Today Jake Kreuz, founder of Vital Red Light, is here to help us better understand how to use red light therapy to biohack our health using photobiomodulation.
The Science Behind Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy (RLT) – also known as photobiomodulation, is a natural, non-invasive healing modality that delivers beneficial light directly to your body and cells. It utilizes two specific wavelengths of light (mid 600nm red light and mid 800 nm near-infrared light) that are naturally emitted by the sun. In targeted doses, they provide a wide range of health benefits across different systems and parts of the body.
A great metaphor for explaining the science of red light therapy is to draw a comparison to plants. Just as plants use chlorophyll to convert sunlight into energy (food), red and near-infrared light creates a biochemical effect in the body that enhances cellular energy production and efficiency.
The photons of light from a RLT device are absorbed by mitochondrial chromophores in skin cells. When the light is absorbed, it increases electron transport, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), nitric oxide release, blood flow, reactive oxygen species increase, and in addition, diverse signaling pathways are activated. Elevated ATP is then used to power metabolic processes; synthesize DNA, RNA, proteins, and enzymes needed to repair or regenerate cell components .
The health of every cell, tissue, and organ in our body depends on energy being produced by the mitochondria in those cells. Since red and near-infrared light help the mitochondria produce more energy and produce it more efficiently, the benefits of this therapy can extend across many regions and systems of the body.
Since red and near-infrared light help the mitochondria produce more energy and produce it more efficiently, the benefits of red light therapy can extend across many regions and systems of the body.
Light therapy has been around for decades in select communities, but just recently started making its way mainstream with the advent of medical grade, at-home, light therapy devices. Red light has been widely studied, including research by NASA in the 1980s.
Throughout peer-reviewed clinical research red light is observed to be safe and effective at promoting a wide range of health benefits with very few side effects or adverse reactions. You can do a simple Pubmed search for “red light therapy” or “photobiomodulation” and find tons of research on the therapy, like this article here.
How to Biohack Your Skin Health With Red Light Therapy
Red and near-infrared light trigger a cascade of beneficial chemical reactions throughout tissues that stimulate the body's own healing and protective processes – which can lead to improved skin health, reduced pain and inflammation, better sleep, and enhanced muscle recovery.
When red light is used on the skin’s surface, the light penetrates between 8-11 millimeters into the body. Depending on where the red light is shined the surrounding layers of skin, lymphatic pathways, and blood vessels can be modulated.
Red light therapy has been used in the dermatology and aesthetics community for years – primarily at top wellness spas and skin clinics. RLT has been shown to smooth skin tone, repair sun damage (hyperpigmentation), decrease inflammation, reduce scarring, and even build collagen (leading to reduction of fine lines and wrinkles) . Natural red and near-infrared light has also been found in clinical trials to have a therapeutic effect on the symptoms of painful skin conditions like psoriasis, herpes, and acne [2,3]. Red light therapy works to treat the root cause of many skin issues by stimulating collagen synthesis and fibroblast formation, reducing inflammation, enhancing blood flow, and facilitating DNA repair.
The face gets all the attention when it comes to using red light therapy, mainly because of the anti-aging properties – and we can’t argue with that! But the skin extends way beyond the head and neck. As our largest organ, it plays an essential role in key bodily processes such as circulation, immune health, hormone production and temperature regulation. So skin health is not only essential for aesthetics & beauty, but also full body health and wellness.
Skin health is not only essential for aesthetics & beauty, but also full body health and wellness.
My favorite biohack for enhanced skin health is to expose as much skin as possible (yes, that means getting naked!) to the red light. It may sound counterproductive, but shining a red light on your limbs, back, and chest can have as much of an effect on your skin health as focusing primarily on the face. The skin is an interconnected organ and the results you can experience from using red light extend across the entire body. So relax, get naked, and enjoy the full body skin benefits that come with using red light therapy.
The skin benefits we have seen in our community range from reducing wrinkles & fine lines, lessening the appearance of scars & blemishes, treating acne, boosting collagen, and ultimately producing better looking, younger and smoother skin. I must note that the results are cumulative, meaning you won’t see long-term benefits from a single session. Improvement to skin tone and appearance will happen gradually. You may see minor results quickly, but you will continue to see the full effects over 3-6 months. Consistency is key for achieving the desired skin benefits. Every individual and every condition will react differently to red light therapy.
