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Use Light to Improve Recovery Time After Surgery

Use Light to Improve Recovery Time After Surgery

By Jenna Keane

What follows in this blog are the solutions I found through research, talking with my vet, other blogs, and experimentation. I used all facets of light and supplements to help my dog recover quickly. Food, light and electromagnetic technology made the ideal trifecta for faster than normal healing!

Light comes from many different sources – from the sun, light bulbs, our electronic gadgets, and more

In some cases, light gets a bad rap because of things like sunburn and blue light, and the effects that they can have on human health. This can make it easy to overlook the idea that light can, and does, actually do a lot good in the world. For one, it produces vitamin D, it also lets us see and care for our families at night. Most importantly perhaps is that, under the right conditions, it keeps us in sync with our natural circadian rhythm (our biological need to have alternative periods between light and darkness).

What’s less obvious is that light can be used as an aid for healing.

I have a very active four year old Welsh Terrier, Atticus, who ruptured his ACL – that’s the same knee ligament on people that often gets torn as we play aggressive sports and/or get older and step off a curb wrong. It hurts, and it takes a long time to heal. For at least eight weeks, it means short leash walks only, followed by another 8 weeks of no all-out-running. That’s 16 weeks total of keeping an active, non-human speaking mammal from re-injuring his leg. While he’s a dog rather than a baby, parents with babies and toddlers understand how hard it is when a little one gets hurt and doesn’t understand the purpose or extent of the recovery process after an injury.

When the diagnosis came in, I set off on a quest to figure out what alternative options there are to help him get back on his feet faster than normal, or at least as quickly as possible. I wanted to be prepared to help his body heal itself. In addition, I wanted to have a plan in place that would help him stay calm during post-surgery healing. His squirrel-chasing dreams were going to have to wait until he healed.

Dog with a kong
Four year old Welsh Terrier, Atticus, before rupturing his ACL.
dog one day after surgery on his ACL
Atticus one day after surgery on his ACL.

I started with nutrition to assist the body in rebuilding itself. A big focus was increasing his intake of healthy, grass fed collagen so he’d be topped off to rebuild his muscles, skin and bone post-surgery. When he woke up from surgery and had to stay overnight in the hospital, I prepared lamb bone broth with chunks of lamb, broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, plus some dog pre- and probiotics for him. Not too different from his normal meals, but this concoction definitely boosted the healing juices!

Then I focused on his ability to rest and sleep when he got home. Just like with people, light impacts animals.  Since he can’t wear TrueDark glasses, I had to go with the old fashioned way of simply not using electronics around him. I dedicated my home office as his recovery room (I moved to the dining room table.) This allowed me to control the type of light and the timing of when it was light vs dark. That helped him stay on his natural circadian rhythm, which is important for rest and healing. He didn’t need a bunch of junk light from the TV preventing him from getting sleep. Nor did he need light near his overnight sleeping corner that would tell him it “might” be daytime.

Many cutting edge veterinarians have recognized that cold laser therapy (remember, lasers are lights too) can help the healing process. It works by exposing tissues to red and near infrared light that acts on mitochondria to increase ATP production. It helps control pain and inflammation, as well as speed healing. In looking at Atticus’ nine staples, I was all for anything that would help his pain go down, and his tissue heal as quickly as possible.

Dog using TrueLight red light therapy as a tool to help his body heal faster after having ACL surgery
Atticus using TrueLight red light therapy on his ACL post-surgery.

Another light solution is red light therapy.

When most people hear about light therapy, they think of seasonal affective disorder (SAD). But light therapy has a much broader reach beyond the impact of blue light. It turns out that photobiomodulation (a big word for “red light therapy”) can have a profound impact on skin and healing. This is similar to cold-laser therapy in that it’s impact on ATP production and healing works the same, but to a different degree of intensity. TrueLight red light therapy, pictured here, uses LED lights in a range of wavelengths at a lower output than lasers, which makes it less invasive and potentially less harmful to tissues compared to a cold-laser. It’s a great at-home solution if you don’t have a vet that offers cold-laser, or you just prefer to help your pet quiet at home.

The surgery for a ruptured ACL involves bone, plates and screws, so there was deep bone damage that needed to heal. For this, I didn’t turn to light, I turned to PEMF. This uses electromagnetic fields to stimulate growth factors that help bone and tissue heal. It’s not known exactly how it works, but anything that could help the bone heal faster than 16 weeks was worth trying!

Pulsed Electromagnetic Field device on a dog leg showing how it can be done
PEMF can be done at a veterinary office or with an at-home unit.

Here are options you have to help your pet (or yourself) recover from a major injury or surgery:

  • Amp up nutrition with a focus on collagen, gut health via pre- and probiotics, plus natural fiber to keep internal systems normal before and after surgery.
  • Control the light in your pets environment so they can get extra sleep and rest during recovery.
  • Consider using a cold-laser (from your vet) or red light therapy (at home) to help with tissue recovery, increased blood flow and collagen stimulation which will help tissues recover faster from the surgery or injury.
  • Consider use of PEMF from either a vet or an at-home unit.

Obviously, consult your veterinarian before using any procedure, supplement or technology to be sure it won’t cause harm. Also keep an eye on how hot your dog gets during the use of any tool. Atticus got warm during the red light therapy, so i broke it up into 2 ten minute sessions per day.

Update: Questions have been coming in asking if the process I used on Atticus can be used for people. Everyone has their own unique situation, so it’s not a “Yep, go for it!” type of answer. Do your research, ask your doctor what they know about this technology. If they don’t know, ask another…and another, until you find one who can give you feedback. These aren’t aggressive, invasive ideas. They are meant to help with pain and recovery. Worst case, they don’t help everyone. Best case, they reduce pain and speed healing, regardless of species.

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Key Mechanisms of Red and NIR Light for better Cellular Energy and Health

Red & NIR Light interacting with Mitochondria

Article at a Glance: 

  • Red and Near Infrared (NIR) are considered “bioactive” wavelengths of light.
  • The human body is biologically designed to need these types of light, as they have profound effects on cellular and hormonal health.
  • Researchers have found that red and NIR can affect numerous different physiological and biochemical mechanisms; cellular energy production and hormesis are arguably the most important to call out.
  • By getting appropriate doses of red and NIR light, you can help your body recover and rejuvenate more effectively.

Why are Red and NIR Light So Essential?

Red and NIR wavelengths of light are “bioactive”, meaning that they affect how our cells function. Just as our bodies need nutrients from food in order to survive, natural sunlight is an essential nutrient that enables our cells to function well.  Red and NIR are especially unique because they have a deeper penetration level than other wavelengths of light. They can reach deep into your muscle tissue and even all the way down to your bones. This can help stimulate a long list of positive health benefits, including but not limited to better blood circulation, faster muscle recovery, hormone regulation, and radiant skin. In other words, targeting your cells with red and NIR light can help you improve your health from the inside out.

Note that when you don’t get enough of the right light “nutrients”, you experience mal-illumination (like malnutrition when your diet is lacking key nutrients). Mal-illumination directly impacts circadian rhythms that control your appetite, energy, mood, sleep, libido, and other body-mind functions. (1) Circadian rhythm disruption can subsequently lead to other adverse health conditions too:

  • fatigue
  • weight gain
  • depression and anxiety
  • sleep disorders
  • mood disorders
  • diabetes
  • (and more)

What are the Key Mechanisms that Red and NIR Light Affect?

There are now over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies that illustrate the powerful health and antiaging benefits of red and NIR light. (2) Science shows that these wavelengths alter numerous biological pathways — a series of actions among molecules that interact with chemical signals and trigger changes in a cell. (3) With that said, there are two key mechanisms that are arguably the most important to highlight: cellular energy production and hormesis.

Cellular energy production diagram

Stimulating Cellular Energy Production 

When red and NIR wavelengths penetrate your cells, the light activates a special photoreceptor in your mitochondria called Cytochrome c oxidase. This photoreceptor is part of the respiratory chain that is responsible for producing ATP (cellular energy). When red and near-infrared light photons hit the photo acceptor cytochrome c oxidase, it helps the mitochondria use oxygen more efficiently to produce ATP. This is important because mitochondria are critical players in health, disease prevention, and longevity. Helping your mitochondria create more energy can help keep your cells, organs, and body healthy and performing better.

