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Red Light Therapy – Does it really work?

Reviewed by Judith Hunter, MD
Red Light Therapy – Does it really work?

There is a therapy which is coming back into fashion which is said to help the body recover from aches, pains and ailments. It works by stimulating the body into action and the protection mechanisms that we all have as part of our natural defence system work, which in turn gives us relief from the condition causing the pain or discomfort. The treatment is called red light therapy.

The red light therapy works by activating a substance in the muscles which gives the body more energy. The substance is called ATP (adenosine triphospate) and it relieves any pain or distress that an area of the body may be experiencing.

The conditions that red light therapy can be used to treat are varied, ranging from headaches, muscle problems, poor circulation to skin problems such as acne in teenagers. And the therapy can be carried out in a practitioner’s surgery or at home.

To use red light therapy is very simple too. The area under investigation or giving pain and discomfort is bathed in the red light. In some cases the red light remains stationary but at other times patients say that slow movement is more effective. Many headache sufferers choose a slow movement across the area of the headache, saying that this is more beneficial when fighting the pain.

With other ailments the treatment remains the same, just bathe the area in red light. If the problem is circulatory then perhaps the answer is to slowly sweep the red light up and down the legs causing the muscles and blood vessels to loosen up and thus permitting normal blood flow. The relaxation effect is also good at dealing with any stress related symptoms for the same relaxation inducing reasons.

The amount of time under the red light varies for each ailment, however between 2 minutes and 5 minutes per session would be considered average. The session could be repeated after a couple of minutes rest so a complete red light therapy session may only last around 15 minutes. Great if you have a busy schedule. The therapy’s role in healing is to encourage the body to heal itself and so the body continues to do the work after the therapy is complete and you are going about your daily business.

Red light therapy can also produce positive effects when used on younger people with acne. It is said that the pores are cleaned out by the red light.

Other conditions said to respond positively to red light therapy are mild depression and sexual dysfunction in both men and women. The mild depression is said to respond positively because the body responds well to the red light in the same manner that people are generally happier when the weather is warm and sunny and there is an abundance of natural light.

As with any alternative therapy there are supporters and critics. Supporters will say that there is no hard scientific evidence to support this treatment simply because no one has conducted research on it. And they will add that before discounting it as ineffective the doubters should talk to people who have used it. They will tell how beneficial it has been to their healing and recovery from various conditions. Most people do accept that natural sunlight helps the human body when in moderation and this therapy uses a very similar type of light so we should expect similar results.

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