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Gut Health and Red Light Therapy

There’s nothing worse than the feeling of constant discomfort and bloating, especially when it’s the first warning sign of your gut not being able to process food and eliminate waste correctly.

Or you may be feeling tired constantly, and have heartburn, diarrhea, or other digestive issues. The good news is that interest and knowledge around gut health have risen significantly over the last decade, with thousands of papers published in the last year alone.

As research expands, red light therapy (RLT) has come out as a shining holistic example of how to improve gut health in an easy and accessible way.

In an effort to break down information around gut health, we’ve included everything you need to know about treating gut health with light.

If you’re a science-lover like us and you’re looking to get into the nitty-gritty of the connection between gut health and red light therapy, jump to the final section where we share studies and key research.


How Does Red Light Therapy Help Gut Health?

Image of Kineon Move+ Pro in the left and the gut microbriome in the right.

The gut has had a spotlight on it in recent years as people are becoming more and more aware of how pivotal a healthy gut is.  

After all, the gut contains trillions of bacteria fungi and houses around 60% of your immune system.  It’s fundamental to well-being as it breaks down the foods we eat and absorbs nutrients that go on to support the body’s functions.

The gut microbiome has even been said to be responsible for affecting every organ in our body. So when it’s not acting as it should and major discomfort begins, it’s easy to see why people are looking for ways to soothe and boost gut performance.

Red light therapy is an alternative treatment method that uses specific wavelengths of light to penetrate deep beneath the skin to stimulate various biological processes within the cells.

The wavelengths are part of the visible light spectrum and range between 620 nm to 750 nm.

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It has incredible benefits and although light has been used as a tool for centuries, red light started to gain popularity after NASA highlighted its healing potential. Now, it’s being used by top athletes, medical professionals, celebrities, and everyone else in the know.

While it was a treatment once reserved within the walls of expensive clinics and fancy doctors, red light therapy devices have now made it possible for people to access this therapy in a much more convenient and accessible way.

Let’s get into the details of why red light therapy can bolster gut health from reducing inflammation and anxiety to improving overall function.


Improves Digestive Function

Proper digestive function allows the body to convert the foods we eat into their simplest forms. This is then broken down and absorbed into the bloodstream, with the nutrients then carried to each cell in the body.

When the digestive function isn’t working as it should, the first signs of problems can result in pain, nausea, heartburn, diarrhea, constipation, and bloating.

All of these symptoms can have an impact on your well-being. Well, red light therapy can stimulate the mitochondria which promotes growth and repair through the electron transport chain. The mitochondria can be found in gut cells.


Supports Mental Health

While digestive symptoms (like the typical diarrhea, constipation, bloating, and abdominal pain) can be common with poor gut health, neurological symptoms can be present too. This is because the gut-brain axis means the two are in constant communication.

So if you’re feeling anxious, have poor memory and brain fog, and are unable to focus, this could be a sign that your gut needs some support.

Stress is a silent assassin as it can take a toll on the body over time, with the gut taking the hit. Digestive issues, anxiety, and depression are all of the typical symptoms of oxidative stress.

When your poor gut health is due to oxidative stress, or when it has caused you to feel these stress signals, red light can stimulate the production of new mitochondria - the powerhouses of our cells.

In turn, this reduces the number of free radicals (these are unstable molecules that damage cells, proteins, and DNA) in the body and protects us from the damaging effects of oxidative stress.


Alleviates Gut Discomfort

Whether your stomach feels heavy, bloated, or simply ‘stodgy’ as a result of your gut, you need a treatment that focuses on reducing inflammation.

Red light therapy has anti-inflammatory effects due to the modulation of cellular processes and immune responses. Once the light is absorbed by the cells, inflammation can be reduced.

It will speed up the healing process within your gut too. All of these benefits will help you to feel much more comfortable, with a reduction seen in swelling and pain.



The Science Behind Red Light Therapy and Gut Health


How Does Red Light Therapy Work for Gut Health?


Red light therapy can stimulate the body at a cellular level which boosts the functioning of bodily systems and the way in which individual cells work.

