about the difficulty of these terms, or remembering them.)

  1. "Red light therapy" - which is the name I've chosen for this blog post
  2. "Photobiomodulation" (etymologically this word means "light changing life")
  3. "Low-Level Laser Therapy" (LLLT). 

All of these three names actually denote the same thing: using red light on your body, with the goal of affecting your health or performance.

Let's explore these options in some more detail:

First of all: red light therapy - the chosen subject of this blog post.

Even though the therapy is named "red light therapy" two types of light are actually used: 1) red light; 2) infrared light. Both types of light are also emitted by the sun.

You can see all types of light emitted by the sun in the picture below:

The light of the sun that reaches the earth's surface is a combination of infrared light, visible light, and ultraviolet light (only UVC or "ultraviolet C" does is not present in large quantities.)

If you inspect the picture above, different types of light have different wavelengths. "Nanometers" are the unit of measurement of these wavelengths - one nanometer equaling a millionth of a millimeter. 

Yes, nanometers are really small.

Ultraviolet light has the shortest wavelength, ranging from 200 to 400 nanometers. Infrared the longest wavelength in the light spectrum, being longer than 780 nanometers.

In between the 400 and 780 nanometer wavelengths, visible light is found - which is visible through your eyes. Ultraviolet and infrared light, on the contrary, are not visible through your eyes. Observe that visible light is made up of all the colors of the rainbow.

Red light therapy uses only the red part of that visible light spectrum (and sometimes some orange as well). Additionally, red light therapy uses (a small) part of the infrared spectrum.

Red light therapy thus uses:

  1. infrared light, which is longer than 780 nanometers in length;
  2. red light, ranging from 635 to 780 nanometers;
  3. (and sometimes orange, which ranges from 590 to 635 nanometers long.)

(This method of categorizing different light colors and tying them to light wavelenghts is not set in stone.)

I've emphasized the light spectrum used by red light therapy below:

That golden part of the spectrum is thus what's used in red light therapy...

Let's consider another word that's commonly used to describe "red light therapy":

Secondly, we have the word "photobiomodulation"

That sounds difficult, right?

Don't worry.

Let's dissect that word.

The first part of the word "photobiomodulation" is "photo", which is derived from the Greek word for light.  The second part of the words "bio", signifies the Greek word "bios" or life. "Modulation", thirdly and lastly, denotes change.

In very simple terms, photobiomodulation means "using light to change life".

That word photobiomodulation thus gives you insight into what red light therapy is all about: using light to influence your biology, so that you can experience certain health (or performance) benefits.

Great...

Next term:

Lastly, there's the term "Low-Level Laser Therapy", or LLLT.

That sounds complex again right?

Let's break it down...

LLLT - or "Low Level Laser Therapy - simply means using low-powered lasers for (light) therapy.

The topic of LLLT brings us immediately to an interesting discussion. In my article, I'm mainly discussing LED panels for red light therapy. You can view such a LED panel here:

PlatinumLED Therapy Lights BIO-300 R/NIR device

A panel of LEDs basically combines ten or hundreds (or even thousands) of the following LED lights:

Stacking hundreds of red and infrared emitting
LED lights on a panel - what red light therapy

is all about.

Contrary to lasers, LEDs are very inexpensive to produce.

LEDs also work somewhat differently than lasers. Lasers emit light continuously, while LEDs don't. Instead, LED lights pulse their light, so that the light is basically switched on and off for 60 times per second.

The steady stream of light offered by lasers was long deemed to be superior to the on and off switching LEDs. For decades companies have actually not been using and promoting these red light therapy LED panels. 

Why?

Companies could charge $10,000 or $15,000 for a laser product. Due to those prices, lasers were unaffordable for the general public.

And yet, lasers have become (almost) obsolete. Only for some very specific cases, a laser might still be beneficial. In all other cases, such as using red and infrared light for general health purposes, you don't need an overpriced laser.

Why?

It turns out that LEDs work just as well as lasers.[2-6; 288]

How do I know?

Hundreds of studies have been carried out with LEDs and proven their clinical effectiveness. Comparisons between lasers and LEDs also show that they work equally well.

The result?

The mass usage of red light therapy LED panels by regular consumers thus undercut the business model of laser companies. Laser companies do not want you to know that LEDs are just as effective, but it's already too late to stop the LED red light therapy movement now...

Lucky you! 

There's thus no need to spend thousands of dollars on a laser. You just need a good red light therapy LED panel, such as the one I've listed above.



(Nerd section: there is a diverging opinion on lasers. Lasers do have one potential benefit over LEDs: lasers have a continuous light output, while LEDs do not. In this very specific regard lasers can approximate sunlight better than LEDs can. Why? LEDs flicker, why lasers do not. Due to the excessively high price of full-body laser therapy, and the danger of operating lasers, I'm not recommending lasers. If lasers could be made safe to use by the general public, and inexpensive, I do believe they could (and should) replace LEDs again, to approximate the sun.



So, what am I trying to say in this section? 

I'll summarize in one sentence what this blog post is all about:

Red light therapy LED devices use both the "red" and "infrared" part of the light spectrum, to change your biology, with the goal of improving your health and performance.

Great.

But there's more:

A big blessing of the LED red light therapy devices is that they're really safe. 

Really safe.

If you would use lasers instead, a trained operator is needed for ensuring safety. Lasers are also inherently more dangerous qua side effects - you can easily damage someone with lasers if you don't know what you're doing.

With LED red light therapy panels, there's not much to worry about. I do want to make one disclaimer though:

Red light therapy can have side-effects as well if used improperly.

How?

It might sound strange, but red light therapy works by putting a low level of "stress" on your body.

Let me explain...

In terms of stress, red light therapy is just like exercise.

Example?

Let's say you're running in nature to keep your body strong and healthy. If the intensity of your running sessions is too low, your body won't get stronger. If the intensity is too high, instead, you'll overtrain and your body may even get weaker after a while.

Only if you use the right intensity of exercise - an intensity that is somewhat challenging - will you get good benefits. The same is true for red light therapy: either a too low dosage or too high dosage is not beneficial, while the right dosage helps your body grow stronger and healthier.

You'll need to find the sweet spot with red light therapy (just as you do with sex).

Simple...

Oh yeah: it's important to remember that red light therapy can never replace the benefits of sunlight.

Yes, I've said it time and time again:

Nothing in the world replaces the sun.

Why?

Sunlight has benefits that you cannot get from red light therapy because sunlight contains many other light frequencies that are not emitted by red light therapy devices.

When the sun is high up in the sky, ultraviolet and all the colors of the rainbow of the visible light also hit the surface of the earth, for example. Red light therapy devices do not emit any ultraviolet light or the blue, green, yellow parts of the visible light spectrum.

You thus need sunlight to have all parts of the light spectrum hit your skin and eyes. Don't sell yourself short...

Sunlight: irreplaceable - 
and not just for humans...

(By the way, if you're not acquainted with the benefits of sunlight, read my free guide on that topic. Some types of ultraviolet light emitted by the sun - listed as "UVB in the earlier light spectrum illustration - creates vitamin D in your skin. You cannot get that benefit through red light therapy.)

Red light therapy and sunlight do have similarities though.

54% of the light emitted by the sun is infrared - and a few percents consist of red light. 

Sunlight thus already emits red and infrared light. So why use a red light therapy device anyway?

That's a great question...

Remember the light spectrum I talked about earlier:

Remember that different wavelengths of light are measured in "nanometers"? A nanometer is a millionth of a meter.

Observe that the infrared part of the spectrum begins around 780 nanometers. 

What you cannot see in that picture is that the infrared part of the spectrum ranges between 780 nanometers and 1 millimeter. To be precise, 1 millimeter equals 1.000.000 nanometers.

In reality, the infrared part of the spectrum thus ranges from 780 to 1.000.000 nanometers.

A big difference between red light therapy devices and sunlight is that the former only use the spectrum between 600 and 900 nanometers.

Sunlight, on the contrary, emits infrared light over and above 5.000+ nanometers

You might be thinking: "why exclusively use the 600 - 900 nanometer part of the spectrum, when sunlight includes many other infrared frequencies?"

That's a great question again!

There are two reasons why red light therapy devices only use the 600 - 900-nanometer wavelengths:

  1. Specific wavelengths between 600 and 900 nanometers accomplish the therapeutic benefits we're aiming at in this guide. Wavelengths outside that area are not utilized by your body in the same way.
  2. When wavelengths higher than 1.000 nanometers hit your body, they will cause a buildup of heat. You'll want to prevent that buildup of heat to gain the most benefits from red light therapy.

Red light therapy devices not causing a heat buildup in your body offers a big advantage. Why? Well, you can expose your body to massive amounts of the 600 - 900-nanometer wavelengths without causing overheating.

Let's explore that light between 600 and 900 nanometers:

To be more precise: not all wavelengths between 600 and 900 nanometers are equally beneficial.[340; 341]

Examples of very beneficial wavelengths are 625, 660, and 850 nanometers. Almost all (high-quality) red light therapy devices therefore exclusively use these very specific wavelengths. 

If you use the 685 instead of the 660-nanometer wavelength, for example, you'll not gain the same health benefits.

Why is that important?

Let's consider what makes LED lights unique. LED lights are a breakthrough technology.

What do I mean?

One the one hand, LEDs do a lot of harm because they expose you to blue light after sunset. LED lights also have extreme benefits though: they can be made in such a way that they emit a very specific nanometer wavelength. 

Stay with me...

You can buy LED lights that only emit 660 nanometer red light, for example, which will ensure that all light actually emitted lies between 650 and 670 nanometers.

That's a big advantage...

Why?

Traditional light bulbs do not have the capacity to emit just 625 or 850 nanometer light.

Two of my favorite traditional light bulbs - the incandescent and halogen light bulbs - have a continuous light output between 400 and 1300+ nanometers. These traditional light bulbs are therefore less suited for red light therapy because they emit many different light frequencies.

Only since the invention of LED lights has it become possible to make panels that emit light only at a few very specific wavelengths - which have specific therapeutic value.

Traditional light bulbs have yet another problem though...

The careful reader might already have concluded that traditional light bulbs emit lots of heat. LED light panels do not emit much if any heat, especially if you're standing at a small distance from these panels.

Why does that matter?

If you were to use a traditional heat bulb, such as an incandescent bulb, you'll usually overheat before you've added sufficient amounts of the therapeutic light wavelengths to your body. 

There's an alternative of course though: increasing your distance from the incandescent light bulb. But you'll find out later in this blog post why that might not be the optimal solution either. One drawback is that taking a long distance from a light will also decrease the light dosage that hits your skin and eyes.

Increasing the distance is thus not a perfect solution at all, because you'll spend a long, long time in front of that bulb.

And life is already passing by too quickly...

Let's get back to the red light therapy LED devices I just mentioned.

In terms of colors, red light therapy looks different than traditional light bulbs and the sun. The sun and some traditional light bulbs look yellow or orange-red. Red light therapy looks almost purely red. 

Why?

