Low-Level Light Therapy: The Bright Future of Medical Technology January 25, 2017 00:00
Rewind a few decades to, let’s say, the 1960s. Businessmen in hats, beautiful and sleek cars, black and white TV. A simpler time.
Imagine you if you were to tell someone from that era that fifty years from then, people would be using light to get more work done throughout the day, combat anxiety, and fight off fatigue. What’s more, what if you told them that the power of light is being used to speed up healing, stave off pain, and make humans physically stronger than before?
What do you think they would say? And how long do you think it would take them to call the looney bin?
True, the rapid progression of technology has led to some pretty amazing changes in the last few decades. It shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise, then, that you’d be hard-pressed to find anyone who would believe you.
But even more surprising than all the amazing things that we’re discovering light can do for us is the fact that many of these effects were already documented in 1967.
What do you think your friend from the 60s would say to that?
Low-Level Light Therapy: a bit of background
When it comes to the future of medical treatments aimed at eliminating certain kinds of pain, hastening recovery from injury, and even pushing the human body to its physical limits, experts in the field are looking to a new type of prescription called low-level light therapy.
Also going by a slew of other names including low-power laser therapy, cold laser therapy, and bio-stimulation laser therapy, low-level light therapy (LLLT for short) is a form of LED light treatment that uses light on the red end of the spectrum to alter your body’s tissue on a cellular level.
The beneficial effects of low powered light on biological tissue were first documented by the pioneer of laser medicine Endre Mester in 1967. Since then, LLLT has wavered in and out of the acceptance of the scientific community. The growing number of cases where LLLT has proven effective, though, are spurring more researchers to pick up the cause of finally pushing this powerful therapy into the mainstream and, as a result, LLLT has recently seen a resurgence in clinical use.
So how does it work?
Part of its tumultuous past with credibility and the main beef that many scientists have with LLLT stem from the fact that the underlying mechanisms of just how this therapy works are still up for examination.
Some studies have speculated that the beneficial effects of LLLT (which range from pain reduction, wound healing, skin rejuvenation, decreasing muscle fatigue) come from a variety of biochemical processes all centered around the mitochondria. This little cellular structure is basically the powerhouse of each of our individual cells. They take a combination of the food molecules we eat and oxygen molecules we breath and use that combination to create energy which powers our bodies.
When the powerhouses are creating energy for your cells, they also give off a compound called nitric oxide or NO. When enough NO bumps into and sticks to the other compounds in the mitochondria, that makes it difficult for it to absorb oxygen, leading to less energy production. What LLLT does, then, is breaks apart NO from these other chemicals and let the mitochondria breath in that oxygen it needs so badly.
With all that extra energy jumping around inside the cell, it’s better able to handle stress, reduce inflammation, and reproduce.
What kinds of applications are there for LLLT?
Though the potential for this interesting and exciting new form of therapy are just in their early stages of implementation, the beneficial effects of LLLT is are being used in all sorts of areas. Here are just a few fields you can expect to see more LLLT usage in:
- Dermatology: One area that this type of therapy is already widely used in is dermatology. Dermatologists must have seen some of the science on how LLLT can effectively combat acne, vitiligo, and the effects of old age.
- Medicine and Surgery: By encouraging cell reproduction and proliferation, LLLT has been shown to have quite powerful healing effects that might make speed up the treatment of wounds and make recovery from surgery even quicker.
- Professional Athletics: Another exciting benefit to LLLT is its ability to ease exercise-induced skeletal muscle fatigue, thereby increasing muscular endurance!
Let us know what you think!What do you think about this exciting new development in health-based lighting? Have you ever had low-level light therapy and, if so, what did you think? Let us know in the comment section below and be sure to drop by the Flux Smart product line!