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What Is Red Light Therapy?

Man exposing his face to red light.
Red light therapy can be used to counteract stress.
Adolescents with acne may be helped by red light therapy.
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Red light therapy is a healing strategy that makes use of red tinted light in order to stimulate the body’s natural defense systems and bring relief from various ailments. The basis for this type of treatment has to do with the fact that red light helps to activate ATP or adenosine triphospate in the muscle tissues, releasing more energy for the body to use. It is possible to employ LED red light therapy at home or undergo treatments conducted by a practitioner.

Employing the therapy simply involves focusing the generated light on an area of the body that is currently experiencing some type of distress. For example, headaches are one of the more common reasons to employ red light therapy. Proponents of this treatment method note that by moving the projected light slowly back and forth over the forehead, the pain of the headache begins to subside and eventually vanishes.

There are a number of different ailments that can be addressed with the use of red light therapy alone or with a combination of blue and red light therapy. Poor circulation is one example. By moving the light up and down over the legs, the blood vessels begin to relax and healthy blood flow is restored. In like manner, the therapy can be used to help counteract stress after a rough day by helping to relax the mind and body.

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Red light acne therapy is said to help adolescents with skin problems, possibly by helping to clear out clogged pores. Facial red light therapy may also be helpful with nervous tics. Mild depression may also be helped with a series of mini red light therapy treatments, offering some of the same effects that can be found by spending time in natural sunlight. There are even claims that the stimulation of ATP in the body can help with various forms of sexual dysfunction in both men and women.

Depending on the ailment that is addressed, the duration of the red light therapy session will depend on the nature of the health issue. The sessions may be anywhere from two to five minutes in length, with repeated sessions occurring after a short period of rest. For example, when using red light skin therapy to facilitate wound healing, it would not be unusual to conduct one five minute session, allow the patient to rest for roughly three minutes, then apply a second treatment lasting five minutes. This procedure would be repeated daily in order to motivate the body’s natural processes to heal the open wound.

As with most forms of alternative healing, red light therapy has a host of supporters as well as critics. At present, there is no hard scientific evidence to indicate the therapy has any beneficial effects other than some of those associated with exposure to sunlight. However, there are many testimonies from people who have tried red light therapy and found the treatment to either cure the ailment or at least facilitate the healing process.

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anon967063
Post 48

One can't believe without testing or having "serious evidence." My question to them: do you consider the "serious evidence" in case of corporate products, such as Coca-Cola? They say it's so damn good.

Now, why on earth wouldn't you believe that red light therapy works out to cure some illness? Just because you prefer not to believe it doesn't matter. My skin disorders have been treated in a month of so. Firstly, I was laughing when my mother advised me to use this red light treatment lamp.

anon939375
Post 46

As lovely as a small red light glowing in the dark is, I seriously think it's all a load of crap. Sorry, but I'd have to see some serious evidence to support this.

anon935732
Post 45

I did notice a difference in my mood elevation after using the red light machine at Planet Fitness. I stopped going because I noticed the brown spots on my arms got worse and I developed many more. I don't know why. This doesn't seem to be very common (in fact I haven't heard of this happening to anyone else) but for me it was enough of a concern that I didn't want to continue.

anon933590
Post 44

I just joined Planet Fitness a month ago. Being a man I was a little hesitant to get in something looking like a tanning booth. I had had severe paralyzing arthritis in my back and joints after work or vigorous exercise as well as constant burning in my toes. I decided to give the total enhancement booth a try after my workout.

After my first treatment, I came out feeling revived and with no soreness from my workout and I noticed that I did not feel my usual burning in my feet and toes. I go now about two or three times per week after my workout and have not experienced my numbness in fingers and legs or the foot burning since I began this. It is amazing. I only hope to continue to see positive results as I continue. Thank you Planet Fitness for giving me affordable help. I may not experience the beauty results, but the arthritis relief is worth my membership. A happy 61 year old male.

anon927638
Post 43

I used it once in tanning bed form for 20 minutes. I was suffering from SAD, otherwise known as winter in Wisconsin. All I can say is I felt wonderful afterwards. I was relaxed and in a good mood, similar to the feeling I get after having a glass or two of wine. Two days later, I still feel great. If it has any other benefits, they would just be frosting on the cake as far as I'm concerned.

anon925340
Post 42

I wish I had taken pictures of my hands before I started using the booth at the local Planet Fitness - dark age spots all over them. One month later (three times per week) and you can hardly see most of the spots! Can't explain that any other way as I haven't changed anything. If it's doing that - it's doing a lot more. It's not a scam.

