Red Light Therapy Benefits

red light therapy benefitsRed light therapy benefits, compared to other possible treatments, has many advantages. Below are some red light therapy benefits.

  1. Pain-free. Red light therapy causes no pain. In fact, it is known to temporarily relieve pain as well as speed up healing time (which ultimately results in less pain, depending on what the LLLT is used for).
  2. Drug and chemical free. The fact that red light therapy involves no drugs or chemicals whatsoever (with the notable exception of the use of Teflon-coated near infrared bulbs, which we do not recommend) is a huge plus. The typical risks and side effects that come with drug and chemical exposure are not an issue in red light therapy.
  3. Allows for adjunct treatment. Often, people don’t find adequate relief or results from any one particular therapy, be it medication or a procedure or a lifestyle change. One particularly helpful feature of red light therapy is that it does not conflict or interact with most other treatments. While you should always check with your doctor for guidance on how to best use red light therapy (or any LLLT), the odds are in your favor that your doctor will approve.
  4. Non-invasive. Red light therapy requires nothing invasive. The light is applied to the outside of the body. Sometimes, surgeries or other invasive procedures are unavoidable. But at least those using red light therapy or other LLLT don’t have to deal with invasive procedures to use it.
  5. Non-ablative. While some laser treatments are ablative, meaning they involve damaging tissue, red light therapy and other types of LLLT are non-ablative. This means that on average, LLLT has fewer risks and side effects. It is more gentle and safe and it requires zero downtime.
  6. It’s natural.  Red light therapy causes reactions on a cellular level that make your own body heal itself.
  7. Requires no downtime. Red light therapy treatments are painless and require no downtime. You won’t have to stay at home in bed after a treatment and honestly, the treatments will probably change almost nothing about your routine (you may need to change the time you apply certain skin care products, or if you’ve done a near-infrared light therapy/sauna treatment you’d do best to shower immediately afterward, but that’s about it).
  8. Easily accessible. Red light therapy is available in many salons and spas. Even better, there are plenty of red light therapy bulbs and devices available for at-home use. If you do your red light therapy treatments at home, you can do them at the frequency you choose and in a manner that is convenient and comfortable for you.
  9. Red light therapy is easy. Whether you do your red light therapy (or LLLT) treatments at home or in a salon or spa, one of the biggest red light therapy benefits are that they’re simple to do. You don’t have to spend a ton of time figuring out how the bulb or device works. To do a treatment with an LED red light therapy bulb or device, you just turn it on and touch it to your skin. To do treatments with a near-infrared (non-LED) bulb, you put on your eye protection and hang out a couple feet from the bulbs.
  10. FDA approved/FDA cleared. Many red light therapy and LLLT options are approved or cleared by the FDA. The FDA recognizes the benefits of red light therapy.  In their Memo to the Conference of Radiation Control Program Directors, the FDA states that “Exposure to red light has been scientifically shown and is understood by consumers to affect skin structure, for example by reducing wrinkles for months after treatment, which may be the result of new collagen formation or reorganization, or repair of elastin damage.”
  11. Gets results fast. Red light therapy benefits the healing of wounds, scars, surgical sites, torn ligaments, bruises, sprains, etc. With red light therapy or other type of LLLT, you can heal much faster, allowing you to get back to your normal life. Often, athletes use red light therapy to heal injuries so they can continue training. It has even been used by athletes with no pain or injury issues- they use it to make their muscles recover faster after strenuous exercise.
  12. Is relatively inexpensive. Of course it depends on which red light therapy bulb or device you choose, but overall, there are affordable LLLT options out there. When you consider that many cosmetic laser treatments are hundreds or thousands of dollars, at-home LLLT devices are a bargain. Because red light therapy is useful in so many different conditions, buying a bulb or device could turn out to be the cheapest, most effective solution you’ve ever found.
  13. Red light therapy has many possible uses. Click here to read more about what red light therapy and other types of LLLT are used for.