Cellular Hormesis Diagram

Hormesis 

The second key mechanism for how red and NIR light alters biological pathways is hormesis. This refers to creating temporary metabolic stress (and increasing reactive oxygen species, a.k.a. free radicals). During hormesis, your mitochondria get shocked in a way that causes them to send signals back to the nucleus of the cell (which contains your DNA). The nucleus in your cells then uses these signals to determine what genes should be expressed. This “retrograde signaling” prompts the body to adapt with things like improved cardiovascular efficiency, better blood delivery to the muscles, and more efficient mitochondria.

References

  1. https://thriveglobal.com/stories/photomodulation-and-your-health-2/
  2. https://www.theenergyblueprint.com/red-light-therapy-ultimate-guide/
  3. https://www.genome.gov/about-genomics/fact-sheets/Biological-Pathways-Fact-Sheet
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Infrared and Thermal Energy: Here’s What You Need to Know

Thermal image of a man

Article at a Glance:

  • Infrared radiation (IR) is a type of energy that’s invisible to the human eyes.
  • Research suggests that slightly increasing core-body temperature and improving blood circulation could positively affect behavior in people with autism.
  • Poor circulation can lead to numerous health issues like high blood pressure, muscle cramps, blood clots, strokes, cardiovascular disease, and numbness.
  • FIR is commonly used in saunas to help alleviate hypertension.

When you hear the word “radiation”, one of the first things you probably think of is x-rays or radioactive material; but there are many different types of radiation, such as the sun’s UV rays, microwaves that heat our food, and the heat that is constantly coming off our bodies. In fact, all objects emit what is more broadly referred to as electromagnetic (EM) radiation – a spectrum of wavelengths and frequencies, including radio waves, microwaves, infrared (IR), visible light, ultraviolet (UV), X-rays, and gamma rays. Within this spectrum, infrared has been scientifically proven to have therapeutic health benefits, especially when this type of radiation is reflected on the body.

What are Infrared (IR) and Far Infrared (FIR) Radiation?

Infrared radiation (IR) is a type of energy that’s invisible to the human eyes, but we can sense it as heat. These waves occur at frequencies above those of microwaves and just below those of red visible light, hence the name “infrared,” which means “beyond the red”.

Infrared and Thermal Energy: Here's What You Need to Know

Infrared radiation can be categorized into three groups according to wavelength, including near-infrared (NIR), medium infrared (MIR), and far-infrared (FIR) — the latter being the main generator of heat, which occurs at the lower end of the range. Note: the graph above shows the wavelengths in descending order, whereas the graph below shows these same wavelengths in ascending order.  graph showing the wavelength of infrared lighting

Photo Source: Not Unhealthy

Here we can see more clearly that infrared – especially FIR – encompasses many of the same wavelengths as the sun. In fact, infrared radiation makes up more than half of the Sun’s power output (sunlight). Research also shows that this range plays a key role in photosynthesis, which is the major source of energy for all life on Earth. Comic about light

Photo Source: Mimi and Eunice

Though you can’t see FIR with just your eyes, you can use an infrared or thermal camera to detect heat coming from objects and living things. As an example, check out the video below – and watch the colors intensify as the woman’s body warms up during a workout.

Studies Support Using FIR to Heal the Body

In humans, FIR can be extremely effective for detoxification. It works by penetrating up to 1.5 inches deep and gently heating the body. Raising core-body temperature is analogous to experiencing a slight fever – the body’s natural mechanism for destroying bacteria and viruses (NHF). As you warm up, the pores in the skin open and induce sweating, which pulls toxins out of your bloodstream. Sweat is an important excretory pathway, and possibly even more effective than urinary excretion, for removing heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium, lead, and mercury.

These metals impair the proper functioning of the endocrine system, the immune system, and many other organ systems in the body. Interestingly, these substances are commonly identified in people who are on the autism spectrum — that’s not to say that toxins are the root cause of autism, but the inability to regularly remove them from the body can compound the problem. Note that as many as nine out of 10 individuals with autism also suffer from gastrointestinal problems such as inflammatory bowel disease and “leaky gut”, which generate their own waste products. That is a lot of toxins that the body needs to dispose of but can’t!  The most effective and gentle solution is detoxification with the help of FIR.

Research suggests that slightly increasing core-body temperature and improving blood circulation could positively affect behavior in people with autism. Additionally, regular FIR sauna use increases microcirculation, which enables blood to flow more easily throughout the body, thereby improving the exchange of oxygen and nutrients for waste products in the cells. Blood circulation is a key factor for healing virtually all health issues — but especially for people with autism (NHF).

Beyond detoxification, FIR is commonly used in saunas to help alleviate hypertension (high blood pressure), joint and musculoskeletal pain, as well as cardiovascular and skin conditions. According to Dr. Tania Dempsey, an expert in chronic disease, autoimmune disorders, and mast cell activation syndrome:

Due to the deep penetration into the skin, the infrared rays cause heating deep in the muscles and internal organs.  The body responds with a hypothalamic-induced increase in heart volume and rate. This leads to vasodilation, which increases circulation and blood flow to muscles, joints, and connective tissues, which can help with healing and reduce pain in injuries, arthritis, muscle spasms, and much more.

Poor circulation can lead to numerous health issues like high blood pressure, muscle cramps, blood clots, strokes, cardiovascular disease, and numbness. It can also seriously hinder athletic performance. With that said, FIR treatments may be a great tool for healing exercise-induced muscle damage (EIMD) in athletes. FIR can also be used to improve the quality of life for those living with chronic pain, chronic fatigue syndrome, depression, congestive heart failure, or type II diabetes (NCBI).

For further reading: How to Harness Your Body’s Natural Energy to Improve Quality of Life

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How to Boost Skin Health and Improve its Appearance

Portrait of happy female with her eyes closed

Article at a Glance:

  • Skin is the body’s largest organ, and it’s important to protect it as much as it protects you.
  • Maintaining healthy skin is not only vital for your protection and thermoregulation; it also plays a key role in mental health. 
  • The state of your skin could be indicative of what is happening inside of your body. 
  • Natural aging, as well as environmental and lifestyle causes, can impact the appearance and health of your skin.
  • Healthy skin starts at a cellular level.

As the saying goes, beauty is only skin-deep — but the importance of skin, and keeping it healthy, goes much deeper.

Why are Skin and Skin Health Important?

Skin is the body’s largest organ, and its most basic function is to create a boundary between you and your environment. It holds your body’s fluids, protects you from dehydration and harmful microbes, and provides you with nerve endings so that you can sense things like heat, cold, and pain (or pleasure). Think of the skin as the ultimate biological shield against the elements; it is an integral component of the immune, nervous and endocrine systems(1). Without it, your body would be exposed and more susceptible to infections (bacteria or fungi) and disease (viruses).

In addition to protection and thermoregulation, healthy skin plays an important role in the quality of life and psychosocial functioning. For example, those with skin conditions such as psoriasis, eczema, and skin cancer (which are typically visible) may be more likely to face psychologic challenges, such as being self-conscious or fearful of interacting with others. (2) This, in turn, can negatively their confidence, mood, relationships, and how they show up in the world every day.

What are the Signs of Healthy Skin?

In a society that sets perpetually glowing, radiant skin as the beauty standard, it’s common to assume that being blemish-free is the same thing as having healthy skin. The reality is that healthy skin looks different for everyone — even if you have occasional acne, birthmarks, or sun damage. Still, it’s important to be aware of the state of your skin because it could be indicative of what is happening inside of your body.

Skin diagram

From a medical standpoint, here are a few signs that you have healthy skin:

  • Well-hydrated: Your skin feels supple to the touch and bounces back when you press and release it.
  • Even skin tone: Generally speaking, having a consistent skin color is a positive sign that your skin is healthy and free of some common skin diseases.
  • Smooth texture: By this, we don’t mean perfectly smooth with absolutely no texture at all. When you look at your face closely in the mirror, it is entirely normal to see regular irregularities that are your pores and the tiny peaks around your hair follicles. But your pores should appear small, tight, and feel smooth to the touch.
  • Normal sensations: You should not feel irregular sensations such as stretching, burning, or itching.

