Discover the new paradigm in weight loss & sculpting your body – BioSculpt®.
Photobiomodulation therapy is defined as a form of light therapy that utilizes non-ionizing light sources, including lasers, light emitting diodes, and/or broadband light, in the visible (400 – 700 nm) and near-infrared (700 – 1100 nm) electromagnetic spectrum.
Photobiomodulation for Weight Loss
It’s true that PBM can destroy fat directly. It’s a technique called laser lipolysis. Low level laser light can penetrate the skin and reduce the stability of fat cell membranes without affecting skin, muscle, or nerve tissue. The fat cells then release their lipids, which are carried away by the lymphatic system. Taking lipids out of fat cells makes them smaller, reducing the amount of fat. Plastic surgeons use laser lipolysis on targeted fat deposits. Results begin to appear about six weeks after treatment and become apparent at three months. The process is considered quite safe. It requires no downtime for the subject, and there are no reported side effects beyond occasional tenderness, redness, or swelling.
Spot Fat Reduction
A 2011 paper in the journal Obesity Surgery titled “Efficacy of Low-Level Laser Therapy for Body Contouring and Spot Fat Reduction” found that patients who got PBM twice a week for four weeks lost an average of 0.84 inches of waist girth. That doesn’t sound like much, but the researchers found it was enough to be apparent in anonymous photos shown to observers.
Whole-body PBM, such as we offer at Kingdom, is not a method of fat removal, but if you eat well and exercise regularly, I think it could help you to manage stubborn excess weight. Perhaps more important than helping you manage weight, however, PBM may also protect you from the harmful effects that often accompany excess weight. Yes, there are people who are both obese and healthy, but there are probably far more who are obese and at serious risk.
PBM Stops Chronic Inflammation
The association of obesity and chronic inflammation is fairly well documented. The conventional view is that the low-fiber diet and inactivity that often lead to obesity also contribute to chronic inflammation, which in turn leads to metabolic syndrome and ultimately the insulin resistance of type two diabetes. This chronic inflammation is also associated with increased cancer risk and even Alzheimer’s. PBM reduces inflammation by preventing the oxidative stress that causes it. I discussed the experiment that proved PBM stops oxidative stress in a 2018 blog post.
The bottom line, then, is that PBM drains fat cells, which helps with weight management. And even while you’re waiting the six weeks to three months for the fat reduction, it helps to protect you from the worst effects of excess weight by preventing oxidative stress and its resulting chronic inflammation.
Reduced Insulin Resistance
Red light potentially helps you lose weight by regulating thyroid function, increasing cellular metabolism, speeding up post-workout recovery, and more!
Red light therapy combined with exercise has proved to reduce insulin resistance and body fat. This was revealed during a study by researchers from Brazil, which involved 64 obese women.
The women participated in a 20-week program that combined exercise (three weekly aerobic and weight training sessions) with red light therapy. The researchers measured insulin as well as fat loss, and found that adding red light therapy to an exercise regimen reduced insulin resistance and reduced fat mass by 5.6%.
Other Benefits of Red Light Therapy:
Studies have found that some of the ways red light wavelengths work to improve overall health include:
- Increasing energy levels by promoting release of ATP (adenosine triphosphate) from cells’ mitochondria
- Stimulating DNA/RNA synthesis
- Activating the lymphatic system, an important part of our immune system that helps carry waste out of the body
- Increasing blood flow/circulation, thereby helping bring more oxygen and nutrients to our cells and tissues
- Forming new capillaries (small blood vessels)
- Improving natural production of collagen and fibroblasts, important for skin care and joint and digestive health
- Repairing and restoring damaged soft connective tissue
- Stimulating or decreasing inflammation, which helps control our natural healing capabilities
- Lowering effects of oxidative stress/free radical damage, which is associated with many effects of aging
Here’s more about the major red light therapy benefits backed up by scientific studies:
1. Increased Immunity and Reduced Side Effects of Cancer Treatments
Research done by NASA has shown that red light technology can successfully reduce symptoms experienced by cancer patients, including painful side effects caused from radiation or chemotherapy.
Using far red/near-infrared light-emitting diode devices (called HEALS in some studies) has been shown to release long wavelength energy in the form of photons that stimulate cells to aid in healing.
NASA tested whether this treatment could benefit patients with oral mucositis, a very common and painful side effect of chemotherapy and radiation. They concluded that 96 percent of patients experienced improvement in pain as a result of the HEALS treatment.
Researchers stated, “The HEALS device was well tolerated with no adverse affects to bone marrow and stem cell transplant patients….The HEALS device can provide a cost-effective therapy since the device itself is less expensive than one day at the hospital.”
