What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is the use of light in the red to infrared wavelengths as a medical instrument to treat or, better, heal a wide variety of ailments. Red light therapy may be better known to you under other names, such as photostimulation, “biostimulation (BIOS),” or “light box therapy.” While yet another familiar name for red light therapy is “low level laser therapy” (LLLT), it is generally distinguished from “true” laser therapy, which uses very highly focused light as a cutting tool.


Rather, in red light therapy, the light is being absorbed into the body’s tissues. This is a healing mechanism less obvious than than the cutting effect of laser, and, accordingly, it is still somewhat less well-accepted by conventional medicine. Red light therapy is sometimes consigned by doctors to a category somewhere between “alternative therapy” and “magic.” This is an unduly harsh judgment, since we know that even mere sunlight has a variety of effects upon everything from Vitamin D production to skin tanning to mood enhancement. Light has real power, and not just when it is so focused that it acts as a knife.

Besides, there is now sound clinical proof, accepted by the FDA, that red light therapy has demonstrable effects upon the human immune and endocrine systems. Today, it is used to treat an increasing number of conditions.


Using a device such as an “Omnilux Red,” a doctor will address wrinkles and other signs of skin aging. Results do take several treatments at $50–$200 apiece. The treatments are thought to stimulate the growth of collagen, which would necessarily help smooth wrinkled skin.


Red light therapy has several effects that, in combination, work to even skin tone and color, and to regulate blood flow to skin tissue. As with several other treatments, observation of the effects of red light therapy have somewhat outpaced our understanding of the precise mechanisms behind those effects.


The red light wavelength is believed to cause oil glands in the skin to attack cytokines, an inflammation-promoting substance thought to make skin develop chronic acne as a defense mechanism. That’s one defense mechanism you don’t need.


Red light wavelengths have several pain reducing devices, such as stimulating blood circulation, combating inflammation, and relaxing muscles. Unlike other wavelengths, both red and infrared light penetrate outer dermal layers for a much deeper healing. Treatment also appears to make the immune system healthier generally, and to regulate both lymphatic activity and serotonin levels. Thus, pain is attacked from several “directions” at once.

Neurological Damage

When combined with alternating treatments of near-infrared light, red light therapy has been seen to actually regenerate damaged nerves and, remarkably, even to regrow severed spinal cords. Accordingly, red light therapy holds great promise for the treatment of stroke and heart attack patients.

Hair Loss

At wavelengths between 630 and 670 nanometers, red light therapy is effective at blocking and even reversing hair loss, as it stimulates hair follicles as well as ordinary cells. Different wavelengths are effective in the treatment of different ailments, with the rule of thumb being: the higher the wavelength, the deeper and more penetrative the effect.

How Does It Work?

Red light wavelengths increase energy levels wherever they are applied topically. They do this by stimulating the release of Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) from mitochondria found in cells. ATP is sometimes referred to as the “currency” cells use to exchange energy. The association between red light and energy is so profound that simply seeing the color red is stimulative on what we typically assume to be a strictly psychological level – but much more than the strictly psychological is in play when we feel the effects of red light wavelength. We are in fact being stimulated from our tiniest cells on up.

There is still much we don’t yet know. For instance, we’ve seen that red light’s growth-stimulating properties include the ability to promote that growth of new capillaries. To some, this suggests possible applications for ailments such as weakened eyesight, even erectile dysfunction. The testing for these problems, however, still lags. But given what we know already, it was only a matter of time before medicine began to harness this fundamental cosmic power.

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