Is LED Therapy Effective? Yes. Yes it Is. (study summary)



won-serk Kim, R Glen Calderhead

Laser Therapy
September 22, 2011


This study is a literature review of red and infrared photobiomodulation (previously known as low level laser therapy or low level light therapy (LLLT). It describes the method of action and therapeutic uses for LED delivered red and infrared wavelengths.


LEDs and Laser Photon Delivery

Medical practitioners can now use LED Photobiomodulation (PBM) as effectively as laser therapy.

The LED energy is equivalent to laser doses without the laser side effects.


LEDs and Laser Photon Delivery

Medical practitioners can now use LED Photobiomodulation (PBM) as effectively as laser therapy.

The LED energy is equivalent to laser doses without the laser side effects.

LED is Safer than Laser Photon Delivery

Each body area can absorb only so much photonic energy. Doses higher than the maximum can be useless or harmful.

LED arrays can deliver photons to larger body areas than lasers. The result is that the body absorbs more photonic at a time.

LEDs provide less energy than lasers, but through interference and scattering, they deliver the same dosage as lasers do.

Lasers can blind and burn the user. LEDs are safe for eyes and skin.

LEDs Provide Light Without Heat

Laser light beam convergence produces powerful beams of great intensity and heat. The heat was a side effect and not part of the therapeutic process.

Previous generation LEDs were weak by comparison. They did not deliver enough energy to penetrate the skin.

Researchers first thought LED would not have therapeutic results because LED could not attain the same power levels. NASA’s “photon interference” process allowed for the creation of powerful LEDs that achieve therapeutic power levels through two phenomena.

First, researchers created LED interference patterns. These patterns consolidated photons onto the target area, increasing the energy to a penetration level.

Second, red and infrared wavelengths have beneficial scattering patterns under the receiving tissue that coincidentally consolidates the photonic energy in a therapeutic way.

These discoveries allowed researchers to create a new generation of LED light delivery devices that equaled laser delivery without producing laser’s thermal side effects.

A great advantage of LED over laser is that it can generate the bio effects without heating the tissue.

Both lasers and LED PBM create the same cellular reactions.

In both cases, the cells absorb the photons. The process induces intracellular messaging. The messaging leads to the desired biochemical, bioelectric, and bioenergetic responses.

New LED technology and traditional lasers create the same biological responses.

Biochemical Photobiomodulation Benefits

increased ATP
Increased adenosine triphosphate equates to increased energy transfer.
released NO
Nitric oxide is a vasodilator, so this response decreases the effects of atherosclerosis.
very low ROS
The reactive oxygen species are oxidants that cause inflammation and disease. Other therapies (chemotherapy being the most violent) produce high ROS and damage. PBM produces a very low level of ROS.
collagen and elastin synthesis
Collagen and elastin production increases the health of the body’s connective tissues, so it is a healthy response for ligaments, tendons, and skin.
chemokine and trophic factor release
These proteins increase intracellular messaging.
FGF release
Fibroblast growth factors are proteins responsible for growth and healing.
epidermis and dermis cytokine release
Skin treatment increases immunity protein and signaling cells.
endorphin, dynorphin and enkephalin increase
These hormones decrease pain messages.
RNA and DNA synthesis
RNA and DNA synthesis increases protein production.
enzyme production
Enzyme production increases protein production
SOD production
Superoxide dismutase disarms free radicals and so reduces their destruction.

Bioelectric Photobiomodulation Benefits

electromotive transport increase
The increased ion exchange helps reduce oxidants.
intra and extra cellular ion gradient changes
Dr. Jerry Tenant theorizes that raising cell voltage potential heals the body. (Healing is Voltage, the Handbook)
synaptic gate closure
This action increases signal transmission.
pain transmission slows
Therapy decreases pain transmission by decreasing bradykinin (pain transmitter).


Bioenergetic Photobiomodulation Benefits

membrane molecule electrons rotational and vibrational changes
Study authors do not give enough information about this process’ therapeutic benefit.
simulation of acupuncture treatment at meridian locations
One can use red and infrared light to stimulate acupuncture healing benefits.
increased biophtonic activity
This is not as much a benefit as it is a description. The photons penetrate or move the cellular membranes.


Red and Infrared Light Absorption Mechanisms

Cytochrome-c oxidase (CCO) is the last enzyme in the mitochondrial respiratory chain. It induces adenosine triphosphate (ATP), which powers the body. CCO absorbs red light, ultimately increasing ATP. Red light absorption is a photochemical reaction.

Infrared light creates a photophysical reaction in the cell membrane. The movement induces membrane transport mechanisms. The rest of the ATP benefits are the same, but the infrared light does not rely on CCO absorption of the photons.

Science-Backed Photobiomodulation Therapies

Red and infrared frequencies produce different results. Certain wavelengths within each range have especially therapeutic qualities.

The study authors give examples of Photobiomodulation successes.

They found that 830 nm, 60 J/cm^2 continuous wave phototherapy enhanced healing of wounds, dermatitis, cellulitis, and rosacea.

They also found a combination of 415 nm and 633 nm (dose not provided) reduced inflammatory acne.

Optimum Treatment Parameters

Proper phototherapy application requires three types of compliance: wavelength (frequency), intensity, and dose.

Frequencies from 415 nm to 830 nm show consistent healing results. However, not all frequencies within that range will result in a positive response. The cell movement or cell photon absorption must resonate at the target frequency.

Photon intensity (spectral irradiance) (power density) (W/cm^2) must be correct. Power must be neither too high nor too low. Low power does not create a response. Too much power transforms to heat.

Dose (fluence) (J/cm^2) must also be correct, neither too high nor too low. A low dose is not bioactive. A high dose reverses the therapeutic response.

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