Medical treatment is always evolving. New treatments are developed, tested and approved.
In many cases, there are some treatments which may not always be considered the mainstream. Alternative treatments tend to be those which can show great results and be believed in by some, while other people scoff at them.
Red light therapy is an alternative treatment that has gained a large level of popularity with many people. It also goes by many other names including: cold laser therapy, photonic stimulation, biostimulation, soft laser therapy, photobiomodulation, low level light therapy and low-power laser therapy. It’s been touted to treat many different conditions and issues. The details about red light therapy can sometimes be evasive. This article will explore how red light therapy works and what it is being used to treat!
How Does it Work?
The history of red light therapy is actually really interesting. It was actually developed for use in space to help grow plants as the red light coming from LEDs helped plant cells grow. From there, potential medical options were explored. Red light therapy can come in the form of pulses, or in large beds, similar to tanning beds.
The procedure is not particularly difficult for someone undergoing it. All you need to do is sit and expose the specific area of the skin towards the red laser light. The pulses of red light don’t actually damage the skin. This is very different from many other forms of laser treatment.
The scientific aspects of red light treatment involve energizing cells. The ATP molecule is responsible for carrying energy in a cell. Red light therapy works to help more ATP be created, allowing cells to work harder. This lets them repair damage and stay healthier and more rejuvenated.
What Can Red Light Treatment Help?
People who are looking into red light treatment may struggle initially. There are so many claims on what it can do. There are red light therapy treatments for hair and skin. There are red light therapy treatments for pattern baldness. There are red light therapy treatments for alopecia. It can be hard to know if all of them work. Skin conditions seem to show the most benefit from red light therapy, however, some other conditions have shown some benefits in small studies. It’s important to note that these studies are still preliminary and red light therapy should not be taken as a cure all by any means. Despite the debate, some of the uses of red light therapy that have been explored, or will continue to be studied include:
- Skin conditions - The list of skin issues that red light therapy is hoping to help is actually quite high. Cosmetically, the goal is to help reduce wrinkles and provide a more youthful appearance. Red light therapy hopes to also assist in healing sun damage and reduce the effect of scars on people’s skin. There has been some promising signs that red light treatment can assist with psoriasis lesions.
- Wound Healing - Hard working cells can work to repair the damaged cells in a wound with increased speeds.
- Hair Growth - This is generally specifically for people with alopecia.
- Pain and Inflammation Relief - There’s been some signs that red light therapy can provide some benefit to people who suffer from carpal tunnel syndrome, rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis and achilles tendon problems.
- Cancer Side Effects - There are several side effects of cancer treatments like oral mucositis which can be assisted with red light therapy. These are often the only times in which red light therapy is covered by health insurance.
Red light therapy is also sometimes used to assist in treating cancer. In these cases, it’s not the red light itself that is the most important part. The red light actually works as a remote to turn on specific medications that have been taken.
More aspects of red light treatment are continued to be explored, including the potential effects on depression, weight loss, back pain, acne and dental infections. Red light therapy isn’t for everyone, but it does have potential that continues to be researched!