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.

LED light

Once LED lights became available, it was found that light in laser form was not magical or special. The key was the wavelength. Whether from a LED light or a laser, the wavelength in the red to near infrared range was the critical factor.

Lasers need to be handled carefully, as they can be dangerous, whereas LEDs are safe to use, and they can be easily made into a variety of wavelengths. LED development has been a game changer.

As research into lights continued, it was realised that the term Low Level Laser Therapy was problematic because:

  1. ‘Nobody had any idea exactly what “low-level” meant’. (Hamblin’s own words).
  2. LED lights were being used more and more in place of lasers.
  3. The discovery that, depending on the “dose”, red lights can have a positive effect and not so positive effect. (See the post on the Goldilocks effect).

In 2016, there was an international agreement to change the terminology.

Photobiomodulation (PBM)

The term LLLT was abandoned and the term Photobiomodulation was adopted. And of course, it was immediately abbreviated to PBM.

When you return to your search engine, you will find different articles pop up for “Photobiomodulation” and for “PBM”.

I’ll return to this article in future posts as it has more interesting stuff.

Public lectures in Melbourne – 1 July 2018

If you live close to Melbourne, you have a rare opportunity to hear two excellent lectures about the effects of red light on the head* for Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s Disease.

Who are the speakers:

Prof John Mitrofanis, University of Sydney and Prof Liisa Laakso, Griffith University

What are they talking about:

Prof John is giving an update on case studies of people with Parkinson’s Disease using red light hats on a daily basis.

Prof Liisa is presenting recent research evidence on the effects of red light in Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.

When:

Sunday 1st July, 2018

9.00 – 9.45 am – Prof Liisa

9.45 -10.30 am – Prof John

Where:

Workshop 1 & 2,

The Larwill Studio, Art Series Hotels, 48 Flemington Road, Parkville, Vic 3052. Map

Cost:

These two lectures are free to the public, but you will need to book as numbers are limited.

Book your seat:

Email: natalie.amla@outlook.com

Background:

These two public presentations have been coordinated by the Australian Medical Laser Association, AMLA, and is part of a two day conference called Photobiomodulation Therapy.

*The official term for red light on the head is PBMt, shorthand for trans-cranial photobiomodulation.

Elizas can be tweaked to suit

Here is a recently constructed Eliza, and a very fine job, too.

The standard design didn’t work for the head and neck of the new user. So the enterprising Eliza-maker did some creative tweaking to make it work.

If it is not comfortable, then don’t be afraid to tweak your Eliza.

Multi-purpose Eliza

Red light helps reduce painful joints.

The couple who made the first light hat from the blog instructions (more) reminded me that an Eliza (or in their case, a Daffodil) is more than just an item for use on the head.

Sore knees – put your feet up on the sofa, bring your heel towards your bottom and put your foot in a place that affords a comfortable bend to your knee. Then perch the Eliza on the top of your bended knee and let the light shine around the knee.

Sore toes and bunions – again, put your feet up on the bed or sofa, but this time perch the Eliza light hat over your offending foot.

Sore wrists and fingers – sit wherever you like, but put your hand in the bucket and let the red light shine on your hand.

If you use the red lights daily on sore parts of your anatomy, you will most likely find that the pain levels starts to recede. It’s the daily use that makes it work, so persist with it. Why put up with pain, if there is a way to reduce it without the use of medication.

This whole red light adventure started with a very painful and arthritic knee (more). I still use the lights daily on that knee. It is not acting like an arthritic knee, and I have long ceased using pain medication.

 

Red lights and sleep

We have had multiple separate reports about sleep improvements (usually from spouses) and there is an exciting consistency in these reports.

We are getting more reports about improvement in sleep for people with Parkinson’s Disease using red lights on a daily basis.

One Eliza-user has given permission for me to quote his wife’s description:

I have noticed a vast improvement in his sleep. Prior to him starting the light therapy, he was having very restless sleep at night. He was suffering insomnia and he often lashed out in very jerky uncontrolled movements during sleep. He now sleeps very soundly and the sudden uncontrolled movements have stopped completely. As a result he has more energy during the day.

We are particularly thrilled about his improved sleep as this not only impacted on him but also on me. His medication has not changed at all.”

REM sleep disorder is a well-known part of the Parkinson’s Disease progression; it is very disruptive and distressing for the individual and partner. It seems that the red lights have an effect on REM sleep, and somehow sooth it.

We have had multiple separate reports about sleep improvements (usually from spouses) and there is an exciting consistency in these reports. A soothing sleep is good for all.

 

Eliza dosage – when and how long?

A few people have asked how long a light hat should be worn.

A previous post about the Goldilocks Effect is really important to read, as it describes the research on the odd effect of too much red light.

More red light is not better – it can make things worse. Neurones are finicky fellows and we must respect this.

So how long should you wear an Eliza light hat, or any kind of red/near infrared light on the head? As everyone’s light hat is different, it is impossible to give absolutely firm advice. But based on what I’ve observed over the time of making many and varied light hats, I’d suggest the following considerations.

Continue reading “Eliza dosage – when and how long?”

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”