The difference in look can be explained through the separate ways in which our eyes perceive the visible light. 

Remember again that as a human being, you can only actually see the red part of red light therapy, as the infrared part of the light spectrum is invisible to the human eye. 

All right. That's all you need to know about the definition of "red light therapy".

You're probably thinking right now: "please finally tell me about how red and infrared light are having therapeutic effects" 

I will now...

If I would answer your question with "the same way that sunlight does", I would be doing you an injustice. Red light therapy is very different from sunlight, and we'll explore the difference right now.

Ready?

Let's go!

2. How Red Light Therapy Works In Your Body

By understanding how red light therapy works in your body, I'm better able to explain all the benefits to you in the next section.

You might know by now that light is not there just to illuminate your environment so you can see. In previous articles, I've written extensively on how light influences the functioning of your body.

Examples are sunlight, which can increase your energy levels and well-being, or avoid exposing your eyes to bright light at night. If bright light enters your eyes after sunset, a hormone called "melatonin" is not secreted sufficiently, which inhibits your sleep (quality).

In other words, the light in your environment affects your health.

To be more precise, light actually penetrates into your body.

Fortunately, my good friend of mine actually helped me demonstrate how deep different wavelengths of light exactly venture into your body:

(If you cannot read the small font on that picture, you'll need red light therapy to fix your eyes. That's half joking, to cover up for my poor photo-editing skills, but the statement also has some truth to it.)

Observe that some types of light penetrate deeper than others:[11-13]

  • Ultraviolet light penetrates 0,1 to 0,3 millimeters deep, and stays (mostly) at the skin's surface. (Although your blood can pick up certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light.
  • Blue light also does not venture very deep either.
  • Green light and yellow and orange light are somewhat the same, but go slightly deeper than blue.
  • Then we've got one of the stars of our article: red light. Red light can actually penetrate several centimeters deep into your skin.
  • Darker types of red light venture even deeper than several centimeters (or an inch).
  • And finally, infrared (which is invisible to our human eye), can at most go several inches deep into your skin. At its maximum extent, that penetration depth equals roughly 5 centimeters.

Light thus penetrates into your skin, ending up in your blood vessels. By exposing part of your body to light, your blood can cause that light to also affect other parts of your body.

When light enters your skin, cells, and bloodstream, it affects the health of your body.

Light thus does a lot more than just allow you to see your environment.

It should not come as a surprise that light has this effect:

In fact, (almost) the entire food chain on the planet is dependent on light. Plants cannot survive without light, and animals cannot survive with plants.

And you cannot survive without animals (at least, not survive well).

Even though most people know that light influences plants, helping in the process of "photosynthesis", your human body thus has a similar process of photosynthesis as well.

How?

Let's look at how red light therapy affects your health, once that light penetrates into your body:

(Infra)red light influences what are called "mitochondria".

Mitochondria are the "energy producing factories" of your cells but are also relevant for cell defense. Red and infrared light therapy have a tremendous effect on your "mitochondria". 

Look at this picture that schematically displays a human cell:

In that picture, number 9 signifies the mitochondria. While only two mitochondria are displayed here, in reality, one human cell contains hundreds and even thousands of mitochondria.

(As an interesting note, your mitochondria even have their own DNA. Read more about the role of that mitochondrial DNA and the role of mitochondria in health in a previous blog post I wrote).

As you can see, the human cell has all kinds of different components, such as the center of the cell (number 2), and a layer that separates the cell from the outside world (number 14).

Don't worry too much about all these components in the human cell - I'm focusing exclusively on mitochondria.

Let's consider these mitochondria - as your cells "energy factories" - in more detail.

Almost all energy in your body is created in your mitochondria. Without (properly functioning) mitochondria, you'd be dead almost instantly.

What kind of energy do mitochondria use? Mitochondria themselves are actually not using proteins, carbohydrates, and fats, but physics particles such as "electrons" and "protons", in relation to chemical elements such as "hydrogen".

Don't worry about these complex names.

The only thing that's important to remember is that the electrons and protons - in relation to chemicals in your cells - create energy in the form of "ATP". ATP stands for "Adenosine Tri-Phosphate" - a name you can also forget again.

Simply put, ATP is (often) considered the main fuel in your body.



(Nerd section: some highly regarded (but also highly controversial) scientists, such as Albert Szent-Györgyi, Gilbert Ling, and Gerald Pollack, have suggested through their work a very different conception of the primary role of ATP in the cell than the conventional model, an idea which is slowly garnering support among scientists. This idea involves ATP facilitating the flow of energy in biological tissues through its unique structure and molecular distribution of electric charge rather than acting solely as a simple carrier of chemical bond energy as "currency, "as is the current highly-simplified conception.[333-335])



You can see the details of a mitochondrion (singular) below:

That energy is mostly created through transferring these electrons and protons and chemicals from the intermembrane space (number 2) to the matrix (number 3.2), and vice versa.[17]

Even though I'm oversimplifying here, oxygen that you've breathed and glucose (or fat) that you've eaten go into the cell, and water and carbon dioxide (CO2) come out as end-products.

You know what's interesting?

You're reversing the process that happens in plants. Plants turn carbon dioxide and water into oxygen and glucose. Your mitochondria are turning that process on its head.

You might be thinking: "why are you telling me all this? I didn't come here for a biology course."

Okay, I get that. I'll get to the point:

It turns out some of the processes by which energy is created in your mitochondria are directly supported by red light therapy.[14-16; 18-20]

The end result of applying red light therapy is thus an increase in energy production.[21] 

Remember that almost all energy in your body is produced in your mitochondria. Red light therapy can thus increase your overall energy levels at the most basic cellular level, by stimulating your cell's energy factories.

Sounds great right?

Before I'll sign you up, let me tell you about red light therapy's benefits. 



(Nerd section: Besides mitochondria, there are other mechanisms by which red light therapy can increase energy in your body. One such mechanism is that infrared light can literally be stored in the water of your cells.[328; 329] Another mechanism is by removing excesses of a substance called "nitric oxide" from your mitochondria so that the mitochondria can process oxygen better.[330-332]

Let's explain that "water storage mechanism" for red light therapy in more detail. In essence, red and infrared light is charging your "human battery". To be more precise, the water in human batter is called "exclusion zone water", which is a phase of water that can be distinguished from solid, liquid, or a frozen state. That "exclusion zone", or "crystalline phase" of water can hold a charge.[329] 

Because red and infrared light build that exclusion zone, ultraviolet light can be stored in there as well.

Through the photoelectric effect in humans, (sun)light also programs electrons to transfer from their ground state to an excited state. After use in the mitochondria, electrons drop back to their ground state. Through this mechanism, ultraviolet light increase your energy levels.

Red light therapy and ultraviolet light thus work in conjunction. In nature, morning sunlight preconditions your cells to accept more ultraviolet light. With red light therapy, your ultraviolet uptake can also be enhanced--although to a lesser extent than through sunlight.

Biochemical reactions are not the most important thing that happens in a cell, but the acquisition dynamics of light are. Due to red and infrared light, electrons become better available and are more efficiently used in cytochrome C oxidase of the mitochondria. 

Additionally, it is hypothesized that red light may alter the spin of protons in the mitochondria, thereby lowering inflammation levels. Protons are tied to inflammation, which are tied to (modern) disease.[342]

What's one difference between LEDs and sunlight? Due to the flicker effect, melanopsin in our skin and eyes - which is intrinsically tied to our vitamin A cycle - might be negatively affected. In this specific sense too, red light therapy devices should only be used as a temporary replacement of sunlight.

Red light therapy thus merits an increase in vitamin A consumption - eggs, liver, and red meat are great vitamin A sources.

Lastly, beware: non-native electromagnetic frequencies or fluoride, on the contrary, destroy your cell's batteries to hold water - and thus your ability to hold charge in your cells. Less charge in your cells equals less health and performance.)



All right.

Enough "intellectual fetishization"...

Let's talk about your benefits.

3. Red Light Therapy Benefits And (Possible) Side-Effects

In this section, I'll first explore all red light therapy benefits. I'll then say something about possible side effects.

Beware:

The list of red light therapy benefits is long.

"Cannot imagine any benefits other
than playing outside..."

Red light therapy:

  • increases your energy levels.[22-25] 

    Red light therapy makes the creation of "ATP" - the energy form we've talked about earlier - more efficient.

    The deeper red light penetrates into your tissues, the more ATP can be created. Many studies have also demonstrated that red light therapy can offer positive benefits for lowering fatigue.

    If you've got energy issues, it's thus highly recommended to try some red light therapy in your life.

    Don't want to buy a device yet? Look for a spa or beauty salon nearby - these places often offer red light therapy device treatments nowadays - and try red light therapy there just once. 

    Therapy at these places is expensive though, so buy your own device as quickly as possible once you're noticing results.
  • enhances blood circulation.[49-60]

    Remember red and infrared light penetrates up to a couple of inches into your body? That penetration means that the red and infrared light can also reach your blood vessels.

    Red light therapy has many effects on your blood circulation. First of all, red light therapy helps your body create new blood vessels. Secondly, your "microcirculation" is enhanced, which is the blood circulation of your smallest blood vessels.  

    Circulation matters a lot...

    Why?

    If your body's circulation is not good, oxygen is not transported well in your body. Blood circulation is also important for getting rid of toxic waste products and delivering nutrients.

    Red light therapy is thereby also "winning" in the anti-aging department - as circulation declines with aging. Red light therapy thus allows you to age more gracefully...
  • aids the beauty and health of your skin.[1; 55; 61-76; 83-85; 198]

    Lots of people rely on expensive skin creams and scrubs to keep their skin young. Maybe you're doing so too.

    Most skin treatments, however, are not optimal choices for health. Many skin creams and treatments, for example, expose your body to toxins - thus degrading your overall health.

    Let's consider why so many people think they can "get away" with toxic skin creams:

    People (falsely) assume that the skin as a barrier, but that conclusion is only partially true. Instead, you actually absorb substances through your skin, in the same way you would when eating something.

    While absorption levels of substances are generally lower through the skin, some substances can penetrate the skin very easily. You thus need to make sure that you're always knowing what you're putting on your skin. 

    If you don't know what ingredients you're putting on your skin, it's better to be safe than sorry.

    One solution? 

    Red light therapy...

    To be sure, red light therapy does not exclusively work for skin beauty. Skin problems, such as scar tissue, acne, or wounds are treatable through red light therapy as well. Herpes and psoriasis can equally be inhibited and treated in your skin.

    If you've got wounds, red light therapy can quicken the healing process - even for surgical wounds. 

    But the benefits don't stop there: red light therapy can even reduce the number of wrinkles that you have, and reduce the intensity of sunburns. 

    Red light therapy is thus a great all-purpose Swiss knife for your skin.

    Red light therapy additionally has an overall anti-aging effect on your skin. Many people actually report looking younger after applying red light therapy for a few weeks. That's great news because the aging effects in our skin already set in during our 20s or early 30s.

    How?

    You lose skin elasticity with age. Red light therapy opposes that loss of elasticity, by increasing collagen production in your skin.

