By Bridget Juister –
Technology and science have come a long way to harness the positive effect of light for therapeutic purposes. In 1967, Endre Mester discovered that a low-level beam of light had the capacity to stimulate hair growth and wound repair in mice. Laser technology has since become commonplace in the surgical and clinical arena. Fifty years later, light-emitting diodes (LED) devices are available and safe for clinic and home use. Light wavelengths and pulse technology combine to target tissues at different levels. Light therapy stimulates our own natural healing capabilities in a process called photobiomodulation (PBM).1
Low-level Light Therapy (LLLT) or PBM offers a gentle, non-invasive means to repair, restore and stimulate cellular activity critical for reducing inflammation and promoting health. Red, blue and infrared light wavelengths penetrate varying depths of tissue to increase circulation and stimulate ATP (Adenosine Triphosphate) synthesis. Understanding the cascade of events at the molecular level explains why light therapy is useful for a variety of health concerns, including pain syndromes, brain disorders and dermatological conditions, to name a few.
Pain management is reduced by increased circulation to decrease inflammation. The process begins at the mitochondrial level. Absorption of photons by the cell’s “powerhouse” mitochondria trigger the release of nitric oxide and promote ATP synthesis. An increase of nitric oxide in the blood helps relax the arteries, fight free radicals and cause vasodilation which decreases blood pressure. This increase of blood flow and oxygen to the blood helps reduce inflammation for acute and chronic pain conditions, making it a safe option for pain management.2
Applying the lights over the eyes, the forehead or with a “light cap” penetrates through the skull to access the brain tissue. LLLT has promising potential to treat traumatic brain injury, PTSD, stroke rehabilitation, clinical depression, dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.3
PBM is a promising treatment option for traumatic and degenerative brain conditions—not only because of increased mitochondrial activity, ATP production, increased blood flow and oxygen, but because light activates signaling pathways and gene transcription factors responsible for changes in protein expression. These pathways are responsible for a complex array of activity including DNA synthesis and repair, cellular proliferation and migration and increased enzyme activity; all of which are essential for restoring and promoting healthy tissue. This activity has a lasting effect which means photobiomodulation continues to take place even after the lights have been removed.3
The ability of light to rejuvenate and restore healthy tissues, make it effective for dermatological conditions including burns, wounds, psoriasis, acne and for anti-aging. When light is absorbed and the signaling pathways activate to repair and restore tissue, stem cells are also promoted that assist in tissue repair and wound healing and rejuvenation. There is also clinical evidence that light therapy helps to recover damage from UV radiation.4
LED light therapy devices are easy to use and create a pleasant and relaxing experience. Using them on a regular basis at home offers a wonderful way to incorporate quality quiet time for stress management. The flexible pad system makes it easy to apply lights to several areas at the same time—whether it’s for pain, skin care or brain health. Light therapy is deemed safe for the elderly, children and even the family pet.5
Light is life. We are light. Our bodies are equipped with powerful self-healing properties at the molecular level to help manage our biggest health challenges. The safe, non-invasive nature of light therapy, and the lack of side effects make light therapy a legitimate option for clinicians and also as a personal health management tool for the whole family.
Bridget Juisteris a licensed acupuncturist and light therapist at B Holistic in Hinsdale Illinois. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Loyola University and a Masters of Oriental Medicine from the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine. Feel free to email firstname.lastname@example.org your questions.