Could Cold Laser Rapidly Improve Your Sports Injury?

If you are an athlete, one of the most frustrating things is dealing with a sports injury.

Unfortunately, most doctors never played sports and don’t understand just what a big deal missing 4 to 6 weeks is. That is over half a season of high school ball!

I played all levels of sports except pro, and understand just how important every week and every practice is. A recent study from the 2013 edition of the journal Laser Therapy  found that cold laser therapy was effective in 65.9% of ALL sports injuries, and had an even higher rate in Jumper’s knee, elbow tendonitis, and achilles tendonitis. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3799051/)

This confirms what I have seen in my office over the past 11 years. I have had basketball players come in with ankle injuries and jumper’s knee, who were told their season was done, only to return to full participation 2 weeks later after laser therapy.

I have also had baseball and softball players come in with elbow tendonitis, also being either shut down for months or recommended surgery, only to return to full participation after laser therapy. Best of all, they have stated that they feel like they can throw with the same velocity that they did prior to injury.

As with most laser studies, no side effects were noted. I have been using these methods on NFL champions and MLB hall of famers for over a decade, and am consistently amazed at the results. The only catch is that you have to find a doctor who actually knows how to use a laser, and unfortunately many are too lazy to actually get trained in how to use the device appropriately.

The take home message from this study is that if you are looking for a safe and effective method to get back into the game quickly and without side effects, cold laser looks like a good option.

Could Cold Laser Be The Next Big Thing In Helping Thyroid Patients?

A lot has been written about the connections between Hashimoto’s and gluten, environmental toxins, leaky gut, etc. However, very little has been discussed about the potential use for Cold Laser therapy, even though several recent research studies found some promising results.

Hashimoto’s antibodies can lead to destruction of thyroid tissue, which can result not only in the symptoms of thyroid dysfunction, but also changes in thyroid appearance on ultrasound, and the presence of abnormal blood markers.

Currently, most traditional medical treatments aim to control the symptoms or get the TSH and T4 into the medical normal range while often ignoring the underlying root causes and the destruction that occurs in the gland.

The exciting thing about these studies on lasers and their effects on the thyroid is that they appear to not only trigger tissue regeneration, they also seem to help normalize function and decrease the need for medications, without any side effects.

The most recent study comes out of the July 2015 edition of the journal Photochemistry and Photobiology.  In this study, the thyroid glands of rats were damaged with gamma radiation, and then were treated with low level laser of 632 nanometers for 6 sessions. The study concluded that the laser improved the rats thyroid function, liver function, antioxidant levels, and blood cell markers. No side effects were noted. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25975382 

The August 2014 edition of the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgery found that cold laser treatment to patients with autoimmune thyroid disease significantly increased levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). (www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25101534) Why is this important? The August 1991 edition of the Journal of Autoimmunity found that TGF-β1 could calm down and suppress auto immune attacks, and that it may even prove helpful in causing remission of Graves disease. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1777015)

Patients with autoimmune thyroid disease often have altered blood flow within the thyroid. The 2012 journal ISRN Endocrinology found that 10 laser treatments improved blood flow within the thyroid, as visualized with Dopplar ultrasound. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23316383)

But perhaps the most exciting study I came across was in the August 2010 journal Lasers in Surgery and Medicine. Patients were given 10 treatments over 5 weeks. They found that all patients needed less thyroid medication, including 47% who did not require any medication through the 9-month follow-up. Can you imagine being able to go 9 months without needing thyroid medication?

Furthermore, the medication dosage needed in the other participants decreased, and remained decreased even 9 months later. TPOAb (thyroid antibody) levels also decreased,  and thyroid tissue appearance improved on ultrasound. This means that thyroid tissue damaged by auto immune attacks was actually getting repaired with laser stimulation. Again, no side effects were noted. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20662037)

These are just a few of the exciting studies that support the use of lasers in thyroid disease, but the applications go even beyond just the thyroid. As far back as December 1993, there was a far reaching study from Japan in the Keio Journal of Medicine that found that laser therapy on cancer cells “inhibits growth and increases cell-specific destruction”, and that “other immune system-related diseases, such as atopic dermatitis, some forms of eczema, asthma and asthma-related ulceration, have responded well to” laser therapy. I found numerous other studies that also suggested that cold laser was effective even for helping with thyroid cancers. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/8126975)

