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Treating COVID-19 With Low Level Laser Therapy

September 04, 2020

Researchers from Canada have explained how low level laser therapy could potentially be used in combination with drugs to fight COVID-19 and to prevent serious complications like acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). The study has now been published in the Canadian Journal of Respiratory Therapy.

Low Level Laser Therapy Background

Low level laser therapy is a treatment that uses low intensity laser beams on the skin to treat medical conditions; the therapy commonly uses light with wavelengths in the region of 650 to 900 nanometers depending on whether superficial tissues or deeper tissues are being targeted.

As the low level laser uses low power, it is not hot on the skin and so the skin won’t burn. Low level laser therapy is non-invasive, safe to use, and the treatment time isn’t very long either. It should only take a few minutes but this can vary depending on your individual needs.

In low level laser therapy, the laser probe is placed on the skin and then the probe emits the laser beam. The light penetrates the skin and causes a reaction in the body cells. Low level laser therapy can reduce toxic molecules that harm normal tissues in the body, and boost energy levels for repair processes.  

Low level lasers are approved by the FDA and Health Canada and are routinely used for a range of conditions:

  • Pain relief
  • Hair growth
  • Removing cellulite
  • Skin problems
  • Wound healing
  • Muscular conditions
  • And much more.

What Can Happen If You Have COVID-19?

In the really bad cases of COVID-19, the patient’s immune system will go absolutely crazy and produce a large number of cytokines; the researchers have called this “the cytokine storm”. In normal circumstances, cytokines are released during an immune response to foreign pathogens like the virus! However, in severe cases of COVID-19, the cytokine storm will damage your cells too. Unfortunately, organ failure, ARDS, and death may even occur due to this hyperactive immune response in severe COVID-19 patients.    

Several studies have shown that severe COVID-19 patients had very high levels of pro-inflammatory factors compared to non-severe patients; these individuals were experiencing the cytokine storm. Due to these results, researchers suggest a therapy should be developed which can dampen all these immune responses so that the patients don’t experience the cytokine storm and its devastating effects.

How Can Laser Therapy Help With COVID-19?

Researchers have suggested that using low level laser therapy with the current COVID-19 treatments may be able to stop deterioration in COVID-19 patients, substantially reduce dependence on ventilators and bring the patients back to good health much quicker.

Many studies over the years have reported that low level laser therapy has anti-inflammatory properties; it has been successfully used in patients with lung conditions like pneumonia, asthma, bronchitis, etc. Low level laser therapy could also be used for COVID-19 as it can reduce the inflammation of the lungs; it can do this by blocking the production of the pro-inflammatory cytokines which are causing all the problems!

Right now, we know there are substantial issues with medical supply shortages, especially for ventilators. So if using this laser therapy could reduce the need for ventilators, it would be very helpful at this crucial point in time and ease the burden on the healthcare system.

Side Effects of Low Level Laser Therapy

Patients may experience side effects due to the low level laser therapy. These may include:

  • Damage to your eyes

If the light from the laser probe enters your eyes it could damage your eyes, this is why safety glasses are used during the treatment to block the light from entering your eyes.

  • Feeling tired

Patients frequently feel tired after the laser therapy; this is because the laser therapy can increase the amounts of natural pain killers in the body, which makes the person feel relaxed and sleepy.

  • A drop in blood pressure

Some individuals may experience a drop in blood pressure after laser therapy. This happens when laser therapy is directed near to a blood vessel, then the blood vessels widen, and this can cause a drop in blood pressure.

Generally, pregnant women, individuals with benign tumors, and light-sensitive individuals are advised against having low level laser therapy. 

Parameters and Dosages for COVID-19

Soheila Mokmeli and Mariana Vetrici, the authors of the study have written about where the probe could potentially be placed on the COVID-19 patients. They have said that the probe can be placed over the lung structures like the trachea, bronchus, or could be placed over the veins, or even in the nose.

There are more details about the dosages and other parameters required for laser therapy in low severity COVID-19 patients, as well as, the severe COVID-19 patients. Further details can be found in their study: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7428000/  

Image reference Polina Tankilevitch from Pexels