Overview of Low Level Laser Therapy

What does LASER mean?

LASER stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. LASER was first theorized by Einstein. In 1960 Miaman developed the first laser, which was a ruby laser and a tube laser with a metal chamber, which contained the element ruby. When an electrical current excites the enclosed element, the atoms give off photons or packets of light energy. The photons bounced off a solid mirror on one end of the tube and out holes in the mirror on the other end of the tube. The light beam from a laser is unlike regular light in that it is coherent i.e., the photons are well ordered and synchronized. Laser light is also monochromatic, meaning it is of one pure color and columnated, meaning that the light is focused in one primary direction.

Low Level Laser Uses and Benefits:

Low level laser therapy is the application of laser light over injuries, lesions, burns, wounds and other disorders to stimulate healing within those tissues. The effects of low level laser therapy (lllt) are based on photochemical and photobiological effects in cells and tissues. Hot lasers are best known for their ability to cut or burn, but do not confuse Low Level Lasers (Cold Lasers) with cutting or high powered lasers! Low level lasers, under various names such as, cold laser, soft laser, healing laser, biostimulating laser, phototherapy and many others, have been used for over 35 years in many countries as therapeutic energy devices to bring about favorable biological effects in both animals and humans.


“In Europe, where laser treatment is a well accepted methodology, it has been used for treatment of traumatic, inflammatory and overuse injuries, pain relief and healing of arthritic lesions, reduction of absesses and treatment of persistent non-healing wounds such as cold-sores and ulcers. This type of therapy has also been used to prevent or minimize keloid formation and adhesions, to reduce edema, and to reduce pain from surgical and other treatments. Healing with light and use of low level laser therapy can also encourage the formation of collagen and cartilage in damaged joints and the repair of tendons and ligaments. In addition, laser light can be used to stimulate acupuncture points in a non-invasive, pain-free manner.”

Low Level Laser Therapy Provides New Treatment Possibilities,
Dr. Melyni Worth, Ph.D, World Equine Veterinary Review, Vol. 3, No.3, 1998

How Does Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) Work?

According to Low Level Laser Therapy by Jan Turner & Lars Hode (Prima Books), low level laser therapy:

Laser irradiation of tissue cultures has shown that units of light energy (photons) are absorbed by enzymes, which react to light within the cell. Visible red light is absorbed within the mitochondria and the infrared light is absorbed at the cell membrane.

In a mammalian cell, this results in a change in membrane permeability, increased ATP levels and increased DNA production. The photons picked up by the cell membrane result in improved membrane stability and increased activity of the ATP dependent Na/K pump. Because cell metabolism is influenced by Na/K movement across the membrane, increasing the gradient will affect the flow of ions and hence the overall metabolism of the cell.

On a tissue level, it has been shown that irradiation by laser light results in increased collagen and epithelial production and production of new capillaries and an increase in density of the capillary bed.

Reduction of pain and inflammation results from this treatment, as does the stimulation of nerve regeneration, muscle relaxation and atonicity (lack of muscle tone). There is also an indication that laser light therapy helps to increase the immune system response.

Low Level Laser Therapy Provides New Treatment Possibilities,
Dr. Melyni Worth, Ph.D, World Equine Veterinary Review, Vol. 3, No.3, 1998

Low Level Laser Therapy effects on cellular health and enzyme activities:

“Red light aids in the production of ATP in cells, which increases cellular health and energy. The radiation (energy) in normal cells stimulates adjacent cells to divide in the normal process of regeneration and healing. Laser light stimulates abnormal tissue to activate normal inter-cellular radiation, thus stimulating the normal healing process to start again. The photons produced by laser light normalize tissue by activating enzymes within cells. Once activated, enzymes within a cell trigger a chemical reaction in which more enzymes are activated in a domino-type effect. Low Level Laser Therapy has no effect on normal tissue. Photons will only be absorbed by cells that need them.”

