Accelerated Healing

Accelerated Healing

March 19, 2017

How can light accelerate healing?

Although having super powers would be fun, it is not possible at the moment. However, accelerating healing through light is possible and is backed up with years of research from the likes of NASA, the Military, and Research Institutions.

Researchers working with NASA have found that light therapy using near-infrared LEDs operates by activating color-sensitive chemicals in body tissues, stimulating the process in a cell’s mitochondria. Light wavelengths from 680 nm to 880 nm have been found to travel through skin and muscle tissue, to prompt tissue and deep wound healing. [3]

There have also been clinical trials taking place in hospitals in the US and elsewhere. Results indicate that light therapy accelerates cell growth by 150 to 200% compared to non-treated cells. [1]

Building upon NASA’s work, the University of Chicago discovered that the average wavelength of cell tissue in the human body ranged between 600 nanometers and 720 nm, with 660 being the mid-point. This means 660 nm should work better than any other single frequency, as it is closer to the resonant frequency of cell tissue. Apparently 660 nm also absorbs better in hemoglobin. [2]

This is why over the years researcher have migrated to infrared, red, and eventually the 660 nanometer wavelength, as it turned out to be the most efficient wavelength to regenerate tissue. In real terms this means an injury that would usually take 10 days to heal could potentially recover in just a few days. [2]

660nm red light is claimed to penetrate about 25 mm into the skin, making it useful for healing skin wounds and infections. While near-infrared goes up to 75 mm, and could be used to increase blood flow and release nitric oxide to soothe and heal sore muscles and joints[1]

The depth that the light needs to penetrate depends on whether you are tackling surface tissue wounds or deep muscle.

 

What is really interesting is that sunlight naturally has the 660nm light in it. Take a look at the distribution of wavelengths in sunlight from the graph below:

Sunlight Spectrum

Image from http://solarjourneyusa.com/sunlight.php

Basically this means just going outside and getting some sun can help heal your wounds quicker.

However, the below graph does show that the 660nm wavelength LED would produce move energy than the sun. Hence the reason why creating a healing device is still a good idea.

Graph from http://heelspurs.com/led.html

This extract from Scott Roberts heelspurs.com explains the importance or light and sunlight.

In hindsight, we can say “people have always known Sunlight is good for you”. It seems intuitively clear to most people that Sunlight helps sick people and enables people to be more active. We know why from a chemical and biological viewpoint. Injured cells need the extra ATP to repair themselves. Healthy cells may generate extra ATP from the red and near infrared of sunlight to enable more activity in the daytime. If the ATP is not used (as occurs when resting in bright sunlight) it causes an increase in available glucose for which causes a slight “glucose high” that causes relaxation and sleepiness we all feel after 30 minutes in the sun. BTW, we know UV creates vitamin D that prevents colon, prostate, and breast cancer, greatly improves the immune system, bone strength, and reduces the incidence of osteoarthritis, having the potential to save 50,000 lives a year if people would get more Sun and wear less sunscreen. By comparison, skin cancer causes less than 10,000 deaths in the U.S. each year, only some of which are caused by too much Sun.

Scott also goes into great detail of how our bodies evolved to ‘Like’ light, and deeply explains the biological aspects (Warning you may need a degree in Biology or related field to fully understand). [8]

 

Applications

I have heard of this technology being used to: Heal Injuries Faster [3], Reduce Acne [7], An Aid to Carpal Tunnel, Stimulate the Release of ATP, Dementia [5], Help Knee Injuries, Joint, Shoulder and Back Injuries, Good for Diabetic Skin Ulcers , adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder [4], Good for Rosacea, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) [6],

helps Reduce Facial Wrinkles, and can be used in Acupuncture.

I have only tested a light pen (that i got over 10 years ago) for reducing acne. It had blue and red light, and it seemed to help speed up the healing of spots. I have not tested any of the other applications, therefore cannot personally confirm that they work. If you have experience with them, i would love to know about it, as it would be great to share this information with everyone.

If anyone would like more general information about light therapy and its applications have a look at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Light_therapy

Hardware

Once you know the science behind how the technology works, it is actually quite simple to implement. Essentially all you need to do is blink some special LEDs.

In this 1st version i wanted to test how easy it was to create an array of healing LEDs. The hardware i have used includes:

  • Arduino pro mini
  • 18 Channel LED driver (SN3218)
  • 660nm (Red) LEDs
  • 470nm (Blue) LEDs
  • Lipo Charger
  • Lipo Battery
  • FTDI Programmer

I have added blue LEDs as i would also like to test them, as they have shown to have infection reducing properties.

Below shows the LEDs on while in a simple cardboard case and plastic diffuser, which i made from what i had around me. It doesn’t look great, so i will need to 3d print something nicer at some point.

Tests

I have not currently done any healing tests with the device, but these are some of the tests i have come across from 3rd parties that have been on both humans and animals.

This site does mention that the FDA allows advertising red and infrared light for minor pains and mild arthritis,

The following have FDA approval for specific devices

  • infrared 880 nm for diabetic peripheral neuropathy
  • 660 nm red for mouth ulcers in children on a type of chemo

but i am not aware of a mention of accelerated healing.

