Low level laser and antibiotic resistance

Jan Tunér

“Antibiotic resistance is a type of drug resistance where a microorganism is able to survive exposure to an antibiotic” (Wikipedia).

Some of the readers of this article would probably not be alive if penicillin had not accidentally been discovered in 1928. Or at least they would have had fewer children and relatives live long and healthy lives. The use of antibiotics on a large scale did not start until the mid 40ies. You and me, then, have lived with it and taken it for granted. But no longer! The bacteria are fighting back and we are now practically defenceless against a growing number of bacterial resistance. New thinking is needed, and maybe also old thinking, from the days with no antibiotics.

Among the possible new armamentarium in the war against antibiotic resistance is low level laser therapy - which shouldn’t surprise anyone reading The Annals… After all, the first Nobel prize in medicine was rewarded a light therapy. Light is a potent allay in the war and deserves more focus very soon. The use of blue and ultraviolet light is well known, but less used, probably because using pills is more convenient.

Low level laser will not harm any microorganism in itself. The immune system will, and billions of years of evolution have honed it to handle that situation. And LLLT enhances the immune system. QED?

There is an urgent need to pinpoint the situations where the single or additional use of LLLT can substitute or reduce the need for antibiotics. One obvious such situation is the diabetic wound. Proper use of LLLT will in the first place eliminate the wound and in the second place reduce the amount of antibiotics used during the healing process. But while we clinically know LLLT as an excellent method to treat diabetic ulcers, the literature is scant, to say the least. LLLT here does not kill bacteria; it simply reduces the attack areas. Fair enough.

It is known that LLLT increases microcirculation. Increased microcirculation means enhanced immunological activity in an area – a hard situation for bacteria. Studies also suggest that intravenous LLLT increases microcirculation in organs, making the uptake of pharmaceuticals such as antibiotics more effective, and thus requiring lower dosage.

The pharmaceutical companies have failed in finding new antibiotics and no longer keen to spend their money in this field of research. The situation is getting urgent and all avenues have to be investigated. It is time to focus on what LLLT can do in this field and to initiate new studies.