Green Light on Red Light

Could this therapy help heal what ails you?
Jennifer Sharp treating a patient with red light
Jennifer Sharp treating a patient

Jennifer Sharp is not a serial entrepreneur. She’s not trying to capitalize on any weight-loss or health care fads. What she offers is the same healing that she experienced three years ago after more than six years spent trying to recover from a terrible car crash.

Sharp and her husband, Christopher, own Enlighten Red Light Therapy Center off Fulton Avenue on the second floor of a nondescript, two-story office building. A decade ago, Jennifer, now 38, nearly died in the crash. She spent six years in and out of the hospital searching for pain relief and hoping to rise from her wheelchair. Then she found red light therapy.

“I struggled with pain and mobility, I had a lot of surgeries, I had depression and anxiety and I gained a lot weight,” she says. “I tried all types of different therapies, medications and procedures.” Red light therapy is approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The light-emitting diodes on the mats used at Enlighten, which opened in 2019, are set to the red wavelength, or to near infrared depending on the therapeutic need of the client, Jennifer says. The red light can penetrate up to two inches through skin, tissue, blood and bone. Two major ways the light then acts on the body are by increasing cells’ mitochondrial energy production and by building up cells’ anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory defense systems, according to Ari Whitten, M.S., author of “The Ultimate Guide to Red Light Therapy,” which cites 382 references on various aspects of the therapy.

“Most of us have what I call malillumination; we don’t get enough sunlight,” Christopher says. “We are like plants in a way, in that we are photoreceptive. Obviously, we don’t feed off the light like plants, but we heal off of the light. Isolating these (visible light) spectrums to benefit the function of the cell is more or less biohacking cellular modulation . . . and it works.”

We are bombarded by waves of energy from the sun, some invisible such as infrared and ultra-violet light, but also visible light within a spectrum that moves from the longest wavelength (red) to the shortest (blue and violet).

It was the red-light wavelengths that quickly lowered her inflammation left over from the accident, Jennifer says. “All my energy was spent dealing with that inflammation,” she says. “The RLT eventually allowed my body to start tangibly healing. I went from a wheelchair, to a walker, to moving pain free without the walker. It strengthened my circadian rhythm so I was getting better sleep. It was just a cascade of benefits.”

Her clients pay $39 for an initial consultation and therapy sessions and, assuming they see results, can sign up for a variety of RLT packages. The RLT therapy sessions typically last 30 minutes with 10 minutes spent on a body vibration tool that looks like a pogo stick. The vibration helps with circulation and to stimulate the lymphatic system to flush out toxins, especially for those clients seeking weight-loss benefits, Sharp said.

For those battling insomnia or anxiety and depression, the Sharps utilize a face panel, a semi-circle of red LEDs that rests about six inches above a client’s head. Karen Krueger travels from Woodland to Sacramento twice a week just for RLT. There are closer RLT centers, she says, but she likes the friendly approach and care she received from the Sharps in the nine months since her first consultation. Krueger says she was looking for alternative therapies for knee inflammation, her wrinkles and her weight.

“When I first started, I had to pull myself up the stairs to their office,” Krueger says. “Now I don’t. I have noticed a change in my face, my body composition and an improvement in my knees. I work out a lot, and I’ve really noticed a difference in my muscle recovery times, and my strength has really improved a lot.”