If there was a magic pill that could bring you the fountain of youth, decrease inflammation, encourage cell regeneration, you would think it would be the hottest selling product on the market. Most people don’t think that it exists but it actually does. There have been thousands of double blind studies on the benefits of red light therapy. We had the change to talk to Dr. Mike Belkowski, PT, DPT, CIDN, CMP, CSCS, Founder and CEO of BioLight, an expert in red light therapy.
Belkowski started his own physical therapy practice in 2016, ProActive Health, six months after graduating from his physical therapy doctoral program at the University of Montana. His solo practice has become successful in a city saturated by PT clinics, thanks to his revolutionary approach and unique specializations. Dr. Belkowski’s has a special ability to constantly question the status quo, synthesize immense amounts of information from the vast amount of books and research he reads and produce a system or product. That is how he was able to build a successful PT practice – and now he wants to extend his reach and be able impact and improve the health and wellness of so many others with BioLight.
Destination Luxury: What is red light therapy?
Belkowski: Red light therapy incorporates two wavelengths, red and near-infrared, that are absorbed by your mitochondria to enhance and optimize your overall health, wellness and longevity. Over recent years, scientific research has agreed upon the fact that the mitochondria, which reside in every single one of our cells — except for red blood cells — essentially dictates our overall health and well-being.
There is even what is called the Mitochondrial Theory of Aging that concludes that the mitochondria are our biological clock, meaning that they also determine your longevity. So if you can improve the health of your mitochondria — or conversely, mitigate damage to your mitochondria — then you are well on your way to living a long, vibrant life.
Destination Luxury: Do different colors do different things? Why is red light therapy so powerful?
Belkowski: Absolutely! In fact, there are many different types of light that are “bioactive” in humans that influence our overall health. For example, blue light sets our circadian rhythm; UV light allows us to synthesize vitamin D from the sun; far-infrared heats up our cells that helps with detoxification and improves circulation; and then, of course, red and near-infrared that acts upon our mitochondria to boost cellular energy production that ultimately boost overall health and wellness.
Destination Luxury: What are some of the health benefits of red light therapy?
Belkowski: Since our mitochondria are in all of our cells, outside of red blood cells, red light therapy has the potential to benefit our entire body. There is plenty of research to prove that it can help with skin health, hair health, reduce pain, enhance athletic performance/recovery, improve sleep, reduce anxiety/depression, boost the immune system, drive down inflammation, improve thyroid function, assist with oral health, improve eye health and augment neurological function (cognitive enhancement, fight off Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s) along with many other benefits. Research continues to find more and more potential uses for red light therapy.
Destination Luxury: How did you become involved with red light therapy?
Belkowski: I am a voracious reader and just love to learn. Being in the healthcare field, I easily gravitated to the “biohacking” and longevity spheres. So at some point in time, I came across some books on red light therapy and when I read them and the strong research to back up the claims, it all clicked with me. There are a lot of similarities to red light therapy and dry needling, which I specialize in — they are both powerful at reducing inflammation and improving circulation. That combination alone will help reduce or eliminate most pains.
So when I looked to see what the market had to offer, it was either highly overpriced devices (especially for the mediocre quality and safety) or very cheap, low-quality devices and, thus, inferior results. It was then that I was determined to bring devices to the market that were superior in quality and still affordable to the masses so everyone could enjoy the amazing benefits for red light therapy from their home!
Destination Luxury: How long has red light therapy been around for?
Belkowski: Humans have known about the power and healing benefits of light therapy for thousands of years, dating back to ancient tribes and ayurvedic medicine in India. It started to appear in medical texts around the 18th century, where sunlight was being touted for its ability to heal different diseases. The healing power of RLT started to be discovered in the 1960s, when it was used to kill tumor cells. In the 1990s, NASA started using it to grow plants during space missions. RLT devices using LEDs have become more readily available to the masses in the last 5-10 years and are quickly becoming more popular.
Destination Luxury: There are a variety of red light therapy devices on the market at different price points? Is there a difference in quality of light? How does yours differentiate itself from the others?
Belkowski:There is a tremendous difference in the quality of light devices and the price points. And don’t be fooled by an expensive price tag automatically indicating a superior quality — there are some very spendy RLT panels that are inferior quality and less safe, especially when compared to BioLight devices.
