An Explanatory Guide To Light Therapy by Dr. Prem – Benefits, Types, Side-effects, Precautions, At-Home Devices etc

An Explanatory Guide To Light Therapy by Dr. Prem

Light has immense healing power. This interesting and beneficial use of light has been around since ancient times and since then has developed to improve and manage many health problems. Right from physical pain, skin conditions, to psychological health, light therapy is backed up by many research and studies that show its effectiveness.  Light therapy is finding a place not only in clinical settings but also in homes, wellness resorts, and spas. This guide narrates how it works, its precautions, risk, at-home devices, and a lot more in detail.

This Light Therapy Guide Contains the Following:

An Explanatory Guide To Light Therapy by Dr. Prem – Benefits, Types, Side-effects, Precautions, At-Home Devices etc 

What is Light Therapy?

Light therapy, also known as heliotherapyLight therapy, also known as heliotherapy, is the therapy that treats various ailments through exposure to artificial light. The exposure is made withthe lights of different wavelengths using various forms of light like LEDs, full spectrum light, photo chromatic polarized light, lasers, bright lamps, and many more.

This treatment effectively treats various medical ailments like eczema, skin diseases, acne, and neonatal jaundice.Its major benefits have been seen in treating people suffering from SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It has been beneficial for treating depression and can be an effective complementary treatment for other psychological issues as well.

Invention of Light Therapy

HeliotherapyLight therapy dates long back in history. Heliotherapy (natural sunlight therapy) was practiced by many ancient cultures including ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome. The early Germanic, Inca, and Assyrian people were known to worship the sun for health benefits. In fact, Indian medical literature that dates back to 1500 BCE used natural sunlight combined with herbs for treating non-pigmented skin areas.

fungal infection of footNeils Finsen developed the very first source of artificial light (phototherapy). He is known as the father of modern phototherapy. Finsen was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in the year 1903. The use of light therapy was not just recognized for improving emotional well-being but also for its therapeutical effects on conditions like fungal infections, psoriasis, eczema, rickets, vitiligo, sleep disorders, lupus, etc.

The practice of light therapy has been developed with much greater caution and used for various treatments. It has also been found to accelerate 50 times faster recovery fromsports-related injuries as well. With the abundance of proven data that shows the effectiveness of red light, blue light, and infrared light, the first light therapy device was developed in the year 2001, which combined the benefits of these lights through the use of LEDs in a highly efficient and compact modality.

What are the Different Types of Light Therapy?

Light Therapy lamp

There are different types of light therapy that use light in the visible spectrum and each has different effects. These are three types of light therapy:

1. Red and Near-Infrared Light therapy

Red and Near-Infrared (NIR) Light therapy comes in different forms like red light LED beds, panels, and laser therapy devices that are used for a targeted approach. This type of light therapy uses red and near-infrared light of 635nm to 940nm wavelengths.

This light penetrates through the skin and provides a phototherapeutic effect in the tissues. Red and near-infrared light therapy also known as “Photobiomodulation” is helpful in increasing energy production and transport by affecting the body at the cellular level. It has very less side effects and is a painless treatment.

Red and Near-Infrared Light can be used for:

  • Reducing swelling caused due to harmful oxidative stress
  • Increasing collagen production and leads to faster wound healing and prevents scar formation
  • Treating musculoskeletal disorders
  • Treating acute or chronic muscle and joint pain

2. Blue Light –

woman undergoing light therapyThe Blue light does not penetrate your skin but has profound effects on it. It is known to be helpful for treating skin conditions like sun damage, and acne, and also in prevention of skin cancer.

However, its effectiveness comes with certain side effects like swelling and redness. Some dermatologists may combine blue and red light, in order to reduce the pain and intensity of these side effects.

Blue Light can be used for:

  • Reducing acne. As certain blue light wavelengths have been found to be effective in killing bacteria and treating propionibacterium acnes. This treatment is best done at dermatologist clinics.
  • Killing cancer cells and removing skin cancer lesions. Blue light combined with the topical photosynthesizing drug reacts with oxygen and kills cancer cells when exposed to it.

3. Green Light –

Greenlight is known to provide calmness as it is associated with nature. The calming effects are profound as experienced by many. However, the technology and development of green light are still being studied by researchers.

