Red light therapy has a lot of potential in treating a variety of health conditions because of its lack of side effects. Keep reading to learn about all its health benefits.
- Health Benefits of Red Light
- 1) Red Light Therapy Is Anti-Inflammatory
- 2) Red Light Therapy Relieves Pain
- 3) Red Light Therapy Enhances Wound Healing
- 4) Red Light Therapy Improves Physical Performance
- 5) Red Light Therapy Improves Cognitive Function
- 6) Red Light Therapy Is Antimicrobial
- 7) Red Light Therapy Improves Skin Quality
- 8) Red Light Therapy Stimulates Hair Growth
- Red Light Therapy Machine that I Use
- Side Effects
- Gene Interactions
- User Experiences
- Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
Red light therapy shines red light wavelengths (620-750 nm) through human skin to elicit certain effects in the underlying tissue. It usually uses a whole panel of red light or a LED panel.
Treatment sessions are usually short, lasting only seconds to minutes in duration, and are usually conducted every other day for weeks to months.
Surprisingly, unlike many other treatments used to address similar conditions, there are virtually no reported side effects.
Most of red light’s effects are through the cells’ mitochondria absorbing light. The cytochrome c oxidase in the mitochondria absorbs red light, which causes it to release nitric oxide, increase ATP, and decrease oxidative stress [R].
This can then cause a chain reaction in the cells and affect responses such as cell formation, movement, death, and inflammation. However, its effects depend on the type of cell and its status [R].
This increased ATP (energy) production is possibly the cause of light therapy’s positive effects on muscle recovery and physical performance [R].
Health Benefits of Red Light
1) Red Light Therapy Is Anti-Inflammatory
One of the main uses of red light therapy is to treat inflammation [R].
A review on muscle repair (in animal models) concluded that red light therapy has the capacity to reduce inflammation, positively impact growth factors, and increase blood vessel formation [R].
A common side effect of chemotherapy is oral mucositis, which is when inflammation breaks down the lining of the mouth. In a systematic review of 11 RCTs, both red and infrared light therapy significantly reduced the incidence and severity of oral mucositis [R].
2) Red Light Therapy Relieves Pain
In mice, red LED therapy reduced pain and improved motion after spinal cord injury [R].
In a study (DB-RCT) of 80 chemotherapy patients, red light significantly reduced self-reported pain [R].
Red light therapy might treat tennis elbow for a short period of time, but these findings were only shown by one study (RCT) [R].
3) Red Light Therapy Enhances Wound Healing
In a triple-blind RCT of 12 dental patients, red light therapy improved healing rate after oral surgery. However, it did not reduce pain [R].
Another RCT of 30 diabetic patients showed similar results; red light therapy combined with conventional therapy reduced ulcer size more than conventional therapy alone [R].
Red light also enhanced the healing rate of incision wounds in diabetic rats and reduced the risk of infection [R].
In rabbits with skin wounds, red light therapy decreased healing time significantly more than blue light or no light treatment. It promoted tissue and cell growth [R].
4) Red Light Therapy Improves Physical Performance
In a DB-RCT, 40 healthy untrained males underwent an intensive exercise session. The participants that underwent red light therapy had significantly improved performance, decreased soreness, and reduced indicators of muscle damage compared to ones that did not have light therapy [R].
Red light therapy also significantly improved recovery after high-intensity exercise in a DB-RCT of 40 volunteers [R].
Interestingly, red light’s effectiveness has caused researchers to question whether it should be permitted in athletic competitions due to its effectiveness in enhancing athletic performance and improving recovery [R].
5) Red Light Therapy Improves Cognitive Function
6) Red Light Therapy Is Antimicrobial
In HPV patients, 3 months of red light treatment also helped eradicate the human papillomavirus from their body. However, it is possible to be re-infected after light treatment is finished [R].
In dental patients, red light therapy can help reduce infections and inflammation during oral surgery [R].
