Updated October 06, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

The 10 Best Therapy Lamps

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Since the initial publication of this wiki in April of 2015, there have been 29 edits to this page. Light therapy was widely used worldwide for effective treatment of numerous ailments until patented pharmaceuticals came on the market (go figure). But if you prefer non-drub-based remedies with no adverse side effects, these lamps can effectively help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD), arthritis, muscle pains, skin rashes, insomnia, jet lag, lack of energy, and mood disorders. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best therapy lamp on Amazon.

10. Northern Light Travelite

9. Philips GoLite

8. Daylight Classic

7. Circadian Optics Lumine

6. Verilux Sunshine Simulator

5. Carex Classic Plus

4. Nature Bright SunTouch Plus

3. Carex Day-Light

2. Verilux HappyLight

1. Northern Light Technology Boxelite

How A Therapy Lamp Works

One of the symptoms of psoriasis is inflammation of the skin, brought on by the immune system's response to the condition.

Light therapy is the process of sitting near a lamp that in some way mimics natural light or emits certain wavelengths of light. There are different types of lights that can be used in therapy lamps, including fluorescent, polychromatic polarized (often used in the treatment of carpal tunnel syndrome), and full-spectrum. A doctor will typically prescribe these lamps to an individual for a very specific amount of time each day, depending on the condition being treated.

Therapy lamps meant for home use are often referred to as light boxes. They're much brighter than regular lamps, sometimes emitting up to 10,000 lux of light, so they usually have built-in eye protective technology. Those that depend on specific wavelengths are not as bright, and usually send out light in the blue and green areas of the visible spectrum.

One of the most common uses of light therapy lamps is the treatment seasonal mood disorder (SAD). Since individuals who live in areas with severe winters don't get as much sun-produced vitamin D as they need, these lamps can mimic time spent outdoors. But therapy lamps work on multiple levels of SAD. They can also help reset someone's internal clock, helping them sleep better, which can in turn fight depression and feelings of fatigue.

Light therapy lamps are also effective in treating certain skin conditions. When therapy lamps are used to treat skin conditions, it is called phototherapy. People can either receive full body phototherapy at a doctor's office or purchase a therapy lamp if they only need to treat certain areas of their skin. One condition that responds quite positively to light therapy is psoriasis. One of the symptoms of psoriasis is inflammation of the skin, brought on by the immune system's response to the condition. Using ultraviolet radiation on isolated parts of the body can suppress the immune system response there, and reduce inflammation. Light therapy, and specifically lamps that use lasers, has even been shown to provide some relief for acne sufferers.

When It's Better Than Medication

While there are over-the-counter and prescription medications for many of the conditions that therapy lamps treat, these medications can have unpleasant side effects that light therapy simply doesn't. Many people use these lamps to get over jet lag. Because the lamps suppress the production of melatonin, the chemical that makes us sleepy, they can help travelers adjust to their new time zone, without the need for excess amounts of coffee, or naps.

Even non-pregnant individuals find that they can take a lower dose of antidepressants if they supplement them with time spent under a light box.

Some people use the lamps in place of antidepressants. For example, it can be dangerous for a pregnant woman to take pharmaceutical antidepressants, and light therapy has proven to be a safe alternative to treating prepartum depression. Even non-pregnant individuals find that they can take a lower dose of antidepressants if they supplement them with time spent under a light box.

Therapy lamps can be a mild alternative to sleeping pills for people who suffer from sleep disorders. By simply doing their daily activities, like reading or typing on their computer, under a therapy lamp, insomniacs can slowly adjust their circadian rhythm. This can help them avoid the disruptive side effects of sleeping pills.

The History Of Light Therapy

Humans have always recognized that light is an important part of the healthy development of any living organism. As early as 1400 BCE, civilizations in Ancient Egypt, Rome and Greece harvested the therapeutic benefits of natural light. It wasn't until the late 1800s however, that people started using artificial light. It was around this time that the quartz lamp came to be, along with fluorescent tubes and the arc lamp.

In the 1890s, Neils Ryberg Finsen used red-light therapy in the treatment of smallpox and lupus.

Doctors first used these artificial lights in the treatment of diseases which used to plague humankind, like syphilis, pellagra, and tuberculosis. In the 1870s, a man named Augustus Pleasanton harnessed the power of blue light to stimulate the nervous system and alleviate pain associated with various conditions. In the 1890s, Neils Ryberg Finsen used red-light therapy in the treatment of smallpox and lupus.

Finsen would later be given a Nobel Prize for using ultra-violet light in the treatment of tuberculosis. Not long after, Dinshah Ghadiali would reveal his Spectro-Chrome system to the world, which is still widely used today. This system is based on the idea that certain colors in the light spectrum have a special relationship with certain parts of the body. In the 1920s, Harry Riley Spitler began to explore the benefits of light therapy on ocular disorders. Spitler is responsible for the principles of Syntonics, which uses light to balance the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems.

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Brett Dvoretz
Last updated on October 06, 2018 by Brett Dvoretz

A wandering writer who spends as much time on the road as in front of a laptop screen, Brett can either be found hacking away furiously at the keyboard or, perhaps, enjoying a whiskey and coke on some exotic beach, sometimes both simultaneously, usually with a four-legged companion by his side. He has been a professional chef, a dog trainer, and a travel correspondent for a well-known Southeast Asian guidebook. He also holds a business degree and has spent more time than he cares to admit in boring office jobs. He has an odd obsession for playing with the latest gadgets and working on motorcycles and old Jeeps. His expertise, honed over years of experience, is in the areas of computers, electronics, travel gear, pet products, and kitchen, office and automotive equipment.

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