Does Infrared Light Therapy Work for Weight Loss?

Danielle Pavliv

August 2012

Wouldn’t it be great if we could lose weight without having to diet or exercise?  For years, millions of us have tried pills, injections, “natural” herbs and even berries that are supposed to help us shed pounds – but these usually don’t work.  The latest magic way to lose weight is infrared light, also known as “red light therapy.”

Red light therapy uses infrared light, usually from lasers, lamps, or tanning bed-like devices.  We are told to either lie down or sit in front of the light for a specific amount of time on a regular basis (usually once a day).  The newest on the market is the infrared body wrap, which entails placing large silicone bandages that emit infrared light or pads around the legs, torso and arms. These products claim to increase metabolism and help users burn hundreds of calories without doing any work. In addition, red light therapy is meant to improve the appearance of cellulite and help shape the body.

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. No scientific evidence exists to support the claims that infrared light, whether administered by lamp, laser or while in a body wrap, can help people lose weight or shape their body. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved any products like this for weight loss purposes. It is possible that the products may cause temporary water loss, but that would be due to dehydration.  The weight will come back as soon as the person drinks a few badly needed glasses of water. Water loss should not be confused with body fat loss, which is what most people want from weight loss.

Infrared therapy is also offered for pain management, jaundice, eczema, improved blood circulation and to help wounds heal faster. The FDA has approved several infrared devices for temporary pain relief and to increase local blood circulation, but all other uses are not approved.[1] In fact, the FDA has penalized manufacturers of several devices for labeling materials containing “false or misleading statements or information” and marketing for uses other than those approved by the FDA.[2]

If you want to lose weight, skip the infrared light therapy-it’s expensive and it doesn’t work.

References


[1] 510(k) Summary: GRT LITE Model PRO-8A Light Therapy System. Food and Drug Administration. Feb 3 2006. Available at: http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/cdrh_docs/pdf5/K050668.pdf.

[2] Inspections, Compliance, Enforcement, and Criminal Investigations. Food and Drug Administration. May 4 2004. Available at: http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/EnforcementActions/WarningLetters/2004/ucm146842.htm?utm_campaign=Google2&utm_source=fdaSearch&utm_medium=website&utm_term=light%20therapy&utm_content=3