Similar HEALS technology is also now being utilized for the treatment of pediatric brain tumors, slow-healing wounds or infections, diabetic skin ulcers, and serious burns.
2. Wound Healing and Tissue Repair
Light in the spectral range of 600 to 1,300 nanometers has been found to be useful for promoting wound healing, tissue repair and skin rejuvenation, although it does this through a different mechanism of action compared to many other laser resurfacing treatments.
Most laser therapies used in dermatology offices use intense pulsed light to promote skin rejuvenation by inducing secondary tissue repair. In other words, they cause intentional damage to either the epidermis or the dermis of the skin in order to trigger inflammation, followed by healing.
RLT actually bypasses this initial destructive step and instead directly stimulates regenerative processes in the skin through increased cellular proliferation, migration and adhesion.
It may also help treat skin conditions through regeneration of fibroblasts, keratinocytes and modulation of immune cells (including mast cells, neutrophils and macrophages) all found within skin tissue.
3. Anti-Aging Effects for Skin and Hair Loss
One use of red light laser therapy that’s growing in popularity is treating skin conditions and reversing signs of aging on the skin (i.e, wrinkles and fine lines).
Results from a 2014 study published in Photomedicine and Laser Surgerydemonstrated both efficacy and safety for red light therapy in promoting anti-aging skin rejuvenation and intradermal collagen increase when compared against controls. Researchers concluded that red infrared therapy “provides a safe, non-ablative, non-thermal, atraumatic photobiomodulation treatment of skin tissue with high patient satisfaction rates.”
Subjects treated with RLT experienced significantly improved skin complexion, improved skin tone, improved texture/feeling, reduced skin roughness, reduced signs of wrinkles and fine lines, and increased collagen density as measured through ultrasonographic tests. Patients with rosacea and redness have also found relief using PBM for skin care, even those who are unable to tolerate higher-heat laser therapies.
Yet another anti-aging effect of red light therapy is reversing hair loss and stimulating follicle hair growth, which works in many of the same ways as red light therapy for wound healing. Results regarding hair growth have been mixed according to studies, but at least a moderate portion of both male and female patients have had positive results for reversing baldness/hair loss when using PBM.
4. Improved Joint and Musculoskeletal Health
RLT is now being used to treat arthritis symptoms thanks to its capability of stimulating collagen production and rebuilding cartilage.
A 2009 Cochrane review of red light therapy for rheumatoid arthritisconcluded that “LLLT could be considered for short-term treatment for relief of pain and morning stiffness for RA patients, particularly since it has few side-effects.”
Even in those who don’t suffer from arthritis but have other signs of tissue damage or degeneration due to aging, LLLT can still be beneficial. A 2009 study published in The Lancet showed, “LLLT reduces pain immediately after treatment in acute neck pain and up to 22 weeks after completion of treatment in patients with chronic neck pain.”
Other studies have found that even when patients with musculoskeletal disorders don’t experience less pain from red light therapy treatments, they have a high chance of experiencing “significantly improved functional outcomes,” such as better range of motion.
Cellular rejuvenation and increased blood flow due to red light therapy are two key aspects of improving joint and tissue health. Decreasing oxidative damage, which degenerates joints, and modulating inflammation are other ways that LLLT benefits soft/connective tissue.
5. Improvement in Sleep Quality
The human body requires exposure to natural light that is only found outdoors in order to regulate various biological systems. When we spend all day indoors and hardly “see the light of day,” our cellular energy systems and circadian rhythms suffer, leading to issues like poor sleep, fatigue, mood-related issues and weight gain.
If you can’t get outside more, RLT is a simple way to expose your body to more natural light. This can help reset your “circadian clock” and aid in the release of melatonin needed for healthy sleep.
6. Reduced Depression and Fatigue
Another way to explain the benefits of red light is through the lens of Eastern medicine. Ask a Traditional Chinese Medicine practitioner how light helps improve health, immunity and recovery, and he or she will likely compare it to acupuncture’s mechanism of action:
- Light is a form of energy, and our bodies are just big energy systems.
- Light has the power to stimulate specific meridian points and chakra zones in the human body.
- Red is said to stimulate the first chakra because it correlates most strongly with our survival instinct (hence why it gives us energy and makes us act quickly, in order to motivate us to pursue things like money, food, sex, power, etc.).
- Red light therapy research suggests that this type of light can naturally be energizing and correlated with improved moods by increasing self-confidence, positivity, passion, joyfulness, laughter, social awareness, conversation skills and sensory stimulation.