Red Light Therapy Before and After Photos of Cystic Acne Wound

What can 15 minutes of red light therapy do? (In this case, it was combined with a bit of blue light therapy because the bulb I used had both.) I decided to test it out and take a few pics of before and after red light therapy. I used a RubyLux High Power Red & Blue LED Bulb on a small facial wound from cystic acne. I had already gotten the acne cyst to go down by about 50 to 75% by using blue light therapy for a couple of 2-minute sessions the day before. All before pics shown here were taken immediately before the 15-minute treatment with the red and blue bulb.  Below are the resulting red light therapy before and after pics.

After one 15-minute treatment where the RubyLux bulb touched the skin, here are the before and after red light therapy photos. Note that I am a person who typically heals very slowly.

red light therapy before and after photos cystic acne wound 1


These are before and after red light therapy photos from the side. These pictures were taken about 15 minutes after the 15-minute session ended because immediately after treatment, the imprint of the bulb’s LED’s were visible on my skin (you can see how the bulb imprint looks in the picture at the bottom of this page- the imprint is normal and is no cause for concern, but it distorted the photo a little).

red light therapy before and after photos cystic acne wound 2

This is another picture taken from a side angle. Again, these before and after red light therapy photos were taken immediately before (for the before photo) the treatment and 10-15 minutes afterwards (for the after photo).

red light therapy before and after photos cystic acne wound 3


Here is a picture of the area right after the 15 minute red and blue light therapy treatment. As you can see, there are temporary dimples in my skin. These are from the bulb resting on my skin and once the bulb is removed, they quickly go away.

Red Light Therapy Before & After Photos immediately after 15 min red light therapy

For a person who would normally take a week to heal a wound like this one, these red light therapy before and after photos show a huge acceleration of healing time. As many of you with cystic acne know, the acne spots and the wounds can be quite painful, so I am super happy with these results. Hopefully these before and after red light therapy photos have given you an idea of what is red light therapy.

Safety Tips for Blue Light Therapy

blue light therapySafety Tips for Blue Light Therapy Bulbs and Devices

If you are using a non-laser, LED blue light therapy bulb or device, you should always use appropriate eye protection. Although it has not been proven, some experts are beginning to suspect that excessive exposure to blue LED light could harm vision over time. In addition, there is evidence blue light exposure at the wrong time of day can cause insomnia or disrupt circadian rhythms. Be safe and make sure your eyes are protected.

Here are some more safety tips for using blue light therapy bulbs or devices:

1. As always, read the manufacturer’s instructions and safety information before using the blue light therapy bulb/device.

2. Do not stare into the bulb when it is switched on.

3. Wear appropriate eye protection when using a blue light therapy LED bulb or device. This would likely be goggles or possibly glasses that are designed to block out most blue light and a reasonable amount of brightness. Most lenses made for blocking blue LED light are a deep orange color or a dark, orange-based brown. And of course, you could also opt for goggles intended to block out all light.

4. Certain medical conditions may cause sensitivity to light, such as seizures, some types of Lupus or migraine headaches. It’s always a good idea to discuss blue light therapy with your doctor before trying it.

5. Be aware that some skin care products can cause photosensitivity for a period after applying them. Do your blue light therapy treatments outside of this window of time.

6. Some medications cause sensitivity to light. If you take any medication, check with your doctor or pharmacist before using LED blue light therapy.

7. Many people using blue light therapy are doing so to kill bacteria on the skin’s surface. Sanitation is therefore very important, especially since most blue light therapy bulbs and devices are not easy to wash or sanitize. I recommend using a very thin layer of plastic or a bulb cover to cover the LED’s each time it is used. Dispose of the plastic or cover after each use.

8. If your blue light therapy bulb or device has red LED’s as well, be sure to check out our safety tips for red light therapy.

