12 Ways Red Light Therapy Beats Dementia

"My name is Lynda Johnson" written on an old woman's hand

A recent study in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease concluded: that red light therapy “should be used to slow and prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.” Recent studies confirm that red and infrared light reverse the symptoms of dementia.

The Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and other publications confirmed these 12 ways red light therapy beats dementia:

  1. reduces neuroinflammation
  2. increases neural connectivity protein
  3. increases brain derived neurotrophic factor
  4. reduces free radicals
  5. reduces memory loss
  6. reduces amyloid plaques
  7. reduces tau hyperphosphorylation
  8. reduces neural degeneration
  9. reduces synaptic loss
  10. reduces inflammatory neural immunity
  11. increases anti-inflammatory neuro immunity
  12. reduces metabolic DNA damage

The YouTube channel MedCram recently highlighted a red light therapy study that reversed inflammatory markers in mice.

The researchers fed the mice a diet that produced inflammation in the brain.

They created a pre-dementia condition, and then used red light therapy to reverse it.

Silhouette of man on green background with hole in his headMedCram Explains Red Light Therapy Study

MedCram is Dr. Roger Seheult’s medical education channel on YouTube. In the video “Near Infrared Light Mitigates Neuroinflammation in Mice,” Dr. Seheult explains how infrared light reduces dementia.

Click to view video on youtube or watch below: MedCram red light therapy videoOpens in a new tab.

Mice with Neuroinflammation

Dr. Seheult describes how the researchers gave the mice an inflammatory condition. He said that there is evidence that obesity causes the kind of neuroinflammation that leads to dementia.

The study found that infrared light reversed inflammatory signals in the mouse brains.

Researched fed the first group a normal diet. They fed the second group a diet high in inflammatory Omega-6 and Omega-9 fats. That diet caused brain inflammation.

Mouse on man's bald head
Red light therapy will grow hair back, but it will take 6 months

670 nm Red Light Therapy

Red Light Man 670 nm red light therapy bulb
Mice received light from a bulb similar to this Red Light Man 670 nm red light therapy bulb. To see the bulb at Red Light Man’s website, click here.

The mice received 670 nm infrared light once a day for 90 seconds per treatment. The dose was relatively small at 4 joules per square centimeter. The light passed through the skull to reach the brain.

Reduced Inflammatory Markers

Caretaker putting shirt on spaced out older woman
These studies confirm that red light therapy reverses dementia symptoms.

When researchers measured the CD68 inflammation marker, they found statistically significant changes in the group treated with infrared light. They CD68 dropped dramatically in the treated mice. Their inflammatory markers dropped in response to red light therapy.

Increased Neural Connectivity

Next, they looked at Glial Fibrillar Acidic Protein (GFAP), which is involved in neural communication. The group treated with red light therapy had significantly more GFAP, and therefore had a more intact neural network.

Red light therapy reduces sadness and depression concomitant with dementia
Red light therapy reduces sadness and depression concomitant with dementia

Modulated Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha

The group fed the high fat diet had an increase in tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFA), which then reduced with red light therapy. TNFA is a cytokine (as in “cytokine storm”) that causes inflamation and insulin resistance. Insulin resistance prevents the brain from using sugar as fuel, adding to dementia symptoms.

Increase in Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor

And brain derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) dropped on the high fat diet and then rose with the red light exposure. BDNF is involved in creating new neural connections and is therefore potentially therapeutic in dementia cases.

We Need More Sunshine

We can gain these benefits from sunlight, Dr. Serheult says, as it has a near infrared radiation component of 670 nm as was used in this study.

Sunshine over the ocean

More Light for Healthier Mitochondria

Dr. Seheult explains that infrared light causes healthy changes in the mitochondria, which are the cellular organelles that create energy from food. The light allows the mitochondria to create more adenosine triphophate (ATP), the energy currency of biological processes.

Natural Oxidation Damage

As part of the healthy creation of energy, mitochondria create unhealthy free radicals. These cause severe tissue damage. The side effect of healthy energy production is the creation of oxidants; the side effect of oxidants is inflammation. The outcome of oxidation and inflammation is cancer, dementia, and diabetes.

Sunshine on tulips

Infrared Triggers Increase in Antioxidant Melatonin

Mitochondrial energy creation produces oxidants. The mitochondria use melatonin as an antioxidant rather than as a sleep hormone.
Mitochondrial energy creation produces oxidants. The mitochondria use melatonin as an antioxidant rather than as a sleep hormone.

The body produces melatonin to act as antioxidants. The cell produces melatonin to mop of the free radicals (the oxidants).

This is not the melatonin in the brain that makes us sleepy. It stays within the cell as a cleaning mechanism.

The pineal gland creates the “sleepy” melatonin in the dark, and stops in the presence of light. The mitochondria create the “cleanup” melatonin in the light, specifically, in the presence of infrared light.

Sunlight Penetrates the Skull to the Brain

When sunlight penetrates the skull, cerebral spinal fluid transports it around the brain. Exposure to the sun’s infrared creates these healthy changes.

Human brain
Several studies confirm that certain wavelengths of light make it through the obstacles to the brain.

Infrared Diagnostic Tools Penetrate the to the Brain

We know that infrared light penetrates the brain because we use it as a diagnostic tool. Functional near infrared spectroscopy (FNIRS) uses infrared light to map the brain. The results are as useful as MRI images without the MRI’s claustrophobia or radiation. Near infrared light penetrates the skull to make these images.

