THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO INFRARED & RED LIGHT THERAPY
Last Updated: Thursday, December 7th, 2017.
WHAT IS RED LIGHT THERAPY?
Red light therapy is a form of medicine that delivers energy to cells through the application of a range of both visible and invisible wavelengths of light. Other names for red light therapy include low-level laser therapy (LLLT), low intensity light therapy (LILT), phototherapy, photobiostimulation, biostimulation (BIOS), photobiomodulation, photonic stimulation, among others.
It was once believed that only red colored lasers exhibited healing effects, but it has since been established that the far less-expensive LED's (light emitting diodes) can also impart the same beneficial effects. This is fantastic news for the publc because it means very powerful healing devices are now available to everyone at affordable prices.
Red light therapy is an FDA approved treatment for pain and anti-aging uses, but if you look at the scientific literature, evidence indicates that red light can do much, much more.
It has been proven effective for a wide range of uses including anti-aging, pain relief, cognitive enhancement, wound healing, increasing bone density, increasing testosterone, reducing anxiety and depression, healing acne, preventing hair loss & hair regrowth, and many more indications that we will soon explore in detail.
Infrared and red light theraparies are 100% natural treatments that have no adverse side effects and have been proven effective by hundreds of studies all across the world.
Since the dawn of time, the therapeutic properties of light have been recognized and utilized for healing. Ancient Egyptians constructed solariums fitted with colored glass to harness specific colors of the visible spectrum to treat existing ailments. Early use by the Greeks and Romans emphasized the thermal effects of light, and in 1903, Neils Ryberg Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Medicine for successfully utilizing Ultraviolet light for treating tuberculosis.(S) Finsen is regarded today by many as the father of modern phototherapy.
In 1910, John Harvey Kellogg published a book called Light Therapeutics, which documented many benefits imparted by light therapy using incandescent light bulbs and arc lights. Light therapy can be effectively used for diabetes, obesity, chronic fatigue, insomnia, baldness, cachexia and many other health problems, according to Kellogg in his book.
In 1904, two more influential volumes on light therapy were published: Light energy, its physics, physiological action and therapeutic applications by Margaret A. Cleaves and Elements of general radio-therapy for practitioners by Leopold Freund.
In the decades that followed, interest in the medicinal effects of light faded and was replaced by modern medical drug and surgical based treatments... that is, until the invention of the laser.
The Birth of the L.A.S.E.R (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission by Radiation)
The laser was invented in 1960 by American Physicist Theodore H. Maiman. In 1967, Hungarian physician and surgeon Endre Mester (1903-1984) discovered that the laser had significant therapeutic effects.(S)
Working at Semmelweis University in Budapest, Hungary, Dr. Mester accidentally discovered that low-level ruby laser light could regrow hair in mice. While attempting to replicate a previous study which indicated red light could shrink tumors in mice, Mester noticed that the hair he had shaven off the mice grew back more quickly on the treated mice than on the placebos.(S)
Dr. Mester went on to discover that laser light could also accelerate the healing process in mice(S). Following this discovery, he founded the Laser Research Center at the Semmelweiss Medical University in Budapest in 1974, where he worked for the remainder of his life.
Adam Mester, Dr. Andre Mester's son, was reported by New Scientist in 1987 - some 20 years after his father's discovery - to have been using lasers to treat 'otherwise incurable' ulcers. "He takes patients referred by other specialists who can do no more for them," the article reads. "Of the 1300 treated so far, he has achieved complete healing in 80 percent and partial healing in 15 percent."(S)
Interestingly, unable to explain how the laser was having beneficial physiological effects on people, many scientists and physicians at the time had been calling its therapeutic effects "magic".
In North America, red light research didn't begin to take hold until the beginning of the 21st century. Since that time, publishing activity has seen an almost exponential growth, particularly within the most recent years. A quick search on PubMed of the various terms that describe light therapy renders thousands of published scientific and clinical studies (as of December 2017):
- Phototherapy = 37,785 studies
- Photobiomodulation = 510 studies
- Photostimulation = 1,067 studies
- Lllt = 5,139 studies
- Low-level laser therapy = 5,910 studies
- Near-infrared light = 8,431 studies
Now that we understand the history of red light and its popularity, let's look at what exactly red light is and how it can heal.