anon924798
Post 41

My gym membership is only $20/month and includes red light. I decided to try 12 minutes of it today. Has anyone tried the red light booth with a vibrating floor? The vibrating was a strange sensation at first, but my body adjusted and became relaxed. After I was done, I felt tingly, warm, relaxed, and in a very good mood! The positivity has lasted four hours and counting. The positive effects of red light may not have strong scientific backing yet, but it made me feel amazing and I recommend skeptics try it just once!

anon353749
Post 40

I have been using the red light therapy for three weeks. I can't even begin to tell you the differences in how I feel physically. I am a skeptic by nature but I can tell you, I feel like a new person. The biggest change is in how my skin feels and looks. I have not applied lotion since I began the treatment and my skin feels so soft. Also the fine lines and wrinkles that were once around my eyes and mouth -- gone. I can't even believe I was considering plastic surgery. My mood is even better. Try this treatment! I have nothing to gain by telling you my story other than to possibly help another person. Give it an honest try before you shun it. You may deter a person from trying it that could really benefit.

anon347514
Post 38

I own a tanning salon and we offer the red light therapy. It amazes me every time someone tells me what it has helped them with. It is nice to see posts on the internet, of actual testimonials of the value of red light therapy. The dermatology industry wants to take it away from the general public and make people come to them for a ridiculous amount of money, like $60 a session. Please keep passing on your true testimonials about the benefits of red light therapy.

anon341994
Post 37

I just started using a home unit three weeks ago and I noticed a difference in my skin by about the third use. I use it on my face for 17 minutes every day. I see my eyes are less puffy and my pores look smaller. Also on my ankle because I'm recovering from a broken ankle and have swelling there. It seems to help with the pain and swelling.

I noticed I feel great after using it, and my husband keeps saying how good I look. He says I seem to be glowing! I am so glad I found it and will continue to use it no matter what anyone else says because it definitely works for me.

anon336196
Post 36

So both NASA and the US Navy have studied RLT in depth (among many others), including it's efficacy for wound healing. It was found and recorded that it does indeed greatly diminish healing time. It's used in both veterinary and chiropractic medicine. In other words, it's a proven real therapy, despite the fact that mainstream American medicine doesn't use it (yet).

anon332713
Post 35

If you study up on the wavelengths of light, you will find that it is not a scam. Lasers are light at a certain wavelength. Our eyes just cannot see the light. We only see within a small spectrum. You can't actually see sunlight in waves and sunlight is a certain wavelength and can do a lot of good in small doses and harm in large doses. Also, the frequency of a wave matters too.

anon331070
Post 34

I have suffered from eczema for almost 15 years. Going gluten free did nothing for the condition, although several people I know have had the eczema go away completely within three months of giving up gluten. I have tried every supplement, fish oil, topical cream and dietary changes you can think of.

I've been to naturopaths, and other healers (who have been of great help with other things but not the eczema). My hands at several points just looked like raw hamburger. I heard about a tanning salon that offered a red light bed (not LED and not infrared -- not sure what) and started going and immediately I felt the deep relief of pain and itching. It took going five days a week for two months and then three to five days a week for another month, but the eczema cleared up completely. Completely! It was truly truly a miracle for me. I've never had to go back or to keep up with it.

At Christmas, I had a small recurrence, but it just went away and I didn't even stress about it, knowing I could return to the bed. This may not work for you but give it a solid try. You have absolutely nothing to lose.

anon330185
Post 32

@kris1: It is not a scam. They have this machine at Planet Fitness and it is wonderful. I have unlimited use and of everything else there for $20 a month. I have talked to several people in the locker room who have used the red light (body enhancement) machine and they all say it works for them. I just started using it and I feel great when the sessions are over.

anon317596
Post 31

It does work, though the exact way in which it's explained here isn't a hundred percent accurate. I have an auto-immune illness that is somewhat debilitating, using red-light therapy in short bursts of a couple seconds (three, maybe?) over each area of my body is enough to be effective. I believe power equals density or depth that the light reaches, but longer exposure time is probably negatively effective.