What is Red Light Therapy?

red-light-therapyRed light therapy uses low level lasers or light emitting diodes (LED’s) in the red wavelength range to cause a variety of effects in human and animal tissue. Some of the most common uses of red light therapy are cosmetic (reducing acne, for example), but it is also used to provide temporary pain relief and to speed up the healing process. Still, most people have never heard of it before, and so our number one FAQ is: “What is red light therapy?”

Red light therapy, which opened the door to other types of light therapy, was first developed by NASA as part of experiments for space shuttle missions. Scientists noticed that astronauts exposed to the light healed faster than normal. NASA’s researchers were excited about this discovery, because it had previously been a problem that astronauts in space wouldn’t heal as fast as normal. It is this observation that led to further development and studies on LED red light therapy.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

In studies, red light therapy has been shown to greatly speed up cell healing and repair. Scientists do not know for sure how it works, but most believe it works by altering the energy that is available to the cell. It is possible that LLLT triggers an increase in cellular energy production. However, there is little consensus among scientists as to how does red light therapy work. The bottom line is, scientists just do not know for sure how red light therapy works.

One thing scientists have noticed about red light therapy is that cytochrome c oxidase, an enzyme involved in cellular energy production, seems to accept a transfer of energy directly from the light.

However, there are other effects scientists have noted from LLLT which could also explain its mechanism of action. (Or, perhaps, red light therapy has more than one mechanism of action.) These include:

  • Lowering levels of prostaglandin E2
  • Lowering levels of prostaglandin-endoperoxide synthase 2
  • Lowering levels of interleukin 1-beta
  • Lowering levels of tumor necrosis factor-alpha
  • Lowering swelling
  • Slowing bleeding
  • Lowering oxidative stress
  • Lessening the influx of neutrophil granulocytes into the cell

Some people are skeptical that some sort of light could have these effects. While I am a die-hard fan of healthy skepticism, a bit of research and logic easily shows that the effectiveness of red light therapy is not only possible- it’s probable.

We already know, for instance, that the human body does react to light. In some cases, the light required to achieve these effects is very small. Consider, for example, that the body produces its own vitamin D when skin is exposed to sunlight. Or that the reaction of the retina to light exposure is how we have vision. Or that the reason we see in color is that our eyes react differently to various wavelengths of light. And there is no debate that the body reacts to lasers, which are made up of condensed light.

So the idea that the skin, hair or other type of tissue might react to light is not as far-fetched as it may sound at first.

You might ask: “if light or even certain colors of light have effects on the body, how come we didn’t know that before?”  Well, lights were just to bright and too hot for anyone to get close to them without being burned. The invention of the light-emitting diode has allowed us to more fully examine how light affects us. An LED is capable of producing a bright, powerful light with little heat. This makes it possible to safely place the light closer to the skin (or other tissue) than was ever possible before.

What is Red Light Therapy? Is It a Type of Laser Therapy?

No. Red light therapy is not the same as laser treatment. What is confusing is that many people refer to red light therapy as “low level laser therapy” or “cold laser”. This is a misnomer.

Both laser treatments and red light therapy (or other types of LLLT) use light. The difference is that laser light is “coherent”, meaning all its photons are synchronized. LED light is non-coherent. It does appear, though, that non-coherent light can have beneficial effects. Those effects and the question, “what is red light therapy?” are what this site is all about.

What is Red Light Therapy Good For?

woman using red light therapy for skin rejuvenationRed light therapy– the use of diffused light in the wavelength range of 620 to 750 to cause changes in a living organism’s tissue- has been researched for many different uses.  The research has steadily increased over the past few decades and now we have more information on which conditions red light therapy is good for (and which it is not).

Often, you will see the term “light therapy” referring to the light boxes made to treat Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD).  SAD lights have gained popularity in mainstream medicine because doctors and scientists agree that they are effective. They are ultra bright lights that mimic sunlight, which is another type of light known to help people suffering from SAD. This helps a person with SAD regulate his or her circadian rhythm (known to be part of what causes SAD). What’s great about SAD lights is that not only do they help people who have SAD, they expose people to the idea of light therapy.

