How do I use red light at home to affect the cardiovascular system?

For at home use of red light therapy, the majority of products (especially the affordable ones) will use LED lights, rather than laser. While early light therapy research was done using lasers, LED lights have become much more popular over the last decade. In 2018, the world’s leading expert on light therapy concluded that LED lights using comparable parameters performed “equally well” to lasers. Also, researchers analyzing the scientific evidence on red light therapy and heart attacks in 2021 cited advantages to using LED’s, including safety and affordability. This suggests that LED powered red light therapy devices can likely be used to support cardiovascular health.

Red light products on the market vary quite a bit in terms of their intensity (or power) and the specific wavelengths of light that they deliver. Studies vary in both parameters, and it appears that a range of wavelengths and intensity are beneficial. For maximum versatility, it is recommended to choose a multiwavelength device that provides both red and near infrared light, since each has some unique cellular effects. In terms of intensity, it may be ideal to mimic the intensity of the sun, which is around 24 mW/cm2 at the skin. This is described as the “sweet spot” between higher intensities, which can have harmful effects, and lower intensities, which will have no effect at all. Although not the focus of intensive research, it has been shown that at least for the heart muscle, high intensity treatments are not beneficial, which supports the use of devices that target this sun-mimicking light intensity. 

There is some uncertainty regarding what body parts to target to support cardiovascular health. Animal studies have used several approaches, including inserting laser lights directly into blood vessels, shining laser light on the whole body, and targeting light to specific points on the abdomen. In humans, studies have applied light to areas away from the heart including the thighs, wrist, and head. 

While this may seem confusing, it has become clear in recent years that it is not necessary to directly target a specific body part with red and near infrared light to see a benefit. These “indirect” benefits from applying light therapy to somewhere on the body are increasingly being recognized, including for brain and cardiovascular health. Our recommendations are to target the brain to support recovery from stroke and to broadly apply light to areas including the upper chest and thighs to deliver light to as much of the body as possible for general cardiovascular health. We have a lot of blood vessels at the surface of the skin, all of which will benefit from the application of red and near infrared light. Light can be applied using a red light panel or wrap, such as a head wrap for the brain or a long wrap to go around the body.

The Fringe red light panel can be used daily to deliver red and near infrared light to several areas of the body, including the head and neck, chest, and legs. Red light panels are versatile in their light delivery but do require you to be stationary during treatment. Fringe red light wraps are cordless and powered by rechargeable batteries, so you can move around during treatment. For stroke recovery and to support the blood vessels in the head, the Fringe red light head wrap is the best choice. For application of red light to the upper chest or thighs, the long wrap is the most appropriate option. Fringe provides consumers with options when it comes to choosing the device that is right for them.

Dr. Genevieve Newton, DC, PhD  spent close to 20 years as a researcher and educator in the field of nutritional sciences before joining Fringe as its Scientific Director. Gen’s job is to “bring the science” that supports Fringe’s products and education. She is passionate about all things Fringe, and is a deep believer in healing body, mind and spirit using the gifts of the natural world. 

The contents in this blog; such as text, content, graphics are intended for educational purposes only. The Content is not intended to substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your healthcare provider.

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