What does red light therapy do?

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Last Updated on 2 years by Francis


What does red light therapy do?

what does light therapy do?

A commercially growing therapeutic technique, red light therapy is being increasing adopted by salons and aestheticians across the West. Red light therapy in simple terms uses the low level wavelengths of red light to treat several minor and major diseases, including both physical and mental.

Red light therapy has a biochemical effect on the body which energizes the cells, effectively helping in better functioning of the immune system. The method aims to stimulate the cells to work in a more effective manner and develop the deficiencies by exposing them to natural light.

The result of which can be see in the form of portable devices and clinics that have come up which use red light therapy as tool to cure several illnesses.

History of red light therapy

red light therapy panel

The use of heliotherapy has been in practice for several centuries. There are records in Indian medical literature which talk about using natural sunlight in combination with herbs to treat skin diseases. Chinese and Buddhist literature to have similar accounts.

This shows the ancient significance of the use of light therapy. The very first light therapy was developed by Niels Finsen, a citizen of Faroe Islanders to treat lupus vulgaris, a skin infection. He made application of short wavelength light to treat the disease caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis, a kind of bacteria.

infrared light spectrum to skin

He is considered father of phototherapy in the modern age for developing the first source of artificial light. Niels bagged the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903. After his discovery, light therapy was used extensively in treating several diseases in the UK, from late nineteenth century to early twenty century.

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What does red light therapy do?

Right light therapy is a natural light and is easily able to penetrate the skin surface without causing any harm. The primary use of red light therapy in clinical treatments is to increase the energy content of mitochondria. It creates a biochemical effect on the cells which help in curing the diseases.

blood vessel dilate when using light therapy which is very good for blood circulation

This enables the mitochondria present in the cells to create a compound called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). This compound helps the cells to function more efficiently, enabling the cells to repair the damaged parts at a faster pace.

Red light therapy promises to cure several skin diseases, joint pain, arthritis, trauma and depression. Red light therapy or RLT is also known by the names low level light therapy (LLLT), photobiomodulation and soft laser therapy.

Areas of applications

Apart from skin diseases, red light therapy is also used to treat retinal conditions and sleep disorders. The benefits of light therapy is undisputed and proven. There are several organisations and institutes that are funding studies to find further concrete results on the effectiveness of light therapy.

That said, there is still wide scale adoption of red light therapy for treating several ailments. Let us look at some of the diseases that can be cured and unearth the answer to the question – what does red light therapy do?

Skin conditions

before and after red light therapy to skin

Red light therapy is widely believed to provide cure to a wide range of skin conditions. The treatment involves exposing the skin to a controlled bandwidth of natural light. The light emitted by red light therapy is able to penetrate the skin layer to a depth of 5 millimetres and charge the cells up.

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Light therapy is considered one of the best methods for treatment of innumerable skin disorders. These include psoriasis, atopic dematitis, acne vulgaris and vitiligo. American Cancer society even states that light therapy has the potential to cure specific kinds of skin cancer.

Pain and Inflammation

As we have learned, red light enhances activity in the lymph system. This leads to a positive result in treatment of inflammation and swelling. Red light therapy also helps in dealing with arthritis and joint pain. It has been proven through several researches and studies.

The benefit of red light therapy in the case of arthritis is that conventional medicines only offer a way to deal with the symptoms. However, studies have shown that the use of red light therapy offers a cure to arthritis by treating the cause at the cellular level.

Curing retinal conditions

Recent researches have shown that red light therapy offers a new avenue in the field of treating retinal conditions. These include diseases like amblyopia, methanol-induced retinal damage and Leber’s hereditary optic neuropathy.

A study of small clinical trials observed that there were positive results in treating common retinal conditions like diabetic retinopathy, variations of retinitis pigmentosa, etc.

Low light therapy was even able to cure amblyopia in adults. This is a major breakthrough as amblyopia is considered to be untreatable after the elapse of the critical period (first decade of life).

Mood and sleep disorders

Seasonal affective disorder is a major disease in the developed nations. This is caused by the lack of exposure to natural sunlight. Red light therapy deals with SAD by making up for the lost sunlight exposure and fixing the internal clock mechanism of the body.

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Red light therapy is also able to reduce the intensity of sleep disorder experienced by individuals suffering from Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer and chronic circadian rhythm sleep disorders (CSRD).

The most advantageous use of red light therapy is in the treatment of non-seasonal depression and allied mood disturbances. A study funded by Cochrane Collaboration, a British charity concluded that light therapy resulted in showing positive antidepressive effects on patients suffering from non-seasonal depression.


Red light therapy is considered a relatively safe technique for diagnostics of several diseases. The modern red light therapy has been in use since more than a century and the popularity is only going to grow over time.

The best part about light therapy is that the ease at which it can be administered. Unlike, other diagnostic methods like chemo therapy, surgery, etc., red light therapy does not damage the skin. This helps to provide a painless and smooth treatment.

In addition to this, there are many portable devices available which lets the user to take red light therapy, sitting right at their homes. The most celebrated part about RLT is that there are no side effects that have been observed so far.


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4768515/ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_therapy#Light_boxes https://www.healthline.com/health/red-light-therapy#how-does-it-work? https://joovv.com/blogs/joovv-blog/how-does-red-light-therapy-work

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