My fascination with light therapy began about ten years ago while studying the work of Dr. Ray Peat. As I studied his work I would frequently find references to the importance of bright light on your skin to signal your cells to create more energy or adenosine triphosphate (ATP) as well as its ability to aid in hormone synthesis (the production of sex hormones).
I was fascinated with what he said about red light in his work, such as...
“Penetrating red light is possibly the fundamental anti-stress factor for all organisms. The chronic deficiency of such light is, I think, the best explanation for the deterioration which occurs with aging. Enzyme changes, free radical changes, structural and respiratory changes are all involved as consequences of darkness stress.” - Ray Peat, PhD
Ever since, I've been on a quest to get more light of any kind into in my life, especially in Seattle's gloomy winter months...
What is Red Light Therapy?
In talking about red light therapy, the terminology can be a little confusing. Red light therapy is also known as photobiomodulation (PBM) or low level light therapy (LLLT) and sometimes cold laser therapy. It's considered low level because it has a lower energy density when compared to higher intensity laser therapies.
Light therapy comes in all sorts of wavelengths:
Ultraviolet or UV light: 300-400 nm
Natural Sunlight: 400-700 nm
Red light: roughly 620-700 nm
Near Infrared light: 700-1000 nm
Red and near infrared light fall into what is known as the optical window or therapeutic window between wavelengths of 650 to 1350nm. Because wavelengths in this range are easily able to penetrate human skin tissue, they are commonly used in PMB or LLLT. Wavelengths from 600-700nm (red light) are used for superficial tissue while longer wavelengths of 780-950nm (near infrared light) are used on deeper tissue. 
In nature, you'd get the most red light therapy at sunrise and sunset because that is when the sun gives off the most red (660nm wavelengths) and near infrared light (850nm wavelengths). However, due to modern life you're probably missing out to some degree on the sun's natural red light.
Benefits of Light Therapy
The benefits of light therapy are plentiful, so let's get started...
First we know that light therapy has been found to be good for skin rejuvenation, things like:
- reversing collagen down-regulation
- skin appearance in aged/photoaged skin
- improvement in wrinkles
- faster wound healing
- improved scar appearance
We also know that light therapy is helpful for hair health, such as in cases of:
- alopecia areata
- androgenic alopecia
Light therapy is also helpful for pain and inflammation, specifically:
- rheumatoid arthritis
- muscle recovery
- carpal tunnel syndrome
- low back pain
And then it's also great for energy production and thyroid health:
- improves thyroid function
And finally supportive of overall health...
- exercise performance
- eye health
- hormone health
Pretty impressive, right? And there is far more... just take a look at this awesome spreadsheet comprised of thousands of studies on light therapy! It's pretty amazing that there is this much research on light therapy, but it's still not quite "mainstream."
How To Take Advantage Of Red Light Therapy
About a year ago I started using red light therapy at my local tanning salon, which is basically just a tanning bed that has the UV lights replaced with red light bulbs. I would go several times per week and stay for 20 minutes a session if I could find the time. It was time consuming, and added up to about $360+/year (not including the gas it took to drive there), so it didn't stick. I gave it up after a few short months.
Other options for red light therapy including purchasing your own device. There are units available of all sizes and it really just depends on how big of an area you want to treat and how long you you want to spend treating it. Many of these devices are quite small and it would take quite a while to expose your whole body for the suggested treatment time.
I wanted to find a way to treat my whole body at home but in a lot less time...
My Choice For Red Light Therapy
Back in March, the Joovv Original Combo unit came into my life. For the several months I've been using my Joovv light for about 10-20 minutes per day (5-10 minutes front & back) and while it's still early on I'm impressed by the results, especially just the way I feel after using it! I'll of course continue to update this post as time goes on. My dog really enjoys it too 🙂
Joovv's red light therapy units are perfect for the average person looking to hack their health in convenient ways that easily fits into the modern lifestyle. And they have a combo unit that combines red light wavelengths for superficial tissue with near infrared wavelengths for deeper tissue so you get the best of both worlds in one treatment.
Ready to join me and try red light therapy at home? You can pick out your own Joovv red light therapy unit here. They even have a 60-day trial and hassle-free return policy so you can't go wrong!
Have you tried red light therapy? Please share in the comments!
Disclaimer note: I received a Joovv Original Combo Unit in exchange for writing a review of their product. However, my opinions remain my own.
- The nuts and bolts of low-level laser (light) therapy.
- Regulation of skin collagen metabolism in vitro using a pulsed 660 nm LED light source: clinical correlation with a single-blinded study.
- Accelerating Ablative Fractional Resurfacing Wound Healing Recovery by Photobiomodulation.
- Effects of low-level laser therapy on pain and scar formation after inguinal herniation surgery: a randomized controlled single-blind study.
- Infrared therapy for chronic low back pain: A randomized, controlled trial.
- Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation.
- Low level laser therapy (Classes I, II and III) for treating rheumatoid arthritis.
- Low-level laser therapy in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a pilot study.
- Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial.
- Hypothyroidism: Could it be treated with light?
- Effect of phototherapy (low-level laser therapy and light-emitting diode therapy) on exercise performance and markers of exercise recovery: a systematic review with meta-analysis.
- Low level laser therapy (LLLT) as an effective therapeutic modality for delayed wound healing.
- Comparison of the effects of 665 nm low level diode Laser Hat versus and a combination of 665 nm and 808nm low level diode Laser Scanner of hair growth in androgenic alopecia.
- Do Patients With Carpal Tunnel Syndrome Benefit From Low-Level Laser Therapy? A Systematic Review of Randomized Controlled Trials.
- Low‐Level Light Therapy for Androgenetic Alopecia: A 24‐Week, Randomized, Double‐Blind, Sham Device–Controlled Multicenter Trial