History of Light Therapy
In Ancient Times
For some time it has been known that light can affect the growth and metabolism of organisms, from simple unicellular microorganisms to multi-cellular plants and mammals, and can have a variety of beneficial therapeutic effects. Indeed, sunlight in heliotherapy dates to 1400 BC and has been practiced for several centuries in many countries, including ancient Rome, Greece, and Egypt (Roetlandts, 2002).
Around 1900 AD
Around 1900, light therapies had moved from the use of direct sunlight to the use of filtered sunlight and artificial light sources, fluorescent tubes, and carbon-arc or quartz lamps for example. Early applications of light for therapeutic purposes included treatment of skin diseases and ulcers, syphilis, lupus, pellagra, wound healing, and tuberculosis. (Roetlandts, 1991)
NASA Space Technology Shines Light on Healing
Release 00-336 December 18, 2000
“Dr. Whelan’s NASA-funded research has already seen remarkable results using the light-emitting diodes to promote healing of painful mouth ulcers caused by cancer therapies such as radiation and chemotherapy. The treatment is quick and painless.”
“The red light penetrates to the inside of the mouth, where it seems to promote wound healing and prevent further sores in the patient’s mouth.”
“They reported a 40 percent improvement in patients who had musculoskeletal training injuries treated with the light-emitting diodes.”
Who Has More Recently Studied and Used LED Light Therapy?
It was the space program and NASA that prompted renewed interest in light therapy, using LEDs to enhance the growth of plant tissue in space – lack of gravity keeps cells from growing naturally. The plants grew, and by coincidence [zero] gravity induced symptoms in the astronauts – loss of bone mass, atrophied muscles and wounds that do not heal – were also reduced.
“NASA scientists have found that cells exposed to near-infrared light from LEDs, which is energy just outside the visible range, grow 150 to 200 percent faster than cells not stimulated by such light. The light arrays increase energy (ATP and nitric oxide) that speed up the healing process.”
— NASA LED Technology Press Release
This technology has been used by physicians, NASA, Navy Seals for muscle regeneration and healing of wounds. The Navy Seals’ program found the return-to-service rate was 41% faster with LEDs [LED light therapy]. Additionally, many institutions such as John Hopkins, Stanford, and the Mayo Clinic have studied and used LEDs for various healing benefits.
— NASA LED Technology Press Release
What Is So Significant About Nitric Oxide?
Nitric oxide was named “Molecule of the Year” in 1992 by the journal Science, but it took another 6 years for those responsible for the major discoveries surrounding it to win the Nobel Prize. Three US scientists – Robert Furchgott, Ph.D., Louis Ignarro, PhD., and Ferid Murad, MD – received the 1998 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
The infrared photo energy stimulates nitric oxide from the hemoglobin and possibly surrounding tissue. Nitric oxide is a signaling molecule that is known to relax smooth muscle cells found in the arteries, veins, capillaries, and lymph vessels. When these muscles relax, they dilate blood vessels, thus allowing increased circulation. Nitric oxide has also been shown to be essential for wound healing, even if chronic or traumatic.
Nitric oxide is a chemical involved in many normal body functions as well as disease processes. Besides being a strong dilator of the blood vessels (which allows an increased blood flow), it is known to promote immune system function and wound healing. It is particularly useful because it is difficult for bacteria to develop resistance against it. Nitric oxide attacks a range of targets in bacteria, including DNA, cell wall lipids, proteins, and enzymes. In order for bacteria to develop resistance, it would have to change at each of those attack sites. In its gaseous form, nitric oxide has been used to treat infected wounds. LED light therapy provides infrared photo energy to help facilitate the many benefits described above and many others. — Drs. Furchgott, Ignarro, Murad, and Burke
What About Promoting Cell Regeneration, and Stimulating Collagen
“The treatment is especially effective at improving the appearance of the face, neck, and chest, by reducing signs of aging, wrinkles and age spots.”
— Web M.D. Health
“Six weeks of treatment with LED’s can significantly improve the appearance of fine lines.”
— In Style Magazine/Sept.2008]
When we stop to think that no life would exist on this planet without the sun, it seems likely that healing benefits can be found in light. Light streams photons (tiny packets of energy) to our bodies resulting in numerous benefits to our well-being by enhancing our body's natural chemistry and healing abilities. LED Light Therapy uses the therapeutic effects of light to assist the body at a cellular level, increasing circulation, relieving pain & much more.
Light therapy is new to many people and clinicians. But forms of Low-Level Light therapy (LLLT) have been shown to deliver powerful therapeutic benefits in over 50 years of independent research worldwide. Light therapy has been researched by NASA since the 1990s. Universities and research institutions have extensively studied light therapy for its beneficial effects on Diabetes, Neuropathy, wound healing and much more.