The Benefits of Red Light Therapy

620 826 Lauren Kennedy

My friend introduced me to infrared saunas about a year ago, and I have been hooked ever since. There is a spa near my house in California that I try to go to monthly to get the benefits of this therapy. It is truly so relaxing, and I believe it has had significant impact on reducing the inflammation in my body. As y’all may know, I am a wellness nut and am consistently researching health and diet and everything in between. I have always been passionate about these things, but I struggled a lot with fatigue, fungus, and the affect of toxins in my body after my accident in 2011, so my research has only increased along with my desire to have my body function as it is intended!

Because my schedule is limited to having the time to sit in an infrared as much as I would like, I was so excited when I recently discovered red light therapy. Jason and I ordered a mini version of this for our home, and our goal is to sit in front of it for five minutes every day. The effects are pretty incredible + it’s collagen boosting aka wrinkle reducing. Can I get an amen?

scroll down for the fun, scientific, mind-blowing information.

These specific wavelengths of red light create a biochemical affect in our cells that serves to increase mitochondrial function. This improves ATP production in the body, which is the source of energy for every cell in the body. Without it, we don’t function at all. Without enough of it, we don’t function well.

It’s wavelengths range between 630-880nm and are used to treat the skin’s surface. Red therapy light penetrates about 8-10 millimeters into the skin. Depending on which area of the body the red light is used, this can easily affect all skin layers, reaching into blood vessels, lymph pathways, nerves, and hair follicles. (Insert so many heart emojis).

red light therapy vs. sauna treatment

These are all beneficial but provide different results.

The purpose of a sauna is to raise the temperature of the body. This heats the body from the inside out in a sense and is said to provide more beneficial effects in less time and at lower heat.

Both sauna methods increase heart rate, perspiration, heat shock proteins and improve the body in other ways. Unlike red light therapy, infrared light from a sauna is invisible, and penetrates much deeper into the body.

Red therapy light is not designed to increase perspiration or improve cardiovascular function. It impacts cells on the cellular level and increases mitochondrial function and ATP production. It essentially “feeds” your cells to increase energy.

for you history geeks, this is for you!

Red light therapy has been around the block. In 1903 physician Niels Ryberg Finsen won the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his successful treatment of smallpox and lupus with red light. Russia uses low level laser therapy in their standard medical care (and they have since the 1970s). The Russians also published hundreds of studies over the decades on the benefits of red therapy light. Unfortunately, very few of these studies have been translated into English.

Red light therapy has largely been ignored by the US and western Europe until recently. However it’s been used in a clinical setting since the 1980s in Japan, China, Canada, Northern Ireland, Vietnam, Latin America, and Eastern Europe.

the good stuff AKA the benefits of red light therapy.

Even though the western world is behind the times with red therapy light, strong evidence supports its health benefits. It is FDA approved for chronic joint pain, slow to heal wounds, wrinkles, hair loss and acne. Many others have used it successfully for other issues, like psoriasis, improved circulation and better immune function.

here’s a partial list of the evidence based uses of red therapy light:

  • It helps rejuvenate facial skin and smooths skin tone.
  • Red light builds collagen in the skin to reduce wrinkles.
  • It helps to repair sun damage.
  • Red light activates the lymphatic system for potentially improved detoxification.
  • Decreases inflammation in the skin.
  • Helps fade scars and stretch marks.
  • Improves hair growth to reverse balding.
  • Stimulates slow healing wounds.
  • Can prevent recurring cold sores, or herpes simplex.
  • Helpful in the short term for carpal tunnel syndrome.
  • Beneficial for skin to reduce eczema, rosacea and acne.

better circulation and collagen production

Red therapy light improves collagen levels naturally by triggering the body to produce more of its own. Since collagen comprises about 70% of the protein in our skin, it’s a big deal!

Increased collagen doesn’t just give the skin a wrinkle free glow, but its ability to improve joint health makes it great for arthritis sufferers. It can be helpful for those with a variety of painful musculoskeletal issues. The increased circulation and anti-inflammatory effects that red therapy light provides also help reduce pain and heal the body.

wound healing and red light therapy (I love this for my scars!)

Fibroblasts in our skin synthesize collagen, maintain connective tissue and are integral to wound healing. Red therapy light stimulates fibroblasts to do their job, and increases circulation for faster wound repair time. People have used this therapy for burns, amputation injuries, skin grafts and infected wounds. It’s been successfully used for skin damage caused by cancer treatments, including those in the mouth and mucus membranes.

a remedy for hair loss

A 24 week study demonstrated that red therapy light significantly improved hair density and hair thickness without any serious reactions. So amazing!

help for the thyroid

One randomized, placebo-controlled clinical study from 2013 looked at the benefits of light therapy on chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. This study showed an overall improvement in thyroid health from near infrared and light therapy. Many participants were able to reduce or eliminate their thyroid medication. In fact, a startling 47 percent of the participants no longer needed medication during the entire nine-month follow-up after the light therapy treatment. This is shocking as most people are told that they will need thyroid medication for the rest of their lives.

help for acne, rosacea and eczema

The collagen and ATP stimulating benefits of red light therapy make it a promising solution for skin problems like acne, rosacea and eczema. This benefits stretch marks, wrinkles, and an improved hair line. Hooray!

how to use a red therapy light

Spas and dermatologists who offer this service generally charge $50-$100 a session, so we found it much more convenient and likely cheaper in the long run to get the benefits of red light therapy at home.

There are plenty of at home devices for sale from a variety of manufacturers. I wanted to find a device that used a combination of wavelengths for maximum benefit. This way, I would get the benefit of the deeper penetration of the higher wavelength and the cellular “charging” of the lower visible spectrum.

After much research, I settled on the Joovv Light. We are loving it so so much and think it was one of our best investments!

Here is a great article on how to choose the best device if that is of interest! I love this learn page too, which answers frequently asked questions!

Also, this device contains both red and NIR light. NIR will help with muscle recovery, joint pain relief, inflammation reduction. What’s not to love?



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