What is the difference between LEDs (red light therapy) and Low Level Lasers?

The results we have seen so far with our low level laser therapy are absolutely insane!  At first I was hesitant about how effective it was but every patient I was working with was getting incredible results in a short period of time.  The consistency of the results led me down a rabbit hole on the topic and I ultimately decided to work with Erchonia as they are the gold standard in laser therapy.  Quality > Everything.  

One of the most common misconceptions about low level laser therapy is that it is the same as a red light therapy bed or frame.  Yep, you guessed it.  They are not even close to being the same. Low level laser therapy utilizes a coherent or concentrated light whereas LEDs use incoherent or scattered light.  While there are topical benefits to using LEDs they simply don’t even compare to the bandwidth of the low level laser which directly impacts each cell on the most granular level.  

To be honest, I have spent years using “biohacking” tools and have done PBM beds, purchased the JOOV light, and experimented with a host of other modalities.  None had an impact where I could actually FEEL the difference.  In contrast I have had chronic ankle issues since college when I experienced a bad ankle sprain which never received any rehab.  I used the low level laser therapy once on my ankle and have never felt better in the bottom position of the squat which requires the ankle to function at a very high level.

Back to the science - when we have a concentrated light it allows the photons of the laser to travel in a very specific path and influence the proton and electron balance of each cell.  This is unique in that it allows better cell to cell communication leading to both local and systemic results.  Think about something like photosynthesis where a plant is hit by the sun and the effects are evident all the way down to the plant root.  This is exactly what is going on when we use a concentrated dose of laser therapy.  

So why do I use a red, violet, and green laser?  Why not just red?  Remember in 9th grade biology when your teacher lectured on the organelles of a cell and the mitochondria?  Does the powerhouse of the cell ring a bell?  Ok, awesome.  That is what we are primarily targeting with low level laser therapy. Now to dig a little deeper, mitochondrial function is only as optimal as our electron transport chain (want to know more?  Khan Academy is a great resource).  Our electron transport chain is made of four different complexes.  Three of these can be influenced by varying colors and further influenced when the frequency of those colors is changed to a setting specific to the condition aiming to be addressed.  Red, green, and violet laser light each impact a different complex so if we are just using one color (red for example) we are potentially missing low hanging fruit.  New research is showing that green can have a profound effect on the body and anecdotally I have witnessed this on multiple occasions.  

Violet lasers have been shown to have anti-fungal anti-bacterial properties.  While laser therapy is often associated with musculoskeletal conditions they actually can do much more and even help with conditions like cystic acne, respiratory infections, and fungal issues.  

Gut issues?  These are usually due to bacterial or parasitic infections.  Violet wavelengths work by fighting anaerobic bacteria (bad bacteria) yet have no impact on aerobic bacteria.  This is a very unique concept but can help provide a greater understanding as to why so many clinicians are utilizing laser therapy in addition to nutrition and supplementation that improve gut health.  When it comes to any modality we use it always comes back to chiropractic. 

Naturally there is a lot of crossover from our approach to neurofunctional acupuncture where we are aiming to address local pain at the area that is symptomatic and also the nerve root that is associated with that pain.  Utilizing two lasers will get the most profound impact as we want nerve flow to be unimpeded optimal.  Think traffic on a highway vs no traffic.  Since we use myotomes and dermatomes to help us further identify dysfunction it is only logical to address these areas in addition to local pain.  Lastly we want to be able to downregulate the sympathetic nervous system (fight/flight).  This becomes possible by addressing utilizing low level laser therapy through treatment over the vagus nerve (parasympathetic powerhouse). 

Finally, a question I receive all the time is “will I feel anything?” If you are curious about feeling anything while the laser is over the skin the answer is NO.  You will not even know that it is on your skin.  However, you will feel the results that day and almost immediately.  Many will report not thinking about their previous pain or irritation.  They simply dont notice it anymore.  Keep in mind that while we do get some great outcomes right away treatment recommendations generally range between four and six visits if there is a specific musculoskeletal condition being addressed.  At the same time, low level laser therapy can be used to improve health proactively.  Measuring markers such as heart rate variability (HRV) are a great way to show the systemic impact and the downregulation of the nervous system.  

Want to experience this for yourself?  Book an appointment today!

Sam Kavarsky

Sam Kavarsky

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