bout 20 percent of adults across the U.S.–more than 50 million people – suffer from chronic pain. While the reasons are numerous such as cancer, arthritis and musculoskeletal skeletal diseases, migraines, fibromyalgia, and many more, the solutions aren’t readily available.
Analgesics that are available over the counter often have little effect. Massage, physical therapy and acupuncture can help, but not always. Opioids prescribed by a doctor can provide temporary relief, but they come at cost. More than three millions Americans are currently dependent on these drugs.
Researchers are looking at a possibility that is inexpensive, safe and has little or no side effects , and no danger of addiction green light exposure. Although the research is still in its infancy and research is by not conclusive, in the last few times, research has shown that exposure to light in the green wavelength, whether through sitting in a dark space lit by LEDs that emit green light or giving them green-colored glasses to wear–may reduce the severity of pain as well as the frequency of of migraines as well as fibromyalgia and chronic muscular and skeletal pain. It also helps reduce the anxiety and stress that comes with chronic pain.
In a research study, which was presented the findings on October. 23 during the annual gathering of the American Society of Anesthesiologists in New Orleans, Dr. Padma Gulur, vice chair of the department of anesthesiology of Duke University, reported on an experiment she carried out that involved 34 patients suffering from fibromyalgia. were given tinted glasses in various shades for four hours each all day over a period of two weeks. Ten patients had spectacles with blue lenses. while 12 wore clear lenses, and 12 were wearing green. After the study period, patients who had the green lenses were four times more likely than those who were in the two other groups to have reported that their anxiety about their pain had diminished and their dependence on opioids.
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Gulur used glasses that are sold in the market in the study, and then examined each pair using the spectrophotometer to determine what Green light wavelength the pair produced. She also tested every pair of glasses at the conclusion of the study to determine which one of the participants received which wavelength. “What we found most interesting was that at the conclusion of our study patients were so happy by the results, they wanted to keep the glasses in green,” she says.
Although it isn’t huge, Gulur’s research isn’t the only study in its field. In the University of Arizona, Dr. Mohab Ibrahim, professor of neurosurgery, anesthesiology, and pharmacology; as well as Laurent Martin, assistant professor of anesthesiology, and their colleagues have written several papers in the last four years, demonstrating the effectiveness of green light in reducing pain. In one paper, which was that was published in the year 2020 by Cephalalgia (which refers to “headache”) The researchers enlisted 29 migraine sufferers, and then exposed them to between one and two hours of LED green lights that the university offered to put at their homes every all day over 10 weeks, in a dark room. The treatment helped reduce headache days by 70% for those who suffer from intermittent migraines in comparison to their baseline frequency of headaches and by more than 60% for those who suffer from more frequent chronic migraines. (The patients that was exposed to light sources of the white color had no changes.) In a different paper, which was that was published within the Journal of Pain Medicine, Ibrahim recruited 21 patients with fibromyalgia. They performed similar treatments and discovered that patients who reported their pain as eight out of 10 when subjected to light that was white lowered their ratings to less than five after exposure to green light.
“There is a network of neural connections that originate in the eyes and can be tracked back to various areas of the brain,” states Ibrahim, who is also head of medicine at the Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center at Banner-University Medical Center. “Some of these brain regions are involved in the process of regulating pain.” Through an unidentified mechanism completely known the green light is believed to disrupt this connection providing relief with no medications, or at the very least , not as much.
“This is such a straightforward method,” Ibrahim says. “There’s still some doubt which is not unjustly so. When you make an astonishing claim, it’s necessary to be able to prove it with extraordinary proof. The more research and studies that are funded more we are closer to having a solid quantity of evidence to say”OK, something’s actually taking place in this area.”
The break in the cycle
for Jennifer Dinardo, 64, an Tucson retired person who worked in the industry of hospitality it was when she was just 18 years old and went skating following her drinking more wine than she used in her spaghetti sauce that she had made the night before. The skater slipped and crashed face first onto the pavement which broke her nose, fractured the neck bone. The pain was intense and while she was treated, doctors responded quickly with a prescription.
“He said, ‘Here’s the deal. take these. They will help you feel better,'” she recalls.
They did for a time. However, that one night of bad luck caused complications such as migraine and fibromyalgia headaches which eventually led to surgery to join two discs inside her neck. The pain became chronic, and she started taking strong painkillers for years.
“I tried every thing,” Dinardo says. “Massage therapy stretching exercises, stretching exercises, tai-chi. In many instances I was back having the medication written in my hand.”
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In 2020, she walked into the Comprehensive Pain and Addiction Center at the same time that Ibrahim began one of his studies with the green-colored light. “He asked, ‘Wouldn’t you be interested in this research?’ ?”’ she remembers. “I replied, ‘I’ll take on whatever it takes.'”
