February 4, 2023
From podcast: https://bengreenfieldlife.com/podcast/lew-lim/
[00:01:17] Podcast Sponsors
[00:08:06] Introduction to Lew Lim
[00:11:01] The Beginnings of Photobiomodulation Technology
[00:18:45] Different wavelengths
[00:21:58] Differences Between Models
[00:28:37] Podcast Sponsors
[00:31:05] cont. Differences Between Models
[00:35:08] Using systemic lights vs just the brain lights
[00:42:42] Post-concussive syndromes and TBI
[00:52:36] Logistical Usage and Best Practice
[00:57:31] Closing the Podcast
[01:00:33] Upcoming Event
[01:02:46] End of Podcast
Ben: My name is Ben Greenfield. And, on this episode of the Ben Greenfield Life podcast.
Lew: One thing about photobiomodulation is there is enough in the literature to show that it reduces inflammatory factors. When you have chronic pain, it is very often attributable to the presence of the inflammatory factors. You're not fully healed, the bodies, it's there, sometimes it amounts to almost autoimmune, your body starts to attack itself. But, photobiomodulation has been found to reduce this. But, I've seen where you can literally see the joints swollen anywhere, braces. And, I put this photobiomodulation, we pass it at 1,000 hertz. And, I believe a faster frequency has an inhibitory effect on the tissues. It actually helps to reduce pain almost immediately. Using photobiomodulation for pain has been around for a very long time.
Ben: Faith, family, fitness, health, performance, nutrition, longevity, ancestral living, biohacking, and a whole lot more. Welcome to the show.
Alright, folks. Your feet are important, skin on the bottom of your feet has thousands of nerves used to control your movement and your posture. The more you feel your feet, the more you feel the ground, the better you move. A lot of injuries, orthopedic injuries, knee injuries, ankle injuries, hip injuries, even shoulder injuries start with the feet.
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I don't think it's any secret, especially for those of you who have read my cookbook that I guzzle extra virgin olive oil. I use it in everything. Not only is it a myth that you're not supposed to cook with olive oil because extra virgin olive oil actually has a bunch of flavanols and polyphenols in it that allow it to be pretty heat stable even for things like sauteing, baking, broiling, et cetera. But, the health benefits of this stuff, I mean as far as lowering risk of heart disease, helping prevent type 2 diabetes, certain types of cancer, high blood pressure, Alzheimer's disease, obesity, I mean, it's basically zero carb, low carb, ketogenic, friendly to a paleo lifestyle, a cornerstone of the longevity enhancing Mediterranean diet, and as any chef will tell you, that's where the flavor's at. And, a really good extra virgin olive oil has amazing flavor.
The problem with the ones that you buy at the grocery store is they're not fresh. After six months, the polyphenol and antioxidants and olive oil start to degrade. And, if you actually look at the bottle label at the grocery store of the olive oil that you're probably buying right now, it's older than six months. It's in plastic. It's not in that dark glass container. And, if they're already older than six months at the time that you buy them, that means they've sat in storage, then in shipping, then in a warehouse, then on storage shelves, even years growing stale and rancid before you even put them in your cart. And then, a lot of them have extra bad oils added to them, particularly canola oil.
So, I go straight to the source and get not only the world's most delicious artisanal olive oil but real fresh, the real stuff, extra virgin olive oil. I get it from this company called the Fresh-Pressed Olive Oil Club. I've been a member for I think almost 10 years now. I get three new bottles sent to me every quarter. They're hunted down by this guy who's been on my podcast twice, T.J. Robinson, the Olive Oil Hunter who also does vinegars now, by the way, that are amazing. I have a podcast coming out about that. If it's not already out, you're going to hear it pretty soon. But, this stuff is the best olive oil I've ever used in my life, guilt-free. It's real. It's not cut with other stuff. It's not rancid. And, it even comes with this cool little booklet where you could read about the farm where it was harvested, who grew it, what it tastes like, tasting notes, recipes to use it in. Better yet, they're going to give us all a bottle for a buck. One bottle that's all for a dollar so you can taste the difference for yourself.
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I don't think it's any secret that I am and have been for quite some time a fan of this anti-aging strategy of using NAD to protect the cells and to enhance the health of the mitochondria. There was a form of NAD that was mentioned when I interviewed Tony Robbins called NAD3. We talked about it. I was intrigued about it. I didn't know anybody was actually making it, but that along with two other ingredients. One called spermidine and one called resveratrol also came up in that interview and are also kind of like the darlings of the anti-aging industry right now: Spermidine, resveratrol, and NAD. Well, what we talked about in that podcast was how there's this very unique new form of NAD called NAD3. It's a licensed NAD ingredient, huge amount of bioavailability. And, when combined with spermidine and resveratrol, this is like an unrivaled formula for anybody who wants to enhance aging using NAD and using a very unique bioabsorbable form of it.
So, this company called BioStack Labs formulated this stuff. It's called NAD Regen. It's not NAD, it's NAD3. So, NAD Regen is actually the only formula in the world to use NAD3, which is a licensed ingredient with human trials behind it but they've combined that with a special form of spermidine along with resveratrol and niacinamide. So, all these ingredients put together are freaking food for the mitochondria and act as very unique, very effective cellular protectants to enhance anti-aging and longevity. It's a pretty unrivaled formula, very unique blend. So again, it's NAD3 but then it's also got spermidine, resveratrol, and niacinamide in it. And, they're cutting us all a deal. Basically, two bottles of this stuff costs about $134. And, what happens is if you order, they're going to give you another free bottle so that extra free bottles were $67. Pretty good deal. You go to BioStackLabs.com/Ben. BioStackLabs.com/Ben.
I do about five days on, two days off, any week where I might happen to get some kind of NAD patch or NAD IV. I don't take extra NAD, but man for an oral formula, this one's pretty unrivaled in the industry. Brand new. You can get your hands on now. So, BioStackLabs.com/Ben.
