Light Therapy Suggestions for Lyme Disease Symptoms, Part 2
This article is a continuation of Part 1 of my light therapy suggestions for Lyme disease symptoms. Since the list of Lyme symptoms is so long, the recommendations I have for LLLT options for various Lyme-related symptoms is split into two articles.
Near infrared light therapy, red light therapy and other types of LLLT are powerful. Many people report significant improvements in symptoms. However, before trying any type of new treatment for Lyme (including LLLT, also known as photobiomodulation or PBM), please keep the following in mind:
- LLLT does NOT cure Lyme disease.
- LLLT is not a substitute for medical care.
- Do not use any type of light therapy if you're taking doxycycline, minocycline or other photosensitizing medications.
- Read my article on who should NOT use light therapy.
- Consult your doctor before trying PBM.
- Nothing on this website should be considered medical advice or a substitute for medical advice.
Now, on with the show. Here are yet more Lyme symptoms from the Lyme disease master symptom list and the types of PBM that might be helpful for relieving them.
New or Worsening Food Allergies
One issue people with Lyme often face is the appearance of new food allergies or the worsening of existing allergies. If this is caused by leaky gut and/or multiple rounds of antibiotics, near infrared light therapy or red light therapy could help.
For leaky gut or to just help heal your gut in general, try near infrared or red light directed to the abdominal area anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day.
Swollen and/or Painful Lymph Nodes
People with Lyme often experience swollen or painful lymph nodes, usually in the throat or underarm areas. My top pick for relieving lymph node pain and swelling is near infrared light therapy with an incandescent, human-grade near infrared bulb.
The second choice would be red light therapy.
Lyme can cause heart and circulation problems including heart palpitations, heart attack, mitral valve prolapse, stroke and more.
Let me be clear. If you suspect you have heart problems, you must get to a doctor right away. No type of PBM is going to fix these problems. You should not try to use any sort of light therapy or sauna without talking to your doctor first, especially if you have symptoms of heart trouble.
Another thing: whether you have heart problems or not, you should be under a doctor's supervision if you intend to do a stringent sauna therapy regimen. By stringent I mean doing daily sauna sessions of 45 minutes or more. This goes for any type of sauna or steam room use, not just for near infrared saunas. It also applies to everyone, not just people with Lyme.
When you use a sauna, you lose some electrolytes in your sweat. Extreme sauna use will deplete important nutrients like magnesium, which are needed to keep your heart pumping properly (and for many other things). Magnesium is already low in those with Lyme, so for them supplementation would be doubly important. To know the proper amounts and what minerals to take, a doctor will need to monitor your blood levels and advise you.
So for heart problems, do NOT rely on any type of PBM or LLLT!
Headaches may be improved with the use of near infrared or red light therapy, but this seems to depend on the type of headache, where it's located, what caused it and other factors.
If you want to try PBM for a headache, use the light on the area but be prepared to stop the treatment if the headache worsens (even if it worsens after only a minute or so).
If you have a migraine headache, you would probably do best to avoid the bright light used in LLLT. Many people with migraines are sensitive to bright light, which makes their headache worse, not better.
Sadly, on top of all the other havoc Lyme disease wreaks, it can make your muscles feel weak to the point where you can't even open a pickle jar.
PBM can help a bit to provide energy to the muscles, which may help with muscle weakness. Usually, all the muscles of the body are affected, so full-body treatment with near infrared or red light therapy is in order.
You can do 1 to 3 treatments a day, but most people get a sufficient amount of energy from one full-body treatment a day.
If you are on the mend with your Lyme disease and your doctor has cleared you to begin working to build muscle (to rebound after all the muscle wasting Lyme causes), remember you can use near infrared or red light therapy after workouts to help your muscles recover faster.
Radiculitis (Nerve Pain)
Nerve pain originating from pinched or inflamed nerves can be soothed using near infrared or red light therapy. The best choice is going to depend on whether the addition of heat feels therapeutic to you or not.
If heat does feel soothing, near infrared light therapy is the way to go. Direct the light to the area where your pain is originating, not just towards the area where you feel it. Sometimes it is difficult to tell where the source is. Remember that most nerves tend to lead to the backbone and neck area. So if you feel nerve pain down your leg, you might treat not only your leg but also the hip/tailbone area.
If heat does not feel soothing, try red light therapy with LED's instead.
Digestive Problems or Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
IBS and other problems of the digestive tract are common in those with Lyme, especially those who have taken a lot of antibiotics. These problems can range from bloating to heartburn to constipation.
For digestive problems, IBS or to just help heal your gut in general, try near infrared or red light directed to the abdominal area anywhere from 1 to 3 times a day. If heartburn is your main problem, you'll need to direct the light higher up (just point it where it hurts).
Enlarged or Tender Spleen
With all the burden Lyme puts on the immune system, the spleen can become enlarged or tender. Near infrared or red light therapy may be helpful to relieve pain/tenderness and support the spleen.
Direct the light of your choice to the spleen area, on your right side, well under your rib cage, 1 to 3 times daily.
