Photobiomodulation vs. Red Light Therapy

Photobiomodulation vs. Red Light Therapy

At Mito Red Light, we're fascinated by how specific light wavelengths can fundamentally enhance health. Enter photobiomodulation and red light therapy: two spectrums of light with the power to recharge your cellular energy. So, what sets them apart, and how can each be used to optimize your health?

In this article, we'll dive into the science behind each method, shedding light on how they work and whom they benefit most.

What Is Photobiomodulation?

Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a well-established scientific practice that uses light to provoke biological changes. The term itself breaks down into "photo" meaning light, "bio" referring to life, and "modulation" indicating adjustment.

Essentially, PBM involves using specific light wavelengths to stimulate cells and tissue, aiming to support recovery times, soothe discomfort, and support overall cellular function. By targeting mitochondria — the power generators within your cells — PBM helps to support overall energy production at a cellular level, supporting the body's natural healing processes.

What Is Red Light Therapy?

Red light therapy (RLT) is a form of photobiomodulation that specifically uses red to near-infrared light. This therapy is gaining traction for its simplicity and the profound impact it can have on overall health. 

In today’s society, most of us end up spending plenty of time indoors, which causes us to miss out on exposure to certain wavelengths of light. Red light therapy can help compensate for this. 

Like PBM, RLT works at the cellular level but focuses primarily on the skin and muscle tissues. It's touted for its ability to enhance skin health, aid muscle recovery, and support joint comfort. 

RLT operates by delivering safe, concentrated wavelengths of natural light into your skin, where it’s absorbed by your cells. This process helps to stimulate collagen production, support cellular repair, and increase circulation, offering a non-invasive option to maintain and improve wellness.

How Are Photobiomodulation and RLT Different?

While photobiomodulation and red light therapy might seem similar at first glance, diving deeper reveals key distinctions that make each suited for specific health objectives. Both use light to enhance cellular function, but the nuances in how they're applied and what they aim to achieve can influence your choice between them.

Wavelengths and Application

The most significant difference lies in the range of light wavelengths each therapy uses. Photobiomodulation often employs a broader spectrum of light, including both visible and invisible wavelengths, covering a wide range from deep blue to near-infrared. This range allows PBM to target various tissue types and depths, making it versatile for different medical applications. 

On the other hand, red light therapy focuses on a narrower band of red to near-infrared light. This specialization makes RLT particularly effective for skin health and surface muscle tissues, where these specific wavelengths penetrate effectively and stimulate recovery and rejuvenation.

Targeted Outcomes

Photobiomodulation is frequently used in more clinical or therapeutic settings, where the goal might be to accelerate wound healing, promote soothing effects, or aid in pain relief. It’s about adjusting the body’s processes at a micro level to encourage healing or improve function. 

Red light therapy, however, is often sought for its cosmetic and wellness benefits, such as potential support for skin complexion, muscle recovery, and joint mobility. It's more about supporting and maintaining the body’s natural functions and is easily accessible for everyday use at home.

Equipment and Accessibility

In terms of equipment, photobiomodulation devices are generally more complex and can be found in medical facilities. These devices might offer adjustable settings to handle a variety of medical conditions with precise dosing guided by clinical studies. 

Red light therapy devices, like our award-winning red light panel, tend to be more user-friendly and designed for regular personal use, making it easy for anyone to integrate them into their daily wellness routine.

How To Choose Between Photobiomodulation and Red Light Therapy 

Choosing between photobiomodulation and red light therapy boils down to personal preference and which suits your unique needs and tastes.

Are you aiming for specific medical objectives, like kick-starting that wound healing process, or soothing a persistent discomfort? If so, photobiomodulation, typically administered under professional supervision, could be your go-to choice. This option pulls out all the stops by using an array of light wavelengths for various health applications.

However, if you're looking to glow up your daily wellness routine, red light therapy might just take the cake. Interested in buffing up skin health or giving your muscles a boost post-workout? Or perhaps, aiming for those small but consistent wellness milestones? Then red light therapy is your new best friend.

Are There Any Risks or Side Effects of Photobiomodulation or RLT?

When considering any kind of wellness enhancement, it’s wise to weigh the potential risks alongside the benefits. 