Well, folks, on social media and elsewhere you may have occasionally seen me wearing this crazy laser light helmet on my head with these red flashing nasal probes shoved into my nostrils. And, perhaps you've thought, “What the heck is that?” and “Why would somebody ever choose such a horrific fashion statement?” But, stick with me here because there's actually something to this science, it's called photobiomodulation. There's actually a lot of something and a lot of science behind it because the basis of all of our thoughts and behavior and emotions is the interaction between our neurons, our neuronal networks that communicate. The way that neural electrical signals occur is via brain waves. You're no doubt familiar with brain waves. Well, you can stimulate brain waves using light. That's called brain photobiomodulation. You can literally stimulate the mitochondria in the neuronal cells or the neurons in the brain. And, that can increase cellular energy levels in the brain and elsewhere.
And so, what I do is I put on this red light technology. It's like a helmet. And, three or four times a week, I'll wear this thing for 25 minutes when I'm working in the morning. And, I use this thing called a Vielight, V-I-E-light. It is one of the devices out there that's actually been researched and scientifically shown to be able to modulate and alter your brain waves using light energy, using near-infrared light. And, they've measured this through EEG measurements.
I did a podcast about this, gosh, more than five years ago. I've been using the device ever since, but a lot has changed in the field of brain photobiomodulation and photobiomodulation in general. So, what I wanted to do was to get one of the world's leading experts on photobiomodulation and brain photobiomodulation on the show. His name is Dr. Lew Lim, L-E-W L-I-M. He was on the show before when I interviewed him initially about this Vielight, but like I mentioned, a lot has changed. There's these different devices now that have come out at different wavelengths and with different treatment areas. And, I mean, everything from concussion to TBI, to shifting the body very rapidly into a bliss meditative state, to alternating between gamma and alpha frequencies, there's so much going on here with these devices. And, I think more people really need to know about this. I mean, I've even had friends who have had things early onset dementia and Alzheimer's who have actually purchased units for and they've noticed a profound difference in terms of their alertness, in terms of their cognitive performance. So, there's definitely something going on here.
Lew, welcome back to the show, man. It's been a little while.
Lew: Thanks, Ben. It's great to be in touch with you again.
Ben: Yeah, for sure.
And, I'm just curious because when I interviewed you last time, we just kind of jumped in and started talking about the lights. But, for you personally, I'd just be curious what your actual background is in terms of especially how you came to understand and use photobiomodulation yourself whether for your brain or elsewhere.
Lew: Well, the history actually goes back quite a while. I'm in Toronto now in Canada. Believe it or not, this all started in California. I was in the Bay Area for a number of years. In the mid-'90s, we experimented with lasers. And, during that time, photobiomodulation wasn't known at all in North America. It was a kind of a Soviet Bloc domain. I think it was probably called something close with phototherapy.
Lew: Was discovered in 1967 Hungary, which was part of the Soviet Bloc. And, Russians were actually setting up laser centers and doing a lot of cool stuff. And, the literature was mainly in the Russian language, but we got rid of it. I experimented with what this can do. and, it came out of the idea that the Russians were literally injecting red light into your vein.
Ben: When you say injecting red light into a vein, this is actually a protocol that I know a lot of biohackers will do now, like they'll do UV blood irradiation or infrared blood irradiation. A lot of folks will combine that. I have a doctor who combines it with ozone. They'll do ozone pass of the blood and at the same time irradiate the blood with light to activate the mitochondria. There was even one doctor I just was with down in Florida who combines it with methylene blue. He'll literally do a methylene blue IV. And, apparently methylene blue interacts with photons of lights to increase mitochondrial energy production. And so, this idea of light-based IVs is something that I think is even increasingly common now amongst the biohacking and the longevity community.
Lew: Yeah. Actually, this is UV blood, irradiations a little bit different from using red and infrared light. Yeah, this is actually interesting. UV light irradiation has been going on for quite a long time. And, what they do is they extract blood and get into a chamber where they direct UV light. And, some areas, it was antimicrobial, it was antioxidative.
And yes, methylene blue is actually a very interesting solution to add because it has its own other properties. It's been experimented with — even for Alzheimer's disease. Actually, there was a drug based on methylene blue. Yeah, lots of interesting things going on. But, red light is a little bit different, they actually still do now a number of practitioners, it's not many now, they still inject lasers, laser lights into the vein. And, the idea is to get a systemic effect.
Lew: Well, let's cut it short and just going to some basic biology and physics here.
Lew: Now, the thing about red and infrared, it can penetrate the skin and membrane. So, my belief is you don't have to do it to get light into your body, mainly because red and infrared can penetrate through the skin. So, I try to find out, okay, where is to get higher success level, where would you find the thinnest membrane. And, the nose actually is a good area because the membrane is really thin so you don't need a lot of power to deliver red and low-level laser.
Ben: Like a light-based nasal probe.
Lew: Yeah, exactly. So, that's why I think the idea is getting red light into your body to work simple way is do a probe. Inside the nose, it goes through a thin membrane. And, with red, red doesn't penetrate too deep, so it's enough to irradiate a flood, the vasculature in that area to get this effect.
Now, we also have 810, which is a longer wavelength near-infrared. The idea of using 810 Infrared is to have a deeper penetration to reach the brain. So, that's keeping it brief.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it.
So, basically when we're targeting the brain with near-infrared light, whether through the nostrils or I assume that since there's lights on top of this thing almost like a helmet through the top of the head, that gets delivered to the mitochondria. And, it's my understanding that the light is actually absorbed by an enzyme, an enzyme called cytochrome c oxidase and that then uses the photon packets of light to essentially initiate things like ATP production. But then, there's research on healing damaged brain cells and improving cerebral blood circulation and reducing inflammation and toxicity, even regenerating damaged brain cells. And, what you're saying is that even the wavelength of light is going to influence how much is absorbed or what the actual brain experiences based on the wavelength of light that's delivered.
Lew: Yeah. Longer wavelength theoretically penetrates deeper. So, if you want to penetrate deeper, you apply longer wavelength. And, that's going to near-infrared and then infrared. Think about the whole spectrum of electromagnetic wave. So, you have very, very short high-energy wavelengths in the gamma. This is a different gamma from the gamma wavelength in the waveform in the brain to a really long waves in the form of radio waves, FM radios. So, imagine when you go to that long of a wavelength, you literally penetrate anything.
