Using Lasers (Red/Near-Infrared Light Therapy) To Improve Your Brain & Health with Kirk Gair

Content By: Ari Whitten & Kirk Gair

In this episode, I am speaking with Dr. Kirk Gair – who is a doctor of chiropractic and an expert in cold laser therapy (photobiomodulation). We will talk about how to use photobiomodulation to improve your brain and health.

Table of Contents

In this podcast, Dr. Gair and I will discuss:

  • How to use photobiomodulation to heal chronic pain
  • Using lasers for thyroid support
  • Using lasers for immune support
  • How lasers can improve athletic performance
  • Healing your brain with red light therapy

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Ari: Hey, everyone. Welcome back to the Energy Blueprint Podcast. I’m your host, Ari Whitten. And today, I have with me, my friend, Dr. Kirk Gair, who is a doctor of chiropractic. Who graduated in 1999, where he was a classmate and friend of Dr. Datis Kharrazian, who also is actually a speaker in this summit. Following graduation, he was trained in functional medicine and functional neurology, by Dr. Kharrazian, one of the top experts in the world in those fields. Dr. Gair has been using cold lasers since 2004 and has worked with Super Bowl champion players, World Series champions, Olympic gold medalists and world record holders, national and state champions, as well as Weekend Warriors.

The techniques he has pioneered have earned him the reputation of ‘The Voodoo Doctor’ because of how fast and effective they are. And non-injured athletes regularly come to him, just for sports performance enhancement. He teaches doctors from around the world, in webinars and seminars, the groundbreaking methods that he uses. And has been featured in Dr. Isabella Wentz’s documentary, The Thyroid Secret and her New York Times bestselling book, Hashimoto’s Protocol for the cold laser methods that he’s created to help patients suffering from thyroid related symptoms like brain fog, fatigue, and more. 

I also want to say on a personal note, Dr. Gair is a personal friend of mine and we share a great love and passion for photobiomodulation, the subject of how light interacts with human biology. And Dr. Gair is really an expert on the laser aspect of this and he’s really pioneered some very innovative protocols, combining it with functional neurology, in very unique, novel, innovative ways that go beyond just kind of the standard run of the mill stuff of what is already out there. In the research and in the scientific community, he’s really pioneering new, effective methods in his own clinic. 

So he and I have this shared passion but he’s coming at it from this perspective, this unique vantage point of having so much clinical experience with lasers and pioneering specific protocols, based in lasers. Whereas, my interest and expertise more lies in LED photobiomodulation devices. So, really fascinating topic. I absolutely love this topic and I’m super excited to introduce you all to him, and have him share his knowledge and his wisdom of lasers with you all. So, welcome to the show, Dr. Gair, such a pleasure to have you. 

Dr. Gair: Thank you, Ari, I feel really honored to be here that you’d have me as your guest. Like I was saying beforehand, I’m especially excited because you have such a great knowledge of photobiomodulation already. So it’s exciting to share these things with you and with your audience, and with such a great panel of experts. This is something that I think, especially with what we’re going through right now with this pandemic, that people are looking for alternative methods and things that they can do to really be proactive with their health. And laser is one of the major things you can do with that. 

Yeah, I got into this 16 years ago, in 2004, and the doctors I learned from had been doing it since the 80s. So, back then I felt like I was getting into it late. So it’s just ironic that it’s taken this long really for things to catch on. And thankfully, people like you and other people sharing information on the internet, it’s starting to raise the awareness of what lasers can do. 

The background on photobiomodulation

Ari: Absolutely. So, what you got for us, my friend? What’s the background that people need to know about photobiomodulation and about laser specifically? 

Dr. Gair: Well, background, I think one of the important things to share with people that I’d like to start off with is that, contrary to popular opinion, is it’s really not new. It goes back to the 1960s, is when the research really started in it. And if you look at the research by the former Soviet Union, this is what really blew me away and a lot of people aren’t aware of it, is that by 1974, the Soviet Union had it as part of their state sponsored standard medical care. Which just blew me away that they were that far ahead. 

And they were perplexed that in Europe and in the West that we didn’t jump on it because like, this is obvious how well this worked. And I’ll show you one of my slides later, where they actually were using it for all kinds of branches, for everything from neurology, to orthopedics, to oncology, to dentistry, to immune function, to using it to try to regenerate the thymus and the liver, just all kinds of things. So that was one of the big things I wanted to share with people that they weren’t aware of. 

Ari: Absolutely. And then even going back further than that, the addition of heliotherapy, of using sunlight to treat disease goes back, I think at least a couple… well, I mean…

Dr. Gair: Thousands of years. 

Ari: Yeah. Thousands of years. 

Dr. Gair: Yeah, really.

Ari: More historically, but sort of modern heliotherapy where it was kind of viewed as a scientific thing. And it was a very conscious, like, we’re going to have heliotherapy clinics, as I think about maybe 130 years old or something.  

Dr. Gair: Yeah, back during the Civil War, I think is when they really started doing some things with that; noticing some changes. And then you had Niels Ryberg Finsen in 1903, I believe, 1903 or 1906, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for his research with blue light therapy versus lupus vulgaris, which is a tuberculosis infection of the skin, that nothing was working for it. No medications were working. And he figured out, using a 405 range nanometer light, actually knocked it out. He got a Nobel Prize in Medicine and a commendation with the queen. Pretty fascinating. Pretty fascinating. 

Ari: Absolutely. 

Dr. Gair: So what I’d like to share then with you guys is that when I’ve first got started with lasers in 2004, it was a really kind of emerging field and there wasn’t a lot of… you couldn’t go on the internet and really find things about it. So I got my lasers and I brought it back to my clinic. And that’s where I kind of started tinkering with things. I got into the science of how they worked. And when I understood that they could dampen inflammation and stimulate glutathione, and stimulate nitric oxide and stimulate stem cells, I thought, “Wow, there’s really an unlimited amount of things that you could use this on.”