WHY RED LIGHT?
Shine light through a prism and it will fragment into all the colors that makeup the visible spectrum of light, including red, orange, yellow, green, blue and purple.
Most people are aware that sunlight is a rich source of vitamin D, which protects us from numerous ailments such as autoimmune disorders, various types of cancer and cardiovascular disease (S).
What most people aren't aware of is the other significant source of medicinal radiation the sun offers us: Light emitted in the red and infrared end of the spectrum.
Since the infrared spectrum of radiation ranges from low-, to middle- to high-infrared, it's important to clarify that in this book, we are primarily talking about near-infrared light or radiation, which ranges from around 700nm to 1500nm, depending on where you source your information. Red light ranges from about 600nm-700nm.
Infrared saunas have seen an increase in popularity in recent years. The wavelength of radiation administered by infrared saunas is usually far greater than the therapeutic range of near-infrared and imparts it's therapeutic effects differently. Far infrared saunas range in bandwidth from about 3000nm to 1mm.
RED VS. NEAR-INFRARED LIGHT
Red and infrared light have very similar physiological effects, the primary difference being that infrared light penetrates deeper into the body, meaning its healing frequencies can reach more cells. For all practical purposes, infrared light therapy or a combination of red and infrared light is probably ideal.
The frequencies of red and infrared that have demonstrated in scientific studies to be the most therapeutic are as follows:
Red light wavelength: 620-700nm
Infrared light wavelength: 700-1100nm.
Many devices today project multiple wavelengths of either red or infrared light and some even combine both red and infrared wavelengths into a single device.
A TO Z PROVEN BENEFITS OF RED LIGHT THERAPY
Over the past 100 years, infrared and red light therapies have been studied extensively on human beings for dozens of diseases and conditions with great promise. The findings of studies conducted on a variety of other creatures have been equally as promising for both safety and efficacy; for example, rats(S), mice(S), rabbits(S), minipigs(S), dogs(S), monkeys(S), pigs(S), sheep(S), horses(S), cows(S), cats(S), sand rats(S), gerbils(S), guinea pigs(S), frogs(S), bumblebees(S), fruit flies(S), sea urchin larvae(S), snails(S), roundworms(S), earthworms(S) and flat worms(S).
Since the cellular metabolic processes for humans and other creatures are similar, the observed health benefits are often similar or uniform among different species. The following is a list of diseases and conditions found to benefit from red and infrared light. Some of these studies have been well-established through scientific reviews and meta-analysis and others are said to be controversial.
- Achilles Tendinitis(S)(S)
- Achilles Tendinopathy (S)(S)
- Acne (S)(S)(S)
- Addiction (S)
- Amblyopia (S)
- Age-Related Macular Degeneration (S)(S)
- Alzheimer's Disease (S)
- Aphthous Ulcers (S)(S)(S)
- Bell's Palsy (S)(S)(S)
- Bone Fractures (S)(S)(S)
- Burn Scars (S)
- Burning Mouth Syndrome (S)(S)
- Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (S)(S)
- Cellulite (S)
- Chronic Joint Disorders (S)
- Cognitive Enhancement (S)(S)(S)(S)
- Cold Sores (herpes labialis) (S)(S)
- COPD (S)
- Dental Implant Stability (S)
- Dentin Hypersensitivity (S)
- Depression (S)(S)(S)
- Diabetic Foot Ulcer (S)(S)
- Dry Mouth (xerostomy) (S)(S)(S)
- Dysmenorrhea (S)(S)
- Elbow Tendinopathy (Tennis Elbow) (S)
- Exercise Performance and Recovery (S)(S)(S)(S)(S)
- Fibromyalgia (S)(S)
- Frozen Shoulder (S)
