Allergic reactions are an over-reaction by our immune systems to allergens. These innocuous allergens are mistaken as threats, thus allergies are the result of our bodies’ misguided defensive response.
In this section, we will describe the mechanisms behind low level light therapy (or photobiomodulation) in boosting the level of antioxidants in our body. Our objective is to rebalance oxidant-antioxidant levels, which play a role in reducing the inflammatory effect behind allergies (oxidative damage).
In 1992, researchers tested intravenous blood irradiation as a non-pharmaceutical method of treating asthma and allergies. It turned out to be effective, which made it possible to reduce the maintenance doses of glucocorticoids, increase the times of remission and to restore work fitness. This method was found to exert a stimulating effect on the blood antioxidant system.
In 1993, the same group of researchers, used the same method in addition to conventional treatments 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.
Restoration of cellular functions
A published study demonstrates that this procedure gave good clinical effect and allowed reduced use of steroid dose for the majority of patients. At the cellular level, the cells exhibited evidence of being normalized in their functions earlier than conventional treatment.
Principal mechanism of action
Low level blood irradiation alleviates asthma through the interventive role of its underlying mechanisms. 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:
- 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 result of this cascading process when it is not in balance, resulting in an over-reactive response to allergens. Low level light therapy presents an opportunity for a supplementary and natural approach to asthma medication.
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 of T-helper cells are higher than the T-suppressor cells.
Russian researchers investigated the effect of irradiating the chest with low level lasers (in the near infrared red range) and found that this treatment could reduce the incidents of asphyxia attacks from 6 to 1-2 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 low level light therapy to modulate the process by restoring balance in the cascading process.
Low level light therapy stimulates balance in cellular environments (or cellular homeostasis) – Thus, this connection explains the efficacy of low level light therapy to improve asthmatic conditions as presented earlier. The intranasal channel is the most convenient means through which this effect can be achieved – Learn more here
There is a high correlation between the the level of oxidants in the system and incidences of asthma. Whether asthma is the cause of an elevated level of oxidants or if oxidative stress is the causal factor of asthma isn’t entirely clear. However, a treatment that can reduce oxidant levels and decreasse oxidative stress provides a positive outcome for asthma sufferers.
Several studies have shown that reactive oxygen species(ROS) play a key role in initiation as well as the amplification of inflammation in asthmatic airways. Excessive ROS production in asthma leads to alteration in key enzymatic and non-enzymatic 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 endogenous antioxidants or scavenge excessive ROS production could be utilized to dampen/prevent the inflammatory response in asthma by restoring oxidant-antioxidant balance.
The fact that intranasal light therapy improves antioxidant levels supports its use as a powerful supplementary way to treat asthma – Learn more.
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.