Laser vs. LED. Which is Better?
It’s a common question in the field of light therapy—and one that we hear quite frequently here at Miridia Technology. Laser, or LED? Having been in the light therapy business for a number of years, and having sold examples of both, we often hear from customers who are confused about the differences and want to know which is better.
The truth is, neither is inherently “better.” Both fill unique roles in the world of complementary medicine. Both have important applications. Both can provide effective, powerful healing light.
And each of them are “better” at doing certain things. But in our opinion, the average clinic has a very real need for both.
For a quick primer on the differences between laser and LED, you can watch this short, 2 minute video. If you prefer a deeper dive for higher-level understanding, read through the post!
Lessons from the Sun
Before we dive into explaining the differences between laser and LED, let’s begin with the similarities.
To give you some perspective, let’s first talk about the ‘original‘ light—the light we all rely upon to live—which is, of course, sunlight. Sunlight appears to be white, but it’s actually made up of every color of light, including colors our eyes can’t see. That’s why sunlight can be separated into its constituent colors by a prism, or in the case of a rainbow, airborne water vapor. The point is there are many colors, or wavelengths of light, in sunlight.
Like the sun, diodes produce light. However, unlike the sun, laser and LED products are monochromatic. This means that all the light produced is a single, specific color. If you were to pass this monochromatic light through a prism, the only color produced would be the color you started with. A red laser or LED produces only red light.
Similarities: Color, Wavelength and Effect
Lasers and LEDs are available in a variety of colors. Two common laser colors are red and blue, but you can also find them in green, ultraviolet, infrared and others. Likewise, LEDs come in a wide range of colors, suited to specific purposes.
When you speak of light’s “color” you are really talking about wavelength. In fact, the color of light is determined by its wavelength. This fact is true for both LEDs and lasers. And this is important because specific wavelengths have specific effects.
On either end of the spectrum are wavelengths and colors that our eyes can’t even see. The far left end of the spectrum is infrared light, which we experience as heat, not visible light. The far right end of the spectrum is ultraviolet light, which is which is responsible for sunburns, faded upholstery, and germ-free drinking water.
In the middle of the spectrum are all the colors of the rainbow that our eyes can perceive. Red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo and violet. As you can see on the graphic above, as wavelength increases, the color tends toward red. As the wavelength decreases, the color tends toward violet.
Wavelength is particularly important when it comes to healing. Some specific, studied wavelengths are known to have therapeutic effects on the human bodies. For example, a specific wavelength of red light has been shown to increase ATP production in the mitochondria. In acupuncture, red light is traditionally used to tonify, while blue light is used to sedate. Infrared light penetrates further into tissues and increases blood flow. These are very effective therapeutic wavelengths.
On the other hand, some wavelengths are virtually useless—and some wavelengths can cause genuine harm to the human body. It’s important not to get it wrong! When you treat with light, you need to treat with the right light.
Many therapeutic devices use red and/or infrared light, due to their healing properties. Specifically, the 633 nm red wavelength is ideal for stimulating mitochondrial function for healing and detox, and the 850 nm infrared wavelength is ideal for deep penetration into muscles and tissues to promote blood flow and bring relief.
The blue 450 nm wavelength (as used in the QiCalm laser) is traditionally associated with relaxation, sedation, and tranquility.
Many light therapy devices will claim to offer healing benefits in all the pretty colors of the rainbow, but use cheap, ineffective diodes and ineffective wavelengths. Green and yellow light, for instance, are poorly studied and likely have little to offer in the way of healing benefits. Beware of the claims made about such “light show” LEDs that, in the end, may be no more powerful than a string of rainbow holiday lights.
Differences: Coherency and Distance
Is it Coherent?
Have you ever watched a rowing competition? You know, the sleek shells, the muscular guys, all rowing in perfect unison as they race along the water, while the coxswain calls out commands. One of the keys to winning is for all the rowers to work precisely together as one. This is a good metaphor for coherence.
Almost all forms of light , including LEDs, are INcoherent. This means that each of the individual light waves pretty much does what it wants and ignores all the other light waves. Think of a rowing crew of drunken amateurs, some rowing one way, some rowing another, one playing the guitar, and one falling out of the boat. Get the picture? Though the boat may move, it won’t move powerfully or in a predictable direction.
Coherent light, on the other hand, features all the individual light waves precisely lined up with each other and working in perfect unison. They’re all going the same direction, and taking each “stroke” in the same way and at the same time. In other words, all the waves are “in phase.” Perhaps the most important difference between Lasers and LED is that lasers produce coherent light, and LEDs do not.