- Glaucoma (S)
- Hair Loss (alopecia) (S)(S)
- Hand-foot-and-mouth disease (S)
- Hypothyroidism (S)(S)(S)
- Lichen Planus (S)
- Low Back Pain (S)(S)(S)
- Lymphedema (S)(S)(S)
- Maxillary Sinusitis (S)
- Meniscal Pathology (S)
- Muscle Growth (S)(S)
- Muscle Pain (S)
- Neck Pain (S)(S)
- Neuropathic Foot Ulcer (S)
- Nipple Pain from Breastfeeding (S)(S)
- Obesity (S)(S)(S)
- Oral Mucositis (S)(S)(S)
- Orthodontic Pain (S)(S)(S)
- Orthodontic Tooth Movement (S)
- Osteoarthritis (S)(S)(S)
- Osteoporosis (Bone Loss) (S)(S)
- Pain (S)(S)
- Periodontitis (Gum Disease) (S)
- Postherpetic Neuralgia (S)
- Pressure Ulcer (S)(S)
- Radation Dermatitis (S)(S)(S)
- Raynaud's Phenomenon (S)
- Restenosis (S)
- Rheumatoid Arthritis (S)(S)(S)
- Shoulder Tendinopathy (S)
- Skin Aging (S)(S)
- Sternotomy Incision Repair (S)(S)(S)
- Stroke (S)(S)(S)
- Sunburn Prevention (S)
- Temporomandibular Disorders (S)
- Tendinopathy (S)
- Testosterone Deficiency (S)
- Toenail Fungus (S)(S)(S)
- Traumatic Brain Injury (S)(S)
- Venous Leg Ulcers (S)
- Vitiligo (S)(S)
- Wound Healing (S)(S)(S)
Despite the large amount of published health research papers on red and infrared light, research is ongoing and there is still much to be learned. Universities and other establishments are in constant recruitment of volunteers to participate in new clinical trials using red and infrared low-level lasers and LEDs.
HOW IT WORKS
Red and infrared light therapies impart their effects by enhancing cellular mitochondrial function and ATP production. Red and especially infrared light penetrate deeply into body tissues, where they are absorbed by an enzyme inside the mitochondria of cells called cytochrome c oxidase. The result is an increase in oxygen consumption within the mitochondria of cells and greater synthesis of cellular energy (called ATP).(S)(S)
Cytochrome C Oxidase
Cytochrome c oxidase is an essential respiratory enzyme that interacts directly with oxygen(S) and catalyzes the very last step in the process of oxidative phosphorylation or energy production.(S)(S).
Dr. Otto Warburg discovered cytochrome c oxidase in 1926 and received a nobel prize for it.(S) Since then it has been found that a defect in this enzyme's activity will turn a healthy cell into a cancer cell: "Defects in cytochrome c oxidase expression induce a metabolic shift to glycolysis and carcinogenesis," wrote scientists from the University of Pennsylvania in 2015.(S). A defect in this critical enzyme has also been implicated in tumor progression.(S).
A number of chemical toxins have been proven to inhibit cytochrome c oxidase activity, including chemotherapy(S), cyanide(S)(S)(S), carbon monoxide(S)(S), aluminum phosphide(S), estrogen(S), serotonin(S), endotoxin(S)(S), aflatoxin B1(S), UVB radiation(S), X-ray radiation(S)(S), and unsaturated fatty acids(S). Many of these poisons upregulate the production of nitric oxide, which is another toxin(S) that binds directly to cytochrome c oxidase, inactivating it.(S)(S)(S).
Red Light, Nitric Oxide and Cytochrome C Oxidase
The photodissociation of nitric oxide plus the direct photoabsorption of light by cytochrome c oxidase amplifies the enzyme's activity(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S), resulting in increased metabolic activity and a host of physiological changes that account for the broad ranging beneficial effects of red and near-infrared light therapies.
Is increased ATP the primary mechanism behind red light benefits?
ATP is an important biological catalyst and a primary driver of the majority of cell functions. Light therapy increases the synthesis of ATP through the amplification of cytochrome c oxidase activity during mitochondrial respiration.
