Podcast 412: Healing Infrared Light

Living with pain doesn’t have to be a norm! Professional Laser Device Epoch 980 by Epoch Lasers is a solution for everyone, who wants to take their self-care to another level! If you want to help yourself or others on a professional level, listen to this podcast with Martin Pytela and Jim Ohneck!

Related content – Podcast 408 about Red Light Therapy

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MARTIN: Hello, this is Martin Pytela for Life Enthusiast Podcast, and with me today I have Jim Ohneck, the CEO of Epoch Lasers. Hello Jim!

JIM: Hello Martin! Thanks for having me on your show today.

MARTIN: Great. I want to pre-frame this talk today by saying that we will be talking in technical details about a product that helps people remove the effects of inflammation, and it is primarily going to be focused on people who are in the business of caring for others or maybe enthusiasts helping themselves. The product itself is a professional-grade piece of equipment. If you want to learn about the personal device from Epoch Lasers, please go back to a podcast episode we recorded a few weeks ago, where we introduced Epoch Lasers to our audience. So, Jim, you were recently visiting Ecuador, right?

JIM: Oh yes, Martin, that is correct. I just got back at the end of last week, and while I was there, I had the opportunity to participate in the grand opening of a Clinica Linda, which is a clinic that has been set up for free to help the indigenous people in Ecuador up in the Andes mountains. And they respond really rapidly to the laser treatment. But interestingly while I was there and treating the indigenous people, there were other people that were there at the facility who really latched on to the ability to be able to help reduce people’s pain and inflammation through devices like the laser, and saw themselves becoming certified therapists. So a number of people started asking: “How can I become a therapist? How can I get certified? How can I get a device? Can I use this at home? And can I travel around with it, and help family and friends, or even people at a firehouse?”

MARTIN: There is quite an extended expatriate community in Ecuador, right? Were some of these people also just visiting?

JIM: Well, there were the indigenous people, locals, and there were other people that were there visiting what’s called a TOSA Blue Mountain Retreat, it is a spiritual resort location, and they were there to learn. We were all there for the Equinox that took place.

MARTIN: So let’s dive into it! What do you call this device specifically?

JIM: It is called the Epoch 980, and it is a Class 4 laser. It is a professional-grade product, as you mentioned. There are different classifications of lasers, Class 1 being like a laser pointer, and Class 4 being anything above 500 milliwatts. This particular laser is 20 watts of total power. That may sound scary, but that lets you have a very broad treatment beam, which means you can treat a larger surface area, which equates to much faster treatment. The typical treatment time with this laser is 10 minutes.

MARTIN: We have also been promoting your personal device, the InfraHelios, that puts out quite a bit less power, right?

JIM: Right. The InfraHelios is much lower in power, it still uses the same light science, the 980nm wavelength, but it is spread over a larger surface area. It just means that it takes a longer time to treat. The typical treatment with the professional-grade lasers is 10 minutes, the same effect with InfraHelios would require at least 30 minutes, so there is quite a bit of a difference in time and efficiency, especially if you are a clinician and you have your own clinic where you are doing treatments of multiple people a day.

MARTIN: Okay. So let’s just first tell people about the applications. When would this be appropriate? For what situations?

JIM: Sure, good question. This device can be used for chronic or acute pain conditions. So if somebody has arthritis in their knees, or their hands, or even their back, this device can certainly be used to help relieve the inflammation and pain. If you sustain a sprained ankle or a sports injury, it can be used to treat that. So an acute type of injury. But most common treatments that I get to do are people our age, and they get old sciatica, the L4-L5, a slight disc herniation, and they feel pain in their hips, so their body starts to compensate, they feel pain in their knees, sometimes their ankles. It all stems from that L4-L5 spine area. That is the most common treatment as a therapist that I encounter, treating this chronic back pain, especially with men that are around that 50-year age mark.

The other thing I get to see often is shoulders. People get shoulder pain, they work out too much. And of course, the other thing is knees. I am always treating a lot of knees, and the laser is effective for all of those types of pains and discomforts. I always like to say that the body gets referred pain. I had a really interesting case I should mention, the person came in from the village near Clinica Linda, with a pain in the middle of his back. In the process of treating the area around the pain, I discovered that the right-hand quadrant of his lower back, just above his hip, was really super tight. So I treated that, I released his back, and the pain that was further up went away. That is what we call a referred pain. As a therapist, you get to interact with the patient, talk with them, assess their pain level, understand maybe some of the root causes of their pain. Some of them are mental blocks, but you get to treat the whole patient, and you get to have a conversation with them, you really get to help heal the whole person during the treatment session.

MARTIN: So it sounds like this Epoch 980 would be well placed in a chiropractor’s office, or acupuncturist, physiotherapist, massage therapist, or a Reiki office, places like that, right?

