Light therapy: how does it work?

It is indeed accepted that the lack of light has a influence the mood of a significant part of the population, but we don't always know how to fix it. Light therapy can therefore be the answer to many of the symptoms caused by winter gloom.

What is light therapy?

The benefits of light therapy have been recognized for millennia. Hippocrates, famous founding father of medicine, already recommended in his writings, several centuries before our era, to treat a multitude of diseases by taking sunbaths. According to him, all that nature has to offer could promote healing. So his reasoning was simple: all living beings need air, water and light to grow and flourish in full health. He had then noted that many patients suffering from infectious pathologies such as tuberculosis saw their condition improve after regular exposure to the rays of the sun. This is why modern light therapy is inspired by this method. Today, the lamps used in this type of treatment are specially designed to reproduce the spectrum of white light emitted by the sun, and serve as a substitute when you cannot benefit from a real ray of sunlight. This method of treatment and exposure became more widespread in the 1980s with the aim of compensating for the lack of light suffered on a daily basis, whether this lack was due to the changing seasons, or to a work environment offering little light. natural light for example.

The benefits of light therapy

Light therapy has many benefits; which can support drug treatment, or even lighten it. By entering through the eyes, the light acts on the brain by stimulating the production of serotonin. Serotonin, commonly known as the "happiness hormone", is a neurotransmitter that helps regulate mood and sleep cycles, among other things. The lack of serotonin can therefore cause a depressive and anxious state, sleep disorders, appetite, libido, etc. Regulating and promoting the production of serotonin therefore participates in regulating the rhythm of our internal clock and improves our quality of life. In turn, the stimulation of serotonin will also help regulate the secretion of melatonin, a sleep hormone produced in abundance, especially when the lack of light is predominant. The goal of light therapy is therefore in summary to stay awake and sleep at the right times of the day. The advantage of this method is that it is accessible to everyone, and that it is not at all invasive, limiting the side effects generated by certain chemical treatments.

bienfaits de la luminothérapie

Light therapy and cancer

Radiotherapy and chemotherapy are heavy cancer treatments that have many painful side effects for the patient. Weakened immune defenses and anxiety can in many cases cause sleep disorders and difficulty falling asleep. This is why clinical studies are currently being conducted to measure the real impact of light therapy in subjects who have or have had various forms of cancer. These studies have concluded that light therapy has a real and beneficial effect on patients bothered by insomnia and low morale. The advantage of this method is undeniable since it makes it possible not to weigh down an already difficult drug treatment, to limit interactions and not to add side effects to an already long list. This natural therapy is an excellent supplement that can improve the quality of life of patients. Don't we say that good quality sleep and unfailing morale greatly contribute to recovery?

Light therapy for babies

Not only is light therapy a suitable treatment for adults, adolescents and children with mental disorders, but it can also be used for infants. Many newborns have a disorder called icterus, better known as jaundice. Bilirubin, a substance contained in particular in bile and characterized by a yellow pigmentation, is transported in the blood, passes through the liver where it undergoes transformation, is then degraded by its transport to the colon and evacuated in the stool. However, most newborns have a somewhat "lazy" liver, which induces storage of bilirubin in the blood and slows down its degradation. It is this overdose of bilirubin in the blood that causes this particular yellow color of the skin. In addition to this aesthetic aspect, this concentration of bilirubin can have harmful effects on the brain and cause irreversible disorders such as deafness, loss of muscle tone, among others. While the vast majority of babies recover from jaundice without any treatment, others need therapeutic help. Treatment with light therapy allows you to play the role that the liver cannot assume on its own. The effect of blue light facilitates the degradation and then the elimination of bilirubin by the baby's body.

Luminothérapie bébé

Light therapy for the elderly

The change in the rhythm of life, in particular by the disappearance of professional constraints which induce a well-defined schedule, have an influence on sleep and on the mood of elderly people. In this category of the population, there are many who resort to sleeping pills over the long term, consequently developing a phenomenon of addiction and developing side effects. Appropriate use of light therapy can restore a more normal and consistent sleep pattern depending on the time of day and night. The secretion of melatonin , a sleep hormone, having tendency to become rare with age, a light treatment can help stimulate it and increase the quantity and quality of sleep. Thus, no more need for sleeping pills, and no more drowsiness during the day.

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