The Many Benefits of Red Light Therapy

In my most recent blog post, I discussed the effects of blue light exposure. I even mentioned how red light therapy could reduce blue light exposure. Today, I will enlighten you on other benefits of red light therapy. I talk about using red light therapy quite a bit in my Instagram stories since I have red lights in my bedroom (see obsession of the week). I also have invested in a larger red light that hangs in our tiny house, and there is a good reason for this. Red light therapy is an FDA approved treatment for acne, muscle and joint pain, arthritis, compromised blood circulation, and reversing hair loss. Let us dig into the specifics on red lighting and how it impacts the body.

What is red light therapy?

We need a balance of the light we are exposed to. Think about the sun and our daily light exposure. The sunrise has several different colors of light–many of them being red/orange. Then during the day, it is, for the most part, bright light (this is blue light). The sunset again brings back those orange and red lights before the sun goes down and gets dark.

Red light therapy is the use of red lighting for therapeutic purposes. Red light is a form of radiation visible to the human eye and exists between 620-700 nanometers in wavelength. Most wavelengths of light (like ultraviolet or blue light) don’t penetrate the skin deeply and are instead absorbed by the skin’s surface. Red light uses a low level of heat and does not burn the skin.

Try this trick! Take out your cell phone and turn on the flashlight. This emits blue, green, and red light. Put your finger over the light and see that only red light penetrates all the way through your finger.

The other instance I personally use red light and recommend others use is when you’re inside all day. If you get very little sunlight during the day, I cannot recommend red light therapy enough. On the days of client calls, I will do 10-15 minutes of red light therapy before bed when I am mostly inside. First and foremost, get outside, but red light therapy is very helpful when you can’t.

How does red light therapy benefit us? 

Red light therapy is especially helpful for acne, hair loss, anxiety, depression, and muscle/joint pain. It’s also safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding, which is a huge bonus. I plan to use it throughout those phases of life. It has been shown to improve depression during pregnancy and even milk production! Unfortunately, there is little research and postpartum depression.

Many of us are not getting exposed to red light in the morning or evening. These are the times I recommend using red lights (see resources below). You also don’t necessarily need lights–you can just go outside. Wake up and sit outside for the sunrise and try to get outside during sunset.

Red Light Therapy, Metabolic Health, & Hormones

Red light supports the health of our cells by supporting metabolism. This is why it helps so many different symptoms and issues since the root of most diseases is the breakdown of metabolism and mitochondria (little engines that live in our cells and help chemical processes happen in the body). When we can improve how our cells function, we can improve every system in the body. When our cellular metabolism is enhanced by red light, this is the result:

  • You will have increased:
    • Energy production
    • Cellular oxygenation
    • Blood flow in the body
    • CO₂ production
  • You will have reduced: 
    • Stress hormones
    • Lactic acid
    • Inflammation
    • Free radicals

Where can you find resources for a red light?

Red light therapy can be done in a medical office, at a salon, gym, or even at home.  It does not have to be something fancy or crazy expensive.  In fact, you order a simple red light bulb from your favorite store.  There are several options available.  Here are a few of my favorites:

Using Red Light Therapy:

Ideally, red light therapy should be used in the morning and/or at night. It should be used when you are inside all day and not getting much sunlight. You can use spot red light therapy for specific aches, pains, hair loss, acne, etc. This means you can position your red light bulb or red light box to shine on a specific area of concern for additional benefits. For example, if you have hair loss, you would want the red light to point right at that spot. You want to spend 10-15 minutes daily (up to 2 times per day) for the best results. Any time is better than none, though! Do you have a sunburn, or are you about to spend a lot of time in the sun? Get a little red light therapy. Vitamin E is also beneficial for preventing and speeding up the healing of sunburn.

Red light therapy is a simple and easy way to reverse the effects of blue light exposure. Whether you choose to replace a few bulbs in your home or take time to soak in a sunrise or sunset, you cannot go wrong. If red light therapy piqued your interest and you want to know more about it, check out this easy read, Red Light Therapy Miracle Medicine. If you have not checked out my blog on blue light exposure, I highly recommend that you do. For more information on how I use red light therapy, check out my Instagram stories @hormonehealingrd.

Amanda Montalvo

Amanda Montalvo is a women's health dietitian who helps women find the root cause of hormone imbalances and regain healthy menstrual cycles.

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