Science Behind Red Light Therapy

February 6th, 2021.

Why Red Light Therapy

…because it works!

Why sunlight is important for humans

All energy on Earth is derived from the stars.  We do not create energy—that’s impossible—we merely change it from one form to another so it is useful to us.  More than 99% of our energy originates within the Sun, arriving here as photons of light.  Even the “stored energy” we use here (fossil fuels, etc.) was made with sunlight billions of years ago—so this is solar power, too.

Humans need all the light energy that we receive from the Sun, not only to power our weather and the water cycle, but to allow us to make Vitamin D with our skin, and to moderate the production of serotonin and melatonin to control many bodily functions, such as sleep and wakefulness.

What is red light and near-infrared therapy?

Sir Isaac Newton discovered the spectrum in the 1600s but it took until 1800 to discover infrared light and 1801 to discover ultraviolet.  We found that ordinary sunlight exposure prevented rickets (soft bones that led to bow-legs in children) and osteoporosis or “weak bones”, and even “hunchback syndrome” in the elder population.  We did not know until 1920 that it was because our skin was making Vitamin D3, known as cholecalciferol.

Nils Finsen[i] [1860-1904] essentially invented phototherapy in 1895 when he cured a man of tuberculosis of the skin in just over four days with a strong UV light.  The early lights, however, were too powerful to get close to the skin without burning people, and interest faded in phototherapy.

Modern Times

The invention of LEDs reawakened modern interest.  It became safe and simple to create frequencies of 415 nm (blue), 633 nm (red), and 830 nm (infrared) with cool LEDs, without hurting the patient.  While blue light has its uses, red and near infrared light are useful for treating persistent wounds, wrinkles, and scarring; it can even be useful in the treatment of acne.  It is also helpful to reduce the damage of burns, UV damage, and muscle pain, such as tendonitis.

One 2014 study[ii] revealed that it decreases the appearance of aging by stimulating fibroblasts, the cells that build the structure of your skin, along with collagen and elastin, the elements that make your skin resilient, firm, and youthful.  Another study[iii], in the same year showed that in deliberate exercise excess intended to cause pain, those treated with phototherapy had reduced pain and damage up to 96 hours after the event, compared to the placebo group.

Introducing… Mitochondria!

Two molecules Adenosine Diphosphate and Adenosine Triphosphate are responsible for transferring most of the energy inside our cells.  This happens inside a small cellular component called the mitochondria (sometimes called the cell’s “battery”).  They work together with the triphosphate releasing a phosphate molecule to create energy, and the diphosphate reattaching a new one to “charge” the battery again.  Red light therapy was seen to enhance the activity of the mitochondria, the ADP, and the ATP, making more energy available for all these repairs to proceed.

The Takeaway

Red light has an established history of enhancing metabolic processes, improving repairs and healing.  It is also now GRAS (Generally Regarded As Safe) by authorities, being identified as benign and safe.

For best effect, treatment should be undertaken three times per week, but the cost of clinical sessions can be significant.  Many people are now turning to home units, where a one-time investment can pay dividends for years.  Talk to one of our customer care specialists and find out how Red Light Therapy can change your life for the better!