The Complete Guide to Photobiomodulation for Your Whole Body
Photobiomodulaiton has a wide variety of applications for the entire body, from treating skin abrasions to resolving inflammation deep in the body. There’s a lot photobiomodulation can do, so we’ve compiled a list of some of the most common and emerging ways to utilize red and near-infrared light therapies.
Photobiomodulation At A Glance
Photobiomodulation, also referred to as photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT), is a type of light therapy that utilizes red light to target chromophores in cellular mitochondria. As the “powerhouse of the cell,” mitochondria are cellular organelles responsible for energy production. These structures break down nutrients and turn them into the organic compound used to provide cellular energy, adenosine triphosphate (ATP).
When photobiomodulation is applied, red and near-infrared light is absorbed by the mitochondria, they’re able to increase the production of ATP, boosting energy transport within our cells and causing increased cellular proliferation, whereby new cells device and replace damaged or dead cells. So when used on damaged tissues, photobiomodulation helps increase the body’s natural healing process.
How Photobiomodulation Benefits Your Whole Body
At TheraLight, we’ve developed photobiomodulation devices with advanced LED technology for the whole body. There’s a lot of ways PBMT can help you feel and look your best, inside and out. We’ve broken down some of the ways PBMT helps the different parts of your body:
Skin Care & Beauty
PBMT helps with a variety of skin concerns, like sun damage, wrinkles, and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (dark spots). The main way PBMT helps repair and regenerate youthful skin is through an increased production of collagen, which is the hemi protein that makes up the majority of our extracellular matrix (the substance our cells float in). Collagen provides structure and bounce to our skin, and many skin concerns happen when collagen has been compromised. For example, as collagen production drops off when we age, our skin gradually loses elasticity, causing wrinkles.
PBMT can reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles by naturally boosting collagen production in the body. When it comes to sun damage, PBMT can be used as part of a targeted photodynamic therapy to remove actinic keratosis patches, rough scaly patches of skin caused by too much sun exposure.
For dark spots, often left behind by scratches, scrapes, stretch marks, and even cystic acne, PBMT helps resolve these temporary blemishes by increasing the supply of inflammatory mediators to resolve inflammation more quickly. Additionally, boosted collagen production helps rebuild the extracellular matrix and prevent the formation of a scar. Beyond resolving dark spots, PBMT can be used to reduce the appearance of existing scars through repairing the extracellular matrix.
Additionally, photobiomodulation has been shown to promote hair growth in the early stages of hair loss. Boosted circulation from PBMT improves blood flow to the scalp and assists in repairing damaged cells and supplying nutrients to encourage hair growth.
The Brain: Self-Care, Sleep & Mood, TBI Research
Our brains are complex organs, and they can be affected by our environment, our habits and experiences, and trauma from sports or accidents. PBMT has been studied for its effects on the brain in a variety of cases, including correcting circadian rhythms, effects on mood, and its effects on patients with traumatic brain injuries (TBI).
Because PBMT uses red light, having treatments later in the day can help with improving the sleep cycle. We spend much of our time under artificial light, and specifically blue light, which closely mimics sunlight and can trick our bodies into staying awake longer. The red hue of light from PBMT, similar to the dimming light at sunset, helps the brain wind down and get ready for rest.
Prolonged stress is a major factor in the development of many health concerns, from mental health concerns to the development of serious conditions like hypertension and even cancer. So managing stress through effective self care is important for our overall health. PBMT can be a part of self care, as self care is ultimately making decisions to do good things for yourself and your body. PBMT has also been shown to help reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety.
Traumatic brain injuries are serious injuries with lasting complications, even from minor concussions—remember that even a minor concussion is a serious medical injury. These complications include impacts on many of our brain’s functions, like cognitive capabilities, and many individuals develop depression following a TBI, as well as chronic headaches. PBMT has been studied for its effects on TBI patients because of its impact on the electron transport chain (ETC). Studies of PBMT with TBI patients showed reduction of headache frequency, improved sleep, and improved cognitive states.
Muscles & Joints: Exercise & Sports Performance
You may have seen red light therapy offered at your local gym—that’s because PBMT is great for helping athletes and beginner fitness enthusiasts alike with their workouts. PBMT used before a workout session can help warm up muscles through vasodilation, or temporarily increasing circulation. Properly warmed muscles and joints before getting into the high intensity of a workout is important to prevent injury.
Additionally, PBMT can be used after a workout to help prevent delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), or the soreness you feel the next day after a challenging workout. New studies have shown that DOMS is caused by very small tears in muscle fibers instead of a build up of lactic acid, as previously thought. PBMT helps instigate our body’s natural healing cycle after a workout to start repairing this damage and reduce the pain and inflammation they cause.
Chronic Inflammation & Oxidative Stress
Inflammation is a natural part of the body’s immune response, and usually it’s not harmful. Redness around a healing cut, for example, is a type of inflammation. But what happens when a part of your body becomes inflamed? The inflammatory stage increases production of white blood cells and other materials, and they’re rushed to the damaged area to fight infection, remove waste products, and initiate repair. Most of the time, inflammation helps protect and repair the body and resolves on its own.
The problem with inflammation is when it’s initiated incorrectly, such as from an autoimmune disease, or inflammation is prolonged, such as from a chronic joint disease. In these cases, inflammation can attack healthy cells, or it can cause damage instead of repair it. PBMT can be used in many of these situations to help resolve inflammation and repair damage, like for those struggling with arthritis, tendonitis, or an acute joint or muscle injury.
Additionally, PBMT can be used to treat inflammation caused by oxidative stress, which is damage caused by environmental factors or lifestyles that results in an imbalance of antioxidants and damaging free radicals. PBMT can initiate the repair of tissue and even prevent programmed cellular death caused by oxidative stress. As many of the factors causing excess free radicals, like pollution, ozone, and certain chemicals and pesticides, can be out of our control, PBMT is helpful in controlling oxidative stress.
In addition to the wide range of applications, photobiomodulation therapy is also painless with minimal side effects. Treatments generally take between three and 15 minutes, making them a quick addition to workout or wellness visit. You can read more about what to expect from a photobiomodulation therapy treatment in our article here.
TheraLight’s innovative light beds offer complete whole body photobiomodulation with four wavelengths to customize treatment protocols uniquely to each individual. Our light beds are effective for every body, regardless of skin tone, and there are over 100 locations offering TheraLight photobiomodulation services worldwide. Click the link below to find a TheraLight provider near you.