Potential benefits from the use of green light are:

  • Reducing migraine. Exposure to green light can reduce the intensity and frequency of migraine pain. However, some may experience immediate results and some may require a longer time.
  • A device that researchers have tested for this use is a thin lamp with a green LED strip. Although the green light is still under testing, it has shown that patients using the green light may require medications but at a comparatively lower dosage.

NOTE – Light therapy can involve the use of other lights. It caninvolve different combinations of light for treating more health concerns. It is best to consult a medical professional before opting for light therapy to know if it is the best treatment for you.

What are the Various Techniques of Light Therapy?

beautiful lady receiving Light Therapy

Light Boxes

These clinically pre-tested boxes produce the hormone melatonin, which is a sleep regulator. The box provides 10,000 LUX of illumination at a distance that allows a comfortable sitting experience. These are fluorescent lamps with diffused screens, which filter out harmful ultraviolet radiations. The light through these boxes is projected towards the eyes following the treatment procedure.

Photodynamic therapy

This is a very important form of light therapy. This phototherapy uses non-toxic compounds, which are effectively exposed to the right kind of light that treats malignant and other diseased cells.

What are the Benefits of Light Therapy?

Daughter supporting her terminally ill mother lying on hospital bed, hospice

Light therapy is the best solution when it comes to treating SAD i.e. seasonal affective disorder. Seasonal Affective disorder is a type of disorder where the patient enters into depression at a certain time each year, mostly in the winter.Light therapy is recommended for patients suffering from SAD, due to reduced exposure to sunlight in the fall, winter, or spring.

A SAD patient is made to sit in front of a specialized light box for about 30 minutes daily. Light therapy affects all the brain chemicals that are known to lift the mood and thus eases seasonal affective disorder.Light treatment is a great measure when it comes down to treating other forms of depression, sleep disorders, and many more.

It is an antidepressant medication that effectively treats insomnia, eating disorders, and jet lag. Light therapy is also being considered in treating ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), dementia, migraine, Parkinson’s disease, and PMS (Premenstrual syndrome) as well.

Apart from its beneficial effects, light therapy is beneficial because:

beneficial effects, light

  • It’s Non-Invasive – It provides an alternative treatment or add-on to your medical interventions for better results, but is not used or taken internally.
  • It’s Convenient – A light therapy lamp can be used even while you are reading or eating at home. You can also stop the therapy for a few days without worrying about returning of the symptoms or causing adverse effects.
  • It’s Accessible – You can rent or purchase light boxes and take light therapy from the comfort of your home.
  • It’s Safe – It may have some side effects, especially if the lamp is used incorrectly. However, the therapy is generally a low-risk and safe treatment.
  • Few or Milder Side-effects – Most of the light therapy side effects such as dizziness, headache, or nausea can be prevented by adjusting the use of the light lamp.

How Does Light Therapy for Depression Work?

Feeling helpless. Unhappy sad pleasant man lying on the sofa and putting his face in the cushion while crying

Light therapy is primarily used for treating MDD (Major Depressive Disorder) formerly known as SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder). It is one type of depression that generally occurs only during a certain time every year,usually in winter. It can also help in treating other types of depression and psychological problems.

The effectiveness of Light therapy for depression has been backed up by many research studies and some of the reasons why it works are mentioned below:

  • Light therapy balances serotonin hormones in your brain. This hormone is known as the “feel-good hormone”. Thereby, this therapy causes improvement in mood regulations and helps reduce depression symptoms.
  • People suffering from depression can find it difficult to have healthy sleep patterns. Light therapy is known to improve your sleep and build a stable and consistent sleep pattern, which is an important part of managing depression.
  • Light therapy with its regular and correct use also increases focus and alertness. This can positively help in managing depression as well.
  • This therapy works on your biological clock, which means it aligns the 24-hour cycle of your brain, also known as the “Circadian rhythms”. This cycle refers to the essential functions of your body that happens in the 24 hours and affects your eating habits, sleep schedules, and hormones. Thereby, it is necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle for achieving the best possible results from light therapy.

Remember, the extent of effectiveness of light therapy for every individual depends on the duration of use, light wavelength, correct usage, and their personal circadian rhythm patterns. Consult your therapist for understanding its necessary guidelines and safety precautions for best results.

What Did NASA Discover About Light Therapy?

NASA Discover About Light Therapy

In the year 2011, NASA reported that Light Technology successfully reduced the pain and side effects in Cancer patients that were caused by radiation and chemotherapy. These results were found from two-year clinical trials and research done on the use of Red light and Near Infrared light through Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

This research performed by NASA on the healing effects of light showed very positive results. Since then, various light spectrums are used as effective drug-free alternatives for many health treatments.