So let’s review what these studies found. Cold laser therapy was shown to:

  1. Reduce TPO antibody levels
  2. Reduce the need for T4 medications in a majority of patients, even 9 months after treatment, and eliminate the need in nearly half the patients in one study
  3. Increase the amount of cellular antioxidants such as glutathione
  4. Improve thyroid tissue and vascularization on ultrasound examination
  5. Increase levels of transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1), which calms down the auto immune activity and may have the potential to cause remission of Graves’ disease
  6. Decrease the activity of inflammatory molecules such as nuclear factor kappa beta and interleukin 6
  7. Stimulate the repair of tissue damaged by the thyroid auto immune attack
  8. Have no side effects

These are all pretty powerful findings. I was surprised to find the data going back over 20 years supporting cold laser’s use on auto immune diseases, considering that most of us have never heard about it in mainstream media or from our doctors.

Obviously more studies are needed, but the current research suggests that lasers may provide significant help for the growing numbers of auto immune thyroid patients out there. Have any of you out there tried this therapy or heard about it from your doctor? If you have, please comment with what your results have been.

Please check out my facebook page at www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo, or follow me on twitter @drkirkgair.

This information is for informational purposes only and should not replace the diagnosis and treatment of your qualified healthcare professional. Do not undertake using a laser on yourself without proper evaluation and supervision of a licensed healthcare provider. As always, Dr Gair recommends that you seek the help of a healthcare professional trained in functional medicine and following their advice.

How To Boost Sports Performance & Prevent Injuries, Especially In Today’s World of Year Round Sports

If you play sports or have kids who do, injuries and sore muscles are pretty much inevitable.

It can be really frustrating when you can’t perform at your best because of a nagging injury, or when your young superstar has a big showcase this weekend but might not be able to play well enough to impress the scouts.

We all pretty much know how important stretching, icing, water intake, and healthy foods are, but recent studies suggest that there are newer ways to dramatically boost performance, improve recovery, and prevent injuries, and chances are you have never heard of them.

Here are the major breakthroughs in sports performance and recovery…

Cold Laser Therapy

This has long been a secret of top tier professional athletes and Olympic champs. Now this technology is available for the average athlete who doesn’t have a million dollar contract…yet.

When many patients walk into my office for help with sports injuries or to enhance performance and they see my lasers, the first thing they usually think is “how is that crazy red light that looks like a barcode scanner going to help me?!”

I understand how they feel, because I thought the same thing when I was introduced to them in 2004. However, there is an abundance of research studies that show that we really already are in the age of “Star Trek” when it comes to advanced, non-invasive methods to dramatically alter human performance and recovery, and lasers are at the forefront. Here are just a handful of the studies that illustrate this fact…

-The Feb 2015 edition of  Lasers in Medical Science found that laser therapy “improves muscular performance and accelerates recovery mainly when applied before exercise.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24249354

– The Jan-Feb 2013 edition of the Journal of Athletic Training found that laser therapy “administered to skeletal muscle immediately before resistance exercise can enhance contractile function, prevent exercise-induced cell damage, and improve postexercise recovery of strength and function.”

-The same study concluded that laser therapy done before sports could “positively affect physical performance by delaying the onset of fatigue, reducing the fatigue response…and protecting cells from exercise-induced damage.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23672326

-The Nov 2014 edition of Lasers in Medical Science found that lasers applied BEFORE exercise “significantly increases performance, decreases DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) , and improves biochemical markers related to skeletal muscle damage.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24942380

What is great about this study is that they also used blood tests to verify that the lasers had an impact. Several studies showed lasers decreased lactic acid (blood lactate levels), creatine kinase, the inflammatory marker C reactive protein, and decreased the onset of fatigue, such as this one in the 2009 edition of Lasers in Surgery and Medicine:  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19731300

– The Jan 2015 edition of Lasers in Medical Science concluded that laser therapy “can increase cytochrome c oxidase activity in intact skeletal muscle and …can enhance performance and protect skeletal muscles against fatigue development and tissue damage.”   http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24957189

Why is increasing cytochrome c oxidase important to an athlete? This is necessary for your mitochondria to be able to make ATP, which means ENERGY for your cells. More cytochrome c oxidase = more ATP = more energy = better sports performance. Pretty powerful. And no side effects.

It gets even more amazing…

Ever hear of STEM CELLS?