My Tests

  • Currently None ()

3rd Parties

Questions

This question section is where i post some of the questions that come up while researching, and possible answers to those questions.

Q) In [7] light was used to improve acne. In the study they used both pulsating and continuous light and found continuous light gave the best results. Could continuous light also be beneficial to other light therapies such as healing?

A) Continuous light is always on, so it would make sense that it would be continually effecting the area and would have better results. If however you pulse light at a higher brightness then it may have a better effect deeper into the skin.

Q) This site mentions that applying LED light for too long cancels the benefits, but the time of application is hard to determine. Too little light and there is little benefit, and too much light and there is no benefit.

A) The answer can be found from the same website: When injured cells are directly exposed to the light (such as in a test tube or the retina) research indicates 4 to 6 Joules of energy (J) applied to each 1 cm by 1 cm area (1 cm^2) once or twice per day is the best dosage. At 10 J/cm^2, all the benefits gained from the light can be negated, so not applying too much light is important. It’s really difficult to know how much light gets through any particular person’s skin to a particular injury. The best guide is to stop treatment when the pain has been reduced to as much as you expect. If the light is helping a particular injury, the pain will typically be reduced from an 8 to a 2. [8]

A Joule (J) is a Watt (W) applied for 1 second. A watt is voltage times amps. So 6 J/cm^2 is the same as applying an LED device with a strength of 30 mW/cm^2 for 200 seconds (200 seconds x 0.03 W/cm^2 = 6 J/cm^2). The only benefit of stronger LED devices is a shorter treatment time. Ten to 20 times as much energy (Joules) is required to treat tissue that is beneath the skin, or 10 x 6 = 60 J/cm^2 because of the 90% to 95% light (or more) that is blocked by the skin and other tissue between the skin and the injury. For a 0.03 W/cm^2 LED device, 60/0.03 = 2000 seconds = 33 minutes at a minimum. This dosage can be applied twice a day and is not harmful to tissue. Dark skin may require three times more because it blocks very roughly three times as much light. Maybe 500 J/cm^2 is needed to reach injured cells 2.54 cm (1 inch) below the skin (4.6 hours at 30 mW/cm^2). Higher doses could be dangerous. However Our ancestors have been exposed to 0.01 to 0.03 W/cm^2 of sunlight in the red to near-infrared range for up to 6 hours a day, giving an average daily dosage in the hundreds of J/cm^2 for very large areas of skin. People with fibromyalgia and arthritis will not a large reduction in pain when the painful areas are exposed to sunlight for a long time. This is strong support for the idea that 1,000 J/cm^2 is not unreasonable in a clinical setting for > 1 inch deep injuries that occur from trauma or surgery. [8]

Q) What LED Strength should i be looking for?

A) LED strength in “mcd” is meaningless. The plastic bulb of LEDs can focus the light to a bright point that has a high mcd rating but as soon as it passes through the skin it’s dispersed again as if it were never focused. The important rating is the power per square cm in units of mW/cm^2. A higher mW/cm^2 means less application time is needed. [8]

Q) Why does Red light penatrate the skin?

a) Red and near-infrared light penetrate tissue because they are not blocked by blood or water as much as other wavelengths. [8]

Conclusion

Healing light therapy is a very interesting field with many years of background research confirming its potential, yet it is still a relatively unheard of technology that the general public should know more about. I hope this project will help enlighten people to the potential of the technology.

My ideal end goal is to have a small re-usable wearable device that can be placed over wounds. I will mainly be focusing on the healing aspects of the technology but may expand into other areas later.

This project is still in the very early stages of development, so if you have any questions, comments, or suggestions, i would love to hear them.

Further Reading

Scott Roberts website Is one of the best sources of information on light therapy. There is a vast amount of great info. http://heelspurs.com/led.html

BIOLOGICAL EFFECTS OF TINTED LENSES [Website]

Health and Light: The extraordinary Study that Shows How light Affects Your Health and emotional well being. [Book]

A list of 43+ papers on using light to improve illnesses http://blog.thorlaser.com/cold-laser-therapy-light-emitting-diode-therapy-led-research/

References

[1] Digikey, 06-2016 – http://www.digikey.com/en/articles/techzone/2014/jul/healed-by-light

[2] TheLEDMan.com, 06-2016 – http://theledman.com/index.html

[3] Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on wound healing. J Clin Laser Med Surg. 2001 Dec; http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11776448?dopt=Abstract

[4] An open trial of light therapy in adult attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. 2006 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17107243

[5] Dementia Patient makes ‘amazing’ progress after using infra-red helmet 2008, http://www.rexresearch.com/dougal/dougal.htm

[6] Bright light therapy improves sleep disturbances in soldiers with combat PTSD, 2010, https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/06/100607065552.htm

[7] Low Level Narrow Band Red Light Treatment of Acne Vulgaris, Avikam Harel et al, http://www.photonicenergetics.com///Red Light Acne Vulgaris.pdf

[8]LED Light Therapy , 02-2017, http://heelspurs.com

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