Brain & Nerve Health
How does RLT help?
There appears to be neuroprotective effects of laser and light-emitting diodes (LED) in diverse neurological conditions, such as traumatic brain injury (TBI), ischemic stroke, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, as well as age-related cognitive decline. Besides these therapeutic effects at the molecular level, there is also considerable evidence of changes occurring at the behavioral level such as cognitive enhancement, antidepressant effects, and improved sleep.
How does this improve my health & wellness?
The brain, along with the heart and muscle, are the tissues with the greatest mitochondrial density. Mitochondria, which are extremely important for our health, longevity and energy production, respond exceptionally well to red/NIR light. Thus, the brain and overall cognitive function (i.e. Alzheimer's disease) has a great capacity to heal with RLT.
It is believed that impaired cerebral vascular perfusion is the one of the first manifestations of most brain disorders. RLT can increase the neuronal nitric oxide content, increase the vessel diameter, and improve cerebral blood flow (CBF). Therefore, it could be considered that RLT of specific areas of the brain potentially affects regional CBF.
Neuroinflammation is one of the crucial pathophysiological findings in brain disorders, which is chiefly mediated by activated microglial cells (microglial cells remove damaged neurons and infections and are important for maintaining the health of the CNS). RLT reduces pro-inflammatory cytokines via inhibition of various signaling pathways, resulting in attenuation of inflammatory reactions. Evidence supports the idea that the anti-inflammatory effects of brain RLT may at least partly be due to its ability to modulate microglial activity and a subsequent decrease in inflammatory mediators.
A wide range of neurological and psychological disorders affects various cerebral structures. Recent clinical brain RLT studies have been focused on conditions such as Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), Parkinson’s Disease (PD), traumatic brain injury (TBI), and ischemic stroke as well as major depressive disorder (MDD).
AD: significant improvements in sleep quality, mood states, EEG patterns, as well as improved cognitive function including memory and attention have been obtained as a consequence of NIR RLT
PD: In the only study in PD patients, improved motor and cognitive functions has been reported following 2 weeks of trans-cranial RLT
TBI: transcranial LED RLT (633/ 870 nm) improved self-awareness, self-regulation in social functioning and sleep quality.
Stroke: an effort has been made in occasional studies to show neuroprotective or neuroreparative effects of RLT in chronic stroke patients via transcranial and multiple area irradiation methods.
Depression: MDD patients showed that a single session of LED therapy alleviated depression and anxiety symptoms (Hamilton scales) at 2 weeks post-irradiation. A study also revealed that transcranial laser therapy delivered to the right forehead was more effective for alleviation of depression symptoms than PBM to the left forehead, and this observation may suggest a brain area-dependent effect of PBM in MDD patients.
Like the brain, the nerves benefit from enhanced mitochondrial function that helps improve energy production. This increased energy leads to accelerated regeneration of injured peripheral nerves along with improved axonal number and distance of nerve axon regrowth.
What does the research show?
"Transcranial laser therapy (TLT) showed an increase in ATP levels, mitochondrial function, and c-fos suggesting an overall improvement in neurological function. These studies suggest that TLT is a potential candidate for treatment of Alzheimers disease.” (1)
"This treatment (near-infrared light) also significantly reduced dopaminergic neuronal loss in the injected substantia nigra and preserved dopaminergic fibers in the ipsilateral striatum. These beneficial effects were sustained for at least 6 weeks after discontinuing the treatment. Together, our data point to photobiomodulation as a possible therapeutic strategy for the treatment of Parkinson's Disease and other related synucleinopathies." (2)
"Transcranial LLLT has been shown to significantly improve outcome in acute human stroke patients when applied approximately 18 hours after the stroke occurs over the entire surface of the head, regardless of the stroke location." (3)
"These results suggest that LLLT could be applied in cases of general cognitive impairment in elderly persons." (4)
"Roch-kind et. al. demonstrated that LLLT applied simultaneously to the injured sciatic nerve and the corresponding segment of the spinal cord accelerates the process of regeneration of the injured peripheral nerve." (5)
"Light therapy significantly improved the average length of axonal regrowth and increased the total axon number. These results suggest that light may be a promising therapy for human spinal cord injury." (6)
**While the current scientific research seems to indicate many positive benefits of RLT in relation to brain and nerve health, there is still an appreciable necessity for more extensive research to be conducted in this area, including double-blind RCT (randomized controlled trials), to provide a more comprehensive, robust overview that will further elucidate the optimal parameters and appropriate uses of RLT, which will ultimately lead the most safe and efficacious uses for individuals dealing with brain and nerve disorders.