Red light definitions

Explains LLLT, Photobiomodulation and PBM.

You will have come across the various names for the use of red and near infrared lights. Michael Hamblin, one of the lead researchers in the area, has summarised the terminology changes beautifully in a recent article called (somewhat dauntingly) Mechanisms and Mitochondrial Redox Signalling in Photobiomodulation. Click here to read the full article.

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT)

Almost 50 years ago in Hungary, Endre Mester found by accident, that a low power red laser noticeably improved wound healing.

It was initially thought that light delivered by a laser was the key factor in the wound healing, and so the term Low Level Laser Therapy, abbreviated to LLLT, was developed.

If you put “LLLT” in your favourite search engine, you’ll find a lot of references will pop up.

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Can red light stop brain cells from dying?

It’s been longer than intended since the blog was updated. During this time, a new article by John Mitrofanis was published in April 2017, called Why and how does light therapy offer neuroprotection in Parkinson’s disease? You can download it here: Link.

This is a great article with much detail explained with great clarity. Even better, it is only two pages.

It poses two critical questions:

  1. Can red/near infrared light protect brain cells from dying?
  2. If yes, then how does the light do that?

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Red and near infrared light

Sunlight has a range of wavelengths, and these have been classified into four main groups: ultraviolet, visible, near infrared and far infrared. We can see the light in the visible spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo, violet) but we can’t see ultraviolet light and neither can we see infrared light.

Much research has been done on the effect of the sun’s ultraviolet light. It can cause premature ageing and increases the risk of skin cancers, hence the warnings to wear sunscreen to block those wavelengths from hitting the skin.

Until recent years, the effect of red and near infrared light, had been of less interest to medical science. It is now an area of increasing research, and the implications seem to be huge.

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