Top 10 Proven Benefits Of Red Light Therapy
Here is our top 10 list of some of the most common ailments that can be effectively treated using red and near-infrared light therapies. These are but a few and cover a wide range but are highly effective and offer an alternative to pharmaceutical treatments.
According to the Centre for Disease Control (the CDC), more than one-third (36.5%) of U.S. adults are obese. Obese people have an increased risk of several conditions including heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes and cancer, so correcting this condition is vital for long term health. Another benefit of fat reduction in an obese person is the money saved on medical costs every year. How much money? The medical costs for people who have obesity are $1,429 higher per year than those of ‘normal’ weight. There are no shortages of people, programs and devices claiming they can reduce your weight – but we all know many of them to turn out to be fraudulent and don’t work. Others can help you lose weight but they do so in ways that are excessively stressful and unhealthy. Can red and near-infrared light therapies help you safely burn fat? In 2015, a team of researchers from the Federal University of São Paulo, Brazil tested the effects of near-infrared light (808nm) on 64 obese women randomly assigned to one of two groups: Exercise (aerobic & resistance) training + phototherapy or exercise (aerobic & resistance) training + no phototherapy. The study took place over a 20 week period, during which both groups of obese women underwent exercise training 3-times a week. At the end of each training session, one group of women received light therapy and the other did not. The results? Remarkably, the women who received the near-infrared light therapy following exercise doubled the amount of fat loss compared to exercise alone. Additionally, the women in the exercise + phototherapy group were reported to have a greater increase in skeletal muscle mass than the placebo group. Other studies have reported similar findings in obese people who combined exercise with red light therapy, but even studies that did not include exercise have reported significant fat reduction from red light therapy alone. Scientists from George Washington University conducted an independent physician-led trial in 2013 to test the ability of red laser light (635nm) to reduce fat on the waist, hips and thighs of obese individuals. Laser treatments were administered to 8 obese patients and consisted of 20-minute sessions every second day for two weeks. When researchers assessed the patients three weeks after the trial began (one week after treatments ended) the results were remarkable. “Compared with baseline, a statistically significant 2.99 in. (7.59 cm) mean loss was observed at the post-procedure evaluation point (P < 0.0001).” Translation: Patients lost 3 inches of fat in just two weeks of red light therapy treatment.
Whether it’s from an accident during physical activity or chemical pollutants in our food and environment, we all sustain injuries regularly. Anything that can help accelerate the body’s innate healing process will free up resources and allow it to focus its available energy on the maintenance of optimal health. Dr Harry Whelan from the Medical College of Wisconsin has been studying red light in cell cultures and on humans for decades. His work in the laboratory has shown that skin and muscle cells grown in cultures and exposed to LED infrared light grow 150-200% faster than control cultures not stimulated by the light. 7 Working with Naval doctors in Norfolk, Virginia and San Diego California to treat injured soldiers, Dr Whelan and his team found that soldiers with musculoskeletal training injuries who were treated with the light-emitting diodes improved by 40%. In 2000, Dr Whelan concluded, “The near-infrared light emitted by these LEDs seems to be perfect for increasing energy inside cells. This means whether you’re on Earth in a hospital, working in a submarine under the sea or on your way to Mars inside a spaceship, the LEDs boost energy to the cells and accelerate healing.” A review of the scientific literature reveals there are dozens of other studies evidencing the powerful wound-healing benefits of red light. In 2014, a group of scientists from three universities in Brazil conducted a scientific review of the effects of red light on wound healing. After reviewing a total of 68 studies, most of which were conducted on animals using wavelengths ranging from 632 to 830 nm, the study concluded “… phototherapy, either by LASER or LED, is an effective therapeutic modality to promote healing of skin wounds.”
