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Your Complete Red Light Therapy Dose Guide

your complete red light therapy dose guide

When it comes to red light therapy, more isn’t necessarily better. Some studies have shown that applying red light for too long may actually begin to cancel out the benefits. So before you go out and buy the brightest light you can find and shine it on yourself for hours at a time, it’s useful to take a look at what doses scientists have found useful for treating certain conditions.

Studies using red and infrared light to treat various diseases and conditions have documented the effects of using specific power densities of light for specific durations of time. This paper was designed to help you find the optimal dose, session duration and frequency for the conditions you wish to treat.

By the way, I’ve done by absolute best to make this as simple as possible for you, but if in the end you feel overwhelmed or confused, don’t worry… I’ll simplify it even more for you at the end of this guide.

The Strength of Your Red Light (Power Density)

Power density is a measurement of light concentration, specifically how many photons are passing through a specific area of space. It is measured using the unit mW/cm2 (milliwatts per centimeter squared) and varies from one device to the next. Power density can be measured using a solar power meter.

By measuring the power density for any given light therapy device at certain distances, the optimal distance range that the device should be positioned from the body during treatment can be established.

Optimal Red Light Therapy Application Distances

The optimal power density during light therapy treatment tends to range between 20 – 200mW/cm2. In the chart below I’ve calculated the distances that correspond to those optimal power densities for three red-infrared light therapy devices (the small, medium and full-body red-infrared lights) made by RedLightMan.

Basically the distance you position yourself from the device should be at least (lower end of effective range) and at most (upper end of effective range) to receive an effective power density. You can and should experiment with these distances and all distances in between.

Table 1. Determining the optimal application Distances


Light Therapy Device

Lower End of Range
(Distance for Power Density
200 mW/cm2)

Upper End of Range
(Distance for Power Density
20 mW/cm2)

Red-Infrared Combo Mini
5cm 50cm

Red-Infrared Combo
15cm 45cm

Red-Infrared Combo
Bodylight 2.0
5cm 150cm

 

For example, if you were using the Red-Infrared Combo Bodylight 2.0, positioning yourself anywhere from 5cm to 150cm away will provide a power density that has been shown effective in scientific research.

Holding the device at a distance near the upper end of the effective range (farther away), rather than near the lower end of the range (closer to the body) can have its advantages. One reason you might want to lean towards the upper end of the range is that it will apply the dose to a larger area of body tissue.

Red Light Therapy Dose

The dose you administer during your light therapy session is dependent on how long you apply the light for at a given distance/power density. Dose is measured in J/cm2 (Joules per centimeter squared) and is basically telling you how long a given power density was applied. Greater power density means shorter application time is required.

For example, you could hold the device close to you and be done in a few short minutes, but if you prefer longer sessions, you could position yourself farther from the device and your tissues would receive the same dose in 10 or more minutes. As mentioned above, increasing distance treats a greater surface area of the body, which is advantageous.

Power Density x Time = Dose

Table 2. Determining the time each power density administers the same dose

Power Denstiy Time Dose
20mW/cm2 50 seconds 1J/cm2
100mW/cm2 10 seconds 1J/cm2
200mW/cm2 5 seconds 1J/cm2

Optimal Doses for Health Conditions A to Z

Now that you understand how to calculate dose, we’re going to figure out which doses have been found effective for treating certain diseases and conditions. Furthermore, I will calculate the treatment times required to achieve the required doses for three red light therapy devices.

The following table presents the effective doses for specific ailments – ranging from as little as 0.1J/cm2 per session to as much as 700J/cm2 per session.

Table 3. Determining session time and application distance for specific conditions

Condition Effective
Dose
(J/cm2)
Treatment Times
(minutes & seconds)
Red-Infrared Combo Mini Red-Infrared Combo Red-Infrared Combo
Bodylight 2.0
5cm 50cm 15cm 45cm 5cm 150cm
Acne 5 to 96[1] 25s–8m 4m–80m 25s–8m 4m–80m 25s–8m 4m–80m
Back Pain 40 to 120[2] 3m–10m 33m–100m 3m–10m 33m–100m 3m–10m 33m–100m
Braces
(tooth movement)
8 to 64[3] 40s–5m 7m–53m 40s–5m 7m–53m 40s–5m 7m–53m
Braces Pain 60[4] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Brain Health 60[5] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Cellulitis 60[6] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Depression 60[5] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Dermatitis 60[67] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Hair Loss 67[89] 6m 56m 6m 56m 6m 56m
Joint Pain 40 to 120[2] 3m–10m 33m–100m 3m–10m 33m–100m 3m–10m 33m–100m
Muscle Performance & Recovery 80[10] 7m 67m 7m 67m 7m 67m
Oral Candida 5 to 20[11] 25s–2m 4m–17m 25s–2m 4m–17m 25s–2m 4m–17m
Rosacea 60[67] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m
Scars 27[7] 2m 23m 2m 23m 2m 23m
Skin 0.1-50[7] 0.5s–4m 5s–42m 0.5s–4m 5s–42m 0.5s–4m 5s–42m
Thyroid 38-707[1213] 3m–58m 32m–589m 3m–58m 32m–589m 3m–58m 32m–589m
Wound Healing 60[14] 5m 50m 5m 50m 5m 50m

As you can see from the chart above, all three devices are powerful enough to administer the doses required to treat all of the above conditions.

The advantage of the mid-sized Red-Infrared Combo light or the full-body Red-Infrared Combo Bodylight 2.0 is that they can administer the same effective dose to more surface area of the body. For example, the full-body Red-Infrared Combo Bodylight 2.0 treats the entire body from head-to-toe in the same amount of time the Red-Infrared Combo Mini takes to treat a small area.

