17 Top Near-Infrared Light Therapy Benefits According to Science

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Although red light and near-infrared light therapy tend to get clumped together, they each have their specific characteristics and benefits. 

While red light is visible, near-infrared is not. Near-infrared wavelengths are also much longer (800 to 2,500 nanometers) in comparison to red light wavelengths (630 to 700 nanometers). 

That means that red light is effective primarily on the skin’s surface. Therefore, it makes sense that skin care is one of its most popular red light therapy benefits. Even though it is far from being the only one. 

However, near-infrared light is not only effective on the skin’s surface. It also penetrates deeper into the body and reaches soft tissue, muscles, joints, and bone.

Here, we will examine some of the many benefits of near-infrared light therapy treatments. All of these are demonstrated in peer-reviewed studies in each case. 

near infrared light therapy benefits

1. Improving Production of ATP with Near-Infrared Light

Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) is an organic compound that is the primary energy source for major biological functions. The wavelengths of near-infrared light can improve the production of ATP, thus triggering a myriad of potential health benefits. These include improved cardiovascular health, thyroid function, and immune health.

2. Increasing Muscle Mass

There is proof that near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs)can help reduce muscle damage, pain, and atrophy. They can also help in increasing muscle mass, recovery, and athletic performance.

3. Decreasing Muscle Fatigue with Near-Infrared Light

Furthermore, the specific wavelengths of near-infrared light can also be effective in delaying the development of skeletal muscle fatigue and enhancing skeletal muscle performance.

4. Minimizing Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is a painful, aching feeling that usually starts a day or two after intense physical activity. It is particularly familiar to elite or novice athletes. Fortunately, near-infrared light therapy benefits include minimizing the effects of this condition after a novel exercise session. For many athletes, this makes all the difference when it comes to effectiveness of their training process.

5. Improving Mood with Near-Infrared Light

Another study found that adequate exposure to near-infrared light with wavelengths of 850 nanometers, especially during low sunlight conditions in the winter, can improve mood, reduce drowsiness, and lower resting heart rate. This is one of the near-infrared light therapy benefits that also trigger a wide array of other health benefits.

6. Reducing Inflammatory Pain

The wavelengths of near-infrared LED light can activate cytochrome c oxidase, a membrane protein found in the mitochondrial genome. This leads to reducing inflammation, relieving chronic pain, and stimulating healing.

7. Reducing Acute and Chronic Lower Back Pain

Near-infrared LED light treatments resulted in a moderate reduction in pain and improvement in function in patients with musculoskeletal lower back pain. This type of pain affects 7.5% of the entire world population, according to the Global Burden of Disease Study from 2017.

8. Accelerating Bone Repair

Near-infrared light can also reach deep into the bone. It can accelerate bone repair and increase bone metabolism. It can assist in bone healing factors by boosting cell proliferation and maturation while reducing inflammation.

9. Promoting Wound Healing 

Research shows that near-infrared light therapy in the wavelength range of 630-1000 nanometers happens to be an innovative and non-invasive approach in the treatment of wound healing, ischemic injury in the heart, and degeneration in the injured optic nerve.

10. Relieving Symptoms of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome

Studies have shown that near-infrared light therapy benefits can include relieving pain caused by mild to moderate cases of carpal tunnel syndrome, especially when applied within a year after the onset of symptoms.

11. Improving Symptoms of Osteoarthritis

Osteoarthritis is the most common form of arthritis, occurring most frequently in the hands, hips, and knees, and commonly starting in the middle age. LED light therapy was found to be effective in improving symptoms of pain and disability in elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee.

12. Boosting Sperm Motility

Sperm motility refers to the sperm moving properly through the female reproductive tract to reach the egg. A study has shown that irradiating human sperm with a low-level 830-nanometer diode laser can improve their motility, improving the likelihood of conception. In some of the in-house FlexBeam case studies, it has been noticed that testosterone levels may be improved by the regular use of red and near-infrared therapy.

13. Improving Skin Conditions

Near-infrared LED light is just as effective on the surface of the skin as it is on muscles, bones, and cells. It has been found to have beneficial effects on scars, burns, UV damage, pigmentary disorders such as vitiligo, psoriasis, and acne.

14. Reducing Wrinkles and Skin Roughness

Because it can increase collagen and elastin production, near-infrared light can also be successfully used for skin rejuvenation, improvements in skin feeling and appearance, as well as reduction of fine lines, wrinkles, and skin roughness. Studies have shown impressive results in anti-aging treatments with high patient satisfaction rates.

