Biohacking Series

Red light therapy

Nature provides everything we need to be healthy, heal and regenerate. This is not by accident in any way. Humans have evolved on this planet for millions of years, thriving through pretty harsh conditions without fancy technologies but living off what was already available.

There is one technology though that provides benefits far above what nature can provide. This is called photobiomodulation or more commonly known as red light therapy!

The natural red from the Sun

Unfortunately, we are constantly growing distant from nature and the benefits it provides. Do you remember when was the last time you sat in-front of the sun during the sunrise or sunset? Do you remember that warm red colour?

This wonderful red is part of the light spectrum and is emitted at a specific light frequency of around 600-700nM which is visible by the eye.

Scientists have been fascinated for hundred of years by the powers of sun and it’s benefits. You of-course know how important the sun is for Vitamin-D (see a recent post on Vitamin-D) but red light is equally important for it’s healing powers. Niels Ryberg Finsen in 1903 won the Nobel Price for his contribution to the treatment of diseases, especially lupus vulgaris, with concentrated light radiation. Finsen is best known for his theory of phototherapy, in which certain wavelengths of light can have beneficial medical effects. This research opened a new avenue for medical science which now is being backed-up with many studies!

Biohacking and red light

You probably heard the term biohacking. If not you should take note as it is a whole industry behind it, aiming to improve human performance (and health) by simulating to a large effect the benefits of nature which most of us don’t get due to our lifestyle. Getting the benefits of sun requires us to be outside and expose daily our skin. But this not how most of us live our lifes. 

So there many fancy technologies which  simulate what you would already get for free if only connected with the elements of nature on a daily basis. In the case of red-light the beneficial effects of the suns red light have a small impact. If though you concentrate the correct red light frequency you can get exponential benefits from what you get from the sun!

Summary

  • Bringing technology to aid our health and simulate the elements of nature when we are not connecting enough with them is what biohacking is all about. 

Red light devices

Red light devices expose the body to high powered red and/or near-infrared light. Infrared light produces a type of energy that your eyes can’t see, but your body can sense as heat. Red light is very similar to infrared light with the difference that your eyes can see it.

 
Red-light devices involve exposing an area of the body for 5-15 minutes to natural red and near-infrared light from medical-grade LEDs. This variant of light lacks the heat or harmful UV rays that can cause sun damage. These wavelengths of light penetrate the skin and are absorbed by cells, where they boost the powerhouse of the cell (called mitochondria). This creates  more energy, which in turn gets the cells busily working on repairing and rejuvenating all kinds of tissues throughout your body.
 
You probably heard beauty shops using red light devices for skin therapy, but Red light devices have a wide range of applications.
  • Acne 
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Joint Pain and Arthritis 
  • Brain Health
  • Depression and mood
  • Eye Health
  • Muscle Recovery and performance enhancement
  • Skin Rejuvenation
  • Wound Healing
 

It is important to highlight some finding to really appreciate the power of red light.

  • It was found that red light can reduced joint pain by 70% in rheumatoid arthritis sufferers. In addition, they also saw reduction in morning stiffness and increased flexibility.
  • In a group of 50 elderly patients that followed a 10 day treatment, it was found that red and near infrared light therapy reduced osteoarthritis knee pain by 50%.

For the geeks

“Red light and near-infrared are able to induce significant physiological changes inside the tissue. According to modern knowledge, the red light inside the cells activates the mitochondrial enzyme cytochrome c-oxidase, improving the mitochondrial respiration and oxygen consumption (de Freitas & Hamblin 2016, Wang et al. 2017)

How does red light therapy work

The principle of red light therapy is quite simple. 

  • Every cell in our body functions based on the energy produced by the mitochondria inside it.
  • When you expose your naked skin to a Red light device, the mitochondria of your body’s cells  absorb it and turn it into more energy. These devices use very low levels of heat therefore it does not hurt or burn the skin.
  • This is because most wavelengths of light (ultraviolet, blue, green, infrared) do not penetrate the skin at all. Instead, they are absorbed in the outer layers of skin. On the other hand, red light and near-infrared are able to significantly penetrate through the skin up to 1 cm and powering-up our cells!

The optimal therapeutic range of most devices go from 660nm to 850mn and are distinguished into ranges.

  • Red light which goes from 630nm to 700nm
  • Near Infrared (NIR) goes from 700nm to 1100nm and is able to reach the deepest layers of the body. 

Most devices combine both frequencies in panels that share the LED lights and is a habit that one can do every single day.

Final Thoughts

  • Nature offers us naturally amazing tools to heal and rejuvenate us. Red light is one of them and has been an area of research  for many years for it’s healing powers. 
  • Red light therapy It is a natural, no touch and safe methos that has no side effects. A pleasant experience that will stimulate and heal your body from the inside out. 
  • It is quite surprising how little known the benefits of red and NIR light are for the general public. For me, a red light device is something that definetely you should consider. It can help everyone to live a healthier life and give our bodies what they are designed to have.
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