Universal Dosage Calculator for Red Light Therapy! Find your optimal time per session!
How do you calculate the dose with your red light therapy device?
When you consume a pill, you are usually taking a certain amount of milliGrams (mG) over the course of a certain time frame. Usually you don't need to calculate anything like weighing out powders or breaking the pill in half - the dose is normally given to you in the proper weight and all you need to know is how many pills to pop at a time and how often.
The science of Red Light Therapy typically relies on the "dose" as the Energy delivered needing to be sufficient enough to deliver a particular biological response. Higher doses may mean the cells need more energy or to reach deeper tissues.
Energy is often measured in units of Joules (J). For large Red Light Therapy devices we prefer to dose in terms of Energy Density which is the Joules delivered per unit area. In the metric system, this becomes the Joules Per Centimeter Squared (J/cm^2).
However, the Power is the rate at which energy is delivered. The Power is in units of Watts. One Watt equals 1 Joule Per Second. Similarly we like to know the Power Density, often called the intensity or irradiance, which is Watts Per Centimeter Squared (W/cm^2).
Since we are typically using low intensities for proper Photobiomodulation, we shift the units from Watts to milliWatts. In the metric system the prefix tells you the order of magnitude. Where One Watt equals One Thousand MilliWatts. So we finally get the famous intensity units of mW/cm^2 (milliWatts Per Centimeter Squared).
Thereby we have the relationship between Time, mW/cm^2, and J/cm^2.
Dose (J/cm^2) = (Irradiance (mW/cm^2) * Time [seconds]) / 1000 [mW/W]
Often, we need to rearrange this algebra. Since we should know the intensity (irradiance) of our device, and know our desired dose from relevant clinical studies.
What we usually need to calculate is the Exposure Time to reach the desired dose.
Time [seconds] = (Dose [J/cm^2] x 1000 [mW/W]) / Irradiance (mW/cm^2)
Now, you can just "plug-in" the dose and intensity for your light into our handy calculator, and it will tell you how long to use it for!
The best part is that it works for ANY light-therapy light, as long as you have the accurate 3rd party irradiance measurements.
The "default" numbers above are actually for a GembaRed Rex at 0 inches with irradiance of 7mW/cm^2, and a desired dose of 6 J/cm^2. We see the time it takes to achieve that dose is 14.3 minutes.
Now the risk is that many companies may be false-advertising their intensity by over 2x with cheap solar power meters. When that happens, the outcome of using the calculator will be to use half has much exposure time. Thus, in reality you could be underdosing by 2x when you calculate the dose this way. So it is pertinient to insist on asking manufacturers for the most accurate intensity numbers they can provide ideally from professional 3rd party labs.
I found that my ideal daily dose is between 4 J/cm^2 to 10 J/cm^2 for general wellness. If you are spacing your doses out every other day, or just a few times a week, then you could increase the dose higher as needed.
Update 1/13/2022! Joules Per Centimeter Squared Per Minute?
In the never-ending efforts for companies to cover-up their false intensity claims, they may tell you to ignore intensity entirely and base your dosing calculations on the "J/cm^2 per minute."
The J/cm^2 per minute is a metric sometimes called "fluence" in the studies because it describes both energy and time together.
This is actually a nice convenience, because if you know you want a 10 J/cm^2 dose and a company tells you their fluence is 2.5 J/cm^2 per minute, then the math is a simple division and you know you need only 4 minutes to achieve that dose (minus reflection losses if you are standing 6 inches away).
But we know that the "J/cm^2 per minute" actually is easily converted to intensity of mW/cm^2 through the magic of simple math.
1 Joule/Second = 1 Watt
1000 mW = 1 W
1 minute = 60 seconds
So we know that when someone tells us the Joules/cm^2 per minute, that is a quick conversion equation.
mW/cm^2 = J/cm^2 per min * 1000 ÷ 60
2.5 * 1000 ÷ 60 = 41.66 mW/cm^2
That's it! Easy conversion from J/cm^2 per min back to mW/cm^2, the industry standard measurement. To make it easier, we put it into another calculator!
Remember that it is a common fallacy that "more power" means faster treatments. It has been shown that due to the biphasic dose response that the Law of Reciprocity does not always apply to light therapy. That a "faster dose" does not always mean the same effectiveness, although it might appear to save a busy person some time. Read more about intensity and effective doses on our earlier blog.
Ultimately there is still a lot left to learn about proper dosing with red light panels. But I feel we must be firmly grounded in the science and accurate measurements, otherwise we may never be able to replicate results or discuss photobiomodulation scientifically.
The science of Red Light Therapy still has a lot of grey areas in terms of how to properly dose the light! It is even more confusing by companies using inaccurate solar power meters, promoting high irradiances, and not always reporting the same units of intensity. And even the clinical studies report a wide range of dosages and intensities.
So we always encourage users to be empowered by knowing the real science and parameters, then adjusting their own protocol as needed to get the best results.
More Tips on Dosing?
Check out these blogs and our Learning Center:
- Scientific Dosing Methodology For Red Light Therapy
- How Often Should You Do Red Light Therapy?
- What is the Best Intensity for Red Light Therapy?
- What is the Best Time of Day for Red Light Therapy?
- Why is Exposure Time just as important as Dosing?
- What is the best distance to be from LED Panels?
- What is the best distance to be from high-intensity LED Panels?
- Why is Skin Contact so Important for Dosing?
- What is the Actual Clinical Dosing for Full-body Red Light Therapy?