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There’s a reason I’m big into infrared.  You’ll get the idea why after this interview.  I love his answer to the last question when I ask him about the future of infrared…He thinks everyone will have multiple devices.  LLLT will be used by everyone sooner or later.  The only question is, will you be an early adopter?

The video cut out in the beginning on my end (although he was able to see me).  I don’t know why.

What we discuss:

  • The mechanisms for LLLT/Infrared,
  • The beneficial wavelengths,
  • What conditions can benefit,
  • Where to put it, for how long to put it,
  • Side effects,
  • How he uses it personally…
  • LLLT and Cancer


Dr Michael Hamblin knows his shit.  He’s a professor at Harvard and has published close to 300 papers, mostly on phototherapy.

There is no one in this world who knows more about infrared or light therapy for healing than him.

If you ask a doctor about infrared therapy, they might start mumbling that they either don’t know or there’s not enough research on it.  This just means they don’t know shit.  This is why I’m interviewing the direct source.

See my post on LLLT.

Dr. Hamblin’s CV

  • Principal Investigator at the Wellman Center for Photomedicine at Massachusetts General Hospital,
  • Associate Professor of Dermatology at Harvard Medical School
  • Member of the affiliated faculty of the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Science and Technology.
  • He was trained as a synthetic organic chemist and received his Ph.D. from Trent University in England.
  • His research interests lie in the areas of photodynamic therapy (PDT) for infections, cancer, and stimulation of the immune system, and in low-level light therapy (LLLT) for wound healing, arthritis, traumatic brain injury, neurodegenerative diseases and psychiatric disorders.
  • He directs a laboratory of around a dozen post-doctoral fellows, visiting scientists and graduate students.
  • His research program is supported by NIH, CDMRP, USAFOSR and CIMIT among other funding agencies.
  • He has published 284 peer-reviewed articles, over 150 conference proceedings, book chapters, and International abstracts and holds 8 patents.
  • He is Associate Editor for 7 journals, on the editorial board of a further 12 journals and serves on NIH Study Sections.
  • For the past 10 years, Dr. Hamblin has chaired an annual conference at SPIE Photonics West entitled “Mechanisms for low-level light therapy” and he has edited the 10 proceedings volumes together with four other major textbooks on PDT and photomedicine.


I edited this for clarity and brevity.  I would suggest reading this outline and listening to the interview.

Q: I emailed him an important question after the interview….Is there a problem using C60 olive oil with LLLT? 

No problem combining C60 in olive oil and LLLT.

Q: How does LLLT work?

Absorption of Red and near infrared photons.


Near Infrared= 780-1100/1200nm

  • Photons are absorbed by chromophores in the mitochondria.
  • Nitric oxide increases,
  • Mitochondria changes that are good,
  • Signaling – from ROS, Non cAMP,
  • Burst of ROS,
  • cAMP from extra ATP,
  • Activates transcription factors to create new proteins.

Light has effects days or weeks after.

Q: Do you use light therapy personally and how do you use it?

There’s no danger to LEDs,

He puts it on in the morning on some part of his body, elbow (if sore), knee (if sore), eyes, forehead, and any part of his anatomy that could use some boosting…..

He uses it on his forehead for 15 minutes 2X a week..

Q: Why don’t you use it on the rest of your brain?

Because hair blocks the light.

Q: How come I felt good effects from LLLT when I had hair?

Some of it goes through.

Near infrared could give you a cognitive effect…if you put it on your head for a half hour or so…(You can get good effects for shorter periods).

Q: Does it make a difference if you get cheaper devices?

To some degree, you get what you pay for….

The more watts, the more effects it will have, but there’s a limit of course,

The upper limit of power density should be 100mw/centimeter…

Q: What about CCTV devices?

They’re good…

They put flood lights on top of the cage that had a lot of power (72 watts) and it worked for the animals.

Q: Can infrared (850nm) get through glass?

Yes, 800-1200 nm goes through glass, but far infrared probably doesn’t….to some degree it can also go through thin white clothing.

The heat you feel in the car from the sun is infrared.

Q: Have you heard of Dr. Gerald Pollack? What do you think of infrared creating structured water?

LLLT also works with ion channels…

Mosquitos see the infrared in your skin from light-sensitive ion channels in the eye.

Mammals have these ion channels as well, which are sensitive to ion channels.

Many physics papers talk about structured water.

It’s possible structured water has a role to play in activating the ion channels, which goes on to raise cellular calcium levels.

No one knows how the ion channels open, but it could very well be that this is mediated by structured water.

Q: Isn’t raising calcium in your cell, not a good idea?

Infrared is causing the ion channels to open, which causes small increases in cellular calcium, in a wave-like manner…it’s the large increases that are bad.

