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What is photobiomodulation therapy?

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It is often queried what is the difference between Photobiomodulation Therapy and Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy (LLLT) – put simply, nothing.

Low-Level Laser (Light) Therapy was first discovered and named in 1967. Since then extensive research has been conducted which has found that lasers were in fact not necessary to obtain the beneficial biological effects, instead, LEDs were a comparable option. It also wasn’t very clear to most what ‘low-level’ actually meant in the name, therefore, the name was changed altogether to ‘Photobiomodulation Therapy’ which is abbreviated to PBM(T). 

So what exactly is Photobiomodulation Therapy?

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PBM Therapy is the application of red and near infra-red light over injuries or lesions to improve healing, reduce inflammation and give relief for both acute and chronic pain. In a nutshell, light therapy helps speed up the body’s natural healing processes.

Photobiomodulation can look like a big, confusing word. So, let’s break it down. Photo stands for light, bio meaning cells, and then modulation meaning that you can improve or reduce the effects that the body has on the cell itself. Altogether, this really explains what photobiomodulation is, it uses the light to repair the body and regenerate to reduce pain, inflammation and to heal. The red and near infra-red light used in PBM can be delivered by low-level lasers or high-intensity LEDs. 

What exactly does it do, and how does it work?

We will need to take a small science lesson to understand just how PBM Therapy works, however, we will aim to keep it concise. 

During Photobiomodulation Therapy, the mitochondria of the cell are penetrated by the light. Mitochondria are membrane-bound cell organelles that generate chemical energy which is stored in a small molecule called adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP is essentially what keeps our bodies running! It powers all the functions of the cell. 

When a cell is in stress, (this could be due to illness, injury or inflammation) a nitric oxide molecule is bound to the ATP. This is where PBM comes in to save the day. The light during your PBM treatment hits the cell and the nitric oxide molecule comes off and attaches to an oxygen molecule instead. A benefit from the nitric oxide leaving the cell is that it widens the blood vessels around the area, which leads to an increase of blood flow to the area. Then, once the nitric oxide molecule is removed from the cell, it is free to create the ATP our bodies so desperately need to function. 

So now the nitric oxide module is removed from the cell, it is free to create energy, and all of the cell signallings are restored. The benefits of this are a reduction in inflammation and pain, and increased blood flow from the nitric oxide module leaving. 

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You may hear us refer to Photobiomodulation as similar to the repairing rays from the sun (without the risk of skin cancer). This parallel is drawn from the likeness of a plant using the energy from the sun to grow big and strong. Photobiomodulation is similar to this photochemical reaction in which you get energy from the light, except in this case it’s on a cellular level.

Are you thinking about trying Photobiomodulation Therapy? Consult the team at NovoGen and try our NovoTHOR Light Therapy Pod!