- The video Why the ridiculous Red Light wellness trend just might work created an avalanche of red light therapy questions. As a devout red light therapy nerd, I decided to answer all of them. Questions like:
- “Can I just use a red light bulb?”
- ” Can I use light therapy to get rid of acne scars?”
- ” I have traumatic brain injury, how do I use red light therapy to help reduce my symptoms?”
Light therapy heals with photons. A red incandescent bulb throws more heat than light, so it’s not likely to have a light therapy effect. Yes, you can use light therapy to reduce acne scars. Traumatic brain injury, Parkinson’s and dementia respond to red and infrared light therapy.
There are No Ridiculous Questions
The questions in the video comments are AMAZING. I love them. You guys prompted me to write a BOOK which you are now reading for free. The video called red light therapy “ridiculous” so I called it “ridiculous” back.
People also asked:
- “Which light therapy device should I buy?”
- “Does red light therapy really have anti-aging effects?”
- “Which light do I use to treat acne/depression/arthritis/dermatitis/joint pain/hair loss/acne/….?”
Below I listed all the questions I found in the video’s comment section, and my answers. I sincerely hope this helps you use light therapy to make your life better.
Now, please read multiple legal disclaimers that I have to make sure you see, and then let’s get on to the fun.
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Wellness Devices Do Not Treat or Cure
The statements made regarding these products have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The efficacy of these products has not been confirmed by FDA-approved research. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. All information presented here is not meant as a substitute for or alternative to information from healthcare practitioners. Please consult your healthcare professional about potential interactions or other possible complications before using any product. The Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act requires this notice.
Ridiculous Red Light Therapy is Actually Amazing
Consumer light therapy skyrocketed when scientists realized that LEDs (light emitting diodes) work as well as lasers. Yes, LEDs are less powerful than lasers. The body is OK with that, so long as it gets its minimum necessary amount of photons to heal. When using LEDs, what we lose in power, we make up for with extra time using the device.
We now have thousands of randomized control trials showing that light can help the body to heal itself. Red, infrared, blue, green and orange (or amber) therapy induce the mitochondria to create ATP (adenosine triphosphate) and nitric oxide. The energized cells can then promote healing processes.
These allow blood to bring oxygen to areas that need it. In fact, stimulating one area of the body with red light therapy can be beneficial to other areas of the body, because the toe, elbow or brain you treat is part of the interconnected gestalt.
This is just a short subset of the many problems for which light therapy is useful:
- Acne Scars
- Brain Injury
- Broken Bones
- Cancer Chemo and Radio Treatment Side Effects
- COVID Inflammation
- Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness
- Hair Loss
- Parkinson’s Disease
- Plantar Fasciitis
- Repetitive Strain Injury
- Testosterone Production
- Temporomandibular Joint Pain
- Wound Healing
Section I: Does Red Light Therapy Help…?
Red light therapy actually includes blue, green and orange, it’s just easier to use one phrase everyone understands. Because red light therapy increases energy at the cellular level, it has global healing effects on scores of disease processes. It reduces inflammation, eases pain, calms the autistic, and even cleared the lungs of COVID patients.
Does Light Therapy Help Arthritis?
“Any application on arthritis?”
Yes, red light therapy helps ease arthritis inflammation and pain. Arthritis is one of the most studied applications for light therapy.
In a 2020 study, researchers treated oseoarthritic knees with both 780 nm and 830 nm (both infrared) light therapy. They treated established acupressure points in each knee with infrared light. The placebo group were treated with a bogus treatment device.
Patients receiving both the 780 nm and the 830 nm light therapy enjoyed increased mobility and less inflammation. Multiple studies focusing on red and infrared light waves achieved similar results.
In a 2015 study, researchers treated oseoarthritic knees with 904 nm infrared light over nine sessions. The treatment group enjoyed increased functionality and reduced pain.
In a similar 2018 study using the same parameters also using 904 nm infrared light, patients aged 50-75 receiving light therapy took significantly less aspirin than those in the control group even as long as 6 months after the last treatment.
You might try these devices for arthritis:
Arthritis being a disease of inflammation, it is particularly responsive to red light therapy. The lower inflammation helps relieve the pain as well as the disease’s course.
- Search pubmed for ((osteoarthritis) AND (photobiomodulation) or (low level laser therapy) or (low level light therapy) or (cold laser) )
- Effectiveness of low-level laser therapy in patients with knee osteoarthritis: a systematic review and meta-analysis
- Methodological flaws in meta-analysis of low-level laser therapy in knee osteoarthritis: A letter to the editor
- Efficacy of Acupoints Dual-Frequency Low-Level Laser Therapy on Knee Osteoarthritis
- SHORT-TERM EFFICACY OF LOW-LEVEL LASER THERAPY IN PATIENTS WITH KNEE OSTEOARTHRITIS: A RANDOMIZED PLACEBO-CONTROLLED, DOUBLE-BLIND CLINICAL TRIAL
- Long-term results of a randomized, controlled, double-blind study of low-level laser therapy before exercises in knee osteoarthritis: laser and exercises in knee osteoarthritis
Does Red Light Therapy Help with Parkinson’s Disease?
- “My step dad, who has had parkinson’s for ten years, got a red light “bucket” for his head, and it’s worked! Within about a month he’d had remarkable improvement in the shakiness of his hands. You have to use consistently to see change but definitely worth investing in it. Not a cure but does help a lot :)”
- “How does the light get through the patient’s skull? Doesn’t seem right.”
Yes, red light therapy dramatically reduces Parkinson’s Disease symptoms. It puts a lump in my throat when I see how people who suffered are now feeling better.
That bucket lamp started a revolution of Parkinson’s patients wearing homemade buckets on their heads. A few vendors are selling similar devices, and you can also make one yourself using a lamp and LED strips.
Research tells us that 670 nm red and 810 nm infrared light are especially useful in helping Parkinson’s patients reduce tremors. Multiple studies and observations show that red light therapy can reduce tremors and spasms as well.
