Red Light Therapy: A Secret Weapon for Cellular Healing
Chemical pollution, toxic ingredients in our food, air, and water, electrical interference via EMF exposure, and even damage from harmful light rays. In our modern world, we’re exposed every day to too many toxins to even name. They interfere with our cells ability to function at their best. What if I told you that there was a tool that you could have in your own home to help counteract some of this damage, one that is offered by nature, but that our current way of living often interferes with us getting inadequate amounts? Let’s focus on red light.
We’ve talked about the dangers of blue light exposure. Now I want to talk about another kind of light exposure known as red light therapy. There’s a big difference between the effects that light has on the body as you move across the spectrum of wavelengths. Red spectrum light is a great example of this: it’s as beneficial to the body as overexposure to blue light is harmful.
In a recent Cellular Healing TV episode, Meredith and I interviewed Joovv founders Scott Nelson and Justin Strahan. Along with their wives, Justin and Scott created Joovv as a company focused on bringing superior phototherapy products that you can use in the comfort of your own home. As experts on red light therapy, Scott and Justin shared their knowledge on how red light photobiomodulation works and how to choose a high quality red light for the best therapeutic results.
How Red Light Therapy Works
Some of you may be wondering what the big deal is with red light therapy. Even if you know a little about it, you might be thinking that a walk outside in the sun is more than enough to get benefits from sunlight, and that there’s no need to seek out red light spectrum exposure separately. No question about it, regular, safe sun exposure is full of health benefits. There are a lot of reasons, however, why it’s a good idea to invest in a high quality red light.
Light waves across the spectrum can penetrate into the skin to varying depths, depending on the wavelength size and the power behind it (more on that later). Herein lies their ability to cause harm, as with certain UV rays or the blue spectrum wavelengths so common in electronic screens, or to stimulate healing deep within cells. Red light has been demonstrated in countless studies to be of the latter category. I like to call it a “biohack” into the mitochondria, because of this light range’s ability to essentially optimize ATP production, the cellular fuel that drives all metabolic actions within the cell. That’s not even all red light therapy can do, but it’s a big part of why so many folks experience widespread benefits. These benefits have been demonstrated to be effective in hundreds of evidence-based, scientific studies. They include:
- Greater energy levels, and some have reported better sleep after a nightly light therapy session.
- Improved skin tone, including reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and stretch marks, probably via stimulation of new collagen growth.
- Helping to clear up skin breakouts such as acne or eczema.
- Improving circulation.
- Stimulates testosterone production.
- Improvement in age-related macular degeneration. 1
- Boosting lymph movement through the body.
- Promoting wound healing.
- Reduction in loss of muscle and bone tissue (You can imagine why NASA was specifically interested in this benefit!).
- Improved cognitive and motor function, especially in cases of neurological dysfunction or traumatic brain injury. 2,3
- Wound care, reduction in recovery times after strenuous workouts.
- Decreasing inflammation and free radical formation within the cell.
- Assisting with pain management.
- May help with anxiety by having a calming effect on the body.
With a list that long, you can just imagine a few of the health conditions that may experience benefits from regular red light therapy: rheumatoid arthritis and other joint conditions, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurodegenerative disorders, chronic acne, eczema, macular degeneration, and more. Even athletes have experienced reductions time in muscle recovery and soreness after demanding workouts. I myself have experienced this, and it’s one of my favorite uses for my red light. It’s no surprise that people are looking for this technology to add to their cellular healing plan. There are a lot of red light health products on the market right now. It can be extremely difficult to know which are effective, and which are a waste of your money. Part of our CHTV discussion focused on just that.
Finding an Effective Red Light
I’m going to try not to get too technical. Finding a quality, therapeutic red light requires understanding a few details, which Justin and Scott detailed beautifully in our interview. According to their extensive research of the available studies, there are a few factors to consider when choosing a red light for your home.
Wavelength – If you look at the hundreds of red light therapy studies, you’ll notice that the optimal wavelength range is 600-800nm (nanometers). This is solidly within the range of red light, and has been shown to be the most effective at improving function at the cellular level. The lower end of that range seems to work best for skin conditions like acne or stretch marks. The higher end brings you to near infrared light, which works better for penetrating deep into the skin and assisting with non-surface medical issues. Most red lights on the market do get this part right. Joovv lights give you the option to choose which light range is best for you, the narrower one for skin issues and wrinkle reduction, near infrared for deeper health issues, and their most popular combo lights, which provide the best of both in one handy light.
Power – Here’s where you really must watch out. Ensuring that you’re within the therapeutic range of light is vital, but if you don’t have enough power behind those wavelengths, then you’ll be standing in front of your light for a really long time in order to feel benefits. The power level will determine how long it takes the red light to penetrate deeply into the skin. Most of the NASA backed studies used an irradiance of 4-6 Joules/cm2. For deeper penetration, Justin and Scott prefer a much higher range of 80-100 Joules/cm2, ensuring deep penetration into the skin and that you’ll only need a treatment time of minutes, not hours! Many companies won’t even provide an irradiance level for their devices, making it impossible for you to determine their strength.
Size – Bigger isn’t always better, but in the case of red light therapy, it definitely is. Most lights on the market are very small, inches in size, usually just big enough to maybe cover your face. Joovv lights take photobiomodulation to the next level by offering their max lights, which cover your entire body. You can treat your whole body with beneficial red light all at once, reducing the amount of time that it takes to hit all of the parts of your body that you want to expose to red light with maximum convenience. That’s part of why I love mine so much, and recommend this brand.
Light Source – Seek out LED for your red light. Incandescent lights lose too much of their energy to heat, robbing you of benefits.
Why Red Light Therapy?
I’m convinced that in today’s world full of chemical toxins and electrical and light pollution, we need red light therapy to help combat the exposures4. I think that Justin said it best in our interview when he noted, “The way that we live today is radically different from the way we lived even 20 years ago before the advent of, really, computers and the internet age. Now everybody has their own iPad and a cell phone, and as you mentioned, we’re constantly being bombarded by blue lights and EMF. All those things cause an electrical strain on our systems. By being able to expose yourself to an intense dosage of the right wavelengths of light, we’re able to help counteract those effects, and provide a boost of energy for ourselves.”