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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