Red & NIR Light

Enough Is Enough: Let's Cure This

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And lets use Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light to accomplish that.


You'll come across other terms: photo-therapy, photonic therapy, photobiomodulation.


If you know nothing of the sort, here begins your introduction.


This will include references to that "peer-reviewed" literature, or the argument quickly loses credibility.


The previous step was to link SARS-CoV-2 human infection to mitochondrial damage and hijacking.


Next we need to link the repair of mitochondrial damage, to Red (660nm) & Near-Infrared (830nm) light.


If you have come this far to arrive here with us, you are now a mitochondrial expert (or pretty close). 

Now it's time for you to  become a Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light expert.


  An Annotated Bibliography : Red (662nm) & Near-Infrared (831nm) Light  


To keep your interest, let's start with references that have already linked Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light to SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic.


After that's done, we'll add on another page, important details to present more completely: Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light.



   Light, viruses, & COVID-19   



> Here is an article abstract from 2009. So this is not brand new. Sometimes, as in this case, you'll see the word laser used. Lasers usually cause heat. Not all sources of Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light, diodes for instance, generate heat. But here is a start: a theory, a good result, an application suggested.


Photonic approach to the selective inactivation of viruses with a near-infrared subpicosecond fiber laser

  • November 2009
  • Journal of Biomedical Optics 14(6):064042



We report a photonic approach for selective inactivation of viruses with a near-infrared subpicosecond laser. We demonstrate that this method can selectively inactivate viral particles ranging from nonpathogenic viruses such as the M13 bacteriophage and the tobacco mosaic virus to pathogenic viruses such as the human papillomavirus and the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). At the same time, sensitive materials such as human Jurkat T cells, human red blood cells, and mouse dendritic cells remain unharmed. The laser technology targets the global mechanical properties of the viral protein shell, making it relatively insensitive to the local genetic mutation in the target viruses. As a result, the approach can inactivate both the wild and mutated strains of viruses. This intriguing advantage is particularly important in the treatment of diseases involving rapidly mutating viral species such as HIV. Our photonic approach could be used for the disinfection of viral pathogens in blood products and for the treatment of blood-borne viral diseases in the clinic.

Photonic approach to the selective inactivation of viruses with near-infrared subpicosecond fiber laser.




> "The present treatments are focused on virus removal, tissue oxygenation, and reduction or inhibition of cytokine storm caused by severe inflammation."

Photobiomodulation and Antiviral Photodynamic Therapy as a Possible Novel Approach in COVID-19 Management.


> "We demonstrate an unconventional and revolutionary method for selective inactivation of micro-organisms by using near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses. We show that if the wavelength and pulse width of the excitation femtosecond laser are appropriately selected, there exists a window in power
density that enables us to achieve selective inactivation of target viruses and bacteria without causing cytotoxicity in mammalian cells." (NOTE: Interesting. But the target discussed is the virus, and not the host's cells).

Selective inactivation of micro-organisms with near-infrared femtosecond laser pulses.


> "Photobiomodulation (PBM) employs low levels of red or near-infrared (NIR) light to treat and heal wounds and injuries, reduce pain and inflammation, regenerate damaged tissue, and protect tissue at risk of dying [104]. Instead of directly targeting viruses, PBM mainly acts on the host cells, which absorb light in the red and near-infrared spectral region [104]. Literature indicates that photons are absorbed by multiple cellular chromophores, including mitochondrial enzymes, to trigger the biological effects of PBM." (NOTE: See especially Section 8., page 4 for pertinent information, although other sections are also of value).

Light-based technologies for management of COVID-19 pandemic crisis.


> "Suggested use of PBM (photobiomodulation) for cytokine storm in COVID-19." Note: and of course, its application should extend well beyond the setting of "cytokine storm" only.

Can Transdermal PhotobiomodulationHelp Us at the Time of COVID-19


> "Photobiomodulation could be a promising novel treatment approach. In this non-invasive method, light-emitting diodes or low-level lasers are used to irradiate on the tissue in order to activate the cellular photo-acceptors. Irradiation is absorbed by the internal photo-acceptors like porphyrins, cytochrome C oxidase, and light-sensitive ion channels. Cytochrome C oxidase is unit IV of the mitochondrial respiratory chain, absorbing the red and near infrared wavelengths. This leads to higher electron transport, increased mitochondrial membrane potential and increased production of the adenosine triphosphate (ATP)."