    Alternatively, by dousing yourself in red and infrared light before you get into the sun, you're actually protecting your skin against sunburn.

    Red and infrared light precondition your skin for ultraviolet light. That skin-preconditioning normally happens to humans because we're in the morning sun.

    Those benefits almost sound too good to be true right?

    But is that all?

    No:

  • just when you thought you couldn't get any more beautiful, it turns out that red light therapy also counteracts hair loss.[77-82]

    Hair loss can be a problem for both men and women - and red light therapy, fortunately, helps both sexes.

    Different types of hair loss exist, such as "androgenic alopecia", "female pattern alopecia", and hair loss due to chemotherapy. 

    Don't worry about these names.

    While more research is needed, red light therapy is best proven to work for the regular types of hair loss (e.g., getting bald when you grow older).

    Lots of people, however, also have good experiences with other types of hair loss, when you look at red light therapy reviews on the internet. 

    Before trying a prescription medicine that has many side-effects, try red light therapy first...
  • cleans and improves your gums and teeth, and enhances jaw health.[100]

    Yes, really.

    To get these benefits, shine a red light device on your teeth and gums - affecting both. For jaw health, you need to shine the light on that specific area.

    Let's consider red light therapy's effects on jaw health...

    If you've got a nerve injury in your jaw, or even worse: irritation of your "trigeminal" brain nerve, red light therapy might be able to help.[101-103] That specific nerve problem is extremely painful.

    Overall, red light therapy reduces pain in your mouth, jaw, and face.[109-111] Red light therapy can thus influence many aspects of jaw health.

    In terms of teeth health, red light therapy remarkably decreases the sensitivity of your teeth. If you have sensitive teeth, you can no longer enjoy ice cream or cold drinks--red light therapy changes that problem.

    But there's more:

    Traditional methods of treating dental sensitivity have side-effects, while red light therapy doesn't: no pain, no staining or discoloring of your teeth, no toxins, and no irritation of your gums.[107; 108; 112]

    Now, it's not just that red light therapy is pain-killing - light actually solves problems. Red light therapy helps teeth regenerate so that the underlying cause of teeth sensitivity is dealt with.

    Got dental erosion?

    No problem either!

    Red light therapy can improve the outer protective layer of your teeth, the "teeth enamel".[113-118] Contrary to popular opinion, this outer layer can regenerate.

    (more about tooth regeneration in a future blog post).

    How about brushing your teeth versus red light therapy?

    Another mind-blowing discovery of the past decade is that red light therapy can literally reduce (harmful) mouth bacteria.[119-121] To be more precise, red light therapy is equally as effective as tooth brushing for reducing bacteria. 

    I need to make a disclaimer though: I always recommend combining brushing your teeth, oil pulling with coconut oil and other dental care methods with red light therapy. Never rely on red light therapy alone for dental care.

    If you have inflamed gums in your mouth, red light therapy wins as well.[104-106] As you'll later find out, red light therapy reduces excessive inflammation - which also occurs in your mouth.

    And there's more: even wounds in your mouth can also be healed through red light therapy.[122; 123] Red light therapy can additionally reduce pain if you've got surgery in your mouth, specifically your wisdom teeth.[260-264]

    It's very probable that other types of oral pain are found to be reduced in the future as well...

    How to benefit from all these effects? 

    Well, let's say you're buying a red light therapy LED panel anyway, and using that panel on a daily basis. In that case, just open your mouth for one or two minutes to get benefits for oral care.

    In terms of dosing red light therapy - a topic which will be treated later on - oral care merits a more superficial treatment (as opposed to deep-tissue treatment).

    Lastly, I just want to repeat that the effects of red light therapy for your teeth are absolutely mind-blowing. While I've not cited all of these studies, some even suggest that red light therapy can help you get rid of your braces quicker, due to improving the adjustment ability of your teeth.

    Seems like red light therapy is revolutionizing dental care...


    Alligators: using light therapy for dental care since... forever.
  • boosts fertility.

    Yes, now we're getting into the real serious topics.

    Just kidding...

    In men, red light therapy can improve semen volume, its movement, and survival.[192; 193; 195; 196] Modern men need that boost, especially because fertility levels have been going down for decades.

    Red light therapy can also help men with erectile dysfunction.[309-312] Erectile dysfunction has also become more common in the last few decades, at increasingly younger ages.

    While there are many possible underlying issues why men end up with erectile dysfunction, not having adequate blood flow is one of them.

    (As a side-note: a second reason for erectile dysfunction is watching too much porn).

    How does red light therapy improve erectile dysfunction?

    Well, red light therapy increases the amount of CO2 in your blood. Contrary to popular opinion, CO2 is not just a waste product. CO2 helps you carry more oxygen in your blood, and also opens up your blood vessels.

    Due to opening up your blood vessels, more blood can flow to your penis (if you're a man at least).


    (Nerd section: there are other mechanisms too, by which red light therapy helps prevent erectile dysfunction, such as nitric oxide, but I won't go into that topic right now.)


    Fortunately, men aren't the only ones benefited by red light therapy...

    In women, almost 25% of severely infertile women conceived after treatment with red light therapy.[194; 196; 197] That's an enormous boost in fertility because you can expect the boost in women who are not "severely infertile" to be much bigger.

    Happy mating!

    There are indications that red light therapy even improves egg quality, and slows down the (eventual) decline in female fertility. As a woman, you're thus able to have children at a higher age (which is not always a good choice though).

    Great news for many people who are unable to get children (yet) though...
  • alters inflammatory processes.[94; 127; 189; 249; 336-338]

    If inflammation levels are too high - as is the case in many modern diseases - red light therapy can decrease that inflammation. If inflammation levels are too low, red light therapy increases them.

    How does red light therapy accomplish that anti-inflammatory effect? One theory is that red light therapy stimulates the lymphatic system in your body - which plays a major role in removing toxins.

    As a result, excess swelling and waste will no longer be present in inflamed areas of your body. 

    The next question is of course how red light therapy can stimulate inflammation. I do suspect that the mild "stress" response caused by red light therapy underlies that effect.

    Overall, red light therapy is a win for managing your inflammation levels...
  • combats the negative effect of stress on your cells.[187-191]

    Let's say your body is under lots of stress, for example, due to too much physical labor or exercise. In that case, red light therapy can reduce these negative effects.

    These effects have (currently) only been proven in animal studies. But because most animal studies point the same way, it's expected that for humans the effects will be roughly similar.

    Red light therapy may thus be another method for lowering stress - that was not taken up in my 100% free guide to conquering (chronic) stress.
  • may enhance the functioning of your immune system. 

    There are several mechanisms through which that immune boost is accomplished. Let's go through these reasons one by one.

    First of all, red light therapy can stimulate the "thymus" gland in your chest. That gland is essential to your immune system, but sadly enough degenerates with aging. Red light therapy can slow that degeneration process.

    (By the way, don't worry about remembering all these difficult names of immune system organs and cells. More to come...)

    Red light therapy thus helps you stay healthier at an older age.

    Secondly, red light therapy increases the activity of several immune-system-cells.[124] Different types of immune-cells exist.

    Macrophages, for example, clean up dead cells and respond to infections.[125-127] Red light therapy can increase the functioning of those macrophages.

    Dendritic cells, which have more of a messaging function, also increase through red light therapy - although that positive effect is yet to be established in humans.[128]

    Mast cells, a specific type of white blood cell, are significantly increased by red light therapy when such an increase is necessary for a proper immune response.[129-133] One role of mast cells is to create fibrous material in wound healing.

    Lastly, red light therapy positively affects both "leukocytes" and "lymph cells". Leukocytes are white blood cells countering invaders in your blood. Lymph cells, secondly, are active in detoxification. In these specific areas though, more human research is needed as well.[134-136]

    Red light therapy may thus prevent disease, and keep your immune system stronger at an older age.
  • increases your brain function.[86-90]

    There are several ways to use red light therapy for improving brain function.

    The first option is to use red light therapy LED panels, which I've talked about earlier. But there's another option. The second - and better - option, is to use red light therapy devices that are specifically made for your brain. An example is the Vielight Neuro Alpha (get a 10% discount with code NBH1)

    Basically, the Vielight is a "headset" that you put on your brain, which then emits light that passes your skull. 

    What are that headset's benefits?

    - First, you'll have better memory consolidation - which means you'll better remember anything you learn.
    - Secondly, helping your brain cells become healthier. 
    - Thirdly, attention, reaction time, brain energy, and mood are all enhanced.
    - Lastly, even if you're healthy, red light therapy protects your brain cells and helps new brain cells to grow, and genes that are protective to the nervous system to be activated...

    These beneficial effects are especially profound once you've already got brain problems, such as a traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer. If your brain is healthy, however, using red and infrared light on your brain will still have benefits.

    You might think that red light therapy on your brain is dangerous, but nothing could be further from the truth. No side-effects have been found - presupposing that you're using the device at the recommended dosage and correctly
  • clears your nose so that you can breathe properly.

    In other words, red light therapy clears your nasal passages. This effect is especially helpful for people who have certain allergies, such as hay fever.[137-139]

    Don't want to buy a red light panel, but want to treat your sinuses with red light anyway?

    Buy a red light device that's specifically targeted towards treating your nose. There are cheaper variations which have decent reviews, and higher-quality ones which are recommended for longer-term use (use discount code NBH1 for a 10% discount)

    On the one hand, there are not many studies which have investigated the effects of red light therapy on blocked nasal sinuses. On the other hand, there are thousands of customer reviews of red light devices that indicate that red light therapy alleviates a blocked nose.

    If you've got problems with allergies, I highly recommend trying a cheaper red light therapy device that can be put in your nose first. There's almost no downside risk to trying, and a huge improvement in your life as a possible beneficial upside.

    Don't walk around with clogged sinuses all the time - you can do something about that problem. If red light therapy does not work, I can help to improve your breathing pattern.
  • make you sleep deeper at night.[95-99]

    If you expose yourself to red light therapy at the right times of the day, your body can increase its secretion of a hormone called "melatonin". Melatonin helps you sleep deeper, longer, and fall asleep quicker.

    Beware not to apply red light therapy too close to bedtime though. In that case, red light therapy can decrease your overall melatonin levels, and thus lower your sleep quality.
  • boosts eye health.

    Yes...

    Red light therapy's eye health-boosting effects are especially noticeable if you're already having eye problems.

    Your eyes have an enormously high relative energy demand, compared to tissues of the same size.[159] Decreases in the body's energy production are thus very prone to first affect eye health.[160; 161]

    It's thus not surprising that red light therapy helps to treat eye problems, as red light therapy is so influential in improving energy production in the body. 

    Let's consider a few eye pathologies that are helped by red light therapy (don't try to remember these names though):

    - "age-related macular degeneration", wherein the light-sensitive area in your eye degenerates.[162-164]
    - cataracts, which is a clouding of the lens of your eye.[163]
    - dry eye problems, or "meibomian gland dysfunction"[165]

    While more (human) research is needed to understand the effects of red light therapy on your eyes, the current results are very promising.