Holistic Bird Newsletter,

Laser Wavelengths are measured in nanometers. The most beneficial wavelengths are in the visible and near infrared ranges. These ranges are very safe ranges, far away from the damaging ultraviolet, x-rays, gamma and cosmic rays. Although the longer waves such as microwaves and radio waves are usually considered safe, there are some that think they might be damaging to the very sensitive individual. All wavelengths used in low-level lasers are safely divided from these potentially damaging waves. Many people only think of lasers as cutting lasers. In order to cut with lasers, it is necessary to increase the power density (PD) from 300 to 10,000 W/cm2. Cold Lasers do not even have a warming affect unless they are operated above 5 W/cm2. We only offer cold lasers that produce no potentially damaging warming effect and are perfectly safe.

Low-level lasers today are manufactured using semi-conductors
, which are computer-like chips grown from various pure elements or combinations thereof.

The visible light ranges, while quite beneficial, are limited by their depth of penetration (usually 1 to 3 mm). Research shows that the red laser is good for treating pain, inflammation, cold sores, skin conditions, wounds and wrinkles.

The invisible or infrared light range penetrates much deeper. Research and clinical results document that the infrared beam of continuous wave or pulsed wave lasers penetrate from 20 mm to 10 cm (1 to 4 inces). The newest cold laser in America for treating the widest range of conditions is called the Scalar Wave Laser and while the main system combines red, infrared and violet, the laser offers an optional 650 nm, 100mW powerful red light pulsed laser with scalar wave technology and infinite frequency settings available. Superpulsed lasers however have shown to penetrate to depths of 5-7 inches. Excellent results have been achieved using Superpulsed lasers such as the Theralaser T2000 (904 nm) and the TerraQuant Laser combination of 905 nm Infrared Laser light, combined with 600-740 nm, Red Light, and 860-960 nm Infrared Light. Over 15 years documented use of Superpulsed laser in over 30 countries worldwide has proven that the TerraQuant Laser utilizes a safe and effective combination. Theralaser T2000 has been used in the US since 1990.

Low level lasers are used everywhere in our society, such as bar code check out, laser printers, compact disc players and for many medical procedures. In fact, without lasers, our society and economy as we see it today would collapse.

World-wide studies have shown that laser energy is accumulative as well as cascading and reduces pain and inflammation via:

1. Bio-stimulation and photo-stimulation.

2. Endogenous opiate production

3. Slowing sensory nerve production.

4. Restoring cellular resonant energy.

5. Stimulating the Na/K pump mechanism in the cell membrane.

6. Inhibiting bradykinin & leukotriene production.

Low Level Laser Treatments help to repolarize sick and injured cells

Osmosis, a scientific fact taught in all grade and high school science classes, states that no nutrient can transfer across the depolarized membrane of an injured cell. One of the most important functions of low level laser therapy is to re-polarize sick and injured cellular membranes. This allows for essential nutrients to transfer from the blood into the cell. Research has shown that low level laser therapy can increase cellular ATP (body fuel) by as much as 150-200%.

Photochemical effect of Low Level Laser Therapy

The laser energy is absorbed by metabolically active pigments of the mitochondria in various cutaneous and subcutaneous layers: here involved are the two enzymes of the oxidation chain, Cytochrome a/a3 and Flavoprotein with absorption maxims of wavelengths applied.

It is supposed that the changes in the stereochemical conformation induced by an electro magnetic field leads to an increase in activity and improves the concentration of ATP by up to 200%. In addition, an increase in oxygen and glucose metabolism is observed. The main effect is an optimized function of the Na-K pump at the cell membrane, an increased protein synthesis (prostaglandin, enzyme) and a significantly higher rate of mitosis.

Depending on the stimulated type of cells, the following cell physiological reactions are observed:

Analgesic effect (pain management)

Effect on the immune system (immune modulation)

Optical window of the skin

The skin is a non-homogenous tissue and yet shows in its spectral analysis an optical window with an optimal transmission capability of light between approximately 600 nm (visible red) and 1300 nm (infrared). Wavelengths (colors) outside of this optical window are mostly being absorbed before they reach deeper layers.

Tags: Alternative Medicine · Blog/News · Cold Laser Info · Cold Laser Therapy Education · Equine Care · Healing Lasers · Healing Technologies · Health and Light News · Low Level Lasers

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