Bone density and the ability of the body to build new bone is important for people recovering from injuries. It’s also important for elderly people since our bones tend to progressively become weaker with age. And for the same reason, it’s important for every human being alive so that we can be physically active for as much of our lives as possible. The bone-healing benefits of red and near-infrared light have been demonstrated in many laboratory studies. In 2013, researchers from São Paulo, Brazil studied the effects of red and near-infrared light on the healing of rat bones. First, a piece of bone was sliced off the upper leg (osteotomy) of 45 rats, which were then split into three groups: Group 1 received no light, group 2 was administered red light (660-690nm) and group 3 was exposed to near-infrared light (790-830nm). The study found “a significant increase in the degree of mineralization (grey level) in both groups treated with the laser after 7 days” and interestingly, “after 14 days, only the group treated with laser therapy in the infrared spectrum showed higher bone density.” Here are a few more studies on light therapy for bone health and their conclusions. 2003 study conclusion: “We conclude that LLLT had a positive effect on the repair of bone defects implanted with inorganic bovine bone.” 2006 study conclusion: “The results of our studies and others indicate that bone irradiated mostly with infrared (IR) wavelengths shows increased osteoblastic proliferation, collagen deposition, and bone neoformation when compared to nonirradiated bone.” 2008 study conclusion: “The use of laser technology has been used to improve the clinical results of bone surgeries and to promote a more comfortable postoperative period and quicker healing.” After breaking a bone or incurring any kind of bodily injury, near-infrared and red light therapies should be the first treatment we reach for to enhance our recovery.
Throughout history, the essence of a man has been linked to his primary male hormone testosterone. At around the age of 30, testosterone levels begin to decline and this can result in many negative changes to a man’s physical and mental health and wellbeing: Reduced sexual function, low energy levels, reduced muscle mass and increased fat, among others. When you factor in the endless environmental contaminants, stress and poor nutrition that are so common today, it’s no surprise that we are seeing an epidemic of low testosterone in men the world over. In 2013, a group of Korean researchers studied the impact of testicular exposure to red (670nm) and near-infrared (808nm) laser light. The 30 male rats were split up into three groups: a control group and two groups that were exposed to either the red or near-infrared light. At the end of the 5-day trial, while untreated rats had no increase in testosterone, rats exposed to one 30- minute treatment of light therapy per day had significantly elevated testosterone levels. “…Serum T level was significantly increased in the 808nm wavelength group. In the 670 nm wavelength group, serum T level was also significantly increased at the same intensity of 360 J/cm2/day,” concluded researchers.
Nootropics (pronounced: no-oh-troh-picks), also called smart drugs or cognitive enhancers, have undergone a dramatic spike in popularity in recent years and are being used by many people to enhance brain functions such as memory, creativity and motivation. The positive effects of red light on brain function are significant and well established scientifically. Light in the red and near-infrared spectrums could very well be the most powerful nootropics ever discovered. Let’s look at some evidence: Researchers from the University of Texas applied near-infrared laser light to the foreheads of healthy volunteers and measured its effects on cognitive parameters, including attention, memory and mood in 2013. The treated group experienced improvements in reaction time, memory and an increase in positive emotional states for the two-week follow-up period after treatment. “These data imply that transcranial laser stimulation could be used as a noninvasive and efficacious approach to increase brain functions such as those related to cognitive and emotional dimensions,” wrote scientists. Another study investigated the effects of near-infrared laser light on the brain both individually and in combination with aerobic exercise. Compared to the control group, which didn’t receive the light or the exercise, the American researchers concluded that phototherapy had brain-boosting effects similar to the exercise.
Depression affects 121 million people worldwide, and that’s only the number of people officially diagnosed with it. The truth is we all experience depression at some point in our lives. A 2017 study on the mental health status of Americans found that more people than ever are suffering from serious mental health disorders. That’s 8.3 million American adults suffering from serious psychological distress, including feelings of sadness, worthlessness and restlessness. University students – the ones who are supposed to be our smartest and healthiest leaders-of-tomorrow – experience significantly higher rates of depression than your average population, according to a 2012 scientific review. Even more troubling: “Depression is associated with high suicidality,” wrote scientist M.S. Reddy in 2010. “About 50% of individuals who have committed suicide carried a primary diagnosis of depression,” continued Reddy. 19 Anxiety is even more common than depression – it’s the most common mental illness in the U.S. – affecting 40 million adults age 18 and older (18.1%). Existing medical treatments for anxiety and depression are toxic, tend to numb people out and have even been implicated in causing aggressive and suicidal behaviour. New and effective therapies are desperately needed to curb anxiety, depression and today’s alarming rate of suicide. Just imagine how much better life would be if everybody had a way of effectively eliminating their anxiety and depression. Can light therapy treat anxiety and depression? In 2009, a group of scientists from Harvard University tested the effects of near-infrared light on 10 subjects with major depression. Researchers applied the light directly to the forehead of patients in one 16 minute session. After just one treatment with near-infrared light, “Patients experienced highly significant reductions in both HAM-D [depression] and HAM-A [anxiety] scores following treatment, with the greatest reductions occurring at 2 weeks.” Translation: Near-infrared light therapy resulted in long-lasting reductions in depression and anxiety from just one treatment.
