What Is Red Light Therapy, and Does it Work?

We love writing health and wellness blogs. We love researching trends and learning more about whole-body health. Knowing more about becoming and staying healthy is so important. Being armed with tips to live well helps us, and we enjoy being able to help all of our readers. It also means that we have a lot of people ask us about health trends.

Sometimes we’ve never heard of them! There are so many things happening that it is impossible to know every single thing on the market. That was the case recently when a friend asked someone on our social media team about red light therapy (RLT). The person wanted to know if it worked and if it was worth the money. Our team member had to admit that they didn’t know what it was. So, we looked into it.

RLT uses red low-level wavelengths of light to treat skin issues like scars, wrinkles and wounds that won’t heal. It’s controversial. It’s believed to strengthen the cells’ mitochondria and help them heal the body. But there isn’t much proof it works. There is some evidence that it helps people but, it could be people recovering on their own, scars fading or medication helping. Most insurance companies will not pay for RLT.

People also claim it works for weight loss. The theory is that it penetrates the fat and breaks down the cell membrane, and will leave your body as waste. Very few studies have been done about the results, and the results have varied. Additionally, part of the process is diet and exercise. So, if people are seeing results, it could be diet and exercise. Clinics that suggest RLT for weight loss usually sell the treatment in six-session increments. The price costs anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000.

People who like RLT claim it’s almost like a “fountain of youth.” From our reading, people have used it for everything: depression, sleep problems, skin issues, weight loss, Alzheimer’s, sore muscles and more. When you get a list that long, and people calling it “magic,” it gives us pause.

There does seem to be proof that it helps skin. It can also help in cancer drug delivery systems — doctors can use it to “turn on” medications as part of proven treatments. But there isn’t proof of the other claims. The good news is, there aren’t harmful side effects. A few people have received burns from falling asleep with the unit turned on. A few have had eye damage from looking directly at the laser without eye protection. But, most likely, the worst thing that is liable to happen to you is that you’re going to spend an awful lot of money and not see the desired results.

Before trying any new health treatments, speak to a doctor who knows you. Explain what you want to do and your desired results. Sometimes you want to try a new health craze, but they don’t always work for everyone. Your doctor will have advice and help you make a choice that is right for you. Maybe RLT can help you reach your goals for clear skin, but the rest of it seems dubious.

Banner image: Matthew Feeney via Unsplash
February 17, 2021
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