Red light killed bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes, Actinomyces odontolyticus, and Porphyromonas gingivalis) in plaque samples from dental patients [R].
7) Red Light Therapy Improves Skin Quality
In a DB-RCT of 52 female patients, 12 weeks daily treatment with red light therapy significantly improved eye wrinkles [R].
A similar study showed that LED therapy is effective against sunspots in middle-aged participants [R].
In a single-blinded RCT, red light was superior to infrared light in treating acne [R].
Red light therapy also significantly improved skin complexion, roughness, and collagen density in an RCT of 136 participants [R].
8) Red Light Therapy Stimulates Hair Growth
In a DB-RCT, red light therapy every other day for 17 weeks induced hair regrowth in women with androgenic alopecia (balding due to hormonal imbalance) [R].
In a DB-RCT of 41 men, red light treatment every other day for 16 weeks significantly increased hair follicles relative to placebo [R].
Red Light Therapy Machine that I Use
I have the original (medium-sized one) with the combo of red and infrared (660 and 850 nm). It feels really nice on the skin. I and other team members at SelfHacked HQ find that it helps with skin problems and wound healing. Deeper and longer exposure helps with muscle aches and soreness, too.
Although the effects of red light therapy have been consistent across a wide range of wound types and animal models, large clinical trials in humans are lacking in this area.
Additionally, most of the studies available are using laser therapy, not led panels.Even though both use red light wavelengths, the effects of lasers and panels may be different.
Caution should be taken when undergoing red light therapy for its health benefits.
Red light treatment can increase and decrease the expression (production) of many genes. In human cells, by increasing certain gene activity, red light helps increase cell formation, antioxidant activity, and energy production [R, R].
Red Light Increased the Expression of:
Genes that increase cell formation (proliferation) [R]:
Genes with antioxidant activity [R]:
Genes that help with metabolism [R]:
Red Light Decreased the Expression of:
Genes that cause apoptosis (programmed cell death) [R]:
Users report experiencing a wide range things; for example, one user reported improved cognitive functioning, attention, working memory, mood, motivation, wakefulness, and physical performance.
Some users of red light therapy have reported hair regrowth, reduced skin wrinkles, and pain relief.
One user reported being able to work for incredibly long periods of time without feeling tired.
The most common responses are pain reduction, enhanced cognitive function, and skin improvement.
Although some people have reported improvements in tinnitus symptoms from red light therapy, no human trials have been performed. There are some studies using red light lasers, but not red light led panels [R].
Health Tools I Wish I Had When I Was Sick
At SelfHacked, it’s our goal to offer our readers all the tools possible to get optimally healthy. When I was struggling with chronic health issues I felt stuck because I didn’t have any tools to help me get better. I had to spend literally thousands of hours trying to read through studies on pubmed to figure out how the body worked and how to fix it.
That’s why I decided to create tools that will help others cut down the guesswork:
- Lab Test Analyzer – a software tool that will analyze your labs and tell you what the optimal values are for each marker — as well as provide you with actionable tips and personalized health and lifestyle recommendations to help you get there.
- SelfDecode – a software tool that will help you analyze your genetic data from companies such as 23andme and ancestry. You will learn how your health is being impacted by your genes, and how to use this knowledge to your advantage.
- SelfHacked Secrets – an ebook where we examine and explain the biggest overlooked environmental factors that cause disease. This ebook is a great place to start your journey if you want to learn the essential steps to optimizing your health.
- SelfHacked Elimination Diet course – a video course that will help you figure out which diet works best for you
- Selfhacked Inflammation course – a video course on inflammation and how to bring it down
- Biohacking insomnia – an ebook on how to get great sleep
- Lectin Avoidance Cookbook – an e-cookbook for people with food sensitivities
- BrainGauge – a device that detects subtle brain changes and allows you to test what’s working for you
- SelfHacked VIP – an area where you can ask me (Joe) questions about health topics
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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