The Golden Healer - The Beginning of the Light Therapy

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Phototherapy, also known as light therapy, is widely known as a safe, non-invasive, and non-pharmaceutical treatment option for various conditions, including depression, joint and muscle conditions, skin disorders, and insomnia. Today, light therapy is an FDA-approved and MDASAP-approved cosmetic procedure for all skin conditions. It provides anti-inflammatory healing, increases collagen production, and reduces acne scars, giving the skin they always wanted.

The History of Light Therapy

While NASA was using this form of therapy in the 1960s, light therapy has been around for hundreds of years. Solariums existed in China around 6,000 BC. During that time, Chinese architects designed their homes facing the south so that sun would heat the interior of the home, a design practice still being used today. Families gather around the windows, absorbing as much sunlight as possible. It wasn’t long until solar-heated homes became a common practice in Greece and Rome.

But this is just a small opening into the history of light therapy. We’re going to dig a little deeper and show you how light therapy started, from the Chinese to the Greeks to today.

The Greeks

Light therapy originates back to the ancient Greeks. Heliopolis, the city of the sun, was known for its healing temples, which used sunlight spectrums to assist with specific medical issues. This is where heliotherapy, the exposure to light, comes from.

Socrates believed the ideal home should cool in the summer and warm in the winter, a concept we still believe today. However, 2,500 years ago, the Greeks didn’t have the heating systems we have today.

During that time, they would use wood to heat their homes and cook. Wood was also used for fuel, to build homes and ships. But it was destroying the local ecosystem. Plato compared the hills of Attica to the bones of a body. He said,

“ All the richer and softer parts have fallen away…..and the mere skeleton of the land remains.”

With wood damaging the local environment, the Greeks sourced wood further away. This resulted in the cost of fuel prices increasing. Luckily, they had an alternative option for energy which was the sun - and it was free.

Greeks took advantage of the sun and started to build their homes with the sun in mind. The homes faced the south, allowing access to the sun during winter. The citizens were ecstatic as it saved them money and resources.

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Greeks fell in love with their solar-friendly homes. Theophrastus, a naturalist, commented that Greeks believed,

the sun provides life-sustaining heat in animals and plants. It also probably supplies the heat of earthly flames. They believed they were catching the sun when making fire.

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Exposure to natural sunlight became known as an important element to a healthy life. Oribasius, an ancient medical authority, stated that south-facing homes were healthy places to live in due to their exposure to the sun.


Dr. Niels Finsen, a Danish physician and scientist, received a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1903 for his contributions in treating lupus vulgaris and other illnesses via concentrated light radiation.

His award and recognition opened up endless possibilities for light therapy in the medical industry. Finsen discussed the use of ‘chemical rays of light’ in 1896. When he said ‘chemical light,’ he meant ionizing light, such as ultraviolet rays.


Decades of research proved that light therapy produced therapeutic benefits for living tissue. In the 1960s, in Europe, single wavelengths through photo-stimulation had therapeutic effects on tissue. An example is the practice of light therapy on newborns with jaundice.

1980s - 1990s

Light therapy gained popularity from the 1980s to 1990s, with more clinics and medical facilities seeing the benefits of light therapy to treat conditions and illnesses. The cosmetic benefits of light therapy became recognized during this period of time.

Professional athletes discovered light therapy as an ideal option for sports-related injuries as well. Research showed that an injured person who undergoes light therapy recovers 50 times faster than a person who doesn’t.


The development of red light therapy became unstoppable by the early 2000s. More companies jumped on board to produce light therapy devices for medical and aesthetic purposes. The devices come in varying lights and sizes to help aid specific conditions. Some research also found that red light therapy combined with topical cream can kill specific cancer cells.

Final Thoughts

We hope this quick background on the roots of light therapy has given you more insight into its effectiveness as a solution for clinical and aesthetic treatment. If you’re considering your own private label, we’re more than happy to explore this journey with you. 

Here at Kaiyan Medical, we ensure all our red light therapy devices are FDA-certified and MDASAP-approved, ensuring you the safest products for professional use. To learn more about our light therapy products and devices, contact our team.