Light therapy (photobiomodulation) as a solution for post-COVID problems

covid laser May 03, 2021

Light therapy (photobiomodulation) as a solution for post-COVID problems

Light therapy (laser) as a solution for post-COVID problems.
“Do you also treat people who have suffered from COVID?”
“Why are you asking?” is my answer.
“I'm asking this, because you guys help people with brain problems, right?”
This has become a question that gets asked almost daily in our practice (which is mainly aimed at helping people deal with brain trauma).
This shows that the consequences from a severe COVID infection can continue even after the virus and its (very serious) effects have disappeared from one’s system.
In this article, I will share some remarkable facts that have emerged from studies and show there is light (literally) on the horizon for the group facing ongoing consequences after COVID.
Furthermore, I’ll share an interesting discovery that, upon further investigation, is also supported by recent publications.
What are we dealing with after COVID?
Almost anyone who’s ever had a real flu (not just a cold), knows that there often are post-flu symptoms, the most common ones ranging from fatigue, shortness of breath, muscle tension and dizziness during exercise.
These phenomena can last up to a few weeks or even months. This also applies to a large percentage of the people who have become really ill due to the COVID-19 virus.
An unknown percentage of people who have been hospitalized or got seriously ill will experience ongoing effects of this flu.
Studies have now been published which show that serious persistent complaints are still present 3-4 months after returning home. This is the case for 80% of those who have been hospitalized.

- Non-specific pain and physical discomfort
- Breathing difficulty
- Palpitations
- Aching joints & chest pain
- Dizziness and light-headedness
- Fatigue
- Deterioration and absence of smell

In addition, there are also more serious complaints such as:
- Pulmonary hypertension (where the heart has to work too hard because the lung functionality has changed)
- Fibrosis in the lungs
- Fluid and inflammation around the heart
- Neurological and neuropsychiatric problems such as a dysregulated autonomic nervous system
- Myalgic encephalopathy/chronic fatigue syndrome, depression et cetera
- Auto immune problems triggered or exacerbated by COVID

Not to mention all of the unintended side effects of the measures taken to contain COVID, especially for the vulnerable groups (such as the elderly, those with diabetes, cancer, pre-existing increased inflammatory susceptibility etc.).
Less social contact and not being able to exercise in any form has negative consequences that actually weaken the immune system and further weaken the resilience to withstand disease.
Researchers show that, without going too much into detail, there are a number of main reasons why persistent complaints are still present:

- There still is a weakened or a too strong persistent immune response
- The inflammation value in the body is persistently too high
- The mitochondral (energy-factories at cell level) system is weakened and no longer functions properly
- A decreased diversity and weakened microbiome (the jungle in your stomach of good and bad gut bacteria, viruses, fungi, etc.) in the gastrointestinal tract.

My interest was piqued by this question.
We had already seen a number of people in our practice who were dealing with both the consequences of one or more concussion(s), and with the consequences of COVID.
Among the persistent complaints were not only respiratory problems and even stronger fatigue (than the fatigue already present from their concussions) but also headaches, not being able to think properly and constant "brain fog" to name a few.

Because we routinely use so-called low-intensity therapeutic laser (also called photobiomodulation) to reduce the effects of brain trauma, it seemed like a good idea to also use it for lung problems after COVID.
This was not a whim, but rather a logical idea when looking at the ever expanding literature on the use of light therapy for example for lung problems.

Much to our surprise, the use of laser in combination with other methods to improve brain function (including breathing techniques and optimizing energy management — see also the “How To Improve Energy” video), exceeded expectations.
The recovery from fatigue, lung complaints and general well-being after COVID suddenly seemed to accelerate.

Somewhat surprised at this rather unexpected result (persistent problems after COVID usually don't go away that easily) I decided to dive into the available studies in order to gain more insight.

This is the remarkable conclusion drawn by scientists looking for methods (pharmaceutical applications or specific therapy etc.) that stimulate recovery during and after COVID:
In fact, there are no or very few targeted applications during and after COVID to speed up recovery, other than adjusting lifestyle, carefully rebuilding activity and making serious lung, heart, kidney consequences etc. manageable with medication.
However, one thing appears to have surprising effects to decrease and regulate the serious immune reactions and complications, without side effects:
The use of red and infrared laser (photobiomodulation). Bingo! That is probably the exact reason why the laser treatment seems to have such a positive effect on our clients.

On further research (I already knew quite a lot about the effects of laser), I was extremely surprised:
The FBM has a positive effect on immune system regulation, on reduction of neuroinflammation in the brain and on promotion of muscle strength and muscle recovery.
Secondly, the stomach intestinal flora and the presence of good intestinal bacteria (which reduces inflammatory reactions through the vagus nerve — a major part of the parasympathetic nervous system) are promoted by the use of low-intensity laser without the usual side effects.

Have a look at the other positive effects of therapeutic laser or light therapy in the overview below.

Red and infrared laser in particular (the strongly bundled form of red and infrared light) work strongly on the so-called mitochondria: light-sensitive parts in the “energy factories” present in all of our body cells.
Other positive effects are: decreasing negative immune reactions, better blood flow and activating stem cells (without negative side effects).

So far, we’ve shed light on the following positive results of light therapy:
- Improved energy management
- Regulation and optimization of the immune system
- Improved recovery process
- Decrease of persistent inflammation levels
- Improved microflora in our intestines, for example through lifestyle changes (most importantly sleep, but also nutrition, exercise and hydration).

Looking at all of the above, it becomes even more clear how important light is for us (red and infrared are also part of the light spectrum). It seems that light therapy in the form of therapeutic laser can be an important factor in improving ones situation after infection with COVID with serious acute and persistent consequences.

In the following articles I will discuss the improvement of energy management, sleep, hydration and the build-up & effects of exercise post-COVID.

Arjan Kuipers

Have a look at the scientific references regarding this subject. 

Scientific References