Acne is the most widespread skin condition in the U.S., affecting up to 50 million Americans annually. People react differently to the presence of acne on their face and body, but it often results in poor self-image, depression anxiety and many times permanent physical scarring of the skin. A 2001 experiment from Queens Medical Center in Nottingham, UK found that acne was prevalent in 50% of adolescents and had a “considerable impact on emotional health in this age group.” Can light therapy treat acne? Iranian scientists compared the effects of red (630nm) and near-infrared (890nm) laser therapy on 28 patients with facial acne in 2012. Participants in the study were given light therapy on their face 2-times per week for 6 weeks and their skin conditions were then assessed. Ten weeks after treatment acne lesions were found to be significantly decreased in those treated with the red light, but the decrease wasn’t significant with the near-infrared light.
America is a nation in pain, according to a 2015 study by researchers at the National Institutes of Health. How much pain? Nearly 50 million American adults (11.2%) reported experiencing pain daily for the previous three months. Some of the most common pain medications that people reach for when they are feeling pain are Tylenol, Ibuprofen or other drugs classified as Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDS). Interestingly, all of these common painkillers have been shown to cause heart attacks, strokes and cancer, except aspirin, which actually reduces the risk of these same complications. In 2015, the FDA issued a strong warning that all NSAIDs except aspirin can trigger heart attacks and strokes. In other words, people experiencing pain are using medications that are slowly killing them. Better treatments are needed to reduce the chronic pain people are experiencing. Here are the conclusions of a few recent publications on pain reduction using therapeutic red and near-infrared light: 2006 systematic review: “There is strong evidence that LLLT [low-level laser therapy] modulates the inflammatory process and relieves acute pain in the short-term.” 2009 systematic review published in The Lancet: “We show that LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.” 2014 review: “[red and near-infrared] Laser causes pain relief without any side effects.”
Hair loss (alopecia) is a very common disorder, affecting more than 50% of the worldwide population. In the United States, an estimated 35 million men and 21 million women suffer from some form of hair loss, and around 40% of men will have noticeable hair loss by the age of 35. To date, there are only two FDA-approved synthetic drugs for hair loss available from your doctor: Propecia and Rogaine. Both of these drugs have a less than 50% success rate, and the potential side effects of both drugs are severe. Hair transplants are another option, but they come with a long list of unwanted side effects including itching, pain, bleeding, swelling, infections, etc. And like the available drug treatments for hair loss, the efficacy of hair transplants is questionable. “I only have to venture to a major street in San Francisco to find that if there were an ‘effective’ treatment for baldness, a majority of men are either not aware of it, or are choosing to be bald,” wrote hair-loss researcher Danny Roddy. American and Hungarian researchers conducted a review in 2014 of studies involving the treatment of hair loss with red and near-infrared laser therapy. The review reports that red and near-infrared laser therapies have been demonstrated to stimulate hair growth in both mice and men and women in several controlled clinical trials. “LLLT for hair growth in both men and women appears to be both safe and effective. The optimum wavelength, coherence and dosimetric parameters remain to be determined,” they concluded. 33
Arthritis is a crippling ailment from which many people worldwide suffer. An estimated 22.7% of US adults were diagnosed with some form of arthritis between the years 2013-2015. That’s almost 55 million people who could benefit from an effective treatment for the condition. Currently, there are dozens of different FDA-approved drugs for arthritis, all of which come with limited successes as well as their own set of potentially serious side effects. Red and near-infrared light therapies can effectively treat arthritis and have virtually no unwanted side effects. Dr Michael R. Hamblin, Harvard professor from the Department of Dermatology, published a study in 2013 titled Can Osteoarthritis Be Treated with Light? The study experimented with the application of near-infrared laser light (810nm) on arthritis in rats. Remarkably, after inducing arthritis in the rats and treating them just one time with the near-infrared laser, inflammation was found to be significantly reduced in just 24 hours. “A single application of LLLT produced significant reductions in inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory cytokines 24 hours later.”
With all this in mind there is some real provable benefits from engaging in as little as 10 minutes a day treatment with LLLT.
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