From skin conditions to seasonal depression, many people are claiming red light therapy can help treat a number of ailments, but is it really effective?

Red light therapy reportedly alters the way your cells produce energy and antioxidants. Getty Images

Behold — the power of light to cure literally whatever ails you — from sore muscles to itchy, dry skin and (maybe) even your winter blues.

It may sound like science fiction, but it’s a real treatment that’s been steadily growing in popularity.

And based on its intriguing “What the…?” factor, it’s only a matter of time before it shows up on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Instagram story.

Here’s everything you need to know about red light therapy before you try it.

Different than daylight

Red light therapy, which is also known by the less-catchy names of photobiomodulation and low-level laser therapy (LLLT), releases light waves in the red and infrared spectrum.

Unlike ultraviolet rays from the sun which damage the DNA of skin cells, “light emitted in this spectrum is perfectly safe,” said Dr. Susan Bard, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.

That means there’s no tanning or burning when you’re exposed to red light. Its effects happen deep inside at the cellular level.

Sit or stand a few inches away from a panel of special red lights for a few minutes and their wavelengths reportedly alter the way your cells produce energy and antioxidants. In turn, this improved efficiency may help heal bones, nerves, skin, tendons, and ligaments, while lessening pain.

This isn’t a brand new discovery. Red light therapyTrusted Source has been around for over 50 years, although only recently has it been more widely accepted by medical experts.

Yet the degree to which it’s accepted still varies.