June 2014 archive

Red Light Therapy Is Not Infrared

By Shabath Mineral Wellness

Have you noticed since tanning beds were deemed unsafe by doctors, the FDA, and the media that now all the tanning salons are offering “Healthy Red Light Therapy”? People keep asking us if they are truly healthy, so I dug in to do some research. First let’s take a look at the light chart:
uv imageOk, here it is. As you can see, UV (solar rays that can cause skin damage over long periods) is on the left. Visible light is the rainbow colors in the center. This is what the human eye can actually see, Near Infrared, followed by Far Infrared. Beyond those to the right after Far Infrared, you again start to enter bad rays, like microwave. The numbers below are nm (nanometers); this is very specific, for example like a radio frequency. To further explain, think of it this way, if you want to listen to current Top 40 music you turn your radio to Mix 95, or 95.1 on the dial, a very specific radio frequency. Light is the same way. Red Light Therapy does exist and is very specific and offered via LED lights, which target a very specific nanometer of red for treating skin conditions, but mostly for stimulating collagen. For example, the nanometer needed for collagen stimulation should be closer to 700nm, and most tanning bed red bulbs are 633nm. Red colored tanning bed bulbs emit heat; LED lights do not emit heat. The true LED light therapy needs to have the lights very close to the skin for the skin and underlying collagen to react to the light. So lying on a tanning type bed would not accomplish this.
Many of these places are referring to this red light as infrared. That is not correct as infrared light is not seen by the human eye. Infrared is a completely different type of therapy. Infrared has also been approved by the FDA as a healing tool, and some inventors of specific infrared tools have even won Nobel Prizes for their inventions.
Most of these bed manufacturers I looked at have both types of bulbs in the same bed. Red painted bulbs for “health effects” and normal UV cancer causing right beside them. Sounds like a no brainer to me, but make your own choice.
I did find that, the FDA did approve of light therapy that NASA had utilized in space for healing wounds and treating pain and growing plants. Not that I will ever get an award for being the FDA’s #1 cheerleader or anything, but sometimes they actually do their job to protect us.
This science is actually not new. Niels Ryberg Finsen (1860–1904) developed a lamp based on electric carbon arcs (later known as the Finsen light) that was used for skin therapy a century ago. He became director of the Medical Light Institute in Copenhagen, later the Finsen Institute, where he developed this method of treatment. Within a few years, 40 Finsen Institutes were established in Europe and in the United States of America. In 1903, Finsen received the Nobel Prize in Medicine in recognition of his work on the treatment of diseases and, in particular, the treatment of lupus vulgaris by means of concentrated light rays. In 2002 the FDA approved Blue Light Therapy for skin conditions including acne. Once again, make sure you know who you are going to, as blue lights are not created equal as well. A very specific nanometer of blue LED light can kill surface bacteria.
One other thing to check is this: ask wherever you go if the bulbs they use comply with Directive 2002/95/EC, this directive requires the manufacturer to either remove all or severely reduce levels of LEAD, Mercury, Cadmium, Hexavalent Chromium(remember Erin Brockovich?), PBB, and PDBE. This is not exactly stuff I would want to sit on or around!
So, in summary Red Light Therapy does exist and is beneficial. Just make sure you have someone who is properly trained, knowledgeable and doesn’t have red painted bulbs claiming to be infrared!