How does Light Therapy for Cancer Work?

Bald male patient with cancer talking with mature doctor

The near-infrared photoimmunotherapy or NIR-PIT uses an antibody-drug ‘photo absorber conjugate’ (APC). When near-infrared light is applied, this antibody binds with the cancer cells. The cells begin to swell and ultimately bursts resulting in the rapid death of cancerous cells without harming the healthy cells.

The development of these antibody conjugates open ups the potential possibility of treating various types of cancers. Light therapy for cancer can be consideredeffectivethat also reducesthe pain and other treatment side-effects.

What are the Side-effects of Light Therapy?

The man is sitting on a gray couch and holding his belly

Light therapy has numerous positives, but it is equally important to study the other side. There are certain side effects that light therapy may trigger. These are:

  • Nausea
  • Eyestrain
  • Irritability
  • Hyperactivity
  • Headaches
  • Euphoria

Who Should Avoid Light Therapy?

Doctor shines laser into patient eye. Vision problem and diagnosis concept

People with highly sensitive skin should avoid light therapy. People with lupus should also have the consent of a physician before they undertake light therapy. Patients having a history of skin cancer are also not given light therapy as a medication. If you have eye sensitivity, it is better to avoid light therapy procedures because it can worsen the eye conditions of retinal detachments, cataracts, retinopathy, and glaucoma.

Some ophthalmologists also believe that the blue light used in the light treatment can damage the retina and is also known to increase the risk of age-related macular degeneration, a dangerous disorder that causes blindness over the age of 55. It is also not recommended for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, suffering from liver disease, lupus, or diabetes, or those who have a family history of skin cancer, etc.

Thus, it is mandatory to have a detailed discussion and to possess consent from the physician before anyone undertakes the treatment through light therapy.

How to Use Light Therapy Devices at Home?

uv-lampThere are several at-home light therapy devices that can be used at your convenience. Right from Masks to Wands and Hand-held light therapy devices there are several devices for at-home light therapy. Instructions for the use of these devices vary from product to product. Whichever device you choose, it is mandatory to follow the instructions given along the product for its safe and effective use.

For example, LED masks are supposed to be worn on your face every day for a few minutes and hand-held devices are supposed to be used for 10 minutes each day and should be held at least 6 to 12 inches from your face. The use can be tailored and adjusted as per the requirement and tolerance of a person.

Therefore, it is advised to get a recommendation from your doctor about the intensity of light and how far to sit from the device, etc before starting its use.

What to Know Before Buying At-Home Light Therapy Devices?

FDA-approvedIf you are thinking of buying at-home light therapy devices, there are a couple of things you must know before getting one. Make sure the at-home device or mask is marked as “FDA-approved” or “FDA-cleared”. Another thing that you need to be sure of is you have the right equipment for it, like goggles or sunglasses for proper eye protection during the therapy. Consult your doctor and ensure that are using the device correctly along with the required safety equipment.

What are Wearable Light Therapy Devices?

Light Therapy Devices

Innovative thinking has added newer dimensions the light therapy. These wearable devices emit low energy levels, close to the eye in order to suppress melatonin. These wearable technologies have become popular due to the increased convenience this offer.

Thus, it is right to say that light therapy is an effective measure when it comes to treating various ailments, and when combined with technology and innovation its results are incredible and unbeatable in all regards.

Some of the wearable light therapy devices are:

  • Re-timer
  • Visor
  • Luminette
  • Luminous Fabric
  • Sula Glasses
  • Belt Devices for pain
  • Pocket Sky
  • Masks

What Precautions to Take After Light Therapy?

Beautiful young woman applying suntan lotion on the beach.Patients undergoing light therapy procedures can easily go back to their routine activities. The only precaution that they need to take is to avoid exposure to the sun and heat. It is advised to avoid going under the sun for at least 48 hours after the treatment and must apply a good amount of sunscreen if at all required to step out in sun. Also, wearing sunglasses or goggles under the sun is recommended for the protection of your eyes.


Light therapy is a medical treatment that is practiced to treat seasonal affective disorder and other forms of depression, insomnia, jet lag, Parkinson’s disease, ADHD, and many other skin and health issues. However, every light is required to be used at different intensities and under necessary safety measures. Therefore, it is essential to consult your medical professional before opting for light therapy for safety and best results.

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