Why Does Cold Laser Therapy Heal Injuries?

The healing effect of near-infrared light was reported decades ago and many studies have been done since then to assess how it works.  It’s been clear that the use of red light with specific wavelengths, like the type used in the Laser Health Solutions clinics, helps the cells’ mitochondria to produce more adenosine triphosphate (ATP).  ATP is the fuel that cells require to do their work – including healing.  With more fuel, cells can do their work better and faster.

Until a recent study done by Andrei Sommer of the University of Ulm in Germany, the most common explanation for an increase in ATP was that near-infrared energy affects the activity of an important enzyme in ATP production.  Sommer’s work gives a better explanation of why, when exposed to this type of light, the cell’s mitochondria produce more ATP.

This new information shows that changes occur in the water within the cell.  Sommer’s team discovered that red light increases the distance between the water molecules, making the water less viscous.  To test this, they used a diamond tipped probe pressing into a metal base and measured that only about 72% of the force was needed to push into the infrared illuminated sample.1

Water reacts differently at the nanoscopic scale and within the mitochondria of the cell with adhesion between molecules causing significant resistance to movement.  A reduction in the viscosity of water means that “it is now tempting to assume that the nanomotor efficiency (ATP productivity) can be tuned with biologically tolerated intensities of red to NIR laser light.”1 Mitochondria are the power sources of the cell which generate the energy needed “using an enzyme that spins like a molecular turbine, and this should turn more easily and thus generate more ATP when surrounded by runnier water.” (New Scientist July 2015, Clare Wilson)

There are many exciting things happening in the world of cold laser therapy – from dental procedures to cancer treatment studies.  With this new information, better research and ultimately better treatments for a variety of conditions can be done.   In the meanwhile, Laser Health Solutions will continue to focus on successfully treating musculoskeletal injuries.

  1. Sommer, A. P. et al. Light Effect on Water Viscosity: Implication for ATP Biosynthesis. Sci. Rep. 5, 12029; doi: 10.1038/srep12029 (2015). Nature.com