So, the question may be asked, “Why don't we just use long wavelength?” It best penetrates through everything. But, the thing is cytochrome oxidase in other forms of data in discussion like water structure and all that have action spectrum. So, cytochrome c oxidase respond only to certain window or wavelength. So, we're talking here basically a rate around 600 to near-infrared I say probably below 1,000 nanometers, although there are discussion about 1,064 and all that. I think that longer wavelength acts on the water structure. So, that's one aspect of it. So, it's got to fall within that. And, even within this window, there are specific wavelengths that the mitochondria respond better. And, there are some blind spots that around 760 to 780 that don't seem to do anything. So, we try to fall within that. And also, as you go longer, you get absorption by water so it becomes less effective all you do when water absorbs energy like that, you only produce heat.
Ben: Okay. Alright, got it.
So, when we're looking at these different wavelengths, and I look at the different devices that you guys have, first of all, there's the 810 wavelength. And, that one seems to be the one that most of these devices use, the near-infrared light at 810 nanometers, and that's what you have in the Duo device and the gamma and the alpha. I have the Duo, which just allows me to choose gamma or alpha. But, even though the wavelength of the light is 810, it's my understanding that the pulse rate, meaning either 10-hertz pulse rate of the light for the alpha effects or a 40-hertz pulse wave for the gamma effect is going to cause different effects on the brain depending on the actual rate at which the wavelength is pulsed.
Lew: Yeah. We actually started with the 10 hertz.
Ben: 10 hertz being the alpha.
Lew: Being the alpha, yeah. In fact, our first dementia study, it's a small study, use 10 hertz. That was the first prototype. We eventually moved on to 40 hertz just because we experimented more. And then, the literature was developed developing to suggest that 40 hertz actually improve memory encoding. And then, there was this big high-impact study done by MIT with Alzheimer's markers. So, they found that 40 hertz, if we were in this chamber of flickering lights, actually reduced the beta and the like plaques in your brain and so on. So, it got very interesting
We actually did quite a lot of experiments on 40 hertz. We experimented on healthy brains and saw the effect on the high-frequency waveform, alpha, beta, gamma. And then, that was very interesting for the first time, we showed the world that we could reduce the amplitude of the slow waves. Sometimes, it can be attributable to inattention, and slow thinking, and sleepiness, and so on. We can actually reduce the amplitude of these low waveforms when we deliver gamma into the brain.
Now, 10 hertz is a default, a template setting for your brain because we were aiming for the default mode network. When you close the eyes, have some introspection, doing nothing. Your brain gets into this default mode. When the default mode is healthy, it generally means that your brain is also healthy. And, when you close your eyes in that mode, you are both activating the default mode network and actually increasing alpha. So, they're both kind of related.
Now, there were earlier animal studies done at Harvard at Mike Hamblin's lab that showed that 10 hertz actually gave the best outcomes for traumatic brain injury recovery. So, we thought, okay, that's a good place to start.
Ben: Okay, got it.
So, we've got the alpha and the gamma. And, I want to talk a little bit more later on about some of the effects on things like recovering from TBI, and this shift into the bliss state, and even the performance implications. Like I mentioned, the unit that you guys have that I use, it's the one that allows me to choose alpha or gamma, so it's called the Duo because I can switch back and forth between the two if I want to. And then, it's also got the one, it's got the extra attachment that allows you to target other places in the body like the cerebellum or the thymus gland or it's got a second nasal probe that you can put into the nose.
I have a few other usage questions though before we get into some of the things that you guys have found in your research on this. So, 810 nanometers is the wavelength that's produced by this unit that I have, but then you also have some others that are down in the 600-ish nanometer wavelength. And, one uses an LED and one uses a laser. So, why would someone even look into using something like that like a laser or an LED or a lower wavelength? Are those just earlier models or are those more for the systemic effect versus the brain effect? How come you have these different models?
Lew: The laser deliver coherent light, so the photons are kind of in lockstep. Actually, up to around the year 2000, 2005, most low-level light therapy was actually based on lasers. And, I say is mini legacy, it goes back to the earlier works and it was laser and up to that point in time people were still arguing that laser is better because of this concept of having coherence light. But, more and more studies are coming out showing that it's not the coherency of the laser that matters, it is the wavelength and the fact that the enzymes are receptive to photons of this wavelength as opposed to being lasers. But, having said that, we actually found lasers to be a little bit more effective in delivering some outcomes. But, not as significant as many people seem to claim.
Now, the problem with laser is it is regulated by the FDA. They have several risk levels for lasers and we use the lowest levels for safety, which is below 5 milliwatts. So, that's in the safety region for general use. So, we have been doing that. And, if you ask me, I say, yeah, lasers seem to have a marginally more, but by switching to LED, we don't have the deal with the safety concern and stuff like that.
Ben: Okay. So, the Neuro Duo that I use that allows me to switch between alpha and gamma, that's using basically a near-infrared LED that will either pulse at 10 hertz or 40 hertz. And, you think that that's going to be sufficient for most people's needs in terms of overall health of the brain?
Lew: Yeah, correct. So, the question is, when do we use 10-hertz alpha and when do we use 40-hertz gamma? I would say that for general health, I think alpha is good. In fact, personally, before I go to bed, I use the alpha. I use it once every two days.
Ben: Yeah. And, by the way, I initially thought the alpha was just for waking you up, I described it as like a cup of coffee for the brain in the morning. But then, you told me at one point that it worked really well for sleep onset. And so, I can keep the unit up by my bed and put it on it, and almost shifts me into this meditative state. But then, later on regarding the alpha, you told me, and this was just a few days ago, there's some kind of a new study that you guys have found that allows a user to be able to almost trigger an immediate switch into what you call the bliss state, like something an advanced meditator would only be able to achieve with a lot of practice. Is that the alpha wavelength that you're targeting for the bliss state?
Lew: No, it's not. It is something we have discovered. Actually, it's gone back to about five years now, but we just trying to get studies in line and get it tested and validated. But, anecdotally, photobiomodulation can actually shift brain waveforms but it is not the alpha.
