Can Red Light Therapy be used to treat Parkinson's Disease? Read on to find out more
Parkinson’s disease seems to be more common than ever before and can come with a variety of daily struggles. There is an assumption that people with Parkinson disease are of the elder population, however, 5% of people with Parkinson's are diagnosed under the age of 60, and some may be as young as 30 or 40. If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with Parkinson it's important to understand your unique prognosis and how it can differ from person to person. It’s common to see people whom are in their early stages of Parkinson's disease that can live fairly normal lives. Some good news to note is that most scientific evidence suggest: “that the full effect of the Parkinson’s pandemic is not inevitable but, to a large extent, preventable.”
Parkinson’s is a devastating illness with no known cure or treatment to delay its progression. It comes like a thief in the night and destroys the brain’s ability to produce dopamine, a crucially important neurotransmitter which in turn affects the body’s functioning on many levels.
Many of us immediately think of Michael J Fox’s sad revelation that he had been diagnosed the disease at the young age of 29 and had been living with it for several years. After being forced to reduce his workload, the disease had progressed to a stage where it had finally become too debilitating to continue with his career. Michael J Fox announced that he was retiring from acting in 2020.
The gradual erosion of infinitely important abilities underlying fine and gross motor skills affects every movement a person makes such as walking, swallowing, balancing and becomes increasingly noticeable over time. At the point that it is diagnosed and has become evident, much of the damage has been done and the only course of treatment is to try to control and diminish symptoms as much as possible. Although Parkinson’s cannot be cured; there are ways to improve the symptoms through medication as well as lifestyle implementations.
Symptoms of Parkinson’s can vary depending on the individual affected; some may even be subclinical and go unnoticed for years. Parkinson’s symptoms may include:
Tremors: typically characterized by the shaking of limbs, hands or fingers.
Bradykinesia: The clinical term for slowed movement which becomes worse over time. It might affect the way the person walks and make it more difficult for them to lift their feet.
Stiff muscles: This may also affect any part of the person’s body, potentially causing cause pain and limiting the normal range of motion in joints.
Affected posture and balance: some individuals may experience a loss of coordination and balance; posture may become poor and the person may appear hunched over.
Impaired automatic movements: there may be a diminished capacity to do you things like blink, form facial expressions, swing arms when walking
Speaking: individuals affected by Parkinson’s may find it difficult to make themselves heard, speech may become soft, quick or slurred.
Difficulty writing: handwriting may be severely affected, making it more difficult to write and the writing may be less legible.
The cause of Parkinson’s is not entirely known, however there are certain variables that have been identified. These may be linked to specific genetic or environmental factors– such as relatives with the disease or exposure to certain toxins; while some speculate about an additional correlation between Parkinson’s and an unbalanced gut microbiome.
The symptoms of Parkinson’s are caused by certain nerve cells in the brain deteriorating and eventually dying. This lessens the brain’s ability to create dopamine, leading to impaired brain activity which causes the tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson’s. Find out more about how the Microbiome plays a significant role in Parkinson's disease in the following podcast:
Many Parkinson’s patients actively seek out exercises and lifestyle habits that can help improve their coordination, strength and reduce tremors. Some of these measures may include exercises such as tai chi, nutritional supplements, acupuncture, massage therapy and CBD oil. Certain medications which influence neurotransmitters are said to be very helpful as well.
Red Light Therapy and Parkinson’s
Where does red light therapy come into the picture? There is exciting new data showing that red light therapy can indeed have some benefits for Parkinson’s patients who have a few options to turn. A prospective proof of concept study, which just came out in June 2021, concluded that Parkinson’s patient experienced many positive results when using red light therapy.
According to the authors “Measures of mobility, cognition, dynamic balance and fine motor skill were significantly improved (p < 0.05) with PBM treatment for 12 weeks and up to one year”. In a disease that is incredibly difficult to treat, this is fantastic news. Unsurprisingly, “no side effects of the treatment were observed” as Red Light is a very soothing, noninvasive treatment for most patients.
It makes complete sense that red and NIR wavelengths would be helpful and return such positive results, as red light therapy has such a strong correlation to brain health as well as immune system benefits and is often used in neurological applications and studies.
As with any new therapy or treatment, always check with your physician before starting beginning red light therapy.
Whether you or your loved one is suffering from this disease, we wish you the absolute best of luck in your wellness journey.
Our family of Rouge panels will give you many options for soothing red light therapy treatments from the comfort of your own home.