How Many Times a Week Should I Use My Device?

The ideal number of treatment sessions may vary depending on the ailment being treated, but as a general guideline, studies have shown that somewhere between 2-times per week and 14-times per week are effective.

Summary

To get the most out of red light therapy, applying the correct dose is essential. The best way to determine the correct dose is to find doses that have been proven effective for particular conditions in red light therapy studies. (See table 3)

The optimal power density during light therapy treatment tends to range between 20 – 200mW/cm2. Every red light therapy device is different, so you’ll need to determine the distances which provide the power densities within the effective range. This can be done by using a solar power meter. (See table 1)

The length of each session can then be determined based on the chosen application distance and power density that is delivered from that distance. (See table 2)

Bonus: Keeping Red Light Therapy Treatment Simple

If you feel overwhelmed or discouraged by this information and just want to begin red light therapy treatment without having to make any mathematical calculations, this section is for you.

Harvard Professor Dr. Michael Hamblin has been researching and publishing studies on red and infrared light therapy for decades and uses it regularly for his own health benefit. In a recent interview he was asked when and how he uses red light therapy on himself, and he replied:

“I have an LED device plugged in by my bed and every morning I put it on some part of my anatomy that I believe could do with some stimulation. So, if I have a sore elbow or a sore knee,… I put it on any part of my anatomy that I think could benefit from the light.”

Dr. Hamblin also mentioned that he uses it on his forehead to give his brain a boost 2-3x a week for about 15 minutes each session.

Remember, red light therapy is one of the safest treatments ever developed, so don’t be afraid to experiment on yourself with various treatment times, treatment sessions, power densities, distances and different parts of your anatomy. Notice how the treatments make you feel and take note. Nobody can tell you better than you can what works for you and what doesn’t. Self-experimentation is the ultimate method of learning and discovering truth.

Thank you for reading my red light therapy dose guide. I hope it helps you get the most out of red light therapy and delivers the healing you’ve been searching for.

If you decide to order a device from the RedLightMan, be sure to use the discount code endalldisease during checkout to receive 10% off your purchase.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me anytime.

References

  1. Goldberg DJ, Russell BA. Combination blue (415 nm) and red (633 nm) LED phototherapy in the treatment of mild to severe acne vulgaris. J Cosmet Laser Ther. 2006;8(2):71-5.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16766484
  2. Jang H, Lee H. Meta-analysis of pain relief effects by laser irradiation on joint areas. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012;30(8):405-17.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22747309.1
  3. Youssef M, Ashkar S, Hamade E, Gutknecht N, Lampert F, Mir M. The effect of low-level laser therapy during orthodontic movement: a preliminary study. Lasers Med Sci. 2008;23(1):27-33.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17361391
  4. Bicakci AA, Kocoglu-altan B, Toker H, Mutaf I, Sumer Z. Efficiency of low-level laser therapy in reducing pain induced by orthodontic forces. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012;30(8):460-5.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22775467
  5. Schiffer F, Johnston AL, Ravichandran C, et al. Psychological benefits 2 and 4 weeks after a single treatment with near infrared light to the forehead: a pilot study of 10 patients with major depression and anxiety. Behav Brain Funct. 2009;5:46.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19995444
  6. Kim WS, Calderhead RG. Is light-emitting diode phototherapy (LED-LLLT) really effective?. Laser Ther. 2011;20(3):205-15.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24155530
  7. Avci P, Gupta A, Sadasivam M, et al. Low-level laser (light) therapy (LLLT) in skin: stimulating, healing, restoring. Semin Cutan Med Surg. 2013;32(1):41-52.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  8. Lanzafame RJ, Blanche RR, Bodian AB, Chiacchierini RP, Fernandez-obregon A, Kazmirek ER. The growth of human scalp hair mediated by visible red light laser and LED sources in males. Lasers Surg Med. 2013;45(8):487-95.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24078483
  9. Lanzafame RJ, Blanche RR, Chiacchierini RP, Kazmirek ER, Sklar JA. The growth of human scalp hair in females using visible red light laser and LED sources. Lasers Surg Med. 2014;46(8):601-7.
    Source: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/lsm.22277/abstract
  10. Borsa PA, Larkin KA, True JM. Does phototherapy enhance skeletal muscle contractile function and postexercise recovery? A systematic review. J Athl Train. 2013;48(1):57-67.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23672326
  11. Basso FG, Oliveira CF, Fontana A, et al. In Vitro effect of low-level laser therapy on typical oral microbial biofilms. Braz Dent J. 2011;22(6):502-10.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22189647
  12. Höfling DB, Chavantes MC, Juliano AG, et al. Low-level laser therapy in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a pilot study. Lasers Surg Med. 2010;42(6):589-96.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20662037
  13. Höfling, D.B., Chavantes, M.C., Juliano, A.G. et al. Lasers Med Sci (2013) 28: 743.
    Source: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10103-012-1129-9
  14. Min PK, Goo BL. 830 nm light-emitting diode low level light therapy (LED-LLLT) enhances wound healing: a preliminary study. Laser Ther. 2013;22(1):43-9.
    Source: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799047/

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  • K Melissa Waterman

    What about Wave length? What is the range of light emitted?? 600? 800? 2000??
    Every product should also specifiy the wave length so you know which kind of Red Light you are using. yes?? Infrared 2000. Near Infrared is 1500. 700-800 does nothing. 600-670 is perfect for skin. Please tell us more about the wave length.

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