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Light Therapy

Posted by Dorothy on 6/22/04 at 10:13 (153694)

I've posted this before, I think, but here it is again in response to some recent discussion of 'light therapy'. This is from a popular-press publication, not a medical journal, but it gives a layperson's introduction to this. Hope it is useful to someone (was Marty asking??).

Health: Shining A Light On Pain

Therapeutic LEDs use light to penetrate deep into tissues and boost the body's own natural healing processes

By Anne Underwood
NEWSWEEK INTERNATIONAL

April 14 issue The marine's voice had an edge of urgency. As he explained to physical therapist Ben Freeman of Castle Rock, Colorado, in January, his unit was about to ship out to war. But his upper back was so sore that he was hardly in fighting trim.
HE HAD TRIED all the usual remedies chiropractic, massage, electric stimulation. But he had never seen anything like the eight-inch black plastic disk Freeman had on his shelf. The device, from a company called Light-Force-Therapy, bristled with 192 red and infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Freeman placed the device directly on his back for 15 minutes and then physically manipulated his neck and shoulders for another 15. The Marine came back four days later for more. In just two half-hour sessions, he noticed more improvement than he had in three years of other therapies.
Light can heal. The ancient Greeks knew that. They put sick patients in the sun to aid the curative process. But modern technology has dramatically increased the possibilities, giving us lasers and light- activated drugs. Therapeutic LEDs, the latest addition to the list, use light to penetrate deep into tissues and boost the body's own natural healing processes. Studies are showing that these new devices can help ease chronic pain, speed wound healing and prevent acute mouth ulcers in certain cancer patients. Even the U.S. Defense Department and NASA are studying LEDs as potential aids to healing injuries on the battlefield and in outer space. And plans are in the works to introduce the technology, patented in at least nine European countries, to the U.K. later this year.
Unlike the LEDs in your digital clock, these devices use just one or two wavelengths of (visible) red or (invisible) infrared light that have been selected for their therapeutic properties. Dr. Harry Whelan, professor of neurology at the Medical College of Wisconsin, has shown that a specific red wavelength boosts a key energy-producing enzyme in cells. In one published study, he found that LEDs developed for NASA sped wound healing in a U.S. Navy submarine crew by 50 percent. Other researchers have shown that certain infrared wavelengths stimulate the release of nitric oxide in blood vessels, causing them to dilate. This, in turn, increases circulation to a wounded area, improving delivery of oxygen and nutrients and the removal of wastes. That may be why LEDs seem to relieve ailments from muscle strains to shin splints.
LED devices may even help reverse diabetic peripheral neuropathy, or nerve impairment in the limbs long thought to be irreversible. In a study last year in the Journal of the American Podiatric Medical Association, doctors treated 49 subjects with an infrared-only LED device from Anodyne Therapy LLC. After just six 30-minute sessions, 48 of the patients showed improvement. Similarly, says Denver podiatrist Dale H. Carnegie, one of the study's authors, the Anodyne device can help heal diabetic foot ulcers. Ultimately, he says, this could spare patients with diabetes from having limbs amputated.

For several hundred dollars, companies like BioScan and Light-Force-Therapy sell LED home units over their Web sites (bioscanlight.com and light-force-therapy.com). Home units are fine for minor aches and sprains. But for serious conditions, consult a doctor or therapist. Anodyne's Web site (anodynetherapy.com) posts recent medical studies on the subject. Let there be light.

2003 Newsweek, Inc.

Re: Light Therapy

john h on 6/22/04 at 11:52 (153702)

Dorothy you probably remember my post last year where I purchased an anodyne light led device that was used much like a heating pad. I used both on my back and feet. It did provide deep and fast heat but after 30 days I did not find any benefit so I returned it under their money back guarantee. I think it cost around $250. This is not to say it will not help someone else it just did not help me. I think this one was manufactured in Canada and FDA approved. Many health stores seem to sell them. My understanding is one needs to use it for at least 30 days to receive any benefit. It would seem to me it would treat the symptoms but not the problem. So many of things we do are treating the symptoms but may not be addressing the problem. For example if you have bad biomechanics unless you correct that problem you will continue to suffer..

Re: Light Therapy

Dorothy on 6/23/04 at 00:23 (153740)

We seem to have this same discussion periodically and you and I seem to say the same things - so, ok, I will say it again because I like YOUR posts! The anodyne version would likely be more expensive, but the more commonly available version is the Light Force Therapy one and it commonly sells for about $199.00 and has a full-year guarantee, with returns/no questions asked. From what I have read, you are correct that these methods don't work for everybody. I'm really not knowledgable enough to say whether your statement 'we are treating the symptoms, but..not the problem...' is right - but here is what I have read in many places about the light therapy. It stimulates the body's production of nitric oxide and nitric oxide causes blood vessels to dilate, increasing circulation and facilitating healing and greater sensation (in the case of neuropathy). By the way, supposedly there are great benefits of the same type to be gained from using a very specialized type of sauna with (I think it is) near-infrared light - same mechanism re. nitric oxide. I love a good sauna experience anyway so wouldn't that be neat - to get healed! in one? Reminder: I am NOT a doctor. I am a (on this message board, occasionally, but not really) herpetologist!! Now how about them snakes!