There's another very fundamental outcome of cellular exposure to red light that I haven't read any scientists discuss in the hundreds of studies I've viewed - the elephant in the room if you will.
For its ability to perpetuate increased ATP production through the shuttling oxygen into cells (the bohr effect) and its ability to dilate blood vessels, carbon dioxide, generated alongside ATP, is the real star of the show.
- Increased adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production(S)(S)
- Increased carbon dioxide production
- Improved oxygenation
- Increased bloodflow(S)(S)
- Reduced free radicals and oxidative stress(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)(S)
- Reduced Inflammation (S)
When one understands how red and infrared light interact with the cells of the body and how they remediate a problem that's central to the cellular defects present in virtually all diseases and conditions, the eternal value of this therapy becomes clear.
- Improved blood circulation
Red light improves blood circulation in at least two ways. One of the ways, which has been observed by researchers studying the wound-healing capacity of red light, is its ability to promote the re-vascularization of the damaged tissues, called angiogenesis (S). The increase in blood circulation that results of light-induced angiogenesis allows stem cells to arrive on site to repair the damaged tissue and replace lost cells.Another way red light increases circulation is by increasing the production of carbon dioxide - the body's primary vasodilator. With the production of increased ATP that results from red light also comes increased production of carbon dioxide.A Japanese study from 2000 concluded that the increased circulation caused by red light was mediated primarily by the removal of calcium from within cells (S). The way is does this is by increasing the production of carbon dioxide, which streams from the mitochondria and leaves the cell, pulling calcium out along with it.
- Enhanced immune system function
- Relaxing tight muscles
- Cleansing the skin
- Improved alkalinity (reduced acidity) of your system
- Boosting the metabolism and releasing toxins
- Relaxing the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight system)
- Increased athletic performance through reduced fatigue
- Increased growth hormone release for muscle development
- Decreased cellulite and body fat (S)(S)(S)
A MESSAGE FROM THE AUTHOR
With the public's increased awareness of light therapy, many spas, tanning salons, dermatologists and rheumatologists have begun offering red light treatments, but they can often range from $50-$100 a session. It is much cheaper and more convenient to buy your own device and reap the benefits of red and infrared light at home.
Search online and you will find many different online stores selling high quality red light therapy devices. The device I use and recommend is from the Red Light Man at Redlightman.com. It's a lightweight and compact machine that was built to last. I have been using it for over 3 years and it still works as well as the day I got it.
I use it almost everyday on my thyroid, face and brain and experience dramatic and lasting improvements in energy levels, brain function and noticably smoother skin. And it's almost too personal but I also often use mine on my testicles and have continually noticed a significant boost in sex drive and function.
After testing this device for myself, I was so thrilled that I wrote Joe from RedLightMan and asked him if we could team up and give my EndAllDisease fans an exclusive discount so they too could benefit from red light. He certainly didn't have to say yes, but he agreed because he believes in my vision and the passion I have for helping people.
AN EXLUSIVE OFFER FOR ENDALLDISEASE FANS
We’ve teamed up with the Red Light Man to offer EndAllDisease fans an exclusive discount of 10% off on all of their products. You won’t find this discount anywhere else so make sure you take advantage of this exclusive offer below.
Discount Code: endalldisease
CHOOSE YOUR DEVICE
There are many different red and infrared light therapy models and options to choose from. I recommend getting a device with a combination of red and infrared light.
All of the following devices are powered by LEDs, meaning they cost little to operate, have low heat emissions and last a long time. Here are a few I recommend. To see more options, click any of the devices below and be redirected to the RedLightMan website.
RED-INFRARED FULL-BODY DEVICE
Red (670 nm) & Infrared (830 nm)
(620nm, 670nm, 760nm, 830nm)
(620nm, 670nm, 760nm, 830nm)
(760 nm + 830nm)
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS
►What is a wavelength?
When electromagnetic radiation, like radio waves, light waves or far infrared waves travel through space they are said to make their own characteristic repeating patterns. The wavelength is simply the distance over which the wave's shape repeats. For example, red light has a shorter wavelength than near infrared, and far infrared has an even larger wavelength.
