How a Canary in the Coal Mine Transformed Red Light Therapy Engineering

Andrew LaTour visiting a Panda in China
Andrew LaTour visiting a Panda in China

Andrew LaTour is from Connecticut and holds a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from UConn. He has worked in various industries such as hydrogen fuel cells, electronic materials manufacturing, and making 3D printed parts for aerospace. Despite being such a high performer, LaTour has suffered from insomnia, back pain, obesity, and electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS). He attended health and biohacking conferences to help himself get better. LaTour attended a raw vegan diet retreat in 2014 which sparked his interest in Biohacking and improving his health. He saw his first red light therapy (RLT) device at a Bulletproof biohacking conference in 2015. LaTour recognized the huge health benefits of red light, but noticed two problems as well. The prices were much too high, and the devices were not shielding non-natural electromagnetic fields (nnEMF). He changed his diet, and set to work on creating a better red light therapy device. By 2017, LaTour not only lost 65 lb on a healthy diet, he also created the world’s first RLT company dedicated to creating devices with low-to-no unwanted EMFs.

The GembaRed REX RLT panel
The GembaRed REX RLT panel

LaTour says that he and his fellow EHS sufferers are the canaries in the electromagnetic coal mine. “People who suffer from EHS will experience heart palpitations, heart racing, anxiety or fear, mood issues, malaise, fatigue, and nausea or dizziness when in a high non-native electromagnetic field area. For me the first sign of being exposed to a high-EMF environment is my tinnitus (ringing in my ears) increases.” Sensitive people feel EHS first, but we are all subject to the effects of nnEMFs.” LaTour engineers only low-to-no EMF RLT devices because he knows the danger is real.

Red Light Therapy and Non-Natural Electromagnetic Fields

Some electromagnetic frequencies are healthy. These include light in the 600 to 1000 nm wavelength (red to near-infrared) range. Some EMFs are unhealthy, because they resonate at unnatural (not found in nature) frequencies. Non-native EMFs are the unintended unnatural fields emitted from electronic devices that can cause health issues.

Red light therapy devices output healthy wavelengths, but the electronic activity used to generate those wavelengths is not necessarily healthy. We need light therapy that emits healthy wavelengths without exposing us to nnEMFs.

This problem is pronounced when using RLT devices because the closer they are to your body, the more photons you can absorb. But if you put a nnEMF emitting  device on your body, you’re exposing yourself to maximum unhealthy EMFs.

I’ve seen few RLT manufacturers pay enough attention to this problem. I’ve seen several who claim to mitigate nnEMF  in their products, but testing does not bear out these claims. As an advocate of red light therapy, I cannot recommend devices that emit good light but don’t mitigate the nnEMFs.

That is why it’s my pleasure to present GembaRed founder Andrew LaTour to my readers. LaTour created the world’s first low-EMF red light therapy device.  LaTour’s own health journey led him to the same conclusion. “I always encourage people to observe the ‘canary in the coalmine’ of people suffering from EMF distress and take the necessary precautions for themselves,” says LaTour.

Electromagnetic Hypersensitivity Canaries in the Coal Mine

People with electromagnetic hypersensitivity (EHS) get sick around certain electromagnetic fields. Any victim of this problem who’s ever seriously considered moving to the Radio Free zone in Virginia will tell you that science is way behind the facts of this problem.

LaTour explains: ” I know myself and most of GembaRed’s customers are EMF sensitive, more specifically, sensitive to man-made or non-native EMF such as radio frequencies and alternating current electromagnetic fields. So, I do my best to make our products some of the lowest nnEMF options on the market.”

LaTour says that non-sensitive people don’t feel these symptoms, but they’re not free from the effects on their bodies. “Constant nnEMF exposure will manifest as more insidious and long term issues like fatigue, mitochondrial dysfunction, chronic disease, elevated blood sugar, sleep issues, mood disorders, and cancer.”

LaTour rigorously tests  GembaRed products for unwanted EMF. He has worked with electrical engineers and an EMF expert to design, engineer and measure light therapy products. His mitigation methods include grounding, power driver design modifications, shielding electrical cords, and using batteries rather than transformers near the body.

GembaRed’s Spazer and Beacon lights will move the power adapters away from the therapeutic panel, and remove fans to drastically reduce the EMFs. When the Spazer and Beacon lights are announced, LaTour said, “we will have the lowest nnEMF panels in the industry.”

