Updated: Oct 9, 2018
The positive influence of light on our health can’t be denied. Everyone feels better after some time in the sun, soaking up the light rays. Light is energy, and it fuels us at a cellular level, by enhancing cellular hydration and mitochondrial function. Our physiology is designed to absorb light to create energy, influence hormones, blood sugar, biological rhythms and more. Red and infrared light streams are particularly well researched for their healing benefits, and light therapy is a rapidly growing field in beauty, anti-aging, recovery, rehab, and biohacking circles.
Red LED light was something we were very keen to explore, after hearing and reading into the copious research and benefits. After much deliberation and research, we recently purchased 2 red LED and near infrared lights from Gembared, and a Joovv original. After 6 months of use, we are thrilled with our purchase and have been using it daily as a health boosting light source (rather than standard indoor lighting), for fast recovery (DOMS be gone), better sleep, relaxation, improved energy, and as a nifty, healing winter heater!
Balance The Blue Light
In our daily life, many of us are subject to abnormal amounts of blue light from artificial lights, screens and various devices, all of which our brain recognises as noon daylight. While blue light has its place, and is helpful in letting us see during darkness, too much of it, and especially at the wrong time of day has catastrophic impacts on our health. Blue light causes circadian disruption, compromising hormones, deteriorating eye health, increasing fat gain and insulin resistance, accelerating aging and oxidative stress, and of course ruining sleep.
Many people are turning towards apps, shields, or settings that block blue light on screens, or wearing blue blocking glasses. Supplementing our light exposure is another way to mitigate the damage that blue light causes, by providing exposure to the natural wavelengths that many of us are missing unless we actively chase the morning sun. Supplementing with light is nothing new. It’s well known (and proven!) that conditions like Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), psoriasis, or depression are improved with tanning beds, sun lamps or bright lights that mimic sunlight exposure.
Sunlight is nourishing to our body in many vital ways. We make vitamin D by exposing our skin to sunlight, and sunlight exposure can help increase nitric oxide levels which decreases blood pressure! Sunlight regulates our suprachiasmatic nucleolus (SCM) which is our biological pacemaker, which controls many other body clocks like you core temperature, blood pressure, cognition, hormones, alertness, hunger, metabolism, sociability, healing processed, sleep etc. You can read more here all about how important circadian rhythms are.
Photobiomodulation - How Does It Work?
'Photobiomodulation (PBM) describes the use of red or near-infrared light to stimulate, heal, regenerate, and protect tissue that has either been injured, is degenerating, or else is at risk of dying.'
PBM or “low level laser therapy” began in the 1960s, and was clinically applied for pain relief, wound healing, and reducing inflammation inflammation. PBM works because light is absorbed into your body, and converted into cellular energy, primarily affecting the water and mitochondria in our cells, enhancing the production of cellular energy adenosine triphosphate or ATP.
‘Mitochondria are meant to experience red light all day, with less blue light at the start and end of the day.’ - Dave Asprey, Headstrong
Mitochondria are the powerhouses within our cells, creating all our energy. Healthy and abundant mitochondria in our cells equates to health, conversely malfunctioning mitochondria are at the root of many disease processes. Anything that increases mitochondrial function is worth looking at, and red and infrared light streams do just that! Water expert Dr Gerald Pollack has shown that exposure to infrared light helps us create EZ water, or 'bound water' in our cells, which supports mitochondrial function. Our body is 70% water, and the more of that water that is bound, the better hydrated our cells are, giving them enhanced communication with neighboring cells, and superior ability to produce energy. Bound water is also important for fascial health, it maintains space between collagen fibers, preventing stiffness, pain and dehydrated, injury prone connective tissue. Read more about EZ water here.
The majority of the suns wavelengths, are absorbed quickly via our skin and felt as warmth. Certain wavelengths have a narrower band, and can penetrate the skin more deeply and effectively. Most Photobiomudulation devices are made from LEDs because they have a tight wavelength span, creating more useable light.
The most common light waves used for healing are infrared (near, mid and far infrared) and visible light. Some of the most studied wavelengths are red wavelengths between 610nm - 650nm, deep red wavelengths 640nm - 680nm, and near infrared light rays between 830nm - 880nm. Infrared saunas typically use the other infrared waves mid, and far (some include all.) It’s great to get all types of infrared and red light for a range of benefits.
Red & Near Infrared Light Benefits
Better sleep and increased melatonin production (red light doesn't block melatonin production like blue light)
How To Use
Some stronger devices are designed to be used for only a few minutes a day, other devices are weaker and can be used for longer periods. PBM devices should be used on bare skin for maximal absorption of light. The best times of day to use them are in the morning, or at night.
Each device tends to have specific guidelines as to the distance away from the unit for specific benefits. In general, the closer to the skin the better the application for muscle recovery, cellular health, pain etc, and further out is better for skin health, hormone and circadian optimisation.
We use our Gembared’s as a light source at night to avoid artificial junk light, or to supplement with healthy light while working under artificial lights, or at a computer. We also use the device directly on our skin on easily accessed areas light the front and back of legs, stomach and back. We have been known to fall asleep with the device turned on, because the therapeutic light is so relaxing, creating a low heat like a toasty warm fireplace.
Where to buy
There are many brands making photobiomodulation devices for personal use. Joovv is one of the more premium, expensive brands. It's a great product but the additional Australia import tax, and currency conversion takes this one out of the affordable range for most people. Joovv is great for it's higher power and known dose effect, so it's great for those who are time poor and want to use the unit for 10-15minutes. We selected the Gembared brand due to it's affordability, great build, and low EMF rating. We were able to buy 2 units for far less than the price of most others on the market. We would recommend the GembaRed as it's portable, affordable and effective. It's priced at $299 US, and comes with hooks to hang it if you choose. It's light and easy to transport from room to room, and also durable enough that you can lay on it.
We highly recommend trying out Light therapy. If you can't afford your own, many beauty and wellness clinics have elaborate set ups to try out. For use on a daily basis however, check out some of the personal devices like Gembared. We'll eventually have a set up in our studio space (along with our infrared sauna) to add into our rehab and structural integration work, and for night time lighting, so stay tuned!