Brain Health

#259: Better Brain Health w/ Photobiomodulation and Light Therapy w/ Lew Lim, PhD

by Mike Mutzel


About Dr. Lew Lim

Lew Lim, PhD has been studying photobiomodulation (PBM) and low-level light therapy for over 30 years. In the mid 1990's he invented intranasal photobiomodulation as a non-invasive method of introducing therapeutic photonic energy into the human body.

Connect with Dr. Lim
[email protected]

Link to Show Notes:

03:07 Dr. Lim uses his devices at bedtime. It does not interfere with sleep.

03:15 Dr. Lim’s first device for home use was developed at a time when low level laser equipment was big and expensive. It meant that you had to go to a clinic to be treated.

04:58 Sometimes using the device brings permanent restoration. Sometimes it requires multiple sessions.

05:12 Photobiomodulation literally means light, biology and changes. It happens when we are in the sun. It had been known as low level laser therapy, low level light therapy, soft laser or cold laser.

06:17 Photobiomodulation works on mitochondria.

09:02 Mitochondria respond to light in the red and infrared spectrum, by restoring normal function when it has not been functioning at optimal state. When we are already in optimum, there is little response. Too much red and infrared can have a negative effect.

09:58 Light energy is converted into 7 proteins, when your mitochondria respond to infrared and red light spectrum. This leads to our genes triggering recovery and healing, encouraging the multiplication of cells, mitogenesis, and preventing early apoptosis.

10:36 Red light and infrared light therapy is accepted as a treatment for improving circulation, body pain and injury.

11:06 Infrared goes deep. Red light treats the superficial level, so it is good for skin conditions. Blue light is antimicrobial.

11:37 Neurons in our brains respond to red and infrared. Near infrared is used because it travels deeper. Studies show that the use of 810 nanometers works well with the nervous system tissues/brain tissues.

12:58 Photobiomodulation has a biphasic response.

13:30 The impetus for research into the regenerative properties of low level laser therapy came about in the 1960s when a professor in Hungary discovered that laser was helping to regrow fur in lab mice.

13:57 There is a wavelength and intensity sweet spot where low level laser is effective and not harmful. Wavelengths need to be in the action spectrum.

16:18 Dr. Lim has developed a device that selectively points at strategic areas of the brain.

17:26 The default mode network is the template network for your brain. When you are not performing a task, this network kicks in. The health of the default mode network is related to certain brain conditions like, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, chronic pain and depression.

18:36 Most people with Alzheimer’s have lesions in the areas of the brain where the nodes/junctions for the default mode network reside.  Most of the activity, connectivity and brain power takes place in these nodes.

19:49 The theory is that red and infrared light at the right power it will heal neurons. Lab studies show that neurons that are damaged by oxidative stress, regrow their axons, dendrites and neurites with this therapy.

20:39 Red light and infrared light elevates the power of higher frequency brainwave. Low power correlates with diseases related to cognition, like stroke, dementia, concussion, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.

21:41 Attention deficit disorder correlates with too much power in the slower brainwave. It is locked into the lower level. There should be energy oscillation into higher levels, like gamma, beta and alpha so the brain can process information efficiently. With ADD reaction time is slower, there is less focus and decision making is not as good. Similar brain signatures are seen in dementia patents.

23:20 Gamma is characterized by heightened awareness, high oscillations and faster processing. Long term meditators have persistent gamma state. They can get in and out of this state quickly. Most of us are not able to do this.

24:42 The Alpha state is the meditative state for most of us. An intervention with 10 Hz alpha can help you get into that state.

26:00 Photobiomodulation modalities can be used effectively to help with competitive performance and recovery. A combination of red light and infrared is effective in helping your body reach its potential.

27:36 Alpha is probably better with golfers and shooters who need to be in a calm state. Gamma is better for intense competition and quick decision making. Alpha is good for brain stem maintenance.

28:36 Alpha is usually recommended for head trauma. Research on animals found that 10 Hz produced the fastest healing for the brain. Ten hertz is where the human brain functions in a beneficial alpha state. The alpha device is being used in the biofeedback community for its ability to quickly get people into an alpha state.

30:56 EEG is a diagnostic measurement of your brain electrical signals. Brain wave patterns and quality are detected. QEEG compares your brain electrical signals to normal. Photobiomodulation is an intervention to help modulate brain patterns.

34:00 Directing gamma to the brain elevates gamma, beta and alpha and downregulates lower oscillation states.

35:33 The first time stimulating gamma with a device, Dr. Lim and other sensitive people have reported having hallucinations. Alpha does not have the potential side effects of gamma and higher frequency.

36:39 Patients with degenerative brain conditions are not sensitive to gamma and do not have the potential side effects. Gamma should help their brains become higher functioning.

37:13 Gamma pulsing at 40 Hz activates microglia in the brain, whose function is to remove unwanted byproducts in the brain.

39:45 Alpha at positive 10 Hz will get you into a more relaxed state and could be helpful with sleep. Photobiomodulation at 10 Hz may help with stress.

40:53 Photobiomodulation, via Dr. Lim’s devices, is being studied in conjunction with traumatic brain injury, cognitive deficits, Parkinson’s, ADHD and dementia. The intermediate data is positive.

45:00 The nose is an easy way to reach the circulatory system and the brain. One of the nodes of the default mode network is the hippocampus. It is responsible for memory. You can deliver light to the brain and it is spread via indirect signaling. Intranasal delivery has worked, but the therapy works better with more light delivery points. Above the nasal cavity is the olfactory bulb. Research has discovered that impairments in olfactory bulb in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. The olfactory bulb has a direct projection to the hippocampus. Effecting the olfactory bulb, effects the memory processing in your brain.

52:26 Red light and infrared light therapy can sometimes be helpful with epilepsy, which can be caused by a variety of things that happen in the brain.

54:43 Photobiomodulation is safe at the power used in Dr. Lim’s devices. You can use it daily. It promotes homeostasis in your body. The laser is not yet available in the U.S. because of regulation.

58:32 Dr. Lim’s devices are designed for adults. Nasal devices are for ages 5 and up. Kids don’t like it, so parents put them on while the child sleeps.