    Eyes might seem like a side-issue to many, but eye problems are everywhere in modern society. Let's take myopia, which is commonly known as nearsightedness, for example. In Britain, about 50% of young adults have myopia. In China, that's 30% of the population, and in Singapore, a whopping 80%. 

    And myopia is just one eye disease. Eye problems are thus not a "side issue" in health care, and it's amazing that red light therapy might help offer eyesight improvement.
  • increases athletic performance.

    To be more precise: with red light therapy, you'll get stronger, more explosive, recover quicker, and will be less injury prone.[28-42; 284; 313; 314]

    I know, gym-aholics will immediately say "sign me up"

    But how does red light therapy help you recover?

    You probably know that intense exercise causes lots of fatigue.[26; 27] During intense (interval) exercise you will have lactate buildup, for example. Most people know lactate as "the pump". By using red light therapy after your workout, that lactate is cleared more quickly. 

    The biggest advantage of red light therapy might be that your muscle gains in the gym increase by 60-70%. Phrased differently, if you combine exercise with red light therapy, you'll gain 60-70% more muscle than when you exercise alone.

    Crazy right?

    These beneficial effects are not only found in recreational athletes--they even exist if you're an elite professional athlete.[315-318]

    Is that all?

    No...

    Muscle soreness decreases. Additionally, red light therapy even increases the oxygen uptake of your body. 

    Got injured anyway?

    Red light therapy has currently been proven to help with a tennis elbow, jumper's knee, Achilles tendon pain, or frozen shoulder - and even the degeneration of cartilage in your joints might be affected.[43-48] 

    Considering the exact effects of red light therapy on very specific injuries lies beyond the scope of this article. Red light therapy has not yet been scientifically validated for every injury out there, but I would recommend you research red light therapy's potential to treat your specific injury.

    Again, there's little downside to trying red light therapy as it's become a pretty cheap intervention. 

    Overall, red light therapy will make you a more kick-ass athlete.


    1,000-pound bench presses without even trying. 
    by using sunlight's red light therapy.
  • aids in fat loss.[167-171]

    It's not just that red light therapy helps you lose fat: what's even more surprising, is that red light therapy may help you lose fat from problematic areas. The waist, hips, and tights are especially affected by red light therapy.

    For the best results, you need to combine red light therapy with a healthy diet and other fat-loss supporting behaviors, such as sunlight, making sure you don't expose yourself to artificial light after sunset, adding some cold exposure, and exercise (if you're healthy overall).

    To get even better results, lower your overall (psychological) stress levels.

    It's important to remember that red light therapy is not a magic pill. Instead, red light therapy only supports any already-effective fat loss routine.

    Simple...
  • enhances the function of your thyroid organ. 

    Your thyroid is located at the front of your neck.

    Thyroid problems are a big issue because the thyroid gland is intrinsically related to energy production in your body. A poorly functioning thyroid gland entails that you'll have decreased energy levels. 

    Lots of people in modern society actually have thyroid problems.[140; 141] These thyroid problems are often underdiagnosed.[142; 143]

    The technical term for that poorer energy production is called "hypothyroidism". 

    With lower energy production you'll end up with problems everywhere in the body: from perpetually being cold, quick anger outbursts, faster fatigue and lower libido, stress, insomnia, and thinning outer eyebrows.

    In other words, almost every process in your body is affected by a poorly functioning thyroid. Thyroid hormones even influence how well your mitochondria function and help create new mitochondria in your body.[324-327]

    Lots of thyroid problems are autoimmune related - in that instance, your body attacks its own thyroid tissue. If you use red light therapy, the number of antibodies that attack your thyroid gland goes down.[146-148]

    You do need a very high red and infrared light dosage to improve thyroid function though. The thyroid needs to be treated with a high dosage, contrary to tissues such as your skin, which needs lower dosages (because the skin is a superficial organ).
  • help the primordial cells in your body - called "stem cells" - proliferate.[149-157]

    Stem cells can differentiate in all types of cells, such as brain cells, muscle cells, and bone cells. Phrased differently, the undifferentiated stem cells can thus transform into a cell with a more specialized task.

    When red and infrared light hits stem cells, it helps these cells proliferate. Your body is thus more able to use stem cells for creating new brain cells, or repair wounds.

    But there's another reason why red light therapy is interesting:

    Since a few years, stem cell therapy has become very popular. In stem cell therapy, your own stem cells, animal stem cells, or stem cells cultivated in a lab are inserted in your body.

    Those stem cells can help restore damaged organ function, for example. Other goals of stem cell therapy are to slow down aging, help you perform better, decreasing pain, and just looking younger overall.

    By adding red light therapy on top of your stem cell therapy, you may get additional benefits.

    More studies on human beings are currently needed though...
  • boosts your mood.[89]

    Very simple...

    You'll feel better with red light therapy - an effect that is especially noticeable if you have very little sunlight available, such as during the wintertime.

    Red light therapy may additionally decrease your anxiety and depression levels.[209; 210] For the best mood-boosting benefits, I always recommend combining red light therapy with sunlight.

    Sunlight contains many other wavelengths that are beneficial for mood, such as ultraviolet light.[339] In the wintertime, unfortunately, some places located in the North such as Canada or Russia might not receive any ultraviolet light from the sun.

    In that case, tanning beds may be an option...
  • makes your bones and joints stronger. 

    Red light therapy increases the metabolism in your cells. That metabolism also extends to bone formation, remodeling, and repair - at least, if you're using deep treatment methods with your red light therapy device.[172-179] 

    The best way to use red light therapy for bone healing is to apply it directly to problem areas. The effects of red light therapy on bone healing don't seem to be systemic, as is the case in fat loss, for example. 

    And yes, red light therapy makes your fractures heal more quickly. 

That's it: most red light therapy benefits...

Please keep in mind that the benefits listed above are just a short-list. The complete list would be so long that it would no longer be fun reading my work anymore.

"Give me red light therapy. Or else..."

You might be thinking right now:

But how about red light therapy side-effects?

Here are all four (possible) side effects:

  • First of all, if you overdose on red light therapy you might have some temporary fatigue.

    Remember that red light therapy places some stress on your body. If you overdo that stress, you might up feeling at least somewhat the same as after a heavy workout.

  • Second, LED lights "flicker". "Flickering" means that a light will turn on and off for many times a second.

    LED lights are generally switched on an off 60 times a second. There have even been LED lights developed that flicker up to 500 times a second.

    You might ask: "why does that flicker matter?"

    The problem with flickering is that it can be irritating to your brain and nervous system.

    Even though you may not consciously see any difference between the sun that's putting out light continuously, and LED lights that turn on and off 60 times a second, the latter option does cause chronic low-level stress to you.[303-305]

    The stimulating of flickering is very unnatural for your brain. You'll get the same problem by sitting under fluorescent lights all day - these lights irritate some people's brains more than others.

    The same problem exists with LEDs. Some people have told me that they do not tolerate red light therapy LED light panels while doing fine in the sun.

    Remember that sunlight has a continuous light output. The sun does not turn on and off 60 times a second, which is a big win for people wanting to get benefits from red light: expose yourself to the morning sun, and you're getting red and infrared benefits as well.

  • Thirdly, there are some indications that red light therapy is not optimal over cancerous areas - of course, if you're unlucky enough to have cancer in the first place.[289-294]

    In animal studies, both good and detrimental effects were shown regarding red light therapy for cancer. In humans, the initial results seem to be positive, but I'm not willing to bluntly recommend red light therapy in the case of cancer (yet). 

    To be sure red light therapy does seem to have many benefits for dealing with the side-effects of cancer.[296; 297] One example is what is called "oral mucositis" - a side-effect of chemotherapy - which causes wounds, bleeding, and inflammation in the mouth.[298; 299]  

    Oral mucositis is both a problem for cancer patients receiving radiotherapy for the head or neck, and for people receiving chemotherapy. Other cancer side-effects can be mitigated with red light therapy as well. There are also indications that red light therapy might even be used to prevent and treat cancer.[289]

    The most important step to avoid red light therapy stimulating cancer is to avoid shining the light directly on a tumor (although tumors may also be treatable with a very stressful high dosage).

    Of course, always discuss treatment regimens with a physician - I'm not giving any medical advice - especially in the case of cancer.

  • The fourth problem is that red light therapy might suppress your melatonin levels if you use the LED panels too close to bedtime.

    In general, red light is much less prone to suppress your melatonin levels compared to blue and green light. At sufficient intensity, however - as you're using red light therapy at a very high light output - red light can lower your melatonin levels at night.

    It's, therefore, best not to use red light therapy (too) close to bedtime, preferably not after sunset.

    (As a side note: when you expose your body to sufficient bright light during the daytime, your sleep quality will improve rather than decrease. Of course, red light therapy can supply you with lots of bright light.)

  • Fifthly, it's currently unknown what precise effects red light therapy has on your mitochondria.[343]

    The long-term consequences of using red light therapy have not been tested. There are indications that red light therapy is different in its stimulation of mitochondria than sunlight.

    To be more precise: the increase in energy production is much greater with red light therapy than sunlight. Why? Red light therapy only contains wavelengths that stimulate energy production.

    Sunlight, on the contrary, contains some wavelengths that decrease energy production.

    Longer-term studies are needed to find out how red light therapy will influence your mitochondria and health. Short and mid-term studies are very positive, show few to no side-effects.

What's even more important, is that there is no known interference of red light therapy with prescription medication that I've come across. 

But we're not done yet.

Red light therapy has enormous benefits if you have diseases as well. Let's look at these benefits right now. 

4. Red Light Therapy For Managing And Preventing Disease

You might be wondering whether red light therapy can also be beneficial if you've got certain diseases...

I have to make a disclaimer before you start to read the effects of red light therapy upon these diseases: very often, although lots of positive research is available, red light therapy examinations are still in their infancy.

In the coming decades, I do expect that red light therapy will become a standardly included treatment in many of these diseases.

Why?

Let's look at how red light therapy can oppose disease. Red light therapy can:

  • may counteract dementia and Alzheimer's disease.[201-206; 239]

    Although these effects are not yet well proven in humans, there are indications that red light therapy can treat certain symptoms in dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

    What goes wrong in Alzheimer's? In that disease, your higher brain area related to reasoning capacity, and another brain area concerned with memory shrink severely.

    There's plaque buildup which is characteristic for Alzheimer's disease - called "beta-amyloid" - may be reduced through red light therapy, for example. These beta-amyloid plaques prevent the proper communication in your nervous system.

    The growth of new brain cells and certain brain areas is also triggered by red light therapy, helping to heal the areas that were affected by Alzheimer's in the first place.

    Alzheimer's disease would be best treated with a device that's specifically made to be used on your brain--instead of a LED panel. You can find the best device to treat Alzheimer's here (get a 10% discount with discount code NBH1)

    If you want to treat your brain, you'll want to rely on infrared light in your device more than a red light. Remember from the second section that infrared light penetrates much deeper than red light - which is necessary to correctly get the light through your skull.
  • assist with depression.[207-210]

    Again, this effect is mainly proven in mice. Nevertheless, the first human studies that only include a few participants are already very promising.

