Red Light Therapy- Understand What Is It And Its Benefits
The internet is buzzing with the newfound revolutionary cosmetic technology that is “Red Light Therapy”. It is making rounds in research papers and beauty influencer posts because of its innovative means of working and unexpected results. However, people are unaware of what is red light therapy and what are its benefits. If you are also going through the same dilemma, then you have come to the right place. Today, we will discuss the crux of red light therapy, its working, benefits, and more.
What is Red Light Therapy?
Red Light Therapy or RLT is a therapeutic means of treating skin conditions like scars, fine lines, wrinkles, and wounds. It is also used for treating slow-healing wounds, and psoriasis and for coping with the negative impacts of chemotherapy. It incorporates red low-wavelength in its treatment process.
But RLT is not a new technological development. Since 1990s, red light therapy was incorporated into growing plants and vegetation in space. Scientists discovered that red LEDs boost growth in plant cells and also promote photosynthesis.
Later scientists became intrigued about the potential of red light therapy in healthcare and the medical field. The main motive was to find whether red light therapy boosts energy in human cells or not. This would have made RLT an effective way of treating muscle atrophy.
With its multiple research in different domains, RLT got several new names such as low-level light therapy (LLLT), soft laser therapy, biostimulation, cold laser therapy, photobiomodulation (PBM), low-power laser therapy (LPLT), and photonic simulation. Similarly, if RLT is incorporated into photosensitizing the medicines, then it is called photodynamic therapy. Here, it works as an activating agent.
How does it work?
Red Light Therapy is part of a larger optic phenomenon which is photobiomodulation. It uses lights with wavelengths ranging from 400 nm to 12 nm. As per National Center for Atmospheric Research, red light has a wavelength between 620 nm to 750 nm. It is considered visible light which can be seen by naked human eyes.
When red light is emitted on the skin, then photons (particles of light) penetrate the tissues. All the cells of the tissues have a molecule called a chromophore which is activated by the penetrated red light. As per the American Society for Laser Medicine and Surgery, this activation alters the cells. Moreover, red light therapy also impacts the mitochondria of the cell which results in the production of more ATP molecules which is the energy currency of our body. As a result, more energy is produced which boosts the healing process.
For effective results of red light therapy, targeted dosage, and protocols are designed as per the individual body requirements. It can be done by a practitioner or a doctor. However, there are several red light therapy devices available to get their benefits at home.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Red Light Therapy comes a huge potential for showing benefits in different treatment procedures. Let’s begin to discuss the major benefits of red light therapy.
For Hair and Skin issues
Using optical technology for treating skin and hair issues is not a new concept. Before RLT, laser light has become one of the most common means of skin treatment. As per Dr. Kung, dermatologists are using light wavelengths for treating skin issues for more than 50 years. Elaine F. Kung who is Managing Direction and founder of Future Bright Dermatology in New York has also pressed the need of exploring RLT with larger sample sizes. She is also an assistant clinical professor at Weill-Cornell Medical College where she mentioned that the sample size was less than 30 people.
Now, RLT has become a noticeable optical technology for skin treatment too. Red light therapy for face treatment is gaining popularity. It helps in stimulating collagen in the skin and also penetrates deeply into the cells. This makes it a reliable skin treatment. It can also be used for enhancing the texture of the skin by promoting the growth of healthy skin cells.
As per a study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology in 2020, LED phototherapy red light therapy shows impressive results in skin rejuvenation. It increases the growth of fibroblasts which helps in collagen production and provides elasticity and strength to the skin.
Moreover, the use of light therapy is very common for treating acne issues. And to aid medications and therapies in acne treatment, light therapy is a proven practice. Now, scientists are targeting red light especially to check its effectiveness in acne treatment. As per another study published in the Journal of Drugs in Dermatology, red light therapy has decreases the occurrence of mild and moderate acne by 36%.
In addition, red light face therapy helps in treating skin fibrosis. As per a report by Forbes, 100 million+ individuals each year suffer from skin fibrosis in the world. Therefore, infra red light therapy can bring revolutionary changes in scarring patients. Several clinical trials in the run are working towards modulating the key cell features that cause scarring. Scientists are working towards using red light in a contrasting manner here. They are trying to reduce the collagen production of the cells by red light therapy to reduce the thickening of scars on the skin.
Diabetes patients suffer from slow-healing wounds. Conditions like diabetic ulcers are very common among patients which also form one of the major skin issues. Red Light Therapy has shown promising potential to heal wounds faster by promoting the activity of mitochondria. It also boosts fibroblast proliferation and collagen formation which helps in faster healing and regeneration of the tissues.
As per Dr. Kelley, RLT has been proven effective in combating the impacts of androgenetic alopecia as well. It is one of the most common genetic hair growth issues which occurs due to hypersecretion of androgens such as testosterone.
RLT can help in reducing the inflammation of the affected part and can boost blood circulation. This will help in supplying more nutrients to the area ultimately promoting hair growth and thickness.
Relief from pain and chronic symptoms
Red Light Therapy is known to offer relief from chronic pain issues like fibromyalgia. Currently, FDA has approved a therapeutic laser device for treating fibromyalgia pain. It is called as FibroLux. This device incorporates red light therapy. And it was found that patients felt a remarkable relief in pain when they receive professionally managed sessions of FibroLux laser 3 times every week.