Spazer & SAIDI Red Light Comparison

Battery Power

  • frees the user from the wire

  • is practically zero EMF

You can purchase any cell phone battery bank to convert the Spazer into a battery-powered light.

The SAIDI comes with the battery installed.

Battery Powered

Optional

Y

Battery Life

Depends on charger

60 to 90 minutes

USB Power

  • tethers the user to the wire

  • is practically zero EMF

Plug the cord into a USB power source to run the light.

Use the power adapter and cord to charge the light. Use the battery to run the light.

USB Powered

Y

N

Wall Outlet Power

Outlet Powered

Optional

N

  • tethers the user to the wire

  • good transformers are low EMF; bad ones emit unwanted EMFs

Obtain a low-EMF and USB-to-AC adapter according to page's instructions.  Allows you to run off wall power instead of USB. 

N/A

Wavelengths

Red 630 nm

Y

Y

Red 660 nm

Y

Y

Infrared 850 nm

Y

Y

Irradiance

  • If vendor uses solar meter to measure LED power density, the real value is less than half the claimed value.

  • If vendor relies on manufacturer's power density claims, the real value can be significantly less than stated.

  • Power density at zero inches (light pressed to skin) is reliable if tested with a spectrophotometer or LED meter, HOWEVER

  • Power density measured at any distance is vastly overstated due to reflectance

  • For example, if you measure power density at 6 inches with a meter designed to measure LED light, and get 100 mW, then you can say that 100 mW lands on the target surface. But because the skin REFLECTS photons, and because the lamp is not pressed to the skin to blunt reflection, that 100 mW value is drastically overstated. It can be and often is as low as 5 mW/cm^2 when stated as 100 mW/cm^2. 

  • Therefore, a LOW to NO EMF light pressed to the skin is signficantly more powerful than a "powerful" light at 6 inches.

Inches Distance from User 

Power Density mW/cm^2/second

Power Density mW/cm^2/second

0

68

Unknown

1

28

48

3

25

26

6

13

14

Mitigation

Flicker

Tiny: 0.5%

0%

EMF

Tiny: 4 V/m 0.13 milliGauss

Tiny: 4 V/m 0.23 milliGauss

Noise

None

None

Treatment Area at 0 Inch Distance

3.5 in. x 5 in.

3.5 in. x 5 in.

Typical Lifetime Hours

50,000

50,000

EMF Channel Rating

Read Review

Buy Light

Reducing EMF for Good Dosing

GembaRed Lab Report
GembaRed Lab Report (click)

“The skin naturally reflects light away,” LaTour says. “If you are six or more inches away from the light, up to 95% of the light reflects away without giving you any benefit.” LaTour says the answer is to build therapy devices that allow users to optimize treatment by putting the machines directly on the skin. This is what the leading scientific expert in light therapy science Dr. Hamblin suggests. Hamblin has criticized one of the biggest light companies for popularizing standing in front of the light. “Hug it to your body,” Hamblin said in a recent interview.

“The WALT (World Association for Laser Therapy) guidelines for photobiomodulation studies list the FIRST parameter of light therapy is defining method of delivery (whether contact or non-contact). This is a very important nuance that many red light panel manufacturers don’t want people to know about,” LaTour explained.

The closer the light is to your body, the more of its photons you receive. Due to emitting nnEMFs, it’s not safe to put most lights right on the body. That’s what LaTour and GembaRed have decided to fix.

Reducing the Flicker

The GembaRed Beam RLT Device
The GembaRed Beam RLT Device

All lights (including ambient house lighting) flickers when powered through alternating current (AC) electricity. This flicker is imperceptible to the human eye, but the brain knows it’s happening. Flicker affects electric (non-battery) red light therapy devices.

“I think flicker can be a big issue with many of the LED panels on the market. There is a long history of knowing that flickering fluorescent, LED, and computer monitors can lead to headaches, migraine triggers, vertigo, distraction, and anxiety among office workers. We also know from the Pokemon incident that flashing lights and images can cause seizures — particularly in sensitive groups like children or people who are sleep deprived,” LaTour said.

The GembaRed Goal ambient light, reading light, and therapy device
The GembaRed Goal ambient light, reading light, and therapy device

LaTour explains that light therapy panels and normal light bulbs flicker at twice the AC frequency. North America uses 60 Hz power which makes light flicker at 120 Hz. The rest of the world uses 50 Hz electricity, and their lights flicker at 100 Hz.

