How Effective is Red Light Therapy?

Updated on January 29th, 2020
red light therapy

Red light therapy (RLT) is a therapeutic technique that uses low-level wavelengths of red light to treat and cure skin issues like wrinkles, scars, or persistent wounds. Scientists used red light in the early 1990s to grow plants in pace, and it was discovered that red light-emitting diodes help promote the growth of photosynthetic cells.

How is it used?

Ever since the experiment in space, there have been numerous other studies to discover the medical benefits of Red Light Therapy (RLT). The best thing about this therapy is you can get it at home with a DIY kit.

The following are the most common uses of Red Light Therapy:

  • Aids weight loss
  • Boosts skincare
  • Treats acne
  • Alleviates pain
  • Reduces wrinkles
  • Promotes hair growth

Using RLT is effective in reducing the side effects of chemotherapy and is, therefore, also referred to as photodynamic therapy.

[ Read: Sunlight Lamp for Depression ]

How does it work?

RLT produces a biochemical effect in the cell’s powerhouse – the mitochondria and strengthens it. The mitochondria produces the energy-carrying molecule ATP. RLT increases the functioning of mitochondria by strengthening it; hence a cell can make more ATP and is able to repair itself. Red and infrared light therapy treatment is considered better than intense pulsed light therapy as it does not cause any harm to the skin.

Different people react differently to this therapy. Best results can be achieved in 8-12 weeks. Start the process by laying on the red light therapy bed for 15 minutes initially, for at least 3-5 times a week for the first 1-4 weeks.

Red Light Therapy Benefits

Red light therapy is also known as photobiomodulation(1). It is used to restore and repair injured tissue and cells by enhancing the mitochondria’s energy within our cells. It repairs your skin from the inside.

1. Improves Skin Quality and Hair Growth

Healthy Hair

It helps to reduce sun-damage from your skin, reduces scar marks, stretch marks, wrinkles, etcetera. It also repairs wounds and reduces cold sores or herpes simplex. There are red light therapy masks available, which you can put on the facial skin to heal it.

Red light therapy for psoriasis and eczema treatment is also gaining ground. People who received a 2-minute therapy per week reported a reduction in eczema rashes, itchiness, bumps, and redness.

It is also beneficial for hair growth as it stimulates hair growth from hair follicles.

2. Improves the Lymphatic System

Natural light is known to increase activity within the lymph system(2). Similarly, it works on the lymphatic system of the body, which increases and improves your body’s ability to detoxify itself by improved blood flow.

[ Read: Lymphatic Massage ]

3. Cures Cognitive Disorders and Others

Cognitive Disorders

Red light therapy has proved to be useful for treating cognitive dysfunction, brain injury, and fibromyalgia. Apart from these, RLT provides relief to those suffering from knee osteoarthritis, hypothyroidism, and age-related macular eye degeneration.

4. Helps to Maintain Hormonal balance

It also helps in maintaining healthy hormonal balance in the body. In a study involving Joov devices, it was found that women exposed to full-body red light therapy daily showed healthy progesterone increase in their bodies, and even saw balanced estrogen-progesterone levels.

It has been studied that the testosterone levels begin to lower in men after the age of 30. Lowered levels of testosterone can be problematic for men. Reduced levels of testosterone mean lower energy, reduced sexual drive, a decline in muscle gain. To make things worse, lowered levels of testosterone increases anxiety and stress in the modern man.

Numerous trials and studies have found that it increases testosterone levels in men. The exact biological mechanisms haven’t been fully studied and understood. It is theorized that increased energy production can help enhance naturally produced testosterone levels.

5. Reduces Fat and Body Weight

weight loss
Image: ShutterStock

Red light therapy for weight loss and fat reduction is yet another benefit of this therapy. Red light therapy devices provide safe wavelengths of therapeutic natural light, which reduces oxidative stress within the body.

It also increases energy production. Researchers believe that it not only helps the body power itself but also affects the adipocytes (which store fat) and helps the lipids to disperse.

Choosing a Red Light Therapy Provider

There are doctors and health professionals who offer red light therapy treatment. But this may cost hundreds of dollars every time you decide to opt for one session. It is thereby wise to make a one-time investment and get an RLT device.

If you wish to get a small device, you can opt for Red Light Man devices. However, these small devices are underpowered and hence won’t be much useful. It is advisable that you spend a little more and invest in medium Sized RLT devices.

Side effects

Red light therapy is considered safe and painless, but people have reported burns and blisters from red light therapy units. Sometimes it is because people fall asleep with the red light therapy units on. Some have experienced burns and blisters due to broken wires or corrosion.

Take Away

Red light therapy hasn’t been fully studied yet. Whatever little effects are known to be beneficial. Many athletes have experienced a boost in their performance after using red light therapy, and hence it can be assumed that this therapy is going to be a game-changer in the future.

[ Read: Benefits of Steam Therapy ]


1. How long does it take for red light therapy to work?

It takes about 8-12 weeks for the best results to show.

2. Does red light therapy tighten skin?

Red light therapy increases blood circulation and helps the skin to look young. It also helps reduce wrinkles.

3. Can red light therapy be harmful?

Red light therapy has not been reported to be harmful. But, some people have reported burns and blemishes due to RLT units. They experienced burns due to broken wires.

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