Purported Benefits of Photobiomodulation
1) Enhanced Immunity
2) Decreased Inflammation
3) Pain Relief
4) Hormonal Balance
5) Increased Energy
6) Deeper Sleep
7) Exercise Recovery
8) Metabolic Flexibility
Plants make energy using sunlight. We then either eat the plants directly or we consume the herbivorous animals that eat them to make our cellular energy. End of story; let’s move on. Nothing else to see here-unless of course, that is not the full story. In today’s age of endless scientific research, don’t we already understand all of the basics like energy production? It seems that the answer is no. There are still plenty of researchers finding interesting new tidbits about our physiology that can have profound effects on our health. These findings just do not make great headlines for the mass media when we have automated cars, robotic prosthetics, and Skynet coming into operation. That last one I hope is still fiction, but I am not quite certain anymore.
What if our bodies can also utilize the sun’s light for the purposes of creating energy, or at least improving the efficiency of our energy production? A study published in 2014 by Xu, Chen et al. demonstrated that mammals can convert CoQ10 to its reduced (active) form when chlorophyll metabolites are present in the plasma and they are subjected to Red/Near Infrared light (NIR) wavelengths. This means that when you eat green vegetables and expose yourself to Red/NIR, your body can now use CoQ10 to generate more cellular energy in the form of ATP. I have always intuitively expected more from our relationship with the sun than just Vitamin D production, and now we can see that the complexity may never be completely explained.
The main way that Red/NIR light exert their healing effects is through stimulation of an enzyme within our mitochondria known as Cytochrome C Oxidase. This enzyme is a photoreceptor that is key to the electron transport chain, being the last step before we form the molecule ATP. I do not want to get too far into the minutiae so just know that keeping this enzyme at full capacity will help to avoid mitochondrial dysfunction, which is the root cause of many chronic diseases. If we can boost Cytochrome C Oxidase function, then we will have more energy, less free radicals, quicker healing, and happier DNA molecules.
One more thing to touch on when considering the effects of Red/NIR light therapy is how the water in our body reacts with these wavelengths. The water in our bodies is considered structured as the hydrogen bonds stabilize into these intricate formations that provides for better movement and communication. At least that is how our internal water should be. Since water is a photoacceptor, it responds to certain wavelengths of light including Red and NIR light. What happens is the Red/NIR light contacts the water molecules and changes the viscosity, reducing the resistance to flow. Now, proteins and other cellular components can move around easier as they are not impeded by as much resistance. Within the mitochondria, chemical processes and ATP production can operate smoothly when the water viscosity is decreased.
At the end of the day, light nutrients are just as important to overall health as your vitamins and minerals. We can sustain ourselves for short periods while our nutrients run slightly low, but eventually that debt will have to be paid. Otherwise, your body will start diverting resources to the systems it deems more important and away from those of less importance. This is why you will often see skin be affected before the brain. My advice is to get back to nature, expose your skin to natural sunlight in appropriate doses, and occasionally supplement with Red/NIR light therapy. You would also want to eat some greens and drink structured water from time to time.
Sommer, Andrei P., Mike Kh Haddad, and Hans-Jörg Fecht. "Light effect on water viscosity: implication for ATP biosynthesis." Scientific reports 5 (2015): 12029.
Qu, Jinfeng, et al. "Dietary chlorophyll metabolites catalyze the photoreduction of plasma ubiquinone." Photochemistry and photobiology 89.2 (2013): 310-313.
Xu, Chen, et al. "Light-harvesting chlorophyll pigments enable mammalian mitochondria to capture photonic energy and produce ATP." Journal of cell science 127.2 (2014): 388-399.