What Affects the Appearance and Health of Your Skin?

Of course, as you age, it’s normal for your skin to appear older too — making fine lines, wrinkles, and spots more visible. Environmental and lifestyle causes can influence the elasticity and appearance of your skin too. Examples of this include:

  • sun exposure
  • air pollution
  • poor nutrition
  • smoking
  • stress
  • sleep deprivation
  • dehydration
  • illness

How to Promote Healthy, Beautiful Skin

So often we only talk about the skin at the surface level, but healthy skin really starts at the cellular level with your mitochondria. These organelles are responsible for producing ATP (energy), which directly influences how well your cells function. When your mitochondria do not produce the ATP that they should, you have mitochondrial dysfunction, which is one of the main characteristics of aging and disease. (3, 4)

Here are some basic things that you can do to help improve the appearance and health of your skin:

  • Drink water: There have been varying recommendations over the years as far as how much water you should actually drink each day – where you live and how active you are key variables in determining the right amount for you. Proper hydration may help reduce redness and dryness, improve elasticity, and skin’s surface texture. (5, 6) 
  • Get consistent, quality rest: In short, sleep gives your skin time to repair itself. Conversely, lack of sleep can inhibit wound healing, promote inflammation, and cause acne breakouts. If you’re having trouble falling and staying asleep, consider reducing your light exposure at night by wearing TrueDark sleep-hacking glasses and/or limiting your screen time. The intense blue light from screens not only disrupts your circadian rhythm but may also cause hyperpigmentation and the breakdown of collagen in your skin. (7)
  • Eat nutrient-dense foods: fish with omega-3 fatty acids, walnuts, avocados, sweet potatoes, broccoli, and peppers are all examples of nutrient-dense foods that can help reduce inflammation, provide antioxidant properties, and improve hydration and elasticity in your skin. (8)
  • Use non-toxic skincare products: The key here is to look for products that only use natural ingredients rather than synthetic formulations or harsh chemicals – specifically the “BIG 12”:
    • #1: Propylene Glycol (PG) and Butylene Glycol
    • #2: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS) and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES)
    • #3: DEA (diethanolamine), MEA (monoethanolamine) & TEA (triethanolamine)
    • #4: Polyethylene Glycol (PEG)
    • #5: Sodium Hydroxide
    • #6: Triclosan
    • #7: DMDM and Urea (Imidazolidnyl)
    • #8: Parabens
    • #9: Alcohol, Isopropyl, SD-40
    • #10: Mineral Oil
    • #11: FD&C Color Pigments
    • #12: Fragrances

Some of our personal favorite skincare companies include Alitura Naturals Alphazelle, and Desert Essence.

  • Do not touch your face with your hands: Dirt, oil, and bacteria buildup on our fingertips, which can very easily lead to skin problems – irritations or infections – if you’re touching your face.
  • Natural Ultraviolet skin protection:  Opt for natural mineral (zinc oxide) or vegetable alternatives such as Red Raspberry Seed Oil which has a natural SPF between 28 – 50 as well as Sea Buckthorn Seed & Berry Oils which are known for reducing the damaging effects of the sun’s radiation.
  • Use LED light therapy: This painless, non-invasive, and drug-free form of treatment delivers “bioactive” light to the body’s cells to help boost ATP production. It is more of a complementary tool than a replacement for skincare basics (eat and sleep well), but it is an excellent way to support your mitochondria and help heal the body’s skin, muscles, and other tissues from the inside out. TrueLight LED light therapy devices use a patent-pending combination of light (including deep red, red, near-infrared, and yellow light) to do just that in as little as 20-30 minutes per day.

When it comes to refining your skincare routine, just remember that it takes time, patience, and a little bit of experimenting to get the perfect skincare cocktail for you. [Healthy] skin is in!

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7010069/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5289120/
  3. https://daveasprey.com/mitochondria-function/
  4. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41419-020-2649-z
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29614497/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/29392767/
  7. https://www.allure.com/story/blue-light-phone-skin-effects
  8. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/12-foods-for-healthy-skin
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SAD lights, PBM & Circadian Light: What You Need to Know

SAD Lights vs Photobiomodulation vs Circadian Light

Article at a Glance: 

  • Light is an extremely powerful stimulant and tool for the human body.
  • There are several types of light therapy and lighting solutions – some of which are used for healing, whereas others may be used to support the body’s natural biological rhythms.
  • As the demand for healthy lighting options increases, SAD lights, LED light therapy devices, and circadian lighting is emerging as the next frontier in LED lighting technology.
  • Before you invest in lighting technology, it’s important to understand the difference between each of these forms of light therapy, as well as how and when to use them for maximum benefit.

Confused by all the different types of light therapy? We get it, there are a lot of options and information to unpack. In some cases, the term “light therapy” is used interchangeably for completely different products and intentions. To be clear, SAD lights, PBM, and circadian lighting are all different; they each have their own purpose. Keep reading for a deep dive on the differences between them, as well as how and when to use these devices for healthier living.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Not to be confused with Social Anxiety Disorder, SAD is a seasonal mood disorder that often causes feelings of loneliness, depression, and/or isolation. Most cases are related to winter (aka “winter blues”) when the days are shorter, and people tend to spend more time indoors instead of absorbing natural sunlight outside. Light exposure is at the heart of this disorder.  As seasons change, people may experience a biochemical imbalance in the brain and a shift in their biological internal clock or circadian rhythm that can cause them to be out of step with their daily schedule(1). It may also cause a drop in serotonin and vitamin D levels, both of which help regulate mood(2). While not everyone with SAD experiences the same symptoms, the evidence suggests that insufficient lighting is a key culprit in triggering these symptoms.

Common Symptoms of SAD During Winter Months:

  • Feelings of hopelessness and sadness
  • Depression
  • Hypersomnia, oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite, especially craving foods that are high in carbohydrates and sugar
  • Weight gain

While rare, it is possible to experience SAD symptoms during the spring or summer too as a result of adversely getting too much sunlight. Summer SAD is similar in that it disrupts biological rhythms, but the mechanism is different. Too much light essentially turns off natural melatonin production, which your body needs in order to fall and stay asleep. Many studies have linked sleep deprivation to mood disorders, as well as obesity, heart disease, diabetes, and more(3)

Common Symptoms of SAD During Summer Months:

  • Insomnia, difficulty sleeping
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Poor appetite
  • Weight-loss(4

Recent studies indicate that SAD light therapy, also known as Bright Light Therapy (BLT), is an effective treatment option for recalibrating the body’s natural clock and alleviating SAD symptoms– particularly during winter months(5). The recommended use is 20-30 minutes per day, preferably in the mornings to mimic what you would otherwise get from natural sunlight outdoors.

Before you go and purchase a SAD light, it’s important to note that there may be a bit of a catch-22. These lamps emit light at about 10,000 lux, which is far more intense than indoor lighting, and they use LEDs that primarily emit blue wavelengths. Not all blue light is bad; however, there is a difference between signaling blue – which cues circadian responses – and toxic blue – which warps your brain and body’s perception of time.  Also, overexposure to artificial blue light has been connected to macular degeneration (over time), which is the leading cause of blindness(5). So, if you purchase a SAD light, be mindful of these things:

  • What time of day do you use the device
  • Don’t stare at the light, let it reach your skin and face without directly looking into the light
Dave Asprey Using TrueLight Energy Square Red Light Therapy Device

What is Photobiomodulation, and How Does it Work?

Photobiomodulation (PBM), also known as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) or LED light therapy, is a painless, non-invasive, and drug-free treatment that delivers light to the body for a wide range of potential health benefits. This form of therapy, which was initially developed by NASA to speed up wound healing, involves placing a light source is near or in contact with the skin, where “bioactive” light energy (photons) penetrates body tissue and stimulate the mitochondria in your cells to produce more ATP (energy). Red and near-infrared (NIR) at 660nm and 850nm, respectively, are considered the most effective wavelengths for creating this physiological reaction.  Studies show that PBM may be used to assist with:

  • Increasing blood circulation
  • Boosting lymphatic flow
  • Accelerating wound healing and tissue regeneration
  • Reducing inflammation and pain
  • Improving cellular function
  • Accelerating muscle recovery
  • And more!

