Red Light Therapy – Dr. Tiffany Oliver

I am Tiffany Oliver and I am an
associate professor in the Department of Biology here at Spelman College. My research
looks at the effects of red light and how it can be beneficial for treatments
for wound healing and things like hair growth, etc. In layman’s terms if I had to
use broad strokes all boils down to one molecule which is nitric oxide. So light
is energy, right, and so red light has a certain amount of energy that can
displace non nitric oxide and nitric oxide is really really important for
promoting these biological effects that are beneficial, such as promoting blood
flow and alleviating pain and inflammation.
For example my collaborator has tennis elbow, pain in his elbow right that’s
caused by either arthritis or some sort of inflammation. He has a small little
LED red light that he shines on the area of pain and you know we’re talking hours,
you have reduced reductions in pain. My mother has arthritis, she has arthritis
in her knees and I actually encouraged her to just – I bought her an LED light
bulb, red light bulb, and you know, LED is important because it’s cool to the touch,
right, so you can touch it to whatever part of your body without burning
yourself, and to touch it to just her knee and it actually prevents pain. The
military is particularly interested in red light therapy but even more
specifically in the mechanisms that underlie how red light therapy works
because it can help with retro fusion, so that’s when there are people in the field
and there’s an explosion and you have limbs being detached from a body and
reprofusion is the process by which you restore blood flow from limbs that have
been detached from the body back to the main body, so that you can reattach that,
that limb and so understanding this pathway in this biology is important for
that process as well. For our younger ladies, you know, now a lot of them are
wearing these wigs and things that you have to kind of tape to your hair and
you have to tape them around your edges and when they take them off it pulls
their hair straight out of the follicles. That leaves them with, you know, bald
areas around the edges of their hairline and also for older women late
40s, early 50s 60s, are spinning in the top of the head and also around the
edges and so there’ve actually been studies done which have shown that
exposure to red light actually increases the number of follicles and the length
of the actual hair that grows, so you’re talking about restoring hair growth. So
another important aspect of red light therapy is its positive effects on
combating age. So with wrinkles etc, so papers has also shown that it produces
or increases collagen production. The effects are not permanent, right, you have
to do it every day, but my research one of my aims is actually to study how we
can actually prolong the effects, the positive and beneficial effects of a red
light therapy.

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