Over the next seventy days Dinardo was expected to spend as much as two hours a day in a space in her home that was lit by green LEDs, listening to music or reading to make time. In the following 30 days the chronic pain started to diminish. After a while she stopped taking any painkillers and hasn’t taken any prescriptions since beginning this treatment two years ago. She has kept the LEDs on and, although she does not use them all day long the LEDs are on whenever neck pains, headaches, or fibromyalgia become severe.
“You can see the impact,” she says. “It truly is incredible.”
What is green light? How can it alleviate discomfort?
Scientists don’t know for sure what causes green light to ease pain-related conditions such as fibromyalgia as well as headaches However, they do have some suggestions. Gulur believes the solution may be in green light’s capacity to activate melanopsin, which is an ocular-sensitive neurotransmitter the eye responsible for controlling the pupil’s dilation as well as contraction. Melanopsin is also associated with gray matter periaqueductal, which is which is a structure located within the brainstem’s upper part which is involved in the processing of pain. It is believed that melanopsin could stimulate an inhibitory pathway which doesn’t deal with pain, but rather closes it. Not just any green light will accomplish the trick, she’s discovered that it’s more specific frequency of it.
“You might think that it would be the highest green wavelength, which is absolute green, that would be the most efficient,” she says. “But what we discovered with chronic pain was it was the lower wavelengths as well as the higher wavelengths – more towards the lower end of the spectrum of green–that appear to help patients.” This limits the possibilities to test this therapy on their own, as purchasing any green glass that are available at a shop isn’t a guarantee of the correct wavelength. It is only tested using the spectrum spectrophotometer.
As of now, this is only a speculation. However, Gulur is currently working on an exciting study where the brains of people suffering from pain who wear green spectacles will be assessed using the use of functional magnetic resonance (fMRI) to determine whether the inhibitory pathway exists.
Ibrahim and his team are studying different brain areas that play an important role in processing pain, including the rostral ventricular medulla (RVM) that is found within the cerebral stem. A specific type of brain cells, referred to by the name of GABAergic neurons, make a protein called the c-Fos. It then triggers the RVM and completes a neural circuit that triggers pain. In research on animals rats exposed to light in the green spectrum produced less c-Fos, which reduced the activity of GABAergic neurons, and disabling the pathway to pain.
“We assessed the quantity of GABAergic cells that expressed fos c-C, and discovered that green light decreased the output of these cells,” Ibrahim says. “Overall the light reduces the activity of cells that should they be stimulated, could cause pain.”
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Other studies have shown that Ibrahim studied the front-end of the inhibitory pathway, which are the cells of the eye that respond to green light, and thus get the analgesic process going. In a 2022 study that was published in Clinical Medical Insights: Case Reports, Ibrahim found that the green light could relieve pain even in a color-blind person with chronic headaches. This study could suggest that only an effect of placebo is involved where the patient hopes to get pain relief and so does. However, Ibrahim claims otherwise. The two primary types of cells found in the eye that handle color and light are known as cones as well as rods because of their distinct shape, and it’s the rods that suffer from color blindness. However, there is a third kind, also known as intrinsically sensitive retinal ganglion cells. they are not affected by colorblind individuals. These neurons, Ibrahim believes, that could be that are responsible in pain relief.
“It’s the basis of one hypothesis” Gulur states, “that the effect of green light is at least partly through the sensitive cell.” Gulur ages with this theory, pointing out that the same cells contain melanopsin that, according to her models, plays a major role to pain relief.
More research on human beings is required. Even its advocates do not think that the green-light therapy can completely replace other methods of pain management, such as the pharmacological ones. “Will the therapy ever be able to replace conventional medical treatment?” says Ibrahim. “I do not think so. This is not the intention. The goal is to reduce the need for medication as soon as possible, because in reality they are all instruments.”
However, the green light treatment is now becoming a commercially accepted treatment. Numerous companies sell green LED lighting products on the internet and advertise them as pain relief, though there is no guarantee that the specific wavelength of green used in these products will work.
In an attempt to make something unique, Ibrahim and Luxxon Therapeutics combine the lenses and LED methods by incorporating green LEDs in the frames of the glasses to reflect light into the eye of the wearer when they are in treatment.
Green light exposure ticks so many beneficial areas, Ibrahim says. “The first is safety, followed by efficacy, and then price, then adherence” Ibrahim states. It’s the last one — acceptance, or the patients determination to stick with the treatment that could be most important. “Chronic patients suffering from pain are willing to do anything to eliminate discomfort,” Ibrahim says.
Dinardo agrees. “Just sitting there with the green lighton,” she claims, “is such a change for me, and a great joy.”
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