What is light therapy?
Light therapy has many benefits and is becoming more and more popular, as more people realise what it can do for the human body. Fundamentally, it enhances the energy produced by our cells and alas, improves our metabolism, which is the foundation of our health.
Light therapy is exposure to a light device that penetrates the body on a foundational level and is used as a preventative and supportive tool. Many studies have been published showing how light therapy supports the body when it is suffering from issues affecting both the skin and inner body, and is widely used for many different species, not just humans. There are tens of thousands of studies in the field of photobiomodulation, and hundreds are released every year, showing how they can be beneficial against a wide range of conditions, having incredible results.
Light therapy can be used as a targeted tool, or daily as part of a self-care regime.
'Energy and structure are interdependent, at every level' - Dr Ray. Peat
Without energy, there is no life. Energy production is the foundation of life.
Where do I purchase a light? How do I know which light to purchase?
Whether you are like me who has been pondering over which light therapy device to purchase for heck of a long time, or you are new to light therapy, I can totally understand if you get a little analysis paralysis over which light to purchase.
I will openly say here and now that I am no red-light expert, and I have certainly muddled my way through this decision-making process, but I have immersed myself in the online light therapy communities and spoken with the 'Red Light Man' himself, Joe Gibson. And guess what? I have finally made a decision! Poor Joe, I wouldn’t blame him for getting a little tired of my 101 questions!
You can check out Joe's website here:
(This is my affiliate link. Thank you for supporting me!)
Have I over-complicated this? Are there really many many important factors to consider? Either way I have come to a decision I am happy with, going on the information that I have been able to gather. So, in case you resonate with my confusion, I have decided to put together a simple overview of the information and advice that I have come across.
A popular red-light company with a lot of support from people who know a whole lot more about red light than me, is https://gembared.com/ , but they do not design them for, or ship to the UK. And as I am in the UK, I needed to find an alternative. In walks Joe, the RED LIGHT MAN, based in Manchester, UK. The Red Light Man company has come highly recommended and after diving into a few red light Facebook groups and asking Joe what likely felt like 100 annoying questions, I have made my purchase.
So, lets get down to the nitty gritty. I am unable to copy exactly what answers I have received due to confidentiality notices, but I will share my personal findings below:
1. Are you confused about the finer details. The different spectrums etc?
The Red-Light Man website has 3 types of lights - Combo vs Red vs Near infrared.
Red means wavelengths from 600-700nm.
Near infrared means 700nm-850nm.
The Combo is a combination of both red and near infrared.
Red light has great properties for the skin and eyes (and things like SAD, sleep etc), for several reasons such as improved hydration, less moisture evaporation, some circadian effects on the brain via the eyes and much more.
Near infrared penetrates deeper than red, meaning it is better for deeper tissues. In terms of the cellular effects, red and near infrared work in the same way, so the difference is just these minor physical properties.
Red lights are ideal for our surface tissues: skin, hair and eyes.
Near infrared lights are ideal to target deeper tissues such as muscles, joints, brain, bones, and organs, etc.
Combo lights are an all-rounder, suitable for everything. The Combo Light is appropriate for a variety of current goals you may have, and also covers you for whatever might be your future goals. If you have more specific goals right now, you might consider an infrared OR red-only light, rather than a combo.
2. So, for example, for thyroid support, which device would be best?
If we are looking at Red Light Man devices, the Infrared 830 device would be better than the Combo for targeting deeper tissues. Like the Combo, this specific product uses a COB type LED chip, meaning there is a lot of light intensity coming out from a small area. This concentrated light is very dense and intense, meaning even better penetration and effects, in tissue below the skin. When you consider that only a small percentage of the light hitting the skin will penetrate down and through, into the deeper body tissues, it follows that you need to apply a very high dose – so a strong light helps with that. The wavelength, 830nm also helps as it has been well studied for damage and pain/inflammation of various types/sources (the studied areas include things like arthritis, brain trauma, injuries, knee/hip/back pain, thyroid, oral issues, etc.), plus joint issues of various types. It penetrates very well. It has better penetration than the red wavelengths and more research than other infrared wavelengths, so makes the most sense.
