Light is believed to play a vital role in humans’ circadian system. It regulates the circadian system by interacting with the eye’s light-sensitive cells, which, in turn, signal the brain’s body clock.
This is how the human body comes to know the time of the day so that the organs can work accordingly. The sensitive cells are even more responsive to blue light. It was recently discovered that blood pressure could be reduced with the help of blue light.
A well-known fact is that blood pressure remains low in the summer months when compared to the winter months. A new study assessed the effect of blue light on blood pressure and showed unexpected results. Exposure to blue light provides a number of health benefits, including a positive effect on high blood pressure. In fact, it has been found that the positive effect of blue light is as effective as any other commercially available hypertension drugs.
Blue Light and Blood Pressure
Published in the European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, the study1 showed that exposure to blue light is an effective treatment for reducing the blood pressure and concurrently reducing the risk of cardiovascular diseases.
The study participants were exposed to the blue light for a period of 30 minutes, and then exposed to controlled light on a different day. The scientists analyzed the participants’ blood pressure, arterial stiffness, blood vessel dilation, and blood plasma levels of nitric oxide during, before, and after exposure to both lights, that is, blue light and controlled light.
The researchers discovered that when the entire body was exposed to blue light, the participants’ blood pressure levels reduced drastically by about 8 mmHg. However, there was no effect on the blood pressure levels following exposure to the controlled light.
Health Benefits of Blue Light
Apart from reducing the systolic blood pressure, blue light exposure provides a number of health benefits, including the following:
- Reduced arterial stiffness: The study participants experienced reduced forearm vascular resistance and reduced pulse wave velocity.
- Improved blood flow: The study participants experienced an increase in forearm blood flow and flow-mediated dilation; the latter refers to the artery’s capacity of widening in response to the increased blood flow.
- Encouragement of nitric oxide release: The study participants exhibited improved circulation of nitric oxide as well as improved concentrations of nitroso species in their plasma. Strikingly, the reduction in systolic blood pressure after exposure to light for a period of 30 minutes was associated with changes in the plasma nitroso species.
The best part is that the health benefits of blue light exposure mentioned above do not carry any side effects, which are often associated with blood pressure medications2. The levels of light exposure in this study have been quite realistic and nearly the same as the exposure one gets during a normal sunny day. Indeed, to enjoy these health benefits over the long term, individuals would need to frequently experience the exposure to blue light.
It is quite practical to believe that constant exposure to blue light, together with the consumption of antihypertensive and healthy foods like cherries and olive oil, can have a considerable effect on high blood pressure levels.
1. Stern, M., Broja, M., Sansone, R., Gröne, M., Skene, S. S., Liebmann, J., … Heiss, C. (2018). Blue light exposure decreases systolic blood pressure, arterial stiffness, and improves endothelial function in humans. European Journal of Preventive Cardiology, 25(17), 1875–1883. https://doi.org/10.1177/2047487318800072
2. N Engl J Med 2015; 373:2103-2116, DOI: 10.1056/NEJMoa1511939.
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