Many people asked if light can penetrate the skull. The light has to pass through the hair, skin, skull, tissue and brain. Dr. Hamblin said in a conference last year that about 4% of the treatment like makes it to the target. That’s enough to make a big difference for Parkinson’s patients.
- Search pubmed for ( ( (low level light therapy) or (photobiomodulation) ) and (brain) and (led))
- Transcranial, Red/Near-Infrared Light-Emitting Diode Therapy to Improve Cognition in Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury
- Treatment of Neurodegeneration: Integrating Photobiomodulation and Neurofeedback in Alzheimer’s Dementia and Parkinson’s: A Review
- Wearing a red light bucket hat on your head for Parkinson’s
- Evolution of red/near infrared light hats
- Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders
- Therapeutic potential of intranasal photobiomodulation therapy for neurological and neuropsychiatric disorders: a narrative review
- Quiet Mind Foundation Vielight and other Dementia/TBI Devices
- Buy your Well Red Coronet
- Tasmanian red light helmet treatment for Parkinson’s disease symptoms prompts clinical trial
Does Red Light Therapy Help with Traumatic Brain Injury?
- “Vision therapist have been using syntonics, or light therapy, for years. It is a game changer for Traumatic brain injury and kids with learning disabilities.”
- “I have a severe tbi and have been suffering for over a year and have gone through multiple treatments costing thousands that have done barely anything. Can someone please link to an affordable effective red light device? A lot of people recommend things like putting one together yourself but it’s almost impossible with a brain injury. Thank you.”
Yes, red light therapy can ease brain injury symptoms. Dr. Hamblin has created a series of devices specifically for reaching the brain called Vielight. They are commercially available. To buy at a reduced price from a neuropsychologist specializing in using light on the brain, contact Dr. Berman at Quiet Mind Foundation. You do not need to go with just this one option, but it is the best commercial clinically tested option. Other and less expensive devices will also help, I’ll list some below.
Syntonics Lights Brains Through the Eyes
Syntonics is the branch of vision science that uses light to assist healing eye issues. One of the most interesting aspects of this field is that light through the eyes invokes hormonal responses. Therefore a light therapy session for the eyes can easily affect melatonin, as an example. Syntonics is also used to treat eye muscle and nerve issues such as lazy eye and focusing problems.
CAUTION! Light therapy is generally safe, but it can damage eyes. Lasers can certainly damage eyes under the best of circumstances. LEDs are generally too weak to damage vision, but over time, infrared can cause cataracts and LED brightness can get very strong. There is absolutely NO POINT is risking your eyesight, which will only make a TBI suck more when you’re half blind, too.
Brains Like Red and Infrared
To treat brain injury, apply light on the scalp, in the ear, and up the nasal passage. It looks silly, but it works. Both 635-675 nm red light, and 810-850 nm infrared light help brain injury victims heal.
Dr. Michael Hamblin, the most published of all light therapy researchers, designs and tests Vielight commercial therapy devices for brain injury, dementia and Parkinson’s. These devices output 655 nm and 810 nm light. Dr. Hamblin has published both placebo controlled as well as observational studies showing the device brings oxygen and nitric oxide to blood vessels even in the brain.
In a 2016 study published in Dr. Hamblin’s Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery, Dr. Hamblin treated closed-head injury patients with red and infrared light therapy. Patients received 633 nm through the scalp and nose, and 810 nm infrared through the nose. After treatment, patients slept better, which researchers speculated was due to a natural increase in melatonin.
In a 2012 study using 665 nm red and 810 nm infrared light, the combination was found to improve a number of brain injury symptoms. The study revealed that 730 nm infrared and 980 nm infrared were not as useful for brain injury patients. As much as 2 months post treatment, patients showed improved executive function and verbal memory, and fewer PTSD symptoms.
Brain Light Device Types
Devices that are suited to getting light on the brain and/or up the nose include:
- a helmet such as the iRestore hair growth laser emitting 640-660 nm red light
- a head gear device shining light on the scalp such as the 810 nm Vielight 810
- a head gear device shining light up the nasal passages and on the skull such as the Vielight Neuro Alpha 810 nm therapy combo
- a red light therapy bulb in a wire socket or lamp such as the Wolezek 36W 660 nm and 850 nm bulb
- a handheld light therapy device held to the head such as the winner of the EMF Channel Pain Relief and Anti-Aging Comparison, the Photizo Pain Relief handheld light therapy wand offering 635 nm and 850 nm light.
- a handheld panel light therapy device, also held to the head, such as the GembaRed SAIDI no-EMF handheld panel with 630 nm, 660 nm and 850 nm wavelengths
Vielight Brain Lights
- The Vielight 810 spreads infrared light to the ventral prefrontal cortex. This light pulses at an alpha brainwave rate which can entrain the user’s brainwaves into a state of sleepiness. This is a brain injury treatment devices which is also useful for supporting or recovery from low immunity, depression, migraines, seizures and cognition.
- The Vielight Neuro Alpha shines 810 nm light both at the head and up the nasal passage. It has a 10 Hz pulse rate which corresponds to the gamma brainwave; brainwave entrainment to 10 Hz induces sleepiness. The Neuro Alpha is an Alzheimer’s device that is also useful for supporting or recovery from low energy, insomnia, anxiety, depression, stroke, ADHD and performance training.
- The Vielight Neuro Gamma shines both 655 nm and 810 nm light on the head and in the nasal passage. It pulses at 40 Hz which entrains the gamma wavelength response. Ability to achieve gamma is associated with higher intelligence and cognition. The Neuro Gamma light is designed to support or alleviate attention problems, memory problems, depression, Alzheimer’s, ADHD and peak performance.
- The Vielight Neuro Duo 10 & 40Hz is the equivalent of getting a Neuro Alpha and a Neuro Gamma in one device.
- Check out some of the less expensive as well as the newest technology on Vielight’s technology page.
