7 Studies Explain How Red Light Therapy Comforts Dementia

7 studies explain how red light therapy comforts dementia

Red light therapy can help dementia. Don’t take my word for it. Here are 6 scientific studies showing massive improvement after red light therapy. Dementia patients feel better, cry less, hug more and remember better.

Red light increases biological energy and oxygenated blood flow. This is only part of how red light therapy comforts dementia symptoms. The lamp’s photons land in the mitochondria, the energy factories for our brain and body, and by dilating blood vessels that bring nutrition and oxygen to tissue for healing.

Here are 7 studies showing how red light therapy reverses and calms dementia memory, balance, speech and sleep symptoms.

Two Ways Red Light Therapy Helps Dementia

By fueling our energy factories and also dilating blood vessels, red light therapy reduces symptoms of dementia. The severity drops, and often diagnoses drop from severe to medium dementia, or from medium dementia to mild dementia.

#1: Red Light Therapy Fuels Our Biological Energy Factories

Photons (light) from red light therapy lamps absorb in the mitochondria. These are the cell parts that make biological energy. Dementia, incuding Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, is associated with impaired mitochondrial function.

When mitochondria are damaged or go dormant, the functions of life slow down. There is no life without functioning mitochondria to energize the body.

The photons energize the mitochondria to output adenosine triphosphate (ATP), the molecules that carry biological energy throughout the body and brain. When the cell needs energy, it breaks open an ATP molecule to get it. Red light therapy helps the mitochondria to make more of this energy molecule.

Contrary to the pictures in most biology books, there are actually thousands of mitochondria in some cells, such as the neurons that make up brian cells. The heart cells have thousands of mitochondria.One fifth of the liver’s mass consists of energy-producing mitochondria organelles.

Red Light Therapy kick starts our biological energy factories back into action
The cells get energy from food, but can also use energy from certain wavelengths of light.

Red light therapy is the delivery of red and infrared photons in the correct quantity to trigger energy production cycles in the mitochondria. A red light therapy device has the capacity to energize any and all of the body’s 10 trillion mitochondria organelles.

Drugs destroy in order to work. Red light therapy helps dementia through the natural biological processes.

Whereas drug therapy modifies biology to create the desired effect, red light therapy powers the cellular energy factories that disease or age have shut down. It turns on the lights, allowing the body to heal itself.

This is why red light therapy has so many positive effects on so many profoundly different biological functions. The same device that can reduce acne and heal wounds can create neural connections in impaired brains.

Red light therapy doesn’t change cellular structures. It returns mitochondria to the energy-production state that existed before systems started to break down.

#2: Red Light Therapy Restores Blood Flow

What Happens to the Brain Under the Light?

Tulips under blue sky and bright sun
The red light therapy process is very similar to how plants absorb light to make their food.

In a review of the effects of red light therapy on the brainOpens in a new tab.

Red light therapy offers cellular protection

Hamblin MR. Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer’s Disease: Has the Light Dawned? Photonics. 2019 Sep;6(3):77. doi: 10.3390/photonics6030077. Epub 2019 Jul 4. PMID: 31363464; PMCID: PMC6664299.

Light Restores Energy in Neurologically Damaged Tissues

Adenosine triphosphate is the mitochondria’s energy output. Low ATP levels are common in neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and brain injuryOpens in a new tab.

Red and infrared photons increase ATP production, which may be a significant reason red light therapy is so effective in restoring brain health.

Brunetti D, Catania A, Viscomi C, Deleidi M, Bindoff LA, Ghezzi D, Zeviani M. Role of PITRM1 in Mitochondrial Dysfunction and Neurodegeneration. Biomedicines. 2021 Jul 17;9(7):833. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines9070833. PMID: 34356897; PMCID: PMC8301332.

Murali Mahadevan H, Hashemiaghdam A, Ashrafi G, Harbauer AB. Mitochondria in Neuronal Health: From Energy Metabolism to Parkinson’s Disease. Adv Biol (Weinh). 2021 Sep;5(9):e2100663. doi: 10.1002/adbi.202100663. Epub 2021 Aug 11. PMID: 34382382.

Di Pietro V, Amorini AM, Tavazzi B, Vagnozzi R, Logan A, Lazzarino G, Signoretti S, Lazzarino G, Belli A. The molecular mechanisms affecting N-acetylaspartate homeostasis following experimental graded traumatic brain injury. Mol Med. 2014 Mar 24;20(1):147-57. doi: 10.2119/molmed.2013.00153. PMID: 24515258; PMCID: PMC3966992.

Light Increases Blood Vessel Health and Blood Flow

Water leaving green faucet
Blood runs through arteries the way water runs through pipes

Arteries are made of smooth muscle cells. A major effect of nitric oxide is to relax these cells, opening up and freeing blood flow through the arteries. When red light therapy triggers this action in the brain, more areas of the brain receive fresh blood and its nutrients.

