Infinity Spine Center Blog

Red and Near Infrared Therapy: Boost Your Testosterone

Red and near infrared (RNIr) therapy research began almost 50 years ago and in this time over 1000 studies including randomized controlled trials and case series have been published.  Red and near infrared, also known as photobiomodulation, research has been found to effect the many organs and tissues including the brain, lungs, immune system, lymphatics, skin, bones, tendons, muscles, body fat and other tissues.  Red and near infrared is used to reduce pain and inflammation and regenerate damaged cells by creating more ATP (energy) in the cells that absorb this light.

Several years ago there were articles describing anecdotal cases of red and near infrared increasing testosterone and improving thyroid function.  These intrigued me as I suffered with low thyroid and low testosterone.  Some articles report increasing testosterone by 3 times!  I know–I was skeptical too, until I did it for 3 months and saw objective changes in my labs.  I know people on testosterone replacement therapy that would love to get that kind of testosterone boost.  I was looking for a boost in my testosterone as well.  My testosterone levels were “that of an 80 year old” in my 20s and early 30s, according to my doctor.  Needless to say, I was willing to try almost anything to get my levels to increase.  I did the typical non-drug approaches including diet, supplements, exercise, as well as other life style modifications, such as filtering artificial light  (blue and green frequencies) during the day and night.  Nothing budged my testosterone levels.  Before RNIr therapy, my testosterone levels hovered in the mid 200s and 300s.  Looking back I met inclusion criteria for hypogonadism as my testosterone levels were less than 300 ng/dL along with RBC, hematocrit, and hemoglobin lab markers indicating anemia.  All this was daunting considering I wasn’t getting any younger and testosterone levels begin declining around 1% every year after the age of 30.

Symptoms of Low Testosterone

I didn’t knowingly experience any of the common symptoms of low testosterone other than fatigue, which at the time I thought was normal.  Common symptoms of low testosterone include decreased libido, vitality, and lean muscle mass, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, depression, and reduced the quality of life.

Benefits of Optimal Testosterone 

  • Decreased depression
  • Improved memory and concentration
  • Improved sense of well-being
  • Increased libido
  • Improved heart strength
  • Increased energy
  • Improved sleep
  • Increased weight loss
  • Increased bone density
  • Decreased mortality rate

Testosterone Results After 3 and 6 Months of Red and Near Infrared Therapy

The last testosterone lab that I did before starting red and near infrared therapy my levels were 266 total and 3.39 free, respectively.

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After doing red and near infrared for 3 months my levels increased to 753 and 10.1 total and free, respectively.  The red and near infrared therapy was 4 minutes per day and 5-6 days per week.

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As stated above, several articles online report that red and near infrared may increase testosterone production by 3 times.  When we do that math my levels fell just short of that at 2.86 times for total testosterone.  6 months later I did follow up labs and results were even more astounding: 1219 and 17.1 total and free testosterone, respectively.

Screen Shot 2017-12-03 at 1.47.58 PMScreen Shot 2017-12-03 at 1.47.41 PM

Testosterone Production: Anatomy and RNIr 

Testosterone is produced by the adrenal glands in men and women, but higher levels are produced in the testicles and ovaries in men and women, respectively.  For the purpose of this article, I will mainly be focusing on testicular production of testosterone since that is the most likely site that the red and near infrared therapy directly affected my change in testosterone levels.  As we continue to advocate the use of RNIr for females as well, we will report changes in hormones within the female population and discuss possible mechanisms when necessary.

The anatomy of the scrotum, the skin pouch that houses the testicles sets males up for the perfect site for light penetration to activate proteins in our mitochondria that create ATP.  Since scrotal skin thickness is 2-8mm this is the perfect a perfect opportunity for RNIr penetration with absorption up to 10mm with near infrared frequencies (longer wavelength penetrates deeper).

light-penetration

 

One of the cell types in the testicles and responsible for production of testosterone are Leydig cells.  These cells, like many other types of cells, contain mitochondrion.  The mitochondrion create ATP for the Leydig cells which is a major supporter in their function to produce testosterone.  As with other cells that contains mitochondrion, ATP is generated at the highest level when electrons are flowing through the electron transport chain and protons are pumped across the inner mitochondrial membrane.  The flow of electrons to bind with oxygen allows for the formation of water and the pumping of protons across the inner mitochondrial membrane sets up a proton gradient that activates the ATPase, the enzyme that is responsible for generating ATP.

 

 

Electron_Transport_Mitochondrion-2

A protein in this inner mitochondrial membrane, cytochrome c oxidase (far right purple sphere in picture above), when bound with nitric oxide, electron flow and proton pumping decreases leading to sluggish ATP production.  When ATP production in the cells is compromised, Leydig cells in the case for testosterone production, we end up with low testosterone–perhaps like and 80 year old.  Red and near infrared therapy directly affects ATP production by releasing nitric oxide from cytochrome c resulting in increased ATP production at the cellular level and vasodilation more distally.  This dilation in the vasculature leads to further benefits, which we will discuss in a later blog post.

ETC-2

 

Low testosterone is becoming more common and a probable cause is lack of light absorption in your cells including your testicles. Red and near infrared therapy may serve as a more safe and effective option when compared to current recommendations for increasing testosterone. One advantage of RNIr therapy is it’s work at the cellular level; meaning that its effects are across different cell types (testicular, immune, neuronal, muscular, thyroid). In addition to possibly increasing low testosterone levels and improving muscle recovery, libido and vitality and decreased fatigue and depression, it has an effect on other systems of the body. Independent of your goal, it’s likely you will benefit from RNIr therapy.

 

 


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