Q: How much infrared does the sun have and how does it compare to the LEDs?

Sun probably provides 20-30 milliwatts/sq centimeter of near infrared….so it’s beneficial, but it’s not nearly as powerful as the LEDs…

It’s long been known that sun is good for photobiomodulation…but too much UV is bad….

To get the correct dosage from the sun, you’d need to worry about UV exposure, and it would be better if you were at a higher altitude.

Q: How does someone know if they’re getting too much infrared?

If the benefits go away after continual usage, that’s a sign of overuse.

Some side effects from too much usage include:


Getting too tired from it – but this is not bad per se.

People with brain injuries generally get tired.

Q: Why do some people get tired from LLLT and healthy people don’t?

He thinks that people who get tired from it are already tired, but unable to sleep, but the light therapy somehow releases the block that stops them from sleeping, by perhaps relaxing them.

Perhaps because light therapy reduces glutamate, so it stops the parts of the brain that are overexcited.

Serotonin metabolism is also affected by light.  There’re more serotonin metabolites in the urine when people use infrared.

LLLT only increases inflammation transiently in people without any baseline inflammation.  In people with inflammation, LLLT only has an anti-inflammatory effect.

Q: Would increasing cellular calcium cause glutamate to increase?

Not quite.  Light therapy causes a small increase and gets a protective response. So maybe a small increase in cellular calcium causes a protective response by the cell.

Light therapy works by hormesis and also preconditioning….

Q: How is it working that a small increase in ROS stimulates an adaptive response in people who have very high levels of ROS already.  Something else must be happening?

ROS only transiently increased in people who have low ROS….but in people who have high levels, it ROS only decreases.

Q: Does it make a difference on the time of day that you put it on?

He’s never seen research on that.

Q: How does near infrared compare to far infrared?

Well, therapy is only effective at certain light lengths.  700-760nm has very little to no effect, and when you get to 800, the effects come back.

1500nm seems to do something…broadband far infrared such as 10,000nm also does something.

It’s possible that all the wavelengths from 800-10,000nm do the same things.

At those wavelengths, water is the main chromophore or molecule that absorbs the light… by a long shot….

Q: What’s better, infrared bulbs/lamps or LEDs?

LEDs seem to better than lamps, but he’s not sure why.

Q: Can infrared LEDs damage eyesight?

No, it’s probably good for your eyes.

Light therapy can help with cataracts…
Infrared LEDs can preserve your retinal photoreceptors from damage.
LEDs and light therapy can be good for autoimmune thyroid antibodies.  It probably works by decreasing systemic inflammation.
Q: What about LLLT on the tests?  Do I have to be worried about fertility?

No, it’s been shown in animal studies to increase fertility.

Q: What about using light therapy on your gut?

It’s hard for the infrared to make its way to the inside of the intestines, so it’ll probably only have a superficial effect.

Studies are done on an infrared pill for problems such as colitis.

Red and near infrared have some effect on microbes.  Blue light actually kills microbes.

Q: What does LLLT NOT help with?

Not aware of any negative studies…

Q: Did LLLT help with fatigue in people with traumatic brain injuries?

Helps them with fatigue.

Q: What about infrared or ceramic laced clothing?

Because of the nature of the material, it keeps more in and puts less out.

Clothing can maybe increase athletic performance.

The benefits exist, but they’re not huge.

Q: What about clothing such as UA cold gear?

He believes it would have an effect (beneficial).

Q: What about an infrared sauna?  Would that be better than a regular sauna?

He believes so.

Q: What about pulsing vs non-pulsing LLLT?

If you’re going to use pulsing, 10-100hz is good or else the cells get confused.

Q: What about the using LLLT in your nose?

He thinks it’s working by irradiating the blood in circulation.  He thinks the benefits are occurring via the platelets, as they cause a variety of growth factors.

Q: What about LLLT for cancer?  Should we be scared that it increases cancer risk?

Light therapy could not conceivably cause cancer….It’s entirely possible that light therapy makes an existing tumor grow faster.

It’s not a great idea to put it directly on a tumor, but putting it on your thymus is a good idea.

It could also be beneficial by increasing the local area of the immune system so that it can fight cancer better.

There are some studies on infrared light therapy in advanced cancer and preliminary studies have been positive.

But at this stage, it’s too early to say if it can benefit or not.

Q: What’s the future of Light therapy?

He thinks not too far in the future everyone will have multiple devices for use in multiple body parts. Wearable/portable light sources may come in.

Q: What modalities do you focus on to improve your own health?

He’s not into healthy eating or anything, he just focuses on light, as he thinks it’s most important.  It could be light therapy will allow you to get away with all the things that are bad for you?

