What is Photobiomodulation Therapy

What is Photobiomodulation Therapy

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What is Photobiomodulation Therapy?

Photobiomodulation therapy is a popular treatment option that shines wavelengths of healthy light on the body and cells. Photobiomodulation, or PBM, is also known by other names like light therapy and red light therapy. In this article, we’ll explain what photobiomodulation therapy is and how it works. We’ll also break down the health benefits of PBM therapy and show you the best PBM treatment options.

What is Photobiomodulation?

Photobiomodulation is the scientific term for using LEDs or lasers to treat the body with wavelengths of light. This is just like the wavelengths of light your body needs from natural sunlight, but without the heat or UV rays that can cause sun damage. PBM is a simple, noninvasive treatment that can increase the body’s energy production and lead to systemic health benefits like pain relief, healing, and increased blood flow. Typically, red and near infrared (NIR) wavelengths of light are used for the most effective PBM treatments.

PBM is the most beneficial type of light therapy today, with many brands offering at-home LED devices. PBM therapy was developed in the 1960s. NASA studied photobiomodulation in the late 1980s and 1990s for use in space, and over the last two decades, researchers have conducted over a thousand peer-reviewed clinical trials and studies on various kinds of PBM. 

How Does PBM Therapy Work?

A PBM therapy device uses LEDs to deliver concentrated wavelengths of therapeutic light to your skin and cells. PBM therapy is effective because healthy light intake is essential for good health. It’s crucial for cellular function and energy production, just like water, sleep, and the nutrients from food. Unfortunately, most people don’t get as much natural light as they need for optimal health (the average American spends over 90% of their time indoors). [1] PBM therapy is an easy solution for getting consistent healthy light on a regular basis.

Humans have trillions of cells, and each one needs energy to do their job and keep our bodies in balance. We convert this energy from food, water, and oxygen, and do so most efficiently in a vital process called cellular respiration. The product of cellular respiration is adenosine triphosphate (ATP) energy that our body uses every second. The more efficiently we can create ATP, the better we feel and function.

Red and NIR light from PBM therapy can improve the efficiency of the cellular respiration process and help your body make and use ATP energy more effectively. Light from a PBM device does this by impacting the mitochondria, the powerhouses of the cell. PBM sessions can increase the number of mitochondria [2], and also boost their function in the cell. [3]

In short, PBM treatments can stimulate the electrons involved in the mitochondria during cellular respiration, and help clear out nitric oxide (NO), which is a harmful roadblock to ATP production. [4] Essentially, NO gunks up the cellular system of ATP production, and red and NIR light helps prevent and reverse this problem. The photons in red and NIR light excite electrons, which helps break up nitric oxide bonds, so hydrogen ions can move through the process more effectively, resulting in greater levels of ATP energy that power your cells and body. [3]

That’s a broad summary of a very complicated, microscopic process. For a more detailed look at how light impacts cellular respiration, you can read this overview of the mitochondria and ATP process.

Health Benefits of PBM Therapy

Photobiomodulation has been widely studied and tested in peer-reviewed clinical research over the past thirty years. These are some of the most well-established health benefits of PBM therapy with wavelengths of red and near infrared (NIR) light.

Pain & Inflammation Relief: One of the most common benefits of PBM therapy is inflammation and pain relief. PBM therapy devices can help improve the efficiency of your body’s natural inflammation and pain processes as you recover from illness or injury. [5] Read more about inflammation, strain, and PBM here.

Skin Health: Taking in healthy light from PBM therapy is crucial for skin cells, skin health, and beauty. Red and NIR light promotes balance across the body and skin by enhancing cellular respiration, making energy production more efficient, with less oxidative stress. [8,9] When your cells are in greater balance, your skin will look and feel softer and more invigorated. Learn more about skin health and light therapy here.

Performance & Recovery: Photobiomodulation is used by trainers and pro athletes to improve fitness, boost physical performance, and support the recovery process. Muscle cells require a great deal of energy, and grow & strengthen through a process of tears & repairs. PBM therapy helps your body produce and use energy more efficiently. Supporting circulation and inflammation reduction with PBM can also help you heal and recover after injuries and workouts. [6] Joovv’s unique Recovery+ mode is designed to optimize the body’s natural recovery process. Learn more about recovery, performance, and PBM here.

Sleep & Circadian Rhythm: Healthy light intake is crucial for sleep and maintaining natural circadian rhythms. Our brains interpret light as a sign of when to be awake and asleep, and when to make crucial sleep hormones like melatonin. Bright blue light at night can knock your sleep cycle out of whack, but red light is a lower-intensity alternative that can help support longer, more restful sleep. [7,8] Joovv designed Ambient Mode especially to support sleep and circadian rhythms. Learn about circadian rhythms and PBM therapy here.

Improved Blood Flow & Healing: One of the potential benefits of photobiomodulation is a significant increase in blood circulation following treatment sessions. This indicates tissues are receiving more oxygen and other nutrients that are important for healing. At the same time, concentrated light wavelengths can help the body and circulatory system rid itself of toxic byproducts. [9] Learn more about circulation and therapy lights here.

PBM Therapy is Safe & Low-risk: Photobiomodulation devices are quick and easy to use at home. They’ve also proven to be safe, with almost no side effects*, in hundreds and hundreds of clinical trials and studies. Doctors and health practitioners use LED treatments because they’re non-invasive and well-tolerated by patients young and old.