A Bionase device might work to get the right wavelength up the nose, this is worth investigating
- ((photobiomodulation) or (LLLT) and (brain ))
- Transcranial, Red/Near-Infrared Light-Emitting Diode Therapy to Improve Cognition in Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury
- Wearing a red light bucket hat on your head for Parkinson’s
- Evolution of red/near infrared light hats
- Low-level laser therapy for closed-head traumatic brain injury in mice: effect of different wavelengths
- Transcranial low level laser (light) therapy for traumatic brain injury
- Effect of Transcranial Low-Level Light Therapy vs Sham Therapy Among Patients With Moderate Traumatic Brain Injury: A Randomized Clinical Trial
- Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders
- Photobiomodulation using low-level laser therapy (LLLT) for patients with chronic traumatic brain injury: a randomized controlled trial study protocol
Does Red Light Therapy Ease Depression and Anxiety?
- “So, what about the benefits of having red wallpapers on our devices? You mentioned light going through a curtain was used as a sort of red light therapy. I wonder if there’s mental/physical benefits to having your wallpaper a certain color”
- “patient: im depressed doctor: no worries i gotchu (proceeds to shine laser pointer at head)”
Yes, red and infrared photons increase healthy energy without stimulation.
The value of blue light therapy, green light therapy, red light therapy and infrared light therapy is in the photons, not in the visual cortex’s ability to perceive those colors. But color is color, and one of the delightful aspects of light therapy devices is their near monochromatic quality. They shoot exactly the colors and none others. So if a color is therapeutic, then a light therapy device offering that color is therapeutic too.
- Search pubmed for ((photobiomodulation) or (lllt)) and ((depression) or (anxiety)) and (led)
- Transcranial Photobiomodulation with Near-Infrared Light for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Pilot Study
- Study of transcranial photobiomodulation at 945-nm wavelength: anxiety and depression
- Comparative effectiveness of photobiomodulation and manual therapy alone or combined in TMD patients: a randomized clinical trial
- Brain Photobiomodulation Therapy: A Narrative Review
Can Red Light Therapy Help with Sleep?
“I’ve tried everything and yet my natural sleep hours are from somewhere around 3 am to 12 am (and yet sometimes I might wake up as late as 4pm). I read somewhere that there might be an evolutionary reason that a small percentage of people have a natural sleep circle to stay awake at night. I wonder though if it’s unhealthy and anyway how could that be if it’s the sun which regulates the circadian cycle?”
Dear reader, yes, and this section will be filled in asap. See 10 hz pulse vielight above.
Can Red Light Therapy Help with Broken Bones?
“I have a broken foot at the moment. You think if I get some red tinted LED bulbs for my lamps that shit will help?”
Yes, red light therapy can assist in healing a broken bone. Researchers have even fixed poorly fused bones using red light therapy. The science supports using 780 nm infrared and 810 nm infrared to assist in bone healing.
Red light therapy will help heal a broken bone, but a red tinted LED bulb is most likely not a good fit. I’m not saying it’s impossible for a cheap bulb to work, it’s just not likely. This is because you need the right wavelengths and power for low level light therapy (LLLT) to work.
An incandescent bulb outputs multiple wavelengths, many of which are not shown to have a healing effect. An LED bulb will be more specific in its color output, but it will require luck to find one that has healing frequencies. It is possible, but you’d have to test it. If you are thinking of using a cheap painted bulb to save money, you would do better to get $35-$50 together to buy a Wolezek therapy bulb. It is an admittedly repurposed plant grow light, but it’s the right wavelengths (660 nm and 850 nm) and has a solid power output.
Try these devices first before using a painted household LED:
- Red Light Man Combo Body Light: 620 nm, 670 nm, 760 nm, 830 nm
- Red Light Man Red-Infrared Combo Mini Light: : 620 nm, 670 nm, 760 nm, 830 nm
- Wolezek Therapy Bulb: 660 nm, 850 nm
You have several choices of light therapy devices without resorting to an unproven painted LED bulb.
- Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) in bone repair: A systematic review
- Evaluation of bone repair after application of a norbixin membrane scaffold with and without laser photobiomodulation (λ 780 nm)
Can Red Light Therapy Help or Possibly Harm with Cancer?
- “Any evidence of red light amping up the mitochondria inside pre-tumor cells that might be located near whatever tissue is being targeted for healing?”
- “OVERCLOCKING THE CELLS”
We don’t have enough evidence that shining a therapy light at a tumor is safe. Logically, it is UNSAFE, but the guru of light therapy Dr. Michael Hamblin is not overly cautious. At a seminar in 2020 Dr. Hamblin stated he believe the good outweighed possible harm, as red light therapy is extremely good at treating the side effects of chemotherapy and radiation therapy.
Dr. Michael Hamblin said:
“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.”
Dr. Judith Zech et. al. said in their paper:
“Vigilance remains warranted to detect any potential adverse effects of PBM on cancer treatment outcomes and survival.”
- Michael Hamblin Interview: Infrared Therapy Expert
- Mitochondrial metabolism and cancer
- Low level laser therapy/photobiomodulation in the management of side effects of chemoradiation therapy in head and neck cancer: part 1: mechanisms of action, dosimetric, and safety considerations
Can Red Light Therapy Help with COVID?
“are we going to test this on covid? supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — t or just very powerful light, supposing you brought the light inside the body, either through the skin or some other way. I think you said they are going to test that”
Yes, red light therapy aimed at the lungs has helped COVID patients with reduced inflammation and better ability to breathe. Photobiomodulation relieves inflammation, vocal injuries, oral lesions and lung edema.
Field work using light on COVID lungs has been remarkably successful. Doctors treated COVID patients with infrared (808 nm and 905 nm) directed at the chest, which resulted in increased blood oxygen, reduced inflammation markers, and decreased respiratory symptoms. Chest x-rays show clearing. While in many cases LED and laser therapy perform equally (given enough time for LED to catch up), note that this therapy was a laser intervention. They treated the patient for three days with 7.2 J (a relatively small amount of photons) infrared light. One can easily emulate the protocol with an LED device.
