Red light ther­apy makes hair grow! Eases joint pain!

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The light that

Who’d

think that sim­ply us­ing a spe­cial light could heal your body and out­smart ag­ing? It’s true! Study af­ter study—in­clud­ing some by NASA re­searchers—prove that the gen­tle wave­lengths emit­ted by red light re­ally do re­ju­ve­nate tis­sues and help turn back the clock in count­less other ways!

What is it?

Red light ther­apy (also called LLLT or low level laser ther­apy) uses red wave­lengths to stim­u­late cel­lu­lar re­pair, in­crease blood flow, accelerate col­la­gen pro­duc­tion and more. “Just like pho­to­syn­the­sis in plants, where light en­ergy is con­verted into cel­lu­lar en­ergy and stored for later use, we know that cer­tain hu­man cells are re­spon­sive to light en­ergy,” ex­plains sur­geon Alan J. Bau­man, M.D. In a nut­shell, red light can:

Re­ju­ve­nate skin!

A re­cent study in Pho­tomedicine and Laser Surgery found that red light ther­apy is a safe and ef­fi­cient way to in­crease skin-firm­ing and wrin­klere­duc­ing col­la­gen. “All of the mech­a­nisms of ac­tion of low level laser ther­apy have an anti-ag­ing ef­fect on skin,” says Dr. Bau­man. “It im­proves the ap­pear­ance of fine lines, tex­ture, pig­men­ta­tion and rough­ness,” adds der­ma­tol­o­gist Francesca Fusco, M.D. And you don’t need to spend a lot on med­i­cal ap­point­ments: Hand­held wands (such as the Nor­lanya Red Light Ther­apy Ma­chine, $59.99; Ama­zon.com) let you re­verse skin ag­ing at home.

Ease joint pain!

Red light spurs the rebuilding of car­ti­lage in os­teoarthri­tis patients and, ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, re­lieves pain 70% and morn­ing stiff­ness 27% for RA patients. “Joint pain in many cases is caused by in­flam­ma­tion,” notes Dr. Fusco, and red light re­duces that sig­nif­i­cantly. Ask your or­tho­pe­dist about in-of­fice treat­ments.

Stim­u­late hair growth!

Dozens of stud­ies show red light ther­apy helps halt hair loss in women with­out any of the side ef­fects of meds. “Hered­i­tary hair loss, con­trary to pop­u­lar be­lief, is not sim­ply hair fol­li­cles ‘turn­ing off,’ ” says Dr. Bau­man, a hair restora­tion spe­cial­ist. In­stead, they slowly grow weaker—some­thing that, caught early on, can of­ten be cor­rected. One op­tion: the Hair­max laser comb ($199; Hair­Max.com). “Used con­sis­tently, weaker fol­li­cles are stim­u­lated to pro­duce bet­ter qual­ity hair,” he says.

Kick the blues.

Red light is nat­u­rally en­er­giz­ing and fights de­pres­sion. “Pho­tore­cep­tors in the retina pick up wave­lengths of red light and be­come stim­u­lated in a way that im­proves mood,” says Dr. Fusco. An at-home de­vice prob­a­bly won’t give you enough red light ex­po­sure to beat the blues; ask your doc­tor to rec­om­mend a lo­cal med­i­cal spa or phys­i­cal ther­a­pist that of­fers the treat­ment. Ses­sions start at around $50; check to see if your in­sur­ance cov­ers them.

Any cau­tions?

There are no known ad­verse side ef­fects. How­ever, if us­ing it to treat hair loss, see a der­ma­tol­o­gist first to rule out any un­der­ly­ing cause. Avoid us­ing it for skin re­ju­ve­na­tion if tak­ing meds that make skin light sen­si­tive (like some an­tibi­otics).

—Kal­lie E. Kris­tensen

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