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Light Emitting Diodes for Health

by Raphiem

Ever since LED (Light Emitting Diodes) have fascinated me ... i'd smash them up / open to just see what kind of crystal wafer was inside and try to understand how it worked.

I sincerely believe that LEDs have a long future across many applications and functions especially with regards to health ... LEDs generate narrow band diffused light ....barely produce any heat ... making them safer than lasers and very cheap ...

how they work is simple that a crystal of silicon is cut into a precise wafer that when voltage and current is applied across this crystal wafer it generates light (vibrates) at very accurate wavelengths (terrahertz) frequencies ...

these days the LEDs come clear without any tint on the plastic package encasing the crystal wafer .. which shows that the light generated is purely coming from a vibrating crystal wafer ..

below are some diagrams and notes i've made along the way in my research ... i'm looking to one day developing a sound tank (sensory stimulation tank) as opposed to the good old float tanks ... my sound tank will be producing harmonic tones .. vibrations ... light pulses ... for visual as well as light against skin ... meridian energy points ... and of course aromatherapy ... all computer driven ...

LEDs of old were first used to generate light pulses across the eyes for entrancement and meditation as per MEGABRAIN days of old ...

now as you will read below is how far and wide they are used for healing of ailments and cell / DNA regeneration ....

of importance to note is the following;


Skin penetration depth of optical radiation

As you can see the deeper down into the body you want to go ... we find infrared and near-infrared light to be of most benefit of wavelength 880 nm to 1000 nm ...

Red at 660 nm wavelength is found to be of the most resonant to the human cell and skin surface ....


Make Your Own

Below are a few snapshots of how to make your own if you are inclined for less than $5 and some time ...

Excuse the kitchen table as this is used for much and many experiments ... I like to do things as simple and easy as possible so that most people can do it ... for next to nothing ... I purchased a cheap $3 LED torch from the local nic-nac shop ...

The torch came complete with batteries and all ... the torch contained 9x LEDs which were white (needed to be removed as we want red 660nm) ... the first thing to do was to strip the torch down into all its bits ... this included de-soldering all 9x white LEDs ...

The purpose of the below is to demonstrate that devices selling for $500 and more are waste of money and a rip off ... one not need to spend such extortion sums of money for what is really (well to me) quiet simple ... and most people know someone who knows a little electronics and is handly with a soldering iron ...

For cost of $5 vs. $500 ... but same effectiveness ... when applied as per below research notes ..


Now with a cheap soldering iron and 9x Red LEDs (660 nm) ... solder in the 9x Red LEDs ..


All 9x Red LEDS are now soldered in ... yes ... they are RED ... i.e. they will glow RED when powered up ... but the LEDS all look clear no matter what colour they are ...


Snip-off all the extra wires/leads ...


And under 20 minutes ... you have now a healing device you can use on your skin which is emitting diffused RED at 660 nm wavelength ...


Here it is all put back together and powered up


Here it is on it's side (and of course some spare LEDs and bits of snipped wired laying around...

Below are many notes and links to websites (mainly NASA) ...

Light in the red to near-infrared range immediately relieves pain and heals tissue. It does this by "kick-starting" cells into converting food energy into ATP energy that cells need.  Although high-tech LEDs are being used to provide the light to do this, this is not a new idea to the body. About 30% of sunlight is in the 'healing' red to near-infrared range (wavelengths from 630 nm to 900 nm).  

There is evidence that certain wavelengths provide the greatest biological response.  Some research indicates the following wavelengths could be best: 620, 680, 760, and 820 (as shown in the chart below).  The beneficial ranges are believed to be near these approximate wavelengths, although more research is likely to reveal a more complex picture.  


In a study that will appear in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences , Whelan blinded rats by giving them high doses of methanol, or wood alcohol. This is converted by the body into formic acid, a toxic chemical that inhibits the activity of mitochondria. Within hours, the rats' energy-hungry retinal cells and optic nerves began to die, and the animals went completely blind within one to two days.

But if the rats were treated with LED light with a wavelength of 670 nanometres for 105 seconds at 5, 25 and 50 hours after being dosed with methanol, they recovered 95 per cent of their sight. Remarkably, the retinas of these rats looked indistinguishable from those of normal rats. "There was some tissue regeneration, and neurons, axons and dendrites may also be reconnecting," says Whelan.

What is not yet clear is exactly how the light stimulates healing. But Britton Chance of the University of Pennsylvania has shown that about 50 per cent of the near-infrared light is absorbed by mitochondrial proteins called chromophores. Whelan and his colleagues think the light boosts the activity of a chromophore called cytochrome c oxidase, a key component of the energy-generating machinery.

There are 4 clues that indicate the benefit of red and near-infrared light is not an accident, but a highly "intelligent" and natural result of evolution.

The clues are:

1) The proton pump is the last in a series of 3 pumps which places it in the best location to pull the food conversion process along.

2) The pump absorbs only the red and near-infrared light.

3) The pump is the primary absorber of these wavelengths in the body, around 30%.

4) Blood has a very sharp decline in it's ability to absorb red and near-infrared which indicates blood evolved specifically to allow these wavelengths to pass through.

The pump has a longer evolutionary history than blood because it was inherited from bacteria that formed the symbiotic relationship in mitochondria. Decedents of these bacteria still exist as purple bacteria and still use very similar proton pumps. Studying the effect of red and near-infrared light on these bacteria may provide clues as to how it affects animal cells.