It turns out that cold lasers can actually stimulate your body to make stem cells, which can then be used to repair the damaged muscle tissue.  This finding was presented in the Nov 2012 journal Photonics & Lasers in Medicine. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23626925

I have been using lasers for sports injuries since 2004 on Super Bowl champion athletes, World Series Champion athletes, and all the way down to youth travel teams, and have consistently been amazed at the results that they get not only with injury recovery but also by enhancing performance legally, without banned substances.

Functional Medicine, Genetic Testing, & Food Reaction Testing

Many of you may have never heard of this, and this really starts sounding like science fiction. Pros are hacking their diets with some of these tests I am going to discuss to get into Beast Mode more frequently.

We can now actually run blood tests to see what foods work for your body, what genes you have that could put you at higher risks for a knee or achilles tendon injury, and to see what nutrients and in what amounts you need for optimal performance. Amazing times we live in!

In the April 2015 edition of the journal PLoS One, they found that “recent genetic research provides valuable information to help reduce sports injuries and to optimize nutrition. There are many genetic studies for health and disease that can be mined to provide useful information to athletes about their individual risk for relevant injuries.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4412532/

The July-Aug 2015 edition of the journal Nutrition had this finding: “we advocate the need to adopt an individualized diet for each athlete performing a specific sport or in a specific period of training, clinically supervised with inclusion of blood analysis and physiological tests, in a comprehensive nutritional assessment.”  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26059364

So just what are the tests that are recommended? At minimum, an athlete should get their Vitamin D level tested, as well other markers such as serum iron, homocysteine, inflammatory markers like C reactive protein, ESR, and uric acid, thyroid function tests including antibodies, blood sugar status including an HBA1C, and more.

Genetic testing for injury risk can also be done, although that is far less common. It could be beneficial because then the athlete could perform specific training activities to strengthen the weak area to prevent injury, or even change which sport or position they are playing.

Food reaction panels, like the ones from Cyrex Labs, can tell if an athlete is eating foods that are actually triggering inflammation, sapping their metabolism, and even triggering auto immune attacks on their muscles, brain, nerves, thyroid, joints, or other tissues.

Many athletes I have tested are reactive to grains like rice and gluten, or proteins like casein and whey.

An incredibly high percentage of athletes are downing whey protein shakes every day to enhance performance, and for some of them this is actually triggering inflammation, tissue destruction, and sapping performance.

Cyrex’s tests can even tell if you are able to eat raw versus cooked versions of foods, and even sauces, spices, and fillers. They also have a fantastic test for Celiac and gluten sensitivity.

This is statistically pretty important to athletes. Current rates of Celiac disease are 1 to 2 people in every 100. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity rates are estimated to be between 5% and possible 15%, which means that is at least 1 in every 20 athletes. 

Eating that food can not only create stomach discomfort, but can create neurological symptoms, muscle weakness, depression, poor coordination, and more. None of these are good for a top athlete. In some athletes, it can actually trigger them to attack their own body tissues, like muscle, joint, bone, etc. Cyrex’s Array 5 can tell you exactly what tissues you attack when you eat foods you react to.

So What Do I Do Now?

Well, if you read all the way to here, sports performance is pretty important to you. The difficult thing will now be finding a provider who knows how to utilize these methods for athletes.

For finding a laser doctor, I recommend going to www.Erchonia.com and using their “find a provider” search option. You can enter your zip code and find someone near you. You will still need to question them, however, to see how much training they have completed in working with athletes, as not all will know what I have shared with you here.

For the blood testing, you will need to search for a Functional Medicine trained specialist. You may have a tough time finding someone who does both like I do.  I wish I could provide a better resource for finding someone who knows how to use functional medicine for sports, but unfortunately I do not. However, here is a resource of providers who have received similar training to mine, although they tend to specialize more in thyroid disorders and chronic illnesses compared to sports performance: www.thyroidconnections.com

I hope you found this article helpful and that you are excited about the potential for you or your future superstar.

You can contact me at laserchiro@yahoo.com, follow me on twitter @drkirkgair, or on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/LaserChiropractic or www.Facebook.com/ThyroidInfo, or at www.LaserChiropractic.net

As always, please consult with your personal physician before trying any of the methods discussed in this article. This article is not intended to provide a diagnosis or offer a treatment plan or medical advice for any condition.