Red light works to improve your skin health from the inside-out.
How quickly you see results depends on the severity of your condition, your age, your overall health, your immune system health, and your lifestyle. Integrating red light therapy along with healthy lifestyle choices is always your best bet. Remember that red light works to improve your skin health from the inside-out. The changes to your skin are happening on a cellular level and this is much different than most skincare products that just treat the skin’s surface.
Get to Know Jake Kreuz - Founder of Vital Red Light
What books are you reading right now?
I currently enjoy reading about topics relating to light, along with seeking a greater understanding of how the body works on a chemical, biological, and energetic level.
Body Electric: Robert O. Becker is a visionary and a pioneer in the field of regeneration and its relationship to electrical currents in living things. He challenges the established mechanistic understanding of the body which I found to be fascinating and changed my perspective of how the body works on an energetic level.
Health and Light: This is the story of John Ott’s discovery of the role that light plays in sustaining physical and emotional health. In the book, Ott makes claims that UV light is actually very beneficial to health and that an unbalanced spectrum of light – such as the one most people live under indoors – can be problematic and lead to health problems.
Your personal favorite quote?
“All of humanity's problems stem from man's inability to sit quietly in a room alone." – by French philosopher Blaise Pascal. I find myself thinking about this quote often. It appeals to me on a personal level for a number of reasons and is a constant reminder to take time each day to mindfully sit in silence so that I can process my thoughts, emotions, and experiences. We live in such an overstimulated world with distractions everywhere and I think that taking time for yourself, in silence, allows you to have the space for self-reflection and self-knowledge.
This is the reason I enjoy red light so much. It is almost a forced meditation or mindfulness in a way. When the bright light is shining it is hard to be on your phone or watch TV. It gives you a space to sit with yourself in silence or meditation. We see our customers have the most success with using red light when they pair it with a meditation practice, breathwork, or journaling.
What is one biohack you cannot live without?
For me, it is getting morning sunlight upon waking. It is absolutely free and I encourage everyone to try it out for themselves. When sunlight reaches your eyes in the morning, it triggers a neural circuit that controls the timing of the hormones cortisol and melatonin, impacting sleep at the end of the day. Artificial light, from our phones and screens, is not the same as sunlight and does not have the same effect, especially in the morning. Morning sunlight gives me a boost of energy and a mental sharpness to start the workday.
Last, do you consider yourself a good sleeper? When did you realize you were one? What helped you become a good sleeper?
I have not always considered myself a good sleeper. Prior to launching Vital Red Light, I was working on Wall Street - averaging about 5 hours of sleep per night. I felt my health deteriorating, my blood tests showed my hormone levels were off, and I was constantly stressed. It was not good for my physical or mental well-being. I was unaware about the profound implications of a good night's sleep. I think the work of Dr. Matthew Walker and others who have sparked the conversation around sleep are doing really great work.
Awareness on the importance of sleep (specifically for brain function) along with personal data from my Whoop band has helped me become a better sleeper overtime. I am constantly experimenting with routines, supplements and practices to score better on my sleep. It becomes a game of sorts – which I find to be fun.
Walk us through your sleep routine from dinner until you hit the pillow. What devices, supplements/teas, tech, textiles, etc. do you use?
A restful night’s sleep begins in the morning – with morning sunshine. I am very interested in circadian biology and how this cycle influences our entire body, energy levels, and hormones. Getting morning sunshine suppresses melatonin for release 12-hours later for when it is time to go to bed. I also use my red light therapy in the evening (usually 1-2 hours before bed) and pair this with a meditation practice – which seems to get me out of my thinking mind and into rest and relaxation.
Most importantly, I pay very close attention to my nighttime light environment. At night, my entire house is lit up red from my red light. If I am using my phone or computer, I am wearing blue blockers and have the brightness all the way down on the screens. I try to stay cognizant of throwing off my circadian clock from any blue light source.
Connect With Jake Kreuz and Vital Red Light
Jake Kreuz is the founder of Vital Red Light, a red light therapy company that provides medical grade products to use right in the comfort of your home. Ready to try red light therapy? Use code NEUROHACKER for 20% off your purchase.
*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. The products and services mentioned are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
The recommendations in this article represent the opinions and experience of the interviewee, and are not a guarantee, promise, or reflection of other users’ results.