How Phototherapy Works

Phototherapy, or light therapy, is a unique treatment method that employs specific light wavelengths to manage and alleviate a wide range of medical conditions and body functions.

Blue Light Therapy: Known for its antibacterial effects, blue light therapy is often used to treat acne and skin damage. The high-intensity blue light helps to eliminate the bacteria that cause acne breakouts, leading to clearer skin.

Red Light Therapy: This wavelength penetrates deeper into the skin and is known for its anti-inflammatory effects and its ability to stimulate collagen production, making it ideal for skin rejuvenation, wound healing, and conditions like arthritis and tendonitis.

Ultraviolet (UVA) Light Therapy: Typically used to treat skin disorders such as psoriasis, eczema, and vitiligo, UVA light therapy can slow the growth of affected skin cells.

Infrared Light Therapy: This is used for pain relief, wound healing, and for the treatment of musculoskeletal disorders, as it penetrates even deeper than red light.

Woman walking on a treadmill having LED light therapy of face and chest, weight control, anti-aging therapy, skin rejuvenatio
Woman walking on a treadmill having LED light therapy of face and chest, weight control, anti-aging therapy, skin rejuvenatio

Phototherapy operates by its ability to regulate the production of certain hormones and bioactive substances, altering cellular activity, and boosting the production of ATP, the primary energy source for our cells. Increased cellular energy leads to healthier cells and better cellular performance, which reduces inflammation and regulates normal cellular reproduction and cell repair.

Chronic inflammation is a significant contributor in many health issues. Immediate response of the body to an injury, bacterial or viral infection or even prolonged stress with the release of cytokines and involvement of immune cells is a normal reaction. An overload of cytokines and long-term inflammation can lead to a wide range of health problems, including the development of autoimmune disorders, heart diseases, metabolic syndrome, respiratory conditions and even cancer. Chronic inflammation can interfere with the hormone and insulin response, and that can cause the body to store more fat, leading to weight gain.

Photo of 2 different red/IR LED light therapy lamps used together.
Photo of 2 different red/IR LED light therapy lamps used together.

Red light therapy can also support the growth of new muscle mass. Blue and green light can support the improvement of variety of conditions, such as bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, vulvodynia and mastalgia. It may be also of clinical use to relieve chronic neuropathic and inflammatory pain and to suppress urinary bladder overactivity.

This extensive variety of mechanisms of light interaction with different body cells and tissues, can explain why the use of individually adjusted phototherapy protocol has beneficial effects in the treatment of different health conditions, and can be used even for healthy individuals. Regular sessions can lead to improved skin health and complexion, enhanced mood, better sleep, and overall wellness.

As always, before starting any treatment, it's best to talk to a healthcare provider to see if phototherapy is the right choice for you and it should not replace conventional treatments unless advised by your doctor.

Patient is getting red light therapy for knee
Patient is getting red light therapy for knee
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Here is our more in depth review as a PDF file:

Some mechanisms of phototherapy for patients with different health conditions

Some relevant studies:

1. Karu TI. Mitochondrial signaling in mammalian cells activated by red and near-IR radiation. 2008.

2. Caruso-Davis MK et al. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy for body contouring and spot fat reduction. 2011.

3. Jackson FR et al. Reduction in cholesterol and triglyceride serum levels following low-level laser irradiation: A noncontrolled, nonrandomized pilot study. 2010.

4. Silva G et al. Infrared photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy improves glucose metabolism and intracellular insulin pathway in adipose tissue of high-fat fed mice. 2018.

5. Silva G et al. Insulin resistance is improved in high-fat fed mice by photobiomodulation therapy at 630 nm.

6. Marcela Sene-Fiorese et al. The potential of phototherapy to reduce body fat, insulin resistance and “metabolic inflexibility” related to obesity in women undergoing weight loss treatment. 2015.

7. Ferraresi C et al. Photobiomodulation in human muscle tissue: an advantage in sports performance? 2016.

8. Pararasa C et al. Ageing, adipose tissue, fatty acids and inflammation. 2015.

9. Hotamisligil GS. Inflammation, metaflammation and immunometabolic disorders. 2017.

10. de Brito Sousa K et al. Differential expression of inflammatory and anti-inflammatory mediators by M1 and M2 macrophages after photobiomodulation with red or infrared lasers. 2020.

11. Wang Y et al. Photobiomodulation (blue and green light) encourages osteoblastic-differentiation of human adipose-derived stem cells: role of intracellular calcium and light-gated ion channels. 2016.

12. Dayan CM et al. Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis. 1996.

13. Höfling DB et al. Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. 2013.

14. Höfling DB et al. Assessment of the effects of low-level laser therapy on the thyroid vascularization of patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism by color Doppler ultrasound. 2012.

Do you want to read and know more? Laser and medical books on a bookshelf.
Do you want to read and know more? Laser and medical books on a bookshelf.