    When I told you earlier that red light therapy can improve mood, I also mentioned that it's best not to rely on red light therapy alone. That advice is applicable to any disease, but especially depression.

    For depression, it's best to combine red light therapy with adequate sunlight exposure, as sunlight offers additional light frequencies besides red that improve mood. Of course, movement, a proper diet, and many other interventions help with depressions as well.
  • aid in the recovery from a brain injury.[47; 212-215; 224]

    Another brain-related event, next to depression and Alzheimer's?

    Yes.

    Traumatic brain injuries are more common than you think: every year, more than 1 million people in the US get a brain injury. Almost 100.000 end up with a permanent disability.

    Scary right?

    People with traumatic brain injury can have all kinds of problems. Even with a mild brain injury, for example, you can have cognitive problems for weeks. Let's not even talk about severe brain injuries...

    How will red light therapy help?

    Memory, attention, and mood all improve after treatment. Moreover, red light therapy is increasing your brain oxygen supply, blood flow, and the protection of cells against premature death, while swelling decreases.

    Again, you have to apply red light therapy specifically to the brain to properly treat a traumatic brain injury: the Vielight Neuro Alpha (get a 10% discount with code NBH1)
  • treat heart disease.[217-220]

    As you now know, red light therapy also has enormous benefits for the functioning of your mitochondria. The human heart and brain tissues are the tissues that are richest in mitochondria in human beings. 

    It's therefore not surprising that red light therapy has beneficial effects for many brain and heart diseases.

    Let's consider the latter condition...

    Red light therapy can help you heal more quickly after a bypass surgery. Pain after heart surgery also decreases.  The overall quality of your blood vessels also improves with red light therapy. 

    Unfortunately, overall research of red light therapy for heart disease is still in its infancy.
  • helps you recover better and quicker from a stroke.[47; 216; 222-223; 225-228]

    Using red light therapy after a stroke seems to have many benefits. First of all, cognitive deficits after a stroke are reduced.

    Secondly, when red light therapy is applied 24 hours after a stroke, the overall recovery is significantly better compared to an absence of red light therapy. These benefits persist for months after the initial treatment.

    Thirdly, the later application of red light therapy can help with improving the recovery of your language ability.

    Again, for this specific instance, the best option is to use a red light therapy device that treats your brain.
  • reduce fatigue if you've got fibromyalgia.[229-231]

    Stiffness, fatigue, and spasms can be reduced through red light therapy.

    Although there is conflicting evidence, the studies that claim that red light therapy does not improve fibromyalgia use excessively high dosages. Make sure to get the dose right to get your well-deserved benefits.

    Why does the red light therapy dosage matter so much?

    Well, remember that red light therapy puts some stress on your body. If you have fibromyalgia, you're already less stress tolerant than most other people. It's thus not surprising that using red light therapy at a very high dosage - which creates a larger amount of stress - creates negative outcomes in people with fibromyalgia. 

    You can take back (part of) your life with red light therapy, but don't rely on red light therapy alone...
  • can counteract problems with your bones and joints, such as "osteoarthritis", "osteoporosis", and " rheumatoid arthritis."[127; 182-184; 232-234] 

    Rheumatoid arthritis is an autoimmune condition that mainly influences the functioning of your joints.

    For rheumatoid arthritis, red light therapy can reduce morning stiffness, pain, and increase movement capacity in the joints. Excessive inflammation levels may also be lowered. 

    In osteoarthritis, your bones come in (almost) direct contact with each other due to a loss of cartilage. There's thus no "cushioning" effect due to the cartilage in your joints anymore. People with osteoarthritis end up with stiffness and pain...

    But red light therapy can help:

    Swelling, your ability to fully move your joints, and pain are reduced. Joints also increase in temperature, which signifies that your circulation and metabolism increase in that area. 

    Fortunately, almost all joints have been studied in osteoarthritis, such as the knee[180-182]; shoulder,[9; 319; 320] elbow, wrist, and hand, and fingers, and show positive results.[321-323]

    (Back and neck problems are treated later on this blog post.)

    For the billions of people with joint problems, red light therapy might prove to offer assistance in the coming years.
  • lowers your chances of getting cold sores.[235-238] 

    Cold sores are caused by a virus--not by cold temperatures as many people think. Viruses transfer more easily in cold weather. 

    One of the common treatments for this virus are creams or tablets, but red light therapy works just as well (and without any side-effects).

    Cold sores can recur over time, especially when you're stressed or when your immune system is compromised. In both of those cases, fortunately, red light therapy helps out as well.
  • counteract Parkinson's disease.[239-248]

    In Parkinson's disease, the nerve cells in parts of the human brain degenerate. As a consequence, people with Parkinson's have rigidity, problems with their movement, and part of their body are constantly shaking.

    While many studies confirm the benefits of red light therapy in animals, human studies have not yet been carried out. Animal studies are promising though: movement ability goes up, brain cells are protected, and the activity of the mitochondria increases.

    Remember one thing: if you've got Parkinson's, there's no downside to trying red light therapy. Even though the results are only proven in animal studies, results in human beings are expected.
  • help you deal with (chronic) pain.[249-259; 281]

    This effect is one of my favorites. Why? I've used a small red light therapy device to help my family cope with shoulder and back pain. 

    Of course, not all types of pain are the same. There are tremendous differences, for example, between chronic nerve pain and spraining your ankle. Nevertheless, red light therapy has a well-proven track record for dealing with many types of pain.

    Currently, the most common treatment for pain is to take painkillers. Red light therapy is a viable side-effect free alternative to such painkillers. 

    Red light therapy literally lowers pain and inflammation. Remember that many people take painkillers such as from the "NSAID drug class" for those specific purposes.

    Let's consider different types of pain.

    There's very good evidence to use red light therapy for chronic pain and low back pain (without a specific cause), and nerve pain. Neck and shoulder pain are treatable with red light therapy too.

    But there's more...

    Other instances where red light therapy can help include pain (and recovery) after a stomach-hernia surgery, in breast cancer, after a broken lower leg, or muscular pain.

    Red light therapy is quickly becoming a side-effect free and cost-effective method for dealing with pain. Red light therapy turns out to a Swiss all-purpose knife yet again - for the pain this time...
  • oppose diabetes.[270-276]

    If you combine exercise with red light therapy, you'll decrease what is called "insulin" resistance more than by just using exercise alone.

    If you're healthy, insulin will help your body move sugars into your body's cells. If you have insulin resistance, however, the body's cells do not respond to insulin anymore. As a consequence of insulin resistance, sugars in the blood will no longer be taken up properly in the body's cells, and you'll end up with high blood sugar.

    Combine red light therapy with exercise for improvements in the insulin resistance department...

    There's more though:

    Red light therapy can also help you deal with the side-effect of diabetes: pain and wounds often associated with diabetes can be prevented. 

    As diabetes is one of the most prevalent diseases in the world - and even poised to increase in prevalence - red light therapy may be a great help for hundreds of millions of people.
  • aid if you have carpal tunnel syndrome.[277-280] 

    In carpal tunnel syndrome, a nerve near your wrist has impinged. Due to the impinging of that nerve, you'll experience tingling, pain, and numbness in your hand.

    Red light therapy can decrease overall pain, the strength of your hand and its recovery, and the health of your nerves. 

    Most evidence actually exists red light therapy improving carpal tunnel syndrome in the short-term. It's not yet known whether red light therapy can improve wrist health in carpal tunnel syndrome in longer-term yet.

    Nevertheless, applying red light therapy for carpal tunnel syndrome is almost a no-brainer, because it's very inexpensive to apply.
  • and lastly: help prevent a decline in how well your brain functions with age.[4; 186; 199; 200]

    The best way to combat a cognitive decline (as you age), is to use red light therapy that's specifically targeted at your brain. LED panels are thus sub-optimal for this purpose.

    Most people's brain functions decline with age, but red light therapy can slow that process.

    This effect kind of overlaps with preventing and combating Alzheimer's, and other nervous system diseases.

"You mean there's something
wrong with MY brain function?!"

That's it: an almost intimidating list of benefits of red light therapy for countering disease at many levels.

And just to be clear:

I've even chosen not to include many diseases on this list, such as bacterial and fungal infections, cancer, and additional types of pain.

Nevertheless, I hope you yourself conclude that red light therapy is at least very promising.

I do think, that because red light therapy offers so many benefits for so many diseases, that in the coming decade, many households will have a red light therapy device in their homes.

Just like computers and smartphones took the world by storm, red light therapy devices will be no different.

Be a thought leader in health, and be the first who experiments with red light therapy in your community. It only takes a few years to completely change the world into something unrecognizable.

By the way, do you want an infographic summary with 10 Red Light Therapy Laws? Sign up below:

5. A Simple Guide For Red Light Therapy Dosing

Getting the dosage right on red light therapy is absolutely essential. Many studies actually find no results from red light therapy when using the wrong dose (or light frequencies).[9; 10]

That outcome should not come as a surprise.

Remember the exercise example I've used earlier: if you use an exercise intensity that's too low or too high, you won't get the results you're aiming at. The same is true for red light therapy.

At the most basic level, just one thing matters for achieving the right dosage: the amount of "Joules" of red and infrared light hit that your skin over time.

Sounds complicated? Let's dissect that sentence...

What are "Joules"?

Joules are a unit of energy. For almost all treatments, we want an intensity between 3 and 60 Joules per square centimeter (cm2) of your skin. The higher the Joule value, the more light energy you're thus adding to (a specific part of) your body.

Knowing your Joule input takes some effort. You generally have to do some calculations to arrive at that Joule value.

Most red light devices supply you with a milliwatt per square centimeter (mW/cm2) dosage of light.

In general, the milliwatts per second you're exposed to increases when you get closer to a red light therapy LED panel and decreases the farther removed you're from a red light therapy device. 

That milliwatt per square centimeter number can be used to calculate a Joule value. For every 1.000 mW/cm2 added to your body, 1 Joule (per cm2) is added.

let me give an example:

A red light therapy device might add 20 milliwatts per square centimeter per second, or alternatively, 100 milliwatts per square centimeter (per second). In the first case, it takes 50 seconds to add 1 Joule of energy to your body--in the latter case, it only takes 10 seconds.

Let me give you a simple analogy to understand red light therapy dosing:

Knowing how many Joules (per square centimeter) is like knowing the weights you're using in the gym: if you use three times as much weight, the effect will be very different.

Let's do some calculations to better understand the concept of "Joules":

  1. Let's say you want to put 50 Joule of energy into your body. Your red light device puts out 100 mW/cm2 per second at a 50-centimeter distance. 

    Every minute you use the device would add 60 seconds * 100 mW/cm2 = 6.000 mW/cm2 = 6 Joules of energy (per square cm2) to your body. 

    When rounded-off, you need to use your red light therapy device for about 8 minutes to get a dosage of 48 Joules.

