Photobiomodulation (PBM) is a form of light therapy that uses non-ionizing (no health risk) light sources such as laser, LED (Light emitting diodes) and broadband light in the visible and infrared (invisible) spectrum to treat pain and other medical conditions. When cellular mitochondria (the cellular power plant) reacts with and absorbs light, ATP (energy units) production is increased, which triggers a cascade of therapeutic photomechanical and photochemical effects, including; wound healing, tissue regeneration, pain reduction and mitigation of inflammation. PBM is a preventative, therapeutic, supportive and complimentary treatment modality for dentistry and other medical fields such as sports medicine, cosmetic and anti-ageing treatments, as well as in clinic and for self-care use at home.
Acupuncture is an ancient healing art and part of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) practice. TCM defines health as the result of a harmonious Yin-Yang (life force) balance, known as Qi. Imbalanced Qi leads to illness, whereas stagnation of Qi generates pain. the promotion of Qi flow releases pain. The Qi or the body's life force, resides in the meridian system, a complex system of interconnected tissues (the fascia system) webbed together throughout the body. The most efficient way to work with the meridian system is through acu-points; when acu-points are stimulated, pain-reducing hormones like endorphins and neurotransmitters are released, triggering a complex cellular process encouraging the Qi flow and our body's natural healing abilities while promoting physical and emotional well-being.
It is crucial to develop an integrative model to treat chronic pain and other complex medical problems. PBM and acupuncture offer an array of benefits that, when combined, accelerate the healing process, relieve pain and can even promote anti-aging and cognitive health benefits. The World Association for PhotoBioModulation Therapy (WALT) defines photoacupuncture as: "The photonic stimulation of acu-points and areas to initiate therapeutic effects, similar to that of needle acupuncture and related therapies, with the added benefits of PhotoBioModulation."
Administering PBM treatment is relatively simple but finding the corresponding acu-points for photoacupuncture requires training and knowledge. There are hundreds of thousands of them, depending on the school of thought. By combining known anatomical landmarks with specific acu-points, characterized by abundant connective tissues that intersect throughout muscular insertion and bony junctures, a "treatment map" is revealed. This treatment map can be used in conjunction with a PBM mapping technique, helping to identify treatment locations plus the palatable tender spots (ashi points) to be treated with photoacupuncture.
Acu-points can be activated with several techniques (acupuncture, acupressure and/or photobiomodulation) and the effectiveness of activation can be increased by combining these methods. The rising trend of integrative pain management has increased the need for PBM therapy devices. Up until today, professional units have required extensive operational training and has been due to design and cost-issues limited to professional facilities (medical clinics, dental clinics etc).
Oral IQ, a company founded by a laser specialist dentist and dental acupuncturist, has created one such PBM device called PBM PRO; a uniquely versatile Photobiomodulation device which combines multiple wavelengths of blue, red and infrared light, capable of reaching deeper tissue. PBM PRO comes with three attachments (ball, rod, wand) for adaptable, efficient energy delivery capable of acu-point activation. PBM PRO with the ball attachment facilitates acupressure in addition to delivering PBM Light energy. Auricular acupuncture with the PBM Pro Rod attachment improves endocrine function, alleviates pain and inflammation and detoxes through battlefield and master points (see image). Through muscular manipulation we can amplify and accelerate the healing process by decreasing tissue adhesion, promoting relaxation and regional blood circulation, increasing parasympathetic nerve activity, muscle pre-conditioning recovery and reduction in neuromuscular excitability.
Contemporary alternative medicine is an exciting and promising field. Integrative treatment modalities like PBM therapy and photoacupuncture can provide a wide range of benefits for our patients and for self-care.