New research suggests that light therapy holds the potential to treat symptoms of dementia.
In a new study, researchers have applied a type of infrared light therapy to patients with mild to moderate dementia and found that cognitive ability improved. The light therapy was administered directly through the skull (transcranial) and nasal passageways and aimed at specific parts of the brain from the prefrontal cortex to the hippocampus (the area responsible for memory).
Significant improvement was recorded in just 12 weeks – including increased cognitive function, better sleep, fewer anger outbursts, and less anxiety and wandering. What’s more, when the researchers stopped the treatment, after four weeks, they found that patients had declined once again. The test pool was only five patients, which is hardly a significant number but, based on these findings a new larger clinical trial has been launched by University of California, and is now recruiting participants.
There is a significant amount of evidence to back up the therapeutic effects of light therapy on different tissues in the body. Tests on mice have shown that it reduces the amyloid plaques and tau tangles found in an Alzheimer’s brain. Scientists don’t fully understand how the the therapeutic effect works but it’s thought that it stimulates the production of new neurons and triggers the brain’s own protective mechanisms to prevent cell death.
Why this would be a boon: it suggests that a non-invasive home therapy could help Alzheimer’s patients.
Read the full study here.