Interested in how photobiomodulation works? This guide covers the science of PBM, how it works, and the top health benefits of photobiomodulation therapy.
Can light energy heal you? That’s the basic idea of photobiomodulation therapy, or PBM.
Also known as red light therapy (RLT) or low-level laser therapy (LLLT), PBM therapy utilizes calibrated infrared light waves to treat various illnesses and support wellness. Although there are numerous benefits of photobiomodulation therapy, the therapy remains underutilized. One reason is that many don’t know how photobiomodulation works.
Fortunately, the science of photobiomodulation is easy to grasp, and numerous studies have documented the health benefits of photobiomodulation therapy. Photobiomodulation restores balance in the cells and promotes healthy cell function. As a result, PBM improves our body’s ability to detoxify itself, and we can reduce oxidative stress more efficiently.
How Does Photobiomodulation Therapy Work?
In PBM, light energy is directed at the body. For example, an individual could use a whole-body photobiomodulation bed, which functions similar to a tanning bed but instead uses helpful red-light energy.
Red light energy penetrates cell mitochondria, which is responsible for making ATP and driving cell function. When the body is stressed or fighting off an infection, the cells contain nitric oxide molecules and other reactive oxygen species (ROS). These molecules block the production of ATP and accumulate in the cells.
Ultimately, an imbalance is created, which causes cell and tissue damage, or oxidative stress. In other words, it becomes more and more difficult for the body to detoxify itself.
The therapy uses light energy to activate cytochrome c oxidase (CCO). Once activated, the CCO clears the blockages and drives out the reactive oxygen species (ROS), free radicals, and other harmful molecules. As a result, the adenosine triphosphate (ATP) generation process can start again, restoring balance.
Ultimately, PBM light therapy is beneficial because it promotes healthy cell function, without introducing chemicals or other toxins, only natural light energy.
What Are the Benefits of Photobiomodulation?
PBM offers numerous health benefits. In addition to promoting healthy skin, PBM has been shown to reduce oxidative stress, foster energy production, and aid in anti-inflammation. Here are the key benefits of PBM light therapy:
The anti-inflammatory effects of PBM have studied by Michael Hamblin. This form of treatment improves blood circulation in the body by diminishing the production of inflammatory proteins. Therefore, PBM therapy can be beneficial for joint disorders, reducing spinal cord inflammation, traumatic injuries, lung disorders, and the brain.
2. Skin Rejuvenation
According to a PBM study from 2014, PBM therapy offers numerous skin-healing properties. In fact, numerous celebrities use red light therapy for skincare. PBM is beneficial for reducing acne scars, wrinkles, hypertrophic scars, and burn treatment and healing. Infrared light can re-energize the skin cells and support collagen production. Furthermore, photobiomodulation therapy also reduces UV damage when used as a precautionary measure or a treatment.
3. Reversing Oxidative Stress
Oxidative stress happens during the process of the generation of ATP in the cell due to the presence of ROS. Typically, reactive oxygen species are required for several chemical reactions in the body and are also responsible for cell death, i.e., apoptosis. In a healthy body, antioxidants like glutathione balance out ROS. However, when there is excessive stress, the balance can get disturbed and can be harmful to the human body. PBM therapy can activate the antioxidants and support the reduction of ROS.
4. Encourage Energy Production
PBM light therapy aids in increasing the production of ATP, which provides energy to the body. With the increased energy, you feel less tired, accomplish more tasks, and enjoy your life more. Also, your body can carry on day-to-day cell repair, cell production, and cell metabolism at a much faster rate.
5. Faster Healing
Photobiomodulation therapy is also known for empowering the human body to speed up healing processes. From muscle tears and broken bones to burn wounds, PBM therapy can be helpful in many other healing processes. According to a research paper by Asheesh Gupta in The Journal of Biophotonics: “PBM light can penetrate deeper in the injured tissue and could allow non-pharmacological treatment for chronic wound healing.”
Image courtesy: The Journal of Biophotonics
6. Pain Management
According to a study published in Science Direct, low-level laser therapy’s effects on reducing pain through localized treatment, “[…] can alleviate pain and enhance joint health in chronic joint disorders like patellofemoral pain syndrome, osteoarthritis, and mechanical spine disorders.”
7. Better Sleep
Also, in many studies, PBM therapy has been shown to impact sleeping behavior in humans, from resetting the circadian rhythm in the body to decreasing oxidative stress in the hippocampus and improving alpha and beta brain waves.
8. Reducing TBI Symptoms
PBM therapy has been shown to reduce the symptoms of traumatic brain injuries and a variety of other brain ailments, including stroke, depression, neurodegenerative diseases, and a variety of other traumatic conditions, according to a research report by Hamblin.
9. Reversing AMD
Targeted PBM therapy offers the potential to alleviate age-related macular degeneration (AMD), which is incurable. Improvements in visual acuity and contrast sensitivity can be seen right after the PBM therapy, and they continue for a year.
10. Improved Circulation
Removing the ROS from cells increasing blood flow to the cells. This is one reason the therapy helps to improve wound healing, as it directs blood to injuries. Additionally, many patients will feel a tingling sensation after treatment, which is an indicator of increased blood flow.
11. Reduced Stress
Light therapy in a whole-body PBM chamber is relaxing, and many individuals feel rejuvenated after a session. Why? One potential reason is that like spending time outside, PBM stimulates Vitamin D production, which naturally helps us feel better.
Photobiomodulation Therapy – The Natural Cure
Who Can Benefit from PBM Therapy?
PBM therapy helps to stimulate, heal, regenerate, and protect tissue that has either been injured, is degenerating, or is at risk of dying. The therapy works at a cellular level, boosting the body’s natural healing processes. Therefore, PBM therapy benefits a wide range of patient groups.
The groups of people who can potentially benefit from photobiomodulation therapy include:
- Patients with chronic pain: This includes people with conditions like fibromyalgia, arthritis, and neuropathy. PBM can help alleviate pain and inflammation in these conditions.
- Athletes: PBM has been used in sports medicine for injury recovery and performance enhancement. The light generated by PBM devices penetrates the skin down into the muscles and accelerates healing by stimulating mitochonria. It helps to reduce inflammation and promote the healing of muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
- People with skin conditions: Conditions like psoriasis, burns, acne, and wounds may benefit from PBM as it can promote healing and reduce inflammation and scarring.
- Individuals with neurological disorders: Research has shown potential benefits of PBM for conditions like stroke, traumatic brain injury, and neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s. It’s thought that the therapy might help to protect and restore nerve function, although more research is needed.
- People with mood disorders: Some studies suggest that PBM may have potential benefits in treating conditions such as depression and anxiety, due to its effects on brain activity.
- Hair loss: PBM has been used to stimulate hair growth in individuals with hair loss conditions such as alopecia.
- Cancer patients: Studies have shown that near-infrared light has the power to target and destroy cancer-producing cells in the body. Based on a recent study, near-infrared light proves useful in killing cancer cells in mice. Researchers have discovered that near-infrared light when applied to cancer cells causes them to swell, burst, and die. Treatments are being developed for applying PBM technology to cancer patients.
Learn More About PBM Therapy
Hue Light USA offers numerous resources to help you explore the benefits of photobiomodulation therapy. Read our case study: 5 Clinical Studies that Highlight Infrared Light Therapy’s Anti-Aging Effects, see our guide to the Nogier Frequencies and their use in PBM, or learn more about BAHI therapy, Hue Light’s exclusive treatment program.