Impaired Liver Function
No doubt about it - Lyme disease and its treatments are hard on the liver. Liver function may be impaired as a result. If this occurs, you will need to see a doctor as a malfunctioning liver can be serious.
Ask your doctor if near infrared or red light therapy would be okay for you to do. If so, you might try using a near infrared or red LED light on the liver area 1-3 times a day.
Jaw Pain or TMJ
If you are experiencing pain in the jaw area or TMJ, near infrared light therapy could provide some relief and help heal the cause. Red light therapy would also be an option.
If the source of the pain is deep under bone tissue, keep in mind that it is still going to be slow to heal. However you can get some pain relief from using LLLT.
Gum/Dental Pain or Gum (Periodontal) Disease
First things first. Do not put the light therapy bulb in your mouth. They are not waterproof. You may electrocute yourself. It is not sanitary.
You can still use PBM for your gums or dental pain, since many types of light therapy can penetrate the skin of the cheek. You can see this for yourself if you turn out all the lights and watch through a mirror as you shine the light on your cheek area. You will see the light penetrating the cheek if you look inside your mouth.
Which type of light therapy to use depends on the specific problem you are having. If you just need pain relief, use near infrared or red light therapy directed to the area from the outside of your mouth. Don't forget that PBM can't replace a dentist.
If your problem is gum disease, near infrared or red light therapy will help but you'd do best to use combination red and blue light therapy. The blue light kills bacteria, a known culprit in gum disease. However, it cannot penetrate as deeply as red or near infrared so you may need to shine the light into your mouth while holding it open. This isn't the most comfortable position to hold.
Luckily blue light does most of its job in only a few minutes. So if you use blue light first for a few minutes, followed by red or near infrared (which wouldn't require holding your mouth open), you could get the benefit of both.
Carpal Tunnel Syndrome
If you are having symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome from Lyme, you're in luck. Near infrared light therapy is extremely effective at relieving pain and helping to improve your range of motion.
Red light therapy is a close second choice.
Use near infrared or red light therapy on your hands for 5-15 minutes at a time, anywhere from 1 to 4 times a day. You should notice a difference right after the treatment and it should last at least a couple hours.
Joint Stiffness and Popping
Lyme made me have very stiff joints (especially my neck) and tons of popping. One thing that really helped these problems was regular use of a sauna.
Near infrared sauna use will help relieve some stiffness immediately afterwards, but the biggest benefits come after a week or two of regular use. Every other day sessions should be enough to get significant results. My joints still do pop more than a non-Lymie's, but the popping doesn't really hurt. The stiffness is greatly reduced and my range of motion is much better.
One might get some improvement in stiffness with just near infrared or red light therapy, but I'd still encourage everyone to try using a sauna. The benefits for Lyme disease overall are extreme - I personally feel that sauna use is what put me (and kept me) on the mend from Lyme. I have had to stick with it for quite some time (several years now), but it has made the difference between being stuck sick in bed and being active, being able to work and have fun, etc.
Lyme can make you bruise easily and for some it makes those bruises take forever to heal. Not to mention the fact that certain Lyme co-infections, like babesia, cause lots of bruising (especially once you begin treatment for the disease and get Herxheimer reactions).
Near infrared or red light therapy can help bruises heal faster. Point the light towards the bruise for 5-20 minutes, 1 to 4 times a day.
Acrodermatitis Chronica Atrophicans (ACA)
ACA doesn't happen in every case of Lyme. It is mainly associated with third, or late stage, European Lyme. It's a nightmare. Skin turns a red-purple hue and eventually, begins to show signs of atrophy and ultimately becomes tissue-paper thin.
If you have tried researching ACA, you'll know there isn't a lot of information out there. You'll also find that mainstream medicine has concluded that the problems associated with ACA are due to infection with a type of borrelia bacteria in the skin. The changes it causes are sometimes not reversible.
I had the beginnings of ACA. Once I started sauna treatments, the pain from it resolved. The purplish skin color stayed longer, but has gradually improved with time. I have also had a big improvement in thin skin being brought back to normal.
If you have ACA, I'd highly recommend starting sauna use. It's best if you can use a near infrared sauna but if you cannot, any sauna is better than no sauna.
For ACA, Try: Sauna with Near Infrared
With Lyme, some people notice that they get skin scars more easily than before. This is one of the many skin-related problems Lyme can cause.
Near infrared or red light therapy can help with scars, but the results seem to be difficult to predict. Some have great results, while others don't see any at all. In my experience, the rate of success seems to be about 50/50.
One way to help your LLLT treatments along is to use microneedling with a dermaroller in conjunction with PBM.
For ACA, Try: Sauna with Near Infrared
I know there are many more symptoms of Lyme disease not covered here. I have tried to stick to symptoms PBM might be able to improve. Just because a symptom isn't listed here does not mean LLLT couldn't be beneficial for it.
Overall, as I said at the beginning of Part 1, if you just need to know the type of PBM that will help with the most symptoms, the answer is near infrared light therapy/sauna.
Light therapy can be extremely useful in the battle against Lyme. Hopefully here you've gotten an idea of how it can be used in your particular case.