” Most people don’t even realize that they have a flickering product. What they can do is take a slow-motion video of the panel and they will see the flicker in the fast frame rate of the video. ”

LaTour says that LED’s started out with a bad (high) flicker rate. New power drivers are a much higher quality than original designs. LaTour says that these drivers don’t affect the oscillation rate (120 Hz or 100 Hz), but they due significantly reduce the flicker magnitude.

GembaRed’s panels have an approximate 1% flicker, and GembaRed publishes the third party laboratory report as part of its commitment to transparency. “The IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers) recommends a 9% or lower flicker rate for safety.”

Heat is Good, but Light is Better

LaTour’s first red light therapy device was with a far infrared light Biomat device. While technically a “light therapy” device, its heat help LaTour more than the photons did. His muscles relaxed in far infrared, which helped relieve his back pain. The Biomat increased body temperature and sweating, which promoted immune system health.

Both Blocking and Absorbing Light for Sleep Health

LaTour learned that the blue light coming from our computers and phones interferes with the melatonin production. Exposure to blue light reduces the sleep hormone and causes insomnia. LaTour experimented with blue blocking glasses to reduce the blue light reaching his brain.

GembaRed Lab Report
GembaRed Lab Report (click)

While blue light has a negative effect on melatonin production, many light wavelengths promote daytime wakefulness and nighttime sleepiness. LaTour experimented with a Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) light in the morning to promote daytime wakefulness.

Engineering Out the Bad and Designing in the Good

By absorbing good light and blocking bad light, LaTour reduced his insomnia and improved his health. He measured the nnEMF coming off some RLT devices, and once again encountered both the healthy and the unhealthy EMF coming from one device. He set out to do for RLT what he had done with his approach to insomnia. Increase the good frequencies, and block the bad ones.

“We measure light intensity, flicker, EMFs… I have always used a 3rd party lab for intensity since I know as an engineer how important accurate measurements can be… Sending our panels to the lab not only makes sure they use the right measurement equipment, but they keep the equipment calibrated. They are trained to use it properly, use industry-standard test protocols, and have a controlled environment free of stray light.”

Pricing RLT for Everyone

As we’ve discussed on EMF Channel, the most expensive RLT device is often not the best one. LaTour and his biohackers friends discussed the industry pricing and LaTour said he knew he could do better. He committed his company to creating fairly-priced products.

The GembaRed Lire Desk Lamp
The GembaRed Lire Desk Lamp

Inventing a Safer, More Valuable Red Light Device

The GembaRed Auto Sensor red light
The GembaRed Auto Sensor red light

A healthier, biohacking LaTour approached the red light therapy market in 2017. Prices were still high, and none of the companies were doing anything about nnEMFs. LaTour lived in China, and so had access to some of the world’s leading manufacturing facilities. He created a relationship with a factory whose methods he liked. LaTour and the Chinese engineers designed and built the first GembaRed red light therapy device.

Proof in Testing, not Just Talking

The GembaRed red light wheel
The GembaRed red light wheel

LaTour sent his red light therapy devices to third party laboratories for testing. The largest company in RLT is good at marketing, he said, but they don’t appear to know much about the therapeutic and dangerous aspects of these devices. LaTour says that the industry needs more transparency from red light therapy companies. That’s why he publishes the actual intensity numbers tested by the 3rd party lab on his website, and sent a report to me to publish along with this article. These tests show that GembaRed’s devices have accurate wavelengths and low flicker rates.

LaTour marketed his first light panel at a price that should embarrass the industry for charging too much. He included 3rd party verification from day one, noting that honesty means being transparent about the device and its pricing. “The price is important,” he says. “But being the first (and still the only in many ways) honest red light panel company on the market is more important to me. GembaRed was founded to be the gold standard in honesty and transparency.” LaTour credits this approach with his product’s popularity. “It is still what draws customers to us today.”

GembaRed Light Therapy Devices

GembaRed sells red light therapy panels ranging from handheld spot treatment to the full body panels.  LaTour engineered the most scientifically proven wavelengths into his devices.

“I typically use 630nm (red), 660nm (deep red), 830nm (near-infrared), and 850nm (near-infrared) in our main products like the GembaRed Rex panel, Reboot body-light, and the new Beacon panel… The Beam light … is only 1 wavelength of 660nm, and our Groove is 3 wavelengths of 630nm, 660nm, and 850nm.”