PBM used to only be available in medical offices and salons, but today LED light therapy devices are more accessible and affordable, even from the comfort of home. This includes hand-held, full-body, and transportable devices to meet your personal needs. There are many ways to measure a light therapy device’s effectiveness. The best way is by how you feel when you use it, or the changes to your body you can measure. Measuring your Nitric Oxide/NO2 levels before and after use is an easy and inexpensive way to see the impact at a molecular level. But that means you must already own one. When you’re shopping, you’ll discover that there isn’t a standard way to compare your options.

You may see the “power” of a device listed, which seems like it could be a standard. However, it’s not as simple as measuring the power and ranking one with another. It’s important to take into consideration how many wavelengths the device uses, energy density, and the distance from the body that the “power” is measured.

The energy density, also known as the irradiance, that a light therapy device puts out is important. A high-power unit can make a device work faster, but more heat doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s more effective near/on the skin. In fact, PBM has a biphasic dose-responsive curve, meaning that using too much light can have negative effects and may even do nothing for you.

When a device is moved away from the surface of the skin, the power ratio goes down, so the irradiance is lower at that distance. A device may have mid-range power, so it can be comfortably used next to the skin for longer periods of time.

Note: The majority of TrueLight® LED light therapy devices fall into the ideal range of 10mw/cm2 when used at 4” to 6” away(6). The one exception here is the new TrueLight Luna Red Baton Rouge, which has a higher intensity because it covers a smaller surface area, and its timer is set to stay on for just three minutes at a time compared to larger devices which require 20-30 minutes of use. On the offhand, you only need 20-30 minutes each day to see the benefits of PBM. The key here is to be consistent about using your device – which could be anywhere from a couple of days to a couple of months, depending on what you’re trying to heal.

What is Circadian Lighting?

Given that people are spending more time indoors than ever before, there is a paradigm shift happening and an increasing demand for healthy [artificial] light sources. Circadian light, also known as human-centric light (HCL), is the next frontier of LED lighting technology.  This refers to lighting solutions that have dimming and color-tuning abilities that help align human bodies with their natural circadian rhythms — for better energy, mood, sleep, and performance.

During the daytime, it is essential to get exposure to healthy blue light, which signals important biological functions (e.g., hormones, body temperature, and sleep/wake cycle).  These wavelengths are naturally present in sunlight; however, conventional junk light – artificial light from LEDs and fluorescents — emits very intense amounts of toxic blue-violet light, which can lead to circadian rhythm disruption and other adverse health effects, including but not limited to:

  • Fatigue 
  • Eyestrain
  • Damage to the retinas
  • Social jet lag 
  • Stress and anxiety 
  • Sleep deprivation 
  • Weight gain
  • Mood disorders
  • Heart disease, diabetes
  • Cancer

At nighttime, lightbulbs that emit red light only are the most conducive for sleep. Their warmer color temperature essentially mimics what you would see while watching a sunset; this signals your body to start producing melatonin so that you can fall and stay asleep.

When shopping around for truly circadian lighting systems, keep in mind:

  • Daytime bulbs’ spectra should have a peak of 470-490nm (healthy signaling blue) range of light to promote better alertness, cognitive function, energy, and mood. There should NOT be a peak in the toxic blue-violet range (below 450nm).
  • Nighttime bulbs’ spectra should essentially emit NO blue light at all and focus on the red spectrum to simulate natural fire or candlelight.
  • The best-case scenario is to get a true day-to-night bulb that is dimmable and tunable to help keep your physical, mental, and behavioral changes that follow a daily cycle aligned with your natural 24-hour body clock.
  • Beware of painted or coated bulbs that claim to have circadian benefits.  These bulbs may appear yellow or red on the outside, for daytime and nighttime, respectively, but these LED bulbs still emit very intense levels of harmful blue light. The coatings also alter how your eyes perceive the light that it emits. The light will typically appear duller looking, and your brain will spend added energy trying to color-correct images that you see.  Unlike these bulbs that falsely claim to have health benefits, the TrueLight Luna Red Sunset bulb emits TRUE wavelengths of low/nonblue LED light at specific colors. It also provides a high CRI (color rendering index).  This means that the light you see emitted from our bulb allows you to see the real color of objects in your environment.  This, in turn, allows your brain to relax more – especially before bedtime — since you don’t have to over-process what you think colors should be.
  • Specifically, look for flicker-free bulbs. The flicker rate found in conventional LEDs can potentially cause eye strain, headaches, and in extreme cases, even seizures.

References

  1. https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/depression/seasonal-affective-disorder
  2. https://www.healthline.com/health/mental-health/serotonin
  3. http://healthysleep.med.harvard.edu/healthy/matters/consequences/sleep-and-disease-risk
  4. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/conditions/seasonal-affective-disorder
  5. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30883670/
  6. https://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2017/02/26/photobiomodulation.aspx
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Why Chiropractors Love Light Therapy And Want You To Try It

Woman using Energy Square

Article at a Glance: 

  • Rather than prescribing drugs or surgery to help relieve pain, chiropractors emphasize the use of natural, non-invasive treatments, such as manual adjustments and/or manipulations of the spine.
  • LED light therapy is a painless, non-invasive form of treatment that delivers specific wavelengths of light to heal the body.
  • Chiropractors often advocate for and recommend the use of LED light therapy (or photobiomodulation) because it is a very effective tool for muscle recovery, tissue regeneration, and pain management.
  • In order to get the full benefits from LED light therapy sessions, it’s important for patients to get the correct dosage of light.
  • TrueLight light therapy devices use a patent-pending combination of deep red, red, near-infrared (NIR), and yellow light to heal the body from the surface of the skin all the way down to the bone.

Chiropractic care is the first line of defense for the prevention, diagnosis, and management of pain and neuromuscular disorders.  Rather than turning to drugs and surgery to help relieve pain and reduce inflammation, chiropractors emphasize the use of natural, non-invasive treatments, such as manual adjustments and/or manipulations of the spine.  Chiropractors are also big believers in patient education and want to be your partner in achieving optimal health. So, they may offer additional tips and tools to help relieve pain and improve your quality of life.

What Chiropractors Believe In

Chiropractic care focuses on the relationship between the body’s primary structures – the skeleton, the muscles, and the nerves — and how they relate to an individual’s overall health.  Chiropractors believe that any structural or biomechanical issue affecting your spinal cord could also negatively impact the function of your nervous system. In a similar vein, chiropractors advocate for helping patients heal by adjusting the musculoskeletal system without the use of surgery or drugs.

Whiteboard drawing explaining the power of an adjustment
Photo Source: Circle of Docs

The History Behind LED Light Therapy as a Modality for Chiropractors

NASA initially developed LED Light therapy technology (also known as photobiomodulation) to protect astronauts’ health – more specifically, to promote the growth and generation of healthy cells, prevent bone and muscle loss, and speed up wound healing — which can be greatly impacted by a lack of gravity. (1)  In the world of chiropractic treatments, which focus on muscle, joint, and/or bone pain, photobiomodulation can be a very effective, complementary tool for muscle recovery, tissue regeneration, and pain management.

Why Chiropractors Are Leading the Way with Light Therapy

Chiropractors are especially drawn to LED light therapy because of its safety factor. It is a painless, non-invasive form of treatment that delivers specific wavelengths of light to heal the body. LED light therapy also notably has far-reaching abilities without the use of surgery or drugs. In fact, general chiropractic care has been recognized as an important non-pharmacologic approach to address chronic pain and the opioid crisis; in conjunction with chiropractic care, photobiomodulation is a safe and effective, conservative treatment option that is conducive to the National Pain Strategy set forth by the National Institutes of Health(NIH). (2)(3)

Over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies to date have shown that LED light therapy can have many positive biological effects, including but not limited to:

  • Accelerated muscle recovery
  • Faster would/injury healing
  • Pain relief
  • Improved blood and oxygen circulation
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Fat loss
  • Anti-aging (reduced wrinkles and fine lines)
  • Increase in strength and endurance
  • Improved hormonal health
  • Improved energy levels and mood
  • Improved cognitive function
  • Reduce skin irritation, UV damage, and redness (e.g. rosacea)(4)
  •  

Since LED light therapy pairs perfectly with what chiropractors advocate, it’s no surprise that these specialists have taken the lead in advancing the clinical use of this technology.