- Photobiomodulation therapy as a high potential treatment modality for COVID-19
- Can Transdermal Photobiomodulation Help Us at the Time of COVID-19?
- Probable positive effects of the photobiomodulation as an adjunctive treatment in COVID-19: A systematic review
- Adjunct low level laser therapy (LLLT) in a morbidly obese patient with severe COVID-19 pneumonia: A case report
Does Red Light Therapy Help Reduce Acne Scars?
- “Serious question pls , can i just get a red light bulb and put it on my face to help remove some acne scars ?”
- “I have a ton of acne scars (and from picking) all over my face, and I’ve had them for over a decade. I wonder if this could still help?”
Yes, red light therapy can smooth out acne scars. Multiple studies show red and infrared have a rejuvenating and smoothing effect on skin. The therapeutic action induces collagen and elastin growth.
If you are getting a light bulb because it’s cheap, look at the Wolezek therapy bulb emitting 660 nm and 850 nm wavelengths. This is a good set of wavelengths for acne scar treatments.
- Propionibacterium acnes susceptibility to low-level 449 nm blue light photobiomodulation
- Laser treatment for facial acne scars: A review
- Prophylactic low-level light therapy for the treatment of hypertrophic scars and keloids: a case series
Can Red Light Therapy Increase Testosterone?
“Was there any reason you didn’t revisit that article about red light and testosterone? I was hoping you might cite a paper or something which confirmed or denied it.”
Infrared (780 nm) improves sperm motility calcium factors
Red and infrared (635 nm and 904 nm) improve sperm survival, motility and speed of movement
While there are some studies of the effect of therapeutic light on sperm, there are no studies testing the effect of red light therapy on testosterone (there are 5 animal studies, no human studies). That hasn’t stopped plenty of biohackers from shining light on the boys, and enjoying it, too.
- I Put a Giant Red Light on My Balls to Triple My Testosterone Levels
- Photostimulation as a function of different wavelengths
- Changes in calcium transport in mammalian sperm mitochondria and plasma membranes caused by 780 nm irradiation
- Effectiveness of low level laser therapy for treating male infertility
Can Red Light Therapy Help with Hair Loss?
- “Now can this fix my balding 20 year old head?”
- “Oaze helmet-type 3R LLLT device had a statistically significant mean increase in terminal hair density of +17.2 ± 12.1 hairs/cm2”
- “There are red light helmets that help us bald people. After watching this I’m going to stick to it again and see if it’ll work”
Can Red Light Therapy Ease Eye Problems?
“So weird i’d just been reading an article from a recent study at University College London that says; Staring at a deep red light for three minutes a day can significantly improve declining eyesight”
WARNING! PLEASE DON’T SHINE LIGHTS AT YOUR EYES. PLEASE CONSULT A DOCTOR BEFORE USING LIGHTS FOR YOUR EYES. THE SAFETY IS NOT A SETTLED SCIENCE.
780 nm is in the infrared range and should not be used on eyes without a doctor’s ok.
- 670 nm light improved in blue and black/white perception.
- 780 nm light significantly improved both wet and dry macular degeneration bleeding, edema and vision. 780 nm significantly improved visual acuity from 20/50 to 2020 in an N=1 case of retinitis pigemtosa.
Studies support using light to help eye conditions, but not without caution. Long term infrared can cause cataracts. Author and light expert Jon Iovine compares a typical panel’s 850 nm output with sunlight. He finds that a panel’s infrared light is much greater than typical sun exposure in the same amount of time. He cautions that the 850 nm light portion of typical panels is greater than IEEE standards for infrared exposure to the eye.
- The Dangers of Infrared Light (IR) in Red Light Therapy (RLT)
- Optically Improved Mitochondrial Function Redeems Aged Human Visual Decline
- Low-level laser therapy improves vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration
- Low-level laser therapy improves vision in a patient with retinitis pigmentosa
Section II: Aren’t Lasers, Sunshine, Grow Lights and Cheap Bulbs Just as Good or Better?
Aren’t Lasers Better than LEDs?
- “Whatever your question is, lasers is the answer.”
- “To penetrate into the rather thin regions of 2mm skin you would need a pulsed NIR laser – this is a class 4 laser device that is not permitted for human use and won’t be sold to any consumer.”
Yes, LEDs work as well as lasers, and provide the same health effects. A researcher using LED noticed that wounds on test mice healed faster under LED red light. This led to research of wound healing using the methods of laser therapy but with much less powerful light emitting diodes. Today we have thousands of studies demonstrating the effectiveness of LED light therapy.
The first principle of light therapy is that there needs to be enough photons to create a response. The second principle is that too many photons stops (and often reverses) the healthy response.
How do you get enough photons with a weaker device? You do this by spending more time spreading light onto the target using the weaker lamp.
What you do in 20 seconds with a class IV laser might take 15 minutes using an LED array. So long as you know the lamp’s wavelength and power density, you can calculate the time it takes to emit the right quantity (joules) of photons onto the target.
Power density is written as follows: N mW/cm^2 @ some distance, where N is a numeric value, mW is milliwatts, and cm^2 is per square centimeter, and the distance in centimeters or inches. Many vendors offer lamps that supposedly shine 100 mW/cm^2 when held at 6 inches from the target. Some biohackers have measured popular lights and found that they overstated the power density by as much as 67%, i.e., the 100 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches was more like 33 mW/cm^2 at six inches.
The overstatement often occurs because vendors use solar meters to measure LED output. Solar meters overstate LED light by two to three times.
Laser light is columnar and strong. LED light is distributed and weaker by comparison. But this does not mean that LED light cannot penetrate the skin or induce a healthy effect. Cytochromes in the mitochondria do absorb LED light, which does increase the respiratory mitochondria cycle.
