As we age we all begin to worry about our brain health. Can I remember as much as I used to? Am I forgetting things more often, and is this normal? Much of the time, forgetfulness is simply a sign of aging, stress, and other outside influences. However, as we age our reaction times can be come slower, which is normal. Research has shown that many things can help protect our brains and keep our minds sharp, such as playing with grandchildren, connecting with others, and doing puzzles and reading. So what about infrared light for improving cognition?
Preliminary studies on humans indicate that NIR applied transcranially (over the skull) can improve cognitive function (Barrett & Gonzolaz-Lima, 2013). Subjects exposed to near infrared light (NIR) showed improvement in memory tasks and sustained attention tasks, leading the authors to conclude that NIR could be a non-invasive, safe approach to improve brain function. Other studies on mice showed that exposure to near infrared light (NIR) improved the memories of older mice when completing a maze and provided neuroprotective benefits (Michalikova et al, 2008; Purushothuman et al, 2014). Researchers have also postulated that receiving NIR should penetrate the cortex and provide therapeutic benefits to Alzheimer’s patients (Stone et al, 2013).
Alzheimer’s Disease is a degenerative disease of the brain that unfortunately most of us are familiar with. Losing memory and cognitive function are hallmarks of this cruel disease. While there are medications that can help support and treat symptoms, there is unfortunately no cure for Alzheimer’s. Current research is exploring new and novel treatments for Alzheimer’s, including the benefits of infrared light. Amyloid plaques in the brain are one of the reasons for the neurological effects of Alzheimer’s. A recent study on the effects of near infrared light on the brains of mice showed promising results, allowing the brain some protection from the effects of these plaques (Ramirez, 2018).
The Quiet Mind Foundation is currently conducting clinical trials into the effects of NIR on human patients with Alzheimer’s (Quite Mind, 2019). Hopefully further research can establish the effectiveness of NIR on Alzheimer’s and allow patients a non invasive treatment option that is evidence based. While we are waiting for more controlled studies on humans, the Salt Oasis Kingsport offers both near and far infrared light therapy which has the potential for helping us with many of our issues!
Ramirez, D. 2018. https://www.tmc.edu/news/2018/03/shining-new-light-halting-progression-alzheimers-disease/
Stone, J, Johnstone, D, Mitrofanis, J. 2013. The helmet experiment in Parkinson's disease: An observation of the mechanism of neuroprotection by near infra-red light. Proceedings of the 9th World Association for Laser Therapy Congress, WALT 2012
Michalikova S., Ennaceur A., van Rensburg R., Chazot P. L. (2008). Emotional responses and memory performance of middle-aged CD1 mice in a 3D maze: effects of low infrared light. Neurobiol. Learn. Mem. 89, 480–488. 10.1016/j.nlm.2007.07.014
Purushothuman S., Johnstone D. M., Nandasena C., Mitrofanis J., Stone J. (2014). Photobiomodulation with near infrared light mitigates Alzheimer's disease-related pathology in cerebral cortex—evidence from two transgenic mouse models. Alzheimers. Res. Ther. 6, 2. 10.1186/alzrt232
Barrett D. W., Gonzalez-Lima F. (2013). Transcranial infrared laser stimulation produces beneficial cognitive and emotional effects in humans. Neuroscience 230, 13–23.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition. Do not make any changes to your healthcare or treatment without consulting your physician.