How Patients Can Make the Most of LED Light Therapy

Given the emphasis on holistic health care, chiropractors typically refer their patients to invest in complementary and alternative medicine for natural healing and minimal pain – especially for in-home use in between office visits. LED light therapy is an ideal tool for those with long-term therapy needs such as chronic pain and neuropathy.

To make the most of photobiomodulation, it’s important for patients to get the correct dosage of light.  A common misconception is that the more light you deliver to the body, the better; in reality, it is actually possible to overdose on light and negates the intended benefits.  According to Dr. Michael Hamblin, a researcher and associate professor of dermatology at Harvard Medical School, the most appropriate dosage is between 10 and 20 milliwatts per square centimeter for 20-30 minutes per day. When used correctly, and in conjunction with chiropractic care, LED light therapy is an ideal tool for those with long-term therapy needs such as chronic pain and neuropathy.

Photo Source

How TrueLight Devices Can Help Chiropractors and Their Patients

TrueLight light therapy devices emit a patent-pending combination of light wavelengths to heal the body from the surface of the skin all the way down to the bone. This combination includes deep red (660nm)red (630nm)near-infrared (NIR) (850nm), and yellow light (580nm). Red and NIR have deep penetration levels, allowing the dispersed light to reach into cells, tissues, blood, nerves, and bones. When the light reaches the cells, it also promotes the release of nitric oxide (NO) from the mitochondria. This is especially important for chiropractors and their patients to know because the release of NO helps dilate blood vessels and stimulate ATP production, which in turn can accelerate healing, muscle recovery, and tissue strengthening. Yellow light has a much shallower penetration level and is ideal for creating primary cellular movement at the top layer of skin. (Think reducing skin irritation and redness.)

TrueLight devices are also unique in that they have two different light modes: steady and pulsed light. (6)  It has been discovered that when LED lights are pulsed, they stimulate the cells and enable them to produce more protein and ATP, which can help cells heal faster. Alternatively, a steady beam of light can remove/dull pain, reduce inflammation, and allow muscle tissue to relax.

More and more chiropractors are recommending TrueLight products to patients who are looking for relief – from sports injuries, post-surgery conditions, sprains and strains, plantar fasciitis, and various other conditions ailments that often result in pain and inflammation. These devices can also be used to treat skin conditions, accelerate wound healing, and reduce scar tissue.

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The Ultimate Guide To Light and Better Health

Family outside facing the sunset

Article at a Glance:

  • Light is a form of energy that travels in waves and comes from an array of things.
  • Light has been used to heal for centuries.
  • Specific types of light are similar to nutrients found in food and have a profound impact on our health.
  • Energize the mitochondria in the body’s cells with Red Light therapy.
  • Overexposure to artificial blue light can disrupt your natural body clock, potentially leading to a number of health concerns over time.

What are “light” and “color”?

  1. Light is the brightness that comes from the sun, fire, electrical devices, etc. that allows things to be seen.
  2. Light is a form of energy that travels in waves.
  3. Color is the way our brain interprets different wavelengths of visible light. In visible light, wavelengths range from 380nm (violet) to 760nm (red).
  4. When light hits an object some wavelengths are absorbed, and others are reflected. The light that is reflected is the color that we see.
  5. Humans can see light with wavelengths between 400-700 nanometers. This is known as the visible light spectrum, which is a subset of the full electromagnetic spectrum.
  6. Natural light is produced by the sun, and it contains all the colors of the visible light spectrum.
  7. The key properties of light include:
    • Intensity – which corresponds to the number of photons emitted each second, also known as brightness.
    • Color – refers to the wavelength of the emitted photons.
    • Saturation or “chroma” – refers to the purity of a color.
    • Color Temperature – is meant to characterize the tint of color (being warmer or cooler).
    • Coherence – refers to the degree of synchronization to be found in the waves of the multitude of photons comprising the light. (Anadi Martel)
    • Polarization – refers to the orientation of the electric and magnetic fields that make up light. The orientation can be linear or circular. A common example of this is polarized sunglasses that filter out light with horizontally oriented polarization.
  8. Artificial light sources can include incandescent bulbs, halogen bulbs, fluorescent bulbs, sodium-vapor lamps (typical street lights), and light-emitting diodes (LEDs). These do not radiate a full spectrum of colors; some produce warmer light than others.
  9. Light produces different hues, which are differentiated by being “warm” or “cool”. Color temperature describes the appearance of light to the human eye relative to the “warmth” or “coolness” of white light, and it’s measured in Kelvin (K). In contrast to how you typically think of temperature, the lower the color temperature, the warmer the light; the higher the color temperature, the cooler the light.
  10. Cool lights (about 5500K – 10,000K) have an unmistakable blueish tint that ranges in temperature from “cloudy sky” looking to “clear blue sky”. These cooler temperatures are equivalent to the sunlight temperature outside during the day. So, while they may be pretty for home and office interior designs, these lights can seriously throw off your circadian rhythm during the evening time if your eyes are interpreting that it is in fact daytime.
  11. Cool white lighting (4000K – 5500K) is often used by major retail stores, white-collar offices, and other institutions because it’s associated with promoting alertness and productivity.
  12. Warmer lighting (1000K – 4000k) is arguably the healthiest lighting for humans to absorb because it emits the least amount of (artificial) blue wavelengths of light.  A candle is 1800k and a typical old-fashioned incandescent tungsten bulb is 3200k.
  13. Most of the light around you is invisible. This is because the eye is only able to see light at certain wavelengths.
  14. There are 3 biological pathways of light:
    • Vision – eyes are incredibly sensitive to changes in light, and vision is the sense that transmits the most information to the brain.
    • The Nonvisual Optic Pathway – also known as the “energetic circuit”, allows light to directly influence the hypothalamus and regulate the secretions that come from the pituitary and pineal glands (e.g. melatonin at night time).
    • Photobiomodulation – increases the production of ATP (energy) in the mitochondria of the body’s cells; it’s like photosynthesis for the human body.

The history behind using light for healing.