LED has the further advantages over laser:
- LED does not burn the skin
- LED is much cheaper than laser
- LED is available to the consumer
Do Grow Bulbs Work for Light Therapy?
- “I have been doing red light therapy for years. ONLY near infrared light is suitable for long term use(it is actually a nutrient for cells but science still needs to catch up), far infrared is too similar to microwave spectrum waves and causes radiation damage. Oh, and also, you dont need to spend hundreds of dollars on a premade device. Buy a near infrared red light bulb and a clamp for it, it’s about $30-40 at home depot. You can even buy two or more of these pairs and then hang them over your body”
- “I wonder if my growlight would work for this? Its Mars Hydro SP 3000 with IR diodes.”
You probably can and many people probably do successfully use plant grow lights for home therapy. One of EMF Channel’s favorite therapy bulbs started life as a grow lamp (see list below). Grow light manufacturers often sell their plant lights as therapeutic devices, because the wavelengths appropriate to plants and humans overlap.
CAUTION: DO NOT USE GROW LIGHTS WITH ULTRAVIOLET WAVELENGTHS. UV is bad, mmkay?
Grow lights usually offer wavelengths between 400 to 700 nm. That encompasses blue, green, red and orange. Therapy lights usually have 400 to 850 nm wavelengths, which just adds in the infrared range of electromagnetic fields.
Be aware that blue light can be harmful to the eyes and suppress melatonin production. Blue light is useful to treat skin conditions such as acne, psoriasis, and rosacea.
The Mars Hydro SP3000 doesn’t state the wavelengths in the description, but they are listed in one of the product images. According to that graphic, the SP3000 has the following wavelengths:
- 260-400 nm UV
- 660 nm red
- 730 nm infrared
The 660 nm and 730 nm are healing.. The 260-400 nm is probably dangerous. I am not an expert on ultraviolet light. For myself, I would not use it as a therapy lamp.
Isn’t Sunlight Better than Red Light Therapy?
- “Aren’t we getting the full light spectrum (including near IR) form the sun throughout the day anyway?
- So, just take more sunbathes, go outside more frequently, let the sun rays hit your skin, and you won’t need to buy all that expensive red light stuff, thanks you. “
- “TLDR: Red light therapy works great if you stay inside all day. A more cost effective alternative is going outside. “
- “So sunlight could do this or am i mistaken”
- “Perhaps this is one reason why humans are relaxed by sitting around a fire. “
- “This is a big ad to say, GO OUTSIDE YOU LAZY BASTERED. Because there are healthy benefits to it so you dont spend hundreds of dollars on a really cool lamp that glows red. (Ps great video) “
- “What are the main differences between red light treatment vs just taking big doses of vitamin D (5000+ IU)?”
We know that we are not getting enough sunlight from two global phenomena. First, we know that when we treat body areas with red light therapy, the mitochondria at these target points increase production of ATP. If we were getting enough red and infrared photons, the mitochondria would not increase production, it would already be at full capacity.
Second, we have a global vitamin D deficiency epidemic. Having said that, red light therapy does not induce the production of vitamin D. The point here is that if people were getting sufficient sunlight, we would not have a worldwide vitamin D deficiency.
Fires emit infrared, which imparts a warm, calm feeling on the body. Infrared warmth is healing, but it’s not the healthy part of infrared light therapy. When using infrared for its photons (light), it is the photons that do the healing. When using infrared light for its photons, heat can be counterproductive. Infrared can help heal skin issues when used as a light. When used as heat, however, it can cause minor skin issues.
It’s almost impossible for people outside the equator and tropical areas to get enough sunlight. In colder weather, people cover sun-absorbing skin. In warmer weather, people wear sun block to avoid harmful UV’s. Red and infrared are beneficial, but UV can be harmful. Sunrise and sunset light have greater reds and less UV. A 15 minute session with a red/infrared lamp gives a day of sunlight without the UV to the human body.
- Sunlight and health: shifting the focus from vitamin D3 to photobiomodulation by red and near-infrared light
- Sunlight, ultraviolet radiation, vitamin D and skin cancer: how much sunlight do we need?
- Infrared and skin: Friend or foe
- The role of near infrared radiation in photoaging of the skin
- The role of latitude, ultraviolet radiation exposure and vitamin D in childhood asthma and hayfever: an Australian multicenter study
- Seasonal Affective Disorder: An Overview of Assessment and Treatment Approaches
Section III: Is Red Light Therapy Safe?
“So, are there any unwanted side effects? “
Should I Avoid Red Light Therapy?
Light therapy in general, and red light therapy in particular, has very few side effects or contraindications.
People with cancer should not irradiate tumors, but can use light therapy to reduce chemotherapy and radiotherapy side effects. There are scores of studies on using light therapy on the effects that happen inside the mouth, in particular.
There’s no indication that pregnant women should avoid light therapy
Blue can and infrared might hurt eyes. Blue light reduces melatonin production and so causes insomnia. Infrared has been used to help eyesight; at the same time, there’s not enough evidence that it’s safe in all cases for all people.
People on photosensitive medications might have photosensitive reactions using light therapy. Photosensitive medications cause unwanted biological reactions when the body is exposed to certain kinds of light.
The heat from infrared — not the light photons but the heat — can cause skin aging.
- Drug-induced photosensitivity: culprit drugs, management and prevention
- Laser therapy and photosensitive medication: a review of the evidence
What About Unwanted EMFs?
“Any information on the EMF output of these machines and any particular recommendations please?”
Some therapeutic lights emit unwanted electromagnetic fields (EMFs). Andrew LaTour from GembaRed calls them “non-natural EMFs,” which is a term I really like. EMFs aren’t good or bad except in how the body responds to them. We are bathed in EMFs from wireless, cell phones and Bluetooth. Are we dropping dead?
