How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

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Red light therapy treatments can enhance a person’s cellular function, and support greater balance and energy efficiency across the body. A high-quality device like a Joovv is designed to support healthier sleep, reduced inflammation, healthy skin, and improved recovery, among other aspects of a healthy lifestyle.

How can shining light on your body have these positive health effects? This article is about how red light therapy works. We’ll explain how healthy light can improve cellular function and ATP energy production. Red light therapy can also have an anti-inflammatory effect and improve blood flow. We’ll also cover how red light therapy can have a positive effect on a person’s sleep, skin, fitness, mental acuity and overall well-being.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy is a simple, non-invasive treatment that delivers red and near infrared light to a person’s skin and cells. A home device like a Joovv uses LEDs to shine red and near infrared light on your body during a treatment session. This is just like the wavelengths of light your body needs from natural sunlight, but without the heat or UV rays that cause sun damage. For a more detailed explanation of what light and wavelengths are, check out this page.

Red light therapy works because healthy light intake is crucial for our health. It’s essential for our cellular function and energy production, just like water, sleep, and the nutrients from food. Unfortunately, most people don’t get as much natural light as they need for optimal health (the average American spends over 90% of their time indoors). [1] Red light therapy is an easy solution for getting more healthy light everyday, in the comfort of your home, regardless of the weather or season.

Clinically-proven wavelengths: Not just any light will do. The best light therapy devices use safe, clinically-proven wavelengths of light: red light in the mid-600 nanometer range, and near infrared light in the mid-800s nm range. [1,2] Red and NIR light is a healthier alternative to all the bright blue light we’re surrounded by every day, which can make it harder to sleep and lead to other health problems.

How to Use Red Light Therapy

Red light therapy treatments are simple and easy, and can produce significant health benefits when combined with a healthy lifestyle. Joovv recommends 10 minutes per treatment area, ideally every day. For the best results, follow these basics:

  • Position yourself 6 inches to 2 feet from the device
  • Expose your skin for best results
  • Approximately 10-20 minute treatment times per coverage area
  • Daily use is ideal
  • Any time of day

Check out Joovv’s treatment guidelines for a full look at an optimal red light therapy routine. If you’re interested in trying red light therapy, this simple quiz can help you pick the best red light therapy system for your health and wellness goals.

Red Light Therapy Works by Enhancing Cellular Function

Red light therapy is designed to enhance cellular function and promote greater efficiency and balance in the cellular energy making process. Check out this video for a scientific look at how a red light therapy treatment impacts cellular function.

Humans have trillions of cells, and each one needs energy to do their job and keep our bodies in balance. We convert this energy from food, water, and oxygen, and do so most efficiently in a vital process called cellular respiration. The product of cellular respiration is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy that our body uses every second. The more efficiently we can create ATP, the better we feel and function.

Red and NIR light improve the efficiency of the cellular respiration process and help your body make and use ATP energy more effectively. Light does this by impacting the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. Red light therapy can increase the number of mitochondria [3], and also boost their function in the cell. [4]

In short, red light therapy treatments can stimulate the electrons involved in the mitochondria during cellular respiration, and help clear out nitric oxide (NO), which is a harmful roadblock to ATP production. [5] Essentially, NO gunks up the cellular system of ATP production, and red and NIR light helps prevent and reverse this problem. The photons in red and NIR light excite electrons, which helps break up nitric oxide bonds, so hydrogen ions can move through the process more effectively, resulting in greater levels of ATP energy that power your cells and body. [4]

That’s a broad summary of a very complicated, microscopic process. For a more detailed look at how light impacts cellular respiration, you can read this overview of the mitochondria and ATP process. You can also see more on how light therapy supports inflammation and improved blood flow.


Sources and References:

[1] Klepeis NE, Nelson WC, Ott WR, et al. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology. 2001 May.

[2] de Almeida P1, Lopes-Martins RA, De Marchi T, et al. Red (660 nm) and Infrared (830 nm) Low-Level Laser Therapy in Skeletal Muscle Fatigue in Humans: What Is Better? Lasers in Medical Science. 2012 March.

[3] Karu T. Primary and Secondary Mechanisms of Action of Visible to Near-IR Radiation on Cells. Journal of Photochemistry Photobiology. 1999 Mar.

[4] Ferraresi C, Kaippert B, et al. Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy Increases Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and ATP Synthesis in C2C12 Myotubes with a Peak Response at 3-6 h. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2015 Mar.

[5] Huang YY, Chen ACH, Carroll JD, Hamblin MR. Biphasic dose response in low level light therapy. Dose Response. 2009 Sep.