You can shine light on the sinus to see the interior structures of the head. The light penetrates the bone. (Click the image to open Red Light Man Infrared Bodylight 830 Complete GuideOpens in a new tab. in a new browser)


Red Light Man Infrared Bodylight 830 Wavelength Range
Red light therapy devices deliver red and infrared light, the same as if you were in the morning or evening sun. This is a wavelength graph from the Red Light Man Infrared-Red Combo Bodylight. The link opens to my complete reviewOpens in a new tab. of this device. Also note the huge range of a an “860 nn” LED.

Indirect Sunshine is Healthy

Outdoor steps in greenery
Outdoor greenery reflects infrared to our eyes.

Dr. Seheult says that you do not need direct sunlight to gain the benefits of the infrared light. So long as you are in a green space, that greenery reflects the infrared from the sun. If you can see light on greenery then you are getting infrared light. Perhaps this is why being in green spaces is so healthy.

Exposure to sunlight and greenery reduces the risk of getting diabetes, heart disease, insomnia and high blood pressure. It reduces cortisol, the “stress” hormone.

Sunshine Exposure Improves Sugar and Fat Metabolism

In a study out of Great Britain, sunshine exposure correlated with better glucose and lipid (sugar and fat) metabolism. People with greater infrared exposure had less sugar and fat in their blood. Poor glucose metabolism prevents the brain from using sugar as fuel.

Sunshine Exposure Correlates with Less Death and Less Multiple Sclerosis

In a Swedish study, they found that people who had the least amount of sun had the highest death rate. Most cases of multiple sclerosis occur in areas with less sun, in areas away from the equator. Sunlight is essential to good health.

Our Ancestors Got More Sun

People who have the greatest amount of sun exposure also have the largest amount of gray matter in their brains!

Dr. Seheult suggests that our modern indoor lifestyle is making us sick because we are not getting enough sunlight. Our great grandparents spent 50 percent of their lives outdoors. We spend almost no time in the sun.

Research Confirming that Red Light Therapy Prevents and Reduces Dementia

These studies confirm the mountain of researching piling up showing the positive effects of red light therapy on dementia and dementia prevention.

They concluded that “red light therapy should be used to slow and prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.”
— Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy

A recent study published in Alzheimer’s Research & Therapy confirmed earlier studies showing that 808 nm infrared light switches the brain from inflammatory to non-inflammatory immune activity.

Microglia are immune cells that clean away unused proteins. Infrared light increases the amount of anti-inflammatory microglia in the brain. It creates more garbage men to clean up the garbage.

In a study published in Theranostics, researchers found that infrared light reduced all of the following:

  • memory loss
  • amyloid plaques
  • tau hyperphosphorylation
  • neuronal degeneration
  • spine damage
  • synaptic loss

The red light therapy increased non-inflammatory immunity (it cleaned up garbage without causing inflammation). It prevented mitochondria from breaking apart in unhealthy ways. Finally, they found that red light therapy reduced the DNA damage that naturally occurs during the energy-making process.

They concluded that red light therapy should be used to slow and prevent Alzheimer’s disease progression.

References:

Yang L, Wu C, Parker E, Li Y, Dong Y, Tucker L, Brann DW, Lin HW, Zhang Q. Non-invasive photobiomodulation treatment in an Alzheimer Disease-like transgenic rat model. Theranostics. 2022 Feb 14;12(5):2205-2231. doi: 10.7150/thno.70756Opens in a new tab.. PMID: 35265207; PMCID: PMC8899582.

Elderly woman lying in bed with eyes open

Sleep Prevents Amyloid Plaque

One of the reasons we need sufficient sleep time is that the microglia come out during sleep. If we don’t get enough sleep, the microglia leave some of the building blocks of amyloid plaque behind. Eventually, the leftover proteins create the symptoms of dementia.

Infrared Light Improves Sleep

Researchers studied the effect of red light therapy on dementia in a study published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease. There were 32 adults in the treated group, and 26 in the placebo group. All were in a state of cognitive decline.
References:

  • Stepanov YV, Golovynska I, Zhang R, Golovynskyi S, Stepanova LI, Gorbach O, Dovbynchuk T, Garmanchuk LV, Ohulchanskyy TY, Qu J. Near-infrared light reduces β-amyloid-stimulated microglial toxicity and enhances survival of neurons: mechanisms of light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimers Res Ther. 2022 Jun 18;14(1):84. doi: 10.1186/s13195-022-01022-7Opens in a new tab.. PMID: 35717405; PMCID: PMC9206341.
  • Zhao X, Du W, Jiang J, Han Y. Brain Photobiomodulation Improves Sleep Quality in Subjective Cognitive Decline: A Randomized, Sham-Controlled Study. J Alzheimers Dis. 2022;87(4):1581-1589. doi: 10.3233/JAD-215715Opens in a new tab.. PMID: 35491787.

Illustration of brain

Researchers treated the subjects every day and monitored their sleep at night. The treatment group received infrared and the sham group received a non-bioactive light.

There were no differences until the fifth day. The treated group had better sleep, higher quality rapid eye movement, and significant improvement on the n-back test, which is a type of sorting task.


Sunny day on green lawn

Notes

I love Dr. Seheult’s channel. You might enjoy it as well. Click to view MedCramOpens in a new tab. on YouTube.

Click to view Dr. Seheult explain the red light therapy study: Near Infrared Light Mitigates Neuroinflammation in MiceOpens in a new tab. (link opens to youtube)

View the text of the NeuroinflammationOpens in a new tab. study on Nature.com: Near-infrared light reduces glia activation and modulates neuroinflammationOpens in a new tab. in the brains of diet‑induced obese mice (links open to Nature.com in a new browser window)

#sunlight #NIR #immunity

 

Caroline Bogart

I research the bloody hell out of everything that interests me, then translate it into blog posts to solidify my knowledge and share the information.

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