"Drug free pain relief and better healing through 'best in class' photomedicine products and services."

 

- James Carroll, THOR Photomedicine CRO 

What is Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMt)?

Photobiomodulation Therapy (PBMt) is the best technical term for Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT), but it is more commonly referred to as Red and Near-Infrared Light Therapy. 

It is a light therapy using lasers or LEDs to improve tissue repair, reduce pain and inflammation wherever the beam is applied. Usually treatments take about 10-15 minutes and should be applied two or more times a week.

Photobiomodulation has been used for many years on sports injuries, arthritic joints, neuropathic pain syndromes, back and neck pain. Over 700 randomized clinical trials have been published on Photobiomodulation, half of which are on pain.

Avid users of this technology include British and US military, Premier Division soccer teams, Olympic teams, Formula 1, rugby and cricket team therapists as well as specialist pain clinics in the UK and USA.

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Health

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Beauty

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faqs

 

Health Benefits

 

Red and near-infrared light have profound effects on our cellular and hormonal health. And we’re designed to need ample amounts of those types of light to have optimal health.

Just as the modern world of processed food leads to chronic malnutrition, our modern light environment (of too much of the wrong kinds of light and too little of the right kinds, and with poor timing) is called mal-illumination. The vast majority of people living in the modern world are suffering from chronic mal-illumination and don’t even realize it. And it has widespread effects on our brain and organ function, immune system , energy levels, mood, neurotransmitter balance, and hormone levels.

Here are some of the health benefits to near-infrared and red light therapy detailed out.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy For Inflammation

Red and near-infrared light therapy is highly effective in treating chronic inflammation. 

Since chronic inflammation is now being recognized as a major contributor to most chronic diseases from heart disease, depression, and cancer, to Alzheimer’s and chronic fatigue syndrome, this effect of red light therapy on inflammation is a very big deal.

Many aging scientists now speak of “inflamm-aging” — the concept that the genes and pathways that control inflammation may very well be the key drivers of aging and disease. The CDC contends that oxidative stress and inflammation are the cause of 85% of all diseases. 

Studies have even shown that red/NIR light therapy can have anti-inflammatory effects on par with non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), which are the anti-inflammatory drugs routinely prescribed and typically, the over-the-counter drugs people buy when in pain.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Pain Relief

Near-infrared and red light therapy has been remarkably effective at reducing joint pain in virtually all areas of the body.

Here are several conditions where red/NIR light has proven effective:

  • Chronic neck pain

  • Knee pain

  • Fibromyalgia

  • Low back pain

  • Chronic pain in the elbow, wrist and fingers

  • Chronic joint disorders

  • Sacroiliac joint pain

  • Chronic tooth pain

  • Osteoarthritic pain

  • Tendinitis and myofascial pain

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Wound Healing

Near-infrared and red light therapy are fantastic for wound healing. Red/infrared light accomplishes this in several ways:

  • cleaning up dead and damaged cells in skin

  • increasing ATP in skin cells, giving cells more energy to heal themselves

  • increasing the production of fibroblasts

  • increasing blood flow, supplying the wound more oxygen and nutrients needed for repair

  • stimulating the production of collagen and the health of the extracellular matrix

  • stimulating lymph activity

  • stimulating the formation of new connective tissue and blood capillaries on the surface of the wound.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Increasing Bone Healing

Studies on animals and humans have found that red and near-infrared light therapy greatly aids in healing breaks, fractures, and bone defects. ATP production is interrupted in broken bones, and cells begin to die from lack of energy. Red and near-infrared light have been shown to:

  • Stimulate energy production in the bone cells

  • Increase bone growth factors

  • Enhance blood vessel formation and blood flow to the affected area

  • Modulate inflammation

  • Enhance the attachment and production of collagen and procollagen and stimulates growth of bone cells – all of which accelerate the bone repair process

Overall, bone irradiated with near-infrared wavelengths shows increased bone formation and collagen deposition. Photobiomodulation is becoming very popular in all sports where breaks, sprains, and fractures are frequent — from horse racing to football.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue, and More Energy

Studies show that red light therapy is also effective at restoring energy and vitality in persons suffering with fibromyalgia. Multiple studies have found that photobiomodulation offers:

  • Enhanced quality of life for fibromyalgia patients

  • Decreased pain

  • Decreased muscle spasms

  • Decreased morning stiffness

  • Decreased total tender point number in fibromyalgia cases

Research – including a 2017 study – suggests that this therapy method is a safe and effective treatment for fibromyalgia

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Hashimoto's Hypothyroidism

Several studies have shown profound benefits of photobiomodulation for autoimmune hypothyroidism.

