The Nutritionists Guide to using Red Light Therapy in Practice
As nutritionists, we primarily use food as a means to create physiological shifts in our clients with the intention to undo, support, prevent and reverse pathological processes in the body.
Going beyond the concept of using food as a medicine, we can also offer lifestyle recommendations as part of our protocols.
Today, we are chatting about a potent addition to nutrition (and chiro, osteo, physio, ND and MD) practices everywhere - Light Therapy.
Light therapy, also known as Low Level Laser Light (LLLT) or photobiomodulation, is a safe, effective and therapeutic application that we can use as practitioners to support our clients for, honestly, pretty much anything!
Low Level Light Therapy Basics
LLLT is a topical application of coherent light to the body which is delivered through diodes or LEDs.
The history of targeted light therapy pre-dates the discovery of antibiotics and was used at the start of the 19th century, but, like many effective traditional and holistic therapies, light therapy was pushed to the side with the introduction of pharmaceutical-based medicine.
Generally, photobiomodulation increases dilation of the capillaries, which enhances microcirculation, delivering oxygen and nutrients to tissues. It increases nerve conduction, changes extracellular and intracellular gradients in favor of optimal health, increases enzyme production and supports endogenous antioxidant systems.
Light Therapy Must Knows
1. We can use red, infrared, blue, yellow, green and UV light therapeutically
2. Each color of light is represented by a wave length
3. The wavelength determines penetration depth
4. Low level is known as a soft laser, meaning it does not have a thermic effect and cannot burn or cut tissues as a surgical laser does. This makes LLLT/photobiomodulation a safe and effective therapeutic intervention to recommend.
How Does Light Therapy Work?
Light is absorbed on a molecular level, modulating biological processes by stimulating or inhibiting specific biochemical pathways. When we speak of topical application, the variations are wide.
To understand how red-light therapy works, we have to transport ourselves back to grade 10 biology and revisit the basic functions of the mitochondria :
The mitochondria are the site of ATP synthesis, via the electron transport chain (ETC).
The ETC has a series of steps - red and infrared light are absorbed by the terminal enzyme (cytochrome-c-oxidase). The absorption of red and infrared light in this enzyme prompts a cascade of events that:
- Increase ATP production
- Stimulate fibroblast activity
- Activate macrophages
- Stimulate microcirculation
- Reduces inflammatory cytokines
- Promote lymphatic drainage
Red and NIF light therapy is a beneficial adjunctive therapy for pretty much everything.
A bold statement, we know, but the mechanisms of action and its biological effects have broad-spectrum benefits that positively impact a wide range of metabolic pathways.
For example, absorption happens in the mitochondria, but the mitochondria are also positively impacted by light. Red and NIF light improves both the structure of function of the mitochondria
As Red and NIF are able to penetrate deeply and induce a wide range of biological effects, clinical quality homecare devices with these wavelengths are readily available.
Skin conditions ranging from acne to psoriasis
Chronic disease prevention
Chronic fatigue, low energy and stress
What Does Using LLLT Look Like?
There are numerous ways to incorporate LLLT into your practice. Below are the ways which we can use without it being administered by a doctor or nurse.
1. Canopy or Light pads
This is used to cover large areas of the body. Canopies and pads come in varying sizes from 12 inches to full body beds.
How to use in practice: recommend clients purchase an infrared/red light therapy device, or invest in a canopy for your practice and have clients come in for sessions (time will vary depending on size and reason for using)
2. Intranasal application
This is usually an attachment device and is used to increase lymphatic drainage, microcirculation and some evidence suggests a beneficial effect on brain tissue, specifically the pineal gland.
How to use: Recommend clients purchase a device and use for 15 minutes 1-2x per day
This application is used for symptoms and pathologies in the brain. Red and NIF light are able to penetrate through the skull. Research shows that red and NIF light applied via a transcranial device can help with everything from brain fog to concussions to Alzheimer’s
How to use: Price point on these devices is a little higher than the average light device. Options are having clients purchase a unit, having one in your office and if application is needed beyond frequency of visits, renting out your unit is a widely used option by clinicians. Frequency and duration ranges from 15 min/ a couple times a week to a day to 30 minutes 2x/day
We can use light to stimulate acupuncture points.
How to use: If there are specific points that would be helpful for your client (ex - points relating to the colon for digestive issues), we can recommend our clients get a coherent laser pointer and self-administer for x amount of time per day on specific points. 5-15 minutes per point is ideal
Note: There are also elaborate machines you can get for hitting multiple acupuncture points at a time, if acupuncture is your thing
Low Level Laser Light therapy has an infinite amount of benefits when it comes to prevention and management of virtually every condition. Using devices in your practice can speed up the trajectory of your clients healing and is a tool to potentiate your protocols. While devices are therapeutic, don’t forget we get the full spectrum of light from the sun as well and outdoor therapy is also a great recommendation!
If you want more content on LLLT, its clinical benefits and how to use it, let us know and we’ll create more content surrounding this topic!
Author: Lisa Kowalyk, cofounder Fiore