Light Promotes Synapse and Neuron Generation

Contrary to what many of us learned in high school, neurological tissue can grow after injury and illness.

Photobiomodulation increases brain derived neurotropic factor (BDNF), the mediator for synapse and neuron generation. This means red light therapy increases the communication between cells because it allows neural tissue to grow (neurons) and communicate (synapses).

Learn more and get the references for these actions in Dr. Berman’s latest photobiomodulation dementia study in the Journal of Aging and Disease.Opens in a new tab.

Nizamutdinov D, Qi X, Berman MH, Dougal G, Dayawansa S, Wu E, Yi SS, Stevens AB, Huang JH. Transcranial Near Infrared Light Stimulations Improve Cognition in Patients with Dementia. Aging Dis. 2021 Jul 1;12(4):954-963. doi: 10.14336/AD.2021.0229. PMID: 34221541; PMCID: PMC8219492.

6 Brain Light Studies Confirm Dementia and Concussion Relief

Published studies consistently confirm that red light therapy has profoundly positive effects on the body and brain.

Treated dementia subjects score higher on cognitive tests, fall asleep faster, stay asleep longer, express positive emotions, and show affection.

Post-Treatment Cognitive Test Scores Improve as Much as 65%

Sixty patients enrolled in the infrared light therapy for dementia study conducted by the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Baylor University, and Dr. Marvin Berman’s Quiet Mind Foundation in Philadelphia.

Nizamutdinov D, Qi X, Berman MH, Dougal G, Dayawansa S, Wu E, Yi SS, Stevens AB, Huang JH. Transcranial Near Infrared Light Stimulations Improve Cognition in Patients with Dementia. Aging Dis. 2021 Jul 1;12(4):954-963. doi: 10.14336/AD.2021.0229. PMID: 34221541; PMCID: PMC8219492Opens in a new tab.

Dementia Patients Received Infrared for 8 Weeks

The subjects were about 75 years old.

Researchers administered several neurological tests before and after red light therapy treatment. Caregivers assisted or subjects self-treated at home.

Treatments took place at home using a 1070 nm infrared helmet to deliver the therapeutic light. The helmet delivered light to the scalp and to closed eyes.

The placebo group used a helmet emitting non-therapeutic wavelengths.

There were two treatments per day, each 6 minutes, and the study lasted 8 weeks.

“Mini Mental State Exam” Scores Improved 21%

The light therapy group scored 21% higher on the Mini Mental State Exam (MMSE). The placebo group gained 6%, but the increase was not statistically significant.

The Mini-Mental State Exam (MMSE) tests situational awareness with questions such as:

Treated Subjects Scored 39% Higher on the Logical Memory Test I

The treated group scored 39% higher on the Logical Memory Test I (LMT-I). The placebo groups score dropped 19%.

In the LMT-I, the researchers read a story and ask the subject for the story’s details. Because people often remember concepts rather than facts, the answers do not have to be exact.

For example, in the LMT-I, the main character’s name is Anna. Researchers also accepted Anna, Annie and Annette. Researchers gave zero points for remembering “Anna” as “Angela” or “Allison.”

In this story, the main character experienced a robbery. When the researcher asked the subject about this development, the researchers scored these answers as correct:

These answers were incorrect:

The treated group scored 39% higher after treatment (8.5 score pre-treatment, and 11.8 points post-treatment). The placebo group’s scored dropped 19%.

Light Therapy Subjects Scored up to 65% higher on the Auditory Verbal Learning Tests

The treated group consistently scored higher on the Auditory Verbal Learning Tests (AVLT). The placebo group scored some gains, but these were not statistically significant.

Sample of the Auditory Verbal Learning Test
Sample of the Practitioner’s Auditory Verbal Learning Test Instructions

Here is an over-simplified copy of the auditory test:

“I am going to read a list of words. Listen carefully, for when I stop you are to repeat back as many words as you can remember. It doesn’t matter in what order you repeat them, just try to remember as many as you can. Go ahead.”

“Now I am going to read the same words again, and once again, when I stop I want you to tell me as many words as you can remember, including words you said the first time. It doesn’t matter in what order you say them, just say as many words as you can remember, whether or not you said them before. Go ahead.”

[Subject responds.]

“Now I am going to read a second list of words. Listen carefully, for when I stop you are to repeat back as many words as you can remember. It doesn’t matter in what order you repeat them, just try to remember as many as you can. Go ahead.”

“Now tell me all the words you can remember from the first list, the list I repeated a number of times. Go ahead.”

Just looking at this test makes me want to shine light on my brain.

#2: How Six Red Light Therapy Devices Helped Gulf War Illness Victims

Researchers tested these devices on Gulf War Illness/Chronic Multisymptom Illness patients:

In this study, the researchers tested red and infrared light on patients who had Gulf War Illness or a similar illness called Chronic Multisymptom Illness. The subjects had severe headaches, gastrointestinal problems, PTSD, short attention span, and anxiety.

Subjects treated with red and infrared light scored significantly higher on cognitive tests after 8 weeks of treatment.

