Light therapy is a clinical method to treat seasonal affective disorder (SAD) and certain other conditions through exposure to non-natural light. SAD is a kind of depression that occurs at a particular time of the year, usually in the fall or winter.
Light therapy is held to affect brain chemicals related to mood and sleep, alleviating the symptoms of SAD. It can also help with other types of depression, sleep disorders, and other conditions. Light therapy is also known as LED therapy or phototherapy.
Is Light Therapy a Scam?
Nowadays, light therapy gets so much hype that it brings some common questions (i.e. “is light therapy a scam? is it legit or just hype?). Many research found light therapy effective in the treatment of seasonal depression. It can relieve symptoms, increase your energy level, and help you feel better about yourself and our life.
Light therapy can begin to improve symptoms in just a few days. In some cases, however, it can take two weeks or more.
LED therapy for problems like wrinkles and acne stimulates dermatologists. Light therapy treatments are not aggressive, so you can see improvement without any downtime. In addition, the emergence of high-tech household appliances that are efficient makes the power of light accessible to all.
In fact, the LED light can soon become one of the most important components in your routine. In a doctor’s office, medical spa or at home, you can sit in front of an illuminated screen (think Lite-Brite for adults) for several minutes without pain, or put a light mask on your face.
Red Light Therapy for Muscle
Near-infrared red light helps promote antioxidants, which play a central role in dropping oxidative stress related to muscle fatigue. Antioxidants also intensify the creation of heat proteins, special proteins that help protect cells from stress, and early cell death. Platinum LED Biomax 450 is a proven device for red light therapy.
A 2014 trial tested red light therapy for muscle recovery in healthy young men after undergoing “damaging eccentric exercise.” The light therapy group showed a significant reduction in loss of muscle strength, less muscle pain, and fewer motion disorders, and this was demonstrated up to 4 days after the exercise.
Blue Light for Acne
Blue light damages Propionibacterium acnes, the bacteria on the skin’s surface that can cause pimples. Doctors often run blue light therapy in the office and combine it with topical acne products such as retinoids and oral antibiotics. “I don’t like keeping patients on oral antibiotics forever,” says Neal Schultz, M.D., a dermatologist in New York and a member of the Shape Brain Trust. “So if we don’t get results, I often stop them and switch to blue LED therapy.”
Purple Light for a Double Hit
The purple LED light is a blend of red and blue light for patients who want anti-aging and anti-acne treatment at the same time. Doctors can also use it on young patients with, particularly red and inflamed acne. Dr. Dennis Gross DRx SpectraLite FaceWare Pro is an FDA approved LED mask with red and blue light settings that can be used separately or together. Each treatment lasts three minutes.
Yellow Light for Mood
This is sometimes used to improve mood, especially during the winter, when people are at risk for seasonal affective disorder. “Yellow light is not strictly reserved for any particular treatment. It can help you feel better-off and less stressed, reducing cortisol levels, unfavorably known as the aging hormone,” says Dr. Marmur.
In the vast majority of instances, light therapy seems to be quite safe, in short term at least, says Dr. Buzney. The FDA has also given their approval to a few home use light therapy devices. LED devices for the skin are not too powerful, so it’s very unlikely to burn the skin. However, it is necessary to protect your eyes during the therapy. Neutrogena, a reputed light therapy brand, had to recall its acne light therapy mask back in July because of complaints that the device caused harm to users’ eyes. However, a lot more research is needed to understand the full impact of light therapy and the risks associated with it. “We are still not clear about the long term effects of light therapy,” says Dr. Marissa Heller, from Harvard Medical School.
Additionally, if you’re willing to treat a medical condition by using LED light therapy, don’t forget to consult a doctor. “It might be risky,” says Dr. Heller. ” Without a doctor’s advice, it is not possible for regular users to understand the full impact of such a therapy and long term impacts might not be very pleasant at all.”
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How to Get the Most Out of Light Therapy
Light therapy is not effective for everyone. But there are guidelines you can follow to make the most of your light therapy and help it succeed.
Get the right lightbox. Conduct your research and talk to your doctor before buying a phototherapy box. By doing so, you can be sure that your lightbox is safe, the right brightness, the right type of light, and that its style and features make it convenient to use.
Be consistent with following a daily routine of light therapy sessions to make sure you keep improving over time. If you can’t get light therapy every day, take a day or two off, but watch your mood and other symptoms; You may need to find a way to adjust to light therapy every day.
If you stop light therapy during the winter months or stop too early in the spring when it gets better, your symptoms may come back. Keep track of when light therapy begins in the fall and when it stops in the spring to find out when to start and end your light therapy the following year.
Go for another treatment. If you don’t see improvements in your symptoms enough with light therapy, you may need additional treatment. Consult your doctor about other available options, such as antidepressants or psychotherapy.