Bringing the sunshine indoors. That is how some people describe the benefits of therapy lights. Scientists believe that simulated bright light has an effect on chemicals in your brain and your skin and can be used to help some conditions. There are many different types of therapy lights so I’m going to described some of them and the disorders they can be used with:
Light boxes (Phototherapy or bright light therapy)
Many therapists have noticed that sitting near a simulated sunlight box can alleviate symptoms for some complaints. The strength of the light should be at least 2,500lux and daily exposure is required. Remember that a medical practitioner must prescribe the strength and type of light used as well as the duration of exposure.
Otherwise known as Seasonal Affective Disorder or its mildest form ‘Winter Blues’. You don’t have to be a genius to know that we all feel better during the long sunny days of summer. We seem to have more energy too. You lose some of that enthusiasm in the winter when there are not so many daylight hours. Some people get ‘winter blues’ which makes them feel lethargic and ‘under the weather’, with a tendency to overeat. For others this becomes severe enough it to disrupt their lives and cause a lot of upset. It can also affect the way we behave.
The symptoms usually start at the beginning of the winter season and begin to get better when spring arrives in March and April. It may not be necessary to use light SAD therapy daily during the winter months and advice from a trained professional is advised.
Jetlag and Sleep Disorders
Where the circadian rhythms or body clock of the brain have been affected by periods of sleep deprivation or extended night or daytime hours. Flying over time zones can have this effect. The light box can simulate the difference between waking hours and sleep or night time and helps to re-adjust the body and brain into rhythm quickly.
Alzheimer’s and Dementia
A regular topic in many research papers on Alzheimer’s Disease is the damage that happens to the part of the brain that controls the circadian rhythms. The combination of damaged nerve pathways and poor eyesight as you get older can mean that indoor levels of light are not enough to identify the difference between daytime and night time. Experiments using therapy lights and light boxes have found that they can help maintain Alzheimer sufferers’ rest and activity cycles for longer.
The same technology that is used for sunbeds in tanning shops can also help to ease stubborn patches of psoriasis, vitiligo, stretch marks and pale scars. The light must be focussed on the affected patch without unwanted exposure to normal skin.
Coloured-light therapy or Intense Pulsed Light
These types of therapy lights use filtered floodlights to bathe the skin in light of different colors. Different color filters have proven better for different disorders:
Blue: is used to destroy the bacteria that cause acne.
Green: is used to treat pigment irregularities e.g. liver spots, age spots
Yellow: for vascular conditions such as thread veins and rosacea.
Combination green and yellow: smoothes away fine lines and wrinkles.
Red: has been found to be effective in the relief of headaches and, when concentrated in one area, for the relief of arthritic pain.
Low-level laser light (Ruby and KTP) therapy
Developed to help reduce patches of discoloured skin, such as birthmarks or moles. Laser light is absorbed by the pigment (melanin) in the skin causing it to break up in darker areas and help to make it look more normal.
The above two systems of therapy lights can be combined and used to remove areas where the person believes they have too much hair.
Information in this article is for advice only. Anyone wishing to try these treatments should contact their medical practitioner first.