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Photobiomodulation or light therapy consists of a rich array of treatments that all work through different mechanisms to solve various health problems. If you want to boost your overall health or support your body in its healing efforts you should be looking into red light wavelengths and how they can help. You might be wondering how exactly to choose the right type of light therapy for you.
If you have narrowed down your therapy of choice to red light therapy, there is still a world of options when it comes to different frequencies used for treatments. Here are some factors you should consider when deciding on the optimal red light wavelengths for your health.
Light is a wave and, simply put, light wavelength is the distance between two peaks in the wave. The bigger the distance – the longer the wavelength. Wavelength determines certain properties of the light, for instance, whether it belongs to the visible spectrum or what color it is.
Ultraviolet light, which is harmful to the human skin, has the shortest wavelength, whereas red light has the longest wavelength.
When it comes to treatments, there is not just one magic wavelength with therapeutic properties. For instance, even UV light has the potential for the treatment of some conditions like seasonal depression. However, people usually avoid it because of the associated health risks.
The color of the light is determined by its wavelength, and research shows that lights of different colors produce different results. For example, one study showed that red and green light promoted the proliferation of human umbilical vein cells, whereas blue light inhibited metabolic activity in the cells.
When it comes to red light, some therapeutic wavelengths belong to the visible spectrum and some to those that are not visible to the human eye. In general, light from the visible spectrum usually has a more surface effect, whereas light from the invisible spectrum, such as near-infrared light, normally penetrates deeper into the tissue.
Most low-level laser therapy devices and LED red light therapy devices use visible red and near-infrared light. Visible red light has a wavelength between 600 and 650 nanometers. The wavelength of near-infrared light is between 650 and 1100 nanometers. Combining the two usually gives the best results.
For instance, one recent study has shown that red and near-infrared light together applied intranasally can be an effective treatment for allergies.
Another group of researchers has been using various frequencies of red and near-infrared light to show that they can combine them together for bone and tooth regeneration. The examples of successful and exciting uses of combined frequencies are numerous.
Modern red light therapy devices for home use are optimized to offer the most effective wavelengths. For example, FlexBeam uses a combination of red light at 625-635nm and near-infrared light at 810-850nm.
Beyond the range of visible red light is the range of infrared light. This is light that ranges from 700 nm to 1 mm. Depending on the wavelength, infrared light can be on the spectrum of the near infrared, mid-infrared, and far infrared. The longer the wavelength, the deeper into the body the light penetrates. However, longer wavelengths also emit more heat.
Longer wavelengths is what far infrared saunas use. That is because infrared light doesn’t actually use its light energy to heal the body, but instead uses heat. Unlike regular saunas which use steam or hot stones as their heat source, an infrared sauna uses lamps that emit far infrared light.
Whereas there are benefits to saunas that use far infrared light, there are also certain risks that you should bear in mind. Before using an infrared sauna, you should consult your doctor, especially if you have pre-existing medical conditions.
Also, remember to hydrate and use the sauna in moderation, as excessive use can lead to dehydration or, in rare cases, even to thermal injuries.
When choosing your red light therapy device, the wavelengths of light are not the only factor you should be looking at. Here are some other important factors that are crucial in deciding which device is the best for you.
Nowadays, red light therapy devices come in all shapes and sizes. Doctors’ offices usually have stronger devices that are not that common in other places and require medical professionals to handle them. Home-use devices are optimized for daily use.
Some devices are in a form of face masks and their use is for purely cosmetic reasons. The most common and versatile type of device is red light therapy panels, which can range in size, features, and number of lamps.
Some devices, like FlexBeam, are portable, and can be wrapped around or pressed against the affected body part for targeted treatments. This ensures better and faster results.
The energy density is almost as important as the wavelength of light. Optimal energy density allows for the best results even when the device is used for relatively short treatments. Energy density is expressed in J/cm2 and should be no higher than 100 J/cm2. The exact energy density used for a particular treatment depends on the type and duration of the treatment.
When choosing a device, look for one with an irradiance zone between 20 and 200 mW/cm2 for the best results. Only devices with the right combination of energy density, irradiance, and wavelengths will be able to provide effective treatment.
It is essential to do your research when you are buying your red light therapy device for home use and find the one with optimal performance and features for your particular health concerns. However, don’t focus too much on the details.
At the end of the day, the most important thing is the convenience of use. Consistent use will yield the best results, regardless of the finer details.