When we experiment with the gamma, very interestingly some people who have been doing meditation are reporting some altered state, some shift. And, that got very interesting, but actually, we found that it's not just 40 hertz. For some advanced meditators, the frequency is much higher. Many of them actually experienced a shift at 120 hertz. The more advanced ones are going to 40 hertz and the very, very advanced ones are looking at maybe 1,000 hertz. If you're not advanced and you have somewhere in between, 1,000 hertz may not be a very positive experience. For me, for example, I'm not a meditator, so I'm actually getting information from experienced meditators and those who do regularly.
Now, everyone has his own sweet spot. I've got people who have their lives changed, and they change their lifestyle after experiencing ayahuasca or psilocybin, which is magic mushroom. So, they got achieved and their life changed, their approach to life is different now, they're more altruistic and so on. And interestingly, they felt that they have obtained some kind of permanent shift from their experience. Now, when they tried the gamma the first time, they felt something familiar. But, when we use a higher frequency, and this is only attainable to the NeuroPro. You haven't experienced it, Ben. But, maybe we should talk about this.
So, this particular person I remember vividly at 400 hertz, he went back into what he actually experienced for the first time with psilocybin. He wanted to try it all the time.
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Just anecdotally, I should mention because I've looked into some of this, that triggering of the 5-HTA receptors via psilocybin, also DMT to a certain extent, some people experience it a little bit with microdosing with LSD and then, of course, ayahuasca. This seems to amplify the effects at least when I have used a microdose of psilocybin say and combined it with the 40-hertz gamma signal, it does seem to amplify the effects rather notably. But, it sounds like what you're saying is your guys' more advanced system, which I think is called the NeuroPro, which I've never actually used, that allows you to shift even a higher hertz signal that might be even more powerful than that?
Lew: Yeah. Actually, with the NeuroPro, there are actually more modules on the head and including one to the back of the head. You can actually use a phone that we provide. The interface is quite simple to use. You can actually decide what frequency you want to deliver to your head. And, you can do a sweep. You could decide to have say every two minutes, I'm going to increase my frequency. I can start with 10 hertz. It goes after 2 minutes or 5 minutes, I go to 20 hertz and then I go to 40 hertz and so on. And, you can go up with 10,000 hertz.
Ben: 10,000. What's that feel like, 10,000 hertz?
Lew: Personally, I don't know. But, I say most people will experience something up to 1,000 hertz. And, beyond that, I'm not really sure what they experience. I think they don't generally feel much, but it is available if not for people to experiment. Once you have set this particular frequency, you can use it for a period of time and then to re-experiment again. It's quite likely that after one to two months, your sweet spot for that shift could be different. It could be today is 128, tomorrow, and then two months later it could be 200 hertz. So, it's good to have something like that that you can actually set the frequency.
Ben: Now again, I've never used the NeuroPro before, but how does the–and it comes with a little smartphone that's loaded up with the different parameters that you can run. But, how does the neurofeedback part of that work? Because from what I understand, the NeuroPro actually kind of takes me to the next level and allows for some type of neural feedback component. What's going on with that?
Lew: Yeah. When you, neurofeedback practitioners, it's quite likely that you will be using EEG, qEEG and you could be mapping your brain and see which area of the brain is lacking certain waveforms. It could be deficient in say alpha. Therefore, you want to improve the alpha in your brain or you're lacking in beta. Some people do cross-coupling between the slow wave data and beta say for ADHD and so on.
So, in neurofeedback, you try to train the brain of your client to normalize and therefore try to establish normal again. It's not a quick process, you get a computer with this simulation programs in front of you and you try to train your brain. But, it could take up to 30 sessions over several months, half a year.
Ben: But, you could do it at home without going to a neurofeedback practitioner using this device with the phone?
Lew: You wouldn't be able to see how your EEG is changing. But, if you're a meditator, you may actually feel it. So, you know how to adjust. But, neurofeedback using EEG actually makes life easier. They can see what's happening in your brain and try to alter the waveforms. So, this is what the Neuro tries to do.
Ben: Got it.
So, back to the light, the intranasal, from what I understand, is going to be able to target kind of the ventral frontal areas of the brain and then the transcranial that actually passes through the soft tissue and the small bones and the skull, which is the part of the lights that go on top of the head will target the dorsal or the back part of the brain. But then, you've also got, and this is something that I'll often put on when I'm using my Neuro Duo, which is the one that allows you to go back and forth between alpha and gamma, you've got this device now that can be placed on the body. Meaning there's an extra light that can go on the back of the head and then also can be used on either the thymus gland or that back of the head, that cerebellar area. What's going on when you're using more of the systemic lights versus just the brain lights? What's happening if I were to place this light over my thymus or over my abdominals, for example, and running at the same time as the headset?
Lew: Yeah. This is called the X-Plus. I actually developed this initially to boost the immune system. And, during the process say, hey, I know something's like this can also add to the neuro and put one at the back of their head to cover the occipital area where you process vision and also the cerebellum, which is quite important for, in my opinion, traumatic brain injury. So, the X-Plus comes with two modules, one for the head, which does that and one to be positioned over the thymus. Actually, it is both the bone and the thymus gland.
Now, the idea is like this, we are using actually this particular device in our COVID-19 study to assess the recovery from the COVID-19 severe infection. And, that was the key one.
Ben: What have you found in terms of how it's working with COVID?
Lew: We did a pivotal study. We had about 290 subjects. It was a randomized clinical trial. The data is being reviewed by the FDA and Health Canada at this very moment. We'll see what happens when we have submitted a preprint.
Ben: Yeah. And, I'll put it in the shownotes, by the way. You did send it over. I didn't get a chance to read it yet, but I'll put all the shownotes for anybody listening in and wants to dig into it at BenGreenfieldLife.com/LewLim, L-E-W L-I-M, Lew's name, BenGreenfieldLife.com/LewLim.
So, you're using this body, the X-Plus for treatment for COVID infection or for long-haul COVID or both?
Lew: Well, I'll tell you how it works with this particular one. So, the X-Plus also has an intranasal unit. When you're attacked by COVID viruses, it goes through your nasal area first.
