Blood irradiation therapy

Blood irradiation therapy is a procedure in which the blood is exposed to low level red light (often laser light) for therapeutic reasons. Most research on blood irradiation therapy has been conducted in Germany (by UV lamps), and in Russia (in all variants)[1][2][3][4] while smaller-scale research has been performed in other countries such as Great Britain.[5] The practice itself was developed in the U.S.

Blood irradiation therapy

Blood irradiation therapy can be administered in three ways. Extracorporeally, drawing blood out and irradiating it in a special cuvette. This method is used for the ultraviolet (UV) blood irradiation (UVBI) by UV lamps. The laser light is monochromatic, i.e. it has such a wavelength that allows you to bring light into the optical fiber and carry out irradiation intravenously through a catheter in a vein. This method is more simple and effective. Blood irradiation therapy is also administered externally through the skin on the projection of large blood vessels.

It is not related to the practice of gamma irradiation of blood in transfusion medicine.


"Phototherapy" or "photobiolumination," as it was called in the early 20th century, was used to treat lupus vulgaris or tuberculosis of the skin, by Niels Finsen, who won the Nobel Prize for Physiology and Medicine in 1903. 900 patients were treated by Finsen. His work led to the introduction of heliotherapy as standard therapy for tuberculosis patients before the advent of antibiotics.

Then in 1928, Dr. Emmet Knott and a medical student named Lester Edblom received a U.S. Patent for a "Means for Treating Blood-Stream Infection" that incorporated a rudimentary ultraviolet bulb, vacuum extraction system and a cuvette. The "Knott Hemo-Irradiator" was used from the 1930s through the 1950s on patients with multiple infectious diseases.

George P Miley at the Hahnemann Hospital, Philadelphia, PA published a series of articles on the use of the procedure in the treatment of thrombophlebitis, staphylococcal sepsis, peritonitis, botulism, poliomyelitis, non-healing wounds, and asthma.

One of the best known and most comprehensive set of studies was published in 1947 by Dr. George Miley, M.D. and  Dr. Jens A; Christensen, M.D.  (From the Blood Irradiation Clinic of the Hahnemann Medical College and Hospital of Philadelphia, PA).  The authors studied 445 cases of acute pyogenic infections and 74 cases of virus and virus-like infections.  Findings included the following:  sulfa resistant and penicillin resistant infections have responded to the treatment.  Further finding included:  “We have observed that toxemias due to various virus and virus-like infections subside rapidly …”  Some of the more impressive results included  cases involving septic infection, 57 out of 57 cases recovered.  In treating peritonitis, 16 out of 18 patients recovered.  With puerperal sepsis, 14 out of 14 patients recovered.  With Thrombophlebitis, 34 out of 34 recovered.  The authors emphasized the need to follow the protocol set for by Dr. Emmett Knott.  Of importance, this protocol included the use of a chamber or cuvette with a flat quartz surface.  

Henry A Barrett at the Willard Parker Hospital in New York City, in 1940 reported on 110 cases including a number of infections. Twenty-nine different conditions were described as responding including the following: infectious arthritis, septic abortion, osteoarthritis, tuberculosis glands, chronic blepharitis, mastoiditis, uveitis, furunculosis, chronic paranasal sinusitis, acne vulgaris, and secondary anemia.[6]

This procedure fell out of favor in the late 1950s, at a time when antibiotics and the polio vaccine were becoming widely used.[6]

The FDA has given approval to one type of this treatment.  Also see, , which approval relates to it treating T-Cell lymphoma. This particular process was developed by a team at Yale, led by Dr. Richard Edelson developed a photopherisis machine. This machine separates the white and red blood cells. The white cells are then routed into a blood chamber, where those cells are subjected to UV light from the A part of the spectrum. This process uses a photosensitizing agent which enhances the effectiveness of the light   Observational evidence suggests that photopheresis might be effective in the treatment of graft-versus-host disease,[7] though controlled trials are needed to support this use.[8][9]

There is ongoing research into whether ultraviolet blood irradiation can help with difficult bacterial and viral infections, such as hepatitis C.[10]


Intravenous laser blood irradiationEdit

Intravenous blood irradiation.

