Can Red Light Therapy Boost Your Immune System?

Red Light Therapy Immune System Featured Image

The presence of COVID-19 has affected many things in this era. It has taken not just the lives of many people worldwide but also changed the way we live. Our immune system is the only strongest defense we have right now to combat this pandemic. It’s a biological structure of cells, glands, and organs that defend our bodies. Fortunately, red light therapy boosts the immune system. 

The question is, how? We’ll dive deeper into that.

What is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy (RLT) is a safe, non-invasive, painless, and affordable regimen that works by emitting wavelengths of light that penetrate deep enough into our skin to cause systemic changes. These changes bring health advantages that are supported by studies and clinical trials. 

Red light therapy stimulates the mitochondria and improves cellular function. With this, you’ll expect higher production of energy. RLT promotes cellular repair and stimulates regeneration.

Many clinical trials have proven the health benefits of red light therapy, including its impact on improving our immune function. It’s a concept that we need to explore to be more aware of what’s happening inside our bodies and what we can do to protect ourselves without relying on conventional treatment that may have side effects. 

A more detailed introduction on red light therapy can be found here in our blog.

How Does the Immune System Work?

The immune system is composed of cells, glands, and organs with specific functions. Its primary function is to protect and defend the body from bacterial or viral infections. Your immune system can identify foreign cells and harmful pathogens, killing them before they invade your system.

Your immune system starts with your WBCs or white blood cells. These white blood cells, also known as leukocytes, attack and eliminate hostile foreign pathogens in the body. 

The types of these white blood cells include your NK cells, B cells, T cells, neutrophils, and macrophages. They all have specific roles to play in eliminating harmful pathogens.

Your NK cells are responsible for targeting tumor cells and viruses by inserting a protein into them. This process will eliminate them. Meanwhile, B cells create antibodies that bind to antigens, and T cells are functioned to destroy damaged cells. Your neutrophils will engulf the remains of your pathogens, and your macrophages will attack cancer cells, foreign pathogens, and infectious microbes. 

When these WBCs work together, you already have a strong immune system that will prevent your body from being invaded by any harmful internal threat. These things won’t be possible without the help of your lymphatic system, spleen, and thymus too. 

Overall, your immune system won’t function properly if there’s a disruption in the cellular level. Therefore, improved cellular function boosts your immune system.

How Red Light Therapy Boosts the Immune System

Since our immune system is the most vital self-defense that we have right now amid this pandemic, it’s essential to know how red light therapy boosts its function.

RLT boosts the immune system in a series of events. The process starts with specific wavelengths of light being emitted by a red light therapy device. Once an area of your body to these particular wavelengths, they will penetrate deep enough into your skin to stimulate your mitochondria.

The stimulation of your mitochondria will lead to higher energy production and will trigger the production of ATP or adenosine triphosphate. With improved ATP production, your cells will be able to replicate, rejuvenate, and regenerate faster [1]. 

This chain of chemical reactions will eventually lead to many therapeutic benefits. These benefits include stimulation of the lymphatic system, decreased pain, increased melatonin, and reduction of cell apoptosis [2]. 

A 2012 study suggested that red light treatments target immune cells, lymphatic vessels and nodes, the bone marrow, and spleen [3]. 

Other Red Light Therapy Health Benefits

The number of health benefits you can get from red light therapy is growing over time. Its popularity is increasing as many clinical trials have proven how effective and reliable this particular regimen is. 

See the list of its health benefits below.

  • Mood stabilization – Red light therapy has been proven to stabilize mood in people who are experiencing depression and anxiety, including stress. This claim is backed by a study in 2009 which revealed improvements in the respondents’ psychological status [4]. 
  • Wound healing – A study suggested that a wavelength of 633nm red light therapy could hasten wound healing in people with diabetic foot ulcers [5]. 
  • Better sleep – Boosting your immune system requires you to have at least 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep. RLT promotes quality sleep by stimulating an increase in melatonin production [6].
  • Production of stem cells – Stem cells play a crucial role in your immune response, and RLT has proven to activate the production of these cells [7].
  • Lowers inflammation – Inflammation is our body’s biological response to outside invaders and is the leading cause of many autoimmune diseases. RLT has proven its effectiveness in reducing inflammation and alleviating pain [8].
  • Improvement of thyroid function – Our thyroid gland produces hormones that are responsible for the regulation of our body’s metabolism. A study revealed that RLT could improve thyroid function as evidenced by the respondents experiencing a decreased need for LT4, a reduction in TPOAb levels, and an increase in parenchymal echogenicity [9].

Summary

Your immune system acts like a warrior that prevents and limits the occurrence of infections in your body. It’s composed of other cells, glands, organs, and chemicals responsible for keeping harmful invaders where they belong. 

The cellular activities of the immune system can be improved through red light therapy. Many people are seeking more of it not just because of its ability to boost the immune system, but also because of its effects on one’s mood, sleep, and other bodily functions.


References: 

  1. Avci P et al. Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy in Skin: Stimulating, Healing, Restoring. 2013 March – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4126803/
  2. Huang YY. Biphasic Dose Response in Low Level Light Therapy. 2009 September 01 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2790317/
  3. Myakishev-Rempel M et al. A Preliminary Study of the Safety of Red Light Phototherapy of Tissues Harboring Cancer. 2012 September – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423866/
  4. Schiffer F et al. Psychological Benefits 2 and 4 weeks After a Single Treatment with Near-infrared Light to the Forehead: A Pilot Study of 10 Patients with Major Depression and Anxiety. 2009 December 08 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/19995444/
  5. Houreld NN. Shedding Light on a New Treatment for Diabetic Wound Healing: A Review on Phototherapy. 2014 January 06 – https://www.hindawi.com/journals/tswj/2014/398412/
  6. Rojas JC, Lima FG. Low-level Light of the Eye and Brain. 2011 October 04 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5436183/
  7. Li WT, Leu YC, Wu JL. Red Light Light-Emitting Diode Irradiation Increases the Proliferation and Osteogenic Differentiation of Rat Bone Marrow Mesenchymal Stem Cells. 2010 August 28 – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20583914/
  8. Hamblin MR. Mechanisms and Applications of the Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Photobiomodulation. 2017 July 24 – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5523874/
  9. Höfling DB et al. Low-Level Laser Therapy in Chronic Autoimmune Thyroiditis: A Pilot Study. 2010 August – https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20662037/

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