  • A 2013 randomized, placebo-controlled study in hypothyroid patients demonstrated that in people who got near-infrared light therapy, thyroid function dramatically improved, and remarkably, that thyroid antibody (TPOAb) levels were massively reduced. Amazingly, 47% of patients were able to stop medication completely! Moreover, the researchers also followed up 9 months after treatment and found that the effects were still evident! They even published a 6-year follow-up, which basically said that even at 6 years, some of the benefits still remained, but periodic sessions were recommended to maintain all benefits.

  • A 2010 study found that photobiomodulation helped 38 %of study participants reduce their hypothyroid medication dose, with a whopping 17% being able to stop taking the medication altogether!

  • A 1997 study done in Russia included some data on people with autoimmune hypothyroidism who underwent a thyroid surgery. They found that red/NIR light therapy improved thyroid hormone levels enough that they required, on average, roughly half as much thyroid hormone medication.

  • A 2003 study done in the Ukraine showed that red light therapy can decrease thyroid medication needs by 50-75% in people with postsurgical hypothyroidism.

  • A 2010 Russian dissertation study gave red light therapy on the thyroid gland to a group of people with hypothyroidism and found that 17% of people could completely get off thyroid medication and 38% could decrease the dose by 25-50µg.

  • A 2014 study used the light therapy for 10 sessions with 347 women with subclinical hypothyroidism. At baseline, the average TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was 9.1 mIU/L. (Note: Higher TSH is a sign of hypothyroidism). After ten sessions of light therapy, the TSH was normalized in 337 (97%) of these women. Their TSH averaged at 2.2 mIU/L after just 10 light treatments.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Anxiety and Depression

A 2009 study took 10 patients with a history of major depression and anxiety (including PTSD and drug abuse) and gave them four weeks of treatments to the forehead with red/NIR light. Remarkably, by the end of the four-week study, 6 out of 10 patients experienced a remission of their depression, and 7 out of 10 patients experienced a remission of their anxiety.”

Though further research is needed, there have been 10 studies so far on the use of photobiomodulation to treat depression and anxiety related disorders with 9 of 10 studies yielding very positive results.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy to Improve Cognitive Performance

In studies, researchers have found that transcranial near-infrared and red light therapy profoundly benefits the brain and cognitive performance. Research has also shown that transcranial near-infrared stimulation has been found to increase neurocognitive function in young healthy adults, finding that it improved sustained attention and short-term memory retrieval in young adults, and improved memory in older adults with significant memory impairment at risk for cognitive decline.

Another study found photobiomodulation also increased executive cognitive function in young healthy adults, providing hope that further studies find that near-infrared and red light therapy may provide a hopeful treatment in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease, as well as prevention.

Recent studies have now found that photobiomodulation may significantly slow the progression of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Red and near-infrared light have been shown to:

  • Benefit cognitive performance and memory

  • Improved mitochondrial function of brain cells

  • Have a protective effect on neurons

  • Improve cellular repair of neurons

  • Increase brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and nerve growth factor (NGF)

  • Decrease brain inflammation (decreased pro-inflammatory cytokines and increased anti-inflammatory cytokines)

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy to Improve Immune System Function

In numerous studies, red/NIR light therapy has proven to benefit the immune system.

 

  • In animal studies, near-infrared and red light therapy has a boosting effect on the immune system of immune-deficient cancer-inoculated animals, resulting in an increased lifespan.

  • In human studies, photobiomodulation also boosted the immune systems and T cells of preoperative cancer patients without increasing tumor size.

  • In the context of wound healing, it has also been shown to have beneficial effects, in part by modulating immune function.

  • Another study found that red/NIR light therapy to the bone marrow could increase the platelet count and help resolve low blood platelets caused by chemotherapy or by an autoimmune disease.

  • It also appears to selectively modulate cell function in some types of infected cells while not affecting healthy uninfected cells in the same way.

  • In vitro studies on human leukocytes have shown that near-infrared light can increase activity of these immune cells. Given that we know red/NIR light penetrates our blood vessels and irradiates our bloodstream, it is reasonable to think may also happen internally.

  • A fascinating study in mice looked at shining red light on the thymus gland (an important gland in the immune system) and on an area of a back leg. They found that the mice who received the treatment on the thymus gland area (in the center of the chest) had more profound changes in immune cell function.

  • Another remarkable and more recent study from December 2017 suggests that red/NIR light may be able to slow or even reverse this “thymic involution” – thus keeping our thymus gland function and immune function in tact as we age.

  • As discussed in the section on thyroid health, in people with Hashimoto’s – a common autoimmune condition responsible for most hypothyroidism – red/NIR light has proven to have remarkably beneficial effects on immune function. Another animal model of multiple sclerosis (another autoimmune condition that degenerates the fatty sheath around nerves that helps nerve conduction) showed that just two treatments done over a span of 14 days led to significant improvement with less brain cell death and slowed the progression of the disease. Other animal studies have found similar effects.