LaTour notes that while one wavelength is healing, multiple wavelengths capture more peak health effects. “Multiple wavelengths … are more versatile in terms of penetration depths and treatment options.”

“Those 4 wavelengths tend to be some of the most-studied and commercially available LEDs on the market,” LaTour said. “So, we have good confidence that they can be beneficial for a wide range of usages. Generally, we have seen most customers prefer having MORE wavelengths than less, so we do our best to oblige without having redundant wavelengths in a panel.”

GembaRed’s Famously Low Irradiance

The GembaRed Reboot RLT Panel
The GembaRed Reboot RLT Panel

Every product page at GembaRed.com asks, “Do our power measurements seem low?” As I have been telling my readers for a long time, the average red light therapy device advertised at 100 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches puts the entire industry at risk for seeming scammy. LaTour says that many manufacturers measure their light’s irradiance using a solar meter, which outputs a value about twice the real energy output of an LED light. Solar and LED are too dissimilar to use a solar meter on LED.

Getting the right specifications for your RLT device is the difference between it working and it not working. The irradiance and the time exposed makes up your dose. If the irradiance is overstated, you might think you’re done, but you have not received enough photons. You will get too low of a dose.

Andrew LaTour’s red light therapy device specifications reflect real world values that we as consumers of these products should expect to see. LaTour stands up to the competition with real numbers, certified by real third parties.

Many consumers are completely wasting their TIME and MONEY on devices with absurdly high irradiance values. The manufacturers are depending on their ignorance. LaTour, on the other hand, shows respect for his customers’ intelligence.

“The most important thing right now for the RLT market is getting accurate and honest intensity numbers from manufacturers. Almost all of the red light panel brands have used a cheap solar power meter to measure irradiance, which I have proven will read falsely high from 2x to 4x the real output. Of course, customers need accurate intensity to correlate RLT to the science and have accurate dosage protocols. But most companies are purposely lying about intensity to make their products seem more effective and marketable. It is literally a scam.”

As the publisher of EMF Channel and solid consumer of RLT science, I wholeheartedly agree.

LaTour encourages consumers to read and fact-check everything about their RLT purchase. “Do not get your photobiomodulation information exclusively from anyone selling red light panels, no matter how much you want to ‘trust’ certain influencers or brands. Keep asking companies and brands for accurate and honest 3rd party intensity data, and tell them that measurements with solar power meters are unacceptable. It is up to the consumers to be informed and put the pressure on manufacturers to stop lying. If we ignore this issue and people keep buying from them, then it encourages them to keep scamming people.”

EMF Channel encourages you do your RLT research as well, which is why we summarize the RLT science for you on this site. You can get accurate and scientific information from the following resources:

How to Use GembaRed RLT Devices

The GembaRed Groove RLT Panel
The GembaRed Groove RLT Panel

LaTour’s ability to reduce nnEMFs  in his RLT devices has gotten better over time. He suggests holding the Reboot, Beam, and Beacon devices 6 or 12 inches away, but to put the Groove and Rex models right on the skin.

He says that 20 minutes a day, once per day is often therapeutic, but that people are different. “I encourage customers to experiment with protocols… doing it in the morning, evening, or both, and trying different areas of the body.”

GembaRed Reading Lights

LaTour’s experience with blue blockers, SAD light and insomnia mitigation led him to see the need for red nightlights and reading lights as well. GembaRed’s red lights do not inhibit melatonin and disturb sleep the way typical lights often do.

LaTour said his customers were using GembaRed low-flicker red light panels for reading to avoid harming their sleep patterns. Artificial blue light interrupts the circadian rhythm and sleep. “We need to use more amber and red lights at night, so we have pioneered some simple and elegant red light solutions such as strip lights, desk lights, and book lights.”

GembaRed Infrared T-Shirts

The GembaRed Far Infrared (FIR) therapeutic shirt
The GembaRed Far Infrared (FIR) therapeutic shirt

Definitely the coolest offering is the infrared t-shirt that emits healing photons directly into the body while the user is wearing it. Science supports using infrared clothing to ease exercised DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) and increase energy (mitochondrial ATP production increase).

How to Learn More

View GembaRed red light therapy devices, red reading and night lights, and the far infrared clothing at Gembared.com.

Reach out to Andrew LaTour on the following platforms:

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