Research as recent as September 2023 shows that red light therapy may be an effective treatment mechanism for Alzheimer’s disease.
In the following sections, we discuss these findings published by the Journal of Neural Regeneration. Liu et al. find that “Overall, tPBM intervention improves brain performance in healthy adults and patients affected by chronic neuropathology,” (2023).
We also look at how these new findings coincide with other similar results in the medical literature and discuss the implications this may have for treatment and well-being.
The researchers responsible for this study are Hanli Liu, Damir Nizamutdinov, and Jason H. Huang. They note that few other effective therapeutic avenues currently remain for those with Alzheimer’s.
Therefore, any potential benefits from red light therapy for those with this ailment could be considerably valuable. It could potentially provide relief to thousands of individuals both with Alzheimer’s disease or experiencing an onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
Literature Review: The Impact of Red Light on the Brain
Researchers revealed their findings on the potential effectiveness of a treatment called ‘Transcranial Photobiomodulation.’ For reference, this is ‘tPBM.’
In layman’s terms, tPBM simply means using red light therapy treatment on the brain.
Their investigation involves red light wavelengths between 800 and 1070nm. Included in this range are the NIR+ light diodes offered by the BIOMAX Series panels at 810nm, 830nm, and 850nm.
The findings of this new research build upon a foundation of literature. Among these are what they refer to as “well-accepted tPBM mechanisms of action, and summarize key experimental findings of tPBM-induced neurophysiological enhancement.” This refers to past studies that do show a positive correlation of treatment with neurological stimulation, a “clinical study with evidence-based safety and cognitive improvements in patients with dementia using daily tPBM therapeutic protocol at home.”
RLT's Mechanism of Action for Treating Dementia
In this case, the mechanism of action involves the absorption of NIR light by the mitochondrial respiratory chain, which “stimulates cellular adenosine triosphate,” “promoting energy supplementation to the disease-affected brain tissue with prominent mitochondrial disfunction.”
In addition to this, they make reference to behavioral improvements in both young and older adults, along with further findings regarding the brain activity of these very research subjects.
Further studies involve the use of red light therapy with dementia patients, and the observed results. Included in these are the following:
- Anti-inflammatory outcomes in the brain
- Improvement in cerebral blood flow
- Positive systemic immune responses
- Increased mitochondrial metabolism and hemodynamics
- Increase in brain region connectivity in EEG data
- Increase in cerebral concentrations of oxidized CCO
- Enhances CCO redox metabolism and adenosine triphosphate synthesis
- Improvement of electrophysical power and connectivity
Frontal exposure to RLT was seen to augment the local information flow and integration of beta oscillations across prefrontal cortical regions. They claim these elements partially contribute to the “electrophysiological effects of tPBM on human cognitive improvements,” (Liu et al., 2023).
The authors continue their literature review by crediting Gonzalez-Lima and his group with having shown striking benefits, including “acute enhancement in attention and working memory, attention bias modification, executive skills, category learning, comparison of tPBM with exercise, and overall cognitive rate correct score.” While they showed neurocognitive benefits for older test subjects, they also found improved memory in younger ones.
Thermal Benefits from RLT?
Whereas some have claimed that the heat itself makes a contribution, the researchers go on to state that it is the wavelengths themselves that result in desired outcomes, whereas the thermal activity instigated by treatment is not necessarily a factor that contributes to these outcomes.
Red Light Therapy’s Treatment of Dementia
The literature review continues by addressing the treatment of dementia in clinical trials in studies referred to as “placebo-controlled, randomized, double-blinded clinical trials using tPBM.”
Over the course of two months, individuals were treated with red light therapy, and their cognitive and problem-solving abilities were measured daily. Here are a number of benefits that researchers Nizamutdinov et al. found (2021):
- “Up to 80% improvement in clock drawing” and copying tests
- “Up to 75% improvement in Mini-Mental State Exam readings”
- “Up to 52% improvement in the logical memory subtest”
- “35% improvement on verbal learning and memory tests”
Based on this and other studies, there are promising signs that red light therapy can help provide various cognitive improvements.
Red Light Therapy and Sleep
Liu et al. continue by briefly bringing up several benefits of RLT for sleep. Included in these were “longevity of sleep as early as day 6 of treatment, ” as well as “improvement in episodes of recurrent nightmares, anxiety, and mood swings,” (2023).
In quoting further, “Researchers also reported beneficial effects of tPBM in patients with dementia in managing attention deficits, lack of concentration, and improvement of executive function, patient engagement, and energy to be involved in daily routines,” (Liu et al. 2023).
Red Light Therapy and Animals
The researchers go on to say that a number of studies on animals have revealed that red light therapy has consistently impactful results when used in long-term treatment of animals. The benefits for rats include the following, quoting further from their literature review:
- “Preservation of mitochondrial dynamics”
- “Inhibition of neuroinflammation by regulating glial cell polarization”
- “Management of neuronal oxidative damage of DNA, proteins, and lipids…”
They go on to state that these findings are consistent with their observations of the impact of red light therapy on humans. This is in terms of its impact on “mitochondrial activity and metabolism” and the mediation of neuroprotection.
Summary of Findings About Red Light Therapy and Alzheimer’s
To conclude their study, Liu et al. note that red light therapy provides “an excellent and promising therapeutic modality to treat AD and AD-related dementia.
There is additionally some relief and gratitude that the surmounting evidence of its efficacy may help expand its use in clinics and at patient’s homes.
Many look forward to larger clinical trials that may help determine its effectiveness with expanded test groups.
Red Light Therapy with The BIOMAX Series
If you may be interested in Red Light Therapy for yourself or for a family member, we recommend considering investing in them for home use.
Take a look at the BIOMAX Panels, for the most advanced RLT products on the consumer market.
It seems that new research is coming out virtually every month that continues to show the cognitive benefits of red light therapy.
For more information, check out our Learning Center, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions.