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What is light therapy? 5 ways it benefits us

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy, uses artificial light sources to mimic natural sunlight. These devices, typically light boxes or lamps, emit specific wavelengths of light that penetrate the skin and influence various bodily functions.

Written By: Rahul Pratyush New Delhi Published on: April 05, 2024 9:30 IST
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Sunlight is essential for life, but what if natural light is scarce? Enter light therapy, a treatment gaining traction for its surprising range of benefits. But how exactly does it work?

What is Light therapy?

Light therapy, also known as phototherapy or heliotherapy, is a treatment that utilises specific wavelengths of light to improve various aspects of our physical and mental health. This therapeutic approach has gained significant attention in recent years due to its effectiveness and versatility in addressing a wide range of conditions. From mood disorders to skin ailments, light therapy offers a non-invasive and drug-free alternative for enhancing well-being. Let's delve deeper into what light therapy entails and how it benefits us in five distinct ways.

Managing seasonal affective disorder (SAD):

Seasonal Affective Disorder, or SAD, is a type of depression that typically occurs during the darker months of the year when sunlight exposure is limited. Light therapy simulates natural sunlight and has been shown to alleviate the symptoms of SAD by regulating the body's internal clock and boosting serotonin levels, a neurotransmitter associated with mood regulation. By exposing individuals to bright light for a specific duration each day, light therapy helps mitigate the depressive symptoms associated with SAD, such as low energy, mood swings, and lethargy.

Enhancing skin health:

Utilizing specific wavelengths of light, light therapy effectively treats acne, psoriasis, eczema, and other skin conditions. Blue light targets acne-causing bacteria, red light reduces inflammation and promotes healing, while near-infrared light boosts collagen production, improving skin texture and elasticity without the side effects associated with traditional medications.

Alleviating sleep disorders:

By regulating the body's circadian rhythm, light therapy helps manage sleep disorders such as insomnia and jet lag. Exposure to bright light in the morning resets the internal clock, promoting wakefulness, while dim light in the evening signals the body to produce melatonin, improving sleep quality and duration naturally.

Managing mood disorders:

Light therapy has shown promise in managing depression and bipolar disorder by influencing neurotransmitter activity in the brain. Exposure to bright light can have antidepressant effects, regulating mood fluctuations and sleep patterns for individuals with bipolar disorder. While not a replacement for other treatments, light therapy serves as a valuable adjunct therapy for managing mood disorders.

Accelerating wound healing:

Light therapy accelerates wound healing and tissue repair by stimulating cellular activity and increasing blood flow to the affected area. Red and near-infrared light wavelengths penetrate the skin, stimulating cellular metabolism and regeneration, facilitating faster recovery from wounds, cuts, and injuries either as a standalone treatment or in conjunction with other wound care modalities.

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