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Light Therapy KnowledgeBase
Contains a breadth of information on light-therapy and related topics.

A note from Dr. Chris Idzikowski, PhD

Dear Friends,

People with winter depression or Seasonal Affective Disorder suffer not only from low mood but may also sleep a lot more, overeat and crave carbohydrates. The disorder was first described in the States in 1984. It became apparent the further North or South people lived in the world the higher the incidence of the disorder. Long winter nights increase the prevalence of the disorder and that observation also provided the clue that lead to the treatment: light! It was found that light in the morning helped treat the disorder although the reason for this was not clear. Certainly body temperature which has a 24 hour cycle is at a minimum around dawn. Body temperature and levels of stressrelated hormones then start to increase.

Since the discovery that light in the morning can treat Seasonal Affective Disorder a lot of work has gone into understanding why. It has been found that the brain has a biological clock that orchestrates our 24 hour rhythms. It consists of only 60,000-80,000 nerve cells but has tremendous effects on our biology. The clock has an effect on shift-work, jet-lag, alertness, muscle efficiency and sleep. It has been discovered that cells in our eyes that had not hitherto been thought to be involved in light detection, they are called the retinal ganglion cells, are light-sensitive, particularly to blue light, and that the output of these cells goes directly to the brain's biological clock. These cells lie in front of those that are used for visual perception, so the brain knows whether it is light or dark before we perceive whether it is light or dark! These cells coupled with the others impact directly on the clock. The clock normally runs slowly and mainly adjusts to the new day and season etc by speeding up a little with exposure to dawn light. In the winter there is less light available to speed the clock up so it starts to drift and run the wrong time. In vulnerable individuals a cascade of problems then develop resulting in SAD.

With our increased understanding of how SAD is caused and the underlying biology of the internal clock it has been possible to refine light technology so as to optimize exposure times and light intensity. A device such as the Sun Touch Plus incorporates these advances is one useful product.

Yours in good health,
Dr. Chris Idzikowski, PhD

Chris is the Director at Edinburgh Sleep Centre and the Sleep Assessment and Advisory Service. Chris helped found and then served as Chairman of the British Sleep Society. He has also sat on the boards of the Sleep Medicine Research Foundation, the European Sleep Research Society, and the US Sleep Research Society. He has held many honorary appointments and has published numerous papers and books on sleep. Chris has served as the NatureBright's senior adviser since 2007.

TENS, Transcutaneous Electrical Neural Stimulation

This type of stimulation is characterized by biphasic, low volt, current and selectable parameters such as pulse rate and pulse width. TENS stimulates sensory nerves to block pain signals, stimulate endorphin production to help normalize sympathetic function.

What is TENS?

T.E.N.S stands for Transcutaneous Electrical Nerve Stimulation. TENS is a drug-free alternative for managing pain. For the past twenty years, doctors have been prescribing TENS as an effective way to relieve pain. TENS offers many people safe comforting relief. It reduces and often even eliminates pain. It is FDA approved, and it is reimbursable by most insurance providers.

How Does TENS Work?
TENS was designed to relieve pain by sending gentle electrical impulses through the skin to the nerves. This suppresses pain by blocking the pain signals before they reach the brain. TENS sends these gentle impulses through lead wires that are connected to electrodes. These electrodes are strategically placed at appropriate pain sights on the body. Because there are many different kinds of pain, and each individual is unique, pain relief varies from person to person. Some users experience pain relief only while the TENS unit is turned on. For others, relief continues for a length of time even after the unit is turned off. TENS is an excellent, non-drug alternative for chronic pain such as lower-back ache and arthritis. It is also useful in relieving acute pain associated with surgery, traumatic injury, and other conditions.

The TENS Unit
PMT offers the most advanced, pocket-sized, fully portable TENS system designed to relieve both acute and persistent pain. The TENS provides several different modes of operation; this provides the user with a variety of treatment options. Because the TENS uses two channels, it can be used to relieve pain at two body locations. The TENS is about the size of a deck of playing cards, so you can wear it anywhere, at home, to work, or in your car. A convenient belt clip allows you to wear it on your belt or even inside your clothing.