So, my first laser miracle occurred in around 2004 when I had a girl come in, she was 16 years old, a high school student, and she had gotten injured on a homecoming float. She was in high heels and it was a flatbed truck and the teacher thought it’d be funny to do the quick stop and start. And as he did this, her foot got caught and it rolled, and she sprained her ankle. Thought it was no big deal, go to Kaiser. Kaiser tells her, “Yeah, it’s just an ankle sprain. Give it about four to six weeks. Be on these crutches. Do the RICE method. You should be fine.” Well, the four to six weeks pass, and it turns into almost six months. 

And when she showed up at my clinic, she and her family said one of the things that I hear a lot, is people will show up and I feel like it’s the scene from

Star Wars with the Princess Leia hologram from R2G2, saying, “Help us, Obi Wan. You’re our only hope.” And that’s pretty much what they said in my office because as they’d been at Children’s Hospital of LA, their only option for her because she had developed complex regional pain syndrome. Which for those people who don’t know what it is, it’s where the nervous system is basically going haywire. 

And it’s now, light touch felt like someone was cutting her with razors. Her leg was cold from the mid-thigh down, it was purplish red. Six months later, she was still on crutches. She came in with her pant leg cut off on the right because she couldn’t handle the material on it. When she would sleep, she had to have her leg out. And they said that the only option that she was given by Children’s Hospital was amputation. And could you imagine being 16 and being faced with amputation?

Ari: Crazy.

Dr. Gair: Yeah, just totally crazy. So they ask me, “Hey, do you think you can help?” And I said, “Look, I don’t know.” I actually have her on my YouTube page, sharing her story. And I said, “I don’t know.” I said, “I’m new with these lasers, but I know they can do some amazing regenerative things. Let’s try it. You tell me if you think it works or not.” So we got the laser on her and I was just tinkering. I was trying to do some little light stimulation to her nervous system with like a cotton swab. And I would try to do some different movement therapies on her too, while we had the laser. And the amazing thing was that within three weeks, she was back to normal. The blood flow was normal. Her temperature was normal. She could walk, she could do everything. The sad thing is, when she went back to Children’s Hospital and told him what she had done with lasers, do you think they gave it any value? 

Ari: I’m pretty sure they said, “Oh, that’s nonsense. It just healed on its own. That was a placebo.”

Dr. Gair: Yeah, they said it was either a spontaneous healing or, “We misdiagnosed you.” So they were going to cut her leg off on a misdiagnosis. So anyway, she later on worked for me. She was one of my receptionists and so it was fantastic having her in there to share a story because people really saw how different things were. 

Ari: Receptionist slash salesperson.

Dr. Gair: Oh, definitely. 

Ari: I’m sure she was your biggest advocate at that point. 

Dr. Gair: Yeah, she absolutely was, she was my biggest one. So I had a lot of studies like that. And I would do things with people that were going in, had surgery scheduled, we’d get laser on them, the tissue would heal. And there was actually one orthopedic surgeon in town who forbid his patients to see me before their surgeries because he had too many patients cancel surgeries on him, from the healings that they got. So it was pretty well with that. 

But still, even as I’m using it, I’m still having that because I always have a healthy dose of skepticism. So I’m always wondering, “Well, what if it is just a placebo?” because with a human, how do we prove that without true, double blind or quadruple blind clinical trials that are placebo controlled? So I had an interesting thing happen with my cat when he was 11. So we came home, my wife and I’d had a good evening out and we come back home. And do you have pets? Have you had pets, Ari?

Ari: Yeah, dogs.

Dr. Gair: If they get sick, do they do it during normal vet hours? 

Ari: Not usually.

Dr. Gair: Not usually. Yeah. So with ours, he never did. It was always after hours, on the weekend. So we come home and we find Poopsie lying down on the floor, limp and unresponsive, and it’s like 11 o’clock on a Saturday. So we rush him into the emergency vet. They take a look at him, like, “Wow, your cat looks pretty bad. Let’s take him back. We’re gonna run some labs and do some imaging on him.” So they run an ultrasound on his pancreas. They run the labs, they come back, and they say, “Hey, look, we’ve got some really bad news for you. Your cat has acute necrotizing pancreatitis. We don’t have a treatment for it. We recommend that you put him to sleep.” And as an animal lover, that’s a horrible thing that to hear, right? “Oh, your only choice is to put him to sleep.”

So I’m in shock. And I tell the doc, I said, “Listen, I understand you don’t have anything but I’d like to take him home. I’m going to try doing some things with my lasers on him.” And he kind of rolls his eyes, thinking, here I am, “The crazy chiropractor.” I’m going to use my Voodoo lasers and think I’m going to do a miracle. He said, “Listen, there’s nothing that’s going to work for him. I don’t recommend you do that.” I said, “Well, look, I’m gonna take him home. I’m gonna try it. What do I need to watch out for?” He told me, “You gotta watch out for if he’s yelling in pain or he doesn’t have an appetite.” He said, “I figure by Wednesday, he’s going to be in pain, you’re going to have to bring him back and put him to sleep.”

Well, I lasered over his pancreas twice a day. Now a lot of people will say, “Oh, laser won’t go through the fur,” or, it won’t go through skin or through bone. But I’d seen these Russian studies, so, I’m desperate. I’m going to try it. So I’m lasering over his pancreas twice a day for about three minutes a time. By Wednesday, his appetite starts increasing. He starts moving around more. By Friday, he’s doing great and I take him in for a follow up on Saturday. I bring him in. I set him down at the veterinary office and he looks at him. He’s like, “Whoa, wow, your cat looks surprisingly good.”

