Photobiomodulation - light working wonders!

Prior to opening The Chiro Hub in 2018, we had a truly clear, strong, and distinct vision to provide an integrated and complete systems approach to medicine, health, and wellness. Once again, we are proud to announce the launch of an advanced technology in the form of 2 x 900 + 900 infrared-light emitting diode units. Our Platinum LED Biomax units are the absolute highest grade in their category.

There is compelling research with over 300 studies dedicated to LED red (studied for skin health) and near-infrared (used in joint pain studies) light therapy in just the last few years. There is no question that light exerts biological effects and has wide-ranging benefits needed for overall health and beyond. LED light therapy is the therapeutic science of utilizing these red and infrared light wavelengths to treat health conditions, without the problematic UVA and UVB rays that promote cancer and premature aging.

A quote from Harvard pioneer researcher Michael Hamblin, PhD, widely regarded as the world’s top authority on red and near-infrared light therapy:

“Low level laser therapy/PBM (Photobiomodulation) is more than an alternative kind of medical treatment. it is a whole new method to control cellular processes and modulate living organisms by precise alterations in the chemistry of biomolecules. PBP enables the contemporary clinician or therapist who holds a modern and multidisciplinary outlook to fight against diseases and other disorders in both humans and other animals. Moreover, is it a possible way to stimulate or inhibit many different biological processes that occur in most (if not all) different living creatures. It could be suggested that the photobiomodulation phenomenon is as old as life itself!”

Just as human cells need nutrients from food, light is also a necessary nutrient for our cells to function well. Certain wavelengths of light can help power up our cells, affect hormones and neurotransmitters, balance our mood, enhance physical performance, hasten recovery from stress, increase alertness, improve sleep and positively affect the expression of our genes.

Most of us are deeply unaware of the fact that many different types of light are “bioactive” in humans, and that our health is largely influenced by the dosage of these different types of light that we get each day.

There are 5 types of bioactive light in humans:

  1. Blue light – Sets the circadian rhythm in or brain, which in turn regulates numerous different neurotransmitters and hormones
  2. UV light – allows us to synthesize vitamin D from the sun
  3. Violet light – Acts to inhibit bacterial, parasitic & fungal organisms
  4. Far-Infrared light (used in infrared saunas) – Acts to heat up our cells (this is part of the suns spectrum that you feel as heat)
  5. Red Light – Acts on the mitochondria in our cells to stimulate increased cellular energy (ATP) production
  6. Near-Infrared light (NIR) – Acts on the same pathways as red light – particularly in the mitochondria in our cells to stimulate increased cellular energy (ATP) production.

Figure 1: the various wavelengths of light and their penetrative ability

We know that UV light affects us, for example – it works primarily by interacting with our skin and stimulating production of vitamin D. Blue light enters our eyes and feeds back into the circadian clock in our brain to regulate our 24-hour biological rhythm, including the complex array of hormones and neurotransmitters that are regulated by this circadian clock in our brain.

These mechanisms are well understood but what about Red/NIR light?

Let’s look at some key mechanisms in the way in which Red/NIR light therapy works:

Mechanism 1: Stimulating Mitochondrial energy production

The mitochondria are the life-yielding, energy yielding engines within the cells of all living things. Our mitochondria produce cellular energy in the form of ATP. Our bodies are constantly producing and using massive amounts of ATP in every cell in order to fuel every function in our body, from breathing to thinking to lifting a dumbbell. All tissues in our body contain mitochondria, including the brain, liver, skin, heart and muscles. However red blood cells DO NOT contain mitochondria and that is for a very good reason (beyond the scope of this blog). Basically, there are 4 steps within the cells that ultimately lead to the generation of ATP for the body to carry out its many functions:

  1. Glycolysis
  2. Pyruvate oxidation
  3. Krebs cycle
  4. Oxidative phosphorylation

It is the last step – oxidative phosphorylation upon whereby red light acts, eliciting all the MAGIC. The receptor that responds to red light during oxidative phosphorylation is called Cytochrome C oxidase. This light-absorbing compound is also known as a chromophore. Red light helps cytochrome C oxidase bind to oxygen driving the synthesis of many ATP molecules, which can then be used for the body area that demands it most.

Mechanism 2: Hormesis

Hormesis is the process by which a transient metabolic stressor stimulates adaptations that improve health. We must understand like all cells in our body, stress is inevitable, but we require just the right amount of stress to thrive and survive. The mitochondria get temporarily stressed in a way that causes them to send signals back to the nucleus of the cell (which contains your DNA) and these signals are literally used by the nucleus to determine what genes should be expressed. This is called “retrograde signaling”.

Mitochondria generate signals (based on environment) that signal back to the nucleus which genes to switch on and off! Transient increases in free radicals from red/NIR light activate NF-Kb, which promotes a very low inflammatory response. This engages the NFR2 pathway and the antioxidant response element (A.R.E.) – our internal cellular antioxidant defense system – that helps put out the fire by eliminating the inflammation and free radicals.

