Shining Light in the Darkness
For centuries medical science seemed to be in some sort of “arms race” to find a silver bullet drug to treat every disease. With the discovery of antibiotics, we became enamored with the concept that diseases were simple processes with simple causes so we figured that we should be able to find a simple elegant solution to treat each condition. It just so happened that most people assumed the solution would be a drug.
Unfortunately, the successes that were found with this model in the treatment of infectious diseases didn’t translate to the treatment of chronic lifestyle-based diseases.
Instead, it turns out that the main killers today, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, stroke, autoimmune disease, and dementia are multi-factored conditions that require a holistic approach to cure. As mainstream medicine has continued to fail quite miserably in treating these conditions with symptom-based drugs, a new model of thinking has emerged. One that is focused on the lifestyle factors that interact with our genes to turn on the underlying processes that drive degenerative diseases.
Lifestyle driven functional medicine views the health of the body through a slightly different lens than purely conventional medicine. Instead of looking for symptom treatments that come at the end stages of the disease, we are focused on root cause treatments that solve fundamental imbalances in the body’s function. Many of these can be detected early on in the process of health decline.
This new model is shining a light on new solutions for the plagues of our day by refocusing us on the most basic environmental inputs into how our bodies function. We are learning more and more that when our genetics are in balance with the environment that they are suited for, simple interventions can have wide impact on multiple systems.
The Emergence of Light Therapy
One of the most powerful ways that our natural environment is designed to influence the body is through the effect of natural light. Of course, there is no way life could exist on this planet without the presence of our sun. The sun’s light is essential to life and it turns out that each part of the sun’s electromagnetic spectrum has a part to play.
All Types of Light Have Potent Effects
Most people are aware of the importance of the sun’s UV rays to stimulate our skin to create vitamin D. But what if I told you that wasn’t even half of it? One of the leading experts on the benefits of light therapy, Ari Whitten shared the following graphic on his website Turns out that every wavelength of light has an impact on our health in some way.
Previously we’ve highlighted the important role of UV light in stimulating Vitamin D production as well as the impact of blue light in setting a healthy circadian rhythm for the regulation of sleep and stress hormone health.
Far infrared light is often used as a powerful support for detoxification in infrared saunas like this great portable home unit that we love.
Red and Near-Infrared Light: The New Kid on the Block
The latest light wavelength to gain popular press has been red light and near-infrared light, and for good reason. Currently, there are over 3,000 peer-reviewed scientific studies that highlight the positive impact of these wavelengths of light.
It turns out that our cells have over a dozen mechanisms whereby they can transform light energy (photons) into chemical energy (the scientific name for this is photobiomodulation) and through these processes, we have learned that specific wavelengths of light have predictable effects on our tissues.
Key Benefits of Red and Near-Infrared Light Exposure
Some of the areas that have been studied include:
Improving Skin Health
Red and near-infrared light has the ability to cause an increase in the skin protein called collagen that can lessen the appearance of wrinkles, lighten sun-damaged skin and even lower local inflammation of the skin associated with acne and psoriasis.
Lowering Inflammation and Pain
Turns out that red and near-infrared light can cause a local release of endorphins, the body’s own pain-relieving substances as well as lower overall inflammation in the tissues. This is a fantastic therapy for those with chronic pain and fibromyalgia.
Improving Cellular Energy
Our cellular power factories called mitochondria have receptors for red and near-infrared light and these wavelengths of light trigger an increase in energy production, basically causing a more efficient production of energy in each cell.
Improving Repair and Growth
Because of the increased healthy function of the cells, red light and near-infrared light can speed healing of soft tissues like muscles, ligaments, and tendons as well as aid in muscle recovery after exercise and increased muscle growth. Research also shows that red and near-infrared light can speed the healing of bone.
Boosting Fat Loss
Another impact of red and near-infrared light wavelengths on the fat cells of the body. When fat cells are exposed to red and near-infrared light, there is a temporary alteration in the permeability of the cell membrane, causing the cells to empty their fatty acids into the space between the cells. The cells shrink in size and the fluid is then taken up by the lymphatic system to be metabolized as energy. Red light is the safest and simplest body contouring and skin healing modality available on the market. Coupling red light therapy with diet and exercise can literally double the effect of body fat loss and improve muscle health.
Improved Brain Health and Mood
Studies have shown that transcranial red and near-infrared light therapy can improve cognitive performance, increase executive function, improve attention span and short-term memory retrieval. Studies have also shown benefit in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
Improved Hormone Balance & Fertility
Millions of people suffer from diabetes and one of the main long-term outcomes for those people is foot ulcers due to poor blood flow to those areas. Red and near-infrared light can not only improve circulation to those areas but by increasing the energy available to those cells, they can return to normal function. In addition, red and near-infrared light can lower the stress hormone cortisol as well as sperm motility in men and therefore improve fertility.
IdealBody Light Therapy
Our office now offers one of the most powerful red and near-infrared light therapy devices available. This device has the capacity to treat nearly the entire body in one treatment session and utilizes flexible pads that can wrap directly over the areas that are being treated. This is a huge advantage over virtually all other devices on the market. Whether you are looking for healthier, younger-looking skin, losing some inches in weight, needing some relief from chronic or acute pain or any of the other effects listed above, please talk with one of our team for an initial consultation and trial of the IdealBody Light system.