No, Yes, and Sort of. While the EMFs emitted from low power devices are non-ionizing, this doesn’t mean they’re safe. Leave a cell phone in your pocket long enough and it will reduce your hip bone mass. A multi-year study of cell phone use concluded in its abstract that cell phones probably did not cause cancer. In fact, the authors worked so hard to twist the data into submission, they concluded that cell phones PREVENT cancer. Meanwhile, if you read the data, you found that 40% of heavy cell phone users who always used their phones to their ears developed glia blastoma, a fatal brain tumor. Cell phone radiation is non-ionizing, which does not stop it from being dangerous. The lengths to which these authors went to appease their telecom Gods is downright fraud. But I digress.
So yes, non-natural EMFs can cause damage to biological creatures, including humans. I don’t know if the EMFs emitted from therapeutic lights cause damage, I’d still rather not have one hugged to my body.
Hug for More Photons
Which is a shame, because Dr. Michael Hamblin said at a conference last year that he’d like to see people who stand in front of lamps actually hug them to their bodies. Dr. Hamblin specializes in photonic biology, and did not address the EMF elephant in the room. So I’ll sort this out so that you can make an intelligent choice on your own.
Any device that uses electricity from the wall is cycling at 60 Hz (America) or 50 Hz (everywhere else) alternating current. Transformers of such devices usually put off non-natural EMFs.
Any device with a fan uses electric current to run the motor, potentially outputting non-natural EMFs in the process.
Man-made devices can emit polarized EMFs which have increased biological activity. Constructive interference amplifies field intensity and altering of the body’s cells’ electromagnetic balance.
Therapeutic lamps are man-made, are we doomed? No, not all man-made devices affect biological activity. Therapy lamps powered by BATTERY or USB CORD are likely to be safe from unwanted EMFs.
- Polarization: A Key Difference between Man-made and Natural Electromagnetic Fields, in regard to Biological Activity
- Mobile Phones [Don’t] Cause Brain Tumors (study summary)
- How a Canary in the Coal Mine Transformed Red Light Therapy Engineering
No Non-Natural EMF Lights
GembaRed offers two EMF safe red light therapy devices. Owner Andrew LaTour is hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields and so is building his inventory to accommodate this problem. Look at the SAIDI and Spazer lights here as both are no EMF devices.
What About Unwanted UV Light?
“Does red light produce any uva or uvb and contribute to skin cancer? Thx”
Red light therapy is a subset of light therapy, which uses the healing photons of light waves ranging from 400 nm to 1000 nm. That is, the wavelengths are 400 to 1000 nanometers (billionths of a meter) wide. These correspond to the visual blue, green, yellow, orange, red colors, and the invisible lower end of the infrared range. UV, UV-C, UV-B and UV-A have wavelengths from 100 nm to 400 nm wide, and are not part of the therapeutic range.
Section IV: How Does Red Light Therapy Work?
- “hmmm yes, the mitochondria is the power house of the cell.”
- “Omg, you reminded me of how I used to research this topic about 4 years ago 😳 I am Ukrainian myself, so I had found some interesting medical papers in Russian (without translation to eng though) too. I almost bought the red light device, but I use to move across different countries in Europe so I couldn’t carry that with me and scrapped the idea… I should go back to the research. “
- “Do we have many double blind, placebo controlled trials on this? “
- “I wonder if placebo plays any factor in red light therapy for some depression or anxiety cases
- “What about sharing some references? Otherwise you can’t possibly blame the skeptics, this video has too many red flags including the email for business inquiries. “
- How does this effect happen with only red light? Does something about the other wavelengths in white light inhibit this somehow?
- So red the light is UVB?
- Planet Fitness has had a red light machine in their gyms for years now .
- What about blue light, exposing your system to blue light?
The Photon Tells the Cytochrome C Oxidase to Make the Donuts
The answer to “How does light therapy work?” is, “We don’t know, but we have a theory.”
Most texts discuss the mitochondrial ATP function of red light therapy. In fact, photons stimulate the production of ATP, nitric oxide, and multiple transcription factors.
Dr. Michael Hamblin explains:
“The primary site of light absorption in mammalian cells has been identified as the mitochondria and, more specifically, cytochrome c oxidase (CCO). It is hypothesized that inhibitory nitric oxide can be dissociated from CCO, thus restoring electron transport and increasing mitochondrial membrane potential. Another mechanism involves activation of light or heat-gated ion channels.”
Dr. Nathaniel J. Pope adds:
“At present, the most popular hypothesis is that light absorption induces release of nitric oxide (NO) from the active site of cytochrome c oxidase (COX), allowing it to bind O2 instead. This is believed to increase mitochondrial respiration, and result in greater overall health of the cell due to increased adenosine triphosphate production.”
Is There Science on Red Light Therapy?
Using “red light therapy” to mean therapies using wavelengths from 400 to 1200 nm wide, there are 12,574 Pubmed science results searching for light therapy terms: (photobiomodulation) or (lllt) or (cold laser) or (low level laser therapy) or (low level light therapy). Within that set, 1,249 are randomized control trials, and 194 are meta analyses. The superset includes laser as well as LED studies. There are 653 studies that include at least one light therapy term as well as the word “LED”: ((photobiomodulation) or (lllt) or (cold laser) or (low level laser therapy) or (low level light therapy)) and (LED). That is, low level light therapy can be performed with a laser. These are the articles that at least discussed light emitting diodes. 2,019 of the original set (that includes laser as well as LED) discuss using light therapy to help wound healing. 94 discuss anxiety, 57 discuss Alzheimer’s, and 382 discuss scars. In 2000 there were 138 cold laser studies published. 4,000 studies were published from 2016 to 2020.
Why Red Light?
Blue, green, orange, amber, red and infrared all have positive effects on mammal health. Red and infrared have the most profound effects. My favorite theory as to Why Red and Infrared? Because those are the wavelengths that shine best at sunrise and sunset. We evolved to absorb red and infrared because those are the waves that nourish. I know it’s a circular reasoning, but it’s the best I can do. What’s your theory?
