What is Light Therapy?
Light Therapy (aka phototherapy or heliotherapy) consists of a number of varied treatments that involve a controlled exposure to different light wavelengths or a programmed exposure to sunlight. The equipment that is used for this form of therapy includes:
- Light-emitting diodes
- Dichroic lamps
- Fluorescent lamps
- Polarized light projectors
- Full-spectrum light projectors
What types of conditions are treated with Light Therapy?
Light Therapy is used for a number of different therapeutic reasons, some of which are considered standard procedure in modern-day hospitals/medical practices. These include:
- Skin disorders (psoriasis, eczema, acne vulgaris and (neonatal)
- Circadian rhythm disorders
- Delayed sleep phase disorder
- Seasonal effective disorder
- Additional psychiatric disorders
How does Light Therapy Work? Is it safe?
The use of Light Therapy involves a straightforward procedure in which the most common method makes use of a device that is known as a “Light Therapy box” In this case, the treatment of seasonal affective disorder (SAD), for example, would require the patient to sit near this device so that they could be subjected to a bright light. This light is designed to mimic the natural light that is found outdoors. During this treatment, brain chemicals, related to sleep and mood states, are affected. The result is the easing of sleep disorders and depression that can be experienced during certain times of the year (usually fall and winter).
Light Therapy has also been found to be effective in treating other types of depression, as well. This form of therapy has become popular due to fact that it is safe and has very few potential side effects. This is the primary reason why pregnant and breast feeding women can benefit from using Light Therapy, as opposed to anti-depressant medication.
For skin conditions Light Therapy utilizes a different form of light. In this case, light from the ultraviolet (UV) portion of the light spectrum is used to treat psoriasis and other skin problems. Of course, care needs to be taken, in order to protect the patient’s eyes and to avoid an excess of UV light ray exposure to the skin.
Issues presented when it comes to Light Therapy
Like many other (proven effective) natural medicine alternatives, the most common argument against Light Therapy has to do with the notion that not enough clinical trials have been presented in order to validate its claims to success. Needless to say, if a form of therapy has been in use for decades and is backed by those who have had undisputable success with its use, then that should override a stack of reports from so-called government “authorities”. In the case of Light Therapy, however, the fact that it is safe has prevented any significant interference from established traditional medical factions. The only problem has to do with the reluctance of established medicine to sanction Light Therapy treatment for more than a couple of medical problems, such as SAD, as opposed to non-seasonal depressive disorders.