As light therapy continues to be studied, researchers are finding that our sensitivity to the timing, intensity, and even the amount of light we receive is leading to an ever expanding number of medical uses for light therapy. Light therapy is the leading treatment for SAD, but scientists are exploring its use with everything from jet lag to skin disorders and even Parkinson’s disease.
For years we’ve known that sunlight improves acne. Now we know that it does that by triggering a chemical reaction in the bacteria that causes it, destroying them. Light therapy can trigger other chemical reactions, too. It is being used to break down the compounds that cause neonatal jaundice and to suppress the immune system while treating skin diseases like Psoriasis and Eczema.
More common uses for light therapy are related to sleep and depression. Knowing its effect on SAD, scientists have been working with light therapy to treat delayed sleep phase syndrome, advanced phase sleep syndrome, and non 24 hour sleep wake syndrome. These treatments are about the timing of the therapy and keep circadian rhythms accurate. Similar tests have been done with jet lag and shift work. Even Parkinson’s tremors can be reduced by the application of light. The therapy is proving to be a valuable treatment in many different medical arenas as scientists explore the natural effects of our body’s response to sunlight and disease. Shining a light on disease really does seem to work.