This is an article on the various light therapy devices that I have found myself using after a few years of experimentation. I’ve written about the technical aspects of some of these devices here before so it might be interesting to look back and see how useful they have been to me in reality.
I use five types of lights on a regular basis. A blue light for circadian reprogramming, a red LED for thyroid and lowering inflammation, an infrared laser for spot treatments, heat bulbs for some types of pain, and incandescent bulbs for minimising “the winter madness”.
The first device I’m going to look at is one I have not discussed on the website before. The Phillips Golite Blu. I bought the HF3321 model a few years ago, there are other models now and I haven’t looked at the different specifications but there are price differences. These devices are used for a number of different purposes: increasing energy and alertness, diminishing seasonal affective disorder and regulating sleep cycles. As the days get shorter my sleep cycle tends to get longer and I find it hard to get sleep at night. Using this device helps to normalise my circadian rhythm.
I normally use this for about 15 minutes in the morning, under the level of my eye, not looking directly at the LED itself. There are a number of studies showing bright white light or a narrow band of blue light can improve different markers of sleep when they are used in the AM. There are also few studies showing that it helps regulate melatonin and cortisol levels. There is some concern about the effect of blue light on the eye, and so I try to use red light at the same time or shortly afterwards to re-energise those cells and mitigate some of the risk.
Using light to regulate sleep cycles has two main aspects to it. The first is getting blue in the AM. The second is minimising blue in the PM. In order to minimise blue light I use incandescent bulbs for general lighting and I have f.lux installed on all electronic devices. Occasionally this isn’t enough and I find that using blue blocker sunglasses in the evening can be helpful.
The next device I use frequently is the redlightman Red 670 Device. This is my go to red light device. One of the problems I’ve had to deal with is a weird muscle pain around one of my shoulders. I tried a number of things wait different types of LEDs and lasers on my shoulder and not had noticeable effect.
One of the things that does loosen up that shoulder joint is walking – which I don’t get to do a lot of winter. I eventually figured out after a lot of experimentation that using this light from a few feet away on my back while walking on a treadmill for about 20 minutes every morning has a huge effect on this pain sensation in the shoulder, more than walking alone. So I use this most days.
Another area I treat on a regular basis is my thyroid. I developed Graves’ disease a couple of years ago and I’ve been using this device on my thyroid for maybe the last 6 to 9 months. I haven’t seen any data on Graves’ disease in the scientific literature, so I’m really going on a lot of guesswork here. Initially I started using this device on my thyroid because I thought it would regulate the autoimmune process, as it does in Hashimoto’s disease.
After reading through everything that I could find on light therapy and thyroid I do wonder what the effect those initial treatments had. I was using a dose that was probably higher than necessary and so it seems equally as likely to me that I was suppressing thyroid hormones as it does that I was improving the autoimmune processes. At any rate in the period that when using this device on my thyroid I have only had improvements. I’ve been using low-dose naltrexone and antithyroid drugs in the same period, so it is not really a solid case to be made that this light had an effect on my thyroid, but things have only improved in the relevant time frame.
I was initially treating my thyroid three times a week, now I treat my thyroid gland once per week. In order to get the appropriate energy density/distance I placed my solar meter (TM206) at a distance that reads 90 mW/cm2. Then I attached a piece of string onto the light and extended it to the light metre and cut it at the correct distance. Then it’s only a matter of placing the string close to thyroid and moving light distance of the string way. I’ve done this so often now that I sort of know the distance and only need to check the string every once in a while. My measurements from the TM 206 solar meter confirm to the figures listed on the redlightman site for that device.
I use the Red 670 Device with the Golite Blu to mitigate damage from blue light. It’s a very powerful device and a little unpleasant to point right at your eyes from a few feet away, so I’ll generally bounce it off the wall close to me when using the Golite Blu. Sometimes I’ll turn it on facing the wall for a few minutes during the day too.
The combination of those two lights can also be used to treat infections. For mild foot fungus you can use the Golite Blu for a couple of minutes followed by the 670 and you’ll get a clear improvement. While I have the RED 670 device out I generally use it over my face for about 40 seconds in each region, a few minutes on my stomach, and a few minutes in the base of the spine. I find that sometimes if general inflammation is high I can get a very pronounced decrease in inflammation using the device on the base of the spine. Sometimes using the light on the stomach seems to improve stomach upset.
