Exploring the science behind red light therapy
Dr. Zulia Frost | Recharge Health
Photobiomodulation has long been a potent tool in the promotion of good health, but now it is easier than ever to benefit from the healing power of light. This is the first of four LLAMA podcast episodes exploring the benefits of red-light therapy. Dr. Zulia Frost is a medical doctor and clinical director at Recharge Health, creators of a targeted red-light device, known as FlexBeam. Dr. Frost explains that the technology has many applications, including the treatment of sports injuries, therapy for age-related aches and pains and as way to help improve sleep.
Dr. Frost shares her experience of recovery from a severe accident, and how it sparked her interest in creating the Flexbeam.
How to navigate the complexities of photobiomodulation
The impact of different parts of the light spectrum on our bodies.
Why red and near-infrared light are the most researched forms of photobiomodulation
The intricate connection of our circadian rhythm with the light we’re exposed to.
The role of the hormone melatonin in managing our body’s 24-hour cycle.
A comparative discussion on lasers and LEDs
Flexbeam, a user-friendly device that can be used on-the-go. How the the belt-like device targets joints, stimulating energy production, increasing oxygen binding, and reducing inflammation.
Safety and the potential consequences of energy overdose.
Recharge Health is offering a generous discount on the purchase of a FlexBeam device. Full details and access to the offer latest offer here.
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Red light therapy, also known as photobiomodulation, involves stimulating the body with low-intensity red and infrared light to provide various health benefits.
Red light and near-infrared light have been found to stimulate mitochondria in cells, promoting energy production and aiding in healing.
Sunlight contains all wavelengths of light, including red light and infrared light, which have been found to be beneficial for the body.
The circadian rhythm, or the body’s 24-hour clock, is closely linked to light exposure, specifically the release of melatonin.
FlexBeam is a red light therapy device that can be used at home and targets specific areas of the body, delivering powerful and targeted red and infrared light.
The device stimulates the energy production centers in cells, improves blood flow, and promotes healing and tissue repair.
Red light therapy can help improve mitochondrial health, leading to benefits such as increased energy, better sleep, reduced anxiety, and improved overall health.
Red light therapy is generally safe and does not cause burns or any significant side effects, but it is important to use the device as directed and not exceed recommended dosages.
The frequency of red light therapy sessions depends on an individual’s health and specific concerns, with healthy individuals potentially experiencing immediate benefits and older or ill individuals needing longer-term use to see results.
FlexBeam is not intended to diagnose, cure, or prevent specific diseases or medical conditions.
“I got myself on a path of wanting to give something to my patient to take home in the form of natural technology, which assists natural healing.”
TRANSCRIPT – This interview with Dr. Zulia Frost was recorded on June 15, 2023 and transcribed using Sonix AI. Please check against audio recording for absolute accuracy.
Peter Bowes: How can we benefit from exposing ourselves to more red light than we would normally experience during an average day? Hello again and welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. I’m Peter Bowes. This is where we explore the science and stories behind human longevity. So what is red light? How does it affect our body clock, our circadian rhythm, the quality of our sleep? And what about our ability to heal from injuries, the health of our joints and microbiome? Gut health? This is the first of four episodes to address those questions. There’s a lot to cover. And joining me is Doctor Zulia Frost. Doctor Frost is a medical doctor and the clinical director and one of the co-founders at Recharge Health creators of a targeted red light device known as FlexBeam. She is an expert in photobiomodulation and we’ll explain what that is in a moment. But first, Doctor Frost, welcome to the Live Long and Master Aging podcast.
Dr. Zulia Frost: Thank you so much, Peter, for having me, and thank you for this opportunity to connect with the real people to explain the benefits of red light therapy and particularly Flexbeam.
Peter Bowes: Well, it’s a delight to talk to you. And as I just referred to, there is a lot to cover and lots of implications for the benefits of red light therapy, which is at the heart of what we’re talking about. And we are going to cover it over the next four weeks. I’d like to start, though, by just talking about you for a little while and just really getting to the heart of your enthusiasm for this topic and especially your enthusiasm for the technology. It really started and as I explained, you are a medical doctor, but this part of your career started with quite a difficult time for yourself personally and a very serious accident.