This group also reported better ability to focus, better sleep, fewer physical complaints, less fatigue, reduced gastrointestinal complaints, and reduced PTSD severity.

Martin PI, Chao L, Krengel MH, Ho MD, Yee M, Lew R, Knight J, Hamblin MR, Naeser MA. Transcranial Photobiomodulation to Improve Cognition in Gulf War Illness. Front Neurol. 2021 Jan 21;11:574386. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.574386. PMID: 33551948; PMCID: PMC7859640Opens in a new tab.

#3: Dementia Patients Stopped Wandering after 12 Weeks of Brain Light

Researchers tested the Vielight Neuro Alpha and the the 810 on five mild to moderately severe dementia patients.

The alpha shines 810 nm light pulsed at 10 Hz on the head and up the nose.

The 810 shines 810 nm light pulsed at 10 Hz up the nose. The 810 is 50% less powerful, though, than the Alpha.

The 10 Hz pulse is consistent with the alpha brainwave state.


Vielight 810
Vielight 810 used in this study

Researchers reported that after 12 weeks of treatment, the subjects wandered less, slept better, had fewer angry outbursts, and expressed less anxiety.

Saltmarche AE, Naeser MA, Ho KF, Hamblin MR, Lim L. Significant Improvement in Cognition in Mild to Moderately Severe Dementia Cases Treated with Transcranial Plus Intranasal Photobiomodulation: Case Series Report. Photomed Laser Surg. 2017 Aug;35(8):432-441. doi: 10.1089/pho.2016.4227. Epub 2017 Feb 10. PMID: 28186867; PMCID: PMC5568598Opens in a new tab.

#4: MRI Images Show More Brain Blood Flow in 79 Year Old Alzheimer’s Patients

Researchers tested the Vielight Neuro Gamma red light therapy device on Alzheimer’s patients averaging 79 years of age. Pre-test Alzheimer’s Disease Assessment Scale – Cognitive scores were high, indicating many dementia symptoms. MRI images showed decreased brain blood flow.

After 12 weeks on the Neuro Gamma, the patients had measurably more blood flow in the brain, and much lower (better) Alzheimer’s assessment scores.

Chao LL. Effects of Home Photobiomodulation Treatments on Cognitive and Behavioral Function, Cerebral Perfusion, and Resting-State Functional Connectivity in Patients with Dementia: A Pilot Trial. Photobiomodul Photomed Laser Surg. 2019 Mar;37(3):133-141. doi: 10.1089/photob.2018.4555. Epub 2019 Feb 13. PMID: 31050950Opens in a new tab.

#5: Parkinson’s Balance, Walking Improved after 40 Hz Pulsed Infrared Treatment

Vielight Neuro Gamma
Vielight Neuro Gamma for dementia

Researchers tested red light therapy on Parkinson’s patients. Devices used included the Vielight Neuro Gamma that delivers infrared pulsed at 40 Hz. Treatment areas included the neck, head, nose, and abdomen. The group treated for 25 weeks did as well as a group treated for 40 weeks.

Testing showed significant gains in subjects’ ability to stand, walk, turn, sit, carry water, and count backwards by two. Subjects relied on balance aids less and had longer strides per step.

Liebert A, Bicknell B, Laakso EL, Heller G, Jalilitabaei P, Tilley S, Mitrofanis J, Kiat H. Improvements in clinical signs of Parkinson’s disease using photobiomodulation: a prospective proof-of-concept study. BMC Neurol. 2021 Jul 2;21(1):256. doi: 10.1186/s12883-021-02248-y. PMID: 34215216; PMCID: PMC8249215Opens in a new tab.

#6: Red Light Therapy Eased Brain Injury Symptoms after Hockey Player’s 6th Concussion

Man wearing headset and nasal device
The Vielight transcranial and intranasal red light therapy device used in this study

Researchers treated a hockey player with Vielight Neuro Alpha and Neuro Gamma red light therapy devices. The Gamma pulses light at 40 Hz. The Alpha pulses at 10 Hz. Both devices deliver 810 nm of infrared light through the nose and skull.

This player had just experienced his sixth concussion. He started with the Gamma after baseline MRI and cognitive testing.

The subject developed a headache. He switched to the Alpha device for one week. The headache resolved, and he switched back to the Gamma device.

After 8 weeks of treatment, most of the subjects’ cogntive test scores improved.

The MRI comparison showed more brain blood flow after photobiomodulation treatments.

Maiello M, Losiewicz OM, Bui E, Spera V, Hamblin MR, Marques L, Cassano P. Transcranial Photobiomodulation with Near-Infrared Light for Generalized Anxiety Disorder: A Pilot Study. Photobiomodul Photomed Laser Surg. 2019 Oct;37(10):644-650. doi: 10.1089/photob.2019.4677. PMID: 31647775; PMCID: PMC6818480Opens in a new tab.


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.

Below are parts 1 and 3 of this dementia series