Probable positive effects of the photobiomodulation as an adjunctive treatment in COVID-19: A systematic review


> "Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is associated with lung inflammation and cytokine storm. Photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) is a safe, non-invasive therapy with significant anti-inflammatory effects. Adjunct PBMT has been employed in treating patients with lung conditions. Human studies and experimental models of respiratory disease suggest PBMT reduces inflammation and promotes lung healing."

A 57-year-old african american man with severe COVID-19 pneumonia who responded to supportive photobiomodulation therapy. First use of PBMT in COVID-19.


-----------  Below this line, ... photons, but not the same subject --------


   Light of a Different Color   


> "Antimicrobial resistance is a significant and growing concern. To continue to treat even
simple infections, there is a pressing need for new alternative and complementary
approaches to antimicrobial therapy. One possible addition to the current range of
treatments is the use of narrow-wavelength light as an antimicrobial, which has been
shown to eliminate a range of common pathogens."

NOTE: While this is still in the field of discussion, it is presenting BLUE light for its antimicrobial effects (e.g., UV-C) but NOT RED Light.

Light as a Broad-Spectrum Antimicrobial


> "...  proposing particles of similar sizes that could attach to SARS-CoV-2 viruses,
disrupting their structure with a combination of infrared light treatment. That structural
change would then halt the ability of the virus to survive and reproduce in the body."

NOTE: This is about using particles the same size as the virus (nanoparticles) which would attach to the virus and kill it with infrared light. Interesting, but not at all related to applications or Red (660nm) & Near-Infrared (830nm) light to address mitochindrial problems in a human.

Placed here to help distinguish the two as separate and unrelated. I also note, that it is not published in the "peer-reviewed" literature, but a publication belong to a nan-technology firm.

Nanoparticles Cast New Light on Mysterious Coronavirus, Treatment Is Around the Corner.


> "...  phototherapy is a promising treatment modality, which needs to be validated further for COVID-19 by robust and rigorous randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled, clinical trials to evaluate its impartial outcomes and safety."

Phototherapy as a Rational Antioxidant Treatment Modality in COVID-19 Management New Concept and Strategic Approach : A Critical Review





This page presented a current look at light therapy and COVID-19.

How does that read today, 30 November, 2020?


      • Based on this review, researchers are moving towards COVID-19 with light.
      • Some of this light is not aimed at the mitochondria that we have been interested in, but at the virus itself. It's a different topic.
      • Here we find reports of "First use" of this therapy in a COVID-19 patient. That was done with laser and not diodes. It's reported as a first, but certainly wasn't.
      • A fair amount a variation in effective explanation of effects of Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light seems to come across.
      • A rough beginning, but nevertheless, a beginning. 
      • Suggestions about how this therapy should be further studied. This does not give a sense that the time is now to move ahead with a new application of an already well established treatment device. A review of past applications and for what illnesses, what is actually known and already being applied since at least a few years, should help here.
  • So before pushing ahead with how Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light therapy for COVID-19 should be put in place most effectively, something is still missing.
  • And that something is a more complete presentation of Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light as photobiomodulation:
    • How it works. A bit more on light.
    • In what clinical settings.
    • But always with a selective hand on gathering information pertinent to COVID-19 therapy ASAP.


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Selected Bibliography : Red (660nm) & Near-Infrared (830nm) light

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The goal here is to share some articles published in the Medical and Scientific Literature, and to describe the light wavelengths mentioned in the title above.


Establishing a scientific background for their use in the setting of  "long-term" COVID-19 is the intention.

It clearly follows on the heals of the Questionnaire already presented, along with its answers provided.

You can find these results most efficiently by referring to this Index, by question number.


What follows should also help to counter any impressions some may have that light therapy is just another variant of "snake oil," commercialized for the good of many excepting the patient(s) involved.


These references will be annotated where that may help, followed by the link to the article itself.


This process should help confirm that much is already known about the optic principles from their study in physics. Light is not a new field.


Much is already known about their application in Medicine as well. That too is not a new field, though some seem to present it that way. Perhaps these have just come across the topic, even though lasers have been used in surgery for many years now. Here, the applications will usually be a bit different from lasers, as the references will instruct. 


