What Are The Health Benefits Of Near-Infrared Red Light Therapy?
The list of red light therapy health benefits is impressively long and we will examine these in more detail below:
Basically, red and near-infrared light therapy create improved cellular health and thus an ideal condition for a healthy life full of energy. From a scientific perspective, your health is often compromised by stress in everyday life, chronic exhaustion, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. All of these issues can lead to a weakening of the immune system. On a cellular level, this reduces the ability of cells to process energy and information, leaving the human body with a lower ability to optimise internal processes.
For instance, these negative factors we just mentioned lead to an increase in nitric oxide in the body. This increase can be harmful if the nitric oxide (NO) binds to the enzyme cytochrome c oxidase (CCO), which is necessary for our cellular health and overall energy-production. The near-infrared and red light used in therapy can break the bonds between NO and CCO, increasing cell functioning and improving energy production at the cellular level.
1. Pain Relief
Red light therapy has been shown to relieve pain 100% naturally. Studies have shown that red light therapy treatments (hereafter often abbreviated to LLLT; or Low-Level Laser Therapy) can help with different types of pain, such as chronic back pain, muscle pain, knee pain and pain in other joints. Studies also show that this therapy can improve the healing process after injury and surgery, and reduces the need for painkillers or other over-the-counter medications.
The potential pain relief from red light results from increased blood flow to the body, especially to damaged tissue.
In addition, near-infrared red light therapy causes what is known as “photobiomodulation” With photobiomodulation there is an increase in ATP in the mitochondria, which makes more energy available to the body’s cells and allows them to work faster and more effectively. This optimisation of cell functions is directly related to the faster regeneration of damaged tissue - the body’s own immune system can act stronger and faster in repairing internal damage.
2. Red Light Therapy Aids Against Inflammation (One Of The Main Causes Of Chronic Diseases)
Early research suggests that red light therapy can help reduce inflammation in the body. The causes of inflammation can be varied - and so can the ways to treat them, as the initial scientific research confirms:
In particular, positive effects of this therapy have been shown on inflammations of the muscles, which occur especially during very heavy athletic exertion. Treatment with red light before sport can alleviate pain caused by excessive strain and shorten the recovery phase.
Furthermore, many people have pain relief after applying red light therapy regularly with various forms of arthritis. In addition, swelling (associated with arthritis) and stiffness decrease. These preliminary results are fantastic news for people with arthritis who often struggle with constant pain and limited mobility.
The above health outcomes can be easily explained by the way photobiomodulation works. The supplied energy to your body in the form of near-infrared and red light stimulates ATP production in the “mitochondria”. The mitochondria are the “energy-producing factories” of your cells. In turn, that increase in energy production causes the body’s own processes, such as the supply of the muscles with blood and oxygen, to run faster and more effectively.
3. Improved Skin Appearance And Anti-Ageing (Increased Collagen & Elastin Production)
In the beauty industry, LLLT or LED light therapy has long been known and regularly used, especially by stars and celebrities. The main reason for this outcome is the anti-inflammatory effect on the skin. Due to the increased blood and oxygen circulation, damaged skin tissue can be repaired more quickly - skin regeneration is stimulated as well.
In the fight against the ageing process of your skin, red light therapy will be your miracle weapon. Why? Simple: the red light photons promote your blood circulation to and allow oxygen to be better transported to the skin cells. Every single biological process benefits from that increased oxygen presence.
In recent years, red light therapy has proven to be an extraordinarily effective wellness therapy in the field of anti-ageing as well. In other words, red light therapy seems to be slowing down the ageing process in the skin. The therapy also helps to stimulate the regeneration of skin cells, which improves the overall quality of the skin. This effect is due to the fact that red light therapy provides the skin cells with the energy they need to regenerate, thereby reducing signs of stress and skin ageing.
There’s more though: red light therapy devices also emit a form of energy that can be utilised particularly well by the mitochondria in our body. This is important because the mitochondrial function is constantly compromised by “oxidative” stress and poor cell regeneration, causing signs of ageing.
Oxidative stress is a byproduct of energy production and also plays a role in ageing.
Moreover, red light touching the skin also promotes blood circulation and oxygen transport to the skin cells and supplies them with the energy and nutrients they need to minimise the signs of ageing and produce more collagen.
Dr Raleigh Duncan states: “When red or near-infrared light enters the mitochondrion of a cell and is converted into ATP or energy. ATP is the currency of the cell, and like a fountain of youth that turns light into energy. As we get older, we face the problem that our cells are not as powerful and they lack energy. If we give them more ATP, it acts like a fountain of youth.”
4. Muscle Regeneration And Strengthening
Red light therapy has further exciting results in the area of muscle regeneration and strengthening. High-quality scientific studies demonstrate increased muscle activity in terms of strength, endurance and general performance. Furthermore, treatment with red light leads to improvements in absolute muscle strength and grip strength. Similar results exist in relation to leg strength.
These health benefits have been demonstrated for both women and men. The best part is that recent studies are unequivocal with regard to an increase in strength across the board.