Fortunately, both photobiomodulation and red light therapy are known for their safety and minimal side effects, making them a compelling choice for those looking to boost their health naturally.

Mild and Rare Side Effects

The good news is that side effects for both therapies are generally mild and uncommon. Some users of red light therapy report temporary mild irritation, redness, or tingling at the site of application, particularly if the light is more intense. 

However, these symptoms typically dissipate soon after the session ends. Photobiomodulation, used under professional guidance, might cause similar transient effects, especially if the light penetrates deeper tissues.

Safety First

Both types of therapy use non-ionizing light wavelengths, which means they don’t carry the same risks as ionizing light forms, such as X-rays. 

Non-ionizing light is generally considered safe because it doesn’t damage DNA or tissues directly. For added safety, reputable devices like those from Mito Red Light are designed with built-in features to ensure they deliver light at safe, therapeutic levels.

Always Check With a Professional

If you have existing health conditions or are undergoing other treatments, it’s a smart move to consult with a healthcare provider before starting new therapies. This ensures that red light therapy or photobiomodulation will safely complement your existing health regimen.

How To Maximize the Benefits of Light Therapy

Whether you're leaning towards photobiomodulation for its clinical precision or embracing red light therapy for its broad wellness benefits, here are some smart strategies to enhance your experience and maximize the benefits of your chosen light therapy:

Start Slow

Especially if you're new to light therapy, begin with shorter sessions and gradually increase the duration as your body adapts. This helps minimize any initial discomfort and lets your body adjust to the new stimulus.

Consistency Is Key

Like any wellness routine, consistency yields the best results. Aim for regular sessions, following the recommended frequency for your specific device. 

For instance, our Mito Red Light Full Body Mat can be used daily to support overall well-being, making it easy to incorporate into your routine.

Mind the Timing

Timing can significantly affect your therapy's effectiveness. Some people find morning sessions energize them for the day ahead, while others may prefer evening sessions to help wind down and prepare for a restful sleep.

Stay Hydrated

Keeping hydrated enhances your body’s conductivity and the effectiveness of light therapy. Drink water before and after sessions to help your body manage the increased cellular activity stimulated by the light.

Focus on Coverage

Make sure the light covers the targeted area adequately. If you're using therapy for specific areas like the back or joints, consider a device designed for targeted treatment, like our Mito Red Light Advanced Therapy Belt, which can be wrapped around different body parts for focused therapy.

Regular Check-Ins

Monitor your progress and make adjustments as needed. Keep an eye on how your body responds after each session, and adjust the intensity, duration, or frequency to better suit your needs.

Combine Therapies

Combining light therapy with other wellness activities can amplify benefits. For instance, using red light therapy post-exercise can enhance muscle recovery, while pairing it with meditation may increase relaxation and stress relief.

A Final Word

As we've explored the unique aspects and benefits of both photobiomodulation and red light therapy, it's clear that each offers a distinct approach to enhancing health and wellness through the power of light. 

Whether you're drawn to the broad spectrum and deep tissue support of photobiomodulation or the targeted, skin-deep stimulation of red light therapy, the choice ultimately aligns with your personal health goals and lifestyle needs.

At Mito Red Light, we're dedicated to providing you with cutting-edge, safe, and effective solutions for your wellness journey. Our range of products, from the MitoPRO+ Series for personal use to the MitoPETS Pad for your furry friends, is designed to integrate seamlessly into your life, ensuring you gain all the benefits light therapy has to offer.

Photobiomodulation and red light therapy aren't just treatments; they're gateways to a brighter, healthier future. Harness the power of light with Mito Red Light, and shine a new light on your health and well-being today.

DISCLAIMER: Mito Red Light devices are not clinically proven to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any medical conditions.  Mito Red Light devices are low / risk general wellness devices aimed at affecting the body through supporting cellular function. The scientific studies referenced in this article are for educational and informational purposes only and are meant to educate the reader on the exciting and growing field of phototherapy.  To see a list of precautionary warnings and contraindications click here.


The Hype Around Photobiomodulation | Office for Science and Society | McGill University

Low-Level Light/Laser Therapy Versus Photobiomodulation Therapy | PMC

Mitochondria—hubs for regulating cellular biochemistry: emerging concepts and networks | PMC

Red Light Therapy: Benefits, Side Effects & Uses | Cleveland Clinic