Overall, red/NIR light seems to be an “immune nutrient” that supports optimal immune function in a wide variety of different scenarios and health conditions. It seems to be able to positively affect immune function in the right direction, potentially, regardless of whether someone has low immune function during an infection or has an overly active and imbalanced immune system due to autoimmune disease.

Beauty Benefits

 

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Skin

Because red light stimulates both collagen and elastin production, dramatically reduces lines and wrinkles, as well as the appearance of scars, surface varicose veins, acne, and cellulite, photobiomodulation is fast becoming recognized as a safe and welcome alternative to injections and surgeries for anti-aging and skin rejuvenation.

Repairing damage from UV rays requires that skin be able to repair cellular and DNA damage, much as it does when healing from wounds. Red light does this extremely well through stimulating collagen synthesis and fibroblast formation, anti-inflammatory action, stimulation of energy production in mitochondria, and even stimulating DNA repair.

A wealth of human studies is proving photobiomodulation can reverse the signs of aging, repair damage from UV rays, and reduce the appearance of lines, wrinkles, and even hard to remove scars. A 2013 issue of Seminars in Cutaneous Medicine and Surgery featured a review of the research that highlighted dozens of studies proving photobiomodulation can reduce the signs of aging.

Another review of the research by Harvard professor Michael Hamblin, PhD has found that red and near-infrared light therapy can:

  • reduce the signs of damage, DNA damage, and aging from UV rays

  • reduce wrinkles

  • reduce color patches, hyperpigmentation, and skin discoloration

  • enhance collagen synthesis and collagen density (research has shown it can enhance production of collagen by 31%)

  • accelerate repair in the epithelial layer of skin

  • combat other skin conditions like acne, keloids, vitiligo, burns, herpes virus sores, and psoriasis

  • speed wound healing by enhancing skin tissue repair and growth of skin cells

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Hair Loss and Growth

Red light has also been shown to help with certain types of hair loss. Red light has proven to help both women and men with various conditions to regrow hair and even thicken the diameter of individual hair strands. Near-infrared and red light therapy has proven to help women with alopecia to significantly regrow and thicken hair.

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Cellulite

One study found that when photobiomodulation is combined with massage, it led to an astounding 71% reduction in cellulite!

Another study that assessed the use of near-infrared and red light therapy on skin health found that “91% of subjects reported improved skin tone, and 82% reported enhanced smoothness of skin in the treatment area.

Performance Benefits

 

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy to Enhance Muscle Gain, Strength, Endurance, and Recovery

Red/NIR light with exercise makes a potent combination. Not only does red/NIR light help you recover faster, it seems to amplify everything that happens with exercise – increased muscle gain, fat loss, performance, strength, and endurance.

Muscle tissue has more mitochondria than almost any other tissue or organ in the human body. So muscle tissue is particularly responsive to photobiomodulation. The muscles are packed with mitochondria, because ATP is needed for every muscle twitch and movement, no matter how insignificant.

Through their effect on ATP production and cellular healing mechanisms, red/NIR light help individuals to recover more quickly from strenuous and resistance exercise, and even helps to prevent muscle fatigue during exercise.

Studies provide evidence that near-infrared and red light therapy powerfully help prevent muscle fatigue, enhance muscle strength and endurance, increase fat loss responses from exercise, increase muscle growth responses from exercise, and promote faster recovery.

To get into just a few of the dozens of studies on this topic:

  • One study by Vieira et al. examined levels of fatigue in leg muscles after endurance exercise and found that using light therapy immediately following significantly reduced fatigue scores relative to the control group. The researchers concluded “The results suggest that an endurance training program combined with LLLT leads to a greater reduction in fatigue than an endurance training program without LLLT. This is relevant to everyone involved in sport and rehabilitation.”

  • Leal-Junior et al. performed a review of the relevant research in 2015 to examine the effects of phototherapy on exercise performance and recovery. They compiled data from thirteen randomized control trials and examined the number of repetitions and time until exhaustion for muscle performance, as well as markers of exercise-induced muscle damage. The researchers concluded that pre-conditioning the muscles with red/NIR light (i.e. using the light prior to exercise) significantly improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery.

  • Another study looked at use of LED red/NIR therapy lights in male athletes who performed 3 intense bouts of exercise on a stationary bike. The athletes who were given the LED light therapy prior to the exercise had significantly lower levels of creatine kinase (a marker for muscle damage) compared to the sham light therapy (placebo) group.

  • A recent 2016 review of 16 studies by Nampo et al. looked at research using both laser and LED therapy on exercise capacity and muscle performance of people undergoing exercise compared to placebo/sham treatments. They found an average improvement of 3.51 reps, a 4 second delay in time to exhaustion (i.e. people were able to exercise longer before exhaustion), increased peak strength, and a significant reduction in lactic acid production.