However, there are many, many more uses for light therapy that have been researched. (Note: This does not mean light therapy was determined to be effective in all cases on this list.)  Some of these potential uses for red light therapy or other light therapy include:

What Uses of Red Light Therapy are FDA Approved?

The FDA has approved certain light therapy devices to be marketed for specific conditions. These conditions include:

  • Diabetic neuropathy (880 nm infrared light therapy)
  • Ulcers of the mouth in those taking chemotherapy (660 nm red light therapy)
  • Wrinkles (infrared light therapy)
  • Pimples/acne (infrared, blue and blue/red light therapy combinations, respectively)
  • Tendonitis
  • Joint pain
  • Fibromyalgia

Types of Light Used in Light Therapy

light therapyRed Light Therapy, Blue Light Therapy, Near-Infrared Light Therapy and Far-Infrared Light Therapy

Some of the most common types of light therapy you’ll find used are red light therapy, blue light therapy, and infrared light therapy (either near- or far-infrared). While there is some debate over which wavelength is best, it’s generally becoming clear that certain wavelengths are best for certain conditions. If you were thinking of trying light therapy, you would first want to decide what result you are trying to achieve. Then you would select the wavelength and type of light believed to be effective for that condition (based on the research available).

Red and near-infrared light wavelengths can penetrate anywhere between one to six inches deep (scientists don’t agree on how deep). While scientists do not know for certain how light therapy works, there are theories. One popular view is that the light triggers the cell to make more energy (ATP) and increases DNA and RNA activity.

Some believe that this beneficial energy effect only occurs if the cell is damaged. This idea makes sense because it is usually damaged or diseased cells that one is trying to treat. However, light therapy could also have benefits for healthy cells.

Which Type of Light to Use: LED’s, Sunlight, Infrared, Etc.

The type of light that is best depends on your condition and what effect you are trying to achieve.

Sunlight is one type of light people use for light therapy. Sunlight may be chosen to increase vitamin D levels or improve fibromyalgia symptoms, for example. While sunlight can be very bright (and therefore very powerful), not everyone has access to full, bright sunlight year-round. When a more powerful light is needed, or when sunlight is not sufficiently available, another light source can be chosen. Usually, the choice is LED’s (light emitting diodes).

LED’s are by far the most popular light source used for red light therapy and blue light therapy. There are many reasons for this, but the most important one is that LED’s are capable of producing extremely bright, powerful (and therefore effective) light. Despite being extremely bright, LED’s require little energy and do not get as hot as other types of lighting. So using LED’s can be practical and also save on energy and costs. LED’s, because they’re stronger, can get the same effects faster than other light sources.

Other types of light can be used for different types of light therapy. For some conditions, these types are actually better than LED’s. An example might be using a halogen or fluorescent bulb.

What about Halogen Lights for Light Therapy?

Halogen lights put off light with a mixture of wavelengths. This “mix” is not that different from regular sunlight- it’s in the 600 to 900 nm range. This type of light can be effective and inexpensive, but it is not ideal for most applications. That is because the light it produces is not concentrated in the specific wavelengths known to be ideal/most effective.

Halogen can still have beneficial effects, however. For instance, some users of halogen light claim it temporarily reduced pain and irritation from injury. At least one other claim I’ve seen is that exercising in front of a halogen light burned more calories.

Infrared Light Therapy

Red light therapy for pain is not a new idea- people have been using infrared light for quite some time. It was believed that the heat the lamp produced was what helped so much. Now it is known that near-infrared light plays a role in relieving pain.

How Much Can Light Therapy Help Me?

There are a lot of factors in determining how much light therapy might help you: your condition, power of light used, source of light and more.

Light therapy is a very useful tool for some purposes, but it is not a magic cure-all. It is usually best used in addition to other treatments or therapies. For instance, if you are using light therapy to relieve pain, you might also apply ice and take an over-the-counter pain reliever. Light therapy should never be used as a substitute for professional medical care.