Now, one of the things that you want to be reminded is photobiomodulation actually helps the mitochondria to release nitric oxide. And, their nitric oxide is often trapped in the electron transport chain, which compromise this function. Photobiomodulation, you actually release nitric oxide, and then the mitochondrial functions better, then nitric oxide get released into your body. And, nitric oxide has the ability to inhibit the replication of coronavirus. It doesn't matter what variant it is, just coronavirus with these spike proteins in general. So, that's the basic idea. And, it also helps–the nose actually has a colony of microbes and bacteria in the delivery rate also helps–now bacteria has mitochondria as well. And, that helps release nitric oxide and helps to inhibit replication of coronaviruses. But, once it's gone past and you're affected for a few days gone past, your upper respiratory tract and goes down to your body. Particularly, with the earlier variants, the delta variant, which was actually quite a dangerous variant as you probably know, when it gets there, it starts to damage your tissues, your blood vessel cells, the endothelial cells. When it gets to a more advanced stage, it starts to damage the other organs or property. It causes this cytokine storm, which causes your whole body's immune system to attack itself. It gets to a huge inflammatory process.
Now, when we place one on the thymus, the theory is the bone marrow actually helps to manufacture stem cells. And, among the stem cells will go to where it is required and helps your body to heal. And, the precursor to the T cells actually go to the thymus gland to get matured. And then, you have increased production of T cells to help your immune system. Now, the idea and being positioned there, that's also close to your lung. When your lungs damage your pulmonary areas and whether you have endothelial cell damage, it helps to heal because in photobiomodulation, the mitochondria also releases growth factors, and the growth factors go into the healing process.
Now, the other thing that is in literature but not really well-discussed and well-tested is the production of melatonin.
Ben: The production of melatonin in response to the light produced by the X-Plus on the body.
Lew: Exactly. The mitochondria has the ability to produce melatonin. This melatonin is actually different from the melatonin from the pineal gland, which goes into your circulatory system. This is a subcellular melatonin, which actually helps the cells to stay in a healthy state because melatonin is also antioxidant. It helps to neutralize free radicals. And, that is why I think photobiomodulation is pretty effective in keeping people healthy and helping to deal with free radicals. So, that is all part of the big picture.
Ben: By the way, the X-Plus, from what I understand, even though the main Neuro Duo device that I was talking about does 810 nanometers at either the alpha or the gamma frequency, that X-Plus uses that 633-nanometer wavelength so you're technically kind of if you combine the two getting both the benefits of the 600-ish nanometer wavelength light plus the 810 nanometer. And then, with the X-Plus, you can choose to place it over either the thymus or the cerebellum or the gut depending on which area you want to target for that day's treatment, right?
Lew: Yeah, yeah, you got it right.
Ben: It's a very cool combo. And, it only takes 30 seconds to just pull on and turn on, which is pretty convenient.
So, that's pretty cool about the COVID trial that you guys are doing. And also, what you found for the advanced meditators as far as triggering that immediate switch into a bliss state, but of course, one thing that–and I think this was initially how I got interested in you that you guys have found a lot of benefits for this for is for post-concussive symptoms and TBI. What's the latest on that in terms of the use of either the alpha or the gamma waves and what you guys have found?
Lew: The one worry about TBI, particularly among high-level athletes and say football, when they retire, the effects of repetitive concussion starts developing to CTE, is degenerative, it cause suicidal ideation, they lose control of their behavior. So, it's quite kind of thing. A very high percentage of retired football players actually went on to show signs of this tau, the markers in the brain that could develop into CTE, which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, which is pretty much to do with the brain.
I talked a lot extensively to [00:44:00] _____ of Boston University about this. She, in Boston University, is also the hub of CTE research, but she's not in that particular group. But, it is of a great concern and we thought we really ought to spread a message that if photobiomodulation could treat traumatic brain injury and reduce the instances of CTE. And, we don't have enough data because big data with many, many subjects to confirm, but the case series that we've observed have seen actually retired athletes with CTE going through the neurodegeneration process of experiencing the inability to control behavior, experiencing PTSD, experiencing sleep problems, experiencing depression, they have recovered.
So, Dr. [00:45:01] _____ group, they've just published a paper, and I think you could make that available to your audience as well to show the remarkable improvement. I suddenly use the word “remarkable,” but it's quite remarkable because I know at least one of these [00:45:20] _____ at least quite well. And, Larry Carr, he's out there advocating for photobiomodulation. Because he actually got his life back from a disastrous path to being pretty normal, he's known an adjunct professor at the University of Utah. And, he's one of the subjects in this particular paper.
Ben: Now, if someone's using this for post-concussion symptoms, what if somebody had a concussion like 10 years ago? Is it going to be able to cause neurogenesis in old damaged brain cells? Is this something that needs to be used acutely right after an injury? Is it something that would be used preventively to enhance brain health to diminish the risk of concussion? What would be the practical usage for something like this?
Lew: I would say all of that. You can use it preventively because you kind of prime your brain to be able to withstand. There's some of that in the literature. You can particularly use it post-concussion after your activity where you feel like you're going to numb. But, even if you don't experience symptoms, your brain is already has experienced it and it can be shown in imaging.
So, yeah, use that even though you don't have symptoms because it's going to help your brain to recover. But, if you do have symptoms, here are the papers. In fact, University of Utah is doing quite a lot of work. They are in the process of preparing manuscripts for publication. They have presented in conferences. I think, they have a few posters out already. We are actually going to do more work with them. And, the best thing for me is they did all those work independently. I had no influence on the protocol, so it was totally independent. So, there's a lot more credibility to those findings.
Apart from that, that area including Brigham Young University, they are also experimenting on healthy athletes to observe the improvement in performance that is being that though the data is out, I don't have all of it in detail. This is fully another independent study. And, they found improvement in grip strength.
Ben: In response to using the red light therapy on the head, they found increasing grip strength?
Lew: Yeah, yeah. They basically use the gamma. The grip strength plus improvements in on-field decision-making. They actually did something called the thrill of making B test, which actually is a test of recognition and how is the test of your attention, following trail markers, also how you can deal with distraction and multiple elements introduced into your performance, into your decision making.