Since modern medical science has not helped me anywhere near as effectively, I recommend it. Of course I have to use it every two days or I start feeling pretty tired and over time the symptoms of my illness return. I read somewhere that you should be careful of applying it to areas like the stomach and mouth because of the beneficial flora in your body. If you have a chronic illness and or you can try it for free, I highly recommend it.

anon316438
Post 30

I had a scar on my face under my right eye. It's a nasty, huge scar that had a small pit as though skin was missing. After two weeks of 12 minute sessions once daily, the scar filled in with good skin and now the scar is hardly visible. Also, the wrinkles around my eyes and the puffiness and dark circles completely disappeared. I look 10 years younger.

anon313505
Post 27

I started using RLT after surgery last spring and it made a huge difference in my skin, emotional state and energy levels. I love it and look forward to it. I know they say there isn't real proof it works, but my personal results are good enough for me. For $25/month I get a whole body treatment - unlimited visits. Worth every penny!

anon312266
Post 26

I know this sounds insane, but I was in a horrible mood today. I tried this red-light thing at the gym, not really knowing what it was, and I'm feeling way more energized and positive. I have to finish writing a huge essay tonight, and I feel great, which is crazy.

anon301941
Post 24

I can't wait to try it!

anon291344
Post 22

I have used a red light therapy bed for a year, for 20 minutes a day, 5 days a week. I have had no change at all in my skin. I will continue to use it as the bed was very expensive. But it does nothing.

lisapenn
Post 21

I have a red light therapy device which I use for both joint pain relief and for rejuvenating my skin (gives me a plump glowing look that I love) and it works great for both purposes.

anon283280
Post 20

Great website! Try red light therapy. It's great for your skin and looking younger!

anon281396
Post 19

Does anyone have an answer to this question: Can you use the red light and also use the tanning bed? Would it be as effective?

anon256532
Post 17

I have only used Red Light for a week (Beauty Angel booth), and have not noticed any results yet. I was told it takes a few weeks to notice any difference, but I am hoping it will help with the lines around my eyes and acne.

anon230025
Post 16

I would just like to say I started using red light therapy at my town's local planet fitness gym, and man, has it done a lot for me. Usually my feet and hands are always cold. I've been using red light therapy for about two months now, and not one day have I been suffering from this. This spectrum of light somehow really does stimulate blood circulation.

anon219982
Post 15

Several years ago I was being treated with infrared light by my physical therapist at an award-winning hospital. It's not new technology, and it's not considered controversial in the field of physical therapy. I am not sure if some of the cheap looking led units I have seen online are powerful enough to do much of anything, but the red light therapy booth at my local gym seems to be quite a bit more powerful.

I am not saying that red light therapy is a cure-all, like a lot of people are trying to make it seem, but it sure isn't a hoax or a scam. I fully intend on trying out the unit at the gym, and it would be fantastic if it helped with my aches, pains, and migraines.

anon206090
Post 14

@Post 8: I want to point out that exposure to sunlight has always been a recommended treatment for various issues. If you've ever tried on clothes in the mall, you'll know that the vast majority of artificial lighting is very poor in the red spectrum, hence looking green in malls(especially dressing rooms).

I think that trend is even worse now that there is a push towards efficiency -- making sure that all the energy used in lighting is in the wavelengths that give the most visibility, i.e., the blues.

If red wavelengths of light are known to have biological activity, then it's not outrageous to think that exposure to these wavelengths could be beneficial. It might be that it's only restoring what we've deprived ourselves of, like vitamins replace the nutrients processed out of food(polished rice, for example). Someone who has lots of outdoor exposure to nice bright sun (not winter in Finland) might not notice much difference.

@krisl: The key though is 'decent' diet. Considering the average modern diet I doubt most get sufficient nutrients for optimal health(as opposed to minimum needed to avoid a deficiency disease, which is not the same thing.)

anon199026
Post 13

I use red light therapy almost daily for skin rejuvenation and cannot say enough great things about it. What amazes me though is all of the benefits that go way beyond skin care.

My husband uses it in the winter months to lift his mood and I have used it for headaches and find it relieves the pain. I have also read that it helps with diseases such as Parkinson's and Alzheimer's.

It is definitely not a scam and I recommend it to all of my friends and family. The more I read about this phenomenal technology the better it gets. --Victoria

Neva Howell
Post 12

I had my first red light therapy session yesterday. I was interested in it because of something I read on age-related macular degeneration. My vision has become different since menopause and I'm wondering if red light therapy might help. I enjoyed the session.

anon152631
Post 11

Our bodies respond to frequencies in light and sound. That has been scientifically proven (to krisl). Sound wave weapons are used by the military to disable people and can actually kill.

Every living thing has vibrates at a frequency: even bacteria. If you find the frequency that a given bacteria vibrates at or essentially is able to live, you can kill the bacteria, just like a living cell, with a given frequency. It's not voodoo or mystical, just not that well known.