BioLight is the first RLT company to take into consideration the detrimental effects of EMF emission and light flicker when engineering RLT panels. EMF emission wrecks the body down to the cellular level — think Wi-Fi routers, cell phones, radio waves, etc. The less your body is exposed to those EMFs the better, which is why it is confusing that some RLT panels have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth incorporated into them. It seems quite counterproductive to the health benefits of RLT. BioLight’s panels all have EMF levels at or below what is considered “safe” when at distances of 2”. Most other panels are not in the safe zone until 6” and sometimes up to 12 – 15”.
And then there is light flicker — think screens on your computer, cell phone, tablet, TV, etc. These screens have an extremely high light flicker, imperceptible to the naked eye, that has deleterious effects to your eyes and brain. It is also known to lower dopamine levels. Most RLT devices have flicker rates of 40-60Hz (1Hz = one flicker per second) up to 100Hz. BioLight’s devices have a flicker rate of 1Hz. But not only does BioLight have the lowest EMF emission and lowest light flicker, but our panels also have the highest light irradiance on the market, at up to 125 mW/cm². Other light panels have 90 – 110mW/cm² while cheaper devices and bulbs are even lower, down in the 40 mW/cm² range.
With BioLight, you are getting the best of all worlds — power, safety, price point and customer service — so you know you are getting the best value available.
Destination Luxury: Who is red light therapy good for? What age group?
Belkowski: EVERYBODY! Including animals — dogs, cats, horses, birds can all benefit from RLT, because like humans, they have mitochondria too. Time and time again, customers have sent me pictures with their dog or cat cuddled up in front of their RLT device. Animals don’t even need to be told RLT is good for them, they just innately know!
Destination Luxury: Why do you think red light therapy is just starting to become popular? Why has it taken so long despite the vast benefits?
Belkowski: As with anything, especially in science and technology, it can take awhile before the information makes it to the public and becomes “mainstream.” That is why educating the public about RLT is one of our main goals and part of our mission. It is an absolute must that people understand how beneficial RLT can be for their health, both in healing and preventative measures.
Destination Luxury: Why is mitochondrial function so important to the body?
Belkowski: Discussed above (ie, dictates overall health and longevity — the healthier your mitochondria are, the healthier are; the more dysfunctional your mitochondria are, the more compromised your health and longevity are).
Destination Luxury: Does red light therapy have any side effects?
Belkowski: The cool thing about RLT is that it is extremely safe. If you “overdose” on RLT, typically the worst symptoms are some slight fatigue, headache, nausea, etc., which are all signs that your mitochondria have been overexposed to light. But even those side effects are seen in the minority of people that overtreat. So in the end, there is tremendous upside with very little downside when using RLT.
Destination Luxury: How far do you hold the light away from your skin? Does the distance do different things?
Belkowski: At the end of the day, distance is only one of four variables you need to consider for a RLT treatment protocol. Distance is one variable to consider, but you also need to know how much light irradiance your device emits — the company of your device should have this posted on their website and in their manual. You also need to know how many Joules (energy of light) your target tissue requires in order to achieve optimal results — for example, most skin issues require 3J – 15J. Once you know the distance from light source, light irradiance and Joules required, then you can determine the duration of your treatment.
To more completely answer this question, it is also imperative to understand that the distance between your light source and the light completely depends on what you are trying to treat for that session. For example, for anti-aging skin treatments, the research shows that about 15-18” away is optimal, whereas for treating the brain or the joints, you want to get around 6” away. Again, distance is only one part of the story, but you can see how widely it can vary between two types of treatments.
Lastly, people need to understand that light getting to the target tissue is lost exponentially and not linearly the farther away you are from the light source. So the amount of light penetration you lose by going from 0” to 6” is less light lost than by going from 6” to 12” — and then you lose exponentially more by going from 12” to 18”. So let’s say you want to spend more time in front of the light for a certain protocol; you cannot just go from 6” to 12” and then double the time and think those two protocols are going to be the same, because your body will be absorbing much less light per time at 12” than compared to 6”.
That is why I developed the “Red Light Therapy Treatment Protocols” eBook, which is a compilation of protocols all based on the most current, highest-quality scientific research. That way people can have more specific protocols based on what they are trying to achieve and likely have much more efficient and effective results with their RLT treatments.
For more information, visit BioLight.