It may come as no surprise that Alzheimer’s and other dementia related diseases are diseases that people are most afraid of in relation to aging. A new study shows that light therapy may help prevent the toxic buildup that leads to Alzheimer’s.
The direct cause of Alzheimer’s disease is known, but finding a cure is proving to be quite difficult. The toxins involved in Alzheimer’s disease come from our brain cells. They are metabolic wastes that most people are able to clear from their bodies. For various reasons, some do not appear to get rid of these metabolic wastes as efficiently, leading to the development of the disease. However, new breakthroughs may offer new solutions for preventing and treating this and other causes of dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease and similar afflictions begin with memory loss, but can rapidly progress to involve loss of one’s personality, loss of mental abilities and an inability to perform even the most basic self-care. These symptoms are thought to be caused by a build-up of toxic substances in the brain. These toxins create plaques and tangles in brain cells that gradually reduce the ability of the brain’s neurons to function.
A new study
In a clinical study, researchers decided to see if exposing mice with Alzheimer’s disease to flickering light could stimulate their neurons to work more effectively.
Surprisingly, it was noted that mice exposed to flickering lights not only had faster electrical signals, but also had lower levels of the toxic beta-amyloid material that causes the disease. In a more recent study, researchers combined the flickering lights with sound, which produced an
even more dramatic effect both on cognitive abilities and on toxic build-up in the brain. For reasons that we do not completely understand, certain types of light and sound appear to work together to help the brain function better and clear certain toxic waste accumulation.
The effects of this treatment lasted around one week, which suggests that people (and mice) who use this treatment may need to undergo therapy on a regular basis.
Researchers believe that it’s due to the way the oscillating light and sound appear to affect microglia. Microglia are specialized cells that act as the waste disposal department of the brain. These cells appear to exhibit less inflammation and more efficient activity when we are exposed to light and sound at certain frequencies. This makes these cells more efficient in waste removal from the brain.