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Brain Photobiomodulation

The brain is without argument, the most important and complex human organ. It controls how we think, feel, and function. When it is working in the way we desire we can do marvelous things. But the brain is also a “tender peach” which if dropped and handled roughly will easily bruise, turn brown, and bleed.  Though the brain is housed in a protective structure called the skull it is still prone to damage from physical, chemical, and metabolic insults. The brain is made from billions of neurons and trillions of support cells such as glia. The optimal functioning of these cells requires tremendous energy. Within each cell of the body are energy-producing organelles called mitochondria. These energy-producing “powerhouses” use digested macronutrients such as fat, proteins, and carbohydrates (sugars) to create energy in the form of ATP. This biochemical reaction allows each cell in the brain to provide the necessary energy to fuel its design and purpose. It should be noted that optimal functioning of the mitochondria requires many co-factors, vitamins, and minerals. Nutrient deficiencies, genetic SNP’s or mutations, and environmental toxins can all reduce the functional ability of mitochondria. The good news is your brain’s mitochondrial performance can be improved by absorbing light of specific wavelengths. The study of light’s effects in biology is called photobiology and the process for intervention is called photobiomodulation (PBM). Photobiomodulation has the ability to repair damaged brain cells, improve blood flow in the brain, reduce inflammation and toxicity, and regenerate damaged brain cells. These benefits lead to improved brain function in Alzheimer’s and dementia, Parkinson’s disease, traumatic brain injuries, Autism, and mood disorders. Read further for a more detailed description of how specific light energies create energy and improve the biology of the brain.

What is Photobiology?

Photobiology is the study of the effects of non-ionizing radiation on biological or living systems. Non-ionizing radiation refers to any type of electromagnetic radiation that does not carry enough energy to ionize or completely remove an electron from an atom or molecule. Instead of producing charged ions (potential free radicals) when passing through matter, non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation has sufficient energy ONLY for excitation (i.e. it can move an electron to a higher energy state). Non-ionizing radiation proposes no significant health risk. Instead the biological effect varies based on the wavelength region of the radiation. The radiation is absorbed by molecules which change chemically into products in the skin such as DNA, proteins, or certain drugs that initiate biochemical responses in the cells. This process is familiar to most in the example of sun exposure which carries mostly non-ionizing radiation and some ultraviolet light that leads to a photochemical reaction, converting a form of cholesterol to Vitamin D. Another example is the reaction of our retina creating a chemical reaction that allows us to see when exposed to light.

What is Photobiomodulation?

Photobiomodulation therapy is defined as the utilization of non-ionizing electromagnetic energy(in this discussion it is all about light energy) to trigger photochemical changes within cellular structures that are receptive to photons. Mitochondria are particularly receptive (absorbent) to visible red and near-infrared (NIR) photons (light energy) and when exposed result in increased production of the cellular fuel known as “ATP”. The key to this entire process is a mitochondrial enzyme called cytochrome oxidase c, a member of the electron transport chain (ETC) located at Complex IV, which accepts photonic energy of specific wavelengths. This type of luminous energy and ATP production enters the brain transcranially and is independent of external sources of electrons donated by the citric acid cycle (Krebs Cycle) from food substances.  Scientific research supports positive benefits on mitochondria with light exposure in the NIR spectrum (810nm) while simultaneously providing the deepest penetration into brain tissues. In addition to the production of ATP following red and NIR light exposed mitochondria, two additional reactions occur benefiting the overall healing and repair response in the body. Even though the non-ionizing light energy is safe, it does produce, as a consequence of energy production, mild oxidants (ROS) which lead to gene transcription which is followed by cellular repair and healing. And lastly, it liberates trapped nitric oxide (NO) improving circulation, and cellular communication to all body cells.

What is the impact of Brain Photobiomodulation?

Collectively, brain photobiomodulation with visible red and NIR light photon energy heals damaged brain cells, improves cerebral blood circulation, reduces inflammation and toxicity, and regenerates damaged brain cells. These benefits lead to improved communication between neurons positively benefiting cognition, cognitive efficiency, and brain performance. The literature on brain photobiomodulation is growing rapidly. Currently (Oct 2023), there are over 220 published studies on brain photobiomodulation.

