Healing Light Therapy

Link to the Episode

Anshu Bahanda: This is Anshu Bahanda on Wellness Curated. Thanks for joining me on this podcast. My mission is to empower you with health and wellness so that you can then go and empower others. Thank you for being here with us, Cristina.

Cristina Pigeon: Thanks for having me.

AB: And tell me, we’ll start by asking you, what is wellness to you?

CP: I think the definition of wellness is really different for everybody. For me, it’s not only on a physical level, but it’s spiritual, it’s emotional, it’s mental, and really to each their own. But it’s an active process of becoming aware and making choices toward a healthy and fulfilling life. I know for me and my clients, it’s about not being in pain. It’s about not having the stress, maybe sleeping better, and just being active and being able to be healthy to spend time with our family. And I think ultimately, it’s a journey. It’s not a final destination.

AB: Yes. Absolutely. Very well said. Now, can you explain what light therapy is?

CP: Absolutely. Light therapy has been around for over 35 years. This isn’t a new technology. LEDs are light-emitting diodes, and they produce visible and invisible light waves. And it’s delivered through a variety of different pulse frequencies. So, the LEDs that I use, they’re applied directly to the skin, which is important. I’ll go over it later. But it’s to stimulate a variety of physiological responses.

And light therapy has been called several different things. Low-level light therapy, also known as LLLT, stimulates the process called photobiomodulation. And that’s kind of a mouthful, but to break it down, in the science world— photo means light, bio means living tissue, and then modulation means change. So it’s the process of using light to create change in the body. So in light therapy devices, they are FDA cleared, as you mentioned, which is really important because it’s a proven technology that shows the efficacy of the product, and it boils down to— that it’s also safe. So our FDA clearance is to increase circulation, reduce pain, and reduce muscle spasms, soreness, and stiffness.

AB: Also, it’s only FDA cleared for those things?

CP: Yes. So increasing circulation, and reducing pain, muscle spasms, soreness, and stiffness. What it can do beyond that is so much more. And I’ll kind of share a little bit about that with you guys today.

AB: Okay, lovely. And Cristina, now there’s all this talk that you hear, I mean, some of it from you. I heard from my lovely friend Urvashi, who introduced me to you about how it’s almost like simulating meditation— light therapy. So tell me, how does light therapy actually work? Can you talk us through the process?

CP: Yes. So it is very relaxing. I’ll start with that. And it does put you into a parasympathetic state where you can heal. So it’s great to do during meditations and just to get the body in that relaxed state. But treatment is 20 minutes, so you don’t have to work if you have pain or inflammation. But I’m always encouraging my clients to work on the lymphatic system, work on the digestive system, work on the kidneys. You can even wrap your head for brain health. So there are a couple of key things that happen when you do a treatment. So first, and I think it’s the most important, is why do you want to do light therapy? It’s because it releases nitric oxide from the mitochondria, which is the power plant of our cell.

So nitric oxide is what’s responsible for vasodilation, the increase in circulation. And if you’re not familiar with it, nitric oxide is a miracle molecule. And if you want to do a lot of reading, Google nitric oxide and the benefits, because there are, I think, over 70,000 articles on what nitric oxide can do for our body. And I’ll name a few because I could go on for hours about this. But one is it helps to build new vessels.

AB: Blood vessels?

CP: Yes. And it also helps with decreasing any type of swelling. It will help with lymphatic activity, it can help with memory and cognitive function, and cell regeneration will increase. It will also help with the immune response. It can help manage diabetes by regulating insulin. And I think one of the biggest questions that we always get is— can it help lower my blood pressure and my high cholesterol? And the answer is yes. And that’s because of what nitric oxide can do. And to really put it into perspective though, with nitric oxide, as we age, we just become less efficient at the production of it. So they say that when we’re 18, we’re young and healthy, and we produce enough nitric oxide. By the time we get to the age of 40, we produce half of what we did at 18. And then by the time we get to the age of 60, we produce half of what we did at 40. So, using this will slow down the aging process, because every time you do a treatment, you’re getting those benefits of the nitric oxide.

AB: Okay. So that’s interesting. And nitric oxide is what is released when you meditate. Right?

