Light instead of tablets?
Star Trek sends its regards again. Who doesn't know the scenes from the series when Dr. Crusher with a medical device from which light comes out, carries out healing processes. Most people have probably heard that light cures seasonal mood disorders. However, it turns out that photons have a lot more power. According to new research, light can aid the treatment of other mental disorders as well as the brain after injuries or the skin. Many of the light therapies are likely to be used at home.
So far, however, in many cases there have only been preliminary studies on the use of different light waves to treat various health problems. The results are promising, but the groups of participants in these experiments are too small to draw categorical conclusions. Still, they are encouraging because the results suggest new methods to aid in treating various health problems.
For example, researchers from the University of Arizona recently reported that they had been successful in helping people with migraines ("cephalgia") using the green light. It is a disease that affects a billion people worldwide, including children. The study included 29 volunteers with migraines who are resistant to typical treatments. Unfortunately, despite advances in medicine, she still has problems coping with the disease. The researchers used a 10-week treatment in which the patients were exposed to the green light. After treatment, the number of headache attacks per month decreased by a total of 60%. 83% of the patients with episodic migraines and 63% with chronic migraines decreased by half.
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Unsurprisingly, the majority of participants were extremely satisfied with the results of the experiment.
Does white light help with dementia?
The team at the Light Research Center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute has described promising effects in working with victims of other neurological problems, namely dementia and Alzheimer's disease ("EurekAlert!"). Daylight therapy has significantly improved the quality and length of sleep for patients while reducing their depression and anxiety.
For four weeks, the scientists installed devices that emitted blue-white light of low intensity in around a dozen nursing homes.
Infrared heals the brain
In return, specialists from Massachusetts General Hospital constructed a special helmet that emits infrared rays that penetrate the skull. Laboratory tests ("JAMA Network Open") suggest that infrared light can protect neurons by affecting their energy centers - the mitochondria. They later used it on people who suffered moderate traumatic brain damage shortly before the exam. It is worth knowing that, despite the fact that millions of people around the world suffer from it every year, there is de facto lack of specific treatment.
The experience with 68 patients, some of whom have received experimental infrared therapy, is cautiously optimistic. MRI observations showed a healthier structure of the surrounding and neural myelin sheath. Researchers speculate that the method could also be effective in the chronic traumatic encephalopathy that sometimes affects athletes such as boxers and soccer players.
Red can support the eyes
Light can destroy the eyes and probably also heal them. In an experiment conducted at University College London this summer, looking into deep red light for three minutes each day significantly improved volunteers' eyesight. According to the scientists, "this could herald new home treatments that could help millions of people around the world". These are visual impairments that appear with age.
The skin can also be treated
In return, a team from Manchester University has developed a lamp that could help treat skin ulcers caused by an autoimmune disease called "systemic scleroderma". The results of a small experiment (Journal of Dermatological Treatment) with 8 patients were so promising that the researchers believed that the same method should probably be effective in treating relatively common ulcers caused by diabetes or varicose veins.
The ulceration associated with scleroderma decreased by 83% with no side effects. The lamp emits infrared, red and ultraviolet rays, and the patients were treated for three weeks in 15-minute sessions that were applied twice a week. Scientists believe that ultraviolet radiation kills bacteria, and red, like infrared, improves blood circulation and likely stimulates collagen production. It is important that the therapy can be used at home.
- Ulcers cause a lot of suffering for patients and current therapies are expensive and problematic for patients who can only use them in the hospital, "says Dr. Michael Hughes, who is in charge.
According to the scientists, their invention can be further improved to allow a specialist to remotely observe the ulcers and identify different parts of the body and automatically adjust treatment. So will doctors be writing prescriptions for light treatments soon? It is quite possible.