Now I know what you’re thinking… why would I stick a light up my nose, Dr. Jill? Strange sounding, for sure, but hear me out. There’s tons of research suggesting that light stimulation of the capillaries and cells through your nasal pathways and into your hippocampus has the ability to introduce light energy to your body in an innovative and noninvasive way. And the further you dig on the subject of photobiomodulation, the more surprised you’ll be by the interesting and promising research on the benefits of intranasal light therapy.
What is intranasal light therapy (intranasal photobiomodulation)?
The device is both an electroencephalogram (EEG) and a photostimulation tool, called a VieLight.
The treatment is where an infrared light device is placed on your head and in the nasal pathway and an electromagnetic radiation of 700-1400 nanometers is emitted (the VieLight is closer to 800 nm).
The device has four light emitting diodes that rest on top of your head. These diodes are meant to be pointed at certain regions of your brain and are kept in place with a wire frame.
Then there’s the intranasal portion, which is designed to target your hippocampus – the horseshoe-shaped portion of your brain responsible for your memory, emotions, and autonomic nervous system.
This is a completely painless process (though you do look a little funny) that takes anywhere from 20 to 25 minutes. It’s recommended that you do this once in the morning and once at night.
While this may sound Sci-Fi-y, it really isn’t.
Biological reactions to light have long been studied.
Consider the significance of sunlight on our skin. Sunlight has the distinct impact on your body’s ability to take cholesterol and turn it into vitamin D using liver enzymes.
Your body is more than just physical matter, it’s also energy. Light is part of your environment and it directly impacts our health. And the study of infrared light technology has proven to improve health in many different ways, and I have a feeling this is just the beginning.
Let’s take a closer look at what this infrared light is doing in your body and how it works.
How does intranasal photobiomodulation work?
The near-infrared light stimulates your mitochondria (your energy factories of your cells) in your neurons. The mitochondria in your neurons then increase enzymes, oxygen, and ultimately energy activity. This activity then encourages a boost in ATP (your body’s main energy carrier) which is needed in most bodily functions. This initial release of ATP then works in other beneficial ways.
We can break down the way photobiomodulation works into three major ways.
1. First, your mitochondria absorbs infrared light energy. The mitochondria then takes that light energy and converts it into ATP (the energy carrier).
2. Photobiomodulation also causes mild oxidants to be created, which captures free radicals and encourages cellular repair and healing.
3. Finally, the light treatment’s impact on your mitochondria releases nitric oxide. Nitric oxide is an important chemical used by your cells to communicate with one another, a key signaling molecule. Nitric oxide also dilates your blood vessels and improves circulation while playing an important role in maintaining healthy blood pressure levels and keeping your arteries relaxed.
These three mechanisms are the key to the healing power of intranasal light therapy. Light therapy is extra fascinating because unlike chemical treatments, like pharmaceuticals, it encourages your body to heal itself. Photobiomodulation literally gives your brain a boost.
Give yourself a boost in brain power (and more!)
These three mechanisms all increase your brain energy. Intranasal photobiomodulation devices stimulate the brain’s highest frequency – the gamma frequency. When your brain is operating at the gamma frequency, your brain waves are extremely fast and this is often associated with conscious perception, thinking, and problem solving.
It’s through the energizing ability of the intranasal device that patients often experience benefits, such as:
An immune system boost
Fighting free radicals
Improving cognitive performance
Lowering blood pressure
Reducing cholesterol and triglycerides
Speeding up stroke recovery (and probably other recoveries as well)
Photobiomodulation has promising benefits in a variety of areas of health, making it worth a closer look – one of the most promising areas happens to be in the treatment of Alzheimer’s.
Photobiomodulation and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s is the sixth leading cause of death and currently impacts over five million Americans. So, it’s no wonder we are interested in finding a cure to this devastating and far-reaching disease. Unfortunately, there are no effective drug treatments for Alzheimer’s, but photobiomodulation is proving to be promising. Alzheimer’s is a disease of dysfunctional mitochondria, which is why photobiomodulation therapy seems to work – by recharging the mitochondria. Studies are showing that the low-level light therapy from photobiomodulation may slow progression or even improve cognitive function in those with Alzheimer’s disease.
In fact, a 2017 study found there is a significant improvement in mild to moderately severe dementia in cases treated with intranasal photobiomodulation. And remember those beneficial gamma rays? A study on mice revealed gamma frequency targeted in the brain significantly reduced plaque formation in the brain – a sign of cognitive decline associated with Alzheimer’s disease. What a promising treatment for such a terrible disease. The great thing about this treatment is that you can do it in the comfort of your own home with your own device. This makes it not only easier to regularly treat yourself with photobiomodulation therapy but it keeps the cost of treatment down.
Add Light Therapy to Your Life
Near-infrared therapy has inspiring promises for the future of medicine. For too long we’ve mostly come at medicine from a predominantly chemical approach but the body is more complex. As we continue to explore different impacts of health, such as light therapy, we’ll have a better chance of curing diseases like Alzheimer’s. The future of medicine is bright!
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