What is the most effective way to use TENS?
To achieve the best results of TENS therapy, it is important to remember that TENS merely activates the body's own pain-fighting mechanism. Placing electrodes directly over or around the painful area delivers pain-blocking current to the nerves leading to that area. Some healthcare professionals have found that placing the electrodes along acupuncture points is also effective. Also, it is good to vary the placement of the electrodes each treatment to avoid skin irritation.

How long does it take for TENS treatment to produce results?
In most cases, studies show that it takes roughly 30 minutes for TENS treatment to begin to relieve pain. However, for conventional, high frequency TENS treatment, there is no set treatment limit. Some patients find hours of pain relief from short 30-to-60 minute sessions. Others use their TENS units for several hours a day or all day, depending on the pain generated by daily activities. Always use your TENS unit according to your physician's directions.

When can TENS treatment be administered?
TENS can be administered any time of day or night. It is recommended that TENS not be used while sleeping. This is simply because movement during sleep may cause electrodes to come off or be pressed into the flesh, causing skin irritation. However, always use your TENS unit according to your physician's directions.

Does TENS treatment have any risks or side effects?
Unlike surgery or prescription drugs, TENS is virtually risk free from injury, side effects or addiction. The low-volt electrical current delivered by the electrodes only penetrates the skin to the level of the nerve fibers, usually only one to two inches. This poses no danger to most individuals. However, those with cardiac conditions and/or pacemakers, and pregnant women should consult their doctors before using TENS. Also, neck and head pain that requires locating electrodes on these areas of the body should be conducted only with the consent of a physician. Use caution when you drive or operate heavy machinery.

How Do I Get a TENS Device?
Tens are available only with a doctor's prescription. Please visit the forms section to complete the on-line prescription form. This form must be signed by your physician and mailed or faxed back to us. Click Here to see if your insurance carrier will cover the cost of the tens therapy, as well as supplies (electrodes and batteries)


Indications for Use:

Systemic Pain:
Multiple Sclerosis
Osteoarthritis Phantom Limb Syndrome
Raynaud's Syndrome
Rheumatoid Arthritis
Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy

Head and Neck Pain:
Cluster Headaches
Dental Disorders
Migraine Headaches
Sprains/Strains Suboccipital Headaches
TMJ Syndrome
Trigeminal Neuralgia

Abdominal Pain:
Dysmenorrhea Labor
Postoperative Pain

Back Pain:
Facet Syndrome
Intercoastal Neuralgia
IVD Syndrome
Lumbosacral Pain Radiculitis
Whole Back Pain

Lower Extremity Pain:
Ankle Pain
Foot Pain
Knee Pain Passive Stretch Pain

Upper Extremity Pain:
Frozen Shoulder
Hand Pain
Peripheral Nerve Injury Sprains/Strains
Subdeltoid Bursitis
Wrist Pain

EMS, Electronic Muscle Stimulation
Neuromuscular Stimulation Therapy

This type of stimulation is characterized by a low volt stimulation targeted to stimulate motor nerves to cause a muscle contraction. EMS differs from TENS in that it is designed to stimulate muscle motor nerves, while TENS is designed to stimulate sensory nerve endings to help decrease pain.

What Is EMS?
E.M.S. stands for Electrical Muscle Stimulation. EMS is predominately used by doctors and physical therapists to prevent, or reduce, muscle atrophy. Atrophy is the weakening and loss of muscle tone, which is usually experienced after surgeries or injuries. EMS has proven to be an effective means of preventing muscle atrophy. Doctors also see EMS as a means of increasing blood flow to muscles, increasing range of motion, increasing muscle strength, as well as enhancing muscle endurance. EMS will have pain management attributes in regards to muscle related pain, such as a spastic muscle, sore muscles, or tight muscles. A TENS device is more suited for nerve related pain conditions (acute and chronic conditions).

