UBI therapy has been around for decades, but drug therapies have pushed it out of the spotlight. Learn more about the origins and potential uses of this fascinating treatment.
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UBI Therapy | The Cure That Time Forgot
With the arrival of multiple-drug-resistant strains of bacteria, researchers are looking for alternative therapies to treat infections. A group of scientists from Harvard Medical School recently reviewed UBI as one possible solution.
What is UBI Therapy?
Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy (UBI) is an alternative medicine procedure. It exposes blood to ultraviolet (UV) radiation to improve specific biological functions.
UV light isn’t visible to the naked eye. It does, however, affect us. For example, sunlight is UVA and UVB rays. We can’t see it, yet if we stay in the sun too long, we get sunburnt.
While UVA and UVB rays may cause skin damage, UV light is beneficial when used in a controlled manner.
UBI involves removing blood, exposing it to UV light, and returning it to the body. Despite the initial needle prick, it’s a relatively painless procedure.
UBI has many uses, such as treating infections, varicose veins, and inflammatory conditions.
The History of UBI Therapy
The presence of UV light was known for years, but it’s potential uses in medicine only came to light in the second half of the 19th century.
One of the earliest forms of UV therapy, known as heliotherapy, exposed patients to sunlight to treat tuberculosis arthritis (a type of bacterial infection). Soon after, scientists realized sunlight kills bacteria. As a result, heliotherapy became a popular treatment for all kinds of conditions.
In 1904, the Danish physician, Niels Finsen, won the Nobel Prize for his work on UV treatments for skin conditions. He treated thousands of cases and had a 98% success rate. His work serves as the foundation of today’s UBI therapy.
Years later, Emmet Knott and Lester Edblom developed the first blood irradiation chamber, which exposed blood to direct sunlight. They performed several experiments and found that exposing a small percentage of blood (5-7% of total blood volume) to UV light was sufficient to treat infections.
In 1928, the first human patient received this treatment after complications from an abortion left her with septicemia. Despite the procedure being a last resort, the patient made a full recovery. She even gave birth to two children later in life.
While treating another patient with septicemia, workers noted that UBI rapidly relieved cyanosis. So, they started treating pneumonia with UBI therapy.
What is cyanosis? Cyanosis is the medical term for bluish skin color from low oxygen levels.
Within minutes pneumonia patients had lower temperatures and heart rates. Additionally, they spent a shorter time in hospital and recovered much quicker than expected.
During the 40s and 50s, UBI was a miracle cure. Besides pneumonia and septicemia, physicians used it to treat:
- Non-healing wounds
- Biliary disease
- Viral hepatitis
In an ironic twist of fate, it’s development coincided with the widespread use of antibiotics, and UBI fell into disuse in the West.
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How It Works
UV light may boost the immune system and help fight infections because it affects different components of blood. UBI therapy uses a polychromatic device that emits different wavelengths of light.
Each wavelength has a different effect:
- UV light has a sterilizing effect. Therefore it disinfects blood and may remove toxins. It also affects the osmotic properties of red blood cells. In other words, UV light may kill bacteria and improve blood’s ability to move through cell membranes.
- Blue light improves circulation by dilating blood vessels and reduces inflammatory markers. As a result, more oxygen and nutrients reach the cells.
- Green light promotes proper blood function and structure.
- Amber light releases nitric oxide. It dilates blood vessels and may improve communication between cells.
- Red light may remove toxins from the blood by supporting detoxification enzYuniquees. It also stabilizes DNA in cells.\
What’s more, UBI may suppress the immune response because it inhibits the excess production and release of cytokines. For this reason, it may be beneficial for treating autoimmune diseases.
What are cytokines? Cytokines are a broad term for proteins secreted by the immune system. Cytokines signal the immune system to respond to unknown or harmful substances.
UBI does have some flaws. For example, it can’t penetrate deeply, and target cell absorption is limited.
Despite the limitations, UBI has the potential to treat various conditions, including infectious diseases and cancer. Additionally, it may improve organ transplant success rates. And, so far, researchers haven’t found harmful effects.
ECP VS UBI Therapy | What’s the Difference?
Extracorporeal Photopheresis (ECP) treatment isolates white blood cells. These blood cells are then exposed to medicine, followed by UVA treatment.
Treatment involves two consecutive days at four-week intervals. ECP may be used to treat organ transplant rejection and Crohn’s disease, amongst others.
ECP tends to suppress the immune system response, whereas UBI has a more stimulating effect, depending on the dose.
Furthermore, UBI may treat some systemic bacterial infections as well as immune-related conditions. In contrast, ECP therapy is mainly for immune-suppression.
UBI may be a forgotten cure for various diseases and infections. It fell out of favor when drug therapies, such as antibiotics, improved, and could more easily treat diseases.
Unlike many drug therapies, UBI has a wide range of uses and very few drawbacks. With the arrival of antibiotic-resistant bacteria, it’s more valuable than ever.
There is still a lot we don’t know about UBI. However, many pioneers have led the way to where we are today. And, future studies may shed more light on this versatile therapy.
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