“But hey, don’t get your hopes up. We’re going to take it back and do the imaging again. I expect you’re going to see more destruction of his pancreas. He already had 90% destruction. So it’s probably going to be worse. At that point, you really need to put him to sleep.” So I said, “Alright, fair enough. I’ll respect that.” So he takes him back and I can see him through the little hole in the door there, after he’s got the imaging up, and he’s looking at the slides. He’s scratching his head. He calls another doctor over. They’re both arguing over it. He looks back and he sees me and he waves me in. 

And so I come in, he said, “What the hell did you do?” And I asked them, “Why, what’s wrong?” He said, “No, no, nothing’s wrong, but what the hell did you do? Here’s your cat’s ultrasound last week.” They said, “Frankly, it was the worst one we’d ever seen. And we all talked about what a jerk we thought you were for thinking you’re gonna take your cat home and heal him with the laser.” And he said, “This is a week later. You just regenerated 80% of your cat’s pancreas. What the heck did you do?” And so I told him what I did. So needless to say, next time I went in there, he had signs up all over for laser for pets. And he started doing a lot of laser on pets. 

But it gets even more amazing. So he said, “Well, here’s the good news. The good news is you’re out of the woods of the necrotizing pancreas, with this laser.” He said, “The bad news is your cat’s diabetic. So he’s going to need insulin for the rest of his life. It’s going to be expensive. He’s going to need four units twice a day, and that’s gonna run you several hundred bucks a month.” And with cats they have to use human insulin for best results. It only lasts for about a year to two years, and then just the receptors shut down, and it doesn’t work anymore. And they’ll either die from a blood sugar surge or you’ll need to put them to sleep. 

So what I did is I guinea pigged my cat again because there’s no placebo on the animals. So I did my laser on his pancreas every day. And what happened was, we got to where he started needing less and less insulin every day. To where he got down to where eventually he needed about three quarters of a unit, usually once a day; instead of four units twice a day. And when I bring him in to the doctor, he was always amazed. He’s like, “I can’t believe how well your cat is doing. And he’s actually needing less insulin.” And instead of living only one or two years, like he had predicted, he lived another six years. So he lived to the age of 17. 

Ari: Wow.

Dr. Gair: Yeah. That really made the believer out of me, for the lasers. 

Ari: Could still be placebo though. Is there any research on this? I mean, so for everybody listening, I’m just playing…

Dr. Gair: Like, devil’s advocate. 

Photobiomodulation on weight loss

Ari: At this point and this is an actual number, there is literally over 5,000 studies showing benefits of what’s called low level light therapy, low level laser therapy, or photobiomodulation, using, especially red and near infrared light. And that’s actually 5,000 studies just on red and near infrared. There’s hundreds or maybe thousands on other wavelengths of light to treat, for example, skin conditions. But red and near infrared light on all kinds of conditions, from arthritis to fat loss, to neurological disease, to depression, to enhancing sports performance, and many, many others. 

Dr. Gair: Exactly. Yeah. And we’ve replicated this time and time again. I’m a big fan of when I have patients coming in, whenever possible to get labs on them, and to do pre and post labs. And so as you mentioned, like even for fat loss, I have a fat loss laser in my office and had a patient who came in who he was 318 pounds at the time and he’d been one of these guys who’d never wanted to change his diet. Didn’t want to exercise. But when he’d gone to the doctor, his A1C was at 10.7 and it scared the crap out of him. So he was willing to try to do some other things to try to change it. 

And she said, “You’ve got to go on Metformin, you’ve also got to have, probably insulin.” His fasting glucose was in the three hundreds, his cholesterol was in three hundreds, and his good cholesterol was low. Liver enzymes were elevated etc. So he had run labs at his medical doctor’s office. Then he came

in and we did just a month’s worth, it was like four laser sessions, which he dropped a good amount of fat. But he came in excited because he told me… and I don’t recommend this. I really recommend people change their diet completely; get on exercise too.

But this guy was really resistant to things. He really only did the laser and then cut out sodas. And in a month later, he comes back and he told me that his MD was blown away at his follow up lab work and said, “What are you doing?” because she said, “Diet and the medications won’t cause a drop this low.” Because his triglycerides dropped from 2,086 down to under 160 and his cholesterol dropped from…

Ari: 2,000?

Dr. Gair: 2,000, yes.

Ari: I didn’t even know they go that high.

Dr. Gair: I didn’t either. And it even said on his lab report that they had run it multiple times to make sure it was not a lab error. So, yes, 2,000. His cholesterol was like 320 something; that dropped down to… total cholesterol dropped down to like 180. His good cholesterol doubled. His A1C went from 10.7 down to 7. So we know that’s huge for his brain, for his neurons, for his organs, etc. And his fasting glucose dropped from the three hundreds down to like 118. So it was an amazing change. His MD actually said, “You know what, keep doing the lasers. I’ve never seen a change like that.” So it’s exciting when you get that now spreading to allopathic physicians, because you can’t argue with the blood results when you see that. 

Ari: Absolutely. 

Dr. Gair: Yeah. And as you’re talking about all the studies, that’s where I wanted to move into the next section here, was as you mentioned, stuff with Isabella Wentz; is there some great studies on lasers for thyroid. And really a big way I got into this was back in 2011. My wife had a severe autoimmune reaction to an iodine contrast that ramped up… I talked with Datis about this because nobody could help us. And he said that intravenous iodine just triggered and ramped up her autoimmunity. And she was really suffering very badly to where at some points, we weren’t sure she was going to make it. And with Datis’s help, I took her to see Datis, and we also did some things with laser. 

Using laser therapy for thyroid disease

I discussed this with Datis, about it and he shared with me some of the research on lasers for the brain and laser for other things. We started doing some protocols on my wife and I found there’s studies by Hofling for actually helping patients with autoimmune Hashimoto’s, of it being able to dampen the antibodies that are present in autoimmune thyroiditis; Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. A lot of people don’t know that those TPO antibodies also affect the brain and damage the cerebellum. And so what we’ve been doing in my clinic is these patients who have Hashimoto’s, even though laser is not FDA cleared to treat Hashimoto’s, we help to support them with their symptoms.

