A History of Light Therapy to Heal Diseases
Light therapy is not new, and it makes sense.
It began as far back as Ancient Egypt and Greece where special temples were erected as healing centers using light and color. Pythagoras used healing light 500 years before the birth of Christ. Records of curative light use can be found in all major civilizations. The ancient Greek city of Heliopolis (City of the Sun) was renowned for its healing temples that used the sun, as well as color therapy in rooms where cloth was dyed red or blue and hung over the windows to treat human ailments.
Niels Finson received a Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1902 for his treatment of lupus vulgaris, a form of skin tuberculosis and the healing of Smallpox with red light therapy. Since that time it has been widely used to treat a variety of skin conditions, wound healing, chronically painful conditions and healing sports injuries.
It was first used as an ocular (eye) therapy in the 1920’s by Harry Spitler. Unfortunately, with the advent of antibiotics and the pharmaceutical industry, many of these once-promising treatments were sidelined. For decades, we have been bombarded with messages that if something is wrong, the proper thing to do is to go to your doctor for a prescription. However, treatment of many disease processes is not that simple. Alzheimer’s disease is one such entity. Effective drug-therapies to cure Alzheimer’s have, so far, eluded scientists.
Fortunately, research at MIT, Yale, Emory University and other progressive institutions has demonstrated that light therapy can be effective in treating Alzheimer’s disease. Building on this breakthrough research, BRIGHT has developed a user-accessible 40 Hz light, called BEACON40.
Because we are so used to taking pills, the idea of using light as a remedy seems strange to many. The reality is that we are born with amazing sensory receptors that make life the wonderful experience it is. Take the eyes for example. We see light and it is converted into signals that our brain processes into beautiful images. Those same images can simultaneously generate emotions, such as the joy we experience when we see a baby laughing or a puppy playing. The same thing can happen when our ears register the baby’s peals of laughter or the puppy’s barks. The trillions of neurons in our brains take these signals, light and sound, and process them to give us visual and auditory experiences. The same thing occurs with our other senses, smell, taste, and touch.
It is, therefore, not a stretch to think that if we provide a light signal to the eyes that it can have significant benefits in the brain and our general wellbeing. Relating to early-stage Alzheimer’s patients, the 40 Hz flickering of light sends impulses through the neurons in our brains entraining or organizing the gamma brain waves. These regular brain waves activate the support cells or astrocytes surrounding the neurons. Astrocytes are the most numerous cells in the brain and provide a variety of functions. For people with signs of Alzheimer’s disease, an important astrocyte function is their anti-inflammatory activity. Increasing their anti-inflammatory activity can lead to a reduction in the amyloid and tau deposits which damage our neurons in Alzheimer’s disease.
40 Hz light therapy has been shown to promote improved memory and nerve function. The researchers have shown that when 40 Hz light is used, it can result in improvement in the symptoms of Alzheimer’s patients and is especially effective in preclinical cases.
I’m encouraged by these modern-day breakthroughs in scientific research that support light therapies to boost the body’s natural healing ability. Pythagoras and Niels Finson were pioneers in using light therapy to fight life-threatening diseases like smallpox, their work validates and advances the adoption of light as a solution for modern health threats like Alzheimer’s.