Photobiomodulation – what is it?

Photobiomodulation, shortened to PBM, is defined as the use of low level red and near-infrared light on the body. The intention is not to hear or burn the tissues, but to give a bigger dose than you would get from just sitting in the sunshine. 

PBM is also called LLLT (low level light/laser therapy).

Reading medical journal articles is like doing battle with a big dictionary. Lots of polysyllabic words, and lots of abbreviations.

Photobiomodulation, shortened to PBM, is defined as the use of low level red and near-infrared light on the body. The intention is not to heat or burn the tissues, but to give a bigger dose than you would get from just sitting in the sunshine.

PBM is also called LLLT (low level light/laser therapy). The very earliest experiments used laser lights, but it has now been realised that LED lights are just as good, and in some ways, better than lasers. Laser light is coherent, meaning that it is in a highly concentrated beam and doesn’t scatter. This is fine if you know exactly where to point it. LED lights are non-coherent, meaning that they happily scatter. When you don’t have a specific target then this is the best approach. As well, there is good evidence that the more that the head is bathed in red/infrared light, the deeper the penetration of the light. So LED lights are increasingly selected for PBM research – it helps that they are cheaper and easier to use.

Red and near-infrared light works in two ways – the direct effect and the indirect effect.  In some articles, the term “systemic” is used instead of “indirect”. For those who use Eliza light hats, the indirect or systemic effect is working hard, but there is some direct effect as some of the light will penetrate into the top of the brain tissue.

I’m attaching an article January 2017 called Photobiomodulation and the brain: a new paradigm by Madison Hennessy and Michael Hamblin.

download here

It covers the new research areas in PBM, and gives some interesting summaries of the findings to date.





How to help your doctor

I’ve had a number of people tell me that conversations with their GP or specialist about red and near infrared lights haven’t gone well. One chap took his newly-made Eliza to show his neurologist, who roared with laughter and said that it would be very handy at Christmas.

I remember my reaction when patients brought in newspaper clippings about the latest and greatest cure for something – I’d keep a smile on my face and inwardly groan.

If you are getting less than supportive noises from your doctors, don’t get cranky with them, because they are trying to protect you. There are lots of charlatans and snake oil merchants out there, and people with chronic diseases are easy targets. They are worried that you and your family are going to be taken in by costly rubbish. If you read about the beginnings of my learning about red lights, here, you’ll see that I was also very skeptical.

So what can you do?

Continue reading “How to help your doctor”

The Goldilocks Effect…less is more.

I’ve had a few queries about using high powered LEDs, the logic being that if low powered LED strips can improve the health of neurons, then lots of low powered LEDs or high powered LEDs will do a better job. If only it were that simple…

Prof John Mitrofanis and others have shown very clearly that there is a Goldilocks Effect. They use a more scientific term, but it is the same thing.

1. Too little red/near-infrared light doesn’t do very much at all.

2. Too much red/near-infrared light can cause problems for the neurons.

3. The just-right amount of red/near-infrared light is perfect.

Prof John and his team have been able to define the “just-right” dose at the neuronal level in mice. But we have no such knowledge for humans. So we have to be cautious. Very cautious.

So, please don’t use high powered LEDs. Start at a low level of red light exposure, as we have done.

Remember that we are at the very beginning of understanding of trans-cranial lights. There continues to be wonderful research work being done and as it appears, I’ll let you know if and how this changes the approach to DIY light hats.

What I do know at this stage is: Less Is More.

There’s a hole in my bucket, dear Liza…

I’ve just updated the page on the evolution of the Eliza light hats. Now that it is public knowledge that Max was asked to be the first guinea pig, I can be a little more open with information and photos.

Over the first 12 months of Max’s use of light hats, I made him five different versions. I’m not sure he has ever had so much headwear!



Weekend Australian article

An article in the Weekend Australian newspaper about red light and Parkinson’s Disease covers some of the people involved in the experiences described in this blog.

The article mentioned a home-made light hat. The instructions for  making a one-wavelength version of the hat (aka Eliza) have been posted.

Instructions for a two-wavelength version of the light hat are in progress.

PS. If the link to the article takes you to a paywall, try searching for it using Google, using the search term ‘Suvi Weekend Australian’. I was able to access the full article this way.

The Eliza Instructions finally…..

Here are the instructions for making a one wavelength Eliza.

Download instructions for a 1-wavelength Eliza

Download the things you will need for your DIY Eliza.

Making an Eliza isn’t difficult, but it is a fiddly process and takes quite a few hours.

Be brave and give it a go.

Let me know if there are things that need to be clarified.

I’d love to see photos of your Eliza.