Phototherapy for weight control, obesity,
metabolic disorders, and diabetes

Weight loss, specifically fat loss, is crucial for health and well-being, as excess weight contributes to conditions like heart disease and diabetes. However, achieving it is challenging because the body naturally resists weight loss to maintain energy balance. Reducing calorie intake prompts the body to conserve energy by slowing metabolism, complicating weight loss. Exercise alone may not be enough due to a limited number of calories burned compared to daily intake. Also, dieting and exercise can increase hunger and food cravings. Stress and insufficient sleep can result in overeating and further fat accumulation.

Light therapy shows promise in promoting tissue healing, alleviating inflammation, reducing stress, improving metabolism and even triggering direct fat loss from fat cells.

Roche et al. demonstrated decrease of hip, thigh, and abdomen circumference of obese individuals after receiving 20 sessions of low-level laser therapy (LLLT) while Croghan et al. supported LLLT application twice weekly for 6 weeks. Jackson RF et al. found that LLLT using green laser is effective for improving the appearance of cellulite in the thighs and buttocks.

Red light therapy buttocks. Red lamp is visible.
Red light therapy buttocks. Red lamp is visible.
Red light therapy, phototherapy of abdomen, fat, weight loss, diabetes, metabolism. Red light lamp and abdomen are visible.
Red light therapy, phototherapy of abdomen, fat, weight loss, diabetes, metabolism. Red light lamp and abdomen are visible.
Phototherapy and Modifications in gut microbiome

Modifications in gut microbiome (microbial population that colonizes gut of human body) is viewed as one of the important mechanisms of phototherapy. The composition and health of the gut microbiome affects many diseases related to metabolism, obesity, cardiovascular disorders, autoimmunity, and even brain disorders. Microbes in the gut produce metabolites, including neurotransmitters and hormones, which cross the intestinal mucosa and interact with cells and tissues of the body. These molecules may have a role in regulating appetite, metabolism, insulin sensitivity, peripheral lipid storage, and liver and muscle energy balance. The gut microbiome of lean and healthy humans and animals is quite different to that of obese humans and animals.

Studies suggest that red and near-infrared light delivered to the abdomen can alter the gut microbiome in a potentially beneficial way. This can happen as a result of phototherapy affecting the host, which in turn influences the microbiome.

Phototherapy and moderate exercise

Under influence of red laser light adipocytes (fat cells) develop pores allowing the fat to go from inside to the outside of the cell and place fat in the interstitial space without inducing major damage to fat cell. LLLT of abdominal area resulted in a measurable loss of fat; fat could enter the blood stream via the lymphatic vessels in fat tissue much like fat from food enters the blood stream through the intestinal lymphatics.

Workouts after phototherapy could encourage the body to utilise fat released from adipocytes as a source of energy. Moreover, evidence shows that the use of phototherapy combined with light to moderate exercise was effective in controlling entire lipid profile, reducing the mass of adipose tissue, suggesting increased metabolic activity and changes in lipid metabolism. Researchers found that physical training plus phototherapy was effective for reducing fat mass and the insulin resistance index, as well as in increasing total skeletal muscle mass and adiponectin concentration, more than exercise alone.

Phototherapy and blood sugar control

Recent studies suggest that phototherapy can play a very important role in the control of blood glucose levels. Animal studies showed a clear dose-response and time-response effect of phototherapy by red and infrared LEDs on blood glucose levels and increased muscle glycogen synthesis. Human clinical trial (in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus demonstrated acute body response to phototherapy: plasma glucose levels decreased after 15 min of phototherapy with 850 nm laser, most efficiently with 75J and 450J of laser energy.

Various studies suggest that phototherapy can be an important tool in the treatment of obesity, diabetes and metabolic disorders, and additional physical exercise training could further improve results.

Photo of hand over red light therapy system
Photo of hand over red light therapy system
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Here is our more in depth review as a PDF file:

Phototherapy for weight control, obesity, metabolic disorders, and diabetes

Here are some relevant studies:

  1. Avci P et al. Low-level laser therapy for fat layer reduction: a comprehensive review. 2013.

  2. Marks R. Photobiomodulation: a potential adjunctive obesity intervention a review. 2021.

  3. Roche GC et al. Low-Level Laser Therapy for Reducing the Hip, Waist, and Upper Abdomen Circumference of Individuals with Obesity. 2017.

  4. Croghan IT et al. Low-level laser therapy for weight reduction: a randomized pilot study. 2020.

  5. Jackson RF et al.A double-blind, placebo-controlled randomized trial evaluating the ability of low-level laser therapy to improve the appearance of cellulite. 2013.

  6. Liebert A et al. "Photobiomics": Can Light, Including Photobiomodulation, Alter the Microbiome? 2019.

  7. Bicknell B et al. Photobiomodulation of the microbiome: implications for metabolic and inflammatory diseases. 2019.

  8. Neira R et al. Fat liquefaction: effect of low-level laser energy on adipose tissue. 2002.

  9. Caruso-Davis MK et al. Efficacy of low-level laser therapy for body contouring and spot fat reduction. 2011.

  10. Sene-Fiorese M et al. The potential of phototherapy to reduce body fat, insulin resistance and "metabolic inflexibility" related to obesity in women undergoing weight loss treatment. 2015.

  11. da Silveira Campos RM et al. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) associated with aerobic plus resistance training to improve inflammatory biomarkers in obese adults. 2015.

  12. Castro KMR et al. Can photobiomodulation therapy (PBMT) control blood glucose levels and alter muscle glycogen synthesis? 2020.

  13. Linares SN et al. Dose Response Effect of Photobiomodulation on Hemodynamic Responses and Glucose Levels in Men with Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized, Crossover, Double-Blind, Sham-Controlled Trial. 2022.

Do you want to read and know more? Laser and medical books on a bookshelf.
Do you want to read and know more? Laser and medical books on a bookshelf.