Ben: So, you could technically use something like this. You could put it on pre-workout, for example, put it on the gamma, the 40-hertz frequency, and potentially get things like an increasing grip strength or focus or decision making. We've already established there's a nitric oxide release. And, that alone is going to help with a workout. And, many people who might have done full body red light therapy have probably experienced that blood flow effect. But, what you're saying is you could literally use this right before a workout is almost a way to amp up the body pre-workout or pre-competition to do something like increased grip strength or on-field decision making.
Lew: Yeah. I was actually quite pleasantly surprised with this finding. I've never actually thought about before this although I say, okay, maybe because the brain is really your control center for your whole body, you improve that. Yeah, you can link the half of your primary mode of cortex to the power to your muscles, your limbs, and all that kind of thing. That could be part of the reason.
Now, improved signaling to the very spots your body and the chiropractor is going to test to that is all about gaining power by improving the signaling from your say your spine to the other parts of your body. Here, you're talking about your whole brain in the spinal area.
Lew: So, they can relate to that, but I'm glad they did a study because it is kind of give validation to what I kind of think may happen.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, regarding the use pre-work–I know it's on your website, you have a picture of somebody actually working out with dumbbells while wearing the headset. I don't think I could ever wear this thing at the gym just because I'm very active when I work out. And, I suppose I could maybe ride a bicycle or walk on a treadmill or something while wearing it. But, the idea of just putting it on pre-workout or even in the cars or driving to the gym or something like that, that seems like pretty low-hanging fruit.
Now, what about the part that you had mentioned to me in an email exchange we had earlier this week about pain management of chronic pain? What have you found as far as that's concerned?
Lew: Yeah. One thing about photobiomodulation is there is enough in the literature to show that it reduces inflammatory factors. And, when you have chronic pain, it is very often attributable to the presence of the inflammatory factors, you're not fully healed, your body is there, sometimes it amounts to almost the autoimmune, your body starts to attack itself, and all this complicated stuff. But, photobiomodulation has been found to reduce this. We are actually doing some work to see related to our upcoming study on long COVID. But, we're going by that theory. So, a lot of chronic pain is to do with that. And, I believe the reduction of the inflammatory factors help.
Now, there are other things when, like I've said before, when you deliver photobiomodulation, you help to reduce the presence of free radicals. You have to synthesize growth factors that help with healing and stuff. And actually, I know totally try that on retired athletes, particularly football players, [00:51:41] _____. When they retire, they walk away with so much injury to the bodies and they don't necessarily experience a lot of it when they are young. But, when you get older, things are setting, your body don't recover as quickly. But, I've seen where you can literally see the joints swollen and you wear braces. And, I put this photobiomodulation, we passed it at 1,000 hertz. And, I believe a faster frequency has an inhibitory effect on the tissues. It actually help to reduce pain almost immediately, which is quite interesting. We are doing separate studies to try to validate it, but generally, I'm not inventing anything new in pain treatment. Using photobiomodulation for pain has been around for a very long time.
Ben: Yeah, interesting.
Okay. So, let's talk about the logistical usage. And, I know that with red light therapy, a lot of times, you don't want to overdo it because too much red light therapy may create reactive oxygen species and more is not necessarily better. I've heard in the past that somewhere around 20 to 25 minutes a day or a few days a week could be a pretty good range to target. But, what do you think as far as best practices? Let's say somebody listen to this podcast and they decide they're going to get the Neuro Duo so they could do alpha or gamma and maybe they're going to get the body X to go along with it so they can do some body treatments. Currently, my protocol is I'll do it on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, or Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, although after I haven't talked with you on this podcast, I might start to just wear it a little bit pre-workout on some of the other days as well. But, what do you think as far as best practices go for the frequency or the length of usage?
Lew: So, we have a general statement which I put out there and say. But generally, everything's normal for you, you're healthy, you want to just maintain a good health and maybe a little bit better. All you need is once every two days because of the risk of overdoing stuff.
Another thing, the photobiomodulation, you deliver a dose and the dose stays there depending on the state of your body and the person. You could be there for a few hours to a few weeks. So, imagine if you keep doing it, you keep accumulating the dose. Then, every time your electron transport chain in the mitochondria is doing activity, you are also producing free radicals, reactive oxygen species, which you need to allow your body to clear. Photobiomodulation helps, but too much of it may produce too much of free radicals that your body hasn't had enough time to clear. So, that's why I say, okay, generally, for a healthy guy just doing normal activities, once every two days is enough. But, you can experiment, it's not a hard and fast rule, it depends on the person. You can try once a day and see how you feel. But, I think if you're doing a high-stress activity–going through an illness is a given. Your cells are all going through stress, so you're probably okay doing once a day, maybe even twice a day.
Now, if you're doing highly stress activity in competitive sports, you're putting your body through a lot of physical stress. I guess, you could do once a day or maybe pre- and post-, so you can experiment with it. Because you when you're doing all this activity, you're actually producing a lot of free radicals. And, perhaps photobiomodulation can help to actually reduce that. And, you're also producing some inflammatory factors as well and photobiomodulation may be able to help reduce that. Then, you've got this building of muscles that the growth factors with photobiomodulation may be able to synthesize.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. And, you combine it with anything, like we talk about methylene blue. And, in my opinion, both shilajit as well as chlorella can also pair pretty well with photonic light therapy or photobiomodulation. And so, I might get up in the morning and take a little bit of methylene blue orally or use this kind of black mineral type of extract called shilajit or even chlorella from a dark green compound like algae. And, I find that that seems to also amplify the effects of the red light therapy in a similar way is like using a microdose of say psilocybin or LSD seems to pair pretty well with the gamma 40-hertz signal. But, is there anything else that you found combines well either from a supplementation standpoint or other biohack, so to speak, that you might combine with something like red light therapy?
Lew: Yeah. Actually, a theory was proposed a number of years back by a professor at the University of Texas at Austin, Professor Gonzalez-Lima. Actually, he proposed combining photobiomodulation with methylene blue to actually alleviate Alzheimer's disease. I haven't tested it this way, but there is a theory behind it. In fact, there is a company in the height of the pandemic. There is a group in British Columbia there in Vancouver actually proposing photobiomodulation with methylene blue that's delivered into–spread into the nose.