Just as the 'novel' coronavirus is new (or was about a year ago) use of Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light in various ways for those affected by this viral illness, is also 'novel'. Its application at a time when the numbers of patients who might benefit is still growing, means that one should anticipate a rapid evolution in what is learned and applied. Our own personal use and experience may potentially contribute as well to the understanding and development of such applications. We have already found examples of where such "spin-offs" are of little or no value. Their existence should come as no surprise.


This listing should also help one to acquire an understand of what this is about, and what is not at all related, though still in the domain of sources of light and their application to various uses. 


For example, this is not about using light to kill viruses (or other harmful cells), but rather about healing human cells through their activation and assisting them in a return towards normal health. As we shall see, using infrared sources to generate heat locally or more generally, in a sauna for example, is not what this collection of articles is about.


So one distinction has just been made: near-infrared and infrared are not the same thing.


But the parts of this that remain as unknowns, should not be allowed to pose a barrier to forging ahead.


Given the high safety profile of Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light, we favor forging ahead rather than marching back down the phylogenetic staircase to mice and Drosophila m.  In fact, much has already been done at that level of basic scientific investigation. Healing of skin lesions in rats comes to mind. And the presence of that foundational work is good. It permits moving right along.


References will next be presented below. They may be reorganized from time to time and added to, making a more cogent supportive argument for their use, not in the future, but today. At the same time, safety issues remain of paramount importance. Not because many are already known to exist, that is not the case, but because that is appropriate and essential. So any untoward outcomes should be quickly shared. Either here, or in the literature.


  Getting Oriented  


To put this in context with things that we experience each day, sunlight's composition at ground level, per square meter, with the sun at the zenith, is about 527 watts of infrared radiation, 445 watts of visible light, and 32 watts of ultraviolet radiation. "Visible light" has been highlighted to call attention to the fact that some "light" is not visible to the human eye. "Ground level" is mentioned because much of what the sun sends in our direction gets filtered out or reflected by our atmosphere, and that is good. Gamma rays and most X-rays, for example, are best sent back to where they came from.


The spectral colors are presented here:


Spectral colors


Notice each color's association with a wavelength, a frequency which is its inverse, and energy delivered. 


Notice Ultraviolet (UV) not on the list but just above (or usually placed to the left of) it. Also not visible.

Notice the higher energy levels at the top, so UV is also higher energy, and can be damaging (sunburn).


Notice that "Near-Infrared" is not on the list, because it lies outside of the visible spectrum. It is just above Red as shown above in terms of wavelength. As shown, these  are usually a range of wavelengths and not just one. For Near-Infrared, we'll be using 830 nanometers. Some individuals can see Near-Infrared just a bit. Some sources that seem to be emitting no light actually are, but it's mostly invisible. 


More introduction is probably not needed. Many more details will follow below, pertinent to our pursuit.

Somehow each, like a piece of a puzzle, should help to eventually form a useful image of this specific therapy using light. 



  Annotated Bibliography  



Here articles are summarized with the goal of generating interest, more than an exhaustive presentaion of what is available in the domain of Low Level Light Therapy (LLLT), or photobiomodulation (PBM).


Selections from the abstract or article itself are presented in quotations, followed by a brief annotation.



 History/ Origins  


1.) Whelan HT, et al Effect of NASA light-emitting diode irradiation on wound healing. J Clin Laser Med Surg. 2001 Dec;19(6):305-14. doi: 10.1089/104454701753342758. PMID: 11776448.


"Light-emitting diodes (LED), originally developed for NASA plant growth experiments in space show promise for delivering light deep into tissues of the body to promote wound healing and human tissue growth."


Important historically, NASA took near infrared light into space for plants. Then learned it was also effective for wound healing. Notice the date, 2001.


  Clinical & Experimental/ Mitochondria too  


2.) May 2006Photomedicine and Laser Surgery 24(2):121-8

"This review presents current research on the use of far-red to near-infrared (NIR) light treatment in various in vitro and in vivo models."


"NIR-LED light represents a novel, noninvasive, therapeutic intervention for the treatment of numerous diseases linked to mitochondrial dysfunction."


A very accessible review, and overall positive source of information.


Clinical and Experimental Applications of NIR-LED Photobiomodulation.




