Most of the time when you hear the news about health, it is usually about skin cancer, vitamin D or various ailments that plague us every day. But what is not commonly heard on the news is that light has a significant impact on health, ranging from dermatology to mental health. There is a world of good about the lights that are not known by all and sundry. This article addresses that as well as the numerous types of lights therapy that is used to treat various ailments.
Light therapy – which is sometimes referred to as phototherapy or heliotherapy – has to do with exposure to intense or concentrated levels of light but under conditions that are extremely controlled.
The lights you are exposed to could be daylight or certain wavelengths of using light-emitting diodes, lasers, fluorescent lamps, polychromatic polarized lights or dichroic lamps. It’s usually administered for a given amount of time and, in some case, at a particular time of the day.
It is usually employed in the treatment of numerous skin disorders such as acne vulgaris, psoriasis, neonatal jaundice, and eczema. Light therapy that strikes the eyes – i.e. the retina in particular – is used for the treatment of diabetic retinopathy.
The therapeutic level of illumination has been known to have several physiological effects, despite the uncertainty of the therapeutic mechanism. Melatonin is a light-sensitive hormone with abnormally high levels in the blood at specific times of the day but can be significantly reduced.
The internal clock of the human body controls the daily regularity of hormone secretion, the body’s temperature as well as sleep patterns. The time a bright light is presented can considerably shift or affect the body’s internal clock or even delay it.
It is believed that these physiological or biological time shifts from the root of the therapeutic response. It has also been known to intensify the day-night difference of these patterns.
In the lights of this, here are five types of lights therapy used in the treatment of various ailments:
Red Light Therapy
Red light therapy – also known as low-level light therapy (LLLT), photonic stimulation, photobiomodulation (PMB), lightbox therapy – makes use of specific wavelengths for the treatment of various conditions on the human skin.
According to scientific studies, different wavelengths affect the human body in numerous ways. This is why not all wavelengths have an impact on the human body.
It makes use of the most effective wavelengths which range from 630-670nm and 810-880nm.
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This particular wavelength of red light creates biochemical effects on cells within the human body and enhances mitochondrial function.
This leads to the significant improvement of adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production in the body. Every cell in the human body is powered by energy generated by ATP.
Without this organic chemical compound, we will not function at all. If there is a shortage of ATP in the body, we will not perform maximally.
The useful wavelengths utilized ranges from 630nm to 880nm and penetrate from 8-10mm into the skin. This significantly affects every layer of the skin and even reaches into lymph pathways, blood vessels, hair follicles, and blood vessels.
Benefits of Red Light Therapy
- Assists in the repair of sun damage
- It helps in the rejuvenation of facial skin and smooths out skin tone
- It activates the lymphatic system for improved detoxification
- It minimizes inflammation in the human skin
- It is beneficial for the skin to reduce acne, rosacea, and eczema
- It is useful for preventing recurring herpes simplex or cold sores
- It helps in fading out stretch marks and scars
- It encourages the development of elastin and collagen in the skin to minimize wrinkles
- It reverses balding by stimulating hair growth
- Reduces pore size
Blue Light Therapy
This is another type of phototherapy that is non-invasive, FDA-approved, and used for treating acne vulgaris or kill off bacteria on your skin. It is a procedure that can be carried out inside the office of a dermatologist.
It makes use of the blue wavelength range of lights to destroy bacteria P., acne or Propionibacterium acnes on the human skin. The treatment has negligible adverse effects and little to no recovery time.
The American Academy of Dermatology has stated that therapies show significant promise in the treatment of acne since a lot of people has experienced remarkable improvements in the health of their skin after a few sessions. However, the Academy still warns that phototherapy alone cannot clear up acne on the skin.
It shows some benefits over other forms of acne treatment since it is believed to be:
- Gentle and safe
- Suitable for every area of the human body
- Appropriate for use with other forms of acne therapies.
It does not cause scarring and does not require staying out of the sun after treatment.
It has also been employed in the treatment of:
- Mood disorders
- Skin cancer
- Sleep disorders, etc.
In-office treatments are usually carried out about eight times over a period of four weeks. Every session lasts from fifteen to thirty minutes, and this depends mainly on how severe the acne is as well as the size of the target or treated areas on the human body.
If it is utilized by a professional, it is not known to stimulate any severe long-term effects on the skin. Nevertheless, you could experience a few and minor unpleasant effects such as:
- Dry skin
If you have porphyria – a rare blood condition or disorder that stimulates and enhances sensitivity, then you should not undergo blue light therapy. It should also be avoided by individuals who are allergic to porphyrins and lupus.
Infrared Light Therapy
It involves the use of infrared radiation emitted from heat lamps. They are devices that radiate heat to stimulate different biological effects like increased oxygen usage and enzymatic rates as well as dissociation. It is a procedure that is painless and non-invasive.