Dr. Zulia Frost: Oh, yes, that’s true. I basically had a chance to experience technology in action, being a patient, not just being a doctor, but being a patient. And at that time I already was working as a medical doctor and I loved technologies from the beginning. But unfortunately, there I was involved in a very, very serious, deadly car crash. And I was really, really broken, smashed into pieces my body. And, you know, when you face in such a tremendous challenge, not only you employ your, you know, historical knowledge of being a doctor, but you also employ literally every source of, you know, every tool you have at your disposal to get yourself well. And I think for me at that time, I intuitively was drawn to red light therapy without knowing, because I used to. After the hospital period of time. I used to exercise a lot, but I wanted to do it in nature. You know, I was running every morning at the sunrise and I almost like intuitively, you greet the sunrise. You, you know, you bow to the sunrise and you absorb this healing red lights. At the time already, as I said, you know, I was young, so I healed myself fairly quickly. But I was left with a very debilitating pains. And these pains were tremendous. Like it was, you know, almost constantly. And I’m not the person who would take medication for pain. I would like to sort it out in in some natural way. So fortunately for my life, I discovered some technologies which can actually alter my state of pain and in fact, I fixed myself. And that was so big discovery for me. So I started to offer this to my patients and then patients, of course. Then I see how quickly and remarkably the patients would recover. And so I got myself on a path of wanting to give something to my patient to take home in the form of natural technology, which assists natural healing. And that’s how I end up eventually to working with recharge health and pioneering this new device called FlexBeam.
Peter Bowes: So how long ago was this? And I’m interested, what was the state of the technology that you actually use to help your recovery? What were the state of the technology then?
Dr. Zulia Frost: Well, I was around 30 years old, so it would be quite a few years ago. And yes, at that time I was in Kazakhstan and used to be part of Soviet Union there. Generally speaking, physiotherapy was quite advanced, I would say, for that time. And they were devices which physiotherapy used, including red light therapy, but UV lights, including electrical stimulation, you know, those Russian steam devices, etcetera. So because I was always, you know, drawn to technology, I, you know, even I did my training in ultrasonic diagnostic at the time. It was just coming to the market only because I love it. I love the interaction. I love to use something which is tangible, in fact, non intangible for inducing healing responses from the body. Yes. And I work particularly on myself. I work with interactive neurosis emulation, which is it’s the use of the electrical stimulation with my nervous system and that has a feedback. And then of course I start using lasers and then I start using the LED type of light therapy, you know, some piezoelectric toys, you name it lots.
Peter Bowes: And I mentioned in the introduction that you are indeed an expert on Photobiomodulation. Let’s just get into the detail now and maybe start by explaining some of the terms. What exactly is that?
Dr. Zulia Frost: Photobiomodulation – it’s a of course, a big word. Basically, it it means you stimulate your body with light and that light has beneficial impacts on the body. But not just any light. It’s a low intensity light because this field of medicine actually started in the previous century with the discoveries. The first discoveries were lasers. And as you know, lasers could be really, really powerful. They could burn the tissue. And at the beginning, everybody was really careful around lasers. But the discovery was that if you use that type of light at low intensities, you actually have photo stimulating effect. So you stimulate with light cells of your body. And the result of this stimulation actually help to recover, you know, from variety of conditions.
Peter Bowes: So red light we all experience, as you’ve implied, we all experience red light every day. And there’s a cycle during the day, isn’t there? There’s a very big difference between morning light, midday light and evening light as the sun goes down. So I was wondering if you could just explain. Perhaps in the most basic terms possible the kind of light that we’re exposed to during a normal day.