Some wavelengths work together and some interfere with one another. For example, acne responds well to blue, red and infrared better than infrared and red alone. Microorganisms tend to die in blue light, which is interesting because its wavelengths are just slightly different than the killing power of UV light. Blue light suppresses melatonin, so it’s not 100% healthy. Similarly, UV promotes Vitamin D production as well as melanoma.
The body accepts ranges of photons wavelengths around a target. You do not need to have the exact right wavelength to get the positive effect.
- Mechanisms and Mitochondrial Redox Signaling in Photobiomodulation
- The nuts and bolts of low-level laser (light) therapy
- Transcranial low level laser (light) therapy for traumatic brain injury
- Photobiomodulation search on PubMed
- Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring
- A randomised, placebo controlled trial of low level laser therapy for activated Achilles tendinitis with microdialysis measurement of peritendinous prostaglandin E2 concentrations
- Significant Improvement in Cognition in Mild to Moderately Severe Dementia Cases Treated with Transcranial Plus Intranasal Photobiomodulation: Case Series Report
- Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy in Autism Spectrum Disorder
- Randomized controlled trial of the efficacy and safety of self-adhesive low-level light therapy in women with primary dysmenorrhea
- Low-level laser therapy in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a pilot study
- Low level laser therapy and hair regrowth: an evidence-based review
Section V: Red Light Therapy Devices are Too Expensive
Do Cheap Red Light Therapy Lamps Work?
- “Where do you get one for cheap?”
- “Anyone got any brands they recommend for this? especially aiming for the lowest price highest effectiveness”
- “Me: looks up red light therapy items on amazon;
Me: digusted by the prices ;
Me: Gets my small night light lamp and sets it to red”
- “Get some smart light-bulbs, program them to have a red tone during certain times of the day?”
- “Would the rbg lights that people hang up in their rooms be capable of providing ANY benefits when set to red?”
You do not need an expensive lamp to get benefits, but you cannot use just any lamp with blue, green, red or infrared light. The issues are:
- the light might not emit the right wavelength
- the lamp might not have enough power
There’s nothing special about LEDs and light therapy, they are not required as the only alternative to doctor’s office lasers. But they do offer something you won’t get in a household lamp. LEDs can emit specific wavelengths (usually give or take up to 20 nanometers), and that’s very specific. That specificity is necessary to get the same absorption as we know works from the studies. Multichromatic lights (lights of many colors) can literally interfere with absorption as wavelengths cancel each other out.
Use a Smaller Design
The most popular therapy device is the large panel that shines on half or 3/4 of the body. I have tons of lights and yet I don’t have any panels. They don’t appeal to me. I don’t want to sit in one place with a lot of energy radiating at me. I like therapy devices that let me direct the energy to the area of concern. That’s why I use pads, handheld panels, handhelds, and bulbs. They are much less expensive than panels.
Use a Grow Light
The cheapest red light therapy device is a grow lamp that emits the right wavelengths for therapy. I like and recommend the Wolezek bulb that offers the right wavelengths for pain relief and anti aging. Look at the Red Light Man bulb to compare on this page.
Can I Make My Own Red Light?
- Okay so why shouldn’t I line my headset with a red LED if I’m on a computer for 15 hours a day during lockdown?
- Can I Build My Own Light Therapy Helmet?
Yes, you certain can build your own therapy device. That is the purpose of the group Red Light Therapy DIY on Facebook, and we hope you join us there.
WARNING! Do not use cheap LEDs, make sure your LEDs output the wavelengths you want, and not the ones you don’t want.
Warning! 99% of the science and 99% of the light therapy community (including me, until a few weeks ago) will tell you that you need to hit the optimum photon quantity (joules) window. That is, get enough light, but not too much. 15 hours a day will probably be “too much.”
However, recently I talked with Wendy Zelmer, a light therapy provider who uses her office’s high quality light therapy devices for one and two hours at a time, and with GREAT success. She has treated people suffering with all manner of muscle and neurological issues doing very long light therapy sessions.
The very long sessions go against everything we think we know about how red light therapy reverses after the photon bucket fills up. Given she’s treated thousands of patients, we need to find out why long sessions break the “optimum window” treatment length.
So 15 hours is probably too much, but for all we know, everything resets at 1.5 hours and starts a healthy cycle again. Just be aware that 99% of the science says that an LED device will impart optimum light at between 2 and 20 minutes of exposure, depending on distance and power density.
Therapeutic? A Cell Phone’s Red Light; an Incandescent, Halogen, Fluorescent, RGB or LED Light; a Red Image; a Red Cell Phone App; or Red Clothing?
- “If you have a Samsung phone, dial *#0*# the device test manager will open. On the upper left corner you can find “Red” click it and the screen will turn all red. Now you have a free red light device 😉 Alternatively you can download a red image and should work just fine.”
- “What’s the difference between the light from normal red LED lights and red light therapy machines? Would you get the same benefits?”
- “By redlight you mean I can buy a red/rgb light bulb and it’d work?”
- “So how much energy (watts?) needs to be present to see results. Would your typical red fluorescent light bulb from the grocery store provide any benefits if skin is exposed to it. A red incandescent bulb?”
- “Or one of the cheap way is to wear red clothes, right?”
- How close to your skin does the red light need to be? For example, I just want to get a lamp to shine on my whole body from a few feet away. Would that still be effective? Would I need to get lots of lamps or those expensive massive red light panels? 2. Can this treatment be paired with other light therapies, like blue light and do you recommend it?
LIGHT HEALS WITH PHOTONS. It doesn’t heal with what color hits the eyeball or just because something is red.
If an incandescent, fluorescent or LED bulb is therapeutic, that’s a coincidence and not by design. The device to measure wavelengths (a spectrophotometer) is expensive, and I don’t have one. If I did, I could tell you what wavelengths a light is emitting. Does that mean it is emitting enough of that wavelength? At a high enough power to get a good dose in 5 to 30 minutes? I don’t know.
