Neuroborreliosis – Could Low-Level Light Therapy Help Combat Memory Problems?

by lmatthews on January 2, 2013

lyme cns neuroborreliosis brain

Could low-level light therapy help lift Lyme-Fog?

A recent study looking into the application of low-level light therapy for memory impairment found that the treatment enhanced a number of factors contributing to better cognitive health, which may be of interest to those suffering from the neurocognitive effects of Lyme disease. LLLT with near-infrared light-emitting diodes (LEDs) applied transcranially in animal models offered hope of enhancing memory in humans.The treatment was found to improve cortical oxygenation and metabolic capacity and memory retention which could combat the regional brain hypometabolism seen in Alzheimer’s disease (AD).

LLLT for AD and Memory Problems

The work was carried out at the University of Austin, Texas, and Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, PhD, and colleagues suggest that LLLT may be a viable option for prevention of memory deficits in those with risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease. Such patients would likely have chronic cerebrovascular hypoperfusion, mild cognitive impairment, or a history of head trauma.

LLLT – A Treatment for Lyme-Fog?

Although this research was in an animal model and was not focused on Lyme disease it is reasonable to assume that any condition involving similar dysfunction in the brain may be benefited in a similar fashion. So-called Lyme-Fog often leaves sufferers with concentration problems, difficulties reading long passages of text, short term memory deficits and even behavioral abnormalities that affect interpersonal relationships.

Higher-Order Cognitive Function Improvements with LLLT

The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and adds to a growing body of evidence suggesting that LLLT enhances neuronal metabolic processes and, presumably, modulation of higher-order cognitive functions controlled by the cerebral cortex. These experiments in lab rats are not the first of their kind to look at the effects of low-level light therapy on memory in a living model rather than simply in cells as previous studies in middle-aged mice found improvements in working memory after the therapy.


Previous experiments using LLLT applied to the forehead in humans found that there are observable changes in blood flow in the frontal cortex with hopes that this could offer a neurotherapeutic tool. A study involving two patients with chronic traumatic brain injury who received daily LLLT treatments found improvements in attention, executive function and memory. Furthermore, many of these studies noted improvements in mood and depressive symptoms, again appropriate for those with such symptoms as a result of neuroborreliosis.

A Non-Invasive Treatment for Neurocognitive Lyme Disease

This research looks promising but further work needs doing to ascertain the effects different wavelengths, radiant exposure, irradiance and wave type have on the possible benefits of LLLT. Seeing that low-level light therapy boosts memory, and that LLLT may also affect mood, offers hope of a non-invasive treatment for symptoms of neurocognitive Lyme.


Julio C. Rojas, Aleksandra K. Bruchey, Francisco Gonzalez-Lima, Low-Level Light Therapy Improves Cortical Metabolic Capacity and Memory Retention, J Alzheimers Dis. 2012;32:741-752.

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