If you are using red light therapy for acne, you’d probably get maximum benefit from using it in addition to other treatments, such as topical antioxidant or anti-acne creams.

Results vary from person to person, but to give you an idea, some people say that after using light therapy for pain, their pain is reduced by 50-75%. The pain relief is temporary and usually lasts 4-6 hours. However, it is believed that using light therapy could help the injury actually heal faster.

If you have pain or a potentially serious injury, be sure to seek medical advice first!

What Wavelengths Should I Use?

The wavelength and type of light you choose depend on the results you are trying to achieve. Generally speaking, the most effective wavelengths of light are specific ranges:

  • 610 to 625 nm
  • 660 to 690 nm
  • 750 to 770 nm
  • 815 to 860 nm

How Much Light Therapy Should I Do?

When it comes to light therapy, more is not better. Doing light therapy treatments too much can cancel out the benefits you receive and depending on the type and source of light, it could also cause harm. For instance, in the case of sunlight or UV light therapy, more is not better.

If you are using light therapy for a condition that causes pain, it’s advised that you use it only long enough to cause a reduction in pain. This helps ensure you don’t overuse it and only use it enough to get the optimal result. The pain relief experienced is usually temporary and you will have to treat the area again in a few hours if pain persists. However, light therapy treatments are likely to help reduce healing time.

What’s difficult is determining how much light therapy is “too much”. That depends on the type of light source, the strength of the light, type of light, where the injury/condition is located on the body, etc. But because too much could cancel out the benefits you can get, it’s always best to err on the side of too little.

There is some evidence that the more recent an injury, wrinkle or other problem is, the more light therapy will help. So if you have a choice, it may be best to begin using light therapy soon afterwards. But not too soon! If you’re treating an injury, it is best to let inflammation subside before doing red light therapy or other light therapies. The reason is that red light therapy and most other light therapies increase blood flow to the region. If an area is already swollen and inflamed, more blood flow is not going to feel good and it is unlikely to help. Once inflammation goes down (if applicable), light therapy is often used multiple times in a day (for example, two to four times for 10 minutes each). However, in no case should you begin light therapy for a medical condition or potentially serious injury without first seeking professional medical advice. It would also be wise to discuss your case and how light therapy might be helpful with your doctor.

How Deep Can Light Therapy Penetrate Through Skin?

There is much debate over how deep light therapy devices can penetrate through the skin. This is an important matter, because if the light cannot penetrate deep enough into the body, it cannot help with problems occurring there.

One thing that is generally accepted is that the power of a light source has a big impact on how far through the skin it can reach.

Some argue that even very strong light therapy devices can only reach 1” to 1.5” deep through the skin. That implies that light therapy cannot work for anything that is deeper than that, such as a joint that is not on the surface.

Others claim that light therapy devices can sometimes reach 3” to 6” through the body- even through the skull into the brain.

Safety Tips for Red Light Therapy

red light therapySafety Tips for Red Light Therapy Bulbs and Devices

LED-based, non-laser red light therapy is very safe for most people. The main concern with red light therapy is the brightness of the LED’s on the eyes. People with skin photosensitivity from conditions such as rosacea or from taking certain prescription medications could have skin irritation from the light. Some other people have conditions that bright light is known to affect, such as seizures, migraines or bipolar disorder. Below are some safety tips for using red light therapy.

