The first source of light used for medical treatments was sunlight, which is known as heliotherapy.
Dating back to 1400BC, Ancient Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Arab physicians integrated light therapy as part of their general medical treatments. Hippocrates himself recommended sunlight to treat a variety of diseases. Jumping forward to 1893, Danish physician Niels Ryberg Finsen developed one of the first devices capable of producing technically synthesized “sunlight” – offering substantial benefits such as control over the intensity and emitted light spectrum. In 1903 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine for his research in light therapy and subsequent outstanding therapeutic results. NASA later pioneered light energy for the space program (in the 1980s). And the US Department of Defense is continuing research into the use of light therapy to accelerate wound healing on the battle field…
“We believe that the use of NASA light-emitting diodes (LED) for light therapy will greatly enhance the natural wound healing process, and more quickly return the patient to a pre- injury/illness level of activity. This work is supported and managed through the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) and NASA Marshall Space Flight Center–SBIR Program.” Whelan, HT et al. 2003
Light is essential for our life and health
And we know that light at the correct wavelength and intensity impacts cellular physiology, specifically near infrared light (near the visible spectrum).
We also know that cells require different wavelengths…hence the full spectrum of the sun.
Photons – in scientific terms light energy is called photon energy – and each of our human cells are loaded with photo sensitive proteins called cytochromes.
We live and breathe because of light, the absence of which can have serious adverse effects on our body and the normal physiological processes within it.
What is Light exactly?
Light is simply the visible part of the electromagnetic spectrum, frequently observed as the spread of colors displayed within the rainbow.
The differences between these colours are defined according to the wavelength they occupy. Different wavelengths penetrate tissues to different depths. This means that a variety of tissues can be stimulated by LED light.
Certain wavelengths (the delivery of photons) affect certain tissues in certain ways. Each cell will absorb light at specific wavelengths.
Also, the different wavelengths can affect different tissues and cells of the body.
This is why we have combined several basic wavelengths in our models, a combination of infrared and visible light wavelengths considered to be beneficial in the treatment of different types of problems and injuries.
Red and Infrared Light
Although both red and infrared wavelengths penetrate to different depths and affect tissues differently, their therapeutic effects are similar.
Visible red light, at a wavelength of 630-660 nanometers (nm – 1 nanometer is equal to one billionth of a meter), penetrates tissue to a depth of about 8-10 mm. It is very beneficial in treating problems close to the surface such as wounds, cuts, scars, trigger and acupuncture points and is particularly effective in treating infections.
Infrared light (800-1000nm) penetrates to a depth of about 30-40 mm which makes it more effective in the treatment of joints, deep muscle, etc.
What does Light Therapy do?
Light therapy (application of photons directly to the skin) triggers the release of nitric oxide.
The American Medical community only learned about this molecule 16 years ago and Dr. Nathan Bryan has written several articles on the value of Nitric oxide.
So what does this molecule do?
Nitric Oxide is the down messenger chemical of the parasympathetic nervous system. All the physiological systems built for healing the human body are triggered by this nitric oxide molecule.
Effects of Nitric Oxide
1. Improved circulation (vasodilation) by increasing the diameter of the blood vessels which in turn allows for increased blood flow, helping to…
2. Increased angiogenesis – the building of new blood vessels which is essential for wound healing.
3. Increased lymphatic activity – which helps to decrease swelling.
4. Increased cell regeneration – accelerating wound healing. Improved circulation provides the oxygen and nutrients for cells to regenerate and make new tissue to heal a wound. This stimulates the building of the different types of tissue.
5. Increased Bone Mineralization – It causes the minerals, especially calcium, to be reabsorbed by the bone.
6. Phagocytosis – immune cellular response that attacks foreign bacteria and cellular debris in the body. Nitric Oxide supports this response. Studies indicate 400% increase in monocytes and lymphocytes.
7. RNA-DNA synthesis – the speed and function of cell division is influenced by Nitric Oxide. Cell division is an ongoing function of our body system and light therapy can influence this aspect of our physiology.
ATP was discovered in muscle tissue by scientists in Germany and the United States in 1929.
Its role in the storage and supply of energy was first explained in 1941 by the German-American biochemist Fritz A. Lipmann. For this achievement, he shared the 1953 Nobel Prize in physiology or medicine.
It’s the mitochondria that directs the activity of cellular function. The mitochondria acts as the generator/battery of the cell producing and storing ATP.
ATP production is reduced in the absence of glucose, fat and oxygen. Put another way, ATP production is reduced when circulation is poor.
In the absence of enough ATP, nerve cells express pain and hyper-excitability, wound healing is slowed, cell death occurs more readily (aging).
With light therapy ATP production is increased which helps combat the aforementioned deficiencies.
Researchers also think there is a link between cardiovascular disease, diabetes, aging, Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease and what is called ‘Mitochondrial dysfunction’. So it is of interest that LED lights have a direct and beneficial influence on the mitochondria.
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