Photobiomodulation Shows Promise for Chemotherapy and Radiation Patients

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It’s always exciting to see cutting-edge modalities getting their much deserved time in the spotlight. This week, it’s Photobiomodulation Therapy—the game-changing, whole body healing powerhouse that we have all grown to know and love. Research on PBM Therapy has been going on for years. In fact, there are over 4000 published research papers that have studied the healing effects of Photobiomodulation. At Cryo Recovery, we tout the inflammation fighting and pain reducing benefits of our ATP Bed, but this summer, a huge endorsement for Photobiomodulation came from the Multinational Association of Supportive Care in Cancer.

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On June 22, 2019, the MASCC recommended the use of Photobiomodulation Therapy for those undergoing chemotherapy, radiation, and stem cell treatments. This recommendation came after the discovery that PBM Therapy was greatly beneficial in not only the treatment, but also in the prevention of oral mucositis (OM), a manifestation of painful mouth ulcerations, that often plague cancer patients who are undergoing treatments. 

According to the Centers of Disease Control, nearly 40% of chemotherapy patients and 80% of radiotherapy patients experience the excruciating symptoms of oral mucositis, and Scott Faulkner of Newsmax reports, "OM can disrupt cancer therapy. The pain is excruciating...sometimes cancer therapy is suspended so the patient can recover". Given this information, potentially eradicating the incidence of these daunting side effects brings about incredible hope in the cancer research community. 

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Furthermore, oncologists at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (along with other cancer centers) began treating their patients with PBM, and have been documenting promising results. Per this article from Newsmax, the “UPMC has treated over 850 cancer patients with PBM, significantly diminishing the side effects of cancer therapies. PBM's success and safety recently led St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to start using it on their pediatric cancer patients."

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Photobiomodulation works by stimulating the mitochondria of the cells, thereby increasing ATP (energy) production in the body. This ATP production not only reduces the number of inflammation-causing free radicals, but it can also HEAL the bodies’ tissues, making them more resilient to damage-inducing stressors. This study speaks to PBM's efficacy in reversing mitochondrial damage. In the study, researchers concluded that the "effects of PBM could possibly be compared with the mitochondrial-boosting and health-supporting effects of supplements, such as nicotinamide riboside", which work to heal the mitochondria, significantly reducing the likelihood of age-related chronic illnesses.

As many of you may know, cancer treatments are aggressive and often damaging to the rest of the body. By utilizing a modality that is truly geared towards strengthening the integrity of the bodies’ cells, patients can benefit greatly. This systematic review determined, "the evidence supports the use of PBM therapy for the prevention of OM in specific patient populations. Under these circumstances, PBM is recommended for the prevention of OM". 

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Photobiomodulation Therapy is one of the most exciting modalities out there. Currently, it is being studied in hundreds of medical trials for a myriad of diseases and ailments. Its already proven efficacy for chronic pain, athletic performance, and mitochondrial dysfunction are promising in their own right, but this breakthrough in treating some of the most vulnerable populations truly brings about infinite possibilities. We look forward to what the future holds for PBM Therapy, as we know that it will most certainly be bright!

Bill Hanks