What is light therapy and what can it be used to treat?
Photo Credit: iStock

When confronting an illness, it may be a common reaction to brush off the idea of holistic or experimental treatment in lieu of traditional and what has been been considered historically “fail safe” by medical professionals. But many cancer patients can be left feeling weak after intense radiation treatments. This is why the advancement of light therapy has become a popular option for many patients who wish to avoid these negative side effects. But what is it exactly and what other ailments can it be used to treat? Here is everything you need to know about light therapy.  

light therapy

[Photo Credit: iStock]

What is light therapy?

Light Therapy, otherwise known as Phototherapy, Heliotherapy, Cell Energy Treatment (CET), and sometimes Photodynamic Therapy is the practice of administering intense pulsating light flashes onto a patient's skin or retina. Light therapy can consist of regimented exposure to daylight or with specific wavelengths of light by using what is called polychromatic polarised light. This form of light mimics the strength of the sun’s rays while removing the UV radiation.  Ways that this light can be produced lasers, light-emitting diodes, fluorescent lamps, dichroic lamps or very bright, full-spectrum light

 

What does light therapy treat?

Light therapy can be used to treat a number of different skin conditions including atopic dermatitis, psoriasis, and severe acne. Other uses of this treatment can be to combat seasonal and non-seasonal depression, sleep disorders, jetlag, and jaundice.

Perhaps the most curious aspect of light therapy is that it has also been used to treat certain forms of skin cancer and is recognized as suitable practice by the American Cancer Society. Prescribing a consistent of exposure to this rejuvenating light has also lead to positive affects amongst patients who suffer from ALS disease.

Does light therapy really work?

This is where it gets tricky. While using light therapy can do wonders for people with light skin conditions, it can only do so much for more serious illnesses like skin cancer and ALS. According to the American Cancer society, the use of Phototherapy coupled with special drugs in what professionals call Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) can only really make an impact where the light actually reaches and can’t kill cancerous cells that have made their way deeper underneath the skin. There is also a small percentage of the population who are diagnosed with rare blood diseases that affects the skin and nervous system called Porphyrias.

But for people who have successfully diagnosed these ailments at an early stage, different forms of this treatment can provide a precise and radiation free treatment that can also reduce the need for a patient to go under the knife for surgery.

 

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