Coherent vs. Incoherent Light
Light therapy in combination with acupuncture is actually quite common, interfacing through the use of laser technology. Laser, an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation, is simply light which is coherent. Coherent light beams have minimum divergence and maximum parallelism over distance. This is as opposed to incoherent light which is regular visible light beams which scatter. Hot lasers are used in surgery to cut, cauterize, and destroy tissues. Lower power lasers, referred to as "soft" or "cold" lasers, are used in place of acupuncture ("needleless acupuncture") in clinics, research facilities and hospitals around the world to produce therapeutic effects through photobiostimulation. Soft lasers are classified by the FDA as Class III, nonsignificant risk medical devices for investigational purposes only.
[If you have missed Part 1 of this article it's here: Acupuncture Meridians Facilitate the Body's Absorption of Light. Part 1]
There is a vast amount of research documenting the biological responses and efficacy of laser biostimulation, much of which is applicable to incoherent light. It has a homeostatic effect: promoting skin regeneration or reducing scar tissue, decreasing pain or promoting enhanced sensitivity in numb areas, reducing swelling and irritation or improving circulation and enhancing the immune system. However, soft laser treatment is not without risk. It can be overused in intensity and duration. It is harmful if it comes in contact with the eyes. There is also thought that if used for a prolonged period, it can damage acupuncture points, leading to reduced effectiveness, as taught at acupuncture seminars at the University of Washington.
In all the excitement over laser, sight has been lost of the prior work done with incoherent light. Dr. Karu (noted above) contends that coherent light is not necessary, that incoherent light is equally effective at producing clinical results. Furthermore, she found that coherent light is converted to incoherent light in the body. The exact effect depends on the wavelength, dose and intensity. In Israel, medical doctors utilize incoherent light transmitted by light emitting diodes (LED's) in the practice of neurology, dentistry, dermatology, physiotherapy, and in cosmetic applications to promote collagen and elastin formation.
As often happens in life, I became intrigued with the use of colored light in conjunction with acupuncture by circumstance. A friend introduced me to a penlight device for applying colored light to acupuncture points, but the device was clumsy and the light was not intense enough. Shortly after, I became acquainted with the work of the noted French physician, Dr. Paul Nogier, who is most well known for developing auricular acupuncture and the Vascular Autonomic Signal. He had first experimented with the autonomic nerve wreath in the iris to help establish the light connection to the body's sympathetic nervous system. Nogier and his colleague Dr. Rene Bourdiol, co-authored a book on the subject in 1975 (Treatise on Iridodiagnosis). Later, Bourdiol, in his book Auriculo-Somatology, described how Nogier used colored and pulsed light on the ear to affect the body's energy systems. This information, along with the knowledge of Dinshah's work peaked my interest in photostimulation of acupuncture points.
The device we have been using for applying colored light to acupuncture points is called the Photon Stimulator. It can be used on its own, or in conjunction with standard acupuncture treatment. Its design seems to address many of the problems of prior colored light devices, making it both effective and user friendly. The PS is a plug-in unit comprised of a xenon plasma gas tube which provides full spectrum light. The light is pulsed and transmitted through high grade optic fiber to the handpiece with a precise tip where the light is focused. The combined aspects of being a plug-in unit vs. battery powered, the high wattage xenon bulb, and the optic fiber which transmits 99.4% of the light to the tip, insure high intensity stimulation of the skin. As previously stated, higher intensity means a greater number of electrons discharged. In practice, this translates to shorter treatment times.
Some of the other problems we encountered in other machines were the bulky nature of the applicator, and lack of color specificity. Both of these issues seem to be adequately addressed. The design of the lightweight handpiece facilitates precise location and treatment of either points or areas on the body, or in the ear where precision is a must. The PS utilizes color gel filters manufactured by Roscolene, the world's top photographic filter company. Roscolene gel filters minimize dye migration and pigment fading. They are the same precise frequencies researched for over 50 years by Dinshah. Each color gel filter comes in a 35 mm slide casing, making it convenient and quick to change colors by dropping them in and out of a slot.
