Red Light Therapy for Dementia Part 3: The Big List of Red Light Therapy Side Effects

Are there any side effects to red light therapy?

Ask any scientist in the photobiomodulation (red light therapy) field, and they will say that red light therapy has no side effects. Study after study has yielded excellent results with no adverse effects. But there are a few cautions for people with epilepsy and photo sensitivities.

Red light therapy is the low-energy delivery of photons to the target. High-energy light does have side effects, so I don’t want you to confuse the two.

Pulsing light is contraindicated with epilepsy, but you can get non-pulsing red light therapy
Pulsing light is contraindicated with epilepsy, but you can get non-pulsing red light therapy

Red Light Therapy Side Effects: When Not to Do Red Light Therapy

Photosensitive medication and epilepsy can combine with red light therapy to produce unwanted effects. People with the following issues should consult with their doctor before using light:

  • Epilepsy: People with epilepsy and/or seizure disorders should consult with their doctors before doing “pulsing” light therapy. The pulsing can trigger seizures. Common pulse rates in brain lights are 10 Hz and 40 Hz.
  • Photosensitive Medications: Light therapy can trigger rashes, itching and swelling in people taking photosensitive medications. Consult your doctor.
  • Cancer: Whether a person with tumors or cancer should use therapy is controversial. It certainly alleviates mucositis and other radiation/chemo side effects. Consult your doctor. You also might want to read my article on this website What’s the Worst Thing About Red Light Therapy?
  • Eye Disorders: Red light therapy actually improves vision and mitochondrial eye diseases, but it’s still important to check in with an ophthalmologist before using light when one has an eye disorder.
  • Pregnancy and Nursing: Red light therapy is probably safe and even helpful for pregnant women and nursing mothers, but there are no trials bearing out that opinion

Weigh these risks against traditional drug therapy side effects, and red light therapy benefits for people with dementia (as well as brain injury):

Dementia symptom improvements in red light therapy trails and case reports include:

  • improved mood
  • less aggression
  • improved memory
  • greater brain blood flow
  • quicker understanding
  • more accurate recall
  • more accurate situational awareness

Red Light Therapy for Dementia Devices

These are the red light therapy devices I recommend for dementia symptom relief.

Red Light Therapy for Dementia Coupons
Vielight Neuro Gamma (goes ot my review)Opens in a new tab. EMFChannel for 10% off at Vielight Vielight Neuro Gamma
Nushape Neurowrap Pulse (goes to my review)Opens in a new tab. EMFChannel for 15% off at Nushape Woman touching neck wearing black band on head
Nushape Neurowrap (goes to my review)Opens in a new tab. EMFChannel for 15% off at Nushape

woman with eyes closed wearing black band on forehead
Nushape Neurowrap
CelLED iLED (goes to my review)Opens in a new tab. BestRedLightTherapy for 5% off at LightpathLED

Red light therapy pad with red lights and power cord on gray background
CelLED iLED
ProneuroLIGHT Recharge Helmet (goes to ProNeurLIGHT’s website)

Three sided device with top filled with red lights
ProNeuroLIGHT Recharge
ProNeuroLIGHT IntraNASAL PBM (goes to ProNeuroLIGHT’s website)

ProNeuroLIGHT Intranasal PBM
ProNeuroLIGHT Intranasal PBM

The Big List of Red Light Therapy Side Effects

A relatively uncommon side effect of red light therapy is changes in skin color.

  • Pigmentation: Red light therapy usually smoothes pigmentation, but some people have the opposite reaction. When doing wrinkle reduction with red light therapy, if you see pigmentation occurring, you can swap out the infrared light with blue light. It’s unlikely you’ll see this when using red light therapy for dementia.
  • Eye Protection: Red and infrared wavelengths are safe, but bright light is not. If you squint then you should wear eye protection. Blue light alters the circadian rhythm by suppressing melatonin. Bright light therapy includes blue light, which helps one wake up in the morning.
Patients return to healthy hobbies
Patients in red light therapy studies return to healthy hobbies in as soon as one treatment.