While using the EMS, the brain sends a nerve impulse to the "motor point" of your muscle. This signal is a message to the muscles to expand and contract. Electrodes are placed over the motor points of the muscle group to be exercised. When the stimulation is applied through the pads, the signal finds its way to these motor points and causes the muscle to expand and contract. This makes it possible to duplicate a conventional exercise, similar to an isometric exercise.

During an exercise, your brain sends a message down the spinal cord through the nerves with all the muscles you're using that causes them to relax and contract. This is called voluntary muscle action. Your brain is controlling the muscle.

Electrical muscle stimulation uses an outside electrical source that stimulates the nerves to send signals to your muscle to expand and contract. This is done by sending electrical current through self adhesive electrodes placed over the muscle. The current passes through your skin to the nerves in that area, causing the muscle to expand and contract.

Studies have shown that EMS stimulates large nerve axons (long outgrowths of a nerve cell body), some of which you cannot stimulate voluntarily. It is possible that EMS might allow for additional muscle hypertrophy (increased development of tissue by enlargement, without multiplication of cells).

EMS can increase muscle hypertrophy (growth), endurance and strength. EMS may be used only for this or with regular weight training by aiding recovery and helping muscles grow and get stronger. EMS can increase body temperature, heart rate and metabolism (promoting energy and fat absorption from the body).

How Does EMS Work?
Normally when you perform an exercise, your brain sends a message through your spinal cord to nerves indicating muscles to contract. EMS uses electrical impulses to stimulate the nerve axons. These impulses reach the nerve axons, signaling the muscles to contract and relax rhythmically as instructed by the EMS unit. EMS actually stimulates muscles that you can not normally exercise voluntarily. This allows you to train muscles that may normally have little activity. Will EMS Improve My Physical Appearance?
EMS is widely used by bodybuilders and other athletes as a supplement to strength training. Olympic athletes have been utilizing EMS to enhance their training for over twenty years. EMS is used to increase muscle tone and endurance.

For best results, many bodybuilders use EMS in conjunction with working out. A rhythmic pumping of the muscles, produced by the EMS unit, helps deliver nutrients and oxygen to the muscles. Concurrently, waste products such as lactic acid are pumped out of the muscles. This increased blood flow to the muscles cuts down on recovery time and promotes healthy muscle activity. Bodybuilders also frequently use EMS for the relaxation of muscle spasms. EMS provides an increase in range of motion, which reduces the chance of injury. Men and Women are increasingly using EMS to enhance their appearance by toning their abdominal and chest muscles.

What is the difference between our EMS device and the ones displayed on T.V. EMS was traditionally used by physical therapists and physicians to aid in the recovery of muscle related injuries. Just Recently, the fitness industry has captured the muscle stimulation/growth attribute of the EMS, and has attached outrageous marketing claims such as "six pack abs in six weeks". EMS will help achieve muscle toning results; however you must supplement your therapy with a normal workout.

The "As seen on T.V." EMS devices (i.e. Abtronic, Ab Energizer, Ab Buster, Ab Belt, Ab Toner etc…) lack the output parameters and controls that the EMS 1000plus has. More so, the mere design of these "As seen on T.V." stimulation belts inhibit the versatility of their function. For example, an Ab belt can not be used to treat a sore knee or shoulder. Most of all, the electrodes that are used on these devices are of very poor quality, and the warranties are almost non-existent.
How Can I Get an EMS Unit?

EMS is available to everyone. EMS is covered by most insurance policies.

Galvanic Stimulation
High Voltage Pulsed Galvanic Stimulation


Galvanic stimulation is most useful in acute injuries associated with major tissue trauma with bleeding or swelling. In contrast to TENS and IFC units, which apply alternating current, galvanic stimulators apply direct current.

