What is the difference between red light therapy and infrared therapy?
Humans have been aware of the healing power of light for thousands of years in recorded human history. Many ancient tribes worshiped the sun and placed great importance on it as a source of life, possibly for tens of thousands of years.
But in terms of using light for therapeutic purposes ("photomedicine" or "photobiomodulation"), it can be said to go back to India more than 3,000 years ago. It's even recorded in the Hindu text Atharva Veda, written around 1400 BC.
In the 18th century, reports of the power of sunlight to treat a range of different ailments began to appear in medical literature. During the 19th century, the therapeutic application of sunlight, known as heliotherapy, became popular.
In the 1900s, the discovery of quantum physics and the shifting attention of many physicists during the World Wars led to the development of laser technology.
In the 1960s, a researcher used a red laser to treat tumors implanted in hamsters. But he did make one fascinating observation: He noticed that skin wounds created during tumor implantation healed faster in animals treated with red light, compared with animals that did not receive light treatment.
In fact, the discovery that red light has the ability to speed up the healing and regeneration of human cells has now been confirmed by hundreds of studies.
In the 1990s, even NASA started using it. They initially used red LED technology to grow plants during space shuttle missions. But once it was discovered that the light also affects human cells, NASA began testing and refining the technology, hoping to use it to help astronauts maintain muscle and bone mass, as well as treat chronic wounds.
Over the past few decades, scientists have quietly amassed thousands of studies on the health-enhancing effects of red and near-infrared light in humans. Fast forward to today's world and after thousands of studies and proven benefits, this technology is on the cusp of exploding popularity.
Red Light & Near Infrared Therapy
Red light therapy and near infrared light therapy fall into a whole other light spectrum. The two are often confused as the same thing but they are really quite different. Red light falls into the visible part of the light spectrum between 630-700nm on the electromagnetic scale and is used to treat the surface of the skin. Near infrared wavelengths fall into the invisible part of the light spectrum between 700 and 1200nm. So what does this mean? The longer the wavelength, the deeper the penetration to deliver energy to the cells, stimulating healing and relieving pain. Various cell and tissue types each have their own unique light absorption methods at varying wavelengths. This means certain tissues absorb certain kinds of light.
There are many wellness services that employ light or heat therapy, two of the most popular are red light therapy and infrared heat. Both infrared heat and red light therapy are becoming progressively popular in the spa, wellness and beauty realms and are often confused, but they are different and they do provide different benefits. We know both deliver amazing results. So, we have assembled the information you need to know about each, how they compare to each other and which benefits they provide.
Near Infrared Therapy
Near Infrared Therapy falls on the spectrum of Infrared Light which is barely visible to the eye and is also the shortest infrared wavelength on the electromagnetic spectrum. Infrared typically includes wavelengths from 700 nm to 1 mm. Near Infrared light, however, falls in the spectrum of 700 nm to 2500 nm.
We feel infrared red light as warmth. It is safe because all humans produce IR and it is easily absorbed by our tissues. How does infrared do it? When it enters the body, it breaks up fats and toxins that are trapped in water molecules, it makes us sweat to let them out and therefore an infrared session is one of the best ways you can naturally detox your body!
NASA research has found that the NIR electromagnetic frequency band of energy penetrates deeply into the body and can have a healing effect on our individual cells. For example, inside the mitochondria of every cell are receptors which respond to Near Infrared wavelengths. The light triggers an increase in cell metabolism, protein synthesis (including collagen), and anti-oxidant activity (meaning the cells detoxify). Additionally, it reduces inflammation and pain while simultaneously triggering growth and regeneration in the cells.
Benefits of Near Infrared Therapy:
Improve blood circulation and reducing inflammation
Skin rejuvenation, stimulates fibroblasts and collagen formation
Heals wounds faster
Faster recovery time after working out
Improving diabetes and heart function
Stimulates white blood cell production
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
Residing right next to near infrared on the spectrum, red light can obviously be seen! Infrared penetrates deeply while red light works on the surface of the skin. Red Light produces its effects by stimulating collagen production because 700nm wavelength of Red light therapy is optimal for Collagen I production.
Red light facials or body treatments are often offered in salons, spas and wellness centers to beautify the skin,relieve pain , increase immunity and stimulate feelings of positivity.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy:
Smooth skin tone
Repair sun damage
Better blood flow
Better lymphatic drainage
Fading scars and stretch marks
Decrease hair loss
How They Work Together?
There are similarities between infrared and red light. They are both natural, drug and chemical-free, non-invasive, effortless, safe, and users have reported no adverse short or long-term side effects. While both therapies are beneficial, the type you should choose depends on the outcome you desire. If you want to treat skin conditions on the surface, a red light session may be effective, but if the skin condition is high toxicity in the body, an infrared session may be required for toxin removal. An infrared session is a more holistic solution to wellness because it can provide skin rejuvenating benefits (like red light). Still, it can also help you burn calories, release toxins, ease pain, and put you in a state of utter relaxation.