Our experience, and those of both colleagues and patients utilizing the PS have shown that very short treatment times are effective. Only 15 - 30 seconds are necessary at each point. The light is pulsed, reinforcing the stimulation. The flicker rate is adjustable between 0 - 10 hertz. We usually set it around 5 hz. This seems to feel best and has some scientific basis. Nogier found that 5 hz is optimal in facilitating balance within the autonomic nervous system, creating a window of opportunity wherein organ systems can be accessed and affected.
Dr. Norm Shealy, MD, a holistic physician, researcher, and founder of the American Holistic Medical Association, speculates that light works through the connective tissue, affecting cellular memory and output of neurotransmitters. He uses 7.8 hz which is theoretically the background human frequency, based on the Schumann resonance, the frequency of the earth.
The following are case histories from my experience, and the experience of colleagues utilizing the Photon Stimulator for photobiostimulation.
Chronic Wrist Pain and Immobility
A 28 year old woman was suffering from chronic pain and limited range of motion of her right wrist subsequent to a fracture and internal fixation (surgical intervention) about 6 months previous. Curiously, she asked me what was the meaning of a point in the right ear located in the area called the scaphoid fossa. It corresponded with the wrist point in the ear. She had recently had an irresistible urge to pierce her ear there, and had intuitively treated herself! Because it was a chronic problem, first we applied lemon to master points in the ear for pain control -- Point 0, Shenmen, and Thalamus. Then purple was applied to ear wrist point. Immediately, she had less pain and improved range of motion.
An 11 year old boy with chronic asthma developed an asthma attack while playing with my son at our house. Since he was not in acute distress, I offered the color treatment and he agreed. He had an inhaler if we needed to resort to that. Since he was in the middle of an attack, we needed to sedate the lungs, and rev up the adrenals. Purple was applied to auricular Lung, and body points Lung 1, and CV 17 in center of the chest. Then scarlet was applied to auricular kidney and adrenal points, and body point Kidney 3. He calmed down considerably within 5 minutes, and was totally better within 10 minutes. He commented that when this happens and he uses his inhaler, he continues to cough throughout the day, but he was symptom free and felt great after the auricular light treatment.
A young boy suffered a skin abrasion on his leg from a lacrosse accident. The wound was infected and not healing quickly, but did not show signs of cellulitis. One treatment was given with green light over the affected area. It was quite remarkable as visible healing was apparent immediately. The redness went out of the skin right before our eyes. We then went on with his regular acupuncture treatment for migraine headaches, and the wound healed well without further incident.
A 40 year old woman with cellulitis was not responding to antibiotics. Her doctor recommended hospitalization for IV antibiotic treatment. As a last resort, she asked for help from her acupuncturist. We treated the local area three times that day, and once the next day alternating green and blue light over the local area. The inflammation came down to a point where the infection was manageable with oral antibiotics, and hospitalization was avoided.
A 52 year old woman had totally lost her sense of taste and smell for one year subsequent to an injury of the olfactory nerve suffered in a motor vehicle accident. She consulted an acupuncturist, but had no improvement. She then consulted our office. We had had some success with similar conditions in the past using scalp, auricular, and local treatment. this time, in addition, we used red light on scalp and ear points. Within 7 treatments, she got results which took 18 - 20 treatments to get without the help of the light. She regained 70 - 80% of her prior sense of taste and smell.
A 43 Year old MS patient had not been able to eat solid food or speak normally for 6 weeks secondary to severe facial neuralgia. Acupuncture was done on scalp and ear points, but local needling was not possible because of the extreme sensitivity. Purple light was applied to local facial points. After the third treatment, she was able to eat a whole meal.
Chronic Pain, a Patient Testimonial
"Possibly the most noteworthy treatment that I have had that has truly changed my entire quality of life has been the complete elimination of pain brought about by the Multiple Sclerosis. The entire right side of my body suffered from deep pains where my muscles and tendons just plain hurt. I felt like I had played an entire football game getting hit exclusively on the right side of my body. Talking to other people suffering from MS, they also share similar stories of their pains. Well, Dr. Chernoff talked to me about a treatment she felt confident would work. The treatment is Photon Stimulator Color Therapy which I like because it is completely non-intrusive to the body. I was skeptical at first but not 15 minutes following the treatment I looked at my wife and said, 'it's gone, the pain is totally gone'. I have felt no pain since the color therapy and that has been more than three months now." M.M., Albuquerque, NM, 1998.