Direct current creates an electrical field over the treated area that, theoretically, changes blood flow. The positive pad behaves like ice, causing reduced circulation to the area under the pad and reduction in swelling. The negative pad behaves like heat, causing increased circulation, reportedly speeding healing. The Galvanic Stimulator (direct current) is the best modality for iontophoresis treatments.

High-voltage pulsed galvanic stimulation (HVPGS) is gaining widespread use for wound healing, edema reduction and pain relief Carpal Tunnel Syndrome and Diabetic Foot are two major areas of use. Devices in this class are characterized by a unique twin- peak monophasic waveform with very short pulse duration (microseconds) and a therapeutic voltage greater than 100 volts. The combination of very short pulse duration and high peak current, yet low total current per second (Microcurrent) allows relatively comfortable stimulation. Furthermore, this combination provides an efficient means of exciting sensory, motor and pain-conducting nerve fibers. Perceptual discrimination of those responses is relatively easy to achieve and thus its clinical versatility. Back Ground Skin offers a great amount of resistance to the flow of electrical current. When current is passed through a circuit that contains resistors, voltage drop occurs and energy is lost. This phenomenon occurs when traditional low voltage units are used in treatment A high voltage device produces a spontaneous breakdown in skin resistance and HVPGS current passes through the skin with negligible thermal and electrochemical effects. The first high voltage stimulator was developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1945. By decreasing the pulse duration and increasing the voltage, the developers noted that deep tissues could be stimulated without producing tissue damage. The first published report (I 966) described its effectiveness in wound healing of animal limbs. High-Voltage Pulsed Galvanic Stimulation.


Contains links to valuable resources.

Dr. Rosenthal's Web Site

This is the web site of Dr. Norman Rosenthal, leading expert in the field of light therapy research, and author of the popular book Winter Blues: Seasonal Affective Disorder and How to Overcome It.

SLTBR Website


The Society for Light Treatment and Biological Rhythms is a not-for-profit international organization founded in 1988, dedicated to fostering research, professional development and clinical applications in the fields of light therapy and biological rhythms.

Center for Environmental Therapeutics


The Center for Environmental Therapeutics is a nonprofit organization founded in response to accelerating national and international interest in new environmental therapies. The Center is made up of a multidisciplinary team of eminent researchers and clinicians – including professional researchers who specialize in light therapy.

LIGHT THERAPY - from Day-Light DL930 (Up-Lift Technologies) -

LIGHT THERAPY - from Apollo Health Research

Apollo Health, Inc. supports and funds more research on the health benefits of light than all other manufacturers of light therapy products combined. We have consistently led the way in light therapy research, administering millions of dollars worth of grants to pinpoint the positive and therapeutic effects of light for the treatment of mood disorders, insomnia, skin conditions, and blood ailments. Because of Apollo's history, credibility, and dedication to the improvement of people's lives, we have been the recipient of numerous government research grants. In our quest to bring about the best possible natural solutions, Apollo Light has worked with most major research centers as well as hundreds of physicians and researchers to increase the effectiveness and awareness of light therapy. Apollo Health provides light therapy products to the National Institute of Health, NASA, Harvard, Yale, the Mayo Clinic, and dozens of research institutions around the world. Following is just a small amount of the research that has been done on light therapy for Seasonal Affective Disorder, circadian rhythm disorder and other mood and sleep related issues.

Well Being By Light (Philips Website)



Beginning to See the Light
Archives of General Psychiatry
Anna Wirz-Justice, PhD
...light is as effective as drugs, perhaps more so. ...the best evidence to date that light is an effective antidepressant in seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

Canadian Consensus Guidelines for the Treatment of Seasonal Affective Disorder
A Summary of the Report of the Canadian Consensus Group on SAD
Editors - Raymond W. Lam, MD, FRCPC and Anthony J. Levitt, MD, FRCPC
We hope the guidelines will help physicians to explain some of the many questions that patients and family members ask about Seasonal Affective Disorder.

