What in the World is Photobiomodulation?

Photobiomodulation-that’s a big word! It can also be called red light therapy, near-infrared light therapy, or low-level light therapy. Here at CryoSpa Mind & Body Wellness it is the therapy used in our NovoThor Wellness Light Pod. It can have amazing effects on the body at a cellular level. Each step of the process must first be explained to understand exactly what photobiomodulation means and what it does. 

To begin, let’s bring you way back to high school Biology class. There are trillions of cells in the human body all working together to keep the body running everyday. Every cell has something called the mitochondria inside of them. The mitochondria is the “powerhouse” of cells that converts the food we eat into energy, called ATP, and the oxygen we breathe into Cytochrome C Oxidase.

Free radicals are “bad” particles made in the body that can disrupt the body’s natural processes. Free radicals are produced whenever stress is put on the body, and this can result from things that are bad for the body as well as things that are good for the body. For example, pollutants in the air, exercise, the digestive process, chemicals, nutritional imbalances, and biological imbalances can all cause free radicals to enter cells. These free radicals can block the formation of ATP in the mitochondria. Without ATP for the cells to use, the body has a lack of energy and oxygen. 

Free radical damage overtime makes it more and more difficult for the body to cleanse the cells of free radicals. The overall load of free radical damage on the body is called oxidative stress. Oxidative stress causes inflammation, acute injury, chronic injury, and aging to occur. It is also the underlying cause of most degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease, MS, Alzheimer’s, arthritis, IBS, heart failure, diabetes, and many more. Furthermore, oxidative stress causes cell damage and errors in transcription that can lead to gene mutations and cancer. 

Figure 1.1 Red/Near-Infra red light is shown here penetrating the cell, and the effects are tremendous!

How can red light/near-infrared light help all of these conditions? Cells are actually very sensitive to light just like plants that use light for photosynthesis and energy. Cells in the human body are especially sensitive to light in the red and near-infrared spectrum. When the body converts oxygen to Cytochrome C Oxidase, it also creates an absorption site for light. When near-infrared light at just the right intensity is applied to the body, it immediately displaces free radicals in the cell to allow oxygen back into the cell. Therefore, the cell can continue to make energy (ATP).  This also helps to increase blood circulation throughout the body, and in turn reduces the load of oxidative stress on the body.

Photobiomodulation is this process of applying red/near-infrared light to the cells to displace free radicals and reduce the overall load of oxidative stress. This consequently reduces inflammation and the stress load on the body to help the body begin healing itself.

It is amazing what the body can do when we give it the tools to heal itself! If you’d like to learn more about the photobiomodulation process, check out this great video from The Rays of Hope here.

Also, stop by CryoSpa Mind & Body Wellness for a tour and learn more about our Novothor Wellness Light Pod and how red/near infrared light therapy can be incorporated into your wellness journey.



Table 1.1: Hamblin, MR. (2008). Mechanisms of Low Level Light Therapy. Department of Dermatology, Harvard Medical School. Retrieved from http://photobiology.info/Hamblin.html April 12, 2017. 

How it Works. The Rays of Hope. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=5&v=t2CjpP5Ua9U