  2. Let's say you want to put 20 Joules (per cm2) of energy into your body. Your red light device puts out 10 mW/cm2 per second, at a 100-centimeter distance.

    In one minute, you'll put about 10*60 = 600 mW/cm2 into your body, which equals 0,6 Joules (per cm2). For 20 Joules, you would need 20 / 0,6 J = 33,3 minutes of therapy - which is a long time.

    Solution?

    Move closer to your device. At a 20 centimeter distance, the device might put out 100 mW/cm2. From that distance, you'll add 6 Joules of energy per minute, which would equal 3,3 minutes of total treatment.

    The latter case sounds much better right?

  3. Let's say you want to do a skin treatment, and need to put 5 Joules of total energy into your body. The skin is a very superficial organ and does not need very high dosages. 

    Assume that you've got a big light panel that puts out lots of light.

    You're standing at a 30-centimeter distance, and you're thinking: "10 minutes ought to be enough to get great results!"

    Big mistake...

    Let's calculate:

    At a 30 centimeter distance, the light output is 90 mW/cm2. That distance and light output combination equal 5.400 mW/cm2 or 5,4 Joule per minute. If you're using your device for 10 minutes, you're adding a total of 54 Joules of energy to your body, which is more than ten times the amount of energy you needed for skin treatment (5 Joules).

    Big mistake!

    You're using the red light therapy panel totally wrong. With 54 Joules, you're treating your deeper tissues, while not getting an effect in your skin at all.

I cannot repeat that principle often enough: you need the right dosage for any specific goal you may have.[1; 3; 77; 144; 210; 281-287]

To know what you're doing, you need to calculate the dosage. 

Fortunately, many companies nowadays do supply a dosage guideline with their product, so that you don't need to go through these calculations manually.

Sometimes, companies offer a simple app to calculate the dosage - which is a great development.

I've decided to include this section anyway because you might not have such a manual, or you might have a light setup where you combine several red light therapy panels.

Let's now look at how to treat different tissues...

Even though that topic of dosage seems complicated, it's really not:

  • More superficial tissues, such as your skin, teeth, or superficial blood vessels, need a low dosage of 3-20 Joules
  • Deeper tissues, which include your muscles, joints, organs, or bones, need between 20 and 60 Joules.

Once you go over 80-90 Joules, you generally reduce the overall red light therapy effects. If you surpass 20 Joules, moreover, you'll also decrease the treatment effects for superficial tissues, but increase the effects on deeper tissues.

Oh yeah, one more thing:

This bears repeating: always keep in mind that your red light therapy device is often accompanied with a description of its light output at a very specific distance.

Always take that distance into account. It's often simplest to follow that direction, at least, if you're using just one panel. 

Again, if you get closer to the device, of course, the mW/cm2 per second will increase, upping the total Joules per cm2 of energy that are added to your body.

In general, you don't want to move closer than 6 inches (~15 centimeters) to your red light therapy device. That advice is especially important with the very powerful red light therapy devices I'm going to recommend in the next section - where being too close leads to a "light overdose".

In other words, standing too close to a red light therapy device will give you too much of a light intensity. 

In terms of dosage, the amount of light you need can vary from person to person. The maximum dosage of 60 Joules per square centimeter is not set in stone for everyone.

Why?

You may remember that I've treated the concept of "hormesis" in a previous blog post on stress. Hormesis entailed that the right intensity of a biological stressor could make your body stronger, while either too low or too high of a stimulus has adverse effects.

If you're in poor overall health, using red light therapy might mean that you would need a lower overall dosage, to begin with. 

While I've just given a maximum dosage of 60 Joules, if you've got a disease such as fibromyalgia or Alzheimer's, you'd want to start off with a much lower dosage. After testing a low dosage, watch how your body reacts. If treatments are successful, you may be able to increase your dosage over time. 

The same principle applies to other "hormetic stressors" I've talked about before, such as cold therapy.

If you've read my cold article, you'll remember that I'm recommending people easing very slowly into cold therapy. Just as too much intense exercise makes you more tired, and too much cold therapy makes you more tired (or worse: gives you frostbite or hypothermia), red light therapy has the same effect.

That's all you need to know?

No, not yet...

There's another important issue with dosing though: the overall strength of the light output.[7; 282; 306-308; 313; 314]

Yes, really.

At the first sight, you might think that using a red light therapy device for longer periods of time will have the exact same effects as a larger device for a short period of time.

But that's not true...

Many studies actually show that there's a certain threshold of light output that needs to reach your skin to reap all the benefits. If the light is too weak, you won't get the full benefits of red light therapy for deeper tissues.

An often cited minimal power density to reach deeper tissues is 50mW/cm2 to 100mW/cm2.

If you've got a weak device, you cannot reach and thus treat these deeper tissues. For that reason, I will not recommend any of the weaker red light therapy LED panels in my next section that contain specific recommendations.

Don't get me wrong: a lower wattage is fine for treating more superficial tissues, but you need stronger exposure when you want to treat your bones, organs, or cartilage. You're often cutting yourself short by buying smaller red light therapy devices.

Oh yeah, by the way, there's another reason not get too close to red light therapy panels:

Many red light devices put out some "electromagnetic frequencies", which can be harmful to your health, especially when the source of the exposure is very close to your body. 

Stay away at least 6 inches (~15 centimeters) to avoid that radiation. It's not safe to put most red light therapy devices directly on your skin.

Lastly, even though you can do multiple red light therapy sessions per day, I would not exceed 60 Joules per cm2 each day.

That recommendation entails you can do treatments of 20 Joules per day or one treatment of 50 Joules per day. A combination of two red light therapy treatments, consisting of 20 Joules and 50 Joules, would exceed the optimal daily treatment limit.

I would also lower the overall dosage if you're spending lots of time in the sun.

Why? 

There's no need for a 60 Joule dosage if you've spent 3 hours in the sun. If you're spending that much time in the sun, it's better to use a 5-10 Joule treatment to optimize your skin condition. 

Now let's look at the quality of the red light therapy devices that are currently on the market.

The outcome might surprise you...

6. Different Red Light Therapy Devices

Since a few years, the market is flooded with red light therapy devices. Prices range from $25 for inexpensive spot treatment devices from Alibaba to $100,000 for premium red light therapy beds. 

So, what's the solution?

Let's first consider what you should not do.

Firstly, I'm not advocating for buying very large red light "tanning" beds, which are often sold for $25,000 to $100,000 (USD), because these devices offer very little additional benefit over and above a few high-quality LED light panels.

You'll learn why soon...

What I'm also not advocating, secondly, is buying smaller red light therapy devices. I have one such a device myself, and that device is mostly useful for spot treatments on small areas on your body.

Don't get me wrong...

If you're injured, for example, a small red light therapy device is a godsend. If you want to use red light therapy for overall health benefits though, you'll need a larger LED panel.

To explain why I'll need to do a dosage calculation again:

If you're talking about 5 minutes to treat a sprained ankle with a red-light therapy mini device, it will take about 2-3 hours to cover all the spots of your body with that same small device.

You're thus wasting your time thinking that you can get away with buying a small device to treat your entire body. 

Only buy a small red light therapy device if you intend on using it for a very specific issue, such as acne scars on one side of your face, or a broken wrist.

If you have a bigger red light therapy device, you can still use your smaller device for spot treatments, such as a broken wrist. 

(The danger of combining a large device with a small device is that you're getting too high of a dosage at your spot treatment again.)

You might be getting anxious now, thinking about what kind of red light therapy device you should buy.

Let's get to it then:

In terms of wavelengths, I would choose a device that emits light around the 660-nanometer wavelength, in addition to light around the 810-850 nanometer wavelength.

Why the range of light frequencies around 830?

Some companies differ in whether they offer 830 or 850-nanometer wavelength devices. I'm not yet fully convinced whether 810, 830 or 850 nanometers is really better. 

In addition, 630 and 760 nanometers may have additional benefits. 

But my overall message should be clear: always make sure that your device contains both 660 nanometers and a wavelength of around ~830 nanometers, in addition to other wavelengths.

The gross majority of studies that I've cited in this blog post use wavelengths around 660 and 830. If you're not including these wavelengths, don't expect all the benefits I've listed above.

Now, there are hundreds of red light therapy devices on the market today. Not all devices have the same benefits.

Actually, almost all devices are absolute crap.

Many devices are so underpowered, that you cannot use them for the treatment of deep tissues. 

Why?

Remember that you need 50mW/cm2 to 100mW/cm2 at least to get a sufficiently strong light output. Most devices don't reach that threshold when the goal is treating your whole body in a maximum of 10-20 minutes a day...

So let's get to it...

Below I've listed a top four of red light therapy offerings on the market today:

(Prices as of September 9 2018)

The fourth place is a shared position between two companies.

  1. Platinum LED Therapy Lights. (use affiliate code NBH1 for an additional 5% off)

    This company offers three different panels:

    1) a 300 Watt panel for $399 ($1.33 per Watt); and
    2) a 450 Watt panel for $449 ($1 per Watt); and
    3) a 600 Watt panel for $789 ($1.315 per Watt)

    Again: you can get these panels even more inexpensively by using code NBH1 for an additional 5% discount.

    It's somewhat weird that their biggest panel is less cost-efficient than their 450 Watt panel. Nevertheless, that 450W Platinum LED Therapy Light panel is the absolute best choice on the market right now.

    The $1 per Watt price is currently unbeatable...

  2. Red Light Therapy Company offers just one panel:

    1) a 360 Watt panel for $449 ($1.25 per Watt)

    This panel is a great choice too, and actually a better investment than the first company's 300 and 600 Watt versions. This 360W panel does not beat Platinum LED Therapy Lights 450W panel though...

  3. The Full Stack Red Light offers one panel:

    1) a 600 Watt panel for $900 ($1.50 per Watt)

    A big plus is that this device comes with free shipping. Moreover, the price of this panel is really sharp...
  4. Red Light Man offers many different LED panels.

    I'll only treat this company's panel that's developed towards full-body usage, as I do not consider smaller red light therapy devices a good overall investment. The other panels are too small for full-body treatments.

    Red Light Man, therefore, ends up with:

    1) a 300W panel for ~$1,000 ($3.33 per Watt).

    Red light man shares the fourth place with another company though:

    Joovv offers three panels that achieve a sufficient treatment strength:

    1) a 120W panel for $595 ($4.95 per Watt)
    2) a 300W panel for $995 ($3.31 per Watt)
    3) a 960W panel for $2.695 ($2.80 per Watt)

That's it. You now have the top four companies I'm willing to recommend you buy from, starting with the best on top.

I know people are going to be offended here, but I've decided not to include some companies offering smaller panels such as Leanne Venier's REDjuvenator or Gambared's 45 Watt red light therapy panel. 

Reason?

These panels cannot achieve the 50 W/cm2 to 100W/cm2 that's necessary to get optimal results for deep tissue treatment on a full-body basis. The Gambared panel also costs $300, and only offers 45W of LED lights, which comes down to $6.66 per Watt.

