This is a guide to buying red and near-infrared LEDs with potentially beneficial biological effects. Most commonly this is called Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), Cold Laser Therapy or Photobiomodulation. Part 1 on heat lamps and halogen bulbs is here (*)
Why Use Red And Near-Infrared Light?
Some of the many conditions that may benefit from LLLT include:
chronic auto-immnue thyroiditis(*), pain relief, arthritis(*), back pain, neck pain, thyroid conditions, anxiety, traumatic brain injury, strokes,tooth repair, dental pain, hair growth, acne, heart attack, fractures , psoriasis, fibromyalgia , allergic rhinitis , neuropathy and macular degeneration.
Some studies have shown a biphasic dose response, that there is an upper threshold for positive dose response, and exceeding this will negate positive effects or possibly have the opposite effect entirely. For this reason a basic amount of reading is necessary, treatment parameters should be the same as those in successful studies and light sources should be tested for their output, particularly their power output. I have an article on those topics here(*).
These beneficial wavelengths are between 600 and 1100nm, covering the red to near infrared A spectrum. For some important effects there are high activity peaks at 620nm, 680nm, 760nm and 820nm (there are probably margins of error for most devices of +- 10nm). Devices when in use may drift up by 10nm or so from heat. There are many low cost devices with near-infrared A output, mostly 850nm. Some devices do not state power output and so it’s best to test the power output of any device while referring to a number of relevant studies for safe dose metrics. A solar meter(*), also known as irradiance meter or pryanometer should be used to test the power output. You should always pay close attention to wavelength, irradiance (energy density) + fluence (dose). See some of the reasons why dosing is critical here (*) and here (*).
Here’s a breakdown of some of the metrics used:
Wavelength (nm) is a measurement of the light wave, it is the distance between one point in the wave and the same point in the next wave pattern, in light waves it is measured in nanometers. Wavelength determines the color of the light (if it is visible light) and determines what chromophores will absorb light.
Watt (W) is the unit of power. A milliwatt (mW) is a thousandth of a watt and this is the more common LLLT power metric.
A Joule (J) is a unit of energy.
Power in (W) × time (s) = Energy (Joules) This converst dose into a single
expression. Using Joules alone as an expression of dose is unreliable as it assumes does not take into consideration the specifics of power and time.
10mw for 600 seconds would equal 6 Joules total transferred.
200mW for 30 seconds is also 6 Joules. But these two methods of delivering a 6J dose are unlikely to have the same effect.
Treatment interval takes into account the time between treatments and the total time period that the treatment period takes. It seems to be an important factor and may itself prove to be biphasic (*) when all other parameters are maintained within effective ranges.
I’d recommend using a device from the likes of redlightman. The primary reason for this is that they provide some measurements of power at distance. This means that you can realistically estimate a dose from these devices out of the box. Using a light not designed for these purposes means that the power output is not known and so must be tested. The cost of testing equipment will negate any savings. Redlightman also selects LEDs with the most beneficial wavelengths. There’s 10% off all redlightman orders with the code RESONANTFM. That said, people do want to experiment with other devices, myself included, so let’s take a look at some.
Tenmars TM206. This measures light power in W/m2 , dividing this figure by 10 gives the power in mW/cm2. Manufacturer states “Our Solar Power Meter TM-206 accuracy measure from 400-1100nm.” This measures up to 200mW/cm2, at which point it overloads and cannot read higher. This has always been sufficient for my purposes but some people want to experiment with higher power and should take the 200mW/cm2 limit into consideration. I see Tenmars also have another model listed at up to 400mW/cm2 (*) but I don’t know if it is suitable for reading the same wavelength range.
225 LED Grow Panels
225 Visible Red LED lights (630 nm wavelength). 12.2″ square panel. These are used for growing plants but people are curious as to whether they have beneficial effects for humans. I have a similar panel and it tested at a max 5mW/cm2. Very similar looking panels use different components and will almost certainly have differing light output. The size of the panel and distance between the LEDs, combined with the fact that they may only be powerful enough right on the skin are considerations for these panels. I would not bother with these due to the low power output.
48 LED IR CCTV Illuminator
These are infrared lights for night vision cameras. They are 850nm infrared, past the visible spectrum although you will likely see a little red light from them.I have tested one of these devices at a max of 160mW/cm2 with the glass face removed and 140mW/cm2 with the cover in place. There is a little light sensor which must be covered with something like blu-tac to allow it to work. Don’t assume another similar device will have the same power output, they have different internal components.
