Roxanne Lewis was working as a meditation instructor when she first learned about red light therapy (RLT). As someone whose job was to help people find a better quality of life, red light therapy seemed too good to be true. How could there be so many positive benefits without any negative side effects? She thought it was a scam. 

Still curious, she began reading peer-reviewed articles about RLT’s clinical trials and applications. Convinced, she began hunting for a clinic that used RLT in their treatment. 

“I was looking around for it, but nobody had it,” she says. 

Eventually, Lewis found a place that did: Ideal Wellness. The Bellingham clinic specializes in weight-loss, one of RLT’s many purported effects. When Lewis discovered they were using RLT as part of their services, she jumped on the opportunity to operate the machine, understanding that red light has far more uses than just weight-loss. Today, Lewis is an expert in all things RLT, and seeks to bring other people into the light. 

“Bring on the skeptics,” Lewis says. “They’re fun for me.” 

What is red light therapy?  

Red light therapy is a noninvasive procedure that combines two types of therapeutic light: red light and near infrared light. Red light goes beneath the dermis level while near infrared light “goes deeper down, acting like an antioxidant.” 

“[RLT] kicks out bad cells, stimulates the cell, and adds energy,” Lewis says. 

The therapy was initially promoted as a weight-loss service, because it eliminates fat from cells. However, the treatment has many other benefits, including anti-aging, wound-healing, pain reduction, and hair regrowth, to name a few. 

According to Lewis, most people see lasting benefits after 2-6 months with treatments 2-3 times per week. However, some benefits may appear much sooner. After only a session or two, sun spots may fade, double-chins may shrink, and pain from arthritis, tendonitis, or disjointed disks may ease. 

RLT can also help injured athletes return to play sooner by reducing inflammation and increasing oxygen to muscle cells. Some people receive treatment before practicing yoga, to increase their flexibility, or after a big workout, to aid recovery. 

Stress Relief During COVID-19 

According to Lewis, chronic stress produces adrenaline and cortisol, which can eventually shut down the function of cells. Over time, these stressed cells can lead to disease. 

After the past few months, many of us are at least mildly stressed. In addition to just putting people in a better mood, RLT can also reduce headaches, agitation, and stress.  Because it dilates blood vessels, it also helps with muscle knots from tension or sitting at a desk all day. 

Lewis stresses that RLT can fix things, but only until you do whatever caused the problem in the first place. It’s not a miracle cure, but it does offer a reset, especially for those suffering from stress or depression. 

“When you’re knee-deep [in depression], it’s hard to find a way out…if you can get that respite where your body feels good and you have a clear mind for a minute, you can choose to use [your] tools,” Lewis says. 

What to Expect 

Ideal Wellness is located at the end of Bellwether Way in Bellingham. After checking in at the front desk, you’ll enter a private, curtained-off room where you can dress down to whatever level of clothing you’re comfortable in. 

The treatment takes place on a reclined surface similar to a massage table. The red light is transmitted through pads that wrap about different body parts — a sore arm, an injured knee, your belly. A headpiece Lewis jokingly calls the “Vader mask” goes over your head and face. Some studies suggest RLT may help with cognitive ability and memory loss. 

The heat from the red light is mild, creating a cozy feeling rather than making you hot or sweaty. While you relax, you can listen to music through headphones. During my trial session, I listened to the sounds of a thunderstorm. 

Sessions last 20 minutes, during which time you’re completely alone, at ease. It’s a little like a tanning bed, but without the dangerous UV rays, sweaty skin, or hard glass surface. At the end of my session I felt more relaxed, less stiff, and in a better mood than when I arrived. 

If you’re interested in trying RLT, check online for Groupon deals. The clinic also offers in-house packages of 5, 10, 20, and 30 sessions that never expire. 

Ideal Wellness, 8 Bellwether Way, Bellingham, 360.325.5257, 

"[RLT] kicks out bad cells, stimulates the cell, and adds energy."