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  • Writer's pictureLisa Chadsey

The History of Light Therapy

Back to the basics - the history of Light Therapy.

I get so many new clients who are learning all about the world of light therapy and want to dive deeper.

For those of you who are veterans of light therapy, this will help to reshape what you thought you knew about the benefits of these wavelengths & frequencies.

With that in mind, I want to start from the beginning. The history of light therapy and why we have it at our fingertips today!

The high-level history of light therapy:

For this topic, I had an article that explained the depth of light therapy history so well that it was hard to not share. I’ll be leaning on their research below.

“Historically, light treatment has been used in both medical and physiotherapy practice. From its roots in ancient Egypt, India, and Greece, through to medieval times, the modern renaissance in 'light as therapy ' was begun by Florence Nightingale who, in the 1850s, advocated the use of clean air and an abundance of sunlight to restore health.” (Article 1)

This has since been delved into and researched as we advanced with technology. What was once unfiltered exposure to UV light and all other natural wavelengths was then refined to focus on wavelengths that could target the health of cells and inflammation on a much deeper level.

“Modern light therapy (phototherapy) had a marked uptake in use in medicine in Scandinavia, America, and Australia from 1903 [and onward], following the pioneering work of Niels Finsen in the late 19th century, which culminated in Dr Finsen receiving the Nobel Prize for Medicine for the treatment of tuberculosis scarring with ultraviolet (UV) light, and treatment of smallpox scarring with red light.” (Article 1.)

Light therapy was used as a method of medical treatment for many years, since the 1950s, to treat health conditions, especially skin conditions. (As they were easy to see results with). This was especially prevalent in Australia, Scandinavia, USA, England and Canada. And as time went on, it has been explored all over the world.

“In parallel, light treatment in hospitals for hyperbilirubinemia was used for neonatal jaundice. Since the 1980s light has also been used in the medical specialties of ophthalmology, dermatology, and cardiology. In more recent years in physiotherapy, light was mostly used as an adjunct to the management of orthopedic/rheumatological conditions.” (Article 1.)

As more and more light therapy has been used, there has been greater and greater awareness of its holistic and overall benefits for many different ailments. We’re still learning more about what is possible with light therapy and what it can help to heal! Wild!

“The use of light has expanded into new and exciting practices including supportive cancer care, and treatment of depression, oral mucositis, retinopathy of prematurity, and cardiac surgery complications. Light is also being used in the treatment of neurological diseases, such as Parkinson's disease, traumatic brain injury, and multiple sclerosis.” (Article 1.)

One of the things that is so exciting about this, is that most people think light therapy has been around for the past 20 years, but it has been well over 120 years since light therapy was first used for medical purposes. It has cycled in and out of common-place medicine, but it is gaining more and more awareness and traction as people move away from our overly-pharmacised systems and into more available medicine that is natural & accessible. I don’t know about you, but that gets me really excited for the future of medicine.

I’m amazed at the progress that I’ve been able to witness with light therapy, and I can’t wait to see what else happens with it in my lifetime!


If you want to learn more about Light Therapy & my Light Therapy work, you can follow me with the links below, or email me at - thank you for reading!

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Here is the article I've referenced above:

If you liked this article you can also read:

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