If you take it a step further, pharma companies are not known for helping the body help itself: it takes money out of their pockets. It is to their benefit to bias, slander and outright lie to keep people from using what the body naturally does when it has what it needs: heal itself.

anon140208
Post 10

NASA pioneered this stuff so I don't get the lack of science argument. It has been found that 1072 nm wavelengths resonate with the cytochromes of mitochondria accelerating ATP production as well NO production. I believe NO production causes the blood flow alterations and so forth.

anon136279
Post 8

RLT is basically a scam. The plural of the anecdotes shown here is not data. You receive far more red light wavelength from walking outside than you ever will from a few LEDs or a red filter in a lamp.

anon130937
Post 7

As I'm writing, I am recovering from a migraine that started at 3 a.m. this morning. I have been using red and blue led light therapy (a Tanda unit, purchased on Ebay) for various things already, with some success in some areas.

For instance, the blue light really does help with acne, as my 14 year old daughter will attest. The red light had helped me with hair regrowth on my temple (I have a very high hair line, but I already see some filling in after a month and a half of use).

But the main reason I'm posting right now is that I was aware that red led light is supposed to help heal wounds and reduce inflammation. On a whim, I did 15 minutes (total) of red light therapy on my temples and forehead, concentrating on the areas that hurt the worst. I already feel better, and it's only been about an hour.

I thought my idea was random, but decided to look up red light plus migraines and found this thread, so I'm putting my two cents in. I am not a clinical case study, as one can never be, but if this info helps even one person feel a little better, then it was worth it. Hope this helps! Leominster, MA

anon125180
Post 6

Well, I am working toward a doctorate and scientific thinking is part of my studies. I have dermatitis herpetiformis (DH) on my arms, upper back, neck and arms. DH is a skin condition related to celiac disease (gluten intolerance).

I have had this miserable, evil, disgusting rash since the outbreak over two months ago. It burned, bled, crusted, oozed, and my allergist tried having me use prescription corticosteroid ointments (which only stopped the burning and itching) and several courses of amoxicillin and Dapsone (nasty drug).

I got so desparate a few days ago that nothing was working that I decided to zap the DH with UVA and red light therapy both! My tanning salon has a new red light therapy bed. I decided to try it about four days ago. I've been using that and the tanning bed back to back daily.

I cannot believe that the DH is going away! Amazing. Only four days of light therapy has done 95 percent more than my doctor and his meds could do!

anon118820
Post 5

It's real so don't knock it until you try it. My skin is as soft as a baby's butt. My headaches are gone and my scars are fading away. It even helped my husband without using viagra, if you know what I mean.

anon111086
Post 4

Red Light Therapy Works for sure! I found the units designed for humans to be either very expensive or very low quality with poor power. The most economical unit was from online designed for horses and animals but works perfectly for humans.

anon105662
Post 3

i went through red light therapy because i work for a porn industry and i have a lot of stress in my penis, and after a couple of sessions i felt relief in my penis. So for my sake i would have to say it worked for me.

Albona
Post 2

@krisl – I tried red light therapy when I had a recurring migraine. I noticed that after a few red light sessions, the migraines were less frequent and less intense. It may not have much in the way of scientific backing in terms of studies done on it, but the treatment does seem to do what its practitioners say it does. That is, it seems to promote stimulated blood flow.

I realize that the scientific community may not support types of treatment like this. But, it made me feel better and seems to have suppressed my migraines. Isn’t that the most important thing? After all, plenty of things that are “officially” backed by the nation’s scientific agencies have turned out to be quite harmful. An FDA approved drug Baycol, for instance, was approved and prescribed to treat high cholesterol, but was found to cause muscle deterioration and organ failure over time.

I don’t think case studies and FDA approval are necessarily the best ways to determine the true effectiveness of medical treatments. Only time and numbers can tell if a treatment is truly legitimate.

krisl
Post 1

This sounds like a scam to me. There are a lot of so-called “alternative” medications out there, and most of them are just a way to take advantage of people and make money. Look at, for instance, the entire weight loss pill industry or the vitamin industry. Weight loss pills just dehydrate you (thus causing a loss of water weight, which comes right back) and a decent diet provides more than enough of all the necessary vitamins.

Red light therapy has to be one of the most suspicious sounding medications. I just can’t see this “therapy” doing anything for a headache or an open wound than giving the patient some kind of psychological, placebo relief. I would like to see scientific studies that prove the effectiveness of this treatment before I even start to believe that it’s not a complete scam.

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