what is red light therapy?

Red light means a whole lot more than just following traffic rules these days thanks to red light therapy, an alternative treatment therapy with astronomical origins and potential.

What Exactly is Red Light Therapy?

Lady Using a Red Light Therapy Device

Red Light Therapy is a therapeutic treatment of various medical concerns by stimulating the body’s natural defences through using red tinted light. The foundation of the therapy lies in nature and how natural light from the sun provides the body with myriad benefits. Among the colors of the spectrum of sunlight, red light helps activate adenosine triphosphate (ATP) found in muscle tissues, which generates more energy for use. It also increases the production of collagen which works to fill in fine lines and wrinkles in the treated areas. Commonly employed methods of red light generation are LED-equipped devices of varied intensities which are held over the patient and hovered in areas where the light needs to be focused, be it for anti-aging or pain relief such as over the forehead in cases of a migraine.

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how does red light therapy work ?

Red and near infrared light stimulates cell respiration and increases energy production.

Our cells need natural light for normal functioning, just as they need water, vitamins and nutrients from food.

All living things use natural light to function and survive fully, and almost all living things use natural light daily for biochemical processes in cells to generate energy. We humans create this energy every second in a process called cellular respiration, and red and near infrared (NIR) light play a major role in this important process.

Unfortunately, in modern living conditions, humans do not receive as much natural light as is necessary for optimal health. Urban dwellers spend more than 90% of their time indoors and experience a huge lack of sunlight. That is why urban residents suffer from diseases of the “city”: depression, chronic fatigue, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hypertension, insomnia.

The therapy with red light allows to supplement scarce light received from the environment with a powerful light flux of red and near infrared light waves at home.

The wavelength of natural red light reduces oxidative stress, has an anti-inflammatory effect, improves circulation and improves the function of mitochondria – energy stations of the cell where energy is produced.

What’s NASA Got to do With It?

Red light therapy was derived from NASA light technology that was intended for experimental plant growth in space shuttle missions. It turned out that the far red or near infrared light, when used in a treatment NASA called High Emissivity Aluminiferous Luminescent Substrate (HEALS), helped alleviate a very painful side effect of radiation and chemotherapy on cancer patients. The space agency ran a two-year trial that resulted in an encouraging 96% probability that reduced pain in cancer patients suffering from side effects of their treatment benefitted from HEALS.
Pain relief was just the first step, however. As red light therapy grew to become a new health, wellness, and alternative treatment trend, enthusiasts have been discovering a lot of benefits and healthy advantages to the bright idea. NASA’s experiments showed that red light helped reduce pain because it helped promote healing. They were also quick to note that the therapy could also help in areas like better nutrition and morale for the patients undergoing treatment. The more obvious advantages also make this form of light therapy very attractive: it is non-invasive, has no associated stigmas, and could help alleviate stress like walks in the sunshine.

But Wait, is There Science Behind All Its Beneficial Claims?

Light therapy has been in use for quite a long time – it even outdates modern medical theory. Natural sunlight provides all its benefits because it is a full spectrum of light colors all rolled up into one. To better illustrate natural light’s health benefits, let us look at Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or winter depression.

SAD, while aggravated by stress and emotional pressure, is a seasonal depression triggered by lack of sunlight in winter. The obvious prescription is light therapy. For SAD, natural sunlight or emulated light therapy through a lightbox is best – both provide the full spectrum of white light. Red light therapy singles out red from the spectrum for its particular benefits.

Critics point out that there is no hard evidence to support red light therapy’s efficacy. Not yet, that is. NASA has proven that red light through HEALS works for healing wounds and reducing pain for cancer patients. Thousands of enthusiasts and practitioners of red light therapy are finding out more.

From Acne to Aging

With the amount of anecdotal evidence and testimonials circulating in the web, all that remains is to scientifically prove that red light is an anti-aging and an anti-acne therapy. ATP is not the only substance red light stimulates – it also promotes collagen, with the added bonus of clearing out clogged skin pores.

Red Light Therapy Before and After Photo for Anti Aging

Acne loses two footholds against red light therapy, while aging and its damage on the skin are also dealt with efficiently with evident effects. With the ATP and collagen production levels boosted, among other benefits, red light is touted to reduce pain, help with better nutrition, increase morale, prevent and heal acne, and fight aging.

Better yet, red light does all this without a tinge of ultraviolet radiation. As mentioned earlier, the red light used in the therapy is far red or near infrared – infrared and ultraviolet light is directly harmful to the human body.

Bathing in Red Light

So how does a session of red light therapy go? Duration of therapy sessions depends on the health issue being addressed. The repetition of sessions and the intervals between cycles are also dependent on the severity of the concern. In general, practitioners tend to carry out 2 to 5 minute sessions where the LED equipment is held near the areas of concern between regular intervals for a certain length of time.

Red light therapy may still be in its developmental stages, but it already has a lot going for it in terms of being an alternative therapy with a potentially solid scientific foundation. We are sure to hear much more about it in the future, and probably not just in the areas of anti-aging and pain relief.

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