Red light therapy: A powerful solution for a complex problem?

Do you know someone suffering with mental health trouble? Chances are you do. In fact, the majority of people will go through some extended period of time experiencing mental turbulence from an unprocessed traumatic event.

 While there are many different methods to help treat mental illness, getting the right treatment for yourself is crucial in recovery. In a world rampant with opioid addiction, more and more people are looking for non-invasive means for treating their anxiety, PTSD, and depressive disorders.

When it comes to non-invasive treatments, red light therapy is at the forefront of the more holistic approach.

Imagine if improving your mental health was as easy as standing in front of a red light therapy device? Lets look at mental health by the numbers and some research on red light therapy...

**Statistics provides by NAMI (national alliance on mental illness)

***PBM = photobiomodulation. 

***tPBM = transcranial photobiomodulation

***PBM is the science of light therapy. 

     In a recent review of all existing studies on red and near-infrared light therapy and depression/anxiety disorders, researchers found that these light therapies offer a promising treatment for major depressive disorder, suicidal ideation, anxiety, and traumatic brain injury” [1]

     Another study in 2009 which took patients with a history of major depression and anxiety (including PTSD and drug abuse) and gave them four weeks of treatments to the head with red/near-infrared light. Remarkably, by the end of the four-week study 60% of patients experienced a remission of their depression, and 70% of patients experienced a remission of their anxiety. [2]

     Researcher Julio Rojas, MD, PhD has stated “The data supports that red light therapy to the head constitutes a promising neurotherapeutic tool to modulate behavior in a non-invasive manner.”

"tPBM reduced fear renewal"

 "Many investigators believe that PBM (red light therapy) for brain disorders will become one of the most important medical applications of light therapy in the coming years and decades. Despite the efforts of “Big Pharma”, prescription drugs for psychiatric disorders are not generally regarded very highly (either by the medical profession or by the public), and many of these drugs perform little better than placebos in different trials, and moreover can also have major side-effects [3]

Researchers have also found wonderful effects when exposing red and near-infrared light to the brain. The research states "they found that tPBM (red light therapy of the head) reduced fear renewal and prevented the reemergence of extinguished conditioned fear responses [4]. This is quite remarkable for those battling PTSD and other post traumatic disorders.

Several studies have indicated that people with depression have abnormal blood flow in the frontal cortex of the brain, Since red/NIR light improve blood flow and circulation to the brain, it is reasonable to believe that could be part of the mechanism at play [5]. 

 Table 2 shows the wide range of brain disorders and diseases that will eventually be treated by some kind of tPBM, whether that be an office/clinic based procedure or a home-use based device [3]. This is one of the many reasons why red light therapy is becoming so popular, because it offers a non-invasive form of neuro-therapy that has demonstrated little to no side effects.

While there are many reasons why someone would want to supplement with red light therapy, perhaps the most powerful reason would be the desire to enhance cognitive function, being that red light therapy can greatly enhance one's neurochemistry. 

For a full list of research regarding red light therapy on anxiety, PTSD, brain injury, and depression, visit: Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disordersMichael R. Hamblin⁎

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[1] Cassano, P. 92016) Review of transcranial photobiomodulation for major depressive disorder: targeting brain metabolism, inlfammation, oxidative stress, and neaurogenesis. Neurophotonics, 3(3): 031404

[2] Https://


[4] Rojas J.C., Bruchey A.K., Gonzalez-Lima F. Low-level light therapy improves cortical metabolic capacity and memory retention. J. Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32:741–752. [PubMed] [Google Scholar]