I get this question almost every day. Since I am not a doctor, answering it is pretty tricky. I can’t give you anything near “medical advice.” Ultimately, it will be up to you to decide if you should use red or near infrared light therapy for your condition or not. However, I can help you figure it out.
Here’s some things to consider:
Is it FDA Approved for Your Condition Already?
As of this writing, red and near infrared light therapy has still only been FDA approved for a handful of things including wrinkles, hair loss, acne and muscle pain relief. That’s a short list, and maybe your condition is not on it. Don’t be discouraged – there is another short list to look at next.
Is Your Condition Contraindicated?
Red and near infrared light therapy, after many years now of research and practical use, still has a very short list of contraindications. That means, the list of things you should NOT use red light therapy for is short. In fact, it’s shorter now than it was years ago.
Further, most of the things on it are there, not because any risk has been shown, but as an effort to avoid any possibility of risk. (Read: lawsuit.)
If your condition is not contraindicated, then try to find out if any research has been done on red light therapy and your specific condition. Here’s how.
Is There Any Research Out There?
Red and near infrared light therapy is in the research stages for a long list of conditions. To see if any research has been done on your condition, do an internet search for “LLLT [your condition]” or “photobiomodulation [your condition]”.
Why use those terms instead of “red light therapy”? Those are the two top terms that doctors and researchers use for what we call “red light therapy.” So that is where the research is found.
If you do the search in Google, you’ll turn up not just published research but other articles or mentions of it as well. If you want only published research, do your search at PubMed.
How to Read the Research You Find
Research can be a challenge to read, because the researchers are writing for each other, not for us. So you will have to just try to pick out a few key things:
- are they using red or near infrared light? This will be wavelengths between 620 nm and about 1100 nm. (This is how you know which light you need – red, near infrared, or a combination of both.)
- if your condition is not mentioned specifically, is the underlying cause mentioned? (Example: inflammation.)
- Were the results good?
- Were there any negative outcomes?
After you poke around online for awhile with these things in mind, you should be able to tell if red and or near infrared light therapy can be used for your condition.
Question: The research I found uses lasers. Does it have to be a laser, or will LEDs work?
Answer: Red light and near infrared light therapy is a science called photobiomodulation. It is the color or wavelength of the light that does the job, not the device type. Especially for healing and rejuvenation, equal results can be achieved with laser or LED light of similar wavelength. More info here.
If You Go “Off Label”
All kinds of products are used “off label” all the time. That means, used without FDA approval, just because they happen to work. Thankfully, that’s still our choice.
If that’s what you decide to do, choose a product with a good return policy so you’ll get your money back if it doesn’t happen to work for you. Beware of hidden fees like return shipping or restocking fees.
I hope this helps! If not, let me know, and I’ll see what I can turn up. Just please understand, unless it’s already FDA approved, I can’t say, “Yes, you can use it for that.”