JIM: Exactly. Those are the exact types of people that use the device. A lot of chiropractors use it, it gives them an option to not just do an adjustment on a person, but actually to do the laser on top of the adjustment, and make faster progress with the patient, and maybe longer times in between treatments. The laser effect is much longer-lasting. Another great example: while we were down in Ecuador, a woman came in with a sore back, she had difficulty even walking, so we gave her a nice 15-minute treatment because the pain was so severe. The next day, she walked up the mountain to attend an Indian ceremony. And that was a serious hike! She said she had some discomfort, but she never would have even thought about walking up the hill, if she hadn’t had the treatment. I don’t want to leave the impression that one treatment is magic and you are all cured because it takes sometimes a series of treatments, but it just shows you that you can have a very rapid positive effect on the level of pain.

MARTIN: You were mentioning the L4-L5 issues, that is usually triggered by the sedentary lifestyle, right?

JIM: Exactly, people sit around and watch TV, and because their back is sore, they don’t go for a walk. And then what happens is they gain weight, and the pressure from the added weight exasperates the condition, and they get into this downward spiral of less motion or more sitting. The laser can reverse that, so when you get the patient treated, they start feeling better, and suddenly they say: “I feel like I am going to go for a walk this morning, my pain isn’t as great.” They stop taking the harsh medication, and they start to go on this upward spiral saying: “Oh, maybe I’ll get outside. Maybe I’ll do a little gardening. I am going to go walk the dog.” They feel better! And then they say: “I think I should eat a little better,” and they start paying more attention to their health!

MARTIN: What just occurred to me is that one of these units should be every office! Especially where people are having to sit for long hours, like programmers or coders, people who sit in front of computers! So every employer should be actually motivated to treat their people, so that they last longer, right?

JIM: Right! I mean, that is why we say every home and office should have a laser device, there is a serious connotation behind it. You spent $35,000 on a car, and this laser device is far less than that, and you could treat your whole family if they have these chronic pain conditions. We have an 18-year-old nephew that lives with us, and he is into sports, so he gets bumps and bruises from those types of sports injuries. And of course, we all get our own things from exercising that we need to treat. So it gets used within our family as well. And quite often, neighbors and people close by that know about it come to me and say: “Hey, can I get a treatment?” I have one patient I’ve been treating for the past four or five years, and he will say: “Jim, I need a tune-up.” And so I go in and give him a tune-up, one or two treatments, and then he’s good for another year!

MARTIN: So it is just a couple of treatments, and he is fine for a year?

JIM: Yes. He’s had the main course of treatment, most of the issues causing the pain have been taken care of, and usually, he comes because he overdoes something, he overdoes exercising, maybe he lifted too much weight, or he has done something wrong, but a couple of laser treatments fix that, he responds fairly fast to it.

MARTIN: Great! This unit is not  cheap to buy, this comes fully configured at just under $20,000, right? Do you offer any financing or leasing type of arrangements?

JIM: We do. It depends on the person’s individual situation, or if they are a business. The lease payment is such that just treating one patient a month can help take care of the lease cost. If you are a person and you don’t have that capability to get a business lease, there are always methodologies to do personal financing to acquire that.

MARTIN: Well, for people who have been in chronic pain, this could be just the tool that they needed to liberate themselves to perhaps return back to work!

JIM: Yeah. This morning I was thinking about this talk, and I was thinking that if you are in chronic pain, you might be taking a pill that is as much as $400 per pill, and then you have to drive back and forth to the doctors, maybe to get your blood checked while you are on these medications, and you have a chance to become addicted. So you have this expense and you think: “Okay, the laser sounds expensive,” but at the end of the day, it is a lot less money than some of the medications people are on, and all the doctor’s visits, and the insurance, and the co-pays, and all that.

MARTIN: Right. And of course, if you get yourself on opioids, that is a whole new kettle of fish.

JIM: That is correct.

MARTIN: So can you tell me about the research that went into this? How did you develop this? I mean, this is not the only light treatment on the market. Could you help us differentiate it from the other technologies that are out there?

JIM: Sure! My story starts 20 years ago, and being in the medical device industry, I had some exposure in my career to lasers used in ophthalmology. So I knew quite a bit about lasers. And then about 20 years ago, I was exposed to this idea of laser therapy and cold laser therapy. I have a background in biomedical engineering, I was an emergency medical technician in EMT, so I have some medical training. I worked in a chemistry lab, so I have some chemistry training. So things kind of fell together in line for me, to look at this in a whole new light, so to speak. And what I ended up doing is starting to research why the lasers out there weren’t really working well, why  the studies didn’t prove positive. I did a meta-analysis of hundreds and hundreds of articles, and I began to observe a pattern.