Ben: Really, like an intranasal methylene blue treatment?
Lew: Yeah, yeah. I think they patented that particular treatment. But, you feel that adverse effect cut back.
Ben: Yeah, yeah. Well, let's talk a little bit about how people could actually use this because I know these devices are not inexpensive. I think we have a 10% discount code, GREENFIELD, and you go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/Vielight, V-I-E-light. And, I know you can get a discount with code GREENFIELD. But, let's say somebody wanted to kind of get the unit I have, which seems to work perfectly for me even though I'm interested now in the NeuroPro. But, I've got the Duo, which is the gamma and alpha, and then I have that combined with the body X. I just remember your website, looks like you've got the Duo plus the X-Plus 3 combo. So, the exact one that I'm using. Yeah, it's right around $3,000 to get the Duo plus the X-Plus 3. And then, I guess if you use our coupon code, you'll save 10% off of that. So, you save maybe 300 bucks or so. But, that would be the one, the Neuro Duo, X-Plus 3 combo is what I would recommend to folks if you want to actually try this out. And, I mean, it's one of those things that there's certain things I own that I use every week all the time: my infrared sauna, my hyperbaric chamber, my PEMF mat, my weights, and then this neuro device is just absolutely amazing. So, I'll link to all this in the shownotes for people who want to try it out. And, I also did another podcast with Lew that I'll link to also if you guys want more of kind of the basic science behind it because we did a whole podcast on photobiomodulation as well.
So, Lew, anything else you want to bring up while I have you on the call about Vielight?
Lew: Advanced meditators in the Tucson area who wants to be part of the clinical study. Yeah. I think there's a link on the website somewhere for this particular study. And, also in the Toronto area. I think it's a very exciting frontier for even for photobiomodulation experimenting with getting to a higher state of the brain.
Ben: I agree. I mean, I personally think oxygen therapy such as ozone therapy, hyperbaric therapy exercises, oxygen therapy, along with pulse electromagnetic field therapy, and grounding or earthing along with red light therapy and photobiomodulation. Basically, the air, the earth, and the light, I think those three components are the frontier of performance of medicine. I think sound and vibratory medicine might be a fourth if you want to throw that in there. But, the places you can go, non-pharmaceutically with a lot of this stuff is just absolutely astounding. So, I think this is just one of the coolest devices that exists out there.
So, Lew, thanks so much for coming on the show sharing this with us. And again, I'll link to everything along with our discount codes. And, if Lew's able to get us a discount on the NeuroPro, I'll link to that as well. Just go to BenGreenfieldLife.com/LewLim. That's BenGreenfieldLife.com/L-E-W-L-I-M. Lew, thanks so much for coming on the show, man.
Lew: Well, thanks for inviting me, Ben. Perhaps we'll schedule another update sometime in the future.
Ben: Yes, maybe more frequently than every five years.
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More than ever these days, people like you and me need a fresh entertaining, well-informed, and often outside-the-box approach to discovering the health, and happiness, and hope that we all crave. So, I hope I've been able to do that for you on this episode today. And, if you liked it or if you love what I'm up to, then please leave me a review on your preferred podcast listening channel wherever that might be, and just find the Ben Greenfield Life episode. Say something nice. Thanks so much. It means a lot.
Have you ever seen me wearing a crazy, laser-light helmet on my head, with red-flashing nasal probes shoved into my nostrils, and thought…
…“What the heck is that and why would someone ever choose such a horrific fashion statement?”
But stick with me here, because there's actually something to the science of this so-called use of “photobiomodulation.” A lot of something, and a lot of science.
The basis of all your thoughts, behavior, and emotions is the communication between your neuronal networks. This interaction leads to the formation of neural electrical signals known as brainwaves. Brain stimulation via photobiomodulation stimulates neuronal mitochondria, which increases cellular energy levels. This results in improved efficiency in neural signalling and communication.
The “helmet” red light technology I wear – which I don three to four times per week for 25 minutes – is the first in the world to demonstrate the ability to modulate and alter brainwaves using NIR electromagnetic (light) energy, measured through EEG. Delivering pulsed near-infrared (NIR) light energy into the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) upgrades brain capability, increases longevity and improves physiological health. Microchip-boosted cold LED diodes in this setup – made by a company called “Vielight” (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%) – can safely maximize energy transmission into the brain and intranasal photobiomodulation technology is used for ventral brain stimulation. Transcranial-intranasal systems like this enable comprehensive, non-invasive and safe brain photobiomodulation.
In fact, the Vielight Neuro is the world’s most-researched brain photobiomodulation device. It delivers 810 nm near infrared (NIR) energy to the brain’s Default Mode Network (DMN) via four transcranial LED modules and a nasal applicator. Vielight Neuro transcranial-intranasal technology offers an unparalleled advantage for improving mental acuity and neuromodulation.
Neuro Alpha causes alpha wave activity that correlates with the alpha flow state, mental calmness and stress reduction. You can read a published abstract of a study with the Vielight Neuro Alpha device on Alpha brain waves here. Neuro Gamma wave frequency correlates with energization, problem-solving and focus. You can read a published study with the Vielight Neuro Gamma device on Gamma brain waves here. The Vielight X-Plus targets vital structures within your body: the cerebellum, thymus gland and nasal vascular area. It can be combined with the Vielight Neuro as a complete brain-systemic photobiomodulation system.
The technology of Vielight dates back to 1995 in the Silicon Valley – when the founders, Dr. Lew Lim, who first joined me on the episode How To Use Low Level Light Therapy and Intranasal Light Therapy For Athletic Performance, Cognitive Enhancement & More – and a group of engineers explored the potential of intranasal photobiomodulation. Intranasal photobiomodulation devices were commercially developed in 2003, which were later trademarked as “Vielight” when the company was incorporated in 2011.
