Does red light therapy really work?

Does red light therapy really work? The short answer: Yes, red light therapy is an effective health treatment that has been extensively studied and tested. With so many treatment options, it's natural to wonder "What is red light therapy?" “How does red light therapy work?” and “What does red light therapy do?”

Red light therapy is also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or low-level laser therapy (LLLT). Like many crucial scientific breakthroughs, it was discovered accidentally when Dr. Endre Mester noted the positive effects of a low-level laser on hair growth and wound healing in mice. This led to increased scientific interest in stimulating cells to improve healing and growth, and the field of photobiomodulation was born [1].

Since then there have been many developments in the field of red light therapy and medicine. Many people use red light therapy for muscle recovery or to maintain healthy skin. It is also used to optimize sleep, reduce inflammation and increase mental alertness.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a simple, non-invasive treatment that delivers red and near-infrared (NIR) light to a person's skin and cells. A high-end home medical device for red light therapy, such as a Helios, uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs) to focus red and near-infrared light on your body during a treatment session. When using this type of treatment, a person may see the red light and feel the warmth of the near-infrared (NIR) light.

Red light therapy is similar to the wavelengths of light your body needs from sunlight, but without the heat or UV rays that can cause sun damage. Red light therapy is also a solution to all the bright blue light we are surrounded by every day, which can make it harder to sleep and lead to other health problems [2]. Nowadays, many people work indoors and look at screens for long periods of time. Red light therapy can help offset the negative effects of blue light and promote overall health and cellular balance.

Helios recommends 10 minute sessions per treatment area. The session requires nothing more than exposing your skin and standing in front of the Helios while your body absorbs the light. This is an excellent time to meditate, read, or relax while receiving quality red light therapy.

Learn more about how red light therapy can improve your health on the Helios research page.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

The natural red light nourishes your cells. A good quality red light therapy device like Helios delivers red & near infrared wavelengths directly to your body using LEDs. These photons of natural, therapeutic light trigger a chemical reaction in the mitochondria of your cells that stimulates energy production and regeneration. The two most important effects are:

More ATP Energy: Red light therapy reduces oxidative stress and increases adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production. ATP, produced by cellular respiration, is a crucial molecule needed by all living things to make usable energy for your body. It is often called "the energy currency of life." This article takes an in-depth look at the science of red light therapy and ATP production.

Improved Cell Communication: Specific wavelengths of light help create a better oxidative environment in your cells. This results in the activation of numerous intracellular signaling pathways, increased protein synthesis, enzyme activation, and enhanced cell cycle progression.

Red Light Therapy Lasers vs. LEDs

Red light therapy differs from other forms of treatment because it is painless and does not cause any damage or injury to your skin. Red light therapy is not just a superficial treatment. The light can penetrate up to 50 millimeters below the skin surface, depending on the power [4]; it can even reach your brain, which can benefit your mental acuity. Other forms of treatment, such as cold or warm lasers, do not have the same benefits as red light therapy from LEDs. These methods can cause mild pain and also damage the outer layer of the skin [5]. When the top layer of skin is damaged, your body is forced to repair the skin tissue after treatment. The surface area of ​​the treatment is also very limited with lasers compared to products that use LEDs.

Benefits of Red Light Therapy

The benefits of red light therapy have been tested and published in several medical journals. Here is a list of just some of the possible systemic benefits of red light therapy:
  1. Anti-Inflammation and Pain Relief: Red light therapy treatments have been shown to help your body's natural inflammatory process as you recover from illness or injury.

  2. Performance and Recovery: Supporting circulation and reducing inflammation with red light therapy can help you heal faster and experience less muscle soreness after exercise.

  3. Improved Blood Flow: Red light therapy increases blood flow after treatment sessions. This indicates that tissues are receiving more oxygen and other nutrients important for healing.

  4. Skin Health: Red light therapy can support skin health, not just for the face but for the entire body. The mitochondria in skin cells can absorb red and near infrared light, which provides more energy (ATP), stimulation of the synthesis of pro-collagen, collagen, basic fibroblast growth factors (bFGF) and fibroblast proliferation.

  5. Hormonal Support: A case study took place in 2019 with Bristlecone Medical to investigate the systemic effects of continuous broad spectrum red and near infrared light treatments. One of the outcomes studied was a positive effect on serum hormonal levels in both male and female participants.


Risks and Side Effects of Red Light Therapy

Helios only uses the red and near infrared wavelengths that are clinically proven effective and safe. However, we always recommend consulting with your healthcare provider for specific questions regarding your health condition.

Safety comes first when you treat your body with an electrical device. Before choosing a red light therapy product, make sure the device meets safety and testing standards. All Helios products have been independently tested by third parties and found to be safe for home use.

Science Shows That Red Light Therapy Really Works

Red light therapy really works and is an excellent option for simple health improvements in your own home. But it is crucial to ensure that the device you use on your body is safe and meets all applicable standards for medical devices, such as Helios products.

Sources and references:

[1] Randa Zein, Wayne Selting, Michael R. Hamblin, et al. Review of light parameters and photobiomodulation efficacy: dive into complexity. SPIE Digital. 2018 Dec 11.

[2] Nazish Rafique, Lubna Ibrahim Al-Asoom, Ahmed Abdulrahman Alsunni, Farhat Nadeem Saudagar, Latifah Almulhim, Gaeda Alkaltham. Effects of mobile use on subjective sleep quality. Nat Sci Sleep. 2020 Jun 23.

[3] Hamblin M. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophysics. 2017 May.

[4] Di Hu, Marc van Zeyl, Krisztina Valter, Jason R Potas, et al. Sex, but not skin tone affects penetration of red-light (660 nm) through sites susceptible to sport injury in lean live and cadaveric tissue issues. Journal of Biophotonics. 2019 July 12.

[5] Marek Jankowski, Mariusz Gawrych, Urszula Adamska, Jakub Ciescinski, Zbigniew Serafin, Rafal Czajkowski, et al. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) reduces subcutaneous adipose tissue not through local adipocyte damage, but rather through modulation of systemic lipid metabolism. Lasers in Medical Science. 2016 July 6.

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