Wow! Low Level Laser (Light) Therapy Actually Worked!

I am going to diverge from the farm to brief you on LLLT (Low Level Laser Therapy), also known as Cold Laser Therapy. I was out visiting my friend in Alabama who had recently undergone back surgery. He was still in a lot of pain months later. During our visit he had a couple appointments for therapy. He described that the Dr. was using a laser to shine light on his lower back and the treatment was working well, not just for my friend, but that this therapy had been becoming increasingly popular and the practice was booking more and more patients for this treatment. My first thought was “who is this quack doctor”, and that “this must just be a placebo treatment”. How does light cause any change on the body other than skin tans and sunburns? On the trip home I was flipping through a magazine and you wouldn’t guess what I saw an advertisement for, yep you guessed it, red light therapy this time as a hair loss treatment. OK, now I had to figure out if there was any truth behind this, or if this was just the latest fad and hoax that I needed to debunk. When I got home I started my research, learning that Low Level Laser (Light) Therapy is the use of low levels of light concentrated at specific frequencies to promote healing of wounds and reduce inflammation. To my surprise there are actual clinical studies proving that the therapy works. Clinical studies where one group was given a placebo, maybe a white light, whereas another group of patients were given the actual LLLT treatment with a specific frequency of light. The results showed that the LLLT treatment was effective for a variety of treatments. Each light has a specific biological effect, blue lights has been shown to kill certain bacteria associated with acne, gum disease and bad breath. Red lights and infrared have been shown to reduce inflammation, and promote healing of wounds, and scars, etc. Some of these effects have been know for a long time, such as sunlight for the treatment of acne. I found it amazing that light can have this biological affect on our cells. Through my research of plants, I knew different frequencies of light can have profound effects on plants such as flowering or vegetative growth, but to affect human cells is quite different. I wanted to know how this was even possible. Prepare yourself, I am about to get technical! Remember from biology class that the mitochondria is contained in your cells, and functions as the power plant of the cell, creating energy that your cells use to for critical functions necessary to life including cell repair and regeneration. The light accomplishes this by breaking apart the bond between cytochrome c oxidase (CCO) & nitric oxide contained in the mitochondria. The nitric oxide acts as a brake and the CCO is the gas pedal. When the nitric oxide bonds to CCO in the mitochondria it slows down the reaction and produces less ATP (the molecule your cells use for energy).  Essentially the light will break apart the bond between nitric oxide & CCO, this releases the CCO molecule and puts your mitochondria into overdrive producing additional energy for your cells. This abundance of energy allows the cells to devote more resources to repair and regeneration of the damaged areas.

As mentioned before, medical device companies have started integrating LLLT into their products for the treatment of wound healing, inflammation, pain, hair loss, acne, and many more ailments.

If you read through the research (there are dozens of articles published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information – NCBI & the National Institutes of Health – NIH) you’ll find that the therapies consist of light created by a laser or LED at a specific frequency, and dosage. The most frequently used wavelengths are ~405-470 blue light, ~630-660 red light, and ~820-880 infrared light. For dosage, less is usually better but anywhere from 1 J/cm^2 to 50 J/cm^2 have been the most frequently studied. (Here is one of the articles if you want to get a summary of the research). Medical devices are sold for home use, but are very expensive (you can thank the FDA for that), but you can find LED lights of the same frequency on Amazon.Below are the three products I researched and use for various injuries and therapy.

Infrared light at 850nm wavelength and 36W power supply

850nm Infrared light. A very rough estimate is that the device puts out  ~3.5mW / cm^2. That would mean a minimum of 5 minutes therapy and a maximum of 4 hours on the area. I would rotate this around to get multiple sides and exposure. I used this on a knee injury that was not healing and within a couple weeks the pain disappeared.


15W Red LED light at 660nm wavelength

660nm Red light. A very rough estimate is that the device puts out  ~2.5mW / cm^2. That would mean a minimum of ~7 minutes therapy and a maximum of 5.5 hours. Make sure to Google this one as I have been able to find it at other online stores besides Amazon for much cheaper. Don’t try to buy the cheap China made red lights that claim to be a certain wavelength, I did and all the led’s are different colors and none match the 660nm light spectrum. We replaced the light above our shower with this and saw noticeable results quickly. The 1st change was no more body acne on my shoulders. My wife noticed reduced wrinkles on her face, and received several comments from her close fiends and family about how her skin on her face looked younger and if she switched to a new lotion or cream.

Blue LED Flashlight at 475nm wavelength

475nm Infrared light. This frequency of light has been found to kill black-pigmented bacteria, this is the type of bacteria that cause bad breath and gum disease. Here is an article from Harvard Magazine on study and the findings. I started using this a couple times per week about five months ago, which was four months before my last dentist cleaning appointment, shining the light all around in my mouth for a minute to up to 30 minutes depending on what I am doing (watching TV or typing up a article). My 6-month cleaning is generally a terrible and painful experience. The whole thing looks like a horror show with my gums bleeding, as the dentist is removing bloodied gauze from my mouth as if I was bleeding out like a character in a war movie. Sometimes I seriously expect them to have to hook up an IV bag for me. I can honestly say this time was the best experience I can remember at the dentist. Much more pleasant with minimal bleeding, and not painful at all . The dentist even asked if I had changed my brushing frequency or started flossing more regularly…that was an easy answer “No” and “No”. The experience definitely made me a believer. Next appointment they will measure the inflammation in my gums, which will help validate this whole therapy and prove it’s not just psychological. I will try to see what information I can get to see the change and update you all on the results.

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