3. Isn’t it best to use a full spectrum incandescent 250w, not a single wavelength light?
If you look at the tens of thousands of studies, reviews, and meta-analyses etc, in the photobiomodulation scientific literature, you will see they use single wavelengths, and with good results. They prove to have excellent results. Looking at the science, they are the best choice. If you talk to any scientific researcher active in light therapy field, none of them will recommend a 250w incandescent. None! It wouldn’t even enter their head to consider them.
There is no high-quality research with the 250w incandescent light specifically. Choosing one of those would just be based on anecdotes. Something like a 250w incandescent bulb, or a heat lamp bulb, are not light therapy products. Not just that, but they can block the effects of light therapy. How does that happen? If you get one of those and use it close enough to get a reasonable dose of red light, you will notice a lot of heat. They are hot! They can heat the skin cells to high temperatures, and heat like that on the skin and eyes can lead to things like cataracts, skin aging, etc. Your skin cell temperature after exposure to 250w+ lamps can be 20+ degrees higher than the normal 37-38 degrees C. In terms of heat requirements, Canada for example, require the heat output to be minimal, otherwise your product will not even be defined as a light therapy product. So less (heat) is more, as the saying goes.
It is shown in many studies that heat can actually destroy the cytochrome enzyme. This enzyme is where light therapy is thought to work. This is called denaturation which you can read more about here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denaturation_
What else will fall apart at similar temperatures? Your DNA. These issues can arise at say 42 degrees C, whereas our optimal body temperature is 37 or 38 degrees C. A several hundred-watt lamp bulb can heat your body to 42 degrees C in a minute or two. And this reason, despite popular beliefs, is why light therapy is also not actually compatible with things like saunas.
Another thing we need to consider when it comes to incandescents, is that if you get one and measure the light output/intensity, then calculate what percentage of that should be the useful red and near infrared wavelengths – it is extremely small. These are bulbs that can be used to stay warm. The kind that warm up little chicks! That is likely where the positive anecdotes come from, being warm. Basically, being cold is not great, and if you warm yourself up (with a 250w bulb or something else) you’ll feel better. You may feel warm and feel good, but will your metabolism be at an advantage? Probably not.
4. If we use a device with both red and NIR, shouldn’t more bulbs have NIR (e.g., 60% NIR)?
This idea of a higher percentage of NIR is great and will provide results but the science is not there to back it up. There are not a clear set of studies that set out specific ideal percentages when used in combination. When looking at NIR, it is important to consider that it penetrates deeper than red. So, if you have specific goals to target deeper tissue, you will get more energy down to the target area with a 100% NIR vs a 60% NIR (+40% red). There is marketing out there that claims red, or ‘amber’ wavelengths precondition the skin and allow the NIR to penetrate more effectively, but where are the studies? There are a lot of sales tactics flooding the red-light therapy world, which are not necessarily based on thorough research. It is important to stick to what we know now and await any future new research.
5. But what about EMFs? There is a lot of noise out there in terms of light therapy devices emitting high levels of EMFs.
It would be difficult to try to get a significant EMF reading out of a light therapy product. We also must consider what device is being used to measure the EMF output and if that is accurately calibrated. Again, a lot of the EMF noise in the red-light community can be based on marketing and sales tactics. You can read a little more about this here: Red Light Therapy Devices and EMF Fraud | by John Iovine | Medium . In a nutshell, no light therapy products have really high EMFs, and even if they did, they are not used long enough for it to become a concern, in terms of the bigger picture.
So, there you have it, a basic insight into my digging around for answers when it comes to light therapy products. Which one to purchase and which company to purchase from. I had no idea! I just knew I wanted to make the right decision for my health and my pocket. As I said, I am no red-light expert, but these were the main questions I felt I needed reassurance around.
None of this information is intended as health advice and is for information purposes only. I urge you to please do your own research and come to an informed decision before committing to purchasing your red-light device.
I will update you soon as to how I get on with my Red Light Man Infrared 830 device!
If you feel that a RED LIGHT MAN device is for you, I would be extremely grateful if you would purchase via the below link as I will receive a small commission in return. This goes towards me being able to spend the time researching information like this and sharing it with you.
Sending you love and healing,