Red light’s many ways of working

Don’t discount the indirect effect of red and near infrared light.

I’ve had a number of queries lately about the importance of penetration of red and near infrared light into the brain. The questions stem from an assumption that red and near lights will only be effective if they act directly onto the cell. This assumption isn’t correct. Red light doesn’t rely on just one method to be effective.

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Magnificent mitochondria

Thomas Ryan and David Tumbarello, two British researchers, published a very interesting two-page review article due to be published in September 2021, but made available early.

It seems that mitochondria, the batteries in our cells, aren’t merely being driven by other, more high-status, parts of the cell. It looks like the mitochondria themselves might be in the driver’s seat, at least for some aspects of their activity. We should take more notice of them.

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Water and light…

In the last blog post, I told you about an excellent article called How and why does photobiomodulation change brain activity.

An ardent reader would know that I tend to wax lyrical about the way that red and near infrared light works directly and indirectly on the cell batteries, the mitochondria. The mitochondria contain special proteins that are able to respond to the light pulse. Some of these proteins are quite famous, like cytochrome c oxidase, which has been well studied and probably has its own fan club.

But guess what. Even if there is no cytochrome c oxidase present, mitochondria still respond to light.

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Mitochondria in your blood

Mitochondria get a lot of airplay in this blog. (Here’s an early post.)

The mitochondrial experts of the world have been blown away by new research. It seems that our blood not only contains the various sorts of red and white cells, but it also contains nomadic mitochondria.

This is amazing! Here’s why.

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It really does work…

I can understand the skepticism about the biological effect of red lights, because that’s where I started from. It seemed too good to be true. However, there is a wealth of excellent quality research out there, and the evidence is compelling that red and near infrared lights protect existing neurones, and can stimulate new neurones to be created, stimulate blood vessels to increase connections- neuroprotection, neurogenesis and angiogenesis.

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Brain cells

When I went to medical school, the belief was that you got your full quota of brain cells at birth. It was downhill from there, and you entered old age with not many brain cells left.

What a joy it is to know that this belief is a load of rubbish.

Here is a great article, summarising recent research on the birth of new brain cells during our lives.

It is a reminder that you use your brain or you lose it, so lifelong learning stimulates the birth of new brain cells.

I can recommend learning a musical instrument – you can do it at any age. Making music on your own instrument really makes your brain work, whether you are a beginner or an old hand at it.

And use your Eliza, Cossack or Coronet each day. Red and near infrared light stimulates the birth of new brain cells.