CP: And when you work out. And this is going to release it naturally.

AB: And you can put these pads on while you’re watching TV or you’re working on your computer?

CP: Exactly. It’s very user-friendly. I like to do mine in the morning. That’s the first thing I do when I wake up. But if you’re busy, throw them on the areas of your pain while you’re watching TV. The other thing that it does is it increases our ATP production, which is a short term for Adenosine Triphosphate, and ATP is responsible for increasing our body’s energy levels and it can also assist with metabolism. So I think one of the main things that we hear from clients when they start doing three months is that they’re sleeping better and they just have so much energy like they don’t know what to do.

AB: And metabolism, that’s interesting. So it could help with I mean, I know lots of people who are struggling with a slow metabolism. So you’re saying this is something that it could help with?

CP: Yes, because of the increase in ATP production. And then, you know, ultimately with these things happening as you’re doing the treatment, it increases the circulation, which the benefits to that is— decreased swelling, less inflammation. There are many detoxifying effects from this. It de-stresses the body and gets us into that meditative state. And there’s so much more. It all boils down to better circulation and better blood flow. It’s not rocket science. We need good circulation.

AB: And can you explain the different wavelengths and the difference between them? Because people talk about all kinds of things. You go for a facial and they say, oh, LED is the best thing for you. And then you have all this big hype about infrared. So, I would love you to explain that. 

CP: Well, I get asked that all the time. What’s the difference between this, this, and this? So the three different wavelengths that we use are blue, red, and near-infrared. Blue is one of my favorites. I’ll just give some quick bullet points on what each of them will do. Blue is a very calming light. I call it the happy light. So it’s been known to assist with mood disorders. But what I love about it, so it only absorbs two to three millimeters in the epidermis, so it’s more absorbed on the skin. So it’s excellent for all things skin related— fine lines and wrinkles, acne, rosacea, eczema, psoriasis, cuts, burns, and wounds. It also is kind of like an antimicrobial because it has those antimicrobial properties in it. So it’s like an antibacterial agent. A red light goes a little bit deeper. It goes 8 to 10 millimeters. That’s good for soft tissue injuries. Now, the pads are paired with near-infrared, and near-infrared goes the deepest. Near-infrared will penetrate to the bone, so it can be highly collected on the bone. It’ll even penetrate the skull. So it’s excellent for anything brain related.

AB: So when you said that near-infrared is always on, whether you have blue or red on, is that right or not?

CP: Yes, there are rows of red, and then right next to it, there are rows of near-infrared. And near-infrared is invisible to the eye. So when you look at these LEDs, it looks like they’re turned off but they’re not, they’re on. But the near-infrared is responsible for the larger and the deeper vessels, and for regeneration, cell function, and nerve function, and that’s just to name a few.

AB: Okay, and tell me something, can you use them all in combination? So, can you say that you use… you know someone’s doing a session, so can you turn them all on at the same time on your pads? Or are there different pads?

CP: Yeah, there’s a variety of different pads. Some pads are just red and near-infrared. Some are blue and near-infrared and then other pads, we have all three wavelengths, and we call those our tricolor.

AB: Okay, got that. Thank you. Now tell me, I’ve heard lots of success stories all over the place. Tell me some of the success stories that you have seen with light therapy. I know yours is an amazing one. I’d love you to tell our audience about it.

CP: Sure. There are so many success stories. I could sit here all day with you to share the amazing ones that have happened right before my eyes. But I started using light therapy eight years ago now, and I started using it for personal reasons. I was in a severe skiing accident and I was suffering from a traumatic brain injury, so I’ll keep it short. But we were in the mountains and a guy took about a 20-foot jump. We were standing there, we were about to go into the warming hut, so we were standing, but he came flying out of nowhere. He took a jump, and when he landed, he landed on my head and he threw me about 20 or 30 ft. So luckily, I don’t remember any of this, but I was knocked unconscious and I think I was out for a couple of minutes, and then I started going into seizures and so they life-flighted me off the mountains. Yeah, as I said, I don’t remember any of it. But all of 2013, I was suffering from a traumatic brain injury. I had three months of memory loss. I couldn’t put any of my thoughts to words. I had notes in every room of my house because I couldn’t remember from one room to the next what I was doing. I was stuttering, I was angry, and my vision was gone. I had a 20/20 vision, and I had to get three different pairs of glasses because my vision was just torqued.

