About 6 million people in the United States have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and about 50 million people worldwide have dementia. There aren’t many treatments to treat these neurological diseases. Scientists in a 2018 research study on red light therapy and mice described that “treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia has not been effective for more than 100 years.” Another research study described that there is currently “no treatment to prevent brain health issues.
However, research studies on red light therapy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have been positive over the last few years in laboratory settings with rodent models. Based on this lab data, researchers recommend red light therapy and near-infrared light therapy in human patients with AD and dementia. In this article, we will look at what the initial human research studies on red light therapy and Alzheimer’s disease/dementia have shown over the last few years.
The first few double-blinded, placebo-controlled human trials on red light therapy for AD, dementia, and other neurological diseases published in 2017 had very positive results. The data showed that red light therapy caused changes in executive function, clock drawing, immediate recall, memory, visual attention, and task switching, among other positive results. One research study showed that patients treated with transcranial light therapy experienced improvements, such as:
The research study noted that there were “no negative side-effects” on transcranial light therapy for neurological diseases. The research study concluded that transcranial light therapy shows potential for the treatment of brain health issues.
The results of these initial human trials are encouraging for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients and families looking for better treatment options, especially natural and non-invasive treatments with no drugs/medications or side effects.
In early 2019, three more human trials on red light therapy and AD/dementia have been in progress at the University of California and a hospital system in France. With the previous positive results, more and larger research studies and human trials are being organized. Scientists hope that in the following years, the base of positive evidence will be large enough to recommend red light therapy as a treatment for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, among other neurological diseases.
The results from human trials over the last few years have established a much bigger base of similarly positive results from research studies of rodent brains in Alzheimer’s disease and dementia models, both of which are outlined below.
A 2018 research study of mice in an age-related AD/dementia model showed that red light therapy considerably reduced oxidative stress levels and restored memory function. The researchers also praised red light therapy for being a non-invasive treatment option as well as having a high rate of tissue penetration and low phototoxicity. The researchers additionally found that red light therapy not only prevented early-stage memory decline but also recovered late-stage memory deficits.
Researchers in a similar 2015 research study with a mouse AD/dementia model utilized near-infrared (NIR) light instead of red light therapy. The NIR treatments also reduced oxidative stress in the cerebellar cortex. The researchers concluded that NIR treatments had the ability to prevent brain degeneration in every region of the mouse brain. The research studies concluded that light therapy opens a promising opportunity to translate LED-therapy into treatments for patients.
Several research studies have shown that red light therapy can suppress the buildup of Beta-amyloid (Aβ), a protein which causes senile plaques in people with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Synaptic dysfunction, due to the disruptive binding of (Aβ) in the brain, is one of the symptoms of AD and dementia responsible for causing initial cognitive decline. Preventing synaptic dysfunction can be an effective treatment for AD and dementia, helping to regulate and manage symptoms.
Research studies in 2017 evaluated the hippocampus of rat brains in an Alzheimer’s model with light therapy. Both research studies considerably reduced Aβ plaques in the rats treated with light therapy. Both research studies also tested the subjects and found that treatments reduced hippocampal neurodegeneration and improved spatial memory, recognition, and basic motor skills in the light therapy groups. Another research study also showed considerable Aβ reduction and noted that NIR light can reduce synaptic dysfunction from Aβ, showing that NIR light therapy is a viable treatment for AD and dementia.
The initial research studies on red light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia have ultimately been encouraging for researchers. Red light therapy is not FDA-approved for the treatment of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, however, there is hope that more positive results in human trials will show that light therapy is fundamental for AD and dementia treatment.
Based on the available base of positive evidence, however, red light therapy shows promise as a natural, non-invasive, drug/medication-free treatment for brain degeneration where pharmacological solutions have long failed.
By reducing oxidative stress and preventing the accumulation of the Beta-amyloid which causes brain plaques and synapse dysfunction, red light therapy offers hope towards delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia symptoms as well as hopefully even reversing or preventing brain degeneration and cognitive function decline. Researchers, patients, and families affected by AD and dementia will be watching closely in the following years as more positive results emerge.
Research studies have demonstrated positive results on red light therapy for Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Initial research studies on mice and rat models have shown the effects of light therapy on neurological diseases. Although, more human trials are still necessary to establish the effectiveness of red light therapy for AD and dementia, the base positive results are promising. Many healthcare professionals can help treat the symptoms associated with a variety of neurological diseases, among other health issues. – Dr. Alex Jimenez D.C., C.C.S.T. Insight
Research studies on red light therapy for AD and dementia have been positive over the last years. The initial human research studies on red light therapy and Alzheimer’s disease/dementia have been promising. The scope of our information is limited to chiropractic, musculoskeletal and nervous health issues as well as functional medicine articles, topics, and discussions. To further discuss the subject matter above, please feel free to ask Dr. Alex Jimenez or contact us at 915-850-0900 .
Curated by Dr. Alex Jimenez
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