Dr. Zulia Frost: I think what it’s worth to mention that sunlight encompasses all wavelengths of light. So you could see a visual spectrum. So in the visual spectrum, you have blue, green, yellow, red lights. We see it, but also sunlight has an infrared spectrum of light – infrared spectrum of light you cannot see – our eyes just not designed to notice it, but you feel it because it feels like nice warmth. And this infrared light you can experience when you go on a beach and you lie and sunbathe. But that warmth is giving you that infrared light. Of course you have the other side of the spectrum was UV light or ultraviolet light, but that is which we learn to apply sunblock and protect ourselves. It could be it could be damaging for the skin, but it also has benefits because it helps you to make vitamin D for your body. So you see, sunlight generally, broadly is hugely beneficial for us. And so what we’re talking today, we’re talking today about red light and also aspect of near-infrared light. I want to explain a little bit more here, because if you look at the infrared spectrum, remember this invisible spectrum, it consists of kind of three parts. So first part is the near-infrared light, sort of between 600 to 1000 nanometers. That’s how they measure the wavelengths. And then you have mid range beyond that, like two thousand four thousand nanometers. And then far infrared. So they have slightly different impact on the body. And I want to bring it to explain why red and infrared light are most beneficial, most researched as well in the science of photobiomodulation. So red light we could see and red light is normally absorbed at the level of the skin and it stimulates mitochondria, mitochondria. It’s a basically a little energy plants which is scattered in every cell. And so you have red light stimulating mitochondria, but also near-infrared light. They both impact your energy production on the cellular level. So this is like win win. But if you go further into spectrum of light, into mid range and far range of infrared, then your water molecules in the body primarily absorb that light and that will be different physiological effect. You’d feel, you know, that warmth and even hot that’s principle what the infrared saunas are based on. So in a sense scientists discover hooray, this sunlight has got some beneficial wavelengths. That red and infrared light seems good for your energy. And guess what? Who noticed that as well? When you look through ancient time, Yogi Indian Yogi had a practice. They would sit and they watch Sunrise and they watch Sunset. Why? Because at these times we have the most of the red spectrum and near-infrared spectrum of light. So whether they knew this through their, you know, religious historical practice or whether they just discover that this is good for you, they have been doing this for centuries. And of course, now scientists confirm there is a beneficial effect from these wavelengths.
Peter Bowes: And of course, all of this is very closely linked to our circadian rhythm. The fact that our body is built around a clock, a 24 hour clock, and to a large extent, that clock is dictated, it is manipulated, if you like, according to the red light that we are and indeed other forms of light that we are exposed to during the day, that rhythm of the day dictates how our body operates.
Dr. Zulia Frost: Oh, totally. It’s a really important subject you just touched because you know how how it happens. Because we basically we are creatures. We evolved under sunlight. So since the beginning of humankind, we learn how to, you know, use light to power or operate or modulate the senses using this language, different cells in the body. So the light when we when we watch the lights and they light stimulate the some part of the brain and the melatonin, it’s a hormone which released by pituitary gland in your brain is subsides. Yes. That means your body is active. But then evening comes, comes along and then your light is diminishing. So this light receptors in your brain are telling you, oh, now it’s time for you to produce melatonin because that induces you into sleep. So this interesting mechanism, through receiving light through your eyes, actually create that circadian rhythm. So circadian rhythm, like you said, it’s 24 hour cycle. But what is interesting, the melatonin, this hormone I was just describing, it’s at the core, at the heart of this circadian rhythm. It’s like if you imagine it’s like a conductor who plays the music of life for 24 hours in your body. So it dictates when to wake up, when to go to sleep. But important thing is that not only melatonin attached to 24 hour cycle in the body, but all your hormones, the hormones of the, you know, biological like testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, digestive hormones, ghrelin leptin, you know, hormones which regulate your body temperature, your all the function intimately linked to these 24 circadian rhythm. So once you know about this, then you know, oh, I need to go to bed right on time. I should not upset the circadian rhythm because if you have upset circadian rhythm, there is lots and lots of diseases linked to that. I call them desynchronization of circadian rhythm. I call them in my head.
Peter Bowes: This is the Live Long and Master Aging podcast. Our guest is Dr. Julia Frost, the clinical director at Recharge Health Creators of a targeted Red light device known as FlexBeam. I really want to dive a little deeper into into sleep, into melatonin release and its relationship with the red light and its relationship to the red light that we’re exposed to during the day. We’ll talk about more of that in depth in our next episode. What I’d like to do now is talk about FlexBeam and how you have really embraced the knowledge that I think has blossomed over the last couple of decades that we now have about how energy is at our very core and how the body thrives on energy and how that is related to the light that we’re exposed to and how you’ve used that knowledge to develop this device that hopefully, as I think we’re going to learn over the next couple of episodes, how it can be used to to heal ourselves, how it can be used to improve our sleep, perhaps reduce our anxiety. So how has this been focused on a on a piece of technology that’s been developed just in the last few years?