  • Brain photobiomodulation has been shown to increase cerebral perfusion and increase connectivity within the Default Mode Network of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.[1],[2]
  • In patients with Parkinson’s disease, measures of mobility, cognition, dynamic balance and fine motor skill y improved (p < 0.05) with PBM treatment for 12 weeks and up to one year.[3]
  • There is scientific literature that suggests photobiomodulation might be useful for depression/anxiety.[4]
  • Photobiomodulation has also been shown to induce positive physiological changes for traumatic brain injury.[5],[6]
  • EEG neural activity can also be influenced by pulsed NIR energy.[7]

VIELIGHT

At the medical practice of EVND we utilize the leading researched and patent dominant  photobiomodulation helmet from VIELIGHT. Its design and attention to following the research provides the most effective application available to restore optimal brain function. The following links provide a deeper dive into the benefits of the VIELIGHT brand and the product options.

Understanding the Vielight Neuro

https://www.vielight.com/understanding-the-vielight-neuro/

What is Vielight Neuro?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jroi70LXpLI

What is Vielight technology?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aXD2c7XfIFY&t=1s

References

1.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: 31050950.

2.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: PMC5568598.

3.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: PMC8249215.

4.Cassano P, Petrie SR, Mischoulon D, Cusin C, Katnani H, Yeung A, De Taboada L, Archibald A, Bui E, Baer L, Chang T, Chen J, Pedrelli P, Fisher L, Farabaugh A, Hamblin MR, Alpert JE, Fava M, Iosifescu DV. Transcranial Photobiomodulation for the Treatment of Major Depressive Disorder. The ELATED-2 Pilot Trial. Photomed Laser Surg. 2018 Dec;36(12):634-646. doi: 10.1089/pho.2018.4490. Epub 2018 Oct 20. PMID: 30346890; PMCID: PMC7864111.

5.Chao LL, Barlow C, Karimpoor M and Lim L (2020) Changes in Brain Function and Structure After Self-Administered Home Photobiomodulation Treatment in a Concussion Case. Front. Neurol. 11:952. doi: 10.3389/fneur.2020.00952

6.https://www.va.gov/healthpartnerships/updates/cci/06152020.asp

7.Hala El Khoury, John Mitrofanis, Luke A Henderson, Exploring the Effects of Near Infrared Light on Resting and Evoked Brain Activity in Humans Using Magnetic Resonance Imaging,Neuroscience,Volume 422,2019, ISSN 0306-4522, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.neuroscience.2019.10.037.

8.Andrew Robert Stevens et al; Photobiomodulation in Acute Traumatic Brain Injury: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysi. J Neurotrauma. . 2023 Feb;40(3-4):210-227. doi: 10.1089/neu.2022.0140. Epub 2022 Aug 30. DOI: 10.1089/neu.2022.0140. PMID: 35698294

9.Michael R Hamblin. Photobiomodulation for traumatic brain injury and stroke. J Neurosci Res. 2018 Apr;96(4):731-743. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24190. Epub 2017 Nov 13. DOI: 10.1002/jnr.24190.PMID: 29131369. PMCID: PMC5803455

10.Michael R Hamblin et al; Photobiomodulation for Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke. J Neurosci Res. Author manuscript; available in PMC 2018 Oct 1. J Neurosci Res. 2018 Apr; 96(4): 731–743.Published online 2017 Nov 13. doi: 10.1002/jnr.24190. PMCID: PMC5803455. PMID: 29131369

11.Farzad Salehpour et al; Brain Photobiomodulation Therapy: A Narrative Review.Mol Neurobiol. 2018 Aug; 55(8): 6601–6636.Published online 2018 Jan 11. doi: 10.1007/s 12035-017-0852-4. PMCID: PMC6041198. PMID: 29327206

12.Muyue Yang et al; Current application and future directions of photobiomodulation in central nervous diseases. Neural Regen Res. 2021 Jun; 16(6): 1177–1185. Published online 2020 Nov 27. doi: 10.4103/1673-5374.300486. PMID: 33269767. PMCID: PMC8224127

13.Michael R. Hamblin. Shining light on the head: Photobiomodulation for brain disorders. BBA Clin. 2016 Dec; 6: 113–124.Published online 2016 Oct 1. doi: 10.1016/j.bbacli.2016.09.002. PMID: 27752476. PMCID: PMC5066074