Did you know light therapy has been used as a medical treatment as far back as 1895 when it was developed by Danish physician Niels Ryberg Finsen to treat lupus vulgaris, a type of tuberculosis? He even received a Nobel Prize of Medicine in 1903 for his innovation. While more modern versions of light therapy have been around since the 80s, and studies have shown its numerous benefits, many are still unaware of the power of light as a healing modality.
Benefits of Light Therapy
If you suffer from chronic pain or decreased circulation, you may experience beneficial results from the use of polychromatic light therapy (PLT). PLT pads are designed to target specific areas of concern, such as:
- Joint pain: neck, back, knuckles, elbow, knee, wrist
- Inflammation and swelling
- Muscle spasms
- Bone fractures
- Non-healing wounds
- Peripheral neuropathy
- Tight muscles
- Mood Disorders
- Skin conditions
What is polychromatic light therapy?
Polychromatic light therapy is the use of two or more wavelengths of colored light at the same time, which are provided by light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Researchers call the biological effects of PLT on the body photobiomodulation (PBM).
Photo = light
Bio = biology
Modulation = change
Light is composed of photons, which are quantum units of energy. Various wavelengths of light penetrate our tissue at different depths and are absorbed by the cells to assist in the production of ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is the energy required for cells to repair and regenerate. Light near the blue end of the spectrum penetrates 2-3mm. Light near the red end of the spectrum penetrates 8-10mm. Near-infrared light penetrates 20-100mm, which is almost four inches.
But How Does It Actually Work?
To understand how light therapy works, we have to get a little bit technical. But to state it simply first, light—whether from the sun or from a device—is absorbed by the skin and catalyzes changes at the cellular level that stimulate healing. Our cells need light to optimally function, which means our bodies need light for optimal health.
Now to get to the technical part, when light is applied to the body, it stimulates the release of nitric oxide from hemoglobin into the bloodstream. Then when nitric oxide is released from hemoglobin, it enters the muscle cells and walls of the blood vessels. This triggers the muscle cells to relax and the blood vessels to dilate, which allows more blood to flow through.
Elevating nitric oxide levels in the body offers numerous benefits, such as anti-inflammation, tissue regeneration, pain reduction, increased oxygenation, and enhanced circulation when light therapy is applied to a particular site. Essentially, light therapy results in beneficial chemical reactions throughout damaged nerve cells that stimulate healing via increased blood flow. And improved circulation (i.e., blood flow) is one of the most vital components of the healing process.