Woman using light therapy
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Chronic Conditions and Diseases

Journal Abstracts
Jan 30, 2023

Chronic Conditions and Diseases

A Bright Light for Autoimmune Symptoms

Journal Abstracts
Apr 20, 2024

Fatigue is often reported as the most disabling symptom in people with autoimmune disorders, and can significantly impair their physical, mental, and social quality of life. What if there were an inexpensive, easily accessible, non-invasive treatment option to improve energy levels in people with autoimmune conditions with little to no side effects?

Researchers in Denmark studied bright light therapy as a treatment option for fatigue related to multiple sclerosis (MS), and found that daily treatment with a light therapy device led to improvements in fatigue after 14 days of use. The study was conducted as a randomized sham-controlled trial of 26 people with MS who reported a Fatigue Severity Scale (FSS) score of greater than 36. (The FSS is a short questionnaire of nine statements to rate the severity of fatigue symptoms on a scale of 1-7.) Participants either received bright white light therapy or dim red light for 30 minutes each morning for two weeks, and the difference in FSS scores following light treatment was measured. 

The bright light therapy decreased FSS scores over the course of the study. However, this benefit occurred in the control group as well, and more research is needed on the effects of bright light therapy on fatigue.

In previous studies, bright light therapy has been shown to significantly improve fatigue related to traumatic brain injury and cancer. Environmental light is known to be important for our biological clock and circadian rhythms. It also has alerting effects, both during the night by suppressing melatonin secretion and also during daytime. Exposure to bright light for as short as 12 minutes induces alertness, and continues to have a positive effect for several hours after exposure.

REFERENCES

Voggenberger, L., et al. (2022, November 7). Bright light therapy as a non-pharmacological treatment option for multiple sclerosis-related fatigue: A randomized sham-controlled trial. Multiple Sclerosis Journal – Experimental, Translational and Clinical. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/20552173221133262

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