It's all about Intensity!
How much light do you need?
In our previous article, we touched on the light wavelengths that brought healing powers and health benefits to our bodies and mitochondria.
We are now going to look into what intensity and time frame is required to realise the healing powers of Red Light Therapy. Intensity is the measure of the light photons hitting our body’s surface at a moment in time. This is also referred to as the power of the light. This is usually measured in watts (or millwatts) per cm2 (mW/cm2).
As you apply light to the surface area for a period of time, the energy applied during this is known as the dose. This is also the number of photons delivered to the skin’s surface over that period of time which can be referred to as the Joules (energy).
Which Intensity works best?
A bell curve best demonstrates the expected response to the intensity of the Red Light Therapy at a cellular level. Research has shown that too little energy (or intensity) of Red Light Therapy and you may not get the benefit you are looking for, and similarly if the energy threshold is crossed too far then the stimulation disappears and no benefit happens.
Dr Alexander Wunsch and Dr Joseph Mercola recommend an intensity of 10-20 mW/cm2 as ideal, there are other multiple studies which recommend an intensity closer to 100mW/cm2. It is also important to consider the condition you are targeting when identifying the intensity required as the higher intensity has the potential to penetrate a little deeper beneath the skin into your joints and muscle tissue.
Red Light Therapy devices usually detail the intensity at varying distances from the light source. The first reading is normally the intensity at source i.e. right in front of the light. You also want to ensure you know the intensity at varying distances from the light, which can help you calculate your treatment time. This is important if you want to sit up close with your face in the light to shorten treatment time, or at a comfortable distance away to meditate or sip your morning coffee, both of these situations will require different treatment times.
How much dose?
The dose, or total energy applied to the surface, is our next focus. This is normally measured in Joules. The following calculation supports the calculation of the dose...or the second formula will help you work out the time required if you know the intensity of the light.
Or simply put: Intensity x Time = Energy
NASA supported research (plus other research studies since this study was completed) has stated that a dose delivered to the body of 4-6 Joules/cm2 is the amount of energy required for optimal results from Red Light Therapy.
Therefore, if you have a Red Light Therapy device with an intensity of 100mW/cm2 (which is the intensity achieved on the Full Stack Device at a distance of 20cm from the device), applying the formula above it would take 60 seconds to equal 6 Joules of energy [(100 x 60s)/1000 = 6 ].
If you want to follow Mercola and Dr Wunsch’s research study recommendations and have an intensity of 20mW/cm2, this intensity can be achieved by sitting or standing 150cm away from the Full Stack device. This would then require 5 minutes of exposure to achieve the same 6 Joules of energy [(6x1000)/20 = 300 seconds].
It is important to understand the intensity strength of your Red Light Therapy device, which will dictate the time required to achieve the dose you need for your Red Light Therapy goal/condition.
The red light you chose to buy should list the intensity it discharges at varying distances from the light so you can perform this calculation. If these figures are not known, you cannot determine the dose you are receiving for optimal performance.
Other considerations are that some of the smaller Red Light Therapy LED units can only deliver < 100mW/cm2 which is considered too low for some of the prescribed conditions (eg oral health, bone repair, muscle recovery), but perfect for others like skin conditions.
The key is to do your research, and ensure you have access to the appropriate information to make the correct decision for you and your situation.
If you have any questions, please feel free to send them through to our Contact Us page and we will happily help where we can!
In our next article….
...it is good news for those passionate about beauty as we are taking a deeper dive into the regenerative benefits for the skin and how the beauty industry is using Red Light Therapy.
We love hearing from others passionate about their red lights, we are growing in numbers every day. We are going to start doing a features section on how people use their lights day to day so please share your story through Social Media or our Contact Us page, and it doesn’t even have to be one of our lights - we love all red light!
The Red Light Rising Team