Treating Asthma and Allergies with Intranasal Light Therapy

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Positive outcomes for asthma and respiratory-related allergies sufferers using the intranasal light therapy devices are actually quite common. However, published evidence are not so. The handful of papers in the literature are mainly Russian where much of the early work on laser therapies have been done. Here are some of the evidence, and with the knowledge we have today on the underlying cellular mechanisms, provides good bases to believe that intranasal light therapy would be a successful therapy for asthma.

In 1992, researchers considered intravenous blood irradiation with low level laser to merit attention as a non-medication method. It turns out to be highly effective, which made it possible to reduce the maintenance doses of glucocorticoids, to increase the times of remission, and to restore work fitness. This method was found to exert a stimulating effect on the blood antioxidant system. [1]

It has since been established that outcomes between our intranasal light therapy method and the older intravenous blood irradiation methods are similar.

In 1993, the same group of researchers, used the same method in addition to conventional treatment for bronchial asthma. Out of 48 asthmatics, 16 had a mild disease, 21 moderate, 11 severe forms. The course of treatment included 8-10 daily sessions lasting 30 minutes. A marked clinical response was achieved in 41 patients. The cessation of the asphyxia (lack of oxygen) attacks in them allowed discontinuation or reduction of glucocorticoids administration. The duration of the attacks became shorter. The irradiation also stimulated the blood antioxidant system. [2]

Restoration of cellular functions

Our intranasal light therapy method and the abovementioned intravenous methods are two ways of carrying out blood irradiation. See the Wikipedia article. There is a third method listed called transcutaneous or extracorporeal irradiation, where the light irradiates the blood through the skin, often in the forearm area. Although more power is needed for this, a published test demonstrates that this procedure gave good clinical effect and allowed reduced use of steroid dose for the majority of patients. At cellular level, the cells exhibited evidence of being normalized in their functions earlier than would have achieved with the conventional treatment.[3]

Principal mechanism of action

How blood irradiation works with alleviating asthma would come down to its intervention role in the underlying mechanism. It is an established fact that bronchial asthma is the result of the body’s immune system overreacting to respiratory allergens such as dust, pollen and mites.

Modulating the Immune System

Your body senses the allergen as foreign and sets off a cascade of events stimulating several different types of immune cells [4]:

  • T cells rapidly stimulate B cells
  • B cells transform into plasma cells
  • Plasma cells produce IgE antibodies specific to the allergen
  • IgE antibodies bind to mast cells

Asthma is the condition when the cascading process is not in balance, resulting in overreaction as response to the allergens. Medications are design to intervene in the cascading process. The efficacy of drugs are often low, present an opportunity for an alternative approach. Blood irradiation could play this role.

The T cells (or T lymphocytes) have two groups playing opposite roles: T-helper cells and T-suppressor cells. The cascade is initiated by the T-helper cells but balance is achieved by the counteracting T-suppressor cells. Therefore when there is a balanced ratio between the two T cell groups, the cascading process is in control. Asthma takes over when the ratio has the T-helper cells being higher than the T-suppressor cells.

A Russian group of researchers investigated the effect of irradiating the chest with low level laser (in the near infrared red range) and found that this treatment could reduce the incidents of asphyxia attacks from 6 to 1 or 2 a day after 2 weeks of treatment when the control group has shown no notable improvement. When the lymphocytes were counted, the ratio between the T-helper cells and T-suppressor cells also decreased significantly, confirming the significance of this ratio; but it also demonstrates the role of the light therapy to modulate the process by restoring balance in the cascading process. [5]

Blood irradiation therapy, and especially the intranasal pathway, has already been known to stimulate balance in cellular environments (or cellular homeostasis), and it is this connection that may explain the efficacy of this group of therapies to improve asthmatic conditions as presented earlier.

Oxidant-antioxidant balance

There is a high correlation between the the level of oxidants in the system and incidence of asthma conditions. Whether it asthma is the cause of elevated level of oxidants or it is oxidative stress that is a key causal factor of asthma or the other way around isn’t entirely clear. However, the situation suggests that a treatment that can demonstrate that it alleviate oxidant level and oxidative stress could provide a positive outcome with asthma sufferers.

Several studies have shown that reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a key role in initiation as well as amplification of inflammation in asthmatic airways. Excessive ROS production in asthma leads to alteration in key enzymatic as well as nonenzymatic antioxidants such as glutathione, vitamins C and E, beta-carotene, uric acid, thioredoxin, superoxide dismutases, catalase, and glutathione peroxidases leading to oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in airways. Oxidant-antioxidant imbalance leads to physiological conditions associated with asthma. Epidemiological data also support the scientific evidence of oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in asthmatics. Therefore, the supplementation of antioxidants to boost the endogenous antioxidants or scavenge excessive ROS production could be utilized to dampen/prevent the inflammatory response in asthma by restoring oxidant-antioxidant balance. [6]

The fact that intranasal light therapy improves antioxidant levels supports its use to treat asthma through this pathway.

References

1. Nikitin AV, Karphukina EP. The effect of endovascular laser therapy on the clinical course and on the mechanisms of antioxidant protection in bronchial asthma patients. Ter Arkh. 1992;64(1):62-4. (In Russian).

2. Nikitin AV, Karphukina EP. Correction of antioxidant defense in patients with bronchial asthma by the method of intravascular laser irradiation. Probl Tuberk.1993;(3):46-7. (In Russian).

3. Paleev NR et al. Influence of He-Ne laser blood irradiation on morphofunctional state of monocytes in asthmatic patients. Proc. SPIE 1996; (2630): 142-146, Effects of Low-Power Light on Biological Systems, Karu TI, Young AR; Eds.

4. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). Consumer Information. Accessed: June 16 2012. IgE’s Role in Allergic Asthma.

5. Mikhailov VA, Aleksandrova OIu, Gol’dina EM. The immunomodulating action of low-energy laser radiation in the treatment of bronchial asthma. Vopr Kurortol Fizioter Lech Fiz Kult Jul-Aug 1998;(4):23-5. (In Russian)

6. Nadeem A, Masood A, Siddique N. Oxidant-antioxidant imbalance in asthma: scientific evidence, epidemiological data and possible therapeutic options. Ther Adv Respir Dis. 2008; 2(4):215-35.