It is also known to elicit increased circulatory and metabolic rates, and this occurs using a heat-emitting or infrared bulb. A case in point is when it is applied on a sore muscle. When an infrared lid is beamed on a sore muscle, it increases circulation, thus aiding the human body in getting rid of metabolic wastes which have previously accumulated in the muscle.
Infrared radiation comes in various types and is applied based on the issue at hand or the ailment, the wavelengths and strengths. Infrared rays (frequency 430 THz, 700nm-1,050nm) are also employed in the NICU for warming babies.
It may surprise you to know that the human body also gives off infrared radiation and this was the basis for the development of infrared imaging. Infrared imaging helps in pinpointing the areas of the human body that appears to be warmer than is usual which could be a sign of cancer.
Malignant tumors or cancer usually have lots of blood vessels than is typically found in normal body tissue. This implies that they have more blood in them at any point in time than the tissues in the surrounding regions. It is this large amount of blood that radiates more heat than is usual, thus making it easy for infrared imaging devices to detect.
Red or white spots on the image indicate areas that are hot while blue or black signifies the coolest areas.
Benefits of Infrared Light Therapy
- Long lasting pain relief in joints, muscles, and nerves
- Reduces body fat by breaking fat cells
- Boosts cancer healing and immunity
- Instrumental in raising low body temperature
- Assists in the healing of chronic wounds
- Helps in lowering blood pressure
- Aids in relieving peripheral neuropathy
- Eliminates sleep problems and offers relief from stress
UV Light Therapy
It was discovered almost right after the discovery and use of heat (infrared) lamps. It was a breakthrough at the time since by turning on a UV light bulb, a sample of blood or wound could be decontaminated of any unwanted chemicals or organisms.
Additionally, different wavelengths of UV light could also be used for stabilizing protein changes which made it possible to store plasma in blood banks for a much more extended period.
The varying wavelengths can also be applied in a variety of ways. For instance, when the wavelengths decrease, the radiation gains more energy and power. This brings it closer to becoming an X-ray as against UV radiation.
UV radiation lamps are also employed in the food industry to sterilize or purify foods before packaging or canning it. However, if over-exposure occurs, the resulting high amounts of energy emitted by UV radiation could end up being harmful.
Benefits of UV Light Therapy
It can be employed in the treatment of the following skin conditions:
- Atopic dermatitis
- Cutaneous T-cell lymphoma
- Whiteheads, breakouts, blackheads, blemishes or acne vulgaris
- Jaundice in newborn babies
- Destroys bacterial, fungal, viral, and yeast growth
- Dilates blood vessels to improve circulation
- Boosts the ability of the human body to detoxify
- Enhances the absorption of oxygen into body tissues
- Improves the immune system
It is also employed in slowing down the overgrowth of some particular skin cells as well as altering the function or operation of the immune system which helps in the improvement of wounds and skin conditions for complete healing.
Full Spectrum Light Therapy (for SAD Therapy)
During winter and fall months, sunlight tends to be relatively scarce, especially in the north of the equator. This causes a lot of people to start suffering from Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). The lack of sunlight creates an imbalance in the chemistry that occurs in the human brain, thus making people feel lethargic and depressed. One of the most effective procedures for the treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is Full Spectrum Therapy.
It mimics natural sunlight. To enjoy the full benefits of this form of treatment, users purchase SAD Light Box and spend some time in front of it for about thirty minutes every day.
You are expected to sit in front of the SAD Box with your eyes wide open because eye exposure is believed to be superior to skin exposure. Bright lights are more effective than dim lights, meaning that morning light has distinct benefits for many people. The full spectrum lights emanating from the SAD light boxes maintain the levels of Serotonin and Melatonin in the human brain at equilibrium, thus enabling sufferers of SAD to become normal again.
According to numerous studies carried out on the efficacy of full spectrum therapy, users can begin to enjoy the benefits of the procedure from forty-eight hours to two weeks after the commencement of daily treatment.
Benefits of Full Spectrum Light Therapy
- Improves one’s mood
- Enhances color perception
- Boosts mental awareness
- Improves the synthesis of vitamin D in the human body
- Minimizes dental decay incidences
- Enhances productivity
- Perfects the result of therapy in the treatment of SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder)
- Enhances visual clarity
- Improves the results obtained in the treatment of sleep disorders
People with mental anxiety respond more positively to Full Spectrum therapy than people with somatic anxiety.
Scientists have also discovered that Full Spectrum therapy is significantly more effective than synthetic drugs. Prescription drugs have undesirable side effects which can take from two to six weeks before users feel any form of relief.
Light therapy is FDA-approved and therefore certified safe for use, especially if placed under the supervision or control of accredited specialists. This is because it requires a lot of supervision and monitoring so that the intensity, amount, as well as the frequency, can be adjusted and measured easily.
It is safe for patients across all age ranges; therefore, if you think it is for you, then consult your physician to help you find out the accredited clinics in your area where the procedure can be done for you. It’s the best alternative for people who don’t like scalpels or needles.