What is Light Therapy?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 28 September 2019
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Also known as phototherapy, light therapy is a strategy that makes use of natural or artificial light in order to treat various types of health issues. The therapy has been demonstrated to help ease the symptoms of both emotional and physical ailments. Traditional and alternative health professionals alike are known to employ different types of light therapy, sometimes in conjunction with other forms of treatment.

The medical community has long known the benefits of light to the human body and mind. Along with providing some of the much needed nutrition to keep the body healthy, natural light also has a positive impact on the brain and the emotional state of individuals. This combination of benefits to the body and the mind can help ease the discomfort of ailments ranging from skin rashes to depression and anxiety.

One of the most well known applications of light therapy has to do with alleviating the symptoms associated with SAD or seasonal affective disorder. An emotional state that sometimes strikes people during the dreary winter months, the use of a light therapy lamp can cause the brain to begin manufacturing neurotransmitters that help to life the feelings of sadness and apathy that are often the core of the condition. Light boxes may also be employed for the same purpose, helping to promote the production of melatonin and serotonin naturally.


In recent years, light therapy has also emerged as a viable treatment for other forms of depression. Vitamins A and C are both helpful in balancing the body and promoting the production of neurotransmitters that impact mood. For this reason, a person suffering with depression may experience some degree of relief by making it a point to spend a little time in direct sunlight each day. Even the use of light therapy lamps may help to ease some of the symptoms and phobias that often accompany depression, including panic attacks and agoraphobia.

Sunlight therapy can also be helpful with promoting the proper function of the immune system. This in turn can help equip the body to fight off viruses, and ease the pain and suffering that result from skin conditions such as eczema or psoriasis. Light therapy may also help with insomnia, since the exposure to natural light does promote the production of chemicals in the body that help to regulate the sleep cycle.

Even people with diabetes are likely to benefit from some type of light therapy. Diabetics tend to have lower levels of nitric oxide in the bloodstream. This type of therapy can help promote the production of nitric oxide and help replenish the depleted amounts present.

While anyone can make a decision to increase his or her exposure to natural light, it is often a good idea to consult a physician about how to use light therapy effectively. This will help minimize the chances of overexposure to harmful UV rays and thus create other health issues that must be addressed.


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