Since the medical world discovered in the 1960s that adult neurogenesis (brain regeneration) is possible, there have been thousands of studies performed as to what can increase and improve the rate at which the brain regenerates. In recent (the past 10 years) studies doctors and scientists have come up on the power of Near Infrared Light. One scientist and Sr. Researcher at GreenMed Info, Ali Le Vere has even stated, "One promising therapy that promotes neurogenesis and is effective in pre-clinical studies of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s is near infrared light therapy, and it may improve other mental illnesses and neurodegenerative disorders including dementia, stroke, ALS, and traumatic brain injury as well."
That is a very bold statement and you may be wondering, how a light can actually do so much good for the brain? In that same article Le Vere goes on to explain what doctors think Alzheimer's and Parkinson's diseases really are.
Alzheimer's is a type of dementia that occurs secondary to the abnormal protein deposits in the brain. As we all know, this affects the part of the brain that deals with memory, decision-making skills, language, etc. She goes on to say that a hallmark for the disease is inflammation of the brain.
Parkinson's Disease is actually the death of dopamine producing neurons in a region of the brainstem. This progressive death usually moves to other parts of the brain and can result in loss of motor skills, resting tremors, slow movement and loss of voluntary movement.
What is most interesting about both diseases is not only that they are the most common two neurodegenerative diseases, but just as in Alzheimer's, Parkinson's as well is largely caused by abnormal protein deposits to the brain. In both diseases mitochondrial dysfunctions caused by genetic mutation, toxic particles and blood vessel damage can also speed the death of neurons.
Since they are growing and millions of people are diagnosed every year, scientists have began searching for a way to slow down the degeneration and death of neurons and even ways to regenerate them, bringing them back to the healthy state. One study of non-pharmacological therapy shows that Near Infrared Light may be just the right wavelength of light to affect neurons.
Near infrared light therapy has the potential to “mitigate ubiquitous processes relating to cell damage and death,” and may have applications in conditions that “converge on common pathways of inflammation and oxidative stress” (2).
Because Near Infrared Light therapy can do things like improve cognitive and emotional dimensions in the brain and has even been shown to improve short term memory, many researchers have suspected it's positive affects on neurodegenerative disorders.
As we talked about with Dr Miki Golden a few weeks ago on a Facebook Live video, infrared light also helps to re-stimulate and energize the mitochondria of a cell by supplying it with a sufficient amount of ATP. As a result, a signaling pathway is created which induce neuroprotective mechanisms including neurogenesis.
"Infrared Light also causes the body to produce more of anti-inflammatory cytokines while decreasing the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines."
"Given its large margin of safety and lack of adverse effects, near infrared light therapy should be offered as an option for patients suffering from a myriad of chronic conditions, but is especially promising for neurodegenerative diseases including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s" says Ali Le Vere.
2. Johnstone, D.M. et al. (2015). Turning On Lights to Stop Neurodegeneration: The Potential of Near Infrared Light Therapy in Alzheimer's and Parkinson's Disease. Frontiers in Neuroscience, 9, 500. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2015.00500