And we’ll do laser near the thyroid and we’ll do laser transcranially to try to dampen those antibodies and try to support nerve regeneration in the brain. And we’ve seen a lot of really great improvements with these patients who have brain fog or have different cerebellar issues related to what was going on with the thyroid. We’ve seen patients who, as we co-manage with their medical doctors, actually need less medication over time. And that’s what the Hofling study showed, was improved visualization of the thyroid on ultrasound and improved blood flow, and a decreased need for medications. And those are fantastic studies available on PubMed. He’s been doing some wonderful research on that. 

Now, when we look at that, a lot of people say, “Well, how exactly do the lasers impact thyroid function?” So, one of the things they do and the reason why I mentioned thyroid in the energy summit is, well, what’s the basic master gland for your energy production? And the thyroid is really important for that. So we can support the thyroid with doing lasers. And one of the key things though, is you don’t want to go with a really… according to research I’ve read and I’m sure you’ve seen the same, Ari, is you don’t want to go with the high powered thermal lasers when we’re doing it transcranially or over the thyroid. There are some negative studies on that. So you want to do something a little more gentle on there. 

But we’ve seen a decrease in the antibodies. You see stimulation of glutathione, which helps to dampen inflammation; improved vascularization. One of the key things in these studies I’ve seen is modulation of the immune system, like you see dampening of interleukin six, which we see talked about a lot right now with COVID. How that cytokine storm gets ramped up, and we’ll get into the immune aspects of lasers in just a minute. But we see the lasers kind of dampening that. Dampening nuclear factor kappa beta. You’re going to improve blood flow by stimulating nitric oxide. You’re going to calm down autoimmunity in the brain by modulating the activity of glial cells. Which if your viewers have watched the movie, Concussion, those are the guys that get activated in the brain and they sit in places and start chopping up the tissue, and destroying it. 

And that was one of the things Datis shared with me, clear back in 2011, where the studies on using lasers to modulate those glial cells in the brain, which are absolutely amazing on there. And so we think in terms of that. We think in terms that you can modulate inflammation, you can stimulate brain derived neurotrophic factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, hepatocyte growth factors for the liver, you can stimulate stem cells. That’s where we see that laser can have these really global effects, whether you’re looking at someone who has an illness or an autoimmune condition, or an injury. Or I’ll show you some slides here with some of my champion athletes and what we do just to maximize their sports performance. 

So I want to skip through on my slide here. As lasers for immune support and decreasing inflammation, I know, Ari, you just shared some great studies too online the other day about this. And the first thing here is my slide that your viewers will see on Niels Ryberg Finsen, who won his Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine. But there are some recent studies talking about what blue and violet light can do, like there’s a new proof of concept in viral inactivation. 

This is a study from Food Environmental Virology from 2017, talking about how you can use 405 nanometer blue light against the feline Calicivirus and also for norovirus decontamination. And what I find really interesting in some of these studies is that when they do the laser or the light on living tissue, is that a lower dose is needed versus if you’re trying to decontaminate an inanimate surface. So that’s kind of exciting there. 

Ari: On a personal note, I’ll mention, I got norovirus maybe four months ago, five months ago and it is brutal. It’s actually what most people refer to as the stomach flu. And so there’s actually no such thing as the stomach flu, for people listening. What you’ve had, if you’ve had that is the norovirus and it really mimics kind of the symptoms of food poisoning. So a lot of throwing up and diarrhea and like just wipes you out and you’re just exhausted. So I wish I had some of these violet light lasers when I got that. 

Dr. Gair: I mean, that’s what I have right now at home, you know, I’m out here in California and everything is really locked down here. So I have lasers with me at home and I have one laser that’s a combination red and violet. So I do a protocol where I shine it onto my tonsils. I follow some of the Russian studies on doing it over the thymus, and then I sweep the gut. And a lot of people will say, “Well, yeah, it doesn’t penetrate to the gut,” which is true, but we see we get this photo biomodulatory effect where you’re changing some of these different cellular responses. And you can have this antimicrobial effect. 

And that’s one of my secret weapons for trying to keep myself healthy with this. Especially, we look at this one study that came out, it’s actually six years ago, on low level laser therapy attenuating this myeloperoxidase activity and these inflammatory mediators in lung inflammation. And what’s really cool is they found that lower doses work great, like if you clock in at around one joule, which is a low dose, you get a really beneficial effect. Where it decreases that interleukin six that’s related to the complications with COVID and it has a positive impact on the interleukin 10, which is really exciting. And with no side effects. 

Ari: Quick question for you. This one’s interesting, obviously, in the sense that it modulated lung inflammation specifically, which is a concern with COVID. Do you know if they were using this laser specifically on the lungs, like if they were shining it there or if this was a systemic effect from modulating cytokines and immune cells in the bloodstream?

Using red light therapy for lung disease

Dr. Gair: In this particular study and it’s from journal of Lasers in Medical Science, they did use it directly over the lungs. However, I have to say it was on mice. So you are going to have, you know, less tissue in between there but they did it on mice in that manner. So yes, that was directly to the lung area. 

Ari: Got it. 

Dr. Gair: Now I do have two little case studies I want to share with you, kind of relating to this. So my first experience with this, I didn’t get a violet laser in my office until 2008. That was when my clinic was getting busy enough from having a single laser, as my reputation was spreading, that I traded in my single laser to get what we call a base station, which has three lasers in there. And one of them had a violet and red combination. And at that time, my sister just happened to come down with MRSA. And she had it really bad to where she had a six inch lesion on her thigh that was not responding to the antibiotics and they were getting ready to put her in the hospital. 