Even though the Gambared is marketed towards people who do not have lots of money to spend, the device is 4-6 times as expensive as the Platinum LED Therapy device or Red Light Therapy Company's offering.

Not such a great inexpensive deal after all...

The REDjuvenator panel is not even accompanied with specific wavelengths - citing a "proprietary formula" - so it's impossible to verify the performance of the product against the scientific literature.

In other words, if you get results from the REDjuvenator, you cannot actually tell whether these results are due to a placebo effect or not, because the wavelengths are not verifiable against published studies. 

But there's more:

The REDjuvenator is not accompanied by any Wattage either. The REDjuvenator costs at least $599.99 (most inexpensive version) for a small panel, and therefore probably has a high price to Wattage ratio.

We'll never know the answer though because everything is "proprietary"...

My suggestion is to avoid both products, but you can make your own choice...

Please keep in mind that I do not have any financial interest in any red light therapy company. I've made this analysis purely to offer the best possible product to my readers.

My readers always come first.

Always...

In the above price analysis, moreover, I'm assuming you're choosing to split between 660 and 850 nanometers.

Some companies like Joovv do offer lower prices if you opt for 660 nanometers only (for more superficial treatments, such as your skin), and charge more if you opt for 850 nanometers only (ideal for deeper treatments).

Some companies don't offer a 660 and 850-nanometer combination option - Red Light Man, for example, offers a combination of 620, 670, 760 and 830-nanometer wavelengths.[340; 341] 

I think that the science is still out on whether Red Light Man's 4 different nanometer light ranges are superior to just using the 660 and 850-nanometer range - I'm undecided at that point.

Evidence points towards favoring either option right now...

Which light should you choose? The main factor I'd look at the costs per Watt.

Just make sure to also look at warranties and a money back guarantee. Most companies offer a 1 or 2-year warranty. The company I've chosen to make a deal with, Platinum LED Therapy Lights, offers a 3-year warranty on all of their panels.

By buying a good red light therapy panel right now, you'll save money for years to come.

Oh yeah, on another note:

Don't be fooled by clinics who charge $50 for a red light therapy session.

Just buying one 450W from Platinum LED Therapy Lights will already give you unlimited sessions - costing just $450 even without applying my discount code.

Let's assume that your clinic or spa sessions cost $50 for one session of red light therapy. In that case, by investing in a $450 Platinum LED Therapy Light will pay for itself after skipping just 9 clinic sessions. 

That's an absolute no-brainer to me...

Lastly, you might be thinking: "I've seen these beautiful red light "tanning" beds online as well. Are they really not superior to LED panels?!".

I agree with one thing: these devices look great.

That's where the benefits of investing $25,000 - $100,000 stop. The point is that your body can only handle so much light energy to be put in your body.

Remember that I've told you that 50 - 60 Joules is the maximum dose, and all you need. With two 450 Watt Platinum LED Therapy Lights, you'll be done treating one side of your body in just minutes.

Two such 450W panels placed on top of each other will treat your body from top to bottom very quickly (with room to spare).

If you really don't want to spend any time on red light therapy, you could even opt for one 600 Watt Platinum LED Therapy Light devices to treat each side of your body at the same time. 

The maximum cost of that 1.200W setup comes down to $1,569, which is more than ten times less than the $25,000 or more you would be spending on a red light therapy "tanning" bed. My discount code will make that $1,569 slightly less expensive.

I'm thus considering red light therapy "tanning" beds totally overpriced and less useful for 99% of the population. Just buy a (few) good 300-600W panels, and you're set for life. 

No need to spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars.

Don't be ripped off.

"$30,000 for red light "tanning"
bed? Dude, sunlight is free!"

7. Do It Yourself Red Light Therapy (Devices)

You might ask: "but Bart, do I NEED to buy such an expensive LED panel to get benefits of red light therapy?"

Maybe not!

First of all, I doubt whether you'll get enormous benefits from red light therapy if you're already getting lots of sunlight.

Sunlight contains all of the frequencies emitted by red light devices as well, but at lower dosages.

But: if you're already spending 2-3 hours per day in the sun, especially the morning sun which contains a higher predominance of red and infrared light, I don't think you'll need lots of red light therapy.

There are no current studies which have investigated whether red light therapy adds any benefits if you're already spending hours in the sun.

Consider yourself lucky if you've got the luxury of spending so much time in the sun, for example, if you're having a construction job. I've worked construction as well for some time, and it's not difficult to get sufficient sunlight that way.

Of course, working construction has many other negatives as well - as does my current blogging (such as social isolation).

My overall point is that if you're getting lots of sunlight, red light therapy will offer you less.

Secondly, you might be able to get an even less expensive red light therapy device by buying directly from an online website such as Alibaba.

Many websites online sell grow lights - also made up of LEDs - which are meant to be used for increasing plant growth. 

(As an interesting side-note, lots of cannabis producers use such grow lights. I know because I've written a long guide on the (possible) health effects of cannabis).

Nevertheless, you can contact sellers on Alibaba and eBay and ask them whether they're willing to customize a grow light LED panel for you.

You need to keep three things in the back of your mind when buying such a custom red light therapy device:

  • First, you need to specifically request whether you can buy a LED panel with 660 and 810, 830, or 850-nanometer lights.

    I've asked this (but did not buy), and these people are indeed willing to change the LED lights inside the device.

    (as a joke: the sellers of the product will often warn you that your plants will die with that light setup).

  • Secondly, the angle of the lights needs to be re-adjusted.

    Grow lights often have a beam angle of 60 degrees. Red light therapy devices geared towards human usage have an angle of 30 degrees.

    That adjustment step is totally non-negotiable.

    If you're thus only changing the wavelengths of the LED lights, but not changing the beam angle, you won't have the same results as red light therapy panels being sold today. With a wider light projection angle, the light will project in a very broad and wide pattern from your LED panel, which makes light leak along the sides of your body.

    In other words, a 60-degree angle of projection (that is used in grow lights) thus causes much less light to hit your body.

  • Thirdly, you would actually need to measure the specific light output of the device. 

    Without knowing the light output, you cannot determine how long the LED panel should be used.

    You would also need to check how many electromagnetic frequencies are emitted by the device. 

There are some other issues though, such as whether:

  • you're getting a warranty (which not all companies give)
  • the surface area that's treated by a grow light. Some grow lights have a very different shape than the red light therapy devices specified for human use. You thus need to buy a device that is not too wide, so that all most light hits your skin.

Are that all options for do-it-yourself red light therapy?

No...

There might be a third option. This option is only viable if you're working from home (or have unlimited freedom to change your office).

The solution is to use high-powered traditional light bulbs in the office you're working several hours a day.

Many people don't know that traditional light bulbs - such as incandescent and halogen bulbs - put out lots of red and infrared light as well.

An old-fashioned
incandescent light bulb.

I've mentioned these bulbs before in this article, and they might be usable as a red light therapy device.

How?

By placing 4-6 500W incandescent light bulbs above your head at your (home) office. You can buy these incandescent bulbs here.

There are a few keys to using these bulbs though:

  • Incandescent light bulbs put out lots of heat.

    You have to keep at least some distance from these bulbs, while still allowing the light to shine on your skin and eyes.

    Phrased differently, the incandescent bulbs thus have to be placed above your head so that their light reaches you, but you must avoid sweating at all cost.

    You might even need to open up windows to let more cold air enter the room, to prevent overheating.

  • Incandescent bulbs are both expensive to buy, expensive in energy cost, and somewhat expensive to replace.

    These bulbs often need to be replaced every few months.

    Running just one bulb costs about $160 per year, assuming you're working 8 hours a day. Replacing these bulbs twice a year adds another $20 per bulb per year.

    Running six bulbs would thus cost you about a grand a year.

  • The effects you get out of incandescent (and halogen) bulbs may be totally different from red light therapy devices. 

    Red light therapy devices can offer a very high lighting intensity so that they can penetrate very deep into the skin. Incandescent (and halogen) bulbs cannot reach the 50-100 mW/cm2 we've talked about earlier.

    You can therefore not reach the deeper tissue penetration that's possible with the larger red light therapy LED devices.

Incandescent bulbs are not your only option though...

Another option would be using a halogen floodlight, Your boss might fire you though if you use that halogen floodlight for daytime lighting in the office (at the least, your colleagues will think you're weird).

No, not all red things count as "red light therapy"...

Contrary to red light therapy, very few studies have actually been carried out on using incandescent (and halogen) lights during the daytime for red light therapy.

In terms of wavelengths, exposing yourself to these lights is at least somewhat different than using red light therapy.

Remember I told you that red light therapy devices generally only emit light at the 660 and an 800+ nanometer frequency, give or take a few nanometers? 

Well, incandescent (or halogen) bulbs emit light from the 350-nanometer all the way to the 1.000+ nanometer range (and even 10.000+ range). 

Incandescent bulbs emit (very little) ultraviolet light, a minute amount blue light, green light, yellow light, some red light, and lots of infrared light. The enormous heat of these bulbs is thus explainable through that infrared light.

As the light output of incandescent lights is continuous, all nanometer ranges are included, such as 650-670, 670-690, 690-710, etcetera, all in roughly equal amounts.

The therapeutic frequencies that you're aiming at with red light therapy, such as 660 and 850 nanometers, only comprise a small part of the light output of the incandescent light bulb.

But nevertheless, because you're exposing yourself for many hours a day, you should still get the same overall exposure levels. In other words, you'd add the same amount of Joules to your body by using incandescent light.

Which brings me to the next topic: are you really exposing yourself correctly? 

You'd essentially need to be naked to optimally use incandescent in your office. For people working at home, that's a possibility.

(I often use my halogen projectors in my underwear in the room I'm working in during the morning. That way, I can get lots of light exposure while blogging at the same time.)

And thus, the third option we're discussing here also has some drawbacks. Most people cannot use incandescent or halogen bulbs for many hours a day in an almost-naked state.

So what's my conclusion?

Here it is:

For most people, using incandescent light bulbs in an office, or asking sellers of LED grow-light panels to change their setup is not the best option.

And because the price of red light therapy LED devices has come down so much during the last few years, both opting for changing grow lights and using incandescent lights might not be optimal...

I would thus opt for one of the specialized red light therapy companies listed above. Very few things can go wrong in dealing with these respected companies. 

8. Who Should Use Red Light Therapy? 

Who should use red light therapy is a very interesting question.

My brutally honest answer is: "almost everyone"

Remember that I mentioned at the beginning of this article that red light therapy can never replace sunlight? That assessment is fully 100% correct. But what red light therapy can positively do for you, is mitigate some (but certainly not all) of the effects of missing sunlight in your life.

Remember that 95%+ of people in life do not get enough sunlight in their daily lives. 

Let's consider why red light therapy can help in these instances:

  • You might be working night shifts, and your three children are dependent on your income. Instead of quitting your job to get more sunlight, you're using red light therapy to mitigate some of the effects during the days that you're working at night and are sleeping during the day.

