Just one hour of bright light each morning has been medically shown to decrease pain and sensitivity as well as increase functioning in patients with fibromyalgia.
Meaningful results were statistically significant without any artificial prescription medications and zero side effects, which is exciting news because fibromyalgia pain is typically an extremely difficult type of pain to treat.
Usually, fibromyalgia patients are either given a cocktail of Rx medications ranging from antidepressants to pain killers, or told there is nothing that can be done and that the pain and the reduced ability to function is just now their baseline… or worse… all in their head.
Exercise has shown to improve function as in fibromyalgia, which is awesome, but what about patients with co-morbid medical issues or mobility issues that prevent them from strenuously exercising?
Turns out there is a passive way to reap meaningful benefits… getting one hour of light therapy every morning.
The Study (presented at the SLEEP 2017 Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies on June 5, 2017):
- 10 patients meeting the American College of Rheumatology criteria for fibromyalgia were studied
- Researchers assessed baseline function according to the Fibromyalgia Impact Questionnaire, pain sensitivity threshold and tolerance, and circadian timing as well as an overnight session in a sleep lab.
- Patients were randomly assigned to either 6 subsequent days of self-administered light therapy for 1 hour either every morning or every evening, using light boxes.
- Researchers then re-assessed function, pain sensitivity, and circadian timing.
- Absolutely zero side effects were reported with light therapy (woot!)
- 1 hour of light therapy statistically improved function and pain sensitivity regardless of timing (morning and evening light both being therapeutic to reduce pain and improve function)
- Morning light additionally lead to a significant return of meaningful function, as well as allowed participants to fall asleep earlier, shifting their circadian rhythm forward.
- The improvements after just 6 days using light therapy was as robust as treatment with cognitive behavioral therapy!
While the study was small, the results were significant and the ramifications of this are very meaningful. This study shows that light can quickly and effectively help return function and decrease pain, something that can absolutely be a game changer for patients with fibromyalgia and other chronic pain issues.
With zero risk, zero side effects, and accessible for even patients who are infirm or unable to ambulate, light therapy should easily be considered front line treatment for fibromyalgia.
And consider this:
by combining the two most effective healing modalities for fibromyalgia (exercise and morning light!) go outside for a brisk walk or some morning yoga in the sunshine and reap exponential benefits.
And did you know that light therapy is also an effective treatment for depression — even more effective than antidepressant Rx medications?
Published in JAMA Psychiatry on Nov 18, 2015, this placebo controlled study supports the use of a non-pharmaceutical intervention over a pharmaceutical intervention, which is a big deal in the world of holistic medicine.
- 122 patients being treated for depression randomly assigned to either a 30 minute session of light therapy or a placebo device alone, a combo of light therapy plus an antidepressant medication, or a combo of the placebo device and antidepressant medication.
- The depressed patients had to have a major depressive disorder lasting at least 45 weeks or longer.
- Light therapy was a 30 minute a day exposure to a fluorescent light box as soon as possible after awakening in the morning.
- After only 4 weeks, depression assessment scores were significantly better than baseline assessment in both groups using the light therapy (either with Rx or without a Rx antidepressant.)
Notably, the lightbox therapy was significantly MORE effective than drug therapy.
Not only does a bright AM light help with shifting the circadian rhythm and restoring a healthy day-night rhythm…
…but light therapy is non-invasive, non-toxic, relatively inexpensive (drugstores sell lightboxes that are much less expensive than prescriptions drugs) and have no unwanted side effects (no weight gain, decreased libido, negative GI effects, etc…)
In fact, light therapy can be used safely in conjunction with medical treatments (including Rx medications) so if you are on an anti-depressant or pain prescription, augment your treatment with light therapy and it’s possible you can work with your physician to decrease dose!
One month of morning light was enough to make more of a difference in depression treatment than a prescription antidepressant and only 6 days was enough to reduce chronic pain and increase function in fibromyalgia patients!
You can get morning light daily even without use of a lightbox – your pineal gland benefits from exposure to natural light every AM even when that light is cloudy or dim outside.
Make a habit of going out every morning immediately after waking up and grabbing a few minutes — and if possible, and entire hour — of daylight.
Better yet, take a warm cup of tea, hot water with lemon, or your AM coffee and sit on the earth grounded (or take a nice AM walk!) and you will do more to prevent or treat mood disorders and functional pain issues than taking drugs each day.
What else has morning light therapy been shown extremely effective for?
Light therapy quickly, safely, and effectively boosts libido!
New research (presented at the 29th European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress on September 19, 2016) shows that light therapy can significantly improve sexual satisfaction in people with low desire after only 2 weeks of treatment!
While this study was on men, because light therapy is incredibly effective for females too, I truly believe that this would work for women with low sex drive and should be first line therapy for anyone with sexual dysfunction or low sex drive.
- Researchers studied 38 patients with a diagnosis of primary hypoactive sexual desire or sexual arousal disorder.
- Patients were randomly assigned to receive either active light treatment or placebo light treatment.
- Active treatment was a daily 30 minute exposure to a light box with UV filter upon waking each morning.
- Placebo light treatment was the same exposure but with a neutral density filter to reduce the light exposure to .01% strength of the active therapy.
- Patients were assessed clinically at baseline and after 2 weeks of daily AM light exposure, as well as through self assessments and blood samples to test any hormone response to light therapy.
- After only two weeks of light therapy, patients with the active light treatment had hugely significant improvements in sexual satisfaction compared to placebo.
- After just two weeks, sexual satisfaction for active light therapy patients increased more than 3X over baseline (from a rating of 2 out of 10 to 6.7 out of 10)
- Placebo light therapy users had no statistically significant improvement at all (from baseline of 2 out of 10 to 2.7 out of 10)
- In addition, the testosterone levels of the patients receiving active light therapy rose by over 50% in just two weeks (from an average testosterone level of 2.1 ng/mL to an average of 3.6 ng/mL!)
- In contrast, there was no change at all to testosterone levels in the placebo group.
The lightbox is really just
mimicking mother nature.
- In fact, as I recently blogged about here, getting some extra Vitamin D from sun exposure actually boosts fertility — doubling the rate of implantation of an embryo and boosting the pregnancy rate from 20% up to 31%.
- This news is back to back with recent medical studies showing that light therapy is an incredibly effective solution for treating all forms of depression, not just SAD, as I blog about here!
I feel convinced that light therapy should be first line of treatment, before using Rx medications, in the treatment of all forms of depressive disorders, fibromyalgia and other chronic pain disorders, and sexual dysfunction as well.
To your health…