Light Produces Brain Serotonin
The Lancet
Low serotonin levels are associated with depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Researchers provide evidence that brain serotonin levels increase when exposed to bright light.  This suggests that daily light therapy has a sound basis in biology.

Morning vs Evening Light Treatment of Patients with Winter Depression
Archives of General Psychiatry
Alfred J. Lewy, MD, PhD; Vance K. Bauer, MA; Neil L. Cutler, BA; Robert L. Sack, MD; Saeeduddin Ahmed, MD; Katherine H. Thomas, MD; Mary L. Blood, MS; Jeanne M. Latham Jackson, MD
We recommend that bright-light exposure be scheduled immediately on awakening in the treatment of most patients with seasonal affective disorder.

Science and Light Therapy
Medical News & Perspectives
Timed exposure to daylight-intensity light has become the treatment of choice for Seasonal Affective Disorder. Light is as effective as anti-depressant medications are, perhaps more so.

Understanding How Bright Light Affects Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Apollo Health Inc.
Mood and sleep disorders have chronobiologic basis. Using therapeutic light to treat sleep disorders often resolves or mitigates the mood problem. Light must be used at the proper time of day for desired effect. Explanation of when and why to use bright light.


Canadian Consensus Guidelines for Bipolar/ Seasonal Affective Disorder
Excerpts Regarding Bipolar Disorders
Diagnosis and Epidemiology.


Light Treatment for Nonseasonal Depression: Speed, Efficacy, and Combined Treatment
The Journal of Affective Disorders
Daniel F. Kripke
Bright light can be combined with standard therapies for treating nonseasonal depressions and appears synergistic

Bright Light Augments Antidepressant Effects of Medication and Wake Therapy
Archives of General Psychiatry
Richard T. Loving, R.N., D.N.Sc., Daniel F. Kripke, M.D., and Stephen R. Shuchter, MD
Inpatient studies have suggested that bright light therapy can be used to sustain the antidepressant effects of wake therapy (sleep depravation). ...excellent responses to wake therapy can be maintained if the patient receives bright light treatments every morning thereafter.

Wake Therapy an Effective Treatment for Depression
Journal Summary
Scientists discover missing key to treating depression with wake therapy.  How wake therapy was discovered. When combined with bright light, wake therapy may be an effective antidepressant modality.

Wake Therapy News Release
PR Healthwire News Release
San Diego, CA: Doctors have known for decades that sleep deprivation immediately reversed the effects of depression, but for only a day or so. Now doctors can extend the antidepressant effects of sleep deprivation (now called wake therapy*) by adding bright light treatments.


Exposure to Bright Light and Darkness to Treat Physiologic Maladaptation to Night Work
The New England Journal of Medicine
Charles A. Czeisler, PhD, MD, Michael P. Johnson, AB, Jeanne F. Duffy
We conclude that maladaptation of the human circadian system to night work, with its associated decline in alertness, performance, and quality of daytime sleep, can be treated effectively with scheduled exposure to bright light at night and darkness during the day.



Scientists Discover key to Melatonin Regulation
Journal of Neuroscience News Release
Scientists discovered that wavelengths of light in the blue region of the visible spectrum are the most effective in controlling melatonin production.  "This discovery will have an immediate impact on the therapeutic use of light for treating winter depression and circadian disorders. Some makers of light therapy equipment are developing prototypes with enhanced blue light stimuli."

Specific Wavelengths Suppress Melatonin
The Journal of Neuroscience
George C. Brainard, John P. Hanifin, Jeffrey Greeson, Brenda Byrne, Gena Glickman, Edward Gerner, Mark D. Rollag
Light is the primary stimulus for regulating circadian rhythms, seasonal cycles, and neuroendocrine responses in many species, including humans. Furthermore, clinical studies have demonstrated that light therapy is effective for treating selected affective disorders, sleep problems, and circadian disruptions.