PBM Therapy Treatment Options

PBM therapy is a popular treatment method among medical professionals and consumers alike. You can use PBM in your home with a quality LED system like a Joovv. If you’re willing to pay for PBM treatments on a per-visit or subscription basis, there are also many businesses and clinics that offer LED sessions. The most common places to find professional PBM treatments are spas, salons, gyms, trainers, medical doctors, and chiropractors. 

The downside to the commercial route is cost. It is much more expensive to do PBM therapy sessions at clinics than at home. It’s also harder to maintain consistency, which is crucial for effective PBM therapy. That’s why many people choose to purchase an in-home PBM therapy system they can use every day, without extra costs.

What to Look for in an At-home PBM Therapy Device

With an in-home PBM system like Joovv, you can pay a one time cost or buy now and pay later with affordable monthly financing options and then have unlimited access to private, convenient PBM sessions. When you shop for an at-home PB device, make sure to remember these key factors:

Safe & tested for human use: When choosing a PBM product for your home, make sure to pick a brand that’s science-based and backed by research and independent testing from leading labs and regulatory bodies. You don’t want to pay for a cut-rate PBM therapy device that’s not designed for human use. 

Flexible setup configurations: With Joovv’s patented modular system, you can pick from 7 configuration options ranging from targeted to full-body coverage. Other PBM systems are more of a one-size-fits-all approach and may limit your treatment options. To learn more about Joovv’s modular system, check out this helpful guide. 

Short, convenient treatments: With a larger PBM device like a full-body Joovv, you can treat your whole body with healthy light in a matter of minutes. With smaller devices, it would take hours to get that kind of light coverage across the body.

Joovv Elite Gen 3.0

Unique features to enhance your at-home PBM experience: Ideally, you want home PBM treatments to feel like you’re at your own private spa. For the best experience, choose a brand like Joovv that offers features beyond just a panel of LEDs. Below are some of Joovv’s unique features that take a PBM session to the next level.

Recovery+ Mode for Optimal Healing

Recovery+ mode is a setting on Joovv devices that optimizes the natural recovery, healing, and regeneration processes of the body. When a Joovv device is set to Recovery+ mode, it will deliver both continuous waves of red light and pulsed waves of NIR light. Pulsed NIR light has been shown to work even better for recovery and cellular regeneration versus continuous NIR and red light. [7,8] Recovery+ mode is the ideal PBM setting to enhance the body’s recovery process after a workout or injury. Learn more about how Recovery+ mode works here.

Ambient Mode for Improved Sleep

Joovv designed Ambient Mode especially to support sleep and circadian rhythms. You won’t find this cutting-edge sleep tech feature on any other PBM therapy products. Ambient mode is a setting on Joovv’s PBM therapy devices that’s designed to support healthier light use and better sleep. Ambient mode delivers lower intensity red light than a normal Joovv treatment session. It’s designed for use at night and in the morning, as an alternative to bright artificial blue light. 

Conclusion: PBM Therapy is Safe and Effective

Photobiomodulation is a safe, effective, and widely-studied treatment method that shines wavelengths of healthy light on the body and cells. The body uses this light to reduce oxidative stress, and increase ATP energy production, which can have numerous benefits like pain and inflammation relief, performance and recovery, and improved sleep and blood flow. You can find PBM therapy from doctors and health businesses, but the best experience is at home, with a high-quality device like Joovv that offers convenient setup options and unique design and features.


Sources & References:

[1] Klepeis NE, Nelson WC, Ott WR, et al. The National Human Activity Pattern Survey (NHAPS): a resource for assessing exposure to environmental pollutants. Journal of Exposure Analysis and Environmental Epidemiology. 2001 May.

[2] Karu T. Primary and Secondary Mechanisms of Action of Visible to Near-IR Radiation on Cells. Journal of Photochemistry Photobiology. 1999 Mar.

[3] Ferraresi C, Kaippert B, et al. Low-level Laser (Light) Therapy Increases Mitochondrial Membrane Potential and ATP Synthesis in C2C12 Myotubes with a Peak Response at 3-6 h. Photochemistry and Photobiology. 2015 Mar.

[4] Huang YY, Chen ACH, Carroll JD, Hamblin MR. Biphasic dose response in low level light therapy. Dose Response. 2009 Sep.

[5] Hamblin M. Mechanisms and applications of the anti-inflammatory effects of photobiomodulation. AIMS Biophysics. 2017 May.

[6] Stelian J, Gil I, Habot B, Rosenthal M, Abramovici I, Kutok N, Khahil A. Improvement of pain and disability in elderly patients with degenerative osteoarthritis of the knee treated with narrow-band light therapy. J Am Geriatr Soc. 1992 Jan;40(1):23-6.

[7] Jung C, Khalsa S, et al. Acute Effects of Bright Light Exposure on Cortisol Levels. Journal of Biological Rhythms. 2010 Jun.

[8] Harvard Health. Blue light has a dark side.

[9] Mak MC, Cheing GL. Immediate effects of monochromatic infrared energy on microcirculation in healthy subjects. Photomed Laser Surg. 2012.

*To see a list of precautionary warnings and contraindications click here.