►What's the difference between a far infrared sauna and red/infrared light therapy?
The benefits of a far infrared sauna are not based on the same mechanism as the benefits of light therapy. While light therapy is photoabsorbed by the respiratory enzyme cytochrome c oxidase and has its effects through the action of increased mitochondrial activity and ATP production, the thermal effects of far infrared saunas are what is responsible for its benefits.
The most relevant wavelengths of red and infrared radiation for healing range from 600 to about 1100nm. And even the shortest-wavelenth of far infrared sauna's today don't generally fall below 1400nm.
►What is the difference between a far infrared sauna and near infrared sauna?
The main difference between a far infrared sauna and near infrared light is the type of radiation delivered. Both are comprised of radiation that's invisible to the human eye and near infrared has a much shorter wavelength than far infrared.
Unline near infrared radiation, radiation at the far infrared wavelength produces harmful electromagnetic fields, making metal shielding surrounding far infrared heating elements essential to protect the people inside. The result is a higher-cost, reduced efficiency sauna compared to it's near-infrared counterpart.
►What are the wavelengths of near, middle and far infrared?
The infrared spectrum (comprised of near, middle and far infrared) ranges from 700 nm – 1 mm. A search online for the exact wavelengths of near, mid and far infrared has rendered an assortment of different numbers - it appears nobody agrees. The wavelengths below are from a paper called The Fundamentals of Far-Infrared by Cheah Kok Wai from the Department of Physics at Hong Kong Baptist University(S):
- Near Infrared (also called Infrared-A or IR-A) = 700nm - 1400nm
- Mid Infrared (also called Infrared-B or IR-B) = 1,400nm - 3,000nm
- Far-Infrared (also called Infrared-C or IR-C) = 3,000nm - 1mm
►Can incandescent, halogen, heat lamps and fluorescent lights be used therapeutically?
Incandescent, halogen and heat lamps do in fact produce a significant amount of red and infrared light. In addition to using my red light therapy LED device therapeutically almost daily, I have 5 infrared heat lamps setup in my home above the couch and above my bed to make my environment healthier and more relaxing.
A large portion of the 250Watts emitted by heat lamps is in the form of IR-B radiation which has a soothing, warming effect. About 12% of their power is used to emit the therapeutic wavelengths (600-1100nm). But since 250Watts is a significant amount of power, that 12% of red and near-infrared wavelengths has noticable positive health effects in my experience. Incandescent and halogen lights emit as much as 35% of their total power output within the therapeutic range.
Fluorescent bulbs are another story. Fluorescent bulbs emit some ultraviolet light but a very small amount of the protective red and infrared radiation, which is likely why many people experience harmful effects from these lights.
►Is infrared-red light therapy safe?
I've read hundreds of study abstracts and have never seen an adverse reaction reported in the scientific literature. This is because the energy intensity of the red and near infrared wavelengths is very low. The amount of energy exposure during red light therapy treatment is so low that tissue temperatures don't increase more than a few tenth's of a degree and thus pose no risk of thermal injury.(S)
Red light therapy's nearly non-thermal effects make it particularly attractive for use on fresh injuries when heat would likely worsen swelling and inflammation. Harvard professor Dr. Hamblin has said that some people have reported headaches and eye strain from the treatment, although research shows the eyes are benefitting from the treatment despite the strain from bright lights.
For what it's worth, Red light therapy is an FDA approved treatment and is considered safe by the US Government.
►Can I get a tan (or burn) from infrared or red light therapy?
A sun tan is a result of the body producing pigmentation in the skin in response to and to protect from future UV exposure. Neither red nor infrared light therapies include any ultraviolet radiation and thus will not cause tanning or burning of the skin.
►How long do the LEDs on a red light device last?
The rating on RedLightMan and many other light therapy products is 50,000+ hours. If you kept your device on 24 hours a day, that's almost 6 years! I've had mine for over 3 years and it's still going strong.