Man sitting in front of his Orion 500. Orion Red Light Therapy world leading red light therapy devices.

How Does Red Light Therapy Work?

What is Red Light Therapy?

The human body requires natural light to perform and thrive, just like it needs water and nutrients from food.

Red and near-infrared wavelengths of light are the ‘superfoods’ of natural light, providing our body with healing properties and health benefits.

Red light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that delivers concentrated red and near-infrared light to your cells. All you need is 10-15 minutes per day to optimize your body.

What does "Red Light Therapy" mean?

“Red light therapy” refers to treatments from light-emitting diodes (LEDs) that deliver wavelengths of natural red and near-infrared light. Red light therapy does not rely on heat, a major difference between natural light treatments and heat-based modalities like an infrared sauna, traditional sauna, or other type of heat therapy. Red light therapy describes natural light treatments that deliver the same therapeutic red and near-infrared wavelengths as natural sunlight. This differs from artificial light treatments like tanning or bright light therapy from a light therapy lamp, or light box. Red light therapy may also be referred to as the following terms: RLT, photobiomodulation (PBM), phototherapy, LED therapy, LED light therapy, low-level laser therapy or low-level light therapy (LLLT).

Where did Red Light Therapy come from?

Red light therapy has become a popular natural health intervention, both in professional and clinical settings and with home devices like Orion. Light therapy technology has been used in medicine for decades, and NASA experimented with red light therapy in the 1980s and 1990s. In the last decade, red light therapy has become more widely used thanks to breakthroughs in LED lighting technology that have made affordable home devices possible. Major advances in clinical light therapy research and increased public interest in natural health technologies, have also contributed to the growing use and popularity of red light therapy.

How does Red Light Therapy work?

Red light therapy delivers full-body benefits by using medical-grade 5w LEDs to project clinically proven red and near-infrared wavelengths onto your body. These lights will fall under a wavelength spectrum of the sun and lie between 620 nanometers (nm) to 1200 nm. The difference in nanometers is its ability to penetrate through the skin.

The health benefits of red light therapy are driven from 3 different mechanisms: increase mitochondrial function, improve blood circulation, and decrease oxidative stress.

Mitochondrial Function

Red light therapy boosts our energy production at a cellular level, specifically in the mitochondria—the 'powerhouse' of the cell [1,2]. The natural red and near infrared light from red light therapy enhances the cellular respiration process that creates adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy, often called "the energy currency of life". Our bodies are constantly creating ATP in order to fuel everything we do. The more ATP our cells can produce, the better our bodies heal, feel, and perform.

Blood Circulation

Blood circulation is one of the most vital functions in the body. It’s how essential nutrients and oxygen get delivered to the brain and throughout the body. Red light therapy improves blood flow by stimulating the production of Nitric Oxide (NO) in our cells [3,4]. One of the main functions of NO is to relax the walls of blood vessels, allowing for increased blood flow through arteries and veins. Greater circulation allows our cells to receive more oxygen and nutrients for benefits such as skin health, wound healing, and reduced muscle soreness.

Oxidative Stress

Oxidative stress is an imbalance between free radicals and antioxidants in our body. Free radicals are harmful molecules, which are naturally produced through metabolic activities, such as digestion and exercising. Antioxidants play a central role in offsetting free radicals and reducing oxidative stress. Uncontrolled levels of oxidative stress can lead to cell injury and accelerate the aging process of the body. Red light therapy reduces oxidative stress, prevents further damage to cells, and early death, by upregulating the production of antioxidant enzymes [5,6,7].

The mechanisms of red light therapy can lead to a positive effect on mental acuity, sleep quality, skin health, muscle recovery, brain health, inflammation, and joint pains among many other aspects to optimize one’s overall health.

Orion uses medical-grade 5 watt LEDs to deliver red and near-infrared light to your cells. The light emitted is just like the wavelengths of light your body needs from natural sunlight, but without the heat, harmful UV rays, or need to rely on the weather.

The difference between Red and Near-Infrared light

Red vs Near-Infrared Light | Orion Red Light Therapy

The difference between red and near-infrared light is the ability to penetrate through the skin.

Red light uses a shorter wavelength that ranges from 620-750 nanometers (nm) and is readily absorbed by the surface layer of the skin. Red light is known to increase collagen, energy production, and improve sleep, among many other health benefits.

Near-infrared light uses a longer wavelength that ranges from 750-1200 nm and has the ability to reach into deeper tissues of the body for other health benefits. To name a few, near-infrared light is responsible for benefits such as improving muscle recovery, joint pain, inflammation, mental acuity, and thyroid function.

Orion uses the most effective and clinically proven wavelengths of red, at 660 nm, and near-infrared, at 850 nm, light for full-body health benefits..

How to use Red Light Therapy


Red light therapy treatments are simple and can be very effective when complemented with other healthy lifestyles. Follow Orion’s treatment guideline for the best results:

  • Position yourself 6-12 inches away from your device.
  • Expose your skin for the most effective results.
  • Approximately 10-15 minute treatments per body area and up to 20 minutes for symptomatic areas.
  • 1-2 treatments per day.
  • Any time of day that works best for you.

Shop the Orion lineup to find the best device that suits you.



[1] Freitas, L. & Hamblin, M. (2016). Proposed mechanisms of photobiomodulation or low-level light therapy". IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Quantum Electronics, 22(3): 2-37.

[2] Hamblin, M. R. (2017). Mechanisms and Mitochondrial Redox Signaling in Photobiomodulation. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2018, 94:199-212.

[3] Ihsan, F. R. M. (2005). Low-level laser therapy accelerates collateral circulation and enhances microcirculation. Photomedicine and Laser Surgery, 23(3): 289-294.

[4] Maegawa, Y., …, & Nishi, M. (2000). Effects of near-infrared low-level laser irradiation on micocirculation. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 27:427-437. 

[5] Marchi, T. D., Junior, E. C. P. L, Bortoli, C., Tomazoni S. S., Lopes-Martins, R. A. B., & Salvador, M. (2011). Low-level laser therapy (lllt) in human progressive-intensity running: effects on exercise performance, skeletal muscle status, and oxidative stress. Laser Medical Sciences.

[6] Macedo, R. S., ..., & Lino-dos-Santos-Franco, A. (2016). Photobiomodulation therapy decreases oxidative stress in the lung tissue after formaldehyde exposure: role of oxidant/antioxidant enzymes. Hindawi Publishing Corporation.

[7] Salehpour,F., Mahmoudi, J., Kamari, F., Sadigh-Eteghad, S., Rasta, S. H., & Hamblin, M. R. (2018). Brain photobiomodulation therapy: a narrative review. Molecular Neurobiology, 55(8): 6601-6636.


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