Though the same amount of light is coming out of both light sources, the coherent laser light is much more concentrated and intense, because of its coherence. It stays in a single beam, rather than spreading out. That’s why a laser pointer will project a very small dot across a long distance.
In nature, there is no such thing as coherent light; all coherent light is artificially made. Therefore, our eyes are not adapted to deal with the intense power of coherent light deposited in a small area on the retina. All lasers produce coherent light, and depending on the power of the laser, irreversible retinal burns can result.
Although some lasers are relatively eye safe, there is always a certain degree of risk. That’s why it’s often recommended to use laser safety glasses when treating with laser.
On the other hand, the light produced by LEDs, being incoherent, is not powerful enough to pose any risk to the eyes. Safety glasses are not needed. This makes LEDs an excellent choice for treating children or animals, and for diffuse treatment over large areas.
There is also the question of how far light can travel, which is largely dependent upon its coherency.
Coherent lasers light concentrates its power in a small point, which makes it ideal for stimulating a small area, such as an acupuncture point. Laser light’s coherence also makes it ideal for this application. Lasers are used in fiber optic communication systems because coherent light can be transmitted over much greater distances than incoherent light. The coherent laser light can be transmitted hundreds, even thousands of miles through fiber optic cables without much loss. In the same way, laser light tends to penetrate easily into the meridians and travel along meridian channels, moving energy and qi throughout the entire body.
LEDs, on the other hand, tend to distribute their power over a larger area, but without the traveling effect of laser. Therefore, LED effects tend to remain local, affecting the local tissues that are exposed to the light. And because LEDs are diffuse, they tend to cover a much larger area than the pinpoint of laser light.
Choosing your Tool
Laser, or LED? Hopefully, this post has effectively explained both the similarities, and differences between LED and laser light. And hopefully, you’ve gained appreciation for the unique capabilities and properties of each. So now, all that’s left is to apply the theories to real treatment situations.
If you’re looking for a non-needle treatment tool specifically to tonify or sedate acupuncture points to achieve total-body balance, laser is probably the way to go. The coherent light is perfect to treat the acupuncture point, and may even travel through the meridian channels and move qi, creating balance in the body. You can read more about laser acupuncture in this blog post by Dr. Kimberly Thompson.
If you’re looking for a tool that can promote local circulation, decrease pain and promote healing, you’d want an LED product—preferably one that utilizes both red and infrared light diodes.
The red light will work at a cellular level to increase ATP production in the mitochondria, speed cellular regeneration and healing and repair damaged cells, while the infrared light will deeply penetrate to promote circulation, soothe pain and inflammation and remove debris.
If you like to treat both the root cause of a condition, and the branch symptoms, you need both. Laser is a fantastic non-needle tool for treating the root, while LED is a vital supplement treatment tool for the branch.
Photizo: The Best LED Devices on the Market
While laser products have been readily available for many years, therapeutic LED products are a bit of a newer phenomenon. Some practitioners are skeptical of LED products, and rightfully so; many of such products on the market use cheap, ineffective diodes and incorrect wavelengths. They claim the world and deliver very little.
However, I’ve found a fantastic LED light therapy device that uses correct red and infrared wavelengths along with healing frequencies to deliver truly powerful and unique benefits.
It’s called the Photizo, and it’s an incredible tool.
Photizo products are well made and their effects are well proven through years of clinical use and research.
We currently have two Photizo lights available for the US Market.
Photizo Pain Relief Launch Special
We want you to have the BEST LED light therapy tool on the market. When you purchase the Photizo Pain relief, you can rest assured that you’re getting the best tool for the best results.
During the Photizo Pain Relief Launch Special, save $50 on your device!
Plus you’ll also get…
- “How to Treat with Photizo Pain Relief” training video
- FREE shipping within the United States
- 60 day money-back guarantee
- 1 Year Warranty
Click the link below to get your Photizo Pain Relief at the Launch Special:
One Photizo for $345, or 2+ for $295 EACH!
Want a Photizo for each treatment room, or to send home with patients? We’re offering group discount pricing when you order 2+ Photizo units.
- Buy one unit for
- OR 2+ units for $295 EACH!
Interested in wholesale packages to sell to patients? Call us for pricing!
If you have questions or need help placing your order, feel free to reach out! We’re available via email by firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone at 208.846.8448.
Hope this blog post answered your questions about which type of light is best for you!