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Ask the Naturopathic Doctor

Seeing the Light

How to harness the natural healing power of the sun’s rays.

Heading out the door? Read this article on the new Outside+ app available now on iOS devices for members! Download the app.

Q: I’ve been hearing about using light energy for healing. What do you know about the potential for light waves as a way to improve health?

A: Light has many amazing properties that we often take for granted. For starters, without sunlight there would be no life on Earth. Plants make glucose from sunlight via an incredible process called photosynthesis. When we eat plant foods we benefit from this conversion of light to nutrients. Similarly, when sunlight penetrates the top layer of our skin, some of our subcutaneous fat cells (cholesterol) are converted to the very useful pro-hormone vitamin D3. I use a green light in my exam room because it is known to reduce cortisol (a stress hormone). Sometimes the doctor’s office can be a stressful situation, but I do my best to keep things pleasant and even-keeled in mine! And, by now, we’ve all heard about the excessive stimulation and eyestrain caused by blue light emitted by electronic devices, and how wearing amber-tinted glasses can counter that unwanted effect.

Light is both complex and potent. It is an electromagnetic frequency. There are many frequencies, from super-speedy and damaging gamma rays, through the visible range (ultra-violet to the more slowly undulating infrared) all the way to very slow, high-amplitude radio waves.

For therapeutic purposes, the near infrared range (around 700–750 nanometers per second) is the most interesting because it can penetrate the skin and modify biological structures without causing damage. Thousands of studies have shown the positive effects that red and near infrared light has on cell function, which can improve a wide range of conditions such as wound healing, faster recovery from tissue injury (sports), increased hair growth, improved skin appearance through upregulated collagen, improved detoxification capacity, pain relief, and more.

Related: Healthy Foods That Are High in Vitamin D

Most visible wave lengths (UV, blue, green, yellow) do not penetrate into the body, whereas the red frequencies reach cells, tissues, the blood, nerves, and even the brain. There is a boom of interest in potential for infrared light because more people are waking up to the realization that the single most important guardian of our health is our own immune system. Light therapies work by enhancing the already existing capacity of all life forms to heal themselves, given the basics of good diet, pure water, restful sleep, and exercise. We can significantly slow our inevitable aging process by sticking with the basics, then adding gentle but profound therapies such as infrared light.

I’m not just talking about an infrared sauna—although these are absolutely wonderful healing devices to promote detoxification, well-being, improved sleep, and clearer skin. What I have been researching lately is the use of select light frequencies, captured by refracting the light through a precise crystal structure, which can modify our innate healing capacities in very specific ways.

Our bodies contain a musculoskeletal structure, plumbing (heart and blood vessels), electrical (our nervous system is comprised of brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves), digestion and elimination organs, skin, and blood. All of these structures are made up of trillions of cells, each of which is made from the same building blocks that make the stars and the planets—carbon, oxygen, hydrogen, sulfur, nitrogen, minerals. As you can imagine, these tiny elements can combine in a huge number of different ways, creating different compounds with different functions in the body.

Photo: Adobe Stock

One class of compounds that specific light waves can affect is called peptides, naturally occurring biological molecules that are made up of two or more amino acids (proteins). There are some very interesting peptides currently being studied for their “anti-aging” properties. Anti-aging peptide therapy has been around for a while, but up until recently these therapies have been reserved for the rich and famous because of their expense. Plus, peptide and related stem cell therapies have been administered almost exclusively by injection, which is not so comfortable and potentially dangerous.

On the upside, of course it’s wonderful to look as young as you feel, but the benefits go way beyond cosmetic. We can extend not only our looks but our healthy longevity by using specific peptides to upregulate anti-inflammatory processes, to help the body stay clear of circulating tumor cells, to balance blood sugar, to improve sleep quality, and much more.

Now, instead of injecting stem cells, it is possible to increase our bodies’ own peptide production by using the power of specific light frequencies. A fascinating researcher and inventor, David Schmidt, who likes to say he began making crystals with his home science kit at age 14 and never stopped, has created a line of patches that are applied to the skin and contain specific crystals that refract specific wavelengths of light (in the form of near-infrared heat) into the body, causing stimulation of targeted peptides. One particular product I’ve been studying lately uses light to upregulate the copper-linked GHK molecule.

Related: Why It’s Not Always Easy to Get Enough Vitamin D

Cu-GHK is a tripeptide sequence of three amino acids: glycine, lysine, and histidine. Being linked to copper allows for better absorption. From an evolutionary standpoint, the Cu-GHK peptide is a key inducer of multipotent stem cells that emanate from the subcutaneous fat and pigment-producing cells in the skin (melanocytes).

These are not embryonic stem cells, which are considered pluripotent and can differentiate into any kind of mammalian tissue. I’m talking about mesenchymal stem cells, which require Cu-GHK for proliferation. Cu-GHK can be induced by a simple patch placed on the skin for 12 hours daily. And this is not a “transdermal” patch like some medical products. No medicine is going through the skin. Only light waves.

David Schmidt’s company has a range of products, and he continues to spend much of his time in his laboratory on his life’s work: extending healthy longevity.

I invite you to explore this new therapy with me. Many readers of this column have been tracking my interest in living the best possible life for 14 years now! Please give me your feedback if you would like to explore further, and we can continue to refine the process for using gentle therapies for powerful benefits. Find out more at

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