Red light therapy is a controversial form of treatment that still needs a lot of research before we can make definitive claims about its effectiveness. The evidence does show potential, which has sparked a lot of interest. Plus, there’s a low risk of side effects, so more and more people are seeking it out. Some go to professionals, but others opt for portable, at-home devices like FlexBeam (https://longevity.technology/lifestyle/flexbeam-red-light-therapy-review-say-goodbye-to-pain/).
Also called low-level light therapy, photobiomodulation or cold laser therapy, red light therapy uses red light, the longest wavelength available. Light rays come in various wavelengths, with some being harmless and others, like UV, potentially damaging. Red light generally isn’t harmful. It passes easily through the skin in a non-invasive, non-toxic way. There, the idea is that it can be used to charge up the mitochondria, giving them energy to work more effectively at tasks like cell repair and growth, stimulating collagen production, increasing blood circulation and reducing inflammation.
The first investigations into red light therapy actually began with NASA, who were trying to grow plants in space. Since then, studies have explored red light therapy as a treatment for various skin conditions (including psoriasis, acne, stretch marks, wrinkles and sun damage), wound healing, alopecia (hair loss) and pain and stiffness (particularly that of rheumatic arthritis), as well as a way to possibly alleviate side effects from cancer treatment.
There is not extensive evidence supporting red light therapy. The studies that have been conducted are small and don’t all meet the highest research standards. When conducted properly, however, it does have a low risk of side effects, especially compared to other types of skin treatment. Important safety measures include not overdoing your exposure and avoiding aiming the light too close to your eyes.
One way to ensure red light therapy is used properly is by visiting a trained professional who can supervise you. Another option is a device like the FlexBeam, which uses a lower-powered beam. It’s not clear how this might reduce effectiveness, but it does mean less risk.
FlexBeam is practical and easy to use, and it can wrap around awkwardly-shaped body parts like your shoulder or knee joints. Charge it up and take it with you anywhere, and as long as you follow the basic safety instructions, you may experience some or all of the potential benefits of red light therapy.