Dr. Zulia Frost: Oh, this is the big question, Peter. But I’ll tell you one thing. My discovery and I would say it probably will be my contribution to the whole understanding of the how body functions. It’s the discovery that everything based on your energy, like, for example, you know this you can leave for maybe some few weeks without food. You can live without water for some few days, but without functioning mitochondria which make energy in your cell, you cannot last even a second. This is very profound. So if you have damaged energy production in your body, you can be ill. Simple as that. And you know, I trace so many diseases back to mitochondrial dysfunction. You know, to start with fatigue. You know, that is a pure expression of mitochondrial not functioning. Poor sleep. Of course it would be because we just discussed the power of the red lights and power of their melatonin to induce normal sleep pattern. And lots of chronically ill people have really difficulty to sleep. So and then, of course, we have, you know, chemical imbalance in the body, which can lead to some, you know, state like you described, state of anxiety or state of depression. It’s also linked back to mitochondria and light. So if people are not aware about this, they should look into this topic because it from energy point of view, you can explain any of these conditions and many more.
Peter Bowes: The whole issue of mitochondria, as you have laid out, is hugely important to us and we’ve talked about mitochondria quite a lot on the podcast and of course there are many ways, aren’t there, to improve our mitochondrial health. There’s physical activity lifting weights. Resistance training is a way of improving our mitochondrial health. It’s very closely linked to our diet. The compounds that we get out of plants, especially that we can be using in our gut to benefit our mitochondrial health. That’s simplifying it hugely. But the point I’m making is there are many ways in our lifestyles to improve our mitochondrial health.
Dr. Zulia Frost: Absolutely. Totally agree with you. And also, we need to include in your list red light therapy, or.
Peter Bowes: That’s what exactly what I wanted you to do. Yes.
Dr. Zulia Frost: Red and infrared lights, because it’s modulates a release of melatonin. And so you ask me to talk a little bit about FlexBeam. Well, I’ll tell you, this device was the result of the discovery of the power of red and infrared lights in the form of LEDs, not lasers, because lasers were like, as I said, since 1960s, they were primarily used as a low level laser therapy. But since NASA discovered their positive impact on healing from LED technology, it’s suddenly the whole industry just boom. And so FlexBeam is the baby of this, I would say, excitement from our engineer Arjen about this research. But what is important to understand the very latest, what scientists are talking about, what is important with light therapy, It’s the parameters of the light, the like power, like irradiance or how strongly it influences cells with light. Yes. How long the exposure time rather than the source, whether it’s laser, whether it’s LED important that the both modalities work, but work slightly may be different.
Peter Bowes: Could you maybe just explain a little bit more so I can fully understand the difference between Led and laser? Because I think a lot of people will be familiar with laser treatments. So again, what is the distinct difference between them?
Dr. Zulia Frost: Laser has always been considered to be superior to any other. Why? Because laser produces coherent beam of light. Coherent. That basically means they are very ordered, very organized beam of light. So all photons travel together like like one. And so because of this, the penetration depth through the tissue, it’s a lot better. But lasers, like we said, it’s typically very narrow band and very, very strong beam of light. So obviously it’s important how strong the laser because if you put very strong laser, you can actually burn the tissue. So that is kind of drawback. That’s why lasers are used in used in the medical practices by trained practitioners. And you have to use precautions like goggles. Of course, technology is progressing as well. And so now lots of development in the low intensity lasers. Yes. So how it’s compared to LEDs. Leds don’t produce coherent light LEDs. It’s like a like a beam of light in a circus. You know, it’s got this. Spatial distribution of light. And because of this, LEDs got spectrum. So it’s never like very specific nanometers of the waveform. It’s actually spread over the range. Like for example, with FlexBeam, we have red lights in 625, up to 635 nanometers in infrared between 800 to 830. So it spread. It’s number one. So it does not have any damaging effect. And number two, it irradiates the area, not a dot, but the area. So in a sense, they both will give you photo stimulation at the cellular level and they both will be beneficial for a variety of physiological factors.
Peter Bowes: Okay, I get it. Okay. So you were going to go on to explain now, flex beam. This is a device that you don’t need to go to a clinic to use. This is something that you can use actually on the move or you can use sitting or lying on your bed. Explain the fundamentals for us, if you could?
Dr. Zulia Frost: The fundamentals are the fact that, like you said, it’s really user friendly because it’s like a belt and you can tie it around your body. This device different to panels which have been known as a LED technology as well that because it directly on the skin, because it’s directly on the skin what’s happening all lights which generated by the diodes in the device directly targeted send into your body. So it’s in a targeted way. You literally put it around the joint and from three dimensions you beam the joint like shoulder or knee or back. That is one advantage. And second advantage is super, super powerful. It’s really powerful because compared to all other devices, it generates in ten minutes program three up to six watts. It’s a tremendous amount of energy. But what that power gives you, it’s not just the power, but it’s a power density. It enables to deliver these photons of light, which energize cells, which may be have damage somewhere, but they deep inside your body. So not every photobiomodulation device could do this, but FlexBeam does it penetration depth up to ten centimeters, which is tremendous.