Moreover, the increase in general performance and the shortening of the regeneration phase are also remarkable. The combination of strength increase and shorter regeneration phase is interesting for both professional and amateur athletes.
5. Improvement Of Thyroid Health
Some studies have shown that red light therapy can be helpful for the thyroid gland. For example, this placebo-controlled clinical trial showed how LLLT effectively improved thyroid function (increased production of T4) and helped reduce autoimmunity by lowering thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPOab). Another study also concluded that “preliminary results suggest that LLLT promotes improvement in thyroid function, as patients experienced a reduced need for LT4, a reduction in TPOAb levels, and an increase in parenchymal echogenicity."
In plain English, that means that your thyroid increases its output of main thyroid hormones and that the risk of auto-immune disease with regard to your thyroid goes down.
Lastly, another study shows that LLLT improves overall thyroid tissue function. And, related to that argument, the best of all is that a long-term study concludes that LLLT is considered safe for the treatment of hypothyroidism caused by autoimmune thyroiditis. Hence, autoimmune conditions might actually be reversed with red light therapy - although we don’t give any medical advice!
6. Increased Testosterone Production, Especially In Men
A 2013 study suggests that red light therapy leads to an increase in testosterone.
To confirm these results in a later study, an Italian research team let men use red light therapy for 30 minutes every morning. Another equally large group received a placebo.
The results? Daily exposure to red light therapy significantly increased testosterone levels in the blood. In fact, they found that testosterone levels increased by more than 50% in men. Additionally, the sexual satisfaction of these men increased by more than three times.
Hence, if your testosterone levels are low, red light therapy might be a game-changer!
7. Improved Sleep And Circadian Rhythm
Just one single 30-minute treatment per day with the red light is enough to influence your circadian rhythm. That circadian rhythm significantly controls your sleep pattern because your brain functions on a day & night cycle.
Various studies indicate that an increased influence of light on the skin first thing in the morning sets the sleep rhythm immediately for that day. In other words, when light hits your skin first thing in the morning, your body gets the message that it’s time to wake up.
Moreover, a 2012 study found that a 30-minute treatment with red light can increase the production of the sleep hormone melatonin at night, which is responsible for the quality of our sleep patterns. Melatonin production generally goes down with age but red light therapy might keep your levels up as long as possible.
Also, this treatment leads to positive effects on mental health and alleviation of seasonal depression (“winter depression”). Many people living on a high latitude in the Northern hemisphere have a problem with winter depression and the brightness of red and near-infrared light therapy can counter that outcome!
8. Reduced Stress
Red light therapy helps you reduce toxic (chronic) stress and actively counteract depression. Why? Well, especially during the dark season with a lack of sunlight, the red light therapy devices for the home are a real blessing for many of our users.
Let’s explain that mechanism a bit more: it is less well known that light therapy in general, and red light therapy in particular, is the subject of current research into the alleviation of depression and the reduction of stress. In a study published in 2016, for example, red light therapy was shown to be effective in treating severe depression, oxidative stress and inflammation in the brain. All of these factors affect how you feel in your daily life.
Moreover, in the currently published science, it is well known that light is vital to almost every biological species on our planet and the absence of light affects your well-being and can cause stress and depression. Red light therapy has proven invaluable for people living near the Earth’s poles, where seasonal depression (aka “winter depression”) has a dramatic impact on the health and well-being of people who do not receive the same amount of sunlight as those living near the equator.
With the help of a targeted dose of red and near-infrared light waves, your body is capable to carry out a chemical reaction that supplies your cells with energy (ATP) while regularing essential rhythms that determine your stress levels. Examples are the circadian and ultradian rhythms.
Furthermore, red light therapy increases blood flow to the brain as well as oxygen concentration in the blood and energy production in the brain. Brain function as well as their regenerative capacity of brain tissue thus increase. As an illustration, in a 2018 study, red light therapy was shown to be “a safe and effective method to significantly improve memory, attention and mood in healthy and neurological patients."
9. Performance Enhancement
Red light therapy affects your body at a cellular level. The therapy makes you feel more energised from the inside out, to give you an analogy. If you’ve got a red light therapy device it will help you feel less exhausted and say goodbye to a possible midday slump.
Moreover, red light therapy has been shown to help its users increase their activity and stamina and also regulate a number of vital functions that keep you energised throughout the day. Red light therapy devices emit a form of energy that is absorbed by the body’s mitochondria and converted into ATP.
That ATP is essentially a molecular energy boost for the cells, stimulating repair and regeneration processes. Red light therapy thus offers a simple and effective way to provide our bodies with extra energy at the cellular level, which has an extremely positive effect on our productivity and performance. Studies have shown red light therapy to be effective in aiding the treatment of conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome and even multiple sclerosis and fibromyalgia.
10. Red Light Therapy Is Rigorously Researched
As long as you follow the recommended therapy duration and use, red light therapy is in no way dangerous to you. By the way, you do not have to worry about wearing a mask to protect yourself from the red light rays. As a rule, it is sufficient to close your eyes during the therapy. If you want additional safety - due to an eye condition or another reason - then protective goggles are provided just in case.
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