The wavelengths within the red light spectrum span from 605 nm to 690 nm. After, the wavelengths go into near-infrared light therapy which runs all the way up to 900 nm.

Within these levels, the light is able to reach cells, muscle, bone, and deep tissues.

While we know that this form of therapy is particularly beneficial for the skin, wound healing, athletic performance, and post-workout recovery, does it help the gut too?

We’ve dug into the details of how exactly red light therapy works for gut health. 


Reduces Inflammation


Light therapy has been shown to reduce inflammation in the gut which could contribute to positive effects on the gut microbiota. 

In a study released in 2023, researchers found the reduction in inflammation may be due to the ability of photobiomodulation to “reduce oxidative stress and increase antioxidant capacity.”

Red light has long been known for its inflammation benefits as it reduces the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines and upregulates the anti-inflammatory cytokines.

These anti-inflammatory effects contribute to lower oxidative stress (a driver of unstable gut health), an increase in local circulation, and the blocking of prostaglandin production.

Prostaglandins play a pivotal role in the generation of the inflammatory response, with their biosynthesis significantly increased in inflamed tissue which contributes to the signs of acute inflammation. Red light therapy reduces the production of these chemicals.

With red light, not only can gut health be improved upon but inflammation be reduced and healed at an accelerated rate.


Supports a Healthy Microbiome


When the inflammation can be reduced and prevented, this creates a much more hospitable environment for the good kind of bacteria to thrive.

Once that’s covered, we then move on to the gut barrier and keeping the microbiome as healthy as possible. In a study on mice from 2019 which looked at whether light can alter the microbiome, red and near-infrared light was found to potentially alter the gut microbiome in a potentially beneficial way.

The same researchers completed preliminary work in a laboratory and found work that indicated changes in the human microbiome after treatment of photobiomodulation. This included increases in Akkermansia muciniphila, Bifidobacterium sp., and Faecalibacterium sp., which are all recognized as correlated with a healthy microbiome.

Maintaining optimum health of the microbiome is paramount as many studies suggest this community of microorganisms has a powerful influence on a range of diseases.


Balances Gut Bacteria


Red light therapy promotes bacterial diversity which results in an overall balance within the microbiome.

As it reduces inflammation which is linked to imbalances in the gut bacteria, this makes way for the right nutrients to reach the gut - as well as oxygen. As a result, the improvement in inflammation can make way for the necessities that the gut needs to perform at its best.

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has been shown to boost the normal reaction of the immune system components against harmful foreign bodies - ensuring only the vital bacteria are included within the gut while removing waste. This modulation of the activity of immune cells, like macrophages and neutrophils, means the immune system can recognize and eliminate pathogens.

Not only does this improve the first line of immune defense, but makes sure the gut is balanced in its approach.


Stimulates the Vagus Nerve


Despite its prevalence in the body and role in regulating many bodily functions, the vagus nerve often gets left off people’s ‘to improve on’ lists.

This is a cranial nerve that runs from the brain stem to part of the colon and it plays a part in both the central nervous system and the digestive system. When the vagus nerve is weakened, it can bring on acid reflux, IBS, heartburn, inflammatory bowel disease, and a whole lot of constant stress.

That’s because it’s responsible for the ‘fight or flight’ response and the much nicer ‘rest and digest’ function. Like with gut health, the vagus nerve can be improved to boost its tone and necessary functions.

Stimulation of the vagus nerve can lead to an improved mood and digestive process, as well as overall well being. One of the main ways to do this is through an invasive surgical procedure that involves a device being implanted behind the ear, but there are natural ways to do this - introducing red light therapy!

The red light wavelengths can induce signaling pathways to influence the activity of the vagus nerve, along with other elements of the nervous system. It has been found to diminish any pain by blocking nerve fiber conduction and its anti-inflammatory properties.

When it’s at its weakest, the vagus nerve can be inflamed and angry which is where RLT can assist best. The use of this therapy can speed up the body’s natural processes and response too and help better the impaired immune function.