Essentially, red and near-infrared light “fires up” the engine of the cell, driving ATP production by the mitochondria. Improving the performance of mitochondria in the body improves the body’s overall performance and health. For a variety of reasons, our lives have changed so much over the last 200 years that we have substantially decreased the amount of natural light that we are exposed to. Photomodulation in a therapeutic setting, whilst not a replacement for natural sunlight, gives us a way to harness some specific wavelengths that are really important at helping restore our cellular and mitochondrial function, especially after we are bombarded by many other stressors throughout our regular day.

Near-infrared light therapy has been linked with a wide range of astonishing benefits including:

  • Immune modulatory effects (down regulates pro-inflammation and up-regulates anti-inflammation), decrease in the presence of inflammatory markers
  • Combats Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue
  • Improved blood glucose regulation and increased insulin sensitivity
  • Enhanced muscle gain, strength & endurance
  • Accelerated wound healing and improved appearance of hypertrophic scars
  • Spurred neurogenesis in the brain, strengthening synapses, spurred brain cell growth, treatment of traumatic brain injuries, recovery from spinal cord injuries
  • Prevention of cognitive decline
  • Improvement of skin firmness and elasticity via enhancement of collagen synthesis, production, and elastin production leading to improved health of connective tissue; improved skin texture and reduced fine lines and wrinkles
  • Improved symptoms around joint pain, arthritis and tendonitis
  • Reduced cellular oxidative stress and improved circulation
  • Improved eye health
  • Enhanced glandular health from the thyroid to the lymphatic system
  • Enhanced fertility and testosterone production
  • Activation of stem cells and increased tissue repair
  • Increased levels of melatonin
  • Increased metabolism
  • Mitigated effects of sleep deprivation
  • Enhanced athletic performance
  • Enhanced cardiovascular function

So how does Biomax compare to infrared saunas or lasers used in other clinics and what is the difference between infrared and near-infrared?

From a biological standpoint, both infrared and near-infrared wavelengths have very similar impacts at the cellular and mitochondrial level. The main difference is that the near-infrared wavelengths are much more effective at penetrating through deeper tissue.

The Biomax panels emit five powerful wavelengths of light, featuring red and near infrared spectral output utilizing a perfected blend of deep red light consisting of both 630nm wavelengths and 660nm alongside an optimized near-infrared blend of 810nm, 830nm and 850nm wavelengths. When delivered together, red and near-infrared light wavelengths render positive effects on the skin, metabolic processes, nervous system, endocrine system, and general immune system.

Whereas far-infrared, as used in saunas, primarily uses wavelengths longer than 3000nm - it is designed to heat tissue and is not as penetrative. As for low level laser therapy, although there is robust evidence for the deeper tissue benefits, the main issue with their use is that they are very limited in terms of treatment area and this will therefore have an overall limitation of benefits and applications. Although laser may deliver a single beam of light into the tissue deeper than an LED, LEDs are better equipped at delivering large amounts of energy into the body. With the use of Biomax, we are therefore able to irradiate and treat a much broader surface area without the risk of potentially overheating tissue, as is seen with lasers. Also, some of the initial broadband heat lamps that appeared on the market have now been discontinued. These heat lamps also emit mid-infrared and far-infrared wavelengths in addition to near-infrared wavelengths, but they generate significant heat. Standing too close to a heat lamp can be uncomfortably hot, whereby overheating never happens with LED lights.

What about Electromagnetic Fields (EMFs)?

All electronic devices emit EMFs. Following the strictest safety recommendations from Europe, it is advisable not to be exposed to more than 3mG (milligauss). For comparable reference, please note that your mobile phone emits much more than 3mG and a household blender emits upwards of 100mG - see the diagram below showing EMFs commonly found in the home.

Figure 2: EMF in the home

Platinum LED Biomax series lights produce the highest amount of irradiance of any other LED therapy light ever created – the most powerful ever - yet the internal construction of the lights has been improved and streamlined for complete EMF elimination. When measured from the BIOMAX 900, it has been shown that by being 6 inches away from the source, EMF drops to ZERO! Given this information, we have provided a protocol that ensures treatment strategies aimed at being 6”, 12”, 18”, 24” and/or 46” away from the light source.

In essence, all the therapeutic effects are received without concern for EMFs.

Image 1: Biomax 900 in action at The Chiro Hub

Photobiomodulation is not dissimilar to supplementation, as you would with nutritional therapeutics, and is now under consideration for classification as a ‘performance-enhancing drug’! Most of us simply cannot spend a substantial enough time outdoors to reap the benefits naturally. However, much like supplements or drugs that are utilized, it is difficult to know based on subjective feelings if something is working or not. For example, consider a statin drug that lowers cholesterol. Can you feel that it is working to lower your cholesterol? Not necessarily. You would only know by measurement of blood lipids that will show the effect after use. The same would apply here and there are many markers that can be tested (using our lab services) to show the effects that photobiomodulation produces over time, other than the immediate subjective results.

Overall, we are excited to offer infrared therapy as an advanced treatment at the forefront of the medical domain and look forward to presenting it to our clients as part of their treatment protocol!

Platinum Biomax infrared therapy is now available!  Click here to make an appointment or bookmark for later. As always, if you have any query regarding any of the information presented in our blogs, please don't hesitate to contact Dr Yazbek on (02) 9317 2288 or email yazbekchiro@gmail.com.