People toss around so many terms for light therapy in the health space.
Phototherapy. Red light therapy. Photobiomodulation. Deep-penetrating light therapy.
Are they all the same? Different? Or just easily confused?
In this post, we’ll discuss the characteristics of deep-penetrating light therapy, what a deep-penetrating light therapy device is, and whether you need one.
What Exactly Is Light?
Light illuminates the world around us, but what exactly is it?
Light is a form of electromagnetic radiation that travels in waves. These waves come in a wide array of wavelengths, which we call the light spectrum. Not all light wavelengths are visible to the human eye, and not all wavelengths are suitable for light therapy treatments.
Certain wavelengths of light can even cause damage. Ultraviolet (UV) light, for example, damages the skin, and blue light has the potential to cause eye injury in certain individuals. For these reasons, UV light therapy should only occur under the supervision of a medical professional, and eye protection should always accompany blue light therapy.
Shorter wavelengths of light, such as those in the UV or blue part of the light spectrum, scatter quickly and can’t penetrate deeply beneath the skin. Longer light wavelengths, such as those in the red and near-infrared (NIR) part of the spectrum, hold their energy for longer and can penetrate deeper into the body.
Red and NIR wavelengths don’t have damaging side effects like UV light, and in fact demonstrate an excellent safety profile.
Colors of Therapeutic Light
The different wavelengths of light have specific effects on the body. For example:
- Ultraviolet light (380–450 nm) helps the skin produce vitamin D, but it also damages and ages the skin. It’s unable to penetrate deeper than the skin.
- Blue light (450–495 nm) is best known for its role in illuminating electronic screens and disturbing sleep, but blue light can also eliminate bacteria and other microbes from the surface of the skin.
- Green light (495–570 nm) hasn’t been studied as much as other colors, but has shown some success in reducing inflammation and migraine pain.
- Yellow (570–590 nm) and orange/amber (590–620 nm) light are still being studied and haven’t yet been proven beneficial in treatments.
- Red (620–750 nm) and NIR (750–2500 nm) light can penetrate more deeply into the body to reach deeper tissues and organs. They provide a host of beneficial effects in the body, including increased circulation, reduced inflammation, and greater energy production.
What Is Deep-Penetrating Light Therapy?
“Deep penetrating light” is a term that appears to have been coined by LED Technologies, Inc., though they didn’t originate red and NIR light therapy.
Deep-penetrating light simply refers to light wavelengths that can penetrate through the outer layer of the skin and reach more deeply into the body. As such, deep-penetrating light therapy is a synonym for red light therapy, NIR therapy, and photobiomodulation with red and NIR wavelengths.
The human body takes this deep-penetrating light and uses it to generate energy, similar to how plants absorb sunlight to use in photosynthesis.
Our cells contain little powerhouses called mitochondria. Our mitochondria can absorb deep-penetrating light and use it to produce adenosine triphosphate (ATP) for cellular energy. This increased cellular energy leads to a wide range of beneficial health effects as the cells function more efficiently and at a higher level.
What Is a Deep-Penetrating Light Therapy Device?
A deep-penetrating light therapy device is a machine that delivers red, near-infrared (NIR), and/or infrared (IR) light therapy to the tissues of the body.
These devices range from large machines intended for full-body light exposure in medical spas and select physicians’ offices to handheld devices, masks, and LED panels intended for home use. They range in price from $20 up to the low six figures.
Whether or not you should purchase your own deep-penetrating light therapy device depends on your specific needs and how often you plan to use it.
For instance, if you intend to use light therapy once per week for total body benefits and you have plenty of time and disposable income, you may opt for sessions at a local spa. But if you intend to use red light therapy for frequent canker sores, you’ll likely want to invest in a handheld device you can use at home several times per day.
If you choose to purchase a deep-penetrating light therapy device, you’ll want to make sure it’s capable of enough power output to produce therapeutic levels of light energy.
Health Benefits of Light Therapy
Light therapy, including deep-penetrating light therapy, has a wide range of applications for the skin as well as for deeper bodily systems. Here are just a few:
- Eczema and psoriasis
- Back pain
- Blood circulation
- Burns and wounds
- Circadian rhythm sleep disorders
- Seasonal affective disorder (SAD)
- Thyroid disease
- Hair loss
- Weight loss
Deep-Penetrating Light Therapy Devices Available for Purchase
There are a multitude of deep-penetrating light therapy devices available for purchase on the market today. Here are just a few of our favorites.
Joovv Go 2.0
The Joovv Go 2.0 is a handheld device that features a unique alarm clock, allowing you to wake up with your light therapy session already in progress. This device is a miniature version of Joovv’s larger red light therapy system.
Luminance RED offers several handheld deep-penetrating light therapy devices to treat specific conditions like cold sores, canker sores, and genital herpes. Each device is designed to treat that specific ailment. Reviews state that the Luminance RED products decrease outbreak duration and reduce pain.
LightStim LED Bed
The LightStim LED Bed was the first red light therapy bed cleared by the FDA. This bed is over seven feet long, contains 18,240 individual LEDs, and is a preferred device among athletes. It’s a big investment, but it’s a popular choice for high-end customers and medical spa owners.
Before You Begin
Remember, you should always consult with your physician before beginning a new treatment regimen for any health concern. Don’t stop taking any prescribed medications without consulting with your prescribing physician, and be sure to research the deep-penetrating light therapy device you’re considering before purchase.