  • A review of research by Borsa et al. found that studies consistently show that red/NIR light done prior to weight training improved performance and decreased muscle damage.

  • Another study compared red/NIR light therapy with LEDs to cold water immersion (e.g. ice baths) as a recovery method after exercise and found that red/NIR light improved recovery more than ice baths.

 

Red and Near-Infrared light also have the ability to increase your strength and endurance adaptations to exercise, decrease muscle damage from your workouts, help you recover faster, and even increase muscle gains. 

Near-Infrared and Red Light Therapy for Weight Loss

Research has shown that photobiomodulation has a profound impact on reducing fat mass and fat tissue, and at eliminating cellulite. Red light therapy devices have even been approved by the FDA for fat reduction.

In studies, near-infrared and red light therapy have helped shave an entire 3.5 to 5.17 inches off waist and hip circumference by reducing the fat mass layer in just four weeks of use.

In another study of 86 individuals using red light therapy at 635 nm for 20 minutes every other day for two weeks, study participants lost 2.99 inches across all body parts — yes, 3 inches — in just 14 days of photobiomodulation.

It isn't recommended using red/NIR light therapy alone to cause fat loss. Red/NIR light therapy really shines when combined with exercise and a good diet.

Some research shows that photobiomodulation can dramatically enhance — nearly double — fat loss from exercise, as compared to people doing just the exercise routine without the NIR light therapy. In addition, the group using the NIR light therapy in tandem with exercise saw nearly double the improvements in insulin resistance!

From the thor blog

Further Research backed Evidence

Want to hear from others about Red Light Therapy?

36 Photobiomodulation therapy papers published in February 2018. 

 

Highlights Include:

  • DNA repair mechanisms, modulation of telomere maintenance

  • Improved motor response in patients with spinal cord injury

  • Prevention of < grade 2 radiodermatitis in breast cancer patients (RCT)

  • No adverse effects on SCC primary cancer, recurrence or survival

  • Improved physiological and performance parameters in runners

  • Improved depth of anaesthesia during endodontic treatment

27 Photobiomodulation therapy papers published in January 2018. 

 

Highlights Include:

  • Treatment 6h before + immediately before exercise best for reducing muscle fatigue

  • Review of pre-clinical data for dementia, Parkinson’s, stroke, trauma and depression

  • Improved bacteriological, cytological and clinical benefits after root planing (RCT)

  • Improved wound healing of skin graft donor site (RCT)

  • Systematic review of RCTs on  LED PBM therapy in dermatology

  • NSAIDs vs PBM Therapy post root canal (RCT)

  • ESWT vs PBM Therapy for Plantar Fasciitis (RCT)

  • Effect of PBM on cerebral hemodynamics and metabolism are not thermal

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Frequently asked questions

How many sessions are needed?


That depends on your goals and current condition. In general, acute injuries (sprains, abrasions, etc.) show rapid improvement and often resolve in 2-4 treatments. Long-term and chronic conditions may need up to 10 treatments to show significant benefits.




How often should I do Red Light Therapy?


Most clients do 2-4 times per week until their goals are met, then reduce to 1-2 times per week for maintenance. For athletes with a rigorous workload, 3-5 times per week is recommended for optimal recovery.




Are there any side effects?


No, treatment is non-toxic, non-invasive, and has no known side effects. It is safe and effective for most people.




Are there any contraindications?


Treatment is NOT APPROPRIATE FOR THE FOLLOWING CONDITIONS: - Pregnancy (with the exception of targeted light therapy to the extremeties) - Epilepsy - Active cancer lesions - Anyone taking photosensitive medications




Do you wear clothes during the session?


You may disrobe to your level of comfort. The more light that touches your skin, the more effective the treatment.




What should I do before my session?


Remove all jewelry that could refract light or scratch the unit. Remove as much makeup as possible, and limit the use of lotions, especially ones with light-blocking agents. Hydration is vital to the success of the treatments, so please drink water throughout the day!




What should I expect to feel?


The lights themselves do not become warm; however your circulation increases throughout the treatment, so you may experience a feeling of warmth. A quick energy boost or feeling of euphoria is also possible.




What should I do after my session?


HYDRATE!! Water is essential for cellular processes, and your cells will be hard at work after PBM. Make sure to drink extra water and eat well so your cells have all the fuel they need to heal.




What success markers should I look for?


Pain levels for acute or chronic conditions, improvements in color or texture of scars, improvements in skin texture and tone, quality of sleep, energy levels, recovery time post workout, and energy levels throughout the day are all good markers to track success.




Where can I look at the research?


Click here for a treasure trove of information from THOR.





 
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