Over the years, Vielight's focus shifted towards the development of unique photobiomodulation devices which enhance cognition and performance, among other things. Their team has since evolved into a formidable team of engineers, scientists, and business professionals dedicated to taking the technology to as many people as possible. My guest on this show, Dr. Lew Lim, is an engineer with additional diplomas in Medical Neuroscience and Business and Accountancy. He obtained his degrees and diplomas from the University of California at Berkeley, University of Sheffield, Duke University and The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, UK, and is an expert in the use of photobiomodulation.
During our discussion, you'll discover:
-Vielight and Dr. Lew Lim…08:07
- Brain Photobiomodulation – stimulating brain waves using light
- Stimulate the mitochondria in the neural cells; increase cellular energy in the brain
- Vielight (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
- Previous podcast with Dr. Lew Lim:
-The beginnings of Photo Modulation Technology…11:23
- In the early 90s, experimented with lasers
- Photo modulation technology was developed in the Soviet block
- Phototherapy was discovered in 1967 in Hungary
- Russians were injecting red light into veins
- Today, many practitioners still inject laser lights into the vein
- Red and infra-red light can penetrate through skin
- Nose is the best area for penetration
- Light is absorbed by an enzyme (cytochrome c-oxidase) to initiate ATP production
- The wavelength of the light influences how much is absorbed
-Why different wavelengths are used…16:43
- Longer wavelengths penetrate deeper, going to near-infrared to infra-red
- Spectrum of electromagnetic field
- Why don’t we just use long wavelengths?
- Cytochrome c-oxidase only respond to certain wavelengths; around 600nm to below 1000 nm
- Different wavelengths and pulse rates have different effects on the brain
- 810nm is used in most devices like the Neuro Duo, allows you to go back and forth between the Alpha and Gamma, will either pulse at 10Hz or 40Hz
- Started with 10Hz for the Alpha, first prototype for dementia
- Moved to 40Hz after the research and literature developed, suggesting it improves memory
- 40Hz reduces inattention, slow thinking, sleepiness
- 10Hz is the default mode
- 10Hz delivered the best outcome for TBI
- Ben uses the Neuro Duo, 810 nm with pulse at 10Hz or 40Hz (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
- Modulation of cortical oscillations using 10hz near-infrared transcranial and intranasal photobiomodulation: a randomized sham-controlled crossover study
- Pulsed Near Infrared Transcranial and Intranasal Photobiomodulation Significantly Modulates Neural Oscillations: a pilot exploratory study
-The differences between Vielight models…23:16
- The 655 Prime Intranasal model uses a low level laser, not LED (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
- The difference between lasers and LED
- Lasers deliver coherent light
- Up until 2005 most low level light therapies were based on lasers
- New studies show that it’s not the coherence of the laser that matters, it’s the wavelength and enzymes being more receptive of photons of these wavelengths
- Lasers are a bit more effective but not significantly
- Lasers are regulated by the FDA with several risk levels
- LEDs don't have safety concerns associated with lasers
- The Neuro Duo uses near infrared LED, switches between alpha and =gamma
- Alpha is good for general health
- Gamma is used by people who meditate and are reporting some altered state, some shift
- One user reports experience similar to that of psilocybin at 400Hz
- NeuroPro has higher, more powerful signal
- More modules
- Lets you choose the frequency, increase it up to 10,000 Hertz
- Neuro feedback component
- Can be used to train the brain to normalize
- Brainwave study reveals psychedelic DMT produces “waking-dream” state
-Why you would use systemic lights vs. just the brain light…38:51
- The X-Plus was initially developed to boost the immune system
- X-Plus nasal applicator (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
- Comes with two modules
- One for the head
- One positioned over the thymus
- Used for COVID-19 study to assess the recovery from COVID-19 severe infection
- The X-Plus is being evaluated by the FDA and Health Canada to indicate as a treatment for COVID infection and Vielight is now preparing for a long COVID clinical trial
- Production of subcellular melatonin as a response to the light produced by the X-PLUS on the body
- Subcellular melatonin, which actually helps the cells to stay in a healthy state because melatonin is also antioxidant
- Different from the melatonin from the pineal gland, which goes into your circulatory system
- Why photobiomodulation is effective in keeping people healthy and helping to deal with free radicals
- X-Plus uses 633-nm wavelength kind of if you combine the two getting both the benefits of the 600-ish nanometer wavelength light plus the 810 nanometer
- Choose to place it over either the thymus or the cerebellum or the gut depending on which area you want to target for treatment
-Post-concussive syndromes and TBI…47:29
- Repetitive concussions develop into CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy)
- CTE is a progressive neurodegenerative disease
- Former football players suffer from CTE are also experiencing PTSD, sleep problems, depression
- Remarkable improvement with red light therapy ; more work coming
- Improvement of performance in healthy athletes
- Chronic pain management
- There is enough proof that photobiomodulation reduces inflammatory factors
- Chronic pain is connected to inflammation
- Photobiomodulation helps to reduce the presence of free radicals
-Logistical usage and best practices…58:44
- For healthy people who just want to maintain good health, once every two days because there is a risk of overdoing stuff
- Ben’s protocol is 3x a week
- For high-stress activities like competitive sports, you could do once a day or maybe pre and post-activity
- Combining with supplements or other biohacks
- Vielight (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
-And much more…
- Six Senses Retreat: February 27, 2023 – March 3, 2023
Join me for my “Boundless Retreat” at Six Senses from February 27th, 2023 to March 3rd, 2023, where you get to improve on your functional fitness, nutrition, longevity, and the delicate balance between productivity and wellness. Complete with a healthy farmhouse breakfast, yoga spa sessions, and sound healing, you learn how to live a boundless life just like me, and I'd love to see you there. Learn more here.
- Keep up on Ben's LIVE appearances by following bengreenfieldfitness.com/calendar!
Resources mentioned in this episode:
Dr. Lew Lim:
- Vielight (use code GREENFIELD to save 10%)
– Other Resources:
- Methylene Blue
- Hyperbaric Chamber
- PEMF Mat
- Brainwave Study Reveals Psychedelic DMT Produces “Waking-Dream” State
- Home-Use Photobiomodulation Device Treatment Outcomes for COVID-19
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