Red Light Therapy Dosing
Determine the correct red light therapy dose for you
So before we determine the dose for you lets look at some basics of red light therapy. With any treatment more is not always better. Overdoing treatments will actually decrease effectiveness so please determine what’s best or you in this guide. Let’s look at some key things to focus on with this guide to determine your ideal unit and dose.
- A light powerfull enough ( “power density”)
- A light that can treat a large area
- An understanding of how to determine the optimal dose using this guide
The Math Stuff
First lets review a term called power density of the light first. Most studies showing benefits of red/NIR light therapy used light outputs of 20-200mW/cm2
This is basically a measurement of power density – how much power the light is emitting (in watts) over
how big of an area.
So in other words, if you shine the light on your leg (let’s say, for the sake of ease of
the calculation, that it’s an area of 50cm x 40cm, which equals 2,000cm2)…
And the light you’re using is 200 watts (which is 200,000mW), then you have 200,000mW/2,000cm2 =
That’s a great power density.
However, this calculation is simple however lets dive into some more on this issue.
1. Distance from the light. It’s also important to be aware that this measure of power density decreases dramatically by moving further from the light source. So you’ll get the highest doses by being within a few inches of the light. Moving further away than about 3 feet from the light (as a common rule) and you’ll get little to no effect on anything below the surface of the skin. (And that’s using a powerful light. Many lights won’t provide effective doses beyond just
12” away.) Essentially, moving closer to the light increases the strength of the light dose, and moving further away dramatically decreases the dose. However, the closer is not always better. We generally advise staying at least 6 inches away to minimize exposure to EMFs (electromagnetic fields). Our lights emit almost negligible EMFs but as good practice stand further than 3-6 inches. So the sweet spot is generally between 6 – 36 inches. Again, the point here is to understand that distance from the light dramatically affects the dose
your cells receive.
2. Wavelengths of the light. Certain devices emit all the light output/wattage in the effective therapeutic wavelengths, and others emit only part of their total wattage in therapeutic wavelengths. Therefore, they may have 20-60% of their total wattage at non-therapeutic or nonoptimal wavelengths. This also factors into the dose. When this is the case, it makes calculations quite complex.
3. Panel Output Power. should be displayed on the panel. If you do not have this information contact us and we can give you your panels output power in watts to calculate your dose.
4. Size of the device/treatment area. One other nuance that’s important to note here is that
even if a device is technically powerful enough to create beneficial effects, it may still be too
small. In other words, one can have a device that has a power density of let’s say 100mW/cm2, but it may be a device with only a few inches circumference and thus, only emits light over a small area of your body. If you’re trying to treat large areas of your body, this makes things extremely inefficient and time-consuming. Overall, the device needs to emit light above a certain power density (light intensity), needs to be at the right wavelengths, be at the proper distance away from your body, and ideally, needs to be physically large enough to emit light over a large portion of your body.
But for simplicity, let’s leave all these nuances of the calculations out of it.
The next part of the equation is how long should you apply the light. The dose (duration of exposure) is calculated by:
Dose = Power Density x Time
So all we are doing is taking that number we already have (mW/cm2) and then the “dose” can be calculated once you know how long you should apply that light for. (If this sounds complex, don’t worry, because it’s actually VERY simple if you get the lights I recommend).Here’s the equation you need to
calculate the dose:
mW/cm2 x time (in seconds) x 0.001 = J/cm2
Here’s the critical piece of information you need to know: The dose you want to shoot for is between
3J/cm2 – 50J/cm2
Here are some examples of this calculation;
25mW/cm² applied for 40 seconds gives 1J/cm²
50mW/cm² applied for 20 seconds gives 1J/cm²
75mW/cm² applied for 15 seconds gives 1J/cm²
100mW/cm² applied for 10 seconds gives 1J/cm²
What that means is that if you have a device with a power output of 100mW/cm2
(at the distance you are using it), then you want your treatment time to be between 30 seconds-7 minutes on a given area of your body (that will equate to roughly 3-50J/cm2).
If you have a device that has 50mW/cm2
(at the distance you are using it), your treatment time would be 1-14 minutes on each area.
FOR SKIN ISSUES: Assuming you have one of the lights I recommend, for skin issues (e.g. anti-aging benefits) and other more superficial (near to the surface) body issues, here are my basic usage suggestions: – Somewhere between 1-4 minutes from 12” away. (Note: For skin issues, I recommend going 12” or more away from the device, whereas with deeper tissues, you want to be closer and have higher power density to reach deeper into the tissues.) – Or 1.5-5 minutes from 18” away. – Or 2-8 minutes from 24” away.
FOR DEEP TISSUES: For deeper issues in muscles, tendons, ligaments, bones, glands, the brain, organs, etc., you want much higher doses more in the neighborhood of 10-60J. In general, this means that you want higher power devices and you want to be 6-12” from the device (as opposed to further away as with treating the skin) to get optimal doses of light to those deep tissues. The deeper the tissue you’re trying to treat, the closer to your body you want the light to be (i.e. 6” is ideal) and the higher the overall dose you want to do, so that you deliver adequate therapeutic doses to the deeper tissues. Also, for use on the brain, this may require higher doses (or doses on the higher end of the spectrum shared here) because it takes a relatively higher dose for enough light to penetrate through the skull and be delivered to the brain. Here are my general suggestions for treating deep tissues below the skin: – Using the light from 6” away for between 2-7 minutes per area is the ideal dose range. – Or 5-10 minutes per area from 12” away. (For treating deep tissues, I don’t recommend going further away than 12” away from your body.) If you get the lights I recommend, that’s really all you need to know
How Often You Should Do Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy Treatments on Yourself
The last question to answer is “How often should you do the treatment?” The studies all use different dosing schedules, but in general, the range is from two times per week to two times per day.
As a general approach, I suggest starting slow to assess your body’s response at first (with low doses done infrequently for the first few sessions) and then building up to 3-7 sessions per week. As with the biphasic dose response (and with many other types of hormesis, like physical exercise, for example), note that it may turn out that too high of a frequency is detrimental. Although there is no consensus in the research yet, my hunch is that optimal treatment times are probably once every other day to once per day at the most. I personally do it every other day, because that’s what I believe will turn out to be most optimal
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370 Hamblin, M, et al. (2018). Low-level light therapy: Photobiomodulation. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).
371 Hamblin, M, et al. (2018). Low-level light therapy: Photobiomodulation. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).
372 Hamblin, M, et al. (2018). Low-level light therapy: Photobiomodulation. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).
373 Hamblin, M, et al. (2018). Low-level light therapy: Photobiomodulation. Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers (SPIE).