Low level laser therapy as a modality to attenuate cytokine storm at multiple levels, enhance recovery, and reduce the use of ventilators in COVID-19.
Can J Respir Ther. 2020 ;56:25-31. Epub 2020 Jul 23. PMID: 32844112
The global pandemic COVID-19 is a contagious disease and its mortality rates ranging from 1% to 5% are likely due to acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), and cytokine storm. A significant proportion of patients who require intubation succumb to the disease, despite the availability of ventilators and the best treatment practices. Researchers worldwide are in search of anti-inflammatory medicines in the hope of finding a cure for COVID-19. Low-level laser therapy (LLLT) has strong, anti-inflammatory effects confirmed by meta-analyses, and it may be therapeutic to ARDS. LLLT has been used for pain management, wound healing, and other health conditions by physicians, physiotherapists, and nurses worldwide for decades. In addition, it has been used in veterinary medicine for respiratory tract disease such as pneumonia. Laser light with low-power intensity is applied to the surface of the skin to produce local and systemic effects. Based on the clinical experience, peer-reviewed studies, and solid laboratory data in experimental animal models, LLLT attenuates cytokine storm at multiple levels and reduces the major inflammatory metabolites. LLLT is a safe, effective, low-cost modality without any side-effects that may be combined with conventional treatment of ARDS. We summarize the effects of LLLT on pulmonary inflammation and we provide a protocol for augmenting medical treatment in COVID-19 patients. LLLT combined with conventional medical therapy has the potential to prevent the progression of COVID-19, minimize the length of time needed on a ventilator, enhance the healing process, and shorten recovery time.