And she was really freaked out about that because as it strikes, if it hits the abdomen, you can be in real trouble. So she asked me, she said, “Hey, do you think there’s anything you can do with your lasers to help this out?” And I said, “Well, you know what, I’ve never tried it on somebody for this.” But I know they showed us a study on… several studies actually, on violet lasers and violet light for MRSA. And saying it had up to a 92% effectiveness in some of these antibiotic resistant cases. Now again, it’s not FDA cleared for that but these are off label uses, but that’s what the research is showing. 

So I had her come in, again, guinea pigged my family and I got the laser on her, and within a few treatments, that six inch lesion shrunk to three inches. After a few more treatments, it shrunk to one inch, and then it went down and was gone within just a few weeks of treatments on there. It came back about 30 days later, a little bit, we did one more treatment and knocked it out. And she actually hasn’t had it since. And she used to struggle with some recurrent kind of staph infections and that really knocked it out. So that really was a cool thing to see change on my sister, where you could see the lesion shrinking, literally, as she was leaving from the office. 

Now the next slide that I have, or case study is going to particularly pertain to what’s going on with people’s lung. So I have this one patient named Jane and she had heard me talking on one of the thyroid podcasts actually. And so she was desperate. This was another Obi Wan Kenobi moment. She was diagnosed with idiopathic heart failure. She had been on meds for eight years and hadn’t had any improvements. She was seeing her cardiologist and she was on eight different medications. And get this, Ari, she showed me her EOBs of what the insurance was paying out for these meds. Not just with her billing but with the receiving, it was in the early stages, over a quarter of a million dollars per year that was being paid up for these meds. To where, last year it was $424,000 for eight medications.

And I asked her, I said, “Have you gotten any improvements from it?” And she said, “No, I haven’t.” So she comes into my office. I told her, “I can’t guarantee anything. This is kind of an off label use. I’m going to do the laser on you.” And I used a three diode laser where I have lasers that watch you rotate around, so we can hit the carotid and over the lung fields, and also transcranial at the same time. And I also got an extra laser on her foot, which I’ll explain why we did that, in just a moment. I told her, “We’re gonna try this.

You come back in two days and you tell me if you think it was worth it or not. If you think we did anything different.” 

So she came in. Her pulse ox was down in the 80s, really low; she had to come in with oxygen, an oxygen tank. She had used the elevator. She was only in her 50s and she was a lean lady and she had been active beforehand. And she couldn’t wear a shoe on her right foot because it was so swollen. It had been that swollen for eight years. And so she comes in, I get the lasers on her. And she comes back two days later and I ask her, “Well, what do you think? What happened? Any changes?” And she lifts up her foot and she says, “Look, I’m able to wear an actual shoe for the first time in eight years.” Because when she came in, she was just wearing one of those hospital kind of Velcro straps, because it was so swollen she couldn’t get a shoe on. And she was really excited about that. 

After a couple more weeks of treating her, she came in, excited, with her pulse oxygenation sensor, and she said, “Look at this, I’m actually in the mid 90s for the first time in eight years, instead of being in the 80s for all these years.”

And she was actually able to go without having oxygen for several days even.

She continued to get better and better to where literally six months later, she had an evaluation at her cardiologist. Now, initially too… let me backtrack. Initially when she had these improvements, she told me that she was really excited to share her improvements with her cardiologist because she was actually now able to go shopping and walk, and not have to get the little cart.

And I told her, I said, “Well, look, you gotta understand, your cardiologist is probably not going to be for this, because it’s an off label use. He’s not going to know what it’s doing.” And she said, “Sure enough.” When she goes there, and she told him that, within 24 hours a laser on her that that swelling went down, he said, “Oh no, no. The medications finally kicked in.” And she said, “Doc, you haven’t changed my medications in a year, and you’ve had me on them for eight years. How can you say that it’s finally the medications when it was literally 24 hours within doing the laser? Are you telling me that’s just a coincidence?” And that’s what he stuck by initially. 

She would come in for supportive care, somewhere about twice a month to see me, for about eight minutes sessions we would do. And after six months, she did the follow up with the cardiologist and he ran stress tests and imaging and everything. And he came out and he asked her, “Well, I have your results. And I want to ask you a question. Are you still seeing that crazy laser doctor?” And she said, “Yeah, why do you ask?” And he said, “Well, look,” he said, “I don’t have an explanation for it. But before you started, your cardiac function was down at 50% of normal, and it’s now at 100% of normal and I can start weaning you off some of these medications.”

So he said, “I don’t know how that laser worked, but I recommend you continue doing it.” And that was an exciting one because she was someone who, she had trouble breathing, her oxygenation rate was really low. And we were able to see it that when we’d do the laser, you would see her oxygenation rate improve. Yeah. So, very exciting stuff there. The next one I want to talk about here and there’s a lot of people who are probably interested in this one and go, “Well, great for some of these things like autoimmunity or diseases. What about sports performance?” 

And this is really my passion. I work with a lot of athletes. I played high school and college football, had a ton of injuries, ton of concussions. And as you know, athletes are always looking for how they can enhance their performance. And an interesting thing about this is the doctor who trained me was actually Lance Armstrong’s personal chiropractor when he won all those Tour de France victories.

Ari: Who is that?

Dr. Gair: Jeff Spencer.

Using photobiomodulation for sports injuries

Ari: Yes, Jeff Spencer, thank you. Yeah, I met him a couple years ago and had some interesting conversations. 

Dr. Gair: Amazing guy, just a wealth of information. I really credit… he’s a big reason why I’m where I am today. Just learning from him and following him around. And Lance did whatever he could to win and one of the things he did was laser while he’s on the Tour de France, before and afterwards. Before to enhance performance, afterwards to enhance recovery. So they were really pioneering this 20 years ago and seeing the benefits with it. So I took what I learned from Dr. Spencer and started using it with high school athletes.

But I came across several studies supporting this and there is one, you’ve probably already seen this, Ari, but it was in the Journal of Biophotonics from 2016, in December, and Hamblin was one of the authors on it. And it talked about doing preconditioning, so doing laser or photobiomodulation before exercise and also after it, can increase sports performance in athletes. And they’re talking about like their fatigue, number of repetitions, torque, hypertrophy. They’ve seen improved muscle mass gained after training, decreased inflammation, and oxidative stress.