Q: Where can people find you?

The handbook of photomedicine is already out.

The handbook of low-level laser therapy is coming out.

See Dr. Michael Hamblin’s book on Amazon.

Links to Vielight

I personally use the Vielight products rather than the cheaper intranasal ones.

I’ve bought the Vielight products to try out higher powered devices.  They are better, so I’d suggest that if you have the money, go for the Vielight.  If you don’t, go for the cheaper stuff below.

Use discount coupon code JOSEPHCOHEN for 10% off all Vielight products.  Vielights are better than the cheaper ones.

“The Vielight 810 Infrared emits an infrared light with an 810 nm wavelength. The longer wavelength enables photons to reach and photobiomodulation your brain cells. Engineered to pulse at 10 Hz, this frequency is associated with neural oscillation in the alpha state.

In a Harvard study conducted, this draws the greatest neurological healing in traumatized brains. This state also helps to release calming chemicals in the brain, which helps with sleeping conditions.

The LED beam footprint spans the underside of the brain, including the mid-brain area. With these specifications, the power density is 7.6 mW/cm² (net of duty cycle) per session.”

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The information on this website has not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration or any other medical body. We do not aim to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any illness or disease. Information is shared for educational purposes only. You must consult your doctor before acting on any content on this website, especially if you are pregnant, nursing, taking medication, or have a medical condition.


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  • lena pruner

    I want to know who sells lllt devices I have seached and cant find any number or website could you please help ke find out where to get one

    1. Caroline Lam

      Hi Lena,

      In the article, Joe talks about Vielight, in the ‘Links to Vielight’ section.

      This article has more information on LLT devices too.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  • Robert Lee

    I have a K-laser, Any recommendations on treatment protocols for depression/ anxiety ?

  • Robert Zuidgeest

    Hey Joseph, was wondering if you would share your source for the C 60 you take. At one time I was signed up for an experimental trial involving C 60 but the trial was canceled. They claimed they couldn’t find a reputable source for the product.

    1. Helen

      Hi, you can ask Joe inside of VIP:

  • gregg

    What is the $300 LLLT LED device that Dr. Hamblin used? The Vielights are much too expensive. I seem to remember Joe recommending some devices that cost under $100 – – – what were they so I can try to find them on Amazon?
    thanks, Brandon

  • Pat Prokopchuk

    Is there any chance you could comment on the general efficacy of the ‘In Light Wellness Systems’ product line to penetrate and deliver the different wavelengths into human tissue?
    Has anyone worked out successful protocols for various conditions remedied by LLLT?
    Is there any credible research showing LLLT being able to activate dormant viruses?
    Thank you for sharing information about one of the ‘medicines of the quantum future’.

  • Anna Sper

    Good interview, thank you. You said you use Vielight intranasal 810. What do you think about Dr. Hamblin’s comment that the light cannot possibly reach the brain. And that Dr. Lim is all wrong on that. Strong words. What is your experience with the device? Would love to know your thoughts. Thanks, Anna

    1. Noelle Noli

      I really want to know the answer to that question as well and had asked a similar question a month ago but got no response. I don’t think this page is tended to regularly.

      1. Stacey Roberts c/o Optimal health LLC

        On the interview he says the light doesn’t reach the brain but it is the effects on the blood circulation (in this case the nasal cavity) that gets to the brain and produces the effects.

  • Tony

    Hi Joseph, thankyou for your website; i have just gotten an CCTV 850nm, what is your recommendation for using this? time and distance? say on my forehead or on my arm or back? Thankyou

  • Noelle Noli

    Hi Joe…. before you were referred to me by a friend I was about to spend a lot of money on nuero-feedback therapy to treat PTSD and other brain/nervous system “issues”…. while I still truly believe in that therapy I am considering investing in the vielight technology instead… any thoughts on treating “out of range” brain waves with light therapy? THANK YOU~~~!!!

  • Tony

    Fascinating interview, but something puzzles me. Dr. Hamblin states that color in the 850nm range does not penetrate clothing particularly well (“not great” through clothing, I believe he said) and elsewhere in the interview mentions that hair can also block much of the light. Yet he is also saying that the light — even that of the low-powered 2-watt LED unit he uses at home — is able to penetrate skull bone and reach the brain. Since he also mentions water is the principle chromophore when it comes to absorbing and hence blocking the LED’s photons, it’s curious that bone — which is roughly 31% water — can be penetrated effectively, yet less-dense clothing and hair cannot. One would assume hair and clothing, unless soaking wet, would contain a lot less than 31% water, even when body convection/evaporation is taken into consideration. Puzzling indeed.

