The Many Benefits of a Unique Health Technology
Red light therapy has become a hot topic lately for researchers who are finding that this unique treatment can help to improve skin quality, reduce inflammation, and boost mental health — some are even finding that it may be beneficial for physical performance, hair growth, and cognitive function. Unlike infrared sauna treatments, red light therapy does not generate heat and the sessions are shorter — between 5-15 minutes. Many of these benefits are backed by research — let’s explore what science has to say about this health technology.
What is Red Light Therapy and How does it Work?
Used for over 60 years in cosmetic and wound healing applications, red light therapy is enjoying a resurgence as more benefits of the treatment are being recognized. By exposing the skin to a low-light wavelength (620-750 nm), researchers believe the mechanisms of this therapy work by boosting mitochondria function and ATP, increasing blood flow, and encouraging collagen production. The main driver of these effects is thought to be linked to mitochondria absorbing the red light, which decreases oxidative stress while promoting the release of nitric oxide and the increase of ATP. Researchers suspect this boost of ATP is responsible for several beneficial effects, including increased physical performance and enhanced muscle recovery.
Addressing Inflammation, Aging, and Cognitive Disorders
The positive effects of red light therapy are well-established for its ability to promote tissue repair and wound healing, and building collagen in the skin for anti-aging benefits. It also helps to improve hair growth in those who suffer from androgenic alopecia.
As this type of therapy becomes increasingly accepted by the medical community, we are beginning to see more reports of beneficial outcomes for autoimmune conditions, cognitive issues, and altering the gut microbiome.
Red light therapy has been shown to have a positive impact in reducing inflammation and oxidative damage. Since inflammation is a serious issue with autoimmune disorders, calming the inflammatory response is important. One review found that red light therapy reduced inflammation by lowering inflammatory cytokines. This action is not only important for those struggling with autoimmunity, but also in the case of serious respiratory illness that triggers hyper-inflammation, which leads to what is called a “cytokine storm” from an exaggerated immune response. According to this study:
“Here, we show that exposure to two 10-min, high-intensity periods per day of infrared light causes a marked reduction in the TLR-4 dependent inflammatory response pathway, which has been implicated in the onset of cytokine storms in patients [with severe respiratory illness]. Infrared light exposure resulted in a significant decline in NFkB and AP1 activity as measured by the reporter gene assay; decreased expression of inflammatory marker genes IL-6, IL-8, TNF-alpha, INF-alpha, and INF-beta as determined by qPCR gene expression assay; and an 80% decline in secreted cytokine IL6 as measured by ELISA assay in cultured human cells. All of these changes occurred after only 48 hours of treatment.”
Moreover, red light therapy has been shown to be effective in addressing cognitive disorders. Otherwise healthy subjects who have Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, depression, or suffered from a stroke experienced “cognitive enhancement” after using red light therapy.
Another review of published reports on the positive qualities of red light discovered that when it was delivered to the abdomen of mice, it beneficially altered the gut microbiome. This positive effect has also been demonstrated in human subjects. The team concluded:
“In consideration of the known effects of PBM [photobiomodulation] on metabolomics, and the now demonstrated effects of PBM on the microbiome, as well as other effects of light on the microbiome, including modulating circadian rhythms, the present perspective introduces a new term “photobiomics” and looks forward to the application of PBM to influence the microbiome in humans.”
Medicinal Herbs to Compliment Red Light Therapy
As we have seen, red light therapy is an exciting technology that has many applications for improving health — sometimes dramatically. We can also enhance these benefits with the use of herbal remedies.
My Brain Bundle formulations help to boost clarity and overall brain health. So much so that I use my Brain Bundle tinctures on a daily basis. The bundle contains a range of powerful botanicals, including Lemon Balm as well as Lion’s Mane, Reishi, and Cordyceps medicinal mushrooms.
Additionally, my Balanced/Leaky Gut Tincture helps to promote the optimal health of the microbiome, which has been shown to affect everything from our mood to inflammation and even maintaining a healthy weight. You can learn more about the link between a balanced microbiome and overall wellness in my post, “Fertilize Your Gut? You Bet! Here’s How.”
Wishing you an abundance of health and happiness in 2022 and beyond!