  1. Read the manufacturer’s instructions and safety information before using the device.
  1. Do not stare into the bulb or device when it is switched on. As long as you do not have a medical condition affected by light, a very brief glance in the light’s direction might be okay, but honestly it’s a much better idea to play it safe. Avoid staring into the light source when it is on. This includes infrared LED’s, which emit light that is not visible.
  1. Always wear appropriate eye protection when using a red light therapy bulb or device. For non-laser, LED-based light therapy that is red light only, tanning goggles may be sufficient. To be on the safe side, I do not recommend directing the bulb/device towards unprotected eyes for prolonged periods of time, even if your eyes remain closed. Another option would be to choose goggles meant to block out all light. And if your red light therapy bulb or device includes infrared or blue LED’s, tanning goggles may not be sufficient.
  1. If you have any condition that could be affected by exposure to light, be sure to discuss red light therapy with your doctor before trying it. Examples of conditions that can be affected by light exposure include seizures/epilepsy or migraines that are triggered by light flashes. Other possibilities include medication side effects that cause photosensitivity and medical conditions where bright light exposure may have unusual effects, such as bipolar disorder.
  1. Some common skin care products can cause temporary photosensitivity, so you should not do your red light therapy treatments immediately after using them. Examples include vitamin C powder/cream/serum, retinol or lemon juice. If the product recommends avoiding light or sunlight for a period of time afer application, you should also avoid red light therapy treatments for that period.
  1. Many medications also cause sensitivity to light, either through the eyes or the skin. A full list of these medications is too long to list here, so you should check with your doctor or pharmacist before trying red light therapy if you take any type of medication. Some types of medications that can cause photosensitivity include anti-histamines, coal tar derivatives, psoralens, NSAID’s, tetracyclines and tricyclic antidepressants.

Red Light Therapy for Skin Rejuvenation

woman using red light therapy for skin rejuvenationIn studies, red light therapy has been shown to greatly speed up skin healing and repair. It isn’t known for certain how it accomplishes this effect, but it appears that the effect is due to more energy becoming available to the cell.

Does Red Light Therapy Work for Skin Rejuvenation?

Red light therapy works on the overwhelming majority of people to induce collagen repair, healing and restoration of the skin’s natural radiance. Sagging skin tightens and regains some of its plumpness. Undereye circles due to aging may be improved if they are caused by the skin thinning in the undereye area (letting the blue veins show through).

Red light therapy has been shown to:

  • Erase fine lines and wrinkles
  • Heal and improve the appearance of scars
  • Tighten and firm the skin
  • Induce the production of new collagen
  • Ward off blemishes
  • Improve skin redness and inflammation

Red light therapy itself was discovered by NASA. They had noticed that astronauts in space wouldn’t heal quickly if they got cut or hurt. NASA developed LED light therapy technology to help the body heal.

Scientists have known for a long time that light affects the human body. We produce vitamin D when we are exposed to sunlight. And we wouldn’t be able to see if it wasn’t for the way light affects our eyes. So it isn’t surprising that researchers have discovered even more effects of light on our bodies.

Scientists used to believe that the skin stops repairing itself after a certain age, but this has turned out to be incorrect. We now understand that the skin constantly works to repair itself- it’s just that as we age, it’s not so easy for energy to get to our skin cells anymore.

The two main culprits of skin sagging, thinning and wrinkling are sun damage and the body’s own aging process. The body does have cells working constantly to repair skin, but they don’t work as well as we age. The decrease in functioning isn’t from wear and tear on those cells- it’s because the cells get less and less energy as we age. Over time, not only does our metabolism slow, blood flow to the cell decreases.

LLLT encourages renewed blood flow to the area, which helps skin cells acquire energy in their usual way. Studies also suggest that it has more than one mechanism of action.

The skin has cells called fibroblasts that are responsible for producing collagen and elastin. As we get older, not only does a fibroblast’s work load get bigger, but our slowing metabolism deprives it of the energy it needs to function to the best of its ability. So even though the aging fibroblast can produce lots of collagen and elastin, it doesn’t because it doesn’t get enough energy.

In addition, aging skin produces lots of an enzyme called matrix metalloproteinase (MMP). MMP are responsible for destroying the structure that keeps skin looking firm, plump and tight. The more MMP the skin produces, the more its collagen and elastin weaken and break down. Red light therapy inhibits the action of MMP.

It appears that it’s not possible to get these effects of red light therapy/LLLT with just any red light. The light’s photons must be powerful enough to reach the skin cell, even those beneath the surface. To be effective, the light has to be strong and the source must be placed as close to the skin as possible.

