It’s finally out! The first brain stimulation and therapy device to access the brain with light in the nasal cavity. The idea about healing the brain with light is not new (one may call it with the neuro-twisting term, neurophotobiostimulation). Some important work has been done by Michael Hamblin of Harvard Medical School and other researchers using the transcranial method (accessing the brain from outside the skull) as well as landmark animal studies. These studies form much of the bases on which we have designed our new intranasal brain stimulation device, and they are accessible here, as well as a full and open exposition on how we have come to the parameters for it.
So far, early results look really interesting, although anecdotal (but not unexpected). Stroke patients and Parkinson’s disease patients are giving encouraging feedback. There are some indications that it could also be stimulating the pituitary gland to release some amount of growth hormone. Dr Alkalay of New York plans to start some work with Alzheimer’s patients with the device.
The other existing devices using shorter wavelengths of 633 nm and 655 nm (laser) have already benefitted stroke patients, Parkinson’s disease patients, those with sleep disorder, etc. Scientifically speaking, this new one with the longer wavelength of 810 nm (near infrared red) , pulsing at 10 Hz, should be more efficacious. It’s all explained in the paper on intranasal light therapy and brain stimulation.
The pulsed mode of 10 Hz is most interesting. Based on studies with mice by Hamblin’s research group, exposure to light at 810 nm and pulsing at 10 Hz, draws the greatest neurological healing in the brain that has suffered traumatic brain injury. Why that is so is a matter of hypothesis. It is the frequency that straddles between the brain oscillations (cerebral cortex) at alpha state (when our brain is at rest or in meditative state) or in hippocampal theta state (which may help us with behaviour inhibition). There is some claim of release of serotonin in this state, which would help in depression.
Using the wavelength of 810 nm gives deeper tissue penetration (reaching the deeper areas of the brain) without being outside the range that draws mitochondrial response (within the action spectra). It just makes sense that this would help cover more areas of the brain, particularly the more ancient parts of the brain which happens to reside in the bottom sections and close to the nasal cavity. However, at this wavelength, the light Is invisible to the naked eye – so we have to alert users that the device is not broken, just invisible.
All in all, an exciting time for what may be possible to help the brain. It is still early days, but in the worst case, as many of you would already know, low level light therapy like this does no harm. In the expected case, it may do some wonderful things for the brain, and perhaps, it may help to make us smarter!