  1. “Heliotherapy” is known as the therapeutic application of sunlight to treat health conditions. It’s one of the most ancient therapeutic measures employed by humans, and it’s believed that the ancient Greeks were the first people to use this method.
  2. The name heliotherapy is derived from two Greek words: Helios, meaning the sun, and therapeia, meaning healing power. Hippocrates (460 B. C.), “the Father of Medicine,” used sunlight in treating tuberculosis. In fact, he used what appears to be a very modern treatment for this disease, since he recommended that the sufferer be sent away to the hills beyond the city, where he would have plenty of rest, fresh air, and sunshine. (CHEST Journal)
  3. In 1903, Niels Finsen received a Nobel Prize in Medicine for his work on light therapy (also known as phototherapy at the time). His work showed that certain wavelengths of light had beneficial effects on the treatment of Tuberculosis.
  4. Phototherapy has also proven to be effective in the fields of dermatology, neurology, and physiotherapy.
  5. Auguste Rollier was a Swiss physician who devised a technique for exposing the body to sunlight to heal certain ailments. His clinic, called “Les Frenes”, was the first large, purpose-built sunlight therapy facility to be constructed in the world. (Michael Hamblin)
  6. In contrast to heliotherapy, which is the therapeutic use of sunlight, photobiology is the therapeutic use of artificial light to improve one’s health.
  7. In Europe during the 1960s, scientists found that specific wavelengths of light had therapeutic effects on tissues of the body through a process called photostimulation. This process uses light to artificially activate biological compounds, cells, tissues, or even whole organisms. One example of using this process is “light-treating” babies for jaundice, a relatively common condition of newborns.
  8. Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) sometimes known as Low-Level Light Therapy or Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a low-intensity light therapy.
  9. LLLT utilizes non-ionizing light sources, including lasers, light-emitting diodes, and/or broadband light, in the visible (400 – 700 nm) and near-infrared (700 – 1100 nm) electromagnetic spectrum.
  10. In the early 2000s, NASA started to use LED light therapy technology for muscle regeneration. The studies conducted at this time were significant because they showed that the use of LED light therapy could stimulate and essentially boost the primary energy processes in the mitochondria of every single cell in the body.
  11. NASA also used LED light therapy to speed up wound healing.
  12. Each color has a different wavelength of light (measured in nanometers). When applied, each wavelength can have a chemically different effect on your skin, muscles, and bones.
  13. The longer the wavelength, the deeper the light will penetrate your skin. Note: deeper penetration doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s the most appropriate wavelength for healing your specific condition. Everyone’s skin type is different, and some wavelengths are more appropriate for healing muscles rather than skin.
  14. A common misconception, and the main reason why LLLT technology hasn’t seen more widespread adoption, is that people have for a long time thought that it was only accessible in doctors’ offices, where these treatments would often cost thousands of dollars.
  15. There are now many light therapy devices on the market, and a wide variety of suggested doses for different wavelengths of light. This has caused quite a bit of confusion in the medical field and has made it more difficult for physicians and medical practitioners to decipher which doses and devices are actually the best for their patients.
  16. There are now many clinics that do skincare treatments with red and near-infrared light panels for about $50-$300 per session. But research shows that at-home light therapy devices can be just as effective for people to use — at a fraction of the cost! This means that once you purchase your own device for a couple of hundred dollars, you can do unlimited sessions at home, at your convenience, basically for free.
  17. “Most of the early work in this field was carried out with various kinds of lasers, and it was thought that laser light had some special characteristics not possessed by light from other light sources such as sunlight, fluorescent or incandescent lamps, and now LEDs. However, all of the studies that have been done comparing lasers to equivalent light sources with similar wavelength and power density of their emission, have found essentially no difference between them.” (Michael Hamblin, Ph.D.)
  18. Tools of light medicine include:
    • Lasers – which can generate light with very precise wavelengths.
    • Intense Pulsed Light – These lights emit several powerful pulses per second and are frequently used in dermatology and aesthetic medicine.
    • LEDs – Can be used instead of lasers, they come in a variety of strengths and wavelengths for different purposes.
    • Fluorescent lamps – Mostly used in the treatment of depression and for other chronobiological applications. (Anadi Martel)

Light’s Influence on Health

  1. “When trace amounts of certain wavelengths of light are missing from your “light diet”, this can have a staggering effect on your health.” – John Ott
  2. Specific types of light have a profound impact on our health and are actually necessary nutrients, similar to the nutrients found in food. (Ari Whitten)
  3. Certain wavelengths of light can help power up our cells, affect hormones and neurotransmitters, balance our mood, enhance physical performance, hasten recovery from stress, increase alertness, improve sleep, and positively affect the expression of our genes. (Ari Whitten)
  4. Different colors of light penetrate the skin with different intensi­ties. Those light waves stimulate cell activity.
  5. Photobiomodulation allows oxygen into the mitochondria and prevents nitric oxide from halting energy production.
  6. There are two key mechanisms of how red and near-infrared light therapy benefits cellular function and overall health:
    1. Stimulating ATP production in the mitochondria
    2. Hormesis – the process of building up the anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, and cell defense systems of the cell
  7. Photobiomodulation has been shown to increase muscle strength, especially when used in conjunction with strength training. Olympic athletes use light therapy to speed up post-exercise recovery and healing.
  8. A 2010 study found that photobiomodulation helped 38% of study participants reduce their hypothyroid medication dose, and 17% of them were able to stop taking the medication altogether. (Ari Whitten)
  9. While a low dosage of light may be ineffective, too high a dosage will not necessarily be better. An excess of light can actually inhibit the process that we are trying to stimulate.
  10. Blue wavelengths (460-490nm) especially influence the different hormonal processes that govern our natural circadian cycle, including the secretion of melatonin, the key hormone that helps regulate the quantity and quality of your sleep.
  11. “Another interesting thing [is] that throughout human history, people have liked to sit around fires … [E]very evening people would sit around a fire and expose themselves to infrared, a lot of it far-infrared. That’s [what] you get from glowing embers. It’s only in the last 30 years that people have stopped sitting around fires regularly … You could say Western civilization is suffering from a deficit of far-infrared light.” – Michael Hamblin (Dr. Mercola)
  12. A recent study investigated whether patients with mild to moderately severe dementia or possible Alzheimer’s disease would improve when treated with near-infrared photobiomodulation (PBM) therapy. The patients were treated with near-infrared (NIR) light at 810 nm wavelength pulsed at 10 Hz, during a “12-week, Active-Treatment Period.” Results showed significant improvement in cognition, functional abilities for daily living.

Red Light Therapy

  1. Red and near-infrared light are part of the electromagnetic spectrum, and more specifically, part of the spectrum of light emitted by the sun (and firelight). These wavelengths of light are “bioactive” in humans. That means that these types of light literally affect the function of our cells.  (Ari Whitten)
  2. When red light wavelengths are used on the skin’s surface, they can penetrate 8-10 millimeters into the skin.
  3. While varying wavelengths affect the body differently, the most effective wavelengths for red light therapy and healing range from 625nm-900nm. (The TrueLight light therapy product line concentrates specifically on 630nm, 660nm, and 850nm wavelengths.)
  4. Scientists have performed thousands of studies on the power of red and near-infrared light to enhance human health; and yet, most people have no idea that light therapy exists, let alone that it can be used to:
    •  speed up muscle recovery and wound healing
    •  increase strength and endurance
    • combat autoimmune and neurological diseases
    • reduce fine lines, wrinkles, and scarring of the skin
    • aid depression and anxiety
    • lose weight and fat
    • optimize brain function and mood
  5. Red is the most commonly used type of LED light therapy. It helps energize the mitochondria in the body’s cells, which subsequently quickens tissue recovery and tissue rejuvenation by increasing blood flow and collagen stimulation.
  6. By increasing blood and oxygen flow to the skin and capillaries, the cellular metabolism also increases and the capillary walls strengthen.
  7. Red light therapy also notably boosts lymphatic flow. Why is this important? Because it is estimated that without lymphatic flow, the average resting person would die within 24 hours. (John E. Hall Ph.D.)

Near-Infrared (NIR) Light Therapy

  1. Near-infrared is helpful when it comes to the regeneration of deeper structures such as tendons, bones, and cartilage; orthopedic and musculoskeletal problems. Near-infrared may also be useful for kidney problems. Anecdotal evidence suggests it could be a powerful therapy for kidney failure. (Dr. Mercola)
  2. About 40% of the sunlight spectrum is near-infrared.
  3. Anything which has a temperature puts out heat or infrared light.
  4. Infrared light has a range of wavelengths, just like visible light has wavelengths that range from red light to violet.
  5. Near-infrared light is closest in wavelength to visible light and is actually not hot at all.
  6. NIR wavelengths (typically 850nm or 880nm) have been reported as penetrating deeper than other light wavelengths through skin and bone.
  7. Researchers working with NASA have found that light therapy using NIR LEDs operate by activating color-sensitive chemicals in body tissues, stimulating the process in a cell’s mitochondria.
  8. Three major photo acceptor molecules in mammalian tissues are known to absorb light in the NIR range: hemoglobin, myoglobin, and cytochrome c oxidase. Of the three, cytochrome c oxidase has been associated with energy production.
  9. While the eye effectively perceives and distinguishes visible light, infrared (wavelengths longer than red) is perceived as heat when it is absorbed by the skin and converted into energy of the molecules of the skin. (Carnegie Mellon University)
  10. Near-infrared is important as it primes the cells in your retina for repair and regeneration, which explains why LEDs — which is devoid of infrared — are so harmful to your eyes and health. (Dr. Mercola)

Yellow (Amber) Light Therapy

  1. It’s thought to be the “botox” of light therapy.
  2. It encompasses wavelengths from 570nm to 620nm, and it has a shallow skin penetration.
  3. Yellow light has calming and soothing benefits that are ideal for treating a host of skin issues, including but not limited to rosacea, inflammation, redness, irritation, and wrinkles.
  4. Yellow light therapy can also help reverse the damaging effects of UV radiation on the skin.
  5. Yellow light works to heal the skin by eradicating waste, boosting lymphatic flow, and promoting the growth of new skin cells.
  6. It is believed that the reason yellow light therapy effectively reduces the symptoms of redness among many rosacea sufferers is that the blood vessels can reduce in size following treatment. As a result, they and their red color become less visible. This action makes LED yellow light therapy sessions extremely safe and appropriate for all skin types, including those that are sensitive and reactive.
  7. You can safely combine yellow and red light to maximize the benefits to your skin.

