Did you know that as of the last twenty years, something as ordinary as red light has the potential to heal you from several ailments?
Never in a million years would we've thought that using artificial light could help in medicine; these were the stuff science fiction movies were made of.
Going back to its' first application by EndreMester in 1967 to the FDA giving it the approval to manufacture red-light devices in 2002 till our day today, there have been a lot of changes in its utilization.
Red light therapy is a type of treatment that utilizes low wavelengths of red light in various forms of healing. It infiltrates the surface of the skin deep into the bones producing several functions including:
The mechanism of red-light therapy is simple; it works on stimulating the mitochondria, also known as 'the powerhouse of the cell' to produce more energy.
After the light penetrates the skin, light energy is soon converted into biochemical energy, initiating a cascade of events resulting in many physiological changes. Most importantly, oxygen release, ATP production (extra energy), and DNA replication.
This extra energy in the form of ATP goes into reducing oxidative stress, regeneration, and healing.
This is particularly beneficial in the case of broken bones, where subjecting them to red light therapy can prove advantageous in rejuvenating the healing process by expanding blood circulation, collagen formation, and decreasing inflammation.2
Even though red-light therapy is the most common name for this rising technology, it's not the only one. Here's a list of other names you should look out for when you're searching or reading about this topic:
Several studies have supported the application of low-level laser light therapy or red-light therapy in a wide variety of soft tissue injuries, including lower back pain, sports injuries, and bone trauma.1
Multiple preclinical and clinical studies supported these claims.
One study aimed to determine the efficacy of red-light therapy on fracture healing complications by producing ATP energy from osteoblast and fibroblasts (important cells in bone healing and formation). Their results came back positive. They've revealed that there was a direct response from the bone cells initiating the healing process.3
Another study proved the wound healing properties of red-light therapy by stimulating mitochondrial activity towards triggering cell proliferation and migration processes by the immune system to accelerate wound healing and closure.4
Similarly, a study determining the association between bone mineral formation and red-light therapy concluded that it increases bone mineralization and induces factors related to osteoblast differentiation.5
Given that red light lies within the safe region in the light spectrum, it's considered safe and painless. Generally, if used correctly and for the short term, it should pose no threat to the health and wellness of individuals.
However, according to the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services, there have been some evidence and feedback on burn side effects due to faulty devices and extended exposure (i.e., falling asleep while the device is on).6
Nevertheless, we always recommend consulting your healthcare professional and following their advice.
There are many options for getting red light therapy treatments; they can be found in spas, medical centers, and doctors' offices.
In addition, you can also buy your own device from several carriers or online. But your safest option to try red light therapy —especially if it's your first time— would be at your doctor's office to avoid any unwanted side effects.
Based on what we know now, red light therapy effectively improves some skin conditions like acne, wound healing, hair growth, and anti-aging.
In fact, It's very popular in sports, with athletes wanting to accelerate their healing time.
However, it's important to note that the FDA hasn't approved red light therapy as a treatment tool for other serious conditions like arthritis, fractures, and cancer.
Until now, it's rather used as an adjuvant therapy due to its therapeutic advantages and low risk when it comes to side effects as compared with other treatments.
So even though most of the conducted research points to red light therapy as a promising treatment candidate, extensive research efforts should be put to prove its efficacy and safety.
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