Then I began to think of a device built around this pattern, which turned out to be something called the optical power density. I optimized the device for the proper optical power density. I went to the University of Toledo, and we did a study at a cellular level to show that the 980nm laser actually stimulated the cellular reactions that we were expecting. We then did a study on some chronic back pain patients at the University of Toledo medical school. We also did some treatments on people that had metal components put in their wrists. We’ve done quite a bit of research over the years, but it started from the cellular level. I’ve done work to understand laser propagation through the tissue. All of that study gives me very good control of the process. There is enough energy to stimulate the cells because I know what the power level needs to be. I didn’t just take a piece of equipment and say: “Oh, this feels warm, I think it is working.” I actually studied the reaction to see what it did at the cellular level first, and then built the protocols of things around that data.

MARTIN: There is quite a bit of talk about different wavelengths, right? People talk about purple light, and blue light, red and green… and of course the infrared. There are so many theories, and people are standing in front of red light panels, thinking that that is all that is needed, right?

JIM: Right. I could actually go through a few slides here to show you the mechanism of action. Let me do that. So there is a biological effect of therapeutic lasers such as the Epoch 980. The aim is to bio-stimulate injured and dysfunctional tissue. The clinical trials and studies indicate the beneficial effects of light therapy on tissues and cells at the 980nm wavelength. Let’s delve into a little bit more of how it works. You mentioned all the different color lights. Our cells have chromophores, components of molecules that absorb light, and there are different chromophores within the mitochondria. There happens to be a really strong chromophore in the mitochondrial membranes. When the light hits that chromophore, it starts the production of ATP, and we will get to that in a minute.

But first, for the audience there who may or may not remember, I will explain what mitochondria is. Think of it as a tiny electrochemical battery that converts energy from the food we eat into ATP. It is like a molecular motor. You energize it, the motor turns on, and it stimulates the production of ATP. Mitochondria is the powerhouse of living cells. ATP (adenosine triphosphate) is a chemical that is produced when these mitochondria are activated by the light, and ATP drives biochemical activity inside your living cells. It is a key building block of your DNA and RNA. All life on Earth depends on this tiny little energetic molecule. Not only do you have the oxygen you breathe and the food you eat being converted, but now you have photonic energy converted to ATP, because of this nice chromophore that is in the membrane of the mitochondria.

The ATP helps drive the healing mechanisms within our body. So really what we are doing is by activating the cellular mechanisms with this 980 nm light, we are increasing the production of ATP, and we are helping the body increase its own healing mechanisms. It is a little different than taking a drug. This is actually activating at the site increase of ATP, which activates the body’s own healing mechanisms. So that is the idea behind it. The light energy at 980nm penetrates through the skin and tissues, energizes the mitochondria, and increases the production of ATP, and it leads to a cascade of biological events. And those can be increased growth factor response, increased protein synthesis, accelerated cell production and growth leading to fast repair of damaged tissue, and increased metabolic activity. So all of that is the output.

So really we are activating the body’s own mechanism by throwing in an energizing compound known as the photon of light. Why do our cells react so profoundly to the 980nm laser, when it is not in our atmosphere? This is a pretty cool question that I am always on a quest for. The 980nm is not prevalent in our modern-day atmosphere, but according to the friends at NASA, it used to be present in biblical times, but it is no longer prevalent. So 980nm does not get below 30,000 feet, roughly how high an airplane flies. It is not getting to the ground, but our body has this mechanism built-in that responds to it, and that is pretty cool.

MARTIN: What do you think is blocking it now?

JIM: The industrialized atmosphere. Not just chemicals, not just artificial stuff, but also natural things like volcanoes, changes in weather patterns, disruptions of the atmosphere, the difference in the position to the sun, all these things affect the penetration of the light, but our modern-day atmosphere with all the chemicals and things in it doesn’t help. So it is a combination of natural and man-made factors.

MARTIN: Right. On the graph you can see on the screen, you actually placed the airplane just into the range where this 980nm would be, right?

JIM: Right. I guess if you stood on a wing of an airplane at 30,000 feet, you could get that 980nm effect, but you might have some other side effects that wouldn’t be good. The cool thing is that our body has this mechanism built in to respond to the 980nm, but there’s another thing to think about with this wavelength. The 980nm is not absorbed by the melanin, meaning it penetrates through any color of skin. The lower infrared wavelengths are highly absorbed in the melanin, meaning that they may not be as effective on a dark skin person as they would be as on a person with light skin.

MARTIN: I guess you could say that the darker skin people are warmed up faster using the shorter waves, right?

JIM: Correct. So because the 980nm does not get absorbed by the melanin, more of the healing light can penetrate. And again, the underlying mechanism of action is a mechanism in the body that responds to the 980nm, and it activates the mitochondria to produce more ATP, which equates to the body’s own mechanisms of healing being activated.

