Light Therapy Explained

Overview of Light Therapy

Light therapy or photobiomodulation (PBM) includes the use of both Light Emitting Diodes (LED) and laser.

Laser is monochromatic, a single wavelength that is more focused, powerful and operates at faster speeds than LED. Lasers also transmit further than LEDs and with fewer errors. SYMBYX devices deliver laser light to the stomach, neck and specific pain & inflammation sites. This approach is strongly supported by scientific research. However, both laser and LED lights can be medically therapeutic when used correctly and conservatively. The type, wavelength, strength and colour of light are all important and must be appropriate for the specific condition being treated.

PBM has existed in various forms since the end of the 19th Century. In 1903, the Nobel Prize in Medicine was awarded to Danish Physician, Niels Ryberg Finsen, for his work proving the positive impact of ultraviolet blue and red light on Smallpox and Tuberculosis. Further interest in the field was pioneered by Professor Endre Mester, a Hungarian physician and scientist, who in 1967 successfully used light to heal wounds and regrow hair in mice and people. NASA also experimented frequently with light in the 1970's and 1980's and successfully used LED light to grow flowers in space. Current uses of PBM are varied and include managing Parkinson's disease symptoms (Note: SYMBYX lasers are not advised for any indication for which we do not have regulatory approval).

Laser devices deliver light at specific lengths to regions inside the target cells called mitochondria. When correct wavelength of light  (i.e., the distance over which the light wave’s shape repeats itself) are applied to a pain or inflammation site, a cascade of positive biochemical reactions follow. Because PBM acts at a cellular and mitochondrial level, it has a multitude of effects on the body, both locally where it is applied, and also systemically or in areas remote to the site of injury.

In particular, PBM stimulates Nitric Oxide, causing blood vessels to dilate (expand). This speeds up the healing process - by flushing away inflammatory debris and toxins and encouraging oxygen transportation to the injury site.

PBM is typically measured in nanometres and the colour or visibility of the light will depend on the wavelength. Applying an optimal dosage of light (which considers wavelength, application time and intensity or strength) is critical – application above or below a threshold level will have little or no effect.

SYMBYX is a recognised world leader in developing light therapies for home use. Our treatment protocols have been refined over more than 20 years of combined clinical practice and medical trials.

Applications for Light Therapy on Pain and Inflammation 

The careful application of a SYMBYX laser device to a pain site works as a neural (or nerve) blockade, similar to a lignocaine block. The laser is in effect producing an anaesthetic that blocks nerve impulses carrying pain signals to the brain.

PBM also reduces inflammation by switching immune cells that promote inflammation to a less inflammatory form and reducing the production of pro-inflammatory molecules called Cytokines. Reduced inflammation accelerates wound healing, reduces arthritis symptoms and lung inflammation, helps with some autoimmune diseases and reduces pain and inflammation generally.

Professor Mike Hamblin, Associate Professor, Harvard Medical School and former Principle Investigator at Wellman Centre for Photomedicine at Mass. General Hospital, (and a member of SYMBYX's Scientific Advisory Board) explains in his highly influential and seminal 2017 paper the impact and general mechanisms of action of light therapy on pain, inflammation and many other conditions, such as arthritis. 

(Michael R Hamblin, 19 May 2017, Mechanisms and Applications of the Anti-inflammatory effects of Photobiomodulation, AIMS Biophysics Journal)

Please see more of the best quality, peer-reviewed papers about light therapy in Published Research.

The PhysioCare laser by SYMBYX is CE marked and TGA approved for reduction in pain and chronic inflammation, as well as tissue repair.

Applications for Light Therapy on Parkinson's (plus other neurological and metabolic conditions)

PBM has been increasingly investigated for its effect in treating Parkinson’s symptoms. It has been shown to directly influence brain activity!

Over the last decade, a research group at Sydney University has been investigating PBM as a treatment and pre-conditioning agent in animal models of Parkinson's. Taking this research further, Dr. Ann Liebert, Chief Scientist of SYMBYX, has further demonstrated in human trials that PBM can produce a sustained reduction in certain motor, cognitive, and sensory deficits associated with Parkinson's.

Parkinson’s also causes a central pain mechanism which is a disruption of pain processing in the brain. The symptoms include wide-spread body pain, often misdiagnosed as conditions such as frozen shoulder and arthritis (pseudo dystonic pain). Parkinson's is due to a shortage of cortical Dopamine, a critical neurochemical required deep in the brain for initiating and controlling voluntary physical movements. Normal brain wave patterns are disrupted in Parkinson's. PBM has been shown to promote normal brainwave patterns through increasing Dopamine production in the gut microbiome. -

Importance of the Gut-Brain Connection and Microbiome 

There is also increasing scientific acknowledgement of the connection between certain chronic diseases and dysbiosis, that is, an unhealthy gut. A healthy microbiome maintains good intestinal lining whereas dysbiosis causes what is often referred to as 'leaky-gut', increased inflammation and compromised regulation and production of the body's Dopamine and Serotonin levels. Both of these neurochemicals are critical for optimal brain function and health. 

The results of our clinical trials to date demonstrate that altering the microbiome helps some patients to regain their sense of smell, reduce their sleep disturbances and improve their mood, balance and gait - all without any adverse side-effects. Dr. Liebert’s research group has demonstrated repeatedly that PBM can alter the mouse microbiome in Parkinson's and certain metabolic diseases, including Crohn’s and IBS.

Please see more of the best quality, peer-reviewed papers about low level laser therapy in Published Research.

The PDCare 904 nm Laser by SYMBYX is CE marked and TGA approved for reduction in Parkinson's and Fibromyalgia symptoms, including pain and inflammation management. However  at this stage it should be considered as an adjunct therapy and monitored under medical supervision.