We have been using colored light therapy in our practices for two years. As with any healing system or modality, light therapy is neither a magic bullet nor a cure all. But it has clearly shown itself to be an invaluable asset. We use it in combination with standard acupuncture treatment, or rely on it for the sole treatment. It is wonderful to use with children, and with patients who are needle phobic or are hypersensitive. Some patients use it at home on themselves and their family, as it is safe and simple to apply.
The Dinshah system of color therapy dovetails nicely with traditional Oriental medicine theory, which relates colors to the internal organs and meridian system. Yellow builds the pancreas and improves digestion, red is hot and stimulating, magenta strengthens the kidneys and adrenals. the warm colors (red, orange, yellow, lemon, scarlet) strengthen and tonify, while the cool colors (turquoise, blue, indigo, violet, purple) sedate, calm, ease pain and inflammation. The Photon Stimulator includes a manual which has sample treatments and the basics of the Dinshah color system so one can start using it right away. Other sources are cited for those who want to delve more deeply.
What has been most notable from the beginning of this exploration, is the rapidity with which healing can take place with something as seemingly simple and noninvasive as light. It compels one to stop and reconsider what our true nature is -- that we are in a very literal sense light beings as ancient mystical teachings profess. There is new scientific evidence to support this. Fritz Popp, a German physicist and chemist, published research in the mid 1980's documenting that the cells of all living things radiate light. He further hypothesized that photons are carriers of information in living systems. Dr. G.J. Hyland, of the Department of Physics at the University of Warwick, UK, has recently (1998) published research also demonstrating that living systems spontaneously emit biophotons. Findings of this type seem natural and expected to those who accept the energetic nature of reality. At the same time, it validates the concept of Qi, which has been such a stumbling block to the acceptance of Chinese medicine in the West.
The efficacy of this particular light therapy device has also led us to reconsider the nature of light. Perhaps not all light is created equal. Dr. John Ott's work on the benefits of full spectrum light, and conversely, the deleterious effects of fluorescent lighting on both physical and mental health and well being is well documented and prolific. Psychologist Dr. Warren Hathaway investigated the effects of full spectrum lighting on the performance of 300 ten to twelve year-olds in the Canadian school system. Compared to those exposed to cool white fluorescent or sodium vapor lamps, the full spectrum group excelled physically and academically. They had fewer sick days, greater gains in height and weight, and made greater academic progress. His findings were reported at the 1992 meeting of the American Psychological Association.
This research indicates that light has positive or negative effects depending on which frequencies of the electromagnetic spectrum are present. Peter Bros, in his book, Light, goes a step further. He postulates that light is actually made of what gives it off, by emission of electrons from the source. So the light emitted from a full spectrum fluorescent bulb would be different in nature from the full spectrum light emitted by one of the noble plasma gases, as it is in the case of the Photon Stimulator, and certainly different from that emitted by an incandescent bulb. Perhaps, by accident, this explains the overall overall effectiveness, and sometimes amazing results which have been observed. It is to be noted that the original Rife device employed radiation from generated from another noble gas, argon.
Therapeutic use of colored light is in its infancy. There are more questions than answers. The field is wide open for research which, I am sure will, secure the invaluable role of light in medicine of the 21st century.
About the Author
Ron Rosen, OMD, FNAAOM, has been in Oriental medicine practice, which he learned through lineage tradition, for over 30 years. He is also a martial artist of over 40 years experience. He practices in Denver, Colorado, and conducts classes for Maya barefoot doctors in Guatemala. Ron also teaches seminars nationally on many subjects including color therapy and injury medicine.
Anna Cocilovo, PA-C, Dipl. Ac., has been a physician assistant for 20 years, and a practicing acupuncturist for 11, with experience in allopathic medicine, research, traditional Oriental medicine, and integrative medicine. She received her acupuncture training at Kototama Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She practices acupuncture and complementary medicine in Prescott, Arizona, and teaches seminars on colored light therapy.
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©Copyright 1999 by Anna Cocilovo, PA-C, Dipl. Ac. and Ron Rosen, OMD, FNAAOM, USA