Light Therapies — Full-Spectrum, Red, and Blue

Artwork: Our grateful thanks to JR Korpa on Unsplash.

by Connie Hernandez, ND

You’ve probably seen advertisements for full-spectrum lights intended for use in the home and at work.

Little wonder: we humans have evolved under sunlight, moonlight, and starlight – all of which are full-spectrum lights.

Sunlight has long been recommended as a powerful healing medium for various ills, particularly in northern climes where sunlight is limited and we find a higher incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder and autoimmune issues such as multiple sclerosis, where a deficiency of vitamin D may factor.

Dr. Connie Hernandez, ND

For this reason, when we started our first naturopathic clinic in Brattleboro, Vermont, we were careful to install full-spectrum lighting in the waiting room, thus essentially giving our patients a free treatment even before they were seen.

Nowadays, humans are evolving under the influence of many types of artificial lighting, and we’re learning about the risks and benefits of the kinds of lighting we choose, or that others choose for us.

We live indoors much of the time, and our lives are increasingly dependent on artificial lighting at home and at work.

The light-emitting diodes in LED light bulbs, fluorescent lights, computer screens, gaming devices, cell phones, and tablets emit blue light. Overexposure to blue light has been linked to problems ranging from dry eyes, eye strain, and retinal damage to headaches and insomnia.

Scientists who are forever skeptical of anecdotal evidence from folk medicine, are wary of confirming the ill effects for our eyes of overexposure to blue light.

Meanwhile, startups that stand to benefit from reports of the negative effects may overstate the damage.

You can easily find a litany of flue light’s ills online, and a plethora of products intended to protect your eyes. For example, you can buy blue-blocking glasses and screensavers to turn down the blue light and mitigate the damaging effects.

The most compelling evidence for the negative effects of overexposure to blue light are related to the regulation of sleep patterns – and the evidence is uncontested.

Photosensitive retinal ganglion cells in our eyes respond to environmental light and influence the secretion of melatonin, which helps regulate sleep and alertness.

Sleep researchers have confirmed that evening and nighttime exposure to blue light can disrupt our circadian rhythms and cause sleep disturbances.

So it’s wise, at the very least either to limit our exposure to blue light at night, or to protect our eyes by blocking it.

Red light, on the other hand, has been found to stimulate melatonin and enhance mitochondrial function. Accordingly, you might want to use red night lights.

(We aren’t talking about tinted light bulbs, but light sources that emit light at the red end of the spectrum.)

Various red light therapies have become popular and are being researched for their beneficial effects in the treatment of dementia, dental pain, alopecia, arthritis, tendinitis, and skin health. You’ll now find red light therapy devices in salons and dental offices, and increasingly, available for home use.

The term “photobiomodulation” is a big word for the use of specific wavelengths of non-ionizing light from lasers, LEDs, and broadband light in the visible and infrared spectrum to help the body heal. Red light therapy devices fall in this category.

As we rapidly advance in our understanding of the effects of various wavelengths of colored light, we are finding exciting applications in the treatment of cancer, infection, neurologic diseases, and more.

The medicine of the future will undoubtedly rely ever more on our expanded understanding of the applications of light, color, and other vibrational medicines to promote health and well-being.

For information about the services we offer at Pacific Naturopathic, please give us a call at 650-961-1660, use the convenient Contact Form to get in touch, or follow the link to: Consultations – Pacific Naturopathic. Thank you!