Red Light Therapy for Pain

red light therapy for painRed light therapy treatments are very effective at reducing pain and inflammation. They also speed up the healing process.

There are different types of red light therapy, such as those that use red or infrared light. Both are effective for pain relief and healing. The effect depends on the strength of the light, the length of time used and the type of tissue targeted (for example, skin or bone), among other factors.

Red light therapy technically only refers to light therapy using purely red light. However, many people also use this term to describe infrared light therapy. Both types appear to be effective for relieving pain and accelerating healing. Some studies show a slight advantage to using infrared light therapy, while others show red light therapy to be somewhat advantageous.

Red Light Therapy for Pain Relief

Many studies have established the red light therapy benefits (or of infrared or both). Some of them are discussed below.

The pain relief effects are temporary and last anywhere from a few hours to a day, while the healing effects can be more permanent (depending on the injury or condition). Since red light therapy can speed up healing time, you may achieve a higher level of pain relief for longer periods as your body heals.

Red light therapy can make an excellent addition to a pain management plan, provided your doctor approves. This makes it an ideal add-on treatment for many.

Many studies have shown the effectiveness of red light therapy for pain relief for everything from post-workout soreness to pain from orthodontics.

The U.S. Navy SEALs have reported that red light therapy treatments improved training-related injuries by 40% and that it decreased wound healing time among U.S. Navy submarine crew members.

Red light therapy has been used in diverse treatment scenarios, including to reduce mouth and throat pain from chemotherapy-induced ulcers in children. In a NASA-related study, red light therapy treatments were used to reduce the incidence of mouth ulcers in young cancer patients. These ulcers, in addition to being very painful, complicate treatment by making it difficult or impossible for the child to eat. For children who still got ulcers, red light therapy reduced their pain by 39-48%.

Curiously, red light therapy has been shown in at least one study to delay the onset of muscle fatigue, allowing study participants to lift 12 to 14.49% more weight.

Overall, it’s clear that red light therapy is useful for pain relief.

Red Light Therapy for Healing

body healingOne of the most exciting things about LLLT– both red and infrared light therapy– is the evidence that it greatly speeds up the body’s own healing process.

Scientists are not certain how LLLT does this, but they believe it speeds up healing through more than one mechanism of action.

Firstly, red light therapy has been shown to increase the growth of cells. In a 2004 paper, researchers noted that it increased the growth of human epithelial cells 155-171%. It increased the growth of animal cells by up to 200%.

In another study, red light therapy increased the growth of fibroblasts, cells that make collagen and other substances important in healing. This could partly explain why red light therapy is effective for speeding up healing.

Another reason is that red light therapy has been shown to increase cytochrome c oxidase and upregulate genes responsible for energy production and antioxidants.

Harvard Medical School professor Dr. Michael Hamblin says there are a few different ways red light therapy is thought to work. Increased ATP, or cellular energy, production; inducement of transcription factors; and effects on reactive oxygen species, he says, result in effects such as increased oxygenation of tissues, cell growth and migration and the regulation of cytokine levels, growth factors and mediators of inflammation. All of these are important to the body’s healing processes.

Numerous studies have shown positive results for red light therapy and wound healing. For instance, a study in Photomedicine and Laser Surgery in 2009 found that red light therapy treatments with a combination of red and infrared light healed large, chronic ulcers 40% faster per month than controls. These ulcers had been resistant to other forms of treatment.

Another study, published in Lasers in Surgery and Medicine, examined the treatment of leg ulcers in diabetic patients using a combination of red and infrared light therapy. After a month of twice-weekly treatments, ulcers had healed 79%.Participants who had received a fake placebo version of the treatment had ulcers that worsened over the same month. After three months, all ulcers in the red light therapy group had healed at least 90% (most had completely healed). In contrast, only one patient in the placebo group had an ulcer that healed completely in that time.

The evidence points to the conclusion that LLLT is useful in healing wounds and injuries.