Using Light Therapy to Reduce Lung Inflammation

Our lungs allow us to breathe in life-sustaining oxygen and breathe out carbon dioxide waste7. Diseases like COVID-19, asthma, or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) can cause inflammation in our lungs, impeding our ability to breathe and stay healthy1,3,7,9. Research has shown that Light Therapy shows promise in reducing lung inflammation and promoting our respiratory health2,4-6,8-12.

Lungs, Respiration, and Inflammation

Our lungs are critical for respiration, the process where we take in oxygen from the air and expel carbon dioxide from our bodies7. When we breathe in, air rushes through airways into special sacs in our lungs called alveoli7. The alveoli absorb oxygen from the air and transport it into our bloodstream7. After oxygen is absorbed, the mitochondria of our cells use it to create life-sustaining energy and expel their waste (carbon dioxide) back out through the lungs7.

Air is not just made up of oxygen, so when we breathe we also inhale dust particles, pollution, allergens, and viruses9. To keep our bodies safe from airborne infection or damage, our lungs are packed with special cells and chemical responses like inflammation, to keep themselves clean and healthy9.

Inflammation, the body’s response to infection or injury can be beneficial in small amounts9. However, too much inflammation or chronic inflammation can restrict airways, leading to swelling in the lungs and a buildup of fluids like mucus9. As a result, diseases that cause lung inflammation like COVID-19, COPD, or asthma can impede breathing and respiration1,3,7,9.

Lung inflammation can be difficult to treat with drugs, but research shows that Light Therapy can reduce inflammation and restore the health of the lungs2,4-6,8-12.

Evidence: Light Therapy Promising for Reducing Lung Inflammation

Light Therapy researchers have found that the lungs can benefit from photobiomodulation. Here are some of the main findings of studies that investigate how Light Therapy can help treat lung inflammation:

Light Therapy reduces inflammation by toning down the immune response

An overactive immune response leads to excessive inflammation that restricts airways9. Researchers found that Light Therapy applied to the lungs of mice with lung inflammation successfully toned down the rush of cells and chemicals associated with the immune response10. Toning down the immune response allows airways to stay open and deliver oxygen without blockage10.

Light Therapy reduces oxidative stress

Excess oxidative stress often occurs alongside lung inflammation4,5. Researchers found that Light Therapy restored normal levels of oxidative stress in the lungs of mice4,5. Mice that received Light Therapy healed from injuries faster and experienced less swelling than mice who received no treatment4,5.

Light Therapy helps heal lung injuries

Inflammation and coughing can cause injury to the small parts of the lungs that keep them clean2,8. Light Therapy can help keep vulnerable parts of the lungs healthy and ready to fight off infections and harmful particles2,8.

Light Therapy Reduces Chronic inflammation

Long-lasting inflammation in the lungs can cause diseases like asthma, where airways are sensitive to blockages from muscle contractions and mucus buildup6,11,12. Researchers found treating mice with asthma using Light Therapy kept airways open and clear, reducing the negative health impacts of chronic inflammation6,11,12.

The Future of Light Therapy to Treat Lung Inflammation

Animal studies show that Light Therapy is a promising treatment for lung inflammation. In the future, human studies may tell us how Light Therapy could help treat asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and even reduce inflammation from diseases like COVID-19.

If you want to find out more about the benefits of Light Therapy, the Light Lounge™ team is here to help! Reach out to us via Facebook or Twitter to send your message, chat, or ask questions. To stay up to date on Light Therapy research or to find other general wellness tips, follow our blog, and subscribe to our newsletter.

  1. Asthma | AAAAI. (n.d.). Retrieved June 22, 2020, from The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website: https://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/asthma
  2. Carvalho, J. L., Britto, A., de Oliveira, A. P. L., Castro-Faria-Neto, H., Albertini, R., Anatriello, E., & Aimbire, F. (2017). Beneficial effect of low-level laser therapy in acute lung injury after i-I/R is dependent on the secretion of IL-10 and independent of the TLR/MyD88 signaling. Lasers in Medical Science, 32(2), 305–315. doi: 10.1007/s10103-016-2115-4
  3. COPD | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/copd
  4. Costa Carvalho, J. L., de Brito, A. A., de Oliveira, A. P. L., de Castro Faria Neto, H. C., Pereira, T. M., de Carvalho, R. A., … Aimbire, F. (2016). The chemokines secretion and the oxidative stress are targets of low-level laser therapy in allergic lung inflammation. Journal of Biophotonics, 9(11–12), 1208–1221. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201600061
  5. de Lima, F. M., Albertini, R., Dantas, Y., Maia-Filho, A. L., Santana, C. de L., Castro-Faria-Neto, H. C., … Aimbire, F. (2013). Low-level laser therapy restores the oxidative stress balance in acute lung injury induced by gut ischemia and reperfusion. Photochemistry and Photobiology, 89(1), 179–188. doi: 10.1111/j.1751-1097.2012.01214.x
  6. Durham, A. L., Caramori, G., Chung, K. F., & Adcock, I. M. (2016). Targeted anti-inflammatory therapeutics in asthma and chronic obstructive lung disease. Translational Research, 167(1), 192–203. doi: 10.1016/j.trsl.2015.08.004
  7. How the Lungs Work | National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). (n.d.). Retrieved June 29, 2020, from https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health-topics/how-lungs-work
  8. Mafra de Lima, F., Villaverde, A. B., Salgado, M. A., Castro-Faria-Neto, H. C., Munin, E., Albertini, R., & Aimbire, F. (2010). Low intensity laser therapy (LILT) in vivo acts on the neutrophils recruitment and chemokines/cytokines levels in a model of acute pulmonary inflammation induced by aerosol of lipopolysaccharide from Escherichia coli in rat. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology, 101(3), 271–278. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2010.07.012
  9. Nature Immunology. (2014). Immunology of the Lung. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgphaHmAC_A
  10. Oliveira, M. C., Greiffo, F. R., Rigonato-Oliveira, N. C., Custódio, R. W. A., Silva, V. R., Damaceno-Rodrigues, N. R., … Vieira, R. P. (2014). Low level laser therapy reduces acute lung inflammation in a model of pulmonary and extrapulmonary LPS-induced ARDS. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology, 134, 57–63. doi: 10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2014.03.021
  11. Silva, V. R., Marcondes, P., Silva, M., Villaverde, A. B., Castro-Faria-Neto, H. C., Vieira, R. P., … de Oliveira, A. P. L. (2014). Low-level laser therapy inhibits bronchoconstriction, Th2 inflammation and airway remodeling in allergic asthma. Respiratory Physiology & Neurobiology, 194, 37–48. doi: 10.1016/j.resp.2014.01.008
  12. Siqueira, V. P. C., Evangelista, M. I. S., Dos Santos, A., Marcos, R. L., Ligeiro-de-Oliveira, A. P., Pavani, C., … Lino-Dos-Santos-Franco, A. (2017). Light-Emitting Diode treatment ameliorates allergic lung inflammation in experimental model of asthma induced by ovalbumin. Journal of Biophotonics, 10(12), 1683–1693. doi: 10.1002/jbio.201600247

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