But long story short I started doing the treatments and I was doing so many things. Let me tell you, I was doing speech therapy, occupational therapy, hyperbaric chamber, and cranial sacral, and those things were helping. But friends of mine said, you know I should try this light therapy, and I was like, there’s no way this is going to work. Within two weeks, my memory started improving, my speech started improving, and I got off all my pain medicines. I was on Dilaudid, which is a form of morphine because my head shocks were so bad. So, they told me I wasn’t going to recover, and I fully recovered, and that’s why I changed.

AB: Amazing. Cristina, that is such an inspiring story. Now tell me over the course of your… I know for years, you’ve been so involved with light therapy. What kind of diseases and ailments have you seen, which have been helped by it?

CP: Gosh, I work with the simple back pain, arthritis, fibromyalgia, lyme disease, lupus, dementia, neuropathy, and the list goes on.

AB: Can I ask a little bit more about dementia, because that’s interesting. You know, a lot of people are worried even if they don’t have it. I know it’s a big worry for people. Dementia and Alzheimer’s, the brain diseases. Tell us a bit about that.

CP: So I will say that there’s so much research online for brain health and what light therapy can do, and because the near-infrared penetrates to the skull, it’s going deep in there, but you’re getting more oxygen and blood flow to the brain. And I’ve worked with lots of veterans, and we also worked with a company that does SPECT imaging that shows before and after scans, before light therapy and after, and they’re showing it’s a different brain– brain health in general.

AB: Wow. And tell me, sorry, I interrupted you. You were talking about ailments and diseases.

CP: Yeah. There’s unlimited use for my clients that have this because this is an at-home medical device, something the entire family can use at home. And what my clients are using this for is kind of like their new pharmacy. Light therapy helps the body to regenerate, repair, and rebuild, which is what we’re designed to do, unlike medications where it’s masking the problem. So if you have a headache, take these pads and wrap [it around] your head. If you have digestive issues, turn them over to your digestive system. If you want to boost the thyroid, wrap your thyroid up. So it’s a go-to, as opposed to trying to mask it and band-aid it.

AB: I have one question for my understanding. What is the difference between near-infrared and far-infrared?

CP: So, we get asked that a lot. There are benefits to both. Far-infrared interacts more with the water of the body, so it’s more of heating and warming. It heats up the core of the body like if you’re exercising or if you have a fever. Whereas near-infrared, it interacts more with the air in the body, and so it releases a significant amount of nitric oxide, whereas the far-infrared would not.

AB: Okay, great. Thank you. And tell me what, if any, do you know about other side effects or dangers of using light therapy?

CP: So, again, this is an FDA-cleared, safe medical device. The only contraindications that we have are two things. One— if you’re pregnant, don’t put the pads over the abdominal area, and if you have known cancer, do not put the therapy directly over known cancer.

AB: Now, let me interrupt you there.

CP: Yeah.

AB: So, if you’re pregnant, can you use the pads elsewhere? Do they still have benefits?

CP: Absolutely.

AB: If you use it elsewhere and not where you have cancer?

CP: Yes. So, if somebody has known cancer, that doesn’t mean you can’t use light therapy, because you can use it on all the other areas of your body to get the benefits that we were just talking about.

AB: Any other side effects that you want to tell us about?

CP: No. What I love about this is, you have the medical side, which is the efficacy, the FDA clearance. But on the other side of it, it’s all-natural, it’s non-invasive. And you take these two words and you put them together and it’s functional medicine. And I’ll tell you, in the eight years of doing this, people are searching for this because not only is it natural and non-invasive, but because it works. So it’s a beautiful thing.

AB: And tell me what research has been done, scientific research, to show that this works.

CP: I like to use PubMed. It’s one of the largest governing bodies for clinical research.

AB: What was that?

CP: PubMed.

AB: PubMed? Okay.

CP: Yes. There are over 7000 research articles on PubMed. And it can be anywhere from cancer, can be of use to retinal diseases, it can be of use to fibromyalgia, traumatic brain injury, and arthritis. But there are a few different names for light therapy. So you can type in photobiomodulation, or you can type in low-level light therapy or LLLT.