Blue Light Therapy

  1. Blue light has been shown to generate singlet oxygen which attacks the bacteria that cause acne.
  2. It’s also been used since the late 1950s to help treat jaundice in newborn babies. The most effective wavelengths range between 460-490nm. (Anadi Martel)
  3. Studies show that blue light treatments are most appropriate for people with mild to severe acne since blue light is effective for killing off bacteria in the skin.
  4. Blue light therapy works with a photosensitizing agent, which sets off a chain reaction to destroy damaged cells (i.e. those with cancer).
  5. It’s used by oncologists, cosmetic surgeons, optometrists, and dermatologists.
  6. It’s especially helpful at treating multiple types of cancer, especially those with tumors or growths that lie close to the skin’s surface. For blue light therapy to be successful, the light must be directly applied to the diseased tissue. Since the light can’t penetrate much further than the surface of the skin, it’s hard to target diseased cells beyond about 1 cm of the light source. (University Health News)
  7. It can be administered in a dermatologist’s office or in your home.
  8. There is minimal recovery time, although treatment might have adverse side effects: mitochondrial DNA damage and free radical production in epithelial cells.
  9. One study from researchers of the Light Research Program at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia found that blue light strengthens and stimulates connections between areas of your brain that process emotion and language.
  10. Blue wavelengths are helpful for relieving pain; however, extended exposure can cause damage to the retina.

Green Light Therapy

  1. Greenlight falls between 515nm and 520nm in the spectrum.
  2. It can be used to target dark circles, pigmentation, broken capillaries, and sunspots. It also calms irritated or over-stimulated skin.
  3. One of the more common uses for green light skin therapy is to help improve skin pigmentation damage that has occurred as a direct result of overexposure to the sun’s UV rays, age spots, and hyper-pigmentation.
  4. Greenlight has a direct effect on melanocytes, which are the cells responsible for producing melanin (the pigmentation located in the lower layer of your skin).

How to Use Light Therapy

  1. It’s important to realize that photobiomodulation is highly biphasic in dose, meaning the benefit can disappear by using too much light. One factor to take into consideration is the power density, measured in milliwatts per square centimeter. The second factor is the dose, which is typically calculated in joules per square centimeter. The third factor is the frequency of the light coming from the device you’re using. (Dr. Mercola)
  2. As a general rule, an ideal power density is around 10 milliwatts per square centimeter. (Dr. Mercola)
  3. Light therapy can be administered via continuous wave (CW) light or pulsed wave (PW) light.
  4. Most of the photobiomodulation devices on the market today use a continuous wave, not pulsed, so there is no frequency.
  5. When LED lights are pulsed, body tissues can heal more rapidly.  Comparatively, a continuous, steady light beam can remove/dull pain, reduce inflammation, and allows muscle tissue to relax.
  6. “By and large, pulsing is better than a continuous wave, and there is quite a bit of evidence [for this]…maybe not a huge amount better, but definitely better. The optimum frequency is somewhere between 10 and 40 hertz. There was a study from Massachusetts Institute of Technology that got a lot of publicity when they used 40-hertz light flashing into the eyes to treat Alzheimer’s in mice.” – Michael Hamblin (Dr. Mercola)
  7. In general, the effects of using light therapy are cumulative and will get better over time, which means that you may eventually be able to use the light for less time in order to accomplish the same goals.

“Junk light” and how it can affect human health

  1. Melatonin is suppressed by light in the blue wavelengths – between 470-480 nm. (Physiology.org)
  2. Studies looking at the light at night vs. cancer rate (even taking into account social and economic confounders) mostly show an increased risk of breast cancer due to light at night.
  3. LEDs sabotage health and promote blindness. Limit your exposure to blue light during the daytime and at night. Swap out LEDs for incandescent or low-voltage incandescent halogen lights. (Dr. Mercola)
  4. The biological effects of artificial lighting fall into 3 main categories:
    • Disturbance of the circadian rhythm
    • Risk of possible deterioration of the retina in the eyes
    • Impact of excess flickering
  5. Overexposure to artificial blue light can disrupt your natural body clock, which can subsequently lead to a number of health concerns over time, including but not limited to: heart disease, weight gain, insomnia, mood disorders, diabetes, and even cancer.
  6. The photons from the blue and ultraviolet parts of the spectrum have the most energy and therefore have an increased potential to damage the sensitive cells of the cornea, the lens, and the retina when fully exposed to them. (Anadi Martel)
  7. “Mal-illumination” is when you get too much of the wrong kinds of light and too little of the right kinds, and at the wrong times of the day. The vast majority of people living in the modern world are suffering from chronic mal-illumination and don’t even realize it. This can have widespread effects on our brain and organ function, immune system, energy levels, mood, neurotransmitter balance, and hormone levels. (Ari Whitten)
  8. A recent study from the University of Toledo found that overexposure to blue light (like that from LED screens found in our digital devices) can lead to macular degeneration in the eyes over time, and macular degeneration is the leading cause of blindness.
  9. Some simple ways to stop junk light in your home include using blackout curtains, swapping out white bulbs for red ones, and wearing sleep-hacking glasses that block out the blue AND green light at night time. Blocking out the junk light can help you keep your natural circadian rhythm on track.
  10. Kids’ eyes maybe even more sensitive to junk light than adults’ because their eyes are still growing.
  11. Many of your favorite and most frequented venues use artificial lighting to illuminate public space. These include offices, gyms, malls, airports, grocery stores, and more. While the LED revolution has helped businesses stay open longer, it’s also led to a daily overexposure to junk light for many people.
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The Top 4 Books About Red Light Therapy for Better Health

Lady writing by Energy Square

Article at a Glance:

  • LED light therapy has been around for over 40 years. NASA researchers initially used this technology to grow plants in space. They later applied their research to medical applications to help astronauts prevent muscle and bone atrophy, as well as other ailments.
  • Resounding research has shown that red light therapy is safe, non-invasive, and drug-free. This form of treatment can be used to help heal the surface of the skin, as well as deeper body tissues.
  • Fortunately, red light therapy isn’t as expensive as it used to be, and you can use it in the comfort of your home. TrueLight LED light therapy devices, for example, are designed to be affordable, compact, and convenient to transport and administer.
  • Below is a list of helpful books about red light therapy that highlights the growing list of applications that you can use this technology for.

Red light therapy, also known as Low-Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) or photobiomodulation,  involves using specific wavelengths of red or near-infrared light on the body to help the skin, tissues, and/or muscles heal.  Red light therapy’s ability to penetrate the skin all the way down to the bone, and reduce pain and swelling, makes it an effective health and beauty tool.  Below is a list of books that offer education and helpful insights into how light can be used to help your skin and body heal faster and better.