MARTIN: This is quite profound, actually, because of course, the mitochondrial illness is now running quite rampant these days. Chronic fatigue is probably the most common presentation of that deficiency. But also slow healing or no healing.

JIM: Yeah. It is really good to have this as an option, because you may be able to mask the pain, but a drug doesn’t activate the ATP production, it just hides the pain, it blocks the signals from the nerves to the brain. This is really an amazing technology. I’ve had the opportunity to watch many, many people over the years be healed. And people that use this in the field love it. Their patients love it. It really can make a difference and turn people’s lives around. So for anyone that wants to be a healer, anyone that wants that personal interaction to really do some good for a person, let us know! We provide the full certification, you go through training that teaches you about the laser, about the underlying biology, about laser safety… With this device, you have to wear goggles. It can help you learn how to deal with a patient, how to ask the proper questions to get the proper feedback and to assess the patient’s pain level. Are they a 10, a 9, or a 7? People that already do this really get joy out of seeing their patients getting better.

MARTIN: Yeah, it actually sounds really exciting. We have had really positive responses from people who purchased the small personal unit, so I am really excited to be able to get our audience to find out about this professional device as well.

JIM: I think because we’ve had such interest in people wanting to be therapists, we’ve experimented with doing Zoom training for all the theoretical stuff, and then do a hands-on group training for the practical part, and those have been very effective. That is what we ended up doing in Ecuador. We did Zoom training ahead of time, then we met in Ecuador, we did the hands-on training with the different patients because we saw such a wide variety of pain conditions, ankles, hands, feet, knees, backs, shoulders, complete variety of patients, women, men, elderly, young, it was a great variety.

MARTIN: There’s no limit! You can treat a horse with it!

JIM: That is how I started, actually, I was treating animals, I was treating horses and small animals. So if you are a small animal technician, you can actually treat the small animals with it. We can say we need a laser for every home, every office, and every barn!

MARTIN: Well, I can imagine that the aging dog usually suffers from a lameness of some sort, or inability to move, this would be just highly beneficial!

JIM: Yeah! My experience with my own dogs is great, the dogs really like the treatment, they relax, even the dogs that are a little aggressive, they relax when they feel this warmth, and they have quite an immediate reaction! They are hardly moving, but you give them the treatment, and they will jump up on their feet and walk around. Dogs are very good patients!

MARTIN: A willing subject!

JIM: Yeah, a willing subject. They enjoy the treatment. In fact, most people do, some people get very relaxed. Sometimes they fall asleep during the treatment, and you have to kind of wake them up. Most people say they sleep better at night, because suddenly their pain and discomfort are gone, and they are finally relaxed and get a good night’s rest.

MARTIN: Awesome! Well, I think we have said it all, we understand how wonderfully it works, and we think that we can train almost anyone to operate it safely!

JIM: Yes, safety is an integral part of the training. In terms of therapeutic use, it is easy to pick up on, especially for somebody that is doing other kinds of healing work. I’ve trained a lot of people, certified a lot of people over the years, and they all are successful at applying it.

MARTIN: Okay! What about warranties?

JIM: There is a two-year warranty on the box and a one-year warranty on the fiber. The delivery system is an optical fiber, there is a yellow cable coming off the front panel, so people can step on it and break it if they are not careful. If there is degradation due to manufacturing, of course, we replace that within a year. It is a solid-state laser diode, so there’s not a lot of calibration needed, there’s not a lot of parts of the machine that can fail.

MARTIN: Right, this will have a very long life compared to the mechanical problem with the fiber, right?

JIM: Yeah. I encourage everybody, if your listeners are interested, to contact you or to contact me, we are happy to talk.

MARTIN: I encourage everyone to contact Jim directly, just tell him that you watched this show, and he will help you!

JIM: Yes! You can reach me at my email, [email protected]. You can also go to our website, www.epochlasers.com, you can read some stories and learn more about the product as well.

MARTIN: Great! Jim, thank you very much! I certainly hope that we can reverse the cycle of pain on the planet, and help people get well again! I can’t think of a better tool for restoring a normal function in the body. This is the sort of thing that we like to emphasize, there is a way to bring normal, healthy, optimal function back into the tissue. And this is one of those methods.

JIM: Great. We appreciate all that you are doing to get people interested in these alternative types of treatments, whether it be our laser or some of the other wonderful products that you sell. It is nice to see that somebody is focused on doing that.

MARTIN: Right. Indeed. If you think that  the professional units are a little too much for you to consider, please check the less expensive, personal unit called InfraHelios. Thank you very much, Jim. Thank you everyone for listening! This is Martin Pytela for the Life Enthusiast! We are restoring vitality to you and to the planet.

Author: Nina Vachkova