"But if the rats were treated with LED light with a wavelength of 670 nm for 105 seconds at 5, 25 and 50 hours after being dosed with methanol, they recovered 95 per cent of their sight. Remarkably, the retinas of these rats looked indistinguishable from those of normal rats.

'There was some tissue regeneration, and neurons, axons and dendrites may also be reconnecting,' says Whelan."

We believe that the use of NASA Light-Emitting Diodes (LED) for light therapy will greatly enhance the natural wound healing process, and more quickly return the soldiers to a pre-injury/ illness level of activity. The use of LED in combat with self-healing patches in future may enable the soldiers even after they are wounded to persist in combat better and longer."

Near infrared light
The long wavelengths of near infrared light, next to red on the spectrum and invisible to the human eye, can penetrate deeply into human tissue. For that reason, it may be the light treatment with the most dramatic potential for revolutionizing medicine.

Working with patients at the Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, professor Whelan and his colleagues have used infrared light to treat "severe mucositis," oral sores that are a side effect of chemotherapy and radiation treatment and leave patients unable to either eat or drink. "We've essentially eliminated severe mucositis here in the ward," Whelan says.

Bigger applications could be ahead. Tests on animals have shown success reversing blindness by stimulating retinal cells in the eye. Animal studies also indicate that infrared light can help cut a heart attack's severity by up to 50% and repair tissue afterward.

Red light
Red light, which does not penetrate as deeply as near infrared, seems to help wounds heal more quickly. In addition, the light can be used to remove certain precancerous skin cells without scarring, Goldberg says.

But what many people may be most interested in is red light's ability to reverse aging. Used in conjunction with near infrared, the light promotes collagen formation, which smooths out wrinkled skin. "You're not going to take somebody who is 60 and turn them into a 20-year-old," Goldberg cautions, "but it is very clear that you can take people's skin and make them look younger and more vibrant."

Red light also has an anti-inflammatory effect and can kill bacteria, as can blue light. In fact, Goldberg has had success using red and blue light together to treat severe cases of acne. He says that light therapy "has revolutionized the treatment of skin."

Blue light
Besides its use as an antibacterial agent, blue light has a special ability to reset the biological clock. The reason seems to be tied to the thousands of years humans toiled almost completely outdoors. "We are blue-sky-sensitive creatures," says Mariana Figueiro, assistant professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute's Lighting Research Center, based in Troy, N.Y.

Studies by Figueiro and others indicate "blue light boxes" are far more effective than full-spectrum sunlight boxes of equal intensity at fighting seasonal affective disorder, commonly known as the winter blues. Studies at Harvard Medical School in Boston and the Lighting Research Center also indicate that a dose of blue light, depending on when it is given, can increase alertness or help fight insomnia. In particular, Figueiro's studies show that exposure to blue light in the evening makes Alzheimer's patients more likely to sleep through the night.

Ultraviolet light
Ultraviolet light, which exists just below violet on the spectrum, can be used to keep bacteria and viruses from reproducing. A study by the Lighting Research Center is now underway in which the air being circulated through a Manhattan office and retail building is treated with UV light in the vents. "It's potentially an efficient way to sterilize the air," says Andrew Bierman, who is a researcher at the center. UV light is being used in water treatment plants, and New York City is now building the world's largest UV treatment facility, which will be able to treat 2 billion gallons of water a day.

"LED produced improvement of greater than 40% in musculoskeletal training injuries in Navy SEAL team members, and decreased wound healing time in crew members aboard a U.S. Naval submarine.

LED produced a 47% reduction in pain of children suffering from oral mucositis. CONCLUSION: We believe that the use of NASA LED for light therapy alone, and in conjunction with hyperbaric oxygen, will greatly enhance the natural wound healing process, and more quickly return the patient to a preinjury/illness level of activity. " "ATS treatments improve sensation in the feet of subjects with DPN, improve balance, and reduce pain." http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgact&list_uids=11776448

"This technology may be the answer for problem wounds that are slow to heal....diabetic skin ulcers and other wounds in mice healed much faster when exposed to the special LEDs in the lab. Laboratory research has shown that the LEDs also grow human muscle and skin cells up to five times faster than normal...."

"Light close to and in the near-infrared range has documented benefits for promoting wound healing in human and animals. "

"ATS treatments improve sensation in the feet of subjects with diabetic peripheral neuropathy, improve balance, and reduce pain."

"Near-infrared irradiation potentially enhances the wound healing process, presumably by its biostimulatory effects."

" It was found that laser exposure resulted in more pronounced restoration of functional state of nervous fibers than conventional therapy. Application of laser irradiation of low intensiveness was effective while in combined therapy of distal diabetic polyneuropathy as well as monotherapy."

"exposure of volunteers to visible and infrared polarized (VIP) light leads to a fast increase in the growth promoting (GP) activity of the entire circulating blood for human KCs in vitro, which is a consequence of the transcutaneous photomodification of blood and its effect on the rest of the circulating blood volume."

"The method of monochromatic near infrared stimulation can be used for selective stimulation of several regions of the external auditory canal,.."

LED and LLL irradiation resulted in an increased fibroblast proliferation in vitro. This study therefore postulates possible stimulatory effects on wound healing in vivo at the applied dosimetric parameters.

Wound healing was significantly more rapid with than without FIR. Skin blood flow and skin temperature did not change significantly before or during far-infrared irradiation.

Although more studies are needed, LED therapy appears useful in the prevention of OM in pediatric BMT patients.

News articles on the NASA Study:

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