Red Light Therapy
The Benefits of Red Therapy Light
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.
- Reduce chronic pain symptoms
- 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.
1. Better Circulation and Collagen Production
When the light penetrates through the epidermal and dermal skin layers, it increases circulation to help form new capillaries. It also increases collagen production and fibroblasts. While topically applied collagen is useless, I frequently consume it for the health of my nails, skin, hair, and joints. 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.
2. Wound Healing with Red Light Therapy
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 also 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.
In a 2014 study, researchers found that red light therapy significantly improved colitis symptoms in mice. The light therapy aided in their mucosal healing. Dentists have also successfully used red therapy lights to heal sores and abrasions in the mucus membranes of the mouth. It’s also been found to prevent recurring cold sores that occur along the mouth.
3. A Remedy for Hair Loss
I have plenty of natural remedies on my site for how to improve hair growth, but red light therapy may be another way to reverse balding. A 24-week study demonstrated that red therapy light significantly improved hair density and hair thickness without any serious reactions. Participants wore a helmet that emitted red therapy light to achieve this effect, though I’ve found that bigger devices (like this one) are easier to use and benefit the rest of the body as well.
4. Recover Faster from Injury and Illness
Red light therapy increases circulation and ATP production throughout the body which may help speed healing during times of illness. It also stimulates lymph system activity and phagocytosis, the process of cells cleaning house.
Although red therapy light helps to modulate the immune system, a 2006 study with mice found that over treatment actually resulted in immune suppression. Since not a lot of research has been done in this area, it’s unclear just how beneficial it is for the immune system.
5. Help for the Thyroid
One of the big reasons I started looking into red light therapy is because of the potential for improved thyroid function. There are several compelling studies that look at the benefits of red light and near infrared therapy for thyroid health. As someone who has struggled with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, I was interested in trying this kind of therapy.
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.
When looking at Hashimoto’s (autoimmune thyroid problems) specifically, the study found a reduction in thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb) antibodies. These antibodies indicate the presence of an autoimmune thyroid condition.
Other studies have shown:
- a 2010 study from Russia found that red light therapy helped 38% of participants reduce thyroid medication dosage (17% stopped medication completely)
- A 2003 study on postsurgical thyroid patients found that red light therapy reduced the need for medication by up to 75%
I personally started researching this benefit after seeing doctors use this therapy for thyroid disease while visiting a natural medicine clinic in Switzerland. While I was there, they had me wear a red light therapy device on my neck to benefit my thyroid. I’ve been continuing this therapy at home with my red light.
6. A Promising Therapy for Psoriasis
A small scale study published in the journal of Photomedicine and Laser Surgery found benefits for psoriasis sufferers. Skin plaques improved by 60-100% when treated with both red therapy light and infrared light, like that used in a sauna. The infrared light helped to calm inflammation, while the shorter red wavelengths helped heal the skin’s surface.
Though I don’t have psoriasis, I’ve personally noticed skin benefits from using a combination light (I have the Joovv combo unit linked below) that combines near-infrared spectrums (810-880) and visible red spectrums (630-670).
7. 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. Personally, the first benefits I noticed were in reducing stretch marks and wrinkles. Over time, I’ve also noticed new hair growth on my hairline.
Please let me know what other information you need to get started on the red light therapy. I will forward you the information from my physical therapist as soon as I receive it.