The Benefits of Red Light & Near-Infrared Light Therapy

Did you know that sitting under a specific type of light can help you overcome certain health issues? 

That light is the red light. Red light therapy is a photomedicine method that uses a variety of wavelengths to alleviate a long list of health problems. 

As explained by the National Center for Atmospheric Research, some wavelengths are between 620 nanometers and 750 nanometers. 

Some light wavelengths may cause changes in the cells and optimize their functioning, as the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery notes.

A Helpful Complementary Therapy for a Long List of Health Issues 

Red light therapy is an additional therapy used along with conventional treatment methods. 

For example, let’s say you want your fine lines and wrinkles reduced: a light therapy treatment in combination with therapy from your dermatologist may significantly reduce this problem. 

Moreover, let’s say you’re a sportsperson and you’ve unfortunately suffered an injury: your physical therapist may implement light therapy in your healing process. 

Research on Red Light Therapy Is Not Entirely Clear

One of the issues with this therapy is the research which isn’t entirely clear on how and how much of the treatment is necessary. And, there’s no clear information on how the protocols change according to the health issues that have to be resolved.

Therefore, there’s a high need of setting standards in this area by the FDA. Until that happens, there are still a lot of experts who recommend and use light therapy to alleviate a long list of health and skin problems.

If you want to give light therapy a chance, always consult your doctor first. And, don’t forget to check out how red light therapy benefits your overall health. 

How Can Light Therapy Help Improve Your Health?

  • May help with hair and skin problems 

Red light therapy is used to alleviate different skin and hair problems. It’s promoted as beneficial in reducing wrinkles and fine lines, according to Jared Jagdeo, MD, the founding director of the Center for Photomedicine at SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University in Brooklyn, New York. 

Research notes that red light may help stimulate collagen that’s necessary for smooth skin. Another problem where red light therapy may help is acne. In fact, a small controlled clinical study from January 2022 published in Photodermatology, Photoimmunology, and Photomedicine found that red light lowered lesions by 36 percent in people with moderate or mild acne. 

What’s more, this therapy may be of aid in lowering inflammation and may destroy bacteria that are known to contribute to acne outbreaks. Interestingly, red light could help with the reduction of facial redness. This is because it lowers inflammation and a lower inflammation means less redness, according to Jagdeo. 

Despite such claims, there’s a lack of research showing the effectiveness of this therapy in the treatment of conditions like psoriasis. If you’re struggling with slow hair growth, red light therapy may help with hair loss. 

Namely, this light lowers inflammation and boosts the blood flow to the hair and scalp. By doing this, the follicles can get the needed nutrients and oxygen for healthy growth. 

  • Reduces pain 

According to emerging research, red light therapy may help with pain associated with chronic health issues. 

With the proper dose and protocol, it can be of aid for the reduction of inflammation and pain, according to Praveen Arany, Ph.D. and associate professor at the University of Buffalo and the interim director of the Center of Excellence for Photobiomodulation at Shepherd University in West Virginia. 

He explains that this is achieved because there’s a protein on the neuron’s surface which when it absorbs light, the cell’s capacity to perceive or transfer pain reduces. 

Available research found that this therapy may be a good pain management option for people with neuropathy. 

The research about its effect on reducing pain from inflammatory conditions is mostly derived from studies with animals. Hence, it’s not yet clear how this therapy could fit into a treatment plan for people. 

  • It may help with sports injuries 

Red light stimulates the mitochondria and triggers an enzyme that increases the ATP. This process is good for the growth and repair of muscles, as noted in research from April 2020 published in Frontiers in Sports and Active Living. 

This is why treatment with red light prior to exercise is praised as good for better performance of the muscles, the healing of the muscles, and lower soreness associated with workouts. 

Despite these claims, there are still a lot of unanswered questions that remain, especially about the use of the therapy in terms of the proper wavelengths and timing depending on the type of sport, which muscles will be treated, and the benefits of the use of this therapy on the performance. 

  • Good for the brain

Another recent benefit of red light therapy is better brain health. According to Arany, studies have found that photobiomodulation treatment may better neurocognition. 

This therapy helps lower inflammation and may boost blood flow and oxygen, which will encourage the formation of new synapses and neurons in the brain. 

This may aid individuals who’ve undergone a traumatic brain injury or a stroke, as noted in a research from 2018 published in the Neuroscience Research journal.