AB: Okay.

CP: Light therapy is finally exploding. 35 years, it’s not a new technology. But, you know, some experts are predicting that by the year 2025, it’s going to be a $1 billion industry.

AB: Wow!

CP: I know. It’s wild.

AB: I know that a lot of people are using it on facial stuff. I’m not sure in the UK and Europe and in Asia and things like that, we’re aware of it for other purposes. And that’s why I thought this was so interesting.

CP: Yeah, as I said, there are unlimited uses. And I will say, for all the ladies listening and the gentleman, too, it’s amazing. For anti-aging and wrinkles, I tell my clients to look in the mirror before and look in the mirror after and they’ll see the vibrance.

AB: I’ve heard that from people who’ve used it. They’ve said that it’s amazing, you know, the difference that they’ve seen before…

CP: You were asking me about research. I was just reading one the other day. This is from the National Institute of Health. This is from 2008. Light therapy improves vision in patients with age-related macular degeneration. And it’s showing that there are no side effects. And that’s just one example of the thousands of research that you can find there.

AB: Wow. Amazing. And what advice do you have, Cristina, for our followers? Is there anything you’d recommend that they go ahead and do? And also in that, if you can incorporate how they can get access to light therapy.

CP: Yeah, both. So, I think I want to point out that we all know everybody has their own wellness journey, but you don’t have to be sick or have an injury or be in pain to use light therapy. Just use this to slow down the aging process and just for better circulation. Because as you age, this is such an amazing modality to have at home, because it is healthcare at home, and as far as the family can use it. And this is something that I sell; these devices in light therapy.

AB: What home kits would you recommend? 

CP: There are two different controllers that we have. There’s a two-port controller, in which you can have two pads. It’s great to travel with. And then there’s the main system, that’s for at-home, where you can have a maximum of six pads on your body at a time, and that is their most popular because I’ll tell you, it’s not hard to find six areas on the body. (laughs)

AB: Can it help with osteoporosis?

CP: Yes, it can help with the symptoms related to that, which is the pain and inflammation, and again, goes back to increasing the circulation.

AB: Okay, Cristina, before you go, tell us about how it helps with hair and face and skin and wrinkles.

CP: As far as hair growth, with red light therapy— there’s lots of research on PubMed and how it can stimulate hair growth, and you can’t really see them. But I wrap my head, and I have all these baby hairs coming out. I have to get those down because it helps with the growth. But as far as the skin, so, you take one of these blue pads, and we have an anti-aging setting on one of our controllers, and it helps with the elasticity, the collagen.

AB: And it’s okay to put it over the eyes, or do you have to cover the eyes with something?

CP: So, we have a unique piece to our line. It’s called the Face Mask. There’s no near-infrared in the Face Mask. That’s the only pad we have that doesn’t have near-infrared. But that is what you need for fine lines and wrinkles. That’s for meditation. That’s really to put you in that relaxed state. So you can put the face mask on, and you can do your chest wrinkles. You can do it anywhere on your body where you want to improve the elasticity.

AB: But if you were to use this pad that you showed us— that you keep under the eyes, correct?

CP: Yeah. You want to make sure that the face mask is on just because, again, it doesn’t have the near-infrared in it, but you don’t want to put it near or in front of the eyes.

AB: Okay. And tell us a bit about how it’s helped with the pain.

CP: Pain is because of the increase in circulation and because of the nitric oxide being released again from the mitochondria. Nitric oxides are natural morphine. That’s our body’s natural morphine. So when that’s released, there’s a lot of magical things that happen, and again, Google nitric oxide and the benefits of what it brings.

AB: Okay, lovely. Thank you so much, Cristina.

CP: Thank you for having me today. And thank you to all the viewers on here.

AB: Thank you. Thank you so much. That was such a lovely session. I learnt so much. Thank you. Bye-bye.

CP: Thank you. Bye-bye.

AB: Thanks for joining us. Hope you enjoyed the Wellness Curated podcast. Please subscribe and tell your friends and family about it and here’s to you leading your best life.