How Not to Do Red Light Therapy

  • Do not use household lighting for therapy: it will probably be a waste of time
  • Do not use ultraviolet (UV) on yourself or any other living being: it might cause cancer
  • Keep taking Vitamin D during Red Light Therapy: Red and infrared do not trigger the production of Vitamin D
Sun in blue sky
Sunshine allows us to create vitamin D. Red Light therapy does not. Keep taking vitamin D as you will not get it from therapy.

Can You Afford the Up Front and Continuing Costs of Red Light Therapy?

Brain light therapy devices cost between $475 and $2369. There are no continuing costs, outside charging the batteries. 

The upfront costs of other treatments? I don’t know, are there treatments that compare to red light therapy? That trigger neural connection growth? That significantly improve recall ability?

Red light therapy does not require a doctor’s visit. It does not require a prescription. There are no repeat visits. There is no driving anywhere.

Buy the light. Charge the battery. That’s it.

Peacefulness is possible
Peacefulness is possible

Don’t Buy a Red Light Device if Your Patient Won’t Use It

If you do red light therapy incorrectly, it does not work. 

Science has repeatedly shown that you need the right wavelengths in the right quantity to have a therapeutic effect. 

If your patient will do any of these, you probably should not buy a red light therapy device:

  • refuses the harness, hat, bucket, torch or nose clip
  • pulls the device off before time is up
  • agrees to treatment one day, but not on another

The device gives you the right wavelengths. Patient compliance gives you the right quantity of photons.

Light can be healing
Light can be healing

Potentially “Rent” a Red Light Device if You Predict Compliance Problems

Optionally, look at the return policy, and strategize around its requirements.

  • If the return policy is 100% money back even if you’ve used the device, you have nothing to lose.
  • If the return policy only applies to unused devices in their original packaging, then there is no return policy. How can you test a device without taking it out of the package?
  • If the return policy is 80% or 75% back even if you’ve used the device, then you are effectively renting the therapy in order to determine if it will work for your patient. The device company can’t give away their products to everyone who is unsure if their patients will comply. The re-stocking fee is a compromise effectively allowing you to rent the device.

ProNeuroLIGHT Intranasal PBM
ProNeuroLIGHT Soft Helmet and Intranasal PBM
Nushape Neurowrap Pulse

The least expensive of these is a handmade bucket lined with commercial LEDs that you can buy from a red light therapy enthusiast in Australia.

Bucket
Homemade bucket light

The most expensive is the Vielight Neuro Duo, backed by many clinical studies, clinical use.

Vielight Neuro Gamma Transcranial and Intranasal
Vielight Neuro Gamma Transcranial and Intranasal

The Neuro Duo is a combination device that offers the abilities of the Neuro Alpha (pulsing at 10 Hz) and the Neuro Gamma (pulsing at 40 Hz). The Neuro Duo is a cheaper option than buying the Alpha and Gamma devices.

Consider the material, weight, and feel of the device in order to find the one that will yield the highest compliance.

 

Will the Patient Comply with the Treatment Protocol?

Dose is extremely important in red light therapy. There is no point in doing RLT if the dose will be wrong due to patient constraints. Too little light has no effect. Too much light has no effect. You must follow the device’s directions to get the right amount of light.

Treatment schedules are often one or two times per day, and from three to six days a week. Powerful lights have shorter treatment times. You have to consider whether the patient is able to comply with the schedule requirements.

Finally, look at where the device touches the patient, and at how heavy it is likely to feel. Will the patient tolerate a helmet? A light clipped to their nose? A neoprene wrap around their forehead?

More in this series:

  • Red Light Therapy for Dementia: The Complete Guide, Part 1: Dementia is a NightmareOpens in a new tab.. Photobiomodulation is the Light.
  • Red Light Therapy for Dementia: The Complete Guide, Part 2: Can Red Light Therapy Help DementiaOpens in a new tab.?.
  • Red Light Therapy for Dementia: The Complete Guide, Part 3: The Big List of Red Light Therapy Side EffectsOpens in a new tab.
  • Red Light Therapy for Dementia: The Complete Guide, Part 4: This is the Best Red Light Therapy for DementiaOpens in a new tab.

Caroline Bogart

I research the bloody hell out of everything that interests me, then translate it into blog posts to solidify my knowledge and share the information.

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