15. Showing Promise in Traumatic Brain Injury Treatment

There have been few efficient treatments for a traumatic brain injury, which is usually caused by a forceful bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body. However, higher-wattage near-infrared light lasers have shown excellent clinical results reaching the depths of the brain without tissue heating, damage, or side effects. It has also been shown to improve cerebral blood flow and the overall cognitive function among veterans who underwent chronic traumatic brain injuries.

This table highlights the key outcomes of the study, showing that 40% of neuropsychological scores improved and there was an increase in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 66.7% of the participants.

Outcome MeasureValue (%)
Neuropsychological Scores Improved40.0
Increase in rCBF66.7

Hipskind SG, Grover F, Fort TR, et al. Pulsed Transcranial Red/Near-Infrared Light Therapy Using Light-Emitting Diodes Improves Cerebral Blood Flow and Cognitive Function in Veterans with Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Published online November 28, 2018. doi:10.1089/pho.2018.4489

16. Potentially Slowing Progress of Neurodegenerative Diseases

Although there are still major clinical trials to be completed, near-infrared light therapy has the future potential to slow down the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease (and presumably other neurodegenerative diseases), by protecting neurons from death, if applied at the early stages of the disease process. 

17. Balancing Thyroid Function

The thyroid gland plays a major role in the human body’s metabolism, growth, and development. Near-infrared light can balance thyroid function, which can help speed up your metabolism and prevent weight gain, hair loss, extreme fatigue, and mental fog.

Near-infrared light therapy treatments are not only effective in numerous ways, but they are also safe and have no side effects. Note that none of the clinical studies mentioned above have shown any adverse effects from short-term or long-term use. 

It’s important to note that red and near-infrared LED devices emit very little heat, equivalent to the amount of sunlight at dusk and dawn, which means they can’t cause burns or other thermal injuries. They also can’t cause skin cancer or increase your chances of getting it. 

Portable near-infrared LED light therapy devices are a convenient, affordable, natural, chemical-free, and non-invasive way to improve one’s physical and mental well-being in the comfort of one’s home and without spending time and money on regular visits to a clinic. Check out FlexBeam. It gives you the opportunity to do both near-infrared and red light therapy at home at the same time.

Sources: Studies about Near-Infrared Light Therapy Benefits

  • Begum R, Da Costa Calaza K, Kam JH, Salt TE, Hogg C, Jeffery G. Near-infrared light increases ATP, extends lifespan and improves mobility in aged Drosophila melanogaster. Biology Letters. 2015;11(3):20150073. doi:10.1098/rsbl.2015.0073
  • Ferraresi C, Bertucci DR, Schiavinato JLDS, et al. Effects of Light-Emitting Diode therapy on muscle hypertrophy, gene expression, performance, damage, and Delayed-Onset muscle soreness. American Journal of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation. 2016;95(10):746-757. doi:10.1097/phm.0000000000000490
  • De Almeida P, Lopes-Martins RÁB, 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. 2011;27(2):453-458. doi:10.1007/s10103-011-0957-3
  • Douris PC, Southard V, Ferrigi R, et al. Effect of phototherapy on delayed onset muscle soreness. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. 2006;24(3):377-382. doi:10.1089/pho.2006.24.377
  • Giménez MC, Luxwolda M, Van Stipriaan EG, et al. Effects of Near-Infrared Light on Well-Being and Health in Human Subjects with Mild Sleep-Related Complaints: A Double-Blind, Randomized, Placebo-Controlled Study. Biology. 2022;12(1):60. doi:10.3390/biology12010060
  • Hamblin MR. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophysics. 2017;4(3):337-361. doi:10.3934/biophy.2017.3.337
  • Wu A, March L, Zheng X, et al. Global low back pain prevalence and years lived with disability from 1990 to 2017: estimates from the Global Burden of Disease Study 2017. Ann Transl Med. 2020;8(6):299. doi:10.21037/atm.2020.02.175
  • Jonasson TH, Zancan R, de Oliveira Azevedo L, Fonseca AC, Silva MCD, Giovanini AF, Zielak JC, Araujo MR. Effects of low-level laser therapy and platelet concentrate on bone repair: Histological, histomorphometric, immunohistochemical, and radiographic study. J Craniomaxillofac Surg. 2017 Nov;45(11):1846-1853. doi: 10.1016/j.jcms.2017.08.008. Epub 2017 Aug 19. PMID: 28935484.
  • Hipskind SG, Grover F, Fort TR, et al. Pulsed Transcranial Red/Near-Infrared Light Therapy Using Light-Emitting Diodes Improves Cerebral Blood Flow and Cognitive Function in Veterans with Chronic Traumatic Brain Injury: A Case Series. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery. Published online November 28, 2018. doi:10.1089/pho.2018.4489