Red light therapy leverages unique properties of certain wavelengths red (visible) and near infrared (invisible) light to help promote wellness. People use red light therapy for a variety of purposes, including to reverse skin aging, improve wound healing, increase energy levels, reduce inflammation, improve joint health, and have better sleep. At MediPro Holistic Health, we utilize MitoPRO Red Light Therapy.
Red Light Therapy - Sleep, Energy and Performance
Poor quality sleep is an epidemic in the modern world and light exposure is a big part of the problem. More specifically getting the wrong kinds of light at the wrong time of the day.
People today are surrounded by artificial blue light from many, many sources. Some of these sources include computer screens, televisions, smart phones and overhead lighting. Too much artificial blue light can not only cause digital eye strain and headaches during the day, in the evening it can make it harder to get to sleep and stay asleep. When we expose ourselves to this artificial blue light our bodies get the signal that it's time to be awake. This light throws the body's biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Worse yet, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
While exposure to typical room light in the evening has been shown to suppress melatonin onset and shorten melatonin duration in humans red light therapy has been shown to have an opposite effect. Melatonin is often referred to as the 'sleep hormone'.
One fascinating study was performed with elite female basketball players. The participants were divided into 2 groups. The red-light treatment participants received 30 minutes of irradiation from a red-light therapy instrument every night for 14 days. The placebo group did not receive light illumination.
The researchers observed improvements in subjective sleep quality, the athletes' endurance and increases in their serum melatonin levels. In fact, the increase in serum melatonin measured was quite remarkable as the red light treatment group had their melatonin increase a whopping 75%!
The researchers concluded that "red-light illumination positively affected sleep quality and endurance performance variables in Chinese female basketball players. Based on previous studies, we can infer that red-light treatment contributes to increased melatonin secretion in the pineal gland and muscle regeneration."
Red Light Therapy - Arthritis, Inflammation and Pain
One of the leading causes of chronic pain is arthritis. Red light therapy is now being used in many places to treat arthritis symptoms This is in part due to its ability to decrease inflammation (thus reducing pain) and support collagen production (rebuild cartilage).
A 2005 Cochrane review of red light therapy for rheumatoid arthritis concluded that "LLLT could be considered for short-term treatment for relief of pain and morning stiffness for RA patients, particularly since it has few side-effects.”
In fact, light therapy has been studied for arthritis in many, many human clinical trials in many parts of the body including on the knees, shoulders, hands, back, neck, elbows, ankles and feet.
How does red light therapy help arthritis?
Red light therapy reduces inflammation by increasing circulation and blood flow to damaged tissues. In a 2017 review Dr. Michael Hamblin summarizes:
"PBM is able to up-regulate anti-oxidant defenses and reduce oxidative stress. It was shown that PBM can activate NF-kB in normal quiescent cells, however in activated inflammatory cells, inflammatory markers were decreased. One of the most reproducible effects of PBM is an overall reduction in inflammation, which is particularly important for disorders of the joints, traumatic injuries, lung disorders, and in the brain."
Decreasing oxidative damage, which degenerates joints, and is another way that light therapy can benefit soft/connective tissue. Furthermore, producing more cellular energy helps tissues regenerate and heal faster.
What about other sources of pain?
Even in those who don’t suffer from arthritis but have other signs of tissue degeneration or damage, light therapy may still be beneficial. A 2009 meta-analysis published in The Lancet summarized “We show that LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.”
Another meta-analysis published in 2017 concluded. "This meta-analysis presents evidence that LLLT is an effective treatment modality to reduce pain in adult patients with musculoskeletal disorders."
Red light therapy is a natural anti-inflammatory that’s been shown to reduce swelling, soreness, and strain in numerous clinical studies. Best of all it is able to do this without any significant side effects.