South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday)

Red light LED therapy can be good for arthritis, skin issues

- By Joe Graedon, M.S. and Teresa Graedon, Ph.D. In their column, Joe and Teresa Graedon answer letters from readers. Send questions to them via www. peoplespha­

Q: My son has been suffering from arthritis pain for

17 years. He recently had red light LED therapy. It was expensive, but afterward, he said he felt better than he had for years. The effect only lasted two days though. Is this a real treatment or just a placebo effect?

A: Thank you for alerting us to this evolving approach to easing joint pain. Red light LED therapy is used more often in dermatolog­y to treat a variety of skin conditions.

We were able to locate a number of studies on photobiomo­dulation therapy, or PBMT. This uses red light LED as well as red and near-infrared laser treatments. Although research in this field started more than

20 years ago (Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, January 1992), scientists still don’t understand exactly how it works (Frontiers in Cell and Developmen­tal Biology, Nov. 16, 2023). Optimal parameters such as wavelength, power and duration of exposure have not yet been establishe­d.

One study suggests PBMT is more effective for arthritis pain when combined with exercise (South African Journal of Sports Medicine, Jan.

1, 2019). A randomized, controlled trial compared recovery from total knee replacemen­t utilizing exercise alone to exercise combined with PBMT. The authors concluded that low-level laser therapy improved pain management and range of motion (Cureus, Dec. 21, 2023). It appears to be a “real treatment” and not a placebo.

Q: A great natural decongesta­nt is dried thyme used to make tea. Add 1 teaspoon to 8 ounces of hot water and steep for 2 to 4 minutes. Strain the tea. I like to sweeten it with honey or stevia and serve it hot. It works for adults and children without causing the insomnia or nervousnes­s I get from pseudoephe­drine. It tastes great, too, so there is no fight to get kids to drink it. A:

Your recipe sounds terrific. Cough associated with an upper respirator­y infection like a cold seems to be driven by transient receptor potential channels. Thymol, menthol, camphor and eucalyptus activate these channels and reduce cough and irritation (Respirator­y Research, Feb. 8, 2023).

Q: Over the past few years, for some reason, I have noticed a strong underarm body odor. Deodorant no longer works for me.

I tried stopping some of my medication­s for a couple of months, and that doesn’t seem to be the cause. I went from zero body odor to a 5 out of 10, with 10 being the worst.

After I read your article about using milk of magnesia topically as a deodorant, I tried it. To my surprise, it does work. However, my daughter-inlaw,

an R.N., says milk of magnesia is hard on the kidneys. Would a person using it as a deodorant absorb enough that it would harm the kidneys? A:

We wish we could find a good answer, but this topic has not been studied adequately.

The best review we could find is titled “Myth or Reality-Transderma­l Magnesium?” (Nutrients, August 2017). The authors reviewed the medical literature and found that the evidence of magnesium absorption through the skin is limited.

Some studies used 20-minute foot soaks in magnesium oil. Others involved a full-body Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) bath for two hours. A study by the Israeli army using a magnesium-rich lotion did not detect significan­t absorption of this mineral through the skin.

All that being said, people with limited kidney function should avoid extra magnesium, especially in supplement­s or laxatives.

You may want to ask your doctor to monitor both your magnesium levels and kidney function.

 ?? DREAMSTIME ?? Red light therapy usually helps with skin problems, but studies say it can relieve pain from arthritis too.
DREAMSTIME Red light therapy usually helps with skin problems, but studies say it can relieve pain from arthritis too.

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