    Not getting enough light exposure thus causes problems for your health - which red light therapy can (partially) mitigate.

    Sure, night shifts are horrible for your health, increasing your chance for certain cancers, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disease, and more. But not being able to feed your children because you're quitting your job is worse than that.

    Red light therapy can thus offer your body more light when you're working during the night. Make sure to also plan to get a job during which you can get sunlight exposure in the long-run though.

  • Let's say you're a businessman, consultant, or lawyer, and going through 80 hour work weeks. Sure, you might get some sunlight during the weekends (if you're not sleeping from overwork).

    And no: 5 minutes of sunlight when you walk from the parking garage to the office is not enough.

    I'm also pretty convinced that people with these jobs will not quit their jobs to get more sunshine. On the one hand, I get that you're not quitting your job to get more sunshine. On another level, I think it's irrational and self-destructive to prioritize money over health.

    But nevertheless, let's assume (for the sake of argument) that your choice of money over health is correct.

    In that case, I'd strongly recommend you use red light therapy during the five days you do not have the possibility of getting much sunlight.

    You'd even get more work done with a red light therapy panel, so it's a no-brainer...

  • Alternatively, you might be getting some sunlight during the day. Let's say you get 15 minutes of sunlight in the morning, and 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms during the afternoon (during your work break).

    In that case, I would still strongly recommend integrating red light therapy into your life, as that exposure level is nowhere near what ancestral human beings and traditional societies get. 

    You're still having a light shortage by just getting half an hour of sunlight exposure on just a part on your body.

  • Let's say you're of older age, and moreover, cannot walk anymore. Or let's say you're in poor health, or have another reason why you cannot get enough sunlight each day.

    In all these two cases, make sure you're at least mitigating some of the effects of losing out on sunlight by integrating red light therapy into your life.

Almost everyone should use red light therapy, especially if you've got an indoor or night job.

Yes...

Sadly enough, society is built up in such a way that sunlight exposure becomes impossible. To me, that fact would be somewhat humorous, but only if it were not such a sad tragedy.

9. Conclusion: The Fountain Of Eternal Youth And Health?

There we are.

Finally.

The conclusion...

Let's complete the circle, and go back to where this article started: the title asking whether red light therapy equals the fountain of eternal youth and health.

In the literal sense, my answer is no that question. More the more figurative sense, my answer is hell yes... 

If only we could look so young again.
Just kidding...

Why? Light medicine is in its infancy, even though light is (almost) as old as the universe. 

If you're reading this article, you might be surprised that red light therapy has such all-round health benefits, for heart disease, to improving exercise performance, losing fat, cognitive functioning, well-being, and much, much more.

These red light therapy results are hardly surprising though. Our planet and most of its inhabiting creatures have been developing for billions of years under sunlight.

It's only since 100 years that humans have started moving indoors. Think about that for a second. Human beings are arrogant enough to think that they can reject billions of years of evolution while thinking they can get away with it.

I'll, therefore, submit to the following statement:

I would be much more surprised if red light therapy did not have the benefits it has, given the importance of light for most creatures living on this planet. 

Red light therapy is thus highly recommended for almost anyone on this planet, especially the 95% of people in developed countries who almost never see the sun. Whether you want to have a better performing brain, prevent several diseases, or become stronger in the gym, red light therapy is for you.

Just ask yourself: "do I have a light deficit?"

If so, buy the number one listed red light therapy panels I recommend, from Platinum LED Therapy Lights. Use coupon code NBH1 to receive a 5% discount.

Oh yeah, lastly, if you want to know more about using red light therapy in very specific instances, please consider this excel sheet. That sheet lays out thousands of studies on red light therapy that are not included in this blog post.

Welcome to the light revolution!

Let's hope that the realization that red light therapy has such massive effects on health, more people start to realize that sunlight is even better.

We have a dream...

By the way, do you want an infographic summary with 10 Red Light Therapy Laws? Sign up below:

10. Frequently Asked Questions.

Here I treat some assorted questions that frequently come up regarding red light therapy.

My red light device puts out some heat. Is that heat beneficial?

Some heat probably won't matter, but remember that heat exposure is not the goal of red light therapy.

You're generally advised to stay at least 6 inches (15 centimeters) away from your red light therapy device so that you're not heated up. At least, I'm assuming you've got a high-quality device.

The more red light therapy heats you, the worse the results actually become.

Red light therapy is not meant as an (infrared) sauna that heats you up but is designed to put lots of light into your body, affecting that body's functioning.

Don't, therefore, treat red light therapy as if it were an infrared sauna...

Is red light therapy safe?

Certainly. 

As I said before, there are only a few instances where you'd have to be careful with using red light therapy:

  1. projecting the red light directly at a tumor (if you have cancer).
  2. if you're really sensitive the flickering of lights. Red light therapy devices flicker.
  3. if you use red light therapy too much. If you exceed the maximal 60 Joule dose for treating tissues by too much, you can feel tired, have no results at all, or have a small headache. Make sure to lower the overall dosage if you're in poor health.
  4. using red light therapy very close to bedtime. Doing so will result in suppressed melatonin levels, which inhibit your sleep quality.

Should I increase my red light therapy dosage over time?

One interesting question that's not sufficiently answered in scientific studies, in my opinion, is whether red light therapy doses need to be increased over time.

Why?

Just as you're getting used to a certain exercise stimulus or increase your tolerance to cold, red light therapy might also have the same effect. I cannot answer this question, but my assumption right now is that dosages may need to be increased over time.

If that increase is necessary, it's another argument in favor of buying strong light-emitting red light therapy devices.

How about using red light therapy for my pets?

Great question...

Red light therapy is already in use for pets today. Whether you want to make your horse race faster, help your dog recover from an intense workout (yes, really), or make your cat feel good, red light therapy is a great choice.

In fact, very often animals intentionally seek out being close to red light therapy devices when their owners use the device.

The exact dosages of treating animals with red light therapy lie beyond the scope of the argument I'm aiming at in this blog post. Having said that, there are some things to take into account:

  • The bigger the fur of your pet or animal, the higher of a dosage they need
  • There are huge differences across species qua dosages. Rats - which are often used in red light therapy studies - are much more sensitive to red light therapy than humans, for example.

You can accomplish many things for your animal with red light therapy: helping them heal quicker after a heart attack, improving their fur, keeping their joints healthy, pain relief, help them run (or swim) faster, and even 

If you're looking for a good market right now: go ahead, and start a red light therapy blog specialized towards animals.

I smell a millionaire just 2 years away... 

Will I get tanned from using red light therapy?

Sadly enough, no. 

Remember that red light therapy devices only emit red and infrared light.

The ultraviolet light (which I've treated in this blog post too) is what causes you to have a tan. Sunlight and tanning beds provide ultraviolet light, while red light therapy does not.

Even though a tan looks good, red light therapy will not supply you with it. Nevertheless, if you want better-looking skin, both a tan and red light therapy help you with that.

Can I look into a red light therapy device when it's on?

Yes, certainly.

In fact, you need to look into the device to get the benefits associated with eyesight. Red and infrared light have healing effects for your eyes, just as almost any other tissue in your body.

The only criterion to keep in your mind is that red light therapy should not heat your eyes, which can cause damage. As long as you stay cool, you're thus fine.

Does red light therapy really work?

Absolutely, red light therapy works amazingly well. 

I know that more than 3.700 studies have been published on red light therapy, where almost 80%+ is positive.

It's also known why some studies do not show any results: the dosage that is used is often too high.

It depends on the user though, how long you'll see effects. Many people see effects after just one session. Other people see effects after a week. There's also a difference between how long it takes to accomplish different types of results. 

In my personal situation, I've noticed some benefits such as improved skin beauty after just one session.

I've bought a red light therapy device but half of the lights are not working!

Don't worry.

The lights only look as if they are not working, but in fact they do.

Remember that infrared light is invisible to the human eye. The 830 or 850-nanometer lights are both found in the infrared light spectrum. Even if the panel is turned on, you cannot see these wavelengths being emitted.

So your eyes work fine, and your panel does too...

Do red light therapy devices need to be replaced?

Probably not. 

LED lights are made to last between 50.000 and 100.000 hours long. Even if the lights only lasted 50.000 hours long, and you would use the red light therapy device for an hour a day (which is overkill), the device would last you 78 years.

If you're 20 right now, those 78 years are more than your average lifetime.

I have an infrared sauna. Will red light therapy give me any additional benefits?

Yes.

Infrared saunas are like the traditional light bulbs I've described before - such as the incandescent and halogen bulbs - but emit even more infrared compared to these traditional light bulbs.

To be more precise: 

While infrared saunas have great health benefits of their own, they do not emit the exact same therapeutic wavelengths as red light therapy devices do.

Almost all of the light emitted by infrared saunas lies between the 1.000 - 5.000-nanometer wavelengths. You're thus not getting much if any of the desired 660 and 830 or 850-nanometer wavelengths.

Even in cases where the therapeutic wavelengths are included, the dosage is often very low.

Do I need to wear any skin products as I would do when visiting the tanning salon?

No.

Wearing anything on your skin - even coconut oil - might reduce the effects, because many substances that are put on the skin also block ultraviolet light.

Don't put anything on your skin before red light therapy...

Don't you need an FDA approval to use red light therapy devices?

No again.

The FDA only regulates devices that put out ultraviolet radiation, or red light lasers, which both can (potentially) be harmful. That harm only occurs because of bad usage, of course.

LED red light therapy devices do not fall within either category, because there's no ultraviolet light emitted, and these devices are not lasers.

How about the devices that contain BOTH red, infrared, and blue light?

In 99% of the cases, avoid.

Most people in modern society already take in toxic amounts of blue light. Read more about blue light in a previous blog post of mine that touches upon the subject as well.

Blue light may give some additional help for dealing with acne specifically. But overall, I think ultraviolet light "tanning" beds and red light therapy are better options for the same purpose.

You state that only wavelengths between 600 and 900 nanometers are used in red light therapy. I saw 1080 nanometers being used though.

Great catch! 

You've got me. I admit I'm an impostor.

But in all seriousness: to keep the message simple, some parts of my argument have been somewhat oversimplified.

For example, I don't go into detail why ultraviolet-C radiation hits the earth's surface today as well, which is a historical anomaly (according to some).



*Post can contain affiliate links. Read my affiliate, medical, and privacy disclosure for more information.

Author: Bart Wolbers. Bart finished degrees in Physical Therapy (B), Philosophy (BA and MA), Philosophy of Science and Technology (MSc - Cum Laude), and Clinical Health Science (MSc).



See Other Articles:

Why Vitamin D Supplements Won't Cut It (And Why You Need Ultraviolet Light From The Sun)

The Ultimate Guide Why You Need Blue Blocking Glasses For Amazing Energy, Sleep, Well-Being And (Mental) Performance

Conquer (Chronic) Stress: The Ultimate Guide To Stress Relief

Beat Insomnia. Everything You Need To Know About Sleep Quality

How To Be Happy: Why Health Is Essential In The Pursuit Of Happiness

 

 

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