 Overall review/ (Excellent)  


3.) Michael R Hamblin and Tatiana N Demidova,  Wellman Center for Photomedicine, Massachusetts General Hospital


"The use of low levels of visible or near infrared light for reducing pain, inflammation and edema, promoting healing of wounds, deeper tissues and nerves, and preventing tissue damage has been known for almost forty years."

"Mitochondria are thought to be a likely site for the initial
effects of light, leading to increased ATP production, modulation of reactive oxygen species and induction of transcription factors."


An excellent overview. Leaves little unexplained.


Mechanisms of low level light therapy – an introduction



  Clinical / Various applications  


4.) Photobiomodulation, Photomedicine, and Laser Surgery
Volume 37, Number 11, 2019 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc. Pp. 681–693
DOI: 10.1089/photob.2019.4628


"... the present perspective introduces a new term ‘‘photobiomics’’ and looks forward to the
application of PBM to influence the microbiome in humans. Some mechanisms by which this phenomenon might occur are considered."


This article presents the wide variety of human diseases and disorders that have been treated by photobiomodulation.


'Photobiomics' - Can Light, Including Photobiomodulation, Alter the Microbiome



  Basic Science /  Red & NIR light  


5.)  "Light affects by generating oxide radicals in mitochondrial
respiratory complexes by the activity of cyclooxygenase 'c' (CCO) situated in the mitochondrial inner membranes."


"Current data confirms that fluences above 15 J/cm2 are damaging to the functioning of mitochondria, possibly from the excessive oxidative stress.

Goal: to identify wavelength and fluences of lasers that are well suited for their applications."


A very technical article. It also suggests that at higher fluences above 15 J per cm², cellular damage is possible. Most clinical applications are applying around 4 Joules per cm².


Effect of red light and near infrared laser on the generation of reactive oxygen species in primary dermal fibroblasts.



  Basic Science/ evolving ideas  


6.) Annals of Translational Medicine 2019;7 (Supple 1);S13 Andrei P. Sommer Various wavelengths of light, including red and near infrared delivered by lasers or LEDs are instrumental in up regulating mitochondrial ATP levels.


"Conflicting data casts serious doubt on the validity of the concept that cyclooxygenase C is the primary photo acceptor for red and near infrared light being causal for the ATP up regulation."


"At the same time there is conclusive evidence that both ATP up regulation and cell proliferation by red and near infrared light occurs via the interaction of photons with intracellular water."


The argument being advanced here simply demonstrates that the science behind low level light therapy (LLLT) is still evolving. Here, Interfacial Water Layers (IWL) is suggested as the acceptor of light energy rather than Cytochrome 'c' Oxidase (CCO).


Mitochondrial cytochrome c oxidase is not the primary acceptor for near infrared light—it is mitochondrial bound water - the principles of low-level light therapy



  Basic science/ Bone & brain penetration  


7.) "Natural sunlight encompasses wavelengths used in red-near-infrared light therapy.  ...  sunlight can provide doses of light equivalent to  those used in therapeutic trials."


"Transmission through post-mortem skull bone was dependent upon thickness, and ranged from 5-12% at peak wavelengths of 700-850 nm. Transmission through brain tissue ranged from 1-7%."


This suggests penetration to deep portions of the brain is less probable. This also links red-near-infrared light sources back to sunlight, which includes these wavelengths.


A new perspective on delivery of red-near-infrared light therapy for disorders of the brain



  Clinical & Experimental / Brain  


8.)  Chaieb L, Antal A, Masurat F and Paulus W (2015) Neuroplastic effects
of transcranial near-infrared stimulation (tNIRS) on the motor cortex. Front. Behav. Neurosci. 9:147. June 2, 2015 doi: 10.3389/fnbeh.2015.00147


"Here, we claim that tNIRS offers the potential to induce neuroplastic changes in the intact human cortex. Since tNIRS is believed to modify mitochondrial respiration, it might offer a possibility to aid in the management of a wide variety of disease pathologies originating from mitochondrial dysfunction."


"Here, we provide evidence that tNIRS is suitable as a tool for influencing cortical excitability and activity in the healthy human brain."


A demonstration that measurable effects on the human brain cortex are possible. No side effects of importance were noted.