The Ultimate Guide To Red Light Therapy: How to Use Red and Near-Infrared Light Therapy for Anti-Aging, Fat Loss, Muscle Gain, Performance, and Brain Optimization

The concept of using red light therapy to help the body heal isn’t really new, but it’s only recently become more accessible. What was once only available in research labs or doctors’ offices is now more affordable and easy to use from the comfort of home. In this book, Ari Whitten simplifies the science behind the how  and why red and near-infrared light therapy can be used to:

  • boost collagen production, reduce wrinkles and fine lines
  • improve energy levels
  • lose fat (nearly twice as with diet and exercise alone)
  • reduce inflammation and pain
  • speed up wound/injury healing
  • increase strength, endurance, and muscle mass
  • improve hormonal health and combat some autoimmune conditions
  • optimize your brain function and mood

Red Light Therapy: Miracle Medicine

This 6x #1 Internationally best-selling book offers a comprehensive perspective on the healing powers of red and near-infrared light that’s based on over 50,000 scientific and clinical studies as well as the author’s personal experience with trying to help others overcome cancer. This book has been touted as “A must-read for anybody who’s serious about holistic health and medicine.”

Game Changers: What Leaders, Innovators, and Mavericks Do to Win at Life

Dave Asprey notably has a passion for helping people upgrade all areas of their lives.  He’s spent the last 5+  years interviewing the highest performing humans all over the world on Bulletproof Radio in the effort to help others become smarter, faster, and happier. In-Game Changers, Asprey touches on the importance of light for the body; more specifically, how red and near-infrared light work inside-out to enhance mitochondrial function in cells, which in turn leads to several skin benefits and improved health overall.  Game Changers offers compelling science and powerful recommendations that will help you optimize your well-being so that you can ultimately upgrade your life and performance!

The Light Around Us

The Light Around Us takes a more holistic view of the light by acknowledging that there is both good and bad light for the human body.  It illustrates the negative effects that happen when you’re overexposed to artificial “junk” light — such as insomnia, weight gain, mood disorders, and heart disease, to name a few. The book also explains how certain wavelengths of light (like red and near-infrared light), and the intensities of those wavelengths, can intentionally be leveraged to help the body function more effectively.

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How Yellow LED Light Therapy Can Help Heal Your Skin Edit

Man using energy square in bed

Article at a Glance: 

  • Yellow (or amber) LED light therapy encompasses 570nm-620nm and has a shallow penetration level which can be effective for healing a variety of skin issues involving redness.
  • When yellow light penetrates the skin, key mechanisms take place to alter biological pathways and improve the appearance of the skin.
  • Yellow light is best known for skin cell rejuvenation and its soothing anti-inflammatory benefits. It also boosts lymphatic flow, which removes toxins and waste from the skin, and promotes anti-aging.
  • As a stand-alone treatment, yellow light at 590nm is a safe, non-invasive treatment that can be used to help increase blood flow and make your skin look more radiant.

How does yellow light therapy work?

Yellow light therapy is also sometimes referred to as amber light therapy. It encompasses a range of wavelengths from 570nm-620nm and has a shallow penetration level which can be effective for skin issues involving redness, such as spider veins or rosacea. When yellow light penetrates the skin (between 0.5 and 2mm), it gets absorbed by keratinocytes, melanocytes, as well as Merkel and Langerhans cells, which play a critical role in maintaining the skin’s epidermis layer. Studies have shown that yellow light gets absorbed by cytochrome c oxidase, which is a key mechanism for altering biological pathways.(1)(2)

diagram showing how light interacts with skin

What are the benefits of yellow light therapy?

Yellow light therapy stimulates the production of red blood cells, which play a vital role in skin healing and skin cell rejuvenation.  Because it has a shallow penetration level (compared to red and NIR light), it is ideal for treating a variety of skin conditions involving redness. It is also known to have soothing effects which help reduce the appearance of dark spots, swelling, and inflammation.

Key Benefits:

  • Drug-free alternative for skin redness and flushing
  • Heals skin irritation and rosacea
  • Reduces fine lines and wrinkles
  • Alleviates UV radiation damage
  • Reduces the appearance of tiny blood vessels on the nose/face
  • Boosts lymphatic flow, which helps remove toxins from the targeted area
  • Increases cellular growth

Which wavelengths of yellow light are the most effective?

Yellow light at 590nm interacts with epidermal cells, which triggers mitosis and cell renewal, protects and hydrates the epidermis.  As a stand-alone treatment, this yellow wavelength can provide a powerful pick-me-up that will increase dermal blood flow and leave your skin looking healthier and radiant.

Want to take your healing even further? Many studies have illustrated that combination (or polychromatic) therapy — using a combination of LED wavelengths — can have greater efficacy than just using one wavelength, which is referred to as monotherapy.(3)(4) Most of the research done around this synergistic effect has been observed while studying skin issues like photoaging and acne, but the same concept applies to other applications such as wound healing, muscle recovery, and pain relief. TrueLight LED light therapy devices use a patent-pending combination of deep red, red, NIR, and yellow light to help heal the body from the surface of the skin all the way down to the bone. They also have steady and pulsing modes, where steady light can help reduce pain, and pulsing light can help body tissues heal more rapidly.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479368/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5988166/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/16766484/
  4. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1011134407000632
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Near Infrared Light Therapy: a Magic Pill for Better Health

Woman using scarlet lux near face

Article at a Glance: 

  • Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy is similar to red light therapy, except it is invisible to the human eye, and it has a deeper penetration level.
  • This form of treatment is especially helpful with improving cellular energy (ATP) production, which can have a wide range of potential health benefits, including but not limited to cardiovascular health, pain and inflammation, detoxification, faster wound healing, improved thyroid function, and immune health.
  • 850nm is considered the most effective wavelength for traveling through skin and muscle tissue to prompt deep tissue and wound healing.
  • LED light therapy treatments may have even greater efficacy when NIR is paired with red and yellow (or amber) light.
  • Why Near Infrared LED Light Therapy is Like a Magic Pill for Better Health

How does near-infrared light therapy work?

The basic premise is that long-wavelength lights stimulate cellular energy metabolism and energy production.  Near-infrared (NIR) light therapy is similar to red light therapy, except infrared energy is invisible, and it reaches even deeper into the body — into soft tissues, muscles, joints, and bone. Three major photo acceptor molecules in mammalian tissues are known to absorb light in the NIR range: hemoglobin, myoglobin, and cytochrome c oxidase. Of the three, cytochrome c oxidase may be the most important mechanism of photobiomodulation (or low-level laser therapy, LLLT) and is associated with improved cellular energy (ATP) production.

diagram showing how light interacts with skin

What are the benefits of near-infrared light therapy?

The key characteristic of (near) infrared light is its ability to penetrate not only deep layers of the skin, but also your body’s muscles and other tissues, and even down to the bone. This can provide faster healing and better pain relief. Infrared light is also incredibly safe, non-invasive, and painless with no known side effects. (It is widely used in the fields of medicine, dentistry, and veterinary medicine.) That’s why NIR is somewhat of a “magic pill” that may be able to aid in cardiovascular health, pain and inflammation, detoxification, muscular injuries, and more.

Key Benefits:

  • Increases ATP production
  • Increases antioxidant defenses
  • Promotes anti-aging and anti-inflammatory effects(1)(2)
  • Helps repair muscle tissues(3)
  • Promotes faster bone and wound healing, as well as pain relief(4)
  • Improves thyroid, hormone, and immune function
  • Increases fertility
Man using a TrueLight LED light therapy device

Which wavelengths of near-infrared light are the most effective?

NIR wavelengths are closest to red light within the visible light spectrum, with wavelengths ranging from approximately 700nm – to 1,100nm. Similar to red light, not all wavelengths within this range are equally effective with respect to healing: research suggests that wavelengths between 800-880 nm offer the greatest therapeutic benefits. With that said, 850nm is the most effective wavelength for traveling through the skin and muscle tissue to prompt deep tissue and wound healing.

Want to take your healing even further? Studies have shown that pairing near-infrared (850nm) with red light (630nm and 660nm) can have greater efficacy than if you were to only use one wavelength at a time to target the body. (5) More recent studies have also illustrated the potential skin healing benefits associated with yellow or amber light therapy (580nm). (6,7

TrueLight LED light therapy devices use a patent-pending combination of deep red, red, NIR, and yellow light to help heal the body from the surface of the skin all the way down to the bone. They also have steady and pulsing modes, where steady light can help reduce pain, and pulsing light can help body tissues heal more rapidly.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5364001/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6188498/
  3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3635110/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/28935484
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4291816/
  6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4479368/
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27663159/