Human Melatonin Regulation is Not Mediated by the Three Cone Photopic Visual System
The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism
George C. Brainard, John P. Hanifin, Mark D. Rollag, Jeffrey Greeson, Brenda Byrne, Gena Glickman, Edward Gerner, Britt Sanford

Ocular Input for Human Melatonin Regulation: Relevance to Breast Cancer
Neuroendocrinology Letters
Gena Glickman, Robert Levin, George C. Brainard
Recent developments in understanding melatonin regulation by light in humans are examined, with particular attention to factors that contribute to the sensitivity of the light-induced melatonin suppression response.


Light Treatment for Sleep Disorders: Consensus Report. IV. Sleep Phase and Duration Disturbances
J Biol Rhythms
Terman M, Lewy AJ, Dijk DJ, Boulos Z, Eastman CI, Campbell SS
Advanced and delayed sleep phase disorders, and the hypersomnia that can accompany winter depression, have been treated successfully by appropriately timed artificial bright light exposure.

Treating Chronobiologic Sleep and Mood Disorders with Bright Light
Psychopharmacology Bull
Alfred J. Lewy, MD, PhD
The study of circadian rhythms and their effects on biological functions and mood have provided fascinating insights into the understanding of mental illness. 10 Treatment Guidlines for using bright light.

Understanding How Bright Light Affects Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Apollo Health Inc.
Mood and sleep disorders have chronobiologic basis. Using therapeutic light to treat sleep disorders often resolves or mitigates the mood problem. Light must be used at the proper time of day for desired effect. Explanation of when and why to use bright light.


Chronic fatigue syndrome and seasonal affective disorder: comorbidity, diagnostic overlap, and implications for treatment
Am J Med
Terman M, Levine SM, Terman JS, Doherty S.
Light therapy may provide patients with CFS an effective treatment alternative or adjunct to antidepressant drugs.


A controlled trial of timed bright light and negative air ionization for
treatment of winter depression.

Arch Gen Psychiatry
Terman M, Terman JS, Ross DC.
Three studies compared bright light and negative ionization to placebo for the treatment of seasonal depression. Negative ionization was found to be comparable to bright light in producing an antidepressant response.


Chronobiology and mood disorders: background and introduction
Journal of Psychiatry & Neuroscience
Benjamin Rusak, PhD
Mood disorders are related to circadian rhythms in several different ways. Rebalancing circadian rhythms is an important tool in treating mood disorders.

Understanding How Bright Light Affects Circadian Rhythm Disorders
Apollo Health Inc.
Mood and sleep disorders have chronobiologic basis. Using therapeutic light to treat sleep disorders often resolves or mitigates the mood problem. Light must be used at the proper time of day for desired effect. Explanation of when and why to use bright light.

Treating Chronobiologic Sleep and Mood Disorders with Bright Light
Psychopharmacology Bull
Alfred J. Lewy, MD, PhD
The study of circadian rhythms and their effects on biological functions and mood have provided fascinating insights into the understanding of mental illness. 10 Treatment Guidlines for using bright light.


Light Produces Brain Serotonin
The Lancet
Low serotonin levels are associated with depression and seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Researchers provide evidence that brain serotonin levels increase when exposed to bright light.  This suggests that daily light therapy has a sound basis in biology.


Effect of light on agitation in institutionalized patients with severe Alzheimer disease.
Am J Geriatr Psychiatry

Ancoli-Israel S, Martin JL, Gehrman P, Shochat T, Corey-Bloom J, Marler M, Nolan S, Levi L.
patients with mild or moderate AD, might benefit from light treatment even more than those with severe AD.


Plain Truth About Bright Light Therapy

Bright light therapy lamps work to beat
Seasonal Affective Disorder and the Winter Blues
For your health and safety, choose only products that have been clinically tested and meet all Design Standards set out by research experts - such as Day-Lights™, which are recommended by the non-profit Center for Environmental Therapeutics (CET), and used exclusively in a new light therapy clinical program at Columbia University's Presbyterian Hospital.

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