Gut Health and Red Light Therapy: Your Questions Answered

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Is Red Light Therapy Helpful for Gut Health?


Red light therapy is incredibly helpful for gut health. There are no miracle cures that work at the snap of a finger, but the use of red light therapy while incorporating a healthy diet can be really beneficial for overturning bad gut health.

While symptoms like pain, bloating, and inflammation can feel incredibly frustrating and never-ending, red light therapy takes a holistic approach to improve your health.

Factors like stress, traveling, changes in your routine, eating a low-fiber diet, and not exercising enough can all contribute to gut issues. From there, other symptoms can be present in the body and mind.

When the gut isn’t in a good way due to oxidative stress, this can bring on inflammation and swelling which can feel uncomfortable and painful. The power of light has been shown to reduce this inflammation and have a positive effect on the gut microbiota.

When the inflammation is reduced and healing in the gut can begin, this provides a better environment for good bacteria to thrive.



How Long Does It Take for Red Light Therapy to Work for Gut Health?


Some people will see results of red light therapy for gut health within just a few days of starting the treatment, while others might have to wait several weeks or months of use to see major improvements

It’s important to remember that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach as with any kind of treatment, as each body is unique and will respond differently. With red light, it takes time and consistent effort to see improvements so stay patient and persistent.

The more severe your gut inflammation and digestive issues are, the longer the course of red light therapy is required to feel long-lasting effects.


How Often Should You Use Red Light Therapy on Lower Gut Health?


Red light therapy should be used consistently for lower gut health. This safe and effective treatment can be used every day for 5 - 15 minutes per day or you could start your journey by using it three to four times a week and building this up over time.

One of the major benefits of red light is that it’s a non-invasive treatment method that utilizes low-level wavelengths of light and is safe and effective in its approach.

With this in mind, aim to make use of red light therapy a daily habit.

We wrote a full article on how often you can use red light therapy here.


Can You Treat Gut Health at Home?


Yes, you can treat gut health at home! You can reverse an unhealthy gut by taking certain steps to improve your overall health.

Red light therapy is a treatment method that can lower oxidative stress in the body, improve uncomfortability and inflammation in the gut, and help ease symptoms of poor mental health.

Remember though that red light therapy isn’t a miracle worker, although it can bring huge improvements and a boost to overall health. You should implement a balanced diet with enough fiber and protein while staying hydrated and getting enough sleep every night.

The Move+ Pro, Kineon’s red light therapy device, means you can utilize red light therapy hands-free around your stomach or lower gut. This is perfect for on the go, while you're completing chores around the house, or when relaxing.

Regardless of which red light therapy device you use (although we are biased…) follow any safety precautions recommended by the manufacturer. If you’re aiming to treat gut health, it’s always a good idea to speak with a healthcare professional before beginning any new treatment.

We wrote a full article on using red light therapy at home here.


How Does Red Light Therapy Help the Vagus Nerve?


The vagus nerve is one of the largest and connects the gut and brain, making it responsible for some important bodily functions. Red light therapy helps the vagus nerve as the light-induced signaling pathways that are brought on through the wavelengths can influence the activity of the vagus nerve, along with other components of the nervous system.

It has been found to diminish pain through blocking nerve fiber conduction and its anti-inflammatory properties and blocking of substance P can have a huge impact.

Red light increases the production of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) and the release of nitric oxide too. Nitric oxide is thought to be an activator of the vagus nerve.

Inflammation is another key issue of a weak vagus nerve and red light therapy can specifically help with its anti-inflammatory effects. Once the light is absorbed by the cells, inflammation can be reduced. It can speed up the body’s natural process and response too which could reduce the amount of time people are troubled with symptoms of an impaired vagus nerve.

When light is used to stimulate and improve upon the vagus nerve, benefits like reduced inflammation, managed anxiety, and enhanced heart rate variability can be seen.


For more on gut health and red light therapy, read:

About Kineon

Bringing the latest advancements in enhanced red light therapy for home use. Our mission is to get you back on your feet and moving pain-free.

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