Using red and near infrared lights to help neurodegenerative diseases is an area still in its infancy. The good thing about this blog is that it makes it possible for you to make something for yourself or someone close to you.
The bad thing is that it is so tempting to want to make something different, especially if come up with an idea that is bigger, longer, more infrareddy or HOTTER.
This page is a reminder to be respectful to the person using the lights. Stick with what we know to be safe and appropriate for the disease.
Myth#1 – More is better
It is human nature to think that if a bit of red light is going to help Parkinson’s, then a lot of red light will be even better. It ain’t. And there is good science behind that.
The Goldilocks effect : More
When and how to use red light: More
Myth #2 – Cook the head
Nope. You want to avoid being a hot head because it is uncomfortable, and doesn’t help.
That’s why the old-fashioned infrared lamp is no use as a light for the head. It is designed to blast out the heat, and tends to use longer wavelengths than is desirable.
To complicate things, people with Parkinson’s are much more troubled by small temperature increases. Comfort is paramount.
This blog post covers the importance of comfort. More
Myth #3 – Daily lights don’t help
Wrong – daily light use is the key to success. A short daily dose of light will do more good than a huge long blast of light every few days.
Using red lights is much more effective having a daily dose, as it provides regular bursts of energy to the cells that are feeling soggy.
How brain cells respond to light. More
This blog post talks more about daily use. More
Myth #4 – Any wavelength will do.
Does 940nm have the same effect on neurons as 670nm? Nope.
Does it matter? Yep!!
When I first started reading up about lights, I assumed that the Very-Visible red (eg 630 – 690nm) would be similar in effect to the Only-Just-Visible near-infrared (810-890nm) or the Invisible near-infrared (900 – 1100nm). I was wrong. Very wrong.
While we would assume that all the wavelengths in the red-near-infrared spectrum act the same, our neurons are made of much more discerning stuff. Not only do our neurons have different proteins that respond to different wavelengths across this spectrum, these different proteins have very different functions.
670nm sets off one set of chemical cascades, while 850nm stimulates quite a different set and again, the 940 kickstarts off yet another set of chemical reactions.
Not all the sets of chemical cascades are helpful in all neurodegenerative disorders.
- The Very-Visible reds (Very-visible)
Very-visible wavelengths (630-670nm) do seem to work in a similar fashion, with 670nm generally more effective on neurons.Very-visible seem to help a variety of different neurodegenerative diseases, including Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Lewy Body Dementia, Alzheimer’s and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy.Very-visible do seem to be the one-size-fits-most wavelengths. Use them.
- The Only-Just-Visible near infrareds (Only-just-visible)
Only-just-visible wavelengths are 800-890nm. The easiest to obtain is 850nm, and the very expensive 810nm.Only-just-visible seem to work very differently to the Very-visible wavelengths.Only-just-visible are very helpful in Parkinson’s Disease and Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. I think that they are helpful in Alzheimers.I am not convinced that they are helpful in Huntington’s, Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
Unless you have a very definite diagnosis of Parkinson’s, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy or Alzheimer’s, do not use trans-cranial Only-just-visible.
- The Invisible near-infrareds (Invisible)
Invisible include wavelengths 900 – 1100nm. You can’t see them, but they do give off heat so you can feel their warmth. The easiest to obtain is 940nm LED strip.There are some studies that use 1072nm light to for people with Alzheimers, and these seem to be having a helpful effect. But for practical purposes, I would not recommend their use.