And what I find really exciting and this is what I share with all my athletes and the coaches, like out here in California, Southern California, we have a hotbed of some of the top baseball players in the nation for these travel teams. And so we work with a lot of these pitchers on a regular basis to enhance their throwing or to enhance their batting. We’ll actually do the laser transcranially and have them do tracking exercises with a mock ball to get those neural pathways to fire better. And we see them improve in their batting averages and more homeruns, etc. 

But going back to the study, the exciting thing is they actually said that the results on the lasered athletes was if they had had performance enhancing drugs, and they considered it to be an unfair advantage against non-lasered athletes. And they said, “We’re not sure that it should be allowed in international competition, like the Olympics because of this unfair advantage.” And what athlete isn’t looking for an unfair advantage that doesn’t give them a side effect? So as a result of like, as word spread kind of what I was doing with these athletes, I got to work with the Dodgers in Angels Fantasy Camp, which is really exciting to work with MVPs and World Series champions and to work on them.

Even older guys, and I had one particular guy who, he’s the strength and conditioning coordinator for the Chicago White Sox, who he came in one day when I was in the training room, and it’s funny, I’m in there and you have these trainers who’d been with the Dodgers for 25 years and one guy had been with the Rangers for a long time. And I come with my lasers and of course, you know, locker room, its rough talk, they’re harassing me a little bit. Saying, “Hey, what do you got there, Doc? What kind of voodoo is that?” Well, the amazing thing is, as I worked on this one coach, he came in because he wasn’t able to throw anymore, that week. I did a laser on him and he gets up and he’s like, “Oh, my God. I feel like I could go throw a doubleheader right now. And he said his arm hadn’t felt that good since back in his playing days. 

And so as word spread around that week, I ended up having a line of athletes, like for an hour long in the morning and an hour during lunch, and an hour after we were done, to where everybody was coming to see me. Meanwhile, the trainers, unfortunately, it was like they were in a time warp. It was like it’s still 1974. They’re still over there using outdated methods. And they’d see what I had done all week with people, hamstring strains, who weren’t batting right, who weren’t throwing right. And we’d use the laser and enhance their performance. 

And the unfortunate thing is they were still doubting Thomases. I talked with the one guy who’d been with the Dodgers for 25 years and I asked him, “Hey, you saw what we do lasers all week. Do you think you’ll add it back in with your teams you’re working with?” And he looks at me, he’s like, “Nah, I think it basically does the same thing as when I’m rubbing on a muscle. There’s no difference between a laser and just myofascial techniques.” And I was really disappointed to that because I thought with working on pros, you would see more use of technology, especially ones that have great research behind it, but we didn’t really see that. 

So, I’ve got some other athletes here, too, like one kid who played with Vanderbilt University, and they won the College World Series last year. And one of the things he talked about is that when he’d get an injury, is that he felt like he could recover about 50% quicker. And there are studies that actually show that the recovery time, when you get laser or photobiomodulation therapy on a sports injury or an auto accident, you’re looking at recovery times that are usually about 25 to 35% faster, minimum, and I’m seeing it usually more in the 50% range. 

I’ll have kids come in who… I had one pitcher, he’s now at USC, when he was in high school; he stepped on first base, rolled his ankle. It swelled up. His trainers looked at him, this was as they were getting ready to go into the playoffs. And the trainers are saying, “Oh, man, you’re done for the playoffs. You’re not going to be able to play.” And he’s like, “No, no, I’m gonna go to Dr.

Gair. He’s going to get his lasers on me. I’ll be fine.” Literally, he got into it

that same day. We got the laser on him, started decreasing the swelling and the inflammation. He was back pitching the next week in the playoffs, and he did well. And then goes on and has a scholarship. 

I think one of my most favorite studies though, with athletes, comes with this kid that you’ll see in the slides. Zach Shinnick. So, Zach was one of the top runners in the 400 meters in high school when he came to see me and he had this chronic hamstring strain. Nobody was able to fix it. His mom’s a physical therapist. He’d gone to other chiropractors, nothing was working. He kept getting this chronic strain. And he comes to me in the middle of a senior season and his parents are saying, “Man, you know what, we’re thinking of just shutting him down. He’s already secured a scholarship to USC. Do you think you can get him back?” 

And I said, “Yeah, I think I can with my lasers. And I do a unique thing where we’re going to go through and try to recalibrate his nervous system to try to get the cerebellum functioning better. To use the laser to reset those neural pathways.” And so Zach comes in, and I tested him out, he had strong muscles, but when I put him in different running positions, his muscles would blow out. So what we’d do is we’d get the laser on him while he’s doing different, like gait patterns, to kind of reset, recalibrate that pathway. And while he’s doing specific muscle exercises, we had the laser over the muscles that were involved and also transcranially.

And what was really cool with Zach is we got him back, instead of him scrapping his senior season. We got him back in to where he ends up winning his league. He wins his conference title. He wins the state title. He wins the national title. He ran the fastest time in the 400 meters that year. And the key thing is, he ran faster than he ever had before. To where, when he was interviewed on TV, they actually asked him, “Hey, what happened? How did you come back from an injury and run even faster than you have had before?” And it was the things that we were doing with lasers that helped him. 

And the fantastic thing that really excited me, Ari, was to watch this kid who looked like his senior season was scrapped. And we know, unfortunately, a lot of high school seniors and college seniors right now are having their season scrapped because of COVID. Is he was able to get back out there and then he actually qualified for the Pan Am Games, the junior games went down there, and he won a bronze in his individual meet and a gold medal in the four by 400 meters. And he set a world record. And they’ve since broken a couple more times at USC. So I just love those stories of seeing an athlete’s performance change, thanks to the laser. 