96 LED IR Illuminator
Similar to the 48 LED illuminator only larger. These are 850mn infrared also. I have tested a similar device with a max reading of 95mW/cm2 when the glass is removed. Again there are different types of these devices with different components. These devices need appropriate power adaptors and have a light sensor that needs to be covered.
These are the more common devices that people seem to be using for light biohacking. I take a deeper look at some of these devices in this article(*).
Check out some other articles on similar topics:
A Very Brief History of Red Light
Red and Near-Infrared Buyers Guide – Heat Lamps, Halogen, And Incandescent
Red and Near-Infrared Buyers Guide II – LEDs
Red and Near-Infrared Device Tests
Can A Red LED Flashlight Have Beneficial Health Effects?
Red Light Protects From Sun Damage
Experiences With Light Therapy
Lighting Up Your Brain On A Budget? (Patreon)
Dosing Low Level Light Therapy – Rheumatoid Arthritis
LLLT And Thyroid
Light Therapy and Hypothyroidism – Risks and Benefits (Article)
Light and Hypothyroidism – Cure or Cause? (Article)
Laser Treatment Of Hypothyroidism Part I – Constant Wave (Patreon Article)
Laser Treatment Of Hypothyroidism Part II – Constant Wave (Article)
Pulsed Light Treatment of Hypothyroidism Part I (Article)
The Pulsed Laser Treatment Of Hypothyroidism And Heart Disease – Part II (Patreon Article)
Light Treatment Of Hypothyroidism – Is It Possible With LEDs?
LLLT/PBM and Hypothyroidism Databases – Patreon
Introduction To Phage Therapy
Phage Therapy Supplements
Thyroid, Thiamine, And Chronic Fatigue (Patreon)
Chronic Fatigue And The Gut – Patreon
Blue Light, Sleep, And Health (Patreon)
Some Benefits Of Aspirin
Risks Of Ibuprofen And Acetaminophen (Paracetamol)
Caloric Restriction, Amino Acids, And Longevity
Biocast 1 – Light and Thyroid with Vladimir Heiskanen (Podcast)
Biocast 2 – A History of Light Therapy (Podcast)
Biocast 3 – Light, Cytochrome C Oxidase, and Nitric Oxide (Podcast)
Biocast 4 – Light and Pain (Podcast)
Biocast 5 Dosing LLLT (Podcast)
Biocast 6 – Light and Hair Regrowth (Podcast)
Biocast 7 – Redlightman (Podcast) Part II
Biocast 8 – Hello Endotoxin, My Old Friend (Podcast)
Biocast 9 – Endotoxin, Obesity and Diabetes (Podcast)
Biocast 10 Endotoxin Obesity and Diabetes in Humans (Podcast)
Biocast 011 Endotoxin and Dementia (Podcast)
Biocast 12 – Endotoxin, Serotonin, and Depression
Biocast 13 – Serotonin and Anxiety
Biocast 14 – Serotonin, Stress, and Autism
The Case Against Endotoxin (Article)
Endotoxin Antagonists Part 1 – Podcast
Endotoxin Antagonists Part II
Endotoxin Antagonists Part III
Endotoxin Antagonists Part IV
Endotoxin Antagonists Part V
Endotoxin and Hormones
Endotoxin Related References – Google Docs
*001 Coffee Antivirals * Aspirin In Preeclampsia * Ginkgo Biloba – Neuroinflammation * Allopregnanolone – Alzheimer’s * Hypothyroidism – Hypogonadism
*002 Unsaturated Fats – Vitamin D * Caloric Restriction – Grey Matter * Environmental Enrichment – Cognitive Decline * Parathyroid Hormone – Cognitive Decline * Taurine – Learning Deficits *
*003 IBS – Bifido * Osteoarthritis – Bifido * Iron – Huntington’s * High-Fat – Compulsive Eating * Chronic Stress – Serotonin *
*004 * NO – Cellular Respiration * Chamomile – NO * Taurine – MELAS * Aspirin – Thromboembolism * Skin Bacteria – Cancer *
*005 * Statins – Atherosclerosis & Heart Failure * Arsenic – Moss * EBV – Autoimmune Disease * Progesterone – TBI * Frankincense – Endotoxin*
Light Therapeutics. A series on John Kellogg’s Light Therapeutics
Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Part 4 Part 5
Scientists discover the secret of longevity? (Article/Podcast)
LSD And Autism