The Science — How LED Light Therapy Works
Nitric Oxide: The Miracle Molecule
One of the most dramatic aspects of light therapy is its triggering of the release of nitric oxide, often called the “miracle molecule”. Nitric oxide is the body’s natural vasodilator — it widens the blood vessels and capillaries.
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, Ph.D., and Ferid Murad, MD – received the 1998 Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine.
The net result of photobiomodulation is a cascade of beneficial chemical reactions throughout damaged nerve cells that stimulate healing. This response can be directly attributed to increased blood flow. This enhanced, localized blood flow improves tissue oxygenation.
Light Therapy Benefits
Increase Vascularity (Circulation) by increasing the formation of new capillaries that replace damaged ones. New capillaries speed up the healing process by carrying more oxygen as well as more nutrients needed for healing. And they can also carry more waste products away.
Stimulate the production of Collagen: Collagen is the most common protein found in the body. Collagen is used to repair damaged tissue and to replace old tissue. It is the substance that holds cells together and has a high degree of elasticity. By increasing Collagen production, less scar tissue is formed at a wound or incision.
Stimulate the Release of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP): ATP is the major carrier of energy to all cells. Increases in ATP allow cells to accept nutrients faster and get rid of waste products more quickly by increasing the energy level in the cell. All food turns into ATP before the cells utilize it. ATP provides the chemical energy that drives the chemical reaction of the cell.
Increase Lymphatic System Activity: Edema is the swelling or natural splinting process of the body. Edema has two basic components: the first is a liquid part, which can be evacuated by the blood system; and the second is comprised of the proteins that have to be evacuated by the Lymphatic System. Research has shown that the lymph vessel diameter and the flow of the Lymph System can be doubled with the use of Light Therapy. The venous diameter and the arterial diameters can also be increased. This means that both parts of edema (liquid and protein) can be removed at a much faster rate to relieve swelling.
Reduce the Excitability of Nervous Tissue: The photons of light energy enter the body as negative ions. This calls upon the body to send positive ions, like calcium among others, to go to the area being treated. These ions assist in firing the nerves, thereby relieving pain.
Stimulate Fibroblastic Activity that Aids in the Repair Process: Fibroblasts are present in connective tissue and are capable of forming collagen fibers.
Increase Phagocytosis: The process of scavenging for an ingesting dead or degenerated cells by Phagocyte Cells for the purpose of clean up. This is an important part of the infection fighting process. Destruction of the infection and clean up must occur before the healing process can take place.
Induce a Thermal-Like Effect in the Tissue: The light raises the temperature of the cells through a photochemical reaction.
Stimulate Tissue Granulation and Connective Tissue Projections: Part of the healing process of wounds, ulcers or inflamed tissues.
Stimulate Acetylcholine Release: Acetylcholine causes cardiac inhibition, vasodilation, gastrointestinal peristalsis, and other parasympathetic effects.
All Neurocare Systems therapy pad systems contain powerful Bright Light Emitting Diodes with a medical grade level of light output.
- Blue LEDs are 470 nm
- Red LEDs are 630 nm
- Infrared LEDs are 850 nm
Please Note: Infrared light is invisible to the human eye. The NIR diodes appear dark in the pad photos and are located between the rows of visible red and blue diodes.
Near Infrared Light
Researchers from the Joslin Center for Diabetes in Clearwater, Florida examined the effects of NIR on patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy (DPN). This common and devastating condition, which plagues many people with diabetes, impairs sensation and often leads to falls and amputations. The researchers gave study participants 12 treatments of either infrared therapy or a sham treatment and concluded that NIR treatments “improve sensation in the feet of subjects with DPN, improve balance, and reduce pain.”- Leonard DR, et al. Diabetes Care. 2004 Jan, 27(1): 168-72
WHAT IS INFRARED LIGHT THERAPY?
Infrared Light Therapy, or photobiomodulation, is a unique therapy that harnesses the healing powers of infrared light. It emits special wavelengths of light energy that dramatically increase circulation to injury sites and areas of chronic pain. The result is a rapid relief of discomfort, improvement in sensation, and regeneration of damaged tissues.
HOW DOES INFRARED LIGHT THERAPY WORK?
Treatment with the NIR light system is simple and painless. Flexible pads, containing multiple infrared and visible red diodes, are placed directly on the skin over the area of pain or injury. Light energy from the diodes penetrates deeply into the body and is absorbed by proteins within cells releasing nitric oxide, the body’s natural vasodilator. After just 20 minutes of treatment, blood flow is increased to nerves and other tissues, and this boost in local circulation persists for several hours after the pads are removed.
THE POWER OF NITRIC OXIDE
The key to this dramatic improvement in blood flow is nitric oxide, a short-lived gas that is crucial to the health of the arteries. This powerful signaling molecule relaxes the arteries, helps regulate blood pressure, fights free radicals and discourages platelets from clumping together in the blood vessels. By increasing the production of nitric oxide and improving circulation, NIR light therapy promotes healing and relieves pain.
CHRONIC PAIN RELIEF
NIR light therapy has been used by the U.S. military to speed recovery from soft-tissue injuries in elite soldiers in the Navy SEALs, Army Rangers, and Special Forces. Hospitals, nursing homes, and long-term care facilities use it to accelerate the healing of pressure ulcers (bed sores) and decrease the number of falls in elderly patients. This therapy is also used to ease the pain of neuropathy, restore sensation to patients with nerve impairment, speed up the healing of diabetic ulcers and other wounds and relieve many kinds of chronic pain.
HELP FOR DIABETIC COMPLICATIONS
NIR is useful for patients with diabetic complications. Diabetics produce less nitric oxide than healthy individuals and they often suffer from problems related to poor circulation, such as peripheral neuropathy and impaired wound healing. When NIR is used to treat a slow-healing ulcer, for example, the release of nitric oxide increases blood flow in the immediate area, bringing oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues. This helps stimulate healing.
Near infrared light stimulates the Release of Adenosine Triphosphate (ATP) from the mitochondria increasing cellular energy.