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Photomodulation for Mental Health and Mental Wellbeing

Transcranial Photobiomodulation (t-PBM) at Our Clinic

In the sphere of integrative psychiatry, we continuously seek to blend traditional psychiatric methodologies with innovative therapies. Transcranial photobiomodulation (t-PBM), a technique that employs near-infrared light, represents an exciting frontier of study and a potential tool to enhance mental health outcomes.

Broadening Possibilities for Mental Health

At our clinic, we are committed to staying abreast of emerging research and treatment modalities, such as t-PBM. A recent study titled "Review of transcranial photobiomodulation for major depressive disorder: targeting brain metabolism, inflammation, oxidative stress, and neurogenesis" has underscored t-PBM's potential in mitigating symptoms of major depressive disorder (MDD) by regulating brain metabolism, reducing inflammation, and stimulating neurogenesis.

Neurogenesis, the formation of new neurons in the brain, is integral to processes such as learning, memory, and mood regulation. Therapies like t-PBM can stimulate neurogenesis, fostering the growth of new neurons, thereby improving mood and cognitive function - a critical benefit for individuals grappling with depression.

Addressing Oxidative Stress

t-PBM also shows promise in mitigating oxidative stress, a damaging condition triggered by an imbalance between the production of potentially harmful free radicals and the body's ability to neutralize their harmful effects. This imbalance can result in cellular damage, which, in the context of mental health, can be particularly harmful to the brain. By decreasing oxidative stress, t-PBM can potentially prevent or repair damage to neurons, improving their function, and providing relief from symptoms associated with mental health disorders, such as depression.

Expanding Applications: Anxiety Disorders and Beyond

While the focus of current research primarily lies with MDD, preliminary evidence suggests that t-PBM may also be effective for anxiety disorders. A pilot study demonstrated a decrease in the severity of both anxiety and depression symptoms among participants, suggesting the potential for broader applications of t-PBM in mental health interventions.

Our clinic offers t-PBM treatment sessions using devices that emit near-infrared light within the 600-1100 nm range. The wearable device facilitates non-invasive delivery of light to the brain, potentially providing therapeutic benefits. 

Bright Prospects for the Future

As our understanding of t-PBM continues to evolve, it is evident that the therapy holds immense potential for improving mental health outcomes. Dr. Michael R. Hamblin, PhD, from the Laser Research Centre at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa, reinforces this viewpoint. He states: "One of the main takeaways from this collection of articles is that transcranial PBM can not only help dementia and Alzheimer's disease but can also be used to treat Parkinson's disease, and psychiatric disorders."

In the light of such promising possibilities, our clinic is proud to offer t-PBM as part of our suite of integrative psychiatric services. We are currently researching which patients might benefit most from this therapy, and if there are any potential interactions with other treatments. What is clear, however, is the near-absence of adverse effects in published studies, highlighting the safety of this therapy.

Who May Benefit:

  • People experiencing depression

  • People experiencing anxiety

  • People with traumatic brain injuries and cognitive issues

  • People with neurodegenerative conditions such as memory loss and/or Parkinson's disease

  • People with insomnia or sleep issues


Driftless Integrative Psychiatry Offerings

Current patients at Driftless Integrative Psychiatry may use a near-infrared light photomodulation headband before or after their in-person appointments, along with the Huso Sound Frequency Therapy for a restorative, healing experience, free of charge, if recommended by Dr. Burger. If available, ketamine retreat participants may utilize the headband and Huso device during ketamine sessions or after, if they are staying on site.

Check out our blog post written by Dr. Burger, all about near-infrared light for brain health here:

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