Light is a high frequency form of electromagnetic energy that behaves like a wave and also as a stream of particles called “Photons”. Evidence indicates that cells absorb photons and transform their energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the form of energy that cells utilize. The resulting ATP is then used to power metabolic processes; synthesize DNA, RNA, proteins, enzymes, and other products needed to repair or regenerate cell components; foster mitosis or cell proliferation; and restore homeostasis.

The FDA has approved light therapy for the treatment of head and neck pain, and the literature indicates that light therapy may be beneficial in three general areas:

1. Inflammatory conditions (e.g., bursitis, tendonitis, arthritis)

2. Wound care and tissue repair (e.g., diabetic ulcers, venous ulcers, bedsores, mouth ulcer, fractures, tendon ruptures, ligamentous tear, torn cartilage, etc)

3. Pain control (e.g., low back pain, neck pain, and pain associated with inflammatory conditions—carpal tunnel syndrome, arthritis, tennis elbow, golfer’s elbow, post-herpetic neuralgia, etc)

Many forms of light therapy exist, including:

1. Light-Emitting Diode (LED) Therapy

2. Low Level Laser Therapy

3. Color Therapy (Chroma-therapy)

4. Far Infra-Red (FIR) Light Therapy

Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) Therapy

LED is an acronym for Light Emitting Diode. It is sometimes erroneously called a soft laser or laser, but it is not. The monochromatic light emitted by LEDs is incoherent. In practical terms, this means that the light is multi-directional, diffuse, and not directional and focused like laser. LEDs emit colorful lights that depend on the “Wavelength” of the light, which gives it its characteristic color. Since the wavelength is always a single frequency, the color is seen as monochromatic

The lack of beam coherence and precision makes LED therapy safe enough to be used even by children—and difficult to abuse. The advantage of LEDs over lasers is their ability to be used directly on the eyelid to regenerate injured eye tissue

Since LED “Stimulates collagen and elastin formation”, it has been used in neurology, dentistry, dermatology, physiotherapy, and in cosmetic applications. LEDs are known to “Stimulate cytochromes”, which are part of the “Electron transport chain”, to increase energy metabolism of the cells. Evidence indicates that cells absorb photons (particles or packets of EM light waves) and transform their energy into adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the form of energy that cells utilize (and a product of the Krebs Cycle)

Low Level Laser Therapy

Low-level laser therapy (LLLT), also termed “Photo-biostimulation” and “Cold laser therapy”, is simply defined as using light to activate cells. The photons from most low-energy laser devices can penetrate deep into tissue, about 5 cm, without causing heat or tissue damage. Once inside the cell, the laser photons can trigger many cellular reactions such as the production of enzymes, protein substances vital for innumerable bio-chemical actions, and stimulating mitochondria

In short, low-level laser therapy appears to “Heal at a cellular level”. It’s like shining a ray of sunlight directly on injured cells inside the body and stimulating the cells to return to normal function. The blue laser light used to harden dental fillings was found to kill cancer cells by producing free radicals inside them, damaging their fast growth. The same effect is NOT seen in normal cells!

Laser is an acronym for “Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation”. Laser light is monochromatic, coherent, very pure, and very organized light. In contrast, “Light Emitting Diode – LED” is a non-coherent light that is used everywhere (e.g., like traffic light)

Far Infra-red (FIR) Therapy

Sunlight is a made of wide spectrum of frequencies that include: infrared rays, visible light, and ultraviolet rays. At lower frequencies, sunlight changes to a gentle “Infra-red rays”, which gives sunlight its “Warm” sensation

 “Far Infra-red Ray - FIR” therapy, also known as “Heat therapy”, is a therapy that uses waves of energy, totally invisible to the naked eye, capable of penetrating deep into the human body (up to 4.5 cm), where they gently elevate the body's surface temperature and activate major bodily functions. Far Infrared promotes the killing of many pathogenic bacteria, viruses, fungi, parasites, and even cancer cells

FIR thermal therapy causes regional vasodilation, which increases oxygenation and raise the temperature of the treated region. Since cancerous cells are “Sensitive to heat”, it will die if the temperature goes above 42oC/107.6 F. Far Infrared treatment raises body temperature to 42oC; this is similar to “Hyperthermia therapy”, but in a smaller scale

FIR thermal therapy reduces body fat by 2-5% after 20 minutes session, as fat liquefies at 37.8oC. Also, 20-30 minutes FIR thermal therapy session burns 600 calories, which equal six miles run in cardiovascular effect

Moreover, FIR thermal therapy can flush toxins and heavy metals from the lymphatic vessels. The mechanism is as the following: when toxic gases or substances like CO2, lead, mercury, or chlorine meet large water molecules in the body, water cluster around them in a capsule-like pattern, typically in the lymphatic vessels and the extra-cellular fluid. As FIR therapy penetrate the body tissues into these heavy metals-water capsules, these capsules start to vibrate, reducing the ion bonds of the atoms that are holding together these molecules of water. As the vibration continues, breakdown of the molecules occur and the toxic materials are released, allowing the body to expel them


Selected references

1. Liberman J. Light: Medicine of the Future: How We Can Use It to Heal Ourselves NOW. 1990; Bear & Company; 1st edition

2. Hamblin M, Ying-Ying H. Handbook of Photomedicine. 2013; CRC Press; 1st edition

3. Whittaker P. Laser acupuncture: past, present, and future. Lasers in Medical Science 2004; 19: 69–80

4. Weber M et al. “Needles of Light”: A New Therapeutic Approach. Medical Acupuncture 2007; 19(3): 141-151

5. Weber M. The new laser-needle acupuncture in clinical application. J Tradit Chin Orthopedics. 2004; 6(1):22

6. Lee Y et al. Photodynamic therapy: current evidence and applications in dermatology. Semin Cutan Med Surg 2011; 30:199-209