Peter Bowes: So when you say our cells are being energized, what exactly is happening during those ten minutes as we are beaming red light through our skin deep into our bodies, whether it’s on a joint, whether it’s in a muscular area of our body, what’s actually happening in our cells?
Dr. Zulia Frost: Oh, this is quite important point. Yeah. First of all, the beam directly stimulates the energy production center. It binds better oxygen and makes you more energy. So imagine the cell is experiencing shock because there was a trauma or maybe cell is actually, you know, damaged. The tissue is damaged. So cells need to repair. So they need physical energy. As you know, when you have tissue damage, there are specific immune cells which crawling to the to this point of damage. Yes. So they need physical, tangible energy. So that’s what they receive through this photons of light, which give analogy, which works really well to say it’s like your solar panel, you have photosensitive stuff, you stimulate photonic energy and then you convert into this electricity. So you’re not only power your home, but you can power same way your body inside where the damages happen. Then there is the second process in parallel going on because your enzyme binds with oxygen better. It kicks the nitric oxide and we all know nitric oxide is the ultimate vasodilator, which means the blood vessels are start opening up. The more blood comes to the site of injury, it brings more oxygen. So cells more efficiently work. Yes. And then it brings nutrients. Take the waste away. So you optimize, you create much better environment for healing when you use the light. And then another process also happening, a very small release of reactive oxygen species. They are necessary because they like a signal for the cell, Oh, I need to do cellular protective measures so your, your, cell become protected. So it also attracts the sort of neurochemicals messengers which reduce the inflammation. So I mean, there is a multiple arrays of effects happening. Collagen becomes better, stem cells release better. This is all proven by science.
Peter Bowes: How safe is it? Is there a danger of overdosing on energy?
Peter Bowes: Not as such, I would say there is nothing dramatic could happen if you overdo what is typically happen with any photobiomodulation device, you start losing the effect. So effectively, if you overdone, you just don’t get the effect. Sometimes in very, very rare occasions you can increase the inflammation because obviously you’ve given there already so much energy to this point. So if you give too much energy in the sense the body will be very busy to fix him working hard on this area so your symptoms can be accentuated. But apart from this, there is no there is no burns. There is no danger of that because the stimulation is pure stimulation with light. There is no heat. When you use red and infrared light specifically, you can expect expect heating reaction only in the mid range of far range of the infrared. It’s quite important.
Peter Bowes: And how often is it necessary to use this for ten minutes at a time to actually see any tangible difference in your health?
Peter Bowes: I would say you should be able to see it straight away if you’re a healthy individual. If you fit, for example, a person, you would be able to notice a difference after ten minutes stimulation. I normally recommend to do in one session 20 – 30 minutes stimulation. If you work, for example, with some injury or if you work with something, you know, like like we’re talking about sleep inducing. Yes. 20, 30 minutes at the time. But if you are really, really struggling with your health, like if you maybe you don’t like sort of 70, 80 and then you have so many conditions, you know, you should understand that everything what is not right in your body is going to cipher your essential cipher this essential energy. So effectively overall, your energy in the body drop and you will need a lot of energy to replace it. However you don’t give it at once, you need to give a lot smaller portions. That is my experience telling me. So I found if people like this, they should use device maybe every other day and they use only ten 20 minutes every other day, not every day. So regardless, they both groups are going to feel the difference. Fit young people would feel the difference straight away. Older ill people may need to, you know, maybe even one month or even two months. It’s way a bit different.
Peter Bowes: Well, as I say, we’re going to dive into some of the separate and very different applications for this device in our future episodes. In the meantime, Doctor Zulia Frost, thank you very much indeed. .
Peter Bowes: Thank you so much. Peter. It’s it’s been a pleasure. A real pleasure to talk to you today.
The Live Long and Master Aging (LLAMA) podcast, a HealthSpan Media LLC production, shares ideas but does not offer medical advice. If you have health concerns of any kind, or you are considering adopting a new diet or exercise regime, you should consult your doctor.