dstoner.net (Donald W. Stoner)

Red-Light Therapy (PhotoBioModulation)

New research shows potential for treating a range of medical problems!

What is Red-Light Therapy? Red Light Therapy is the procedure of treating various medical conditions by simply shining red (or infrared) light on patients.

Why Should Anyone Expect Red-Light Therapy to Help? The short answer is that we humans don't get out into the sunshine enough; that we're depriving our bodies of some necessary wavelenghts of light (infrared). For some of us, the obvious fix (just spending more time outside) isn't very practical (indoor/desk job, shut-in, bedridden, northern latitude, rain, snow, ... etc.).

How impotrant is a little extra infrared light?
Although correlation does not prove causality, it is still one way to help evaluate questions like this one. Studies have demonstrated a correlation between the sun's seasonal variations in intensity, and the state of a person's health. [1],

How and Why does Red Light help?
Although humans don't perform photosynthesis like plants do, they still use infrared light to help produce "ATP" - which is the main energy source used for our cellular functions. One of these functions is keeping stem cells working; and stem cells repair everything else in our bodies that breaks. This is how and why red light seems to fix so many seemingly-unrelated things which are not working correctly. Unfortunately Red-Light Therapy can be expensive and time consuming (in addition to being intermittantly administered and brutally intense); so, here is a very quick, inexpensive, and more-natural solution:

Parts list:> (all prices are as of 3/15/2024)
tripod: $21.99 (or buy 2: $37.99) (note: different tripod [2] pictured:)
8W 850nm LEDs: $28.96 (or buy 2: -5%) -or-
8W 850nm LEDs: $29.99 (cupon: -6%)
1/4-20 Wingnut -and- M6 Washer (to fasten the light to the tripod)
Black Electrical Tape -or- Black Gorilla Tape (to cover the light sensor)
Optional: Light Power Meter (a bit expensive, but nice for experiments)
Assembly Instructions:
Use a wingnut and a washer to mount the IR LED lamp to the 1/4-20 threaded rod atop the tripod. The featured Tripod comes with a ball-swivel which makes it possible to aim the lamp straight down. The threaded rod comes with a plastic washer which you may (or may not) choose to replace with a second metal washer.

This low-coss (mass produced) light puts out an excellent wavelength (850nm) and power (8 watts) for natural red-light therapy, however, it was actually designed for night survalence. This means it is equipped with a "daylight" sensor which would normally turn it off during the day. Since you will want the light to remain on all day [3], this sensor will need to be blocked. Cover it up with a little piece of black tape (see picture at left), connect the power supply, and you should be done.

Reommended Use:
Adjust the tripod's base to a wide, stable setting, and extend the light about as high as it reasonably goes. Tighten all the clamps. Select a location where you are likely to spend most of your indoor hours. (Mine is aimed down at me, from behind, like a reading light, where I normally work at my computer station.) The light should probably be about 2 - 4 feet above you [4], but having the ideal position isn't expected to be particularly critical.

Although the light doesn't appear to be very bright, it is actually quite bright - our eyes just can't see it very well. The directions which come with the light warn that you should not stare directly at it. That's probably good advice, however the lights are intended to be mounted outside, in public, where anyone walking by might choose to stare at them.

Different Posibilities For Mounting Hardware:
Although there are situations where the tripod mount may have the best combination of portability and versitility, there are others where a variety of clamps available here might provide a better choice. Pictured (left, near-right, and far-right) are some very small and inexpensive pole/shelf clamp mounts, which can be bolted to the IR lamps using the same #6 washers (as above), and 1/4-20x1/2" bolts (one-each-per-clamp).

The larger clamps are optomized for rectangular surface mounts (either vertically or horizontally). A pair of them are mounted to a 20-watt lamp (upper-left) and a single clamp to a 12-watt lamp (far right). If you are considering trying out a more powerful (and, therefore, heavier) IR light source, these might be more secure.

The smaller clamp (lower-left and near-right) is optomized for mounting on a pole, e.g. a round horizontal curtain rod (or even a vertical I.V. stand).

Lower-cost IR LED Lamps:
If you have been following the links to the vaious IR lamps, you might have noticed that the price for the above-linked 12-watt lamp ($29.90 as of 03/22/2024) is about the same as for the 8-watt lamps (also linked above). Among the possible reasons for this is some cost engineering:

The lower-cost versions are less massive, as one might expect; some of them may not include the power supply; but probably the most important way any cost engineering will afffect us here, is the location of the dayllight sensor: That sensor is behind the front-glass window (where it is very difficult to block effectively with black tape).

By removing the four mounting screws and the front glass (adamantly forbidden by the manufacturer) I was able to successfully block the sensor; before reassembling and carefully retightening the four mounting screws to their pre-removal torques. At least the patient (minus any possible ghost of a warranty) appears to have survived. In the white light (top right), the tape can barely be seen covering che sensor between the top-left four LEDs; in the black light (bottom right) it is between the bottom-right four LEDs.

General Notes:
Technical Biochemistry:

All Living Cells
Mitochondria (the cells' energy source)
ADP to ATP Production (in the mitochondria)

Related Videos:
Not-too-technical video discusses artificial and natural IR benefits (20 minutes)
(Technical) Graph at about 7 minutes shows optimum once-per-day dosage (30 minutes)

Early Red-Light Study:
Original IR Study shows benefits with Parkinson's (once-per-day)


1. How impotrant is a little extra infrared light?
The following charts track how some health isues change seasonally - as the sun's rays cycle through weak and strong variations. These charts track lung-heart-and-stroke-related hospital admissions which appear to cycle seasonally. The 2nd series of charts also tracks death rates and variation with age,



These charts demonstrate a correlation between the sun's intensity and the state of a person's health, at least for those who are old enough to be in need of some bodily repair. (The apparent randomness in the youunger age groups may be, at least partly, because of the smaller sample size for serious illness or deaths in those demographics.)

2. This different tripod is less expensive, but doesn't come with the ball-swivel (which allows the light to be aimed in the more useful downward directions). That additional cost, nearly eliminates the cost difference, and the featured tripod is sufficiently easier to adjust, that I prefer it in any case.

3. Why we need to keep the light going steadily all day (instead of using a single, intense exposure):
A human consumes about their own body weight of ATP daily (top of p.3),
however, their whole body only contains about 50 grams of ATP at any one time.
For details, see Lehninger Princiles of Biochemistry p.467 (Chapter 17)
So our bodies must produce 50 new grams, over 1000 times per day, or more frequently than once every single minute all day long, to keep producing ATP. The optimum once-per-day dose at 100w/square meter works out to be about 10 minutes; but a much lower exposure, spread out over the entire day (maintaining ATP production all day long), would be expected to accomplish much better results. The author's preliminary experiments appear to confirm this expectation.

4. "Above" So we are less likely to find ourselves staring at bright, but invisible, IR light, (as explained in the next following paragraph of the text).