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Red Light Therapy Band: The Theory Behind Photobiomodulation

While the role of light in photosynthesis, vision, and vitamin D synthesis is common knowledge, very few know how beneficial light is in many medical processes. Red light, in particular, can be very useful in managing certain health conditions. This knowledge has led to the birth of the red light therapy band. Here, we examine the science behind the red light therapy band and its practical benefits.

What Is the Red Light Therapy Band?

An image of someone wearing a red light therapy bandThe red light therapy band is a watch that emits dual red-light wavelengths, usually for 30-minute sessions. The goal is to affect certain photophysical and photochemical reactions in body cells and tissues. This watch is a form of red light therapy, which is fast gaining attention in the medical world today.

Red light therapy, also known as low-level light therapy, has been of high research interest since the early 1990s. The therapy was brought to light by NASA scientists researching the growth of plants in space. It was during their research that the effect of red light on managing muscle atrophy, delayed wound healing, and bone density issues were first considered. The initial results were promising enough for more studies to be conducted on the subject.

Working Principle of the Red Light Therapy Band

The red light therapy band is a form of red light therapy that is based on a non-thermal process called photobiomodulation (PBM). Generally, light therapy involves light in the visible and near-infrared electromagnetic spectrum. Photobiomodulation therapy uses red and near-infrared light between 600 and 1000 nm.

During the photobiomodulation process, photons enter the inner membrane of the mitochondrion and target the cytochrome C complex, which is the chromophore associated with red light therapy. Chromophores are the parts of molecules that absorb light and determine the color of the molecule.

The absorption of red light photons by cytochrome C results in the stimulation of the electron transport chain, causing certain photophysical and photochemical changes that affect the body at both the cellular and tissue level.

Potential Benefits of the Red Light Therapy Band

Since the 1990s, there have been several studies on the benefits of red light therapy. Some of the identified potential benefits include the following:

Combating Inflammation

Inflammation occurs when the immune system sends cells to fight an invader, like bacteria, or heal an injury. While inflammation is not bad on its own, it can pose a lot of health risks if it becomes chronic, occurring when the body sends inflammatory cells after infection or injury.

One of the health conditions that can arise due to chronic inflammation is Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS), which is a syndrome where the body’s stress response cannot cope with life’s chronic stressors. Dysregulation of the Inflammation circuit of the NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response commonly co-occurs with this condition. The NEM system is comprised of six circuits of several organs and systems that help manage stress in the body.

The red light therapy band can help combat inflammation in the body by producing nitric oxide and regulating reactive oxygen species. Both nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species are key in cellular signaling pathways, of which inflammation is included. The effect of photobiomodulation on nitric oxide and reactive oxygen species is to quicken cell signaling, ultimately reducing inflammation. Also, nitric oxide can help in the vasodilation of small arteries and lymph vessels. This vasodilation allows for the quick clearing of inflammation.

Studies also show that red light therapy can help in combating inflammation by decreasing pro-inflammatory cell response factors. Therefore, the red light therapy band has potential in the management of health conditions with an inflammatory component.

Alleviating Pain

An image of a woman holding her red and inflammed handsThe red light therapy band can be potentially used in the relief of pain, particularly pain of neuromusculoskeletal origins. One of the commonest health conditions related to musculoskeletal disorders is arthritis, which causes chronic joint inflammation. The red light therapy band may help here due to its anti-inflammatory properties.

A study also showed that low-level laser therapy can reduce pain and inflammation in tendinitis and rheumatoid arthritis. However, this pain relief is typically short-term. About 8 to 30 sessions may be required for significant pain relief, with each session lasting around 30 minutes. The exact number of red light therapy sessions needed depends on how severe the health condition is, the kind of condition, and other individual-specific factors.

Accelerating Wound Healing and Recovery

One consequence of chronic inflammation is delayed wound healing. As the red light therapy band can help combat inflammation, it also has promise in managing delayed wound healing. Studies have also shown that red light therapy can successfully induce wound healing in situations with non-healing defects.