In addition, they have also found RLT effective in managing neuropathy pain. It can also reduce the side effects of cancer treatments like chemotherapy. As per phase-three clinical research, red light also decreased oral mucositis in patients with bone marrow transplants done by the extraoral application.
Boosts fat loss
Red Light Therapy also impacts the adipocytes which are fat-storing cells in the human body. As per a study of Journal Obesity Surgery in 2011, 40 overweight adults were exposed to red light therapy periodically. In conclusion, it was found that the exposure made their adipocyte cells secrete triglycerides which caused fat reduction. All the 40 participants saw a reduction of around 2.1 centimeters of their waist within a month.
Another study was published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine in 2015 which was conducted on 64 women suffering from obesity. The study was done by bisecting the participants into two groups. Both the groups were made to do exercise for 20 minutes three times a week followed by red light therapy or a placebo light therapy. In the results, the women working out and receiving red light therapy witnessed much more fat mass decrease. This indicates that red light therapy also boosts the metabolism of the individuals which helps in faster fat reduction.
Moreover, RLT can also improve the condition of inflexibility by providing better muscle health. This helps in enhancing the stamina and can also be used for muscle building or bodybuilding.
Faster sports recovery
Light helps in increasing the respiration rate in cells. In turn, this boosts ATP formation along with several other mechanistic aspects. As a result, when the cellular energy is boosted then it also increases the repairing capability of the body. Therefore, RLT can help in dodging several musculoskeletal issues such as tendonitis and carpel tunnel syndrome.
Sports persons and players can also include red light therapy in their fitness regime. This will help them naturally boost their strength and increase their muscle power. Moreover, it will help in preventing injuries and will offer better physical performance. Other aspects like maintaining a certain weight, targeted wound healing, etc. will also get better results by using RLT.
Boosts brain health
Red Light Therapy offers visible results in managing dementia, anxiety, and depression. Photobiomodulation or RLT can help in improving the metabolic capacity of human neurons. In turn, this can promote anti-inflammatory and antioxidant factors in the body. It can also help in stimulating neurogenesis (creation of new neurons). This can help if not in treating but at least managing the symptoms of memory loss.
RLT can also help in improving mood conditions. It stimulates the secretion of antioxidants and some of them impact the emotional functions of our body. Therefore, scientists feel that RLT can do major changes in managing the mental health of society.
Patients suffering from Parkinson’s disease also have a ray of hope with RLT. It helps in managing the symptoms and balancing their sleep/wake cycles. Also, it comes with minimal side effects compared to other treatments for Parkinson’s. Therefore, several researchers believe that RLT is going to be an effective treatment for brain disorders. The regeneration of cells can also give a reliable treatment for Parkinson’s which hasn’t been possible yet.
Effectiveness and Further Research on Red Light Therapy
A research was published on NCBI which indicates that Red Light Therapy significantly improved skin complexion and texture. Moreover, it enhanced the profilometrically assessed roughness of skin. When the collagen density of measured ultrasonographically then it also showed improvement. When the control group was compared with the intervention group by using blinded clinical evaluation of photographs, then it also confirmed improvement.
Currently, RLT has made its place in several cosmetic procedures. Different RLT at-home devices offer effective results in skin rejuvenation as well like red light therapy masks. The evidence are limited but they indicate that red light therapy can help in improving conditions like seasonal affective disorder, and postpartum depression, decrease cellulite, help in weight loss, and cure neck pain. It also helps in detoxifying the body and boosting the immunity. It has helped in fighting against periodontitis, acne, treat cancer and dental infections.
In cancer treatment, it is used for activating the main treatment for effective results. Red light is also combined with other medications to aid their impact.
Future of Red Light Therapy Research
As the field of RLT still requires a lot of research, the question arises is RLT effective and reliable? The studies published till now surely show a lot of potential for making RLT an effective treatment for several conditions. However, infra red light therapy is still in its early phase and requires extensive research. This will help in understanding its different aspects and finding evidence to support its effectiveness.
Moreover, the gold standard of such studies should be randomized and placebo-controlled trail. So half of the people should get placebo treatment while the other half should get the real red light therapy treatment. This is also called “Sham” treatment.
Moreover, researchers can conduct studies comparative to the other emerging treatments. This will help in identifying the impact of the red light therapy results more accurately. Most of the studies published on RLT till today include small sample sizes. Also, a lot of them were done on animals or just on a cellular level. Therefore, to conduct quality research, we need to invest more in sample size and realistic condition building.
Red Light Therapy has become a cosmetic sensation on the internet. Its effective results in treating acne and skin rejuvenation make it a revolutionary tool. With its different dermatological, neurological, psychological, and physiological fields of application, it comes out as a major game changer for healthcare.
Several studies published in NCBI, Journal of Laser Medicine and Surgery and Drugs in Dermatology prove the beneficial aspects of RLT. As it is still in its early phase, RLT requires profound research to explore its all advantageous dimensions. The researchers require to expand their sample size to make the researches more inclusive and versatile.