Managing Diabetes Side Effects With Infrared Light Therapy

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Filed Under: Blood Sugar, Diabetes Complications, Clinical Therapies, Infrared Light Therapy
Last Reviewed 02/06/2014

Infrared light therapy (brand names Anodyne and HealthLight) delivers pulses of special wavelengths of light through the skin directly to injured tissues. Though the light itself is invisible, its effects are readily apparent: enhanced blood flow, improved sensation, regeneration of tissues, and pain relief. 

As I've indicated before, treatment with infrared light therapy is simple and painless. Flexible pads containing small lights are affixed to the affected areas. The energy that pulses from the lights penetrates beneath the skin and is absorbed by deep tissues. After just 30 minutes of treatment, blood flow is enhanced by 400 percent, and this boost in local circulation persists for several hours after the pads are removed. The key to this dramatic improvement in blood flow is a short-lived molecule called nitric oxide.

Nitric oxide is an unstable gas that is crucial to the health of every part of the body that depends on an adequate blood supply for normal functioning. Unfortunately, people dealing with diabetes produce less nitric oxide than healthy individuals. It’s not surprising then that people living with diabetes often suffer from problems related to poor circulation, including heart disease, poor blood pressure health, kidney dysfunction, retinal damage, peripheral neuropathy, and impaired wound healing. This is where infrared light therapy comes in.

As blood cells pass beneath the light unit, they absorb photons of energy, causing them to release nitric oxide. This localized release enhances blood flow in the immediate vicinity, bringing oxygen and nutrients to injured tissues and stimulating healing.

Infrared light therapy has been the subject of at least eight clinical trials in patients with diabetic peripheral neuropathy and “loss of protective sensation,” an objective measure of nerve impairment and a significant risk factor for amputation. These studies found that treatment with infrared light restored sensation in 93 percent of affected limbs, greatly reducing risk of amputation.

Though you may not hear about it from your conventional doctor, infrared light therapy is gaining popularity as its benefits are becoming better known.

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