Intravenous or intravascular laser blood irradiation (ILBI) involves the in-vivo illumination of the blood by feeding low level laser light generated by a 1–3 mW helium–neon laser at a wavelength of 632.8 nm into a vascular channel, usually a vein in the forearm, under the assumption that any therapeutic effect will be circulated through the circulatory system.[11] Most often wavelengths of 365, 405, 525 and 635 nm and power of 2.3 mW are used. The technique is widely used at present in Russia, less in Asia, and not extensively in other parts of the world. It is shown that ILBI improves blood flow and its transport activities, therefore, tissue trophism, has a positive effect on the immune system and cell metabolism.[1][2] This issue is subject to skepticism.[1] There have been some calls to increase research on this topic.[5]

Transcutaneous laser blood irradiationEdit

Transcutaneous therapy applies laser light on unbroken skin in areas with large numbers of blood vessels (such as the forearm). Because of the skin acting as a barrier to the blood, absorbing low level laser energy, the power of the laser is often boosted to compensate.[12] The problem can be solved by using pulsed matrix laser light sources.[2]

Extracorporeal irradiationEdit

Extracorporeal irradiation is used only for ultraviolet blood irradiation, that involves drawing blood out through a vein and irradiating it outside of the body.[13]

Though promoted as a treatment for cancer, a 1952 review in the Journal of the American Medical Association[3] and another review by the American Cancer Society in 1970 concluded the treatment was ineffective.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Geynits A.V.; Moskvin S.V.; Achilov A.A. (2012). Внутривенное лазерное облучение крови [Intravenous laser blood irradiation] (in Russian). M.–Tver: Triada. ISBN 978-5-94789-501-8.[page needed]
  2. ^ a b c Moskvin S.V. (2014). Effektivnost lazernoy terapii [The effectiveness of laser therapy]. Effective laser therapy (in Russian). 2. M.–Tver: Triada. ISBN 978-5-94789-636-7.[page needed]
  3. ^ a b Schwartz, Steven O.; Kaplan, Sherman R.; Stengle, James; Stevenson, Fern L. (1952). "Ultraviolet Irradiation of Blood in Man". Journal of the American Medical Association. 149 (13): 1180–3. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.02930300006002. PMID 14938136.
  4. ^ Knott, E.K. (1948). "Development of ultraviolet blood irradiation". American Journal of Surgery. 76 (2): 165–171. doi:10.1016/0002-9610(48)90068-3. PMID 18876742.
  5. ^ a b Moshkovska T., Mayberry J. (2005). "It is time to test low level laser therapy in Great Britain". Postgraduate Medical Journal. 81 (957): 436–441. doi:10.1136/pgmj.2004.027755. PMC 1743298. PMID 15998818.
  6. ^ a b Wu, X.; Hu, X.; Hamblin, M. R. (2016). "Ultraviolet blood irradiation: Is it time to remember "the cure that time forgot"?". Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology. B, Biology. 157: 89–96. doi:10.1016/j.jphotobiol.2016.02.007. PMC 4783265. PMID 26894849.
  7. ^
  8. ^ Weitz, Marcus; Strahm, Brigitte; Meerpohl, Joerg J.; Schmidt, Maria; Bassler, Dirk (15 December 2015). "Extracorporeal photopheresis versus alternative treatment for chronic graft-versus-host disease after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in paediatric patients". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (12): CD009898. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009898.pub3. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 26666581.
  9. ^ Weitz, Marcus; Strahm, Brigitte; Meerpohl, Joerg J.; Schmidt, Maria; Bassler, Dirk (15 December 2015). "Extracorporeal photopheresis versus standard treatment for acute graft-versus-host disease after haematopoietic stem cell transplantation in paediatric patients". The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews (12): CD009759. doi:10.1002/14651858.CD009759.pub3. ISSN 1469-493X. PMID 26666580.
  10. ^ Kuenstner, J. Todd; Mukherjee, Shanker; Weg, Stuart; Landry, Trish; Petrie, Thomas (August 2015). "The treatment of infectious disease with a medical device: results of a clinical trial of ultraviolet blood irradiation (UVBI) in patients with hepatitis C infection". International Journal of Infectious Diseases. 37: 58–63. doi:10.1016/j.ijid.2015.06.006. PMID 26092299.
  11. ^ Weber, MH; Fussgänger-May TW (2007). "Intravenous laser blood irradiation". German Journal of Acupuncture and Related Techniques. 50 (3): 12–23. doi:10.1078/0415-6412-00282.
  12. ^ Harrington James, Li Junheng (1998). Biomedical optics and lasers: diagnostics and treatment: 16–18 September 1998, Beijing, China. Bellingham, Washington: SPIE. ISBN 978-0-8194-3009-0.
  13. ^ Vetchinnikova O.N.; Piksin I.N.; Kalinin A.P. (2002). Extracorporeal ultraviolet blood irradiation in medicine. M.: Publisher E. Razumova. p. 263. ISBN 978-5-93513-024-4.
  14. ^ "Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Intravenous Treatment". CA: A Cancer Journal for Clinicians. 20 (4): 248–250. 1970. doi:10.3322/canjclin.20.4.248.