Red clothing, red images, red cell phone lights and red everything is psychologically interesting as color therapy, but these are not therapeutic lamps. Painting a bulb does not change the wavelengths emitted from the bulb. Filtering does not change the wavelengths.
- A proper therapy lamp has the right wavelengths and power to put between 0.5 to 65 joules at the target. You cannot determine the power density of a lamp from its wattage. The manufacturer has to state the light’s power density or you need to measure it. It is much easier to just buy a cheap therapy bulb
Section VI: How to Shop for a Red Light Therapy Device
- “Hey, What I’ve Learned, I’ve got a seemingly cheaply made panel I got off aliexpress and wondering if there is a way to test the wavelength of the ir and red lights. Anyone know of an “at home” test for this? Also, do you still eat only one meal per day?”
- “What’s the best red light box”
- “Can you please link the red light device that you have bought?!”
- “Also what are the differences between the various machines?”
What Makes a Good Light?
- wavelengths: the wavelengths that match your goal
- power density: the power density at the distance you will be from your device during use to impart the correct amount of photons (joules) in the treatment time
- EMFs: low to no unwanted electromagnetic fields (EMFs) which can interfere with health
- UVs: no UV light, which can also interfere with health
- solid build: a device design compatible with your treatment goal
- quality: quality materials
- trust: from a trusted vendor
Non-Therapy Lamps are Probably Non-Therapeutic
The random household LED, incandescent, fluorescent or halogen bulb might accidentally have healing wavelengths and enough power. Without an expensive spectrophotometer, we can’t measure it. Since the light’s vendor is not selling therapy, they’re not going to tell us the wavelengths emitted. So your best bet is not using a household lamp (or cell phone screen or red cellophane filter), and get a real therapy light.
Beware of Heat
Photons heal. If they have the therapeutic wavelengths and are transmitted to the target in sufficient amounts, healing may begin. Light therapy is non-thermal. If the light source gives off heat, the photon energy is altered before reaching the target. Heat can be healing, but it is not light therapy.
Color + Infrared = Good
The wavelengths that heal are scattered throughout the blue, green, amber, red, and infrared ranges of the electromagnetic spectrum. Our body responds to ranges of wavelengths in each spot, so you do not need to get a 650 nm device because that’s “the” wavelength. There are ideal wavelengths, but LEDs emit ranges of light waves in and around the ideal target, and that really is good enough.
Power Density is the Delivery Size
Power Density is not the device’s wattage. There is no way to derive power density from watts input into the device. The device’s internals are a black box that yield some stepped down amount of photons coming toward the target. The manufacturer has to tell you the lamp’s power density.
Vendors Overstate Power Density
Power density is the amount of light that reaches the target from a given distance. A lamp that emits 50 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches delivers 50 milliwatts of energy per squared centimeter of target when the lamp and target are 6 inches apart. There’s a huge problem with power density in the consumer market. It is almost universally overstated. One reason is that cheap solar meters overstate power density by a factor of at least two. So any power density measured with a solar meter is no more than half the stated amount.
Go by Treatment Time per Session to Quasi Deduce the Light’s Power
You can derive the real power density from the vendor’s instructions of how long to use the light. A 100 mW/cm^2 power density emits 6 joules per minute. If the vendor says to use their lamp for 30 minutes at the 100 mW/cm^2 distance, they’re saying “We want you to absorb 30 minutes x 6 J/minute, or 180 joules. It is HIGHLY unlikely that they’re suggesting such a large quantity of photon absorption. More than likely, they are really saying, “Our 100 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches is really 33 mW/cm^2 at 6 inches. So you’re not getting 6 J/minute, you’re getting 1.98 J/minute. 30 minutes of 1.98 J yields 59.4 J per session, which is a healthy and reasonable dose. So where possible, look at the TIME per treatment suggested to suss out the real power density of the lamp.
Tragedy Plus Time = Therapy
Regardless of these overstatements, that does not mean the lamps are bad or defective. The reason that LEDs work as well as lasers is because the body doesn’t mind a slow photon delivery rate. So long as you get all the photons to the target, you can kick off a mitochondria respiratory cycle and make ATP. What LED devices lack in power, you make up in time per treatment.
Photons are Good, Man Made EMFs are Not So Good
The quickest treatment devices are the powerful devices that you hold close to avoid photon loss to distance and reflection. Electric devices can output man made electromagnetic fields that might be harmful to your health. If this were not the case, you would do well not to stand in front of a wall panel, but to hug it close to your bare skin. When the device is on your skin, you absorb the most photons. Photon energy drops dramatically with distance. Some quantity of photons that do reach you will scatter when they reach your skin.
When devices do output unwanted EMFs, you can create safety simply by putting 6 inches between you and the device. In EMF terms, 6 inches is plenty of distance to create safety. In photonic energy terms, 6 inches is a thousand miles. The photon energy drops and you receive fewer photons to absorb. To make up for this loss, you need to spend MORE TIME in each treatment session.
Devices with low to no unwanted EMFs tend to be battery or USB-cable powered. I have never seen a so-called shielded device that emitted a safe amount of EMFs at zero inches. I’ve only measured a few plugged-in lamps claiming low unwanted EMFs, but the few I did measure had high unwanted EMF readings. Put six inches between your body and the device, and add time to your treatment sessions.
Section VII: What are Some Good Red Light Therapy Devices?
The Lights I Like
Please take a look at the Best Red Light Therapy Devices on EMF Channel. You can assess which device configurations make sense for your goals, and drill down to the EMF Channel recommended light therapy devices in each category. As of this writing, the tables compare lights that have good wavelengths for both pain relief and anti-aging (the wavelengths for these goals overlap).
Five Types of Light Device to Fit Your Need and Budget
- Best Red Light Comparisons
- Best Red Light Therapy Bulbs
- Best Red Light Therapy Handhelds
- Best Red Light Therapy Handheld Panels
- Best Red Light Therapy Pads
- Best Red Light Therapy Panels