The Science of LED Light Therapy Technology

Red and blue LED lights.

Initially developed by NASA to grow plants in space, light therapy evolved to professionally administered wellness applications, and then to over the counter FDA-cleared devices, like those available from reVive Light Therapy®️ and dpl®️. Thanks to the availability of this technology, you can now treat wrinkles, pain, acne and more in the comfort of your home. How did we get here, and how do we know light therapy is effective? Let’s take a look at the science behind LED light therapy technology.

Light Therapy Benefits for the Body: From Earth to Space and Back Again

During the Space Shuttle era, NASA wanted to study how plants grow in space. However, the light sources used to grow plants on Earth didn’t fit their needs; they took too much power and created too much heat. Then, in the 1990s, The Wisconsin Center for Space Automation & Robotics partnered with Quantum Devices Inc. to develop a more practical light source. They used light-emitting diodes (LEDs) in their invention, the Astroculture3. The Astroculture3 is a plant growth chamber, using LEDs, which NASA used successfully on several Space Shuttle missions.

Soon, NASA figured out potential applications of LED light not only for plant health, but for the astronauts themselves. Living in low gravity, human cells don’t regenerate as quickly, and astronauts experience bone and muscle loss. So NASA turned to photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT).

Human Biology and Light (Photobiomodulation Therapy)

PBMT involves exposure to high-intensity, wavelength-specific light to stimulate cellular function. It acts on the mitochondria and other key parts of a cell to essentially boost its metabolism. This action makes cells grow and multiply faster, increases blood flow and enhances wound healing. PBMT has even been shown to promote bone healing following dental implants.

PBMT, like NASA’s plant growing chamber, uses LED lights, or light-emitting diodes. Research shows that LEDs cause human cell cultures in a lab to grow at five times their normal rate. Today, NASA continues to study the applications of LED light for long-term human health as astronauts spend longer periods in space and we figure out how to travel interplanetary distances.

Light Therapy for Health and Wellness

Light-emitting diodes, or LEDs, are tiny lightbulbs that lack filaments. Instead, they rely on a semiconductor material, so they build less heat and last many times longer than a traditional lightbulb. And, they put out much more light. They’re used in everything from traffic lights to your television remote, and increasingly, they’re used in light therapy devices for health and wellness applications.Light wavelength spectrum diagram from ultraviolet to infrared.

Health and wellness light therapy devices use LEDs that emit light in the blue, red, or infrared range of the light spectrum, depending on the purpose. Energy wavelengths are shorter toward the blue end of the spectrum and longer toward the infrared end of the spectrum. The human eye can see light from about 380 nm (at the blue end) to about 750 nm (at the red end). Note that infrared actually lies outside the visible wavelength spectrum, so you cannot see the light emitted by infrared LEDs. However, you can use a digital camera to “see” it.

The infrared waves can penetrate deeply to relieve muscle and joint pain, for example, while blue light works closer to the skin’s surface.

LED Light Therapy Terms to Know

The science of LED light technology is still evolving. Research is underway to better understand its effects on the human body and could lead to further applications for health and wellness. As it evolves, different people and companies use different terminology. Some of the terms you might hear to refer to LED light therapy include:

  • Low Level Light Therapy
  • Infrared (or Near-Infrared) Light Therapy
  • Low-power laser therapy (LPLT)
  • Soft laser therapy
  • Low-intensity laser therapy
  • Low-energy laser therapy
  • Cold laser therapy
  • Biostimulation laser therapy
  • Photobiomodulation
  • Photo-biotherapy
  • Therapeutic laser
  • Monochromatic infrared light energy

Whew! Try not to let the vocabulary overwhelm you. The important things to know are what color (wavelength) and device uses and whether it’s cleared by the FDA.

Putting the Science of Light Therapy to Work for Your Body

reVive Light Therapy®️ has spent more than a decade refining the technology behind our FDA-cleared Class II medical devices. We’ve identified the wavelengths of light that generate the desired effects naturally within the body’s cellular structure and replicated them with high power LED lights. We’re now able to remove all harmful and non-productive wavelengths and deliver concentrated doses of the effective ones.

Our reVive Light Therapy®️ uses Deep Penetrating Light (dpl®️) Technology, working from the inside out to enhance the body’s cell repair mechanism. Research and clinical studies have demonstrated dramatic effects in pain relief, injury recovery, acne treatment and anti-aging treatment with light therapy. Our LED light therapy devices have been engineered to medical grade specifications and are safe for all skin types.

Red Light Therapy for Anti-Aging Treatment

Anti-aging light therapy devices use infrared and red lights to deliver a soothing regeneration effect to aging skin. The combination of lights treat more of the external aspects of the skin, providing cellular turnover and a natural healthy glow. These infrared and red wavelengths penetrate to the deeper (dermis) layers of the skin. There, they stimulate the production of collagen and elastin resulting in the general reduction and reversal of fine lines and wrinkles along with firmer skin texture. The reVive Light Therapy®️ Anti-Aging treatment also provides a soothing effect to the outermost (epidermis) layer of skin, enhancing natural coloration while reducing the signs of aging due to blemishes, sun and age spots.

Blue and Red Light Therapy for Acne Treatment

Non-UV blue light has been demonstrated to target and destroy bacteria that reside on or in the dermis. It has been long documented that UV light kills acne but also delivers negative effects to human skin. By using blue light, reVive Light Therapy®️ achieves the same antibacterial effects of the UV light spectrum without damaging the skin structure. We have incorporated Deep Penetrating Light (dpl®) Technology into these blue light products as well, which allows our light to treat bacteria at a depth that traditional acne treatment topicals can’t reach.

While the blue light focuses on destroying the acne causing bacteria, red lights augment the anti-inflammatory mechanism to reduce swelling and potential scarring. The increased circulation also helps with the general healing of the acne location.

Infrared Light Therapy Pain Relief & Recovery Treatment

Infrared light has demonstrated the highest level of natural healing effects on the body’s cellular structure. Combined with red light, infrared light therapy devices can reach deep into joints and tissues, increasing circulation, oxygenation, cellular repair and reproduction. This results in the removal of toxins, unwanted cellular matter and a general temporary relief of associated effects like muscle/joint aches, arthritis or tendonitis pain, and muscle spasms. Additional benefits include an increased rate of injury recovery and wound healing.

Have a question about light therapy? Contact us or visit our FAQ page.