Depending on whose website you’re reading, you may hear that for red light therapy, laser light is more effective than LED. You may also hear that only laser light is effective.
There was a time when that was believed to be true. However, in 1989, an important study was published which discounted this belief. The author of the study was Dr. Jeffrey R. Basford, from the Mayo Clinic’s Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. It was entitled “Low-Energy Laser Therapy: Controversies and New Research Findings”.
What Basford discovered turned what we know of light and laser therapies on its head. Until that time, it was believed that laser was the most important aspect for the therapeutic effect of light. However, Basford determined that it was the light, and not actually the properties of laser, that was providing the benefits that can be obtained from its use. This was because LEDs were able to provide the same benefits as lasers, and, at the same time, were able to avoid the drawbacks.
This meant that LEDs could be used, as they were determined to stimulate adequate energy to encourage a response from the body that included a number of different positive outcomes, particularly healing. At the same time, this stimulation was not strong enough to lead to tissue damage. Therefore, LLLT through LEDs was determined to be just as effective, but much gentler than laser.
Today, everyone agrees that red and infrared light therapy can be accomplished with any light source. The science of this is now officially called “photobiomodulation.”