I really like the 670 device, it is very well built. There are two drawbacks with the device however, it’s a little too heavy to move around easily and safely, you need to keep a good grip on it so you don’t drop it. The other downside is that it’s a little noisy due to the fans. The miniature devices are probably as useful in most cases and look much more ergonomic to me. However they would not be useful for covering my back at a few feet distance while on the treadmill because they don’t produce enough power. These are pretty minor drawbacks.
Another device that I use regularly is a 808nm laser. These devices are sold under various different brand names on Amazon, Aliexpress, eBay and other places. I bought mine under the name of LASPOT GD-P1. This is a handheld device which has about a dozen very low powered (probably useless) red lasers surrounding the active 808nm infrared laser. The red lasers are listed as 5 mW and the 808 nm lasers listed at 150 mw. My solar metre maxes out at about 180mW when placed close to the central infrared laser diode. The device claims to have four different power settings, however my solar meter does not detect any changes in power output from the different settings, they all seem to be around 180mw. The device also markets itself as having a pulse setting. It does have a pulse but it looks like it is about 1 Hz, which seems more or less pointless.
I use this laser for pain related to a small lump in my neck. The slump swells up sometimes and can be painful. So I use this device for about 30 seconds in 5 to 6 different points surrounding that region and on that area. It has some effect in lowering pain and swelling, though 600 mg of aspirin is about twice as effective as this procedure.
This device is very good for healing of skin. It also seems remarkably effective for minimising damage due to acute inflammation from trauma. A number of times I’ve cut my finger on something or stubbed a toe and used this light very soon afterwards with a little progesterone. I estimate that the acute inflammatory response when using this light is minimised by about 75%.
Another benefit to this laser is that it’s very ergonomic. Something that you can easily use sitting down doing something else, or lying in bed. I think that there is a systemic anti-inflammatory effect by moving this device along regions were has access to blood vessels, similar to signing the 670 device on the base of the spine or IV irradiation.
Though I do use this laser device (GD-P1)multiple times per week, I probably wouldn’t purchase it again. The reason for that is that there are other devices like the B-Cure Laser that have more power and provide pulse settings that seem to be useful in the real world. Depending on where you catch the prices, the B-Cure could be 2 to 3 times more expensive, but it seems to me that it might be worth it. There is a real need for affordable, high peak power, pulsed devices, like those used in Russia.
For pain relief my go to is still the 250 W heat lamps. If my shoulder gets really bad I’ll use a couple of these on my back. I also use them regularly on that painful region in my neck. The pain relief from heat lamps is much faster than from LEDs or laser. On the other hand the beneficial effects from LED and laser are much longer lasting. I see the heat lamps as pain relief devices, whereas laser and LED are more suited to fixing or improving problems. They are very different effects.
During the day in winter I swap my heat lamp bulbs for strong incandescent bulbs. You can set up a few of these around the desk , pointing whichever direction you want, to simulate daylight. This is a huge help for energy levels and sleep patterns during the winter months. I think halogen are an equally good option.
In the past I’ve looked at some of the infrared CCTV cameras that you can find on Amazon or eBay. I’ve had mixed results with these, but one thing that I did find them very useful for treatment of pain in my knee joint.
The 96 LED CCTV infrared illuminator proved very useful in the past for that type of pain. I was using what I would now consider to be a very high dose on my knee. The device puts out about 100 mW per centimetre squared and I was using it for 5 to 15 minutes on each area. I think that a stronger, pulsed infrared device would be better but this treatment did work very well at the time.
On the rare occasion that I get knee pain now I tend to use the LASPOT GD-P1 for 40 seconds on 10 to 20 different spots around the knee. It’s very effective at lowering pain and inflammation over a 2 to 24-hour period, similar to the illuminator device. I don’t notice immediate improvement like I have seem mentioned though. As the power output is extremely variable in these types of devices I recommend people don’t use them without testing the power output.
I have written about a number of other devices on this site before which I have no use for now. I also have a 10 mW, 650 nm laser device, a fibre-optic line tester, which I have experimented with quite a bit and not notice any benefit. It seems likely that a more powerful version of this device could be very useful though. Similar things are used for tinnitus. My solar meter doesn’t seem to be very consistent with my line tester. My guess is that it is because the power is so low and concentrated. It would be interesting to see a reading from a 30mW or 50mW device, until then I wouldn’t put too much faith in stated output (or is it input?). These could be useful in another regard because you can attach fiber optic to the head and target hard to reach areas. Could they potentially sub for a tinnitus device or even a vielight?