Healing the brain

Alright, so this leads me to one of my favorite things to talk about, which is lasers for brain health. And there was a fantastic book, written in 2015. It was a New York Times bestseller, by Norman Doidge, called The Brain’s Way of Healing. Had you checked that out, Ari?

Ari: Yeah, absolutely.

Dr. Gair: And I love in chapter four, he talks about rewiring the brain with light, and how he envisions a future where emergency rooms have lasers and light therapy in there, to get it on people as soon as possible, following a traumatic brain injury. This is near and dear to my heart because I had at least a dozen concussions from playing football back in the 80s. Back when you’d get a concussion and they’d send you back in. They’re like, “Just rub some dirt on it, you’ll be fine.” I remember being on the sideline once and getting hit so hard that they held up two fingers and I saw four. But it was a playoff game, so they were like, “Send him back in. The backup quarterback is terrible. We’re not going to win the game without him.”

So I went in there. I was having some of the symptoms of CTE, to where I was having some of the depression, some of the, just feeling of disconnect emotionally. And it was really concerning me, before I got lasers. And so I actually used the lasers on myself to enhance my brain function. And it was actually affecting my practice early on, to where I just couldn’t get things together because I couldn’t be motivated. I couldn’t focus on things. And lasers really changed that for me. There’s no way I’d be able to travel across the US and teach laser therapy to other doctors, and write a 480 page slide manual for the doctors, without lasers. 

So one of the things people don’t know is all the things it does, there’s a great slide in here from Hamblin, called Shining a Light on the Head:

Photobiomodulation for Brain Disorders. And that’s where he shows all the different things that occur when you get a laser on there. Like increased blood flow, increased lymphatic drainage, decreased edema, stimulation of new blood vessels, decreased neuronal excitotoxicity, anti-inflammation. You get things like brain derived neurotrophic factor. Just so many great things. New synapse formation. A lot of great things and without many side effects on there, as long as you don’t put too much power in there. 

There are naysayers who say, “Well, laser or LEDs can’t penetrate the skull,” which I mean, definitely you’re going to get some blockage from the cranium, but there’s a really cool study that was just done on autism, a quadruple blind one. That is being submitted to the FDA to be reviewed, pending a clearance for treatment of autistic kids. And they did functional MRIs, pre and post, doing the laser therapy on there. And you can see changes in blood flow and neuron activation, giving you an idea that the laser has had an impact actually in what’s going on in the brain. 

Hamblin even talks about certain studies where they’ve done laser, I’m sure you’ve read them, doing laser on the tibia. And you have this global kind of effect to where you’re still seeing changes in their ability to learn a maze and to have spatial awareness, even if it’s not directly applied. And we know the blood vessels can carry some of that as well, too. 

Ari: There’s also one study, I don’t know if you’ve seen it, but they’ve actually quantified the percentage of light that is able to penetrate through the cranium bones. And they have shown that some… it’s a small portion of light because the cranium is a very thick bone. But there is actually a small portion of light that gets through the bone, directly into the brain tissue. 

Dr. Gair: Yeah, I know the one that I read was showing, depending on where you put it, between 1 and 11% roughly, on there. 

Ari: And more near infrared wavelengths in the 800, 900 nanometer range, rather than the red. 

Dr. Gair: Yeah. Well, one of the things I do also to get around that is we go up through the sinus cavity or in the open mouth too. That’s another thing that we’ll do on there. A cool thing that Dr. Kharrazian shared with me, was this Harvard research showing about these… did you see it on the tubules that are connecting the stem cells in the cranium to the surface of the brain? 

Ari: No, I haven’t seen that. 

Dr. Gair: So that just got me thinking. I don’t have any proof of this but we know that lasers and light therapy has an impact on mesenchymal stem cells. And the calvaria is rich with mesenchymal stem cells. So, one of my things of thinking is another aspect of how this could be working is that we’re stimulating these stem cells, these newly discovered tubules that were just discovered a little over a year ago by the Harvard study, I’ll send it to you, so you can take a look at it. It says that they will transport stem cells to the surface of the brain to try to get that brain tissue to heal. So, really exciting stuff with that. 

I want to kind of bring things to the close with my most exciting brain case that I have and this is actually my office manager’s brother. He had a traumatic brain injury when he was less than a year old, to where a City of LA worker was drunk and high. And drove his city vehicle through the wall of their babysitter’s house and hit him and her, while they were just little kids on a couch. And Brian suffered these traumatic brain injuries. Had to have multiple surgeries. Initially, he was blind and lost his hearing. And they recommended just harvesting his organs actually, but his mom really wanted to try to do everything she could to save him, like I did with my cat, Poopsie. And so she worked really hard to save him. 

He had a lot of surgeries and therapies, and he was able to live, but he was stunted developmentally with his brain function. He had a lot of paralysis on the left side. They said developmentally, he was stuck around the age of 10 years old. And they called him their yes man. To where, if they asked him, “Hey, Brian, what do you want to do for your birthday?” “I don’t care.” “What do you want to eat?” “I don’t care.” He didn’t have any opinion on things. So my office manager had seen all the things we were able to do with patients over the years. And she’s like, “Hey, do you think you can work with my brother Brian?” I’m like, “I don’t know. It’s been 30 years since he had the injury. That’s a long time. I don’t know if we’re gonna be able to do anything but it can’t hurt to try and let’s bring him in.”

So we brought him in, we started doing some transcranial laser therapy. I did use an actual red laser on that one, 635 nanometers on there. And while I was doing it, I was trying to stimulate different nerve pathways. He’d been going through therapy and got some movement back. But I would have him do like assisted movements with his arm, I would have him try to follow me with Cardinal fields of gaze, I would try to stimulate different inputs in his brain to get those neuron pathways to fire. What’s fascinating with him was when he first started, he could not move his eyes to the left at all. We’d do Cardinal fields of gaze, he’d go to the right, but nothing to the left. 

