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Alzheimer’s & Dementia Treatment using Red Light Therapy

Nearly 6 million Americans struggle with Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and worldwide, roughly 50 million people have some form of dementia. [1] Unfortunately, effective treatments have been slow to come. As one team of Alzheimer’s researchers wrote in a 2018 study on red light therapy and mice, “pharmacological treatments for Alzheimer’s disease have not resulted in desirable clinical efficacy for over 100 years.” [2] Another recent study noted there are “no current treatments to prevent the physical deterioration of the brain.” [3]

Peer-reviewed research on red light therapy as a potential treatment for Alzheimer’s & dementia-related brain degeneration and cognitive decline has been remarkably positive over the last few years in laboratory settings with rodent models. Based on this lab data, several teams of researchers have recommended red and near infrared light therapy for further use in human patients with AD.

We’ll look at the solid base of evidence from the laboratory over the past decade, but first here’s what the initial human studies on red light therapy and Alzheimer’s/dementia have shown in the past few years.

Initial Human Studies Recommend Red Light Therapy for Alzheimer’s and Dementia Treatment

Two of the first double-blind, placebo-controlled human trials on dementia/AD and red light therapy were published in 2017, with extremely positive findings. The data showed red light therapy treatments produced positive changes in executive function, clock drawing, immediate recall, memory, visual attention, and task switching, as well as “a trend of improved EEG amplitude and connectivity measures.” [3,4]

One of these pilot studies reported that dementia patients treated with a 12-week transcranial light therapy routine experienced these “significant improvements”:

Increased cognitive function

Better sleep

Fewer angry outbursts

Less anxiety

Less wandering

Of major importance, this study also noted there were “no negative side effects.” The study concluded that light therapy “shows potential for home treatment of patients with dementia and AD.” [4]

More Alzheimer’s Trials with Red Light Therapy are in Progress

The results of these initial human trials are immensely encouraging for AD & dementia patients and families looking for better treatment options, especially natural and non-invasive ones with no drugs, chemicals, or side effects.

As of early 2019, 3 more human trials on red light therapy and Alzheimer’s and dementia are in progress at the University of California and a hospital system in France. With these extremely positive early clinical results in people, more and larger studies and trials are being organized. The hope is that in the coming years, the base of evidence will be large enough to recommend light therapy as a vital treatment strategy to ward off the symptoms of Alzheimer’s and dementia — giving people and their families more quality time together.