Aside from its role in reducing inflammation, red light therapy can also cause vasodilation of lymph vessels. When this happens, the lymphatic nodes drain better, which can quicken the healing process. The lymph is also related to the Detoxification circuit of the NEM system. Proper drainage of lymph can help prevent conditions like adrenal fatigue.

The red light therapy band can be used for a wide variety of wounds, including lesions, burns, trapping injuries, skin grafts, infection sites, and wounds from amputation. However, before the light therapy sessions, health practitioners have to confirm that wounds are not cancerous to avoid complications.

Furthermore, the red light therapy band can be used in a more proactive manner. Reports state that some professional sports athletes include red light therapy as part of their warm-up routine. Additionally, red light therapy is included in the rehabilitation plans of many athletes.

Restoring Cellular Function

Red light therapy targets cytochrome C in the inner membrane of the cell mitochondria. The interaction of the red light photons with the chromophore results in electron chain stimulation. This stimulation can cause the cell mitochondrion to undergo oxidative phosphorylation, thereby generating ATP (adenosine triphosphate).

ATP is the basic unit of energy in the body, and its production corresponds to increased energy levels. With increased ATP production, cellular metabolism increases, and there’s a restoration of normal cellular function in defective cells.

How to Use the Red Light Therapy Band

Below are steps to follow for proper usage of the red light therapy band:

  • Charge the red light therapy band for about six hours before use.
  • Place the watch over the radial and brachial arteries of the upper limbs with the flashing red LED lights on the inner wrist.
  • Allow the red light therapy band to run for 30 minutes before turning it off. While there are different durations of red light therapy sessions, experts generally agree that 30-minute sessions are appropriate for the red light therapy band.
  • Experts advise two 30-minute sessions per day.

An image of green tea extract supplementsBefore using the red light therapy band, it is beneficial to use green tea extract. This is because red light therapy may increase the number of reactive oxygen species in the body, which can cause oxidative stress. Research shows that green tea extract is an excellent free radical scavenger, and it will complement the use of the red light therapy band. Chlorophyll is another substance that can complement red light therapy. Found in plants, this pigment can also absorb light efficiently.

For the best results, chlorophyll and green tea extract should be used thirty minutes before you use the red light therapy band.

Is the Red Light Therapy Band Safe?

The red light therapy band is generally safe to use. Studies also do not show any complications associated with the use of red light therapy. However, the watch should be used under the right conditions.

The effect of red light therapy on pregnant women is not well-researched, and it may be better for women in this category to avoid the therapy. People on medications that react to light should also take extra care when using the laser watch or red light therapy.


The red light therapy band operates on the principle of photobiomodulation, which uses red and near-infrared light to interact with the target cytochrome C complex in the mitochondria. The following are potential benefits of the use of this red light therapy:

  • Protection against inflammation
  • Pain alleviation
  • Better wound healing and muscle recovery
  • Improved cellular function

It may help people with arthritis, chronic inflammation, slow-healing wounds, and athlete recovery, and it may also boost energy levels.

For the therapy to be effective, you may need between 8 and 30 thirty-minute sessions. Health practitioners have to consider multiple factors to determine the exact number of sessions an individual requires. If you have a sensitive constitution, don't take the supplements and start at a lower amount of time.

For more information about red light therapy and whether the red light therapy band might be helpful for you, the team at Dr. Lam Coaching can help. We offer a free, no-obligation phone consultation at +1 (626) 571-1234 where we will privately discuss your symptoms and various options. You can also send us a question through our Ask The Doctor system by clicking here.

© Copyright 2022 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.

Dr. Lam’s Key Question

The red light therapy band can help relieve pain in neuromusculoskeletal disorders, including arthritis. However, the effects of red light therapy on pregnant women have not been well-detailed. As such, pregnant women may want to stay away from red light therapy.

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