After a couple of weeks of doing laser, he had a little blip out to the sides. As we continued doing these exercises, it got stronger to where he could look and he could hold it. As we did this and as his brain started getting better, they started noticing that he used to walk in a crooked line, he could now walk in a straight line. They also said it was like his brain was waking up because he started to give opinions on where he wanted to go, what he wanted to do. He would say no, like, he went through the terrible twos. And he started using his hand for things he hadn’t done before, like to open a bag or open up bottles. 

But they said the most amazing thing came with his most recent birthday, when he asked his mom, he said, “Hey, mom, my birthday is coming. Right?” And she said he normally would never have any comprehension of that. And she said, “Yeah, why?” He said, “Well, look, for my birthday this year, I want a taco caterer. I want a magician. And I want you to get these five friends. This one, you’ve got to ask this person permission to come. This one, you’re going to have to bring because no one can bring him.” And they were amazed at the complexity of his thought that he was able to do. Even his neurologist asked, “What are you guys doing with Brian because he’s been at this baseline for decades and now all of a sudden…? He said the same thing, “It’s like his brain is waking up.”

And it’s continued to get better to where most recent thing with him was, he was able to watch his dad get up and his dad just like has a real physical job, so he has a lot of pain, watch his dad get up and make all this noise and walk across the floor. He was able to watch that. Realize it was funny. Figure out how to imitate his dad’s voice and the way he walked and show it to his family; that he could do an impression and he never had done that before. How far is it going to go with him? I don’t know. But the cool thing is he’s getting better. There’s been no side effects. That’s one of the things I love about lasers and light therapy. 

Ari: Beautiful. So, quick question for you. Obviously, you’re talking about lasers here. I’m going to do a separate presentation in this summit for talking about really the same subject of photobiomodulation red and near infrared light therapy, from a very different angle than you. Which is, I’ll be really heavy on the study, not real heavy on the case reports, like you are because you’re a clinician, which I think is an amazing perspective to bring into this. And of course, you brought in a number of studies as well. The challenge for people listening is just like, “Okay, well, how do I do this laser stuff at home?” 

Dr. Gair: Exactly. 

Ari: And so I think basically the big takeaway from this is to make people aware that this technology exists and that there are practitioners like yourself that have the ability to help with a wide variety of different conditions, using this pretty miraculous technology. And so if you’re listening to this and you have some of these symptoms that Dr. Gair has mentioned, seek out a practitioner. If you’re in the San Diego area, then seek out Dr. Gair directly. But do you have any thoughts on kind of what I was just getting at there? 

Dr. Gair: Yeah, no, I totally agree with you because especially when I have complicated patients coming in, obviously they can’t be in my office every day. I have the luxury of having lasers at home with me all the time but they are a higher price tag. So I definitely recommend it and you’ll know more on what devices are good for home use because that’s your area. I know which ones are great for doctors to use in a clinical type of setting that has the FDA clearances for them, for liability issues and whatnot. 

Ari: It’s worth mentioning, sorry to interject, it’s just worth mentioning for people that lasers are generally like, at least I think four or five grand.

Dr. Gair: At least, yeah.

Ari: Up to 20, 30 grand, maybe more than that. 

Dr. Gair: I’ve got some that are 50,000 in my office. Yeah, like the fat reducing one is really expensive. The one that has three diodes that I use, like for Brian or for Jane, that one’s like a $40,000 laser. So it just depends. But for home use, yeah, I have patients who will get different things at home, to keep them going. And so they’ve got something going on a daily basis. I mean, shoot, we know if patients go out in sunlight, I mean, that’s a huge one. I have some friends who are from Norway and they were telling you about how basically they have two days a year, because they’re so far north, they’ve got like day and night. 

I said, “What’s that, like?” He said, “Well, in the winter, everybody’s really depressed and we drink lots of vodka. We sleep all the time and we get nothing done.” I said, “What’s it like in the summer?” He said, “Well, the sun is out, so we’re happy. So we sleep a few hours a night. We do all of our work for that summertime up there.” So we know the power of light, all these different forms of light have value on there. I really recommend people to have things also to do at home to help them on a regular basis. And I think that’s what Dr. Doidge talks about, I know you share that with your listeners as well. And I think that’s the future. I think if people had more of these devices at home, right now, during this pandemic we wouldn’t see as many of these cytokine storms because they’d be able to get things on them on a daily basis. 

Ari: 100%. Yeah, I agree. And I agree, also, that sunlight will approximate at least some portion of the same benefits, for most contexts. There are some cases where if you’re shining a light, like up the nose, or you’re shining a light in the back of the throat or something like that, using a laser, you might not get the same effect or even anywhere close to the same magnitude, from sunlight. But I do think sunlight can give a lot of the same benefits. 

And it’s important to understand, I think, red and near infrared light therapy in the context of human beings existing in sunlight and evolving, to utilize the red and near infrared rays of sunlight and some of the other bioactive wavelengths, to our advantage. And that they perform, they interact with our cells and have all of these amazing effects. And I think you’re doing really innovative stuff with that.

Dr. Gair: Thank you.

Ari: And thank you so much for sharing all of your knowledge and all of these different miracle stories of patients that you’ve treated. So, I really appreciate you coming on the summit and really a pleasure talking to you, my friend. 

Dr. Gair: Thanks for having me. Pleasure being here. Absolutely. Thanks for doing this work. It’s great to share all that with people who need it out there. So I appreciate everything you’re doing. 

Ari: Yeah. Thanks so much, my friend. Okay, everybody listening, hope you enjoyed this and I will see you in the next one.

Show Notes

The background on photobiomodulation (05:35)
Photobiomodulation on weight loss (15:48)
Using laser therapy for thyroid disease (17:54)
Using red light therapy for lung disease (25:00)
Using photobiomodulation for sports injuries (31:40)
Healing the brain (38:42)

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