  • Cathy Cooke

    So if I were trying to address neuroinflammation, insomnia and sinus issues, which device is best?

  • David

    Joe, have you considered revising your recommendation for treating each spot for 2 minutes after learning that Michael holds his LED array device on his forehead for 20 mins? Seems he believes more is better.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Yes, but it depends on if you’re healthy or not. Hamblin is healthy.

  • Rut Magnus

    Hi Joe, Thank you for a fantastic website,so informative. 🙂 one question for you, do you know if by any change using infrared could make GERD ( acid reflux) worse? I have just started using single infrared heat lamp ( 250w) and my acid reflux is coming back, could the heat somehow make this condition worse? I have not been doing anything else different so it seems like the infrared is creating this. Could it be that it is healing it, like it get´s worse before it gets better? Was trying to find some research on this subject, but couldn´t find anything. Maybe I am staying to close the lamp? Anyway would love to hear your thoughts on this.

  • k

    “Upper limit of power density should be 100mw/centimeter”

    It’s not clear to me why this is? So let say 400mW pulsed at 10Hz would be to much? Why so?
    Is this based as a general rule for any infrared light source? Or is there a difference between LED and laser light power?

  • Adam


    Thanks for your great work.

    Have you used the Neuro?

    How does it compare to the 655 and 810?

    – Adam

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Yes, I have, it’s different of course, targeted to the brain. Powerful if you shave your head.

  • Lil

    Is there a transcranial device to use?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      I bought this and am happy with it
      Light Therapy Vielight Neuro – use discount coupon code JOSEPHCOHEN for 10% off.

  • Carson. D

    Hi Joseph,

    I am a little confused from a couple posting here. Should one use LLLT once every other day or is every day acceptable. Is it once every other day for a specific spot (say the head)? and the next day a different spot. Or would once every other day anywhere on the body be best?

    If that makes sense and you could provide some insight, Thank you so much

  • colinbadali

    Fantastic work…I think Prof. Hamblin was impressed with the quality of your questions. Really enjoyed hearing his take on the future of photomedicine/photobiomodulation. All the best, keep up the great work.

  • Johnny

    Hello Joe,

    great Podcast, thanks!

    What do you think is better:

    ICES or LLLT?

    I can buy only one at the moment and my main issue is food related brain fog, maybe caused by vasoconstrictive sinusitis.

    What is better to threat that and maybe you can briefly say why you think which is better for that purpose!



    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      LLLT is prob better for sinusitis – increase nitric oxide

      1. Johnny

        Thanks Joe,

        I will try LLLT first then! I will report back!

        Just following questions:
        1. Doesnt ICES also increase nitrix oxide?
        2. How many sessions will I need with LLLT to achieve nitrix oxide to rise?

        Best regatds

        1. Joseph M. Cohen

          I forgot, it does….

          It’s up to you.

  • Santino

    Hello Joe,

    will a normal infrared light also work? Like this one:


    1. Joseph M. Cohen


      1. Santino

        Thank you for fast reply. But why isn´t such a lamp in the list of devices you recommend? Because those are very cheap. I watched you podcast but still am not sure if that is a device which works for the things you mentioned like antiinflammatory action for example!

        It is a great podcast by the way!

        1. Joseph M. Cohen

          I did link to a device like that…”infrared light bulb”

  • om

    if we were to get buy one device to get the desired benefits which one would your recommend? (if the sauna is not an option currently)

  • Daniel

    loved this episode. great info.

  • Billy Davis


    Great interview. Did you happen to find out the type of device Dr. Hamblin is currently using on his head? He mentioned it was a $300 LED model but no specifics beyond that. Thanks.

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      It don’t matter

  • Thomas

    Do you still think we should be using LLLT on all the parts of our head? And do you still think it should be limited on the back of the head (and why? :P)

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      Use on all parts of head

  • Kyle

    Great podcast, have really been enjoying the interviews so far! Have you ever though of getting Dr. Bruce Ames on the podcast?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      He’s a good one. Maybe in the future.

      1. Kyle

        Would love to hear it. What are your thoughts on his triage theory?

  • thepractice

    Hi Joe,

    Can you explain why you cover the blue lights with black tape on the LLLT (light relief) -850nm device? I bought this per your suggestion. All I know about blue light is that it promotes wakefulness in your circadian rhythm. Do you cover the blue lights on the device so you can use it without affecting your circadian rhythm?

    1. Joseph M. Cohen

      I use it at night sometimes

      1. George

        Jack Kruse has mentioned a danger of Infrared –

        He said overuse can cause fibrosis

        Do LED’s apply to this as well?

        1. prioris

          Use a fibrolytic like serrapeptase and nattokinase if concerned

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