Neuroplastic effects of transcranial near-infrared stimulation (tNIRS) on the motor cortex



  Clinical  / Traumatic Brain Injury   


9.) NEURAL REGENERATION RESEARCH April 2016,Volume 11,Issue 4


"... the mechanisms underlying the therapeutic benefits of NILT appear to depend upon the absorption of NIR photons in the wavelength range of 600–1,200 nm by cytochrome c oxidase in the mitochondria"


" In addition to increasing adenosine triphosphate (ATP) production, NILT can modulate reactive oxygen species, activate mitochondrial DNA replication, increase early-response genes."


These data presented herein make an intriguing case for the potential of multi-watt NIR laser therapy as a safe and effective modality for the treatment of Traumatic Brain Injury and possibly other neurological insults.


Multi-watt near-infrared light therapy as a neuroregenerative treatment for traumatic brain injury



  On the Periphery / AD and Dementia   


10.) Michael R. Hamblin  Photonics 2019, 6, 77; doi:10.3390/photonics6030077


"The fact that photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) may produce a large range of beneficial changes in the brain, and is without any major side-effects, suggests it should be more widely tested for AD and dementia in large controlled trials. "


"Exposing the head to light at power levels less than that received in direct sunlight (but
without harmful ultraviolet wavelengths) is intrinsically safe."


Provides a broader perspective that goes beyond AD. One thinks about applications for "brain fog."


Photobiomodulation for Alzheimer’s Disease - Has the Light Dawned ?



  On the Periphery / Melatonin   


11.) Medical Hypotheses (2007) 69, 372–376 Ronnie L. Yeager, Deanna A. Oleske, Ruth A. Sanders, John B. Watkins III, Janis T. Eells, Diane S. Henshel


"... functions of melatonin in the context of red light therapy and proposes that melatonin is a potential mediator of red light’s therapeutic effects, a hypothesis that is as yet untested. "


"Red light therapy (670 nm, 4 J/cm2 ) has been shown to restore glutathione redox balance upon toxicological insult and enhance both cytochrome c oxidase and energy production, all of which may be affected by melatonin."


The focus here is not specifically mitochondria in the setting of COVID-19. But this is nevertheless quite interesting and recalls once again, how many things are linked.


Melatonin as a principal component of red light therapy.





Above, a selection of annotated references presented with the aim of introducing red (660nm) and near-infrared (830nm) light therapy, its science and applications.


Below, more technical information for those with lots of energy.



> Mitochondria and components of the Electron Transport Chain have been presented.

For our purposes, Cytochrome 'c' is a key player for understanding what is the actual target of our proposed light therapy: chromophores.

Just as plants have receptors in the chloroplasts of their leaves, so do we. (We have receptors, not leaves! ).


Chromophore concentrations, absorption and scattering properties of human skin in-vivo


Emerging Roles in the Biogenesis of Cytochrome c Oxidase for Members of the Mitochondrial Carrier Family


Mitochondrial Cytochrome c Oxidase Biogenesis - Recent Developments


Cytochrome c Oxidase on the Crossroads of Transcriptional Regulation and Bioenergetics


Estimation of the spectral absorption of light by components of human skin


Cytochrome C oxidase - a review



> Brain


Red and NIR light dosimetry in the human deep brain



Moving on to the next topic is essential to avoid getting bogged down.


After our initial introduction of photobiomodulation (PBM) or low level light therapy (LLLT) actually being used today in the setting of COVID-19, we preferred to slow the pace and expose a bit more on the science behind this move.


That has been done now. Here on this page.



  This is still about 'long-term" COVID-19   


  • The responses to our questionnaire strongly suggested a persistent problem with cellular energetics.
  • We have reorganized these responses and comparisons and been attracted towards mitochondria and their diseases.
  • We have suggested that "long-term" COVID-19 is behaving like a mitochondrial disease.
  • We have introduced Red (660nm) and Near-Infrared (830nm) light and the effects of these wavelengths on mitochondria to increase their energy states and production of ATP in a broad range of clinical settings.
  • We have provided references that support the idea that such light is also provided in sunlight, and that in many clinical applications, its safety profile is quite positive.
  • So what are we waiting for?


Time to place "long-term" COVID-19 in the light.  The right light.


How should that be done ? >>>>


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