[For a fuller discussion of Biophotonic Therapy and the underlying science, including citations to the medical literature, see Healing Photons: The Science and Art of Blood Irradiation Therapy.   For a brief discussion, see 10 Key Points about Biophotonic Therapy.  See also the video Rethinking Biophotonic Therapy.]

Biophotonic Therapy uses light in an extracorporeal or intravenous mode to activate the red blood cells, a form of immunity inherited from humankind’s distant oligocellular ancestors. BT has an instructive 80-year history (see below); a range of modalities; well-characterized mechanisms of action; a wide array of indications; several counterindications; well-understood, limited side-effects in certain cases; and a scientific literature that now includes some 400 articles as well as a dozen books. No drug resistance to BT has ever been reported.


In the extracorporeal mode, a measured amount of blood is drawn from a vein, exposed briefly to a light source–usually ultraviolet and some visible light–and reinfused. The activated blood cells thereupon stimulate a general activation of the blood that tends to normalize biochemical parameters, to generate chemiluminescence, and, in infectious diseases, to activate the entire immune system. In intravenous mode, low-intensity laser light–generally at 632.8 nm–is directed through a waveguide into the blood, with the same effects.

The original extracorporeal Biophotonic Therapy device has the status of a “pre-amendment device” from FDA, permitting it to be used for the treatment of some dozen indications, including asthma and certain disseminated infections. BT forms a central component of the science of biophotonics, which has in recent years received attention and funding in the United States, but which has been studied for 80 years in Russia and for decades in Germany.

Of all pharmacological interventions, Biophotonic Therapy may have the broadest effectiveness in terms of numbers of indications and capacity for healing action. BT is the #1 phototherapeutic treatment of infectious diseases. It outperforms antibiotics and antivirals in various indications, above all in disseminated infections resistant to drug therapies.  As an oxygenating therapy, BT normalizes the blood parameters.  It can also be used to downmodulate an overactive immune system.

Although BT is administered with a device, it is actually a drug–the pharmacology of light. As such, BT has exceptional interest in terms of elucidating other pharmacological and physiological phenomena. Biophotonic Therapy is also known as Photoluminescence and, in Russia, where thousands of medical doctors employ it on a daily basis, as Quantum Hemotherapy. BT’s old name, Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation, was very misleading in its suggestiveness, even to medical professionals who should have understood that dose and clinical outcomes–not suggestive vocabulary–are the relevant scientific facts.

The biomedical research establishment, dominated by infectious disease specialists ignorant of photomedicine and biophotonics, has managed for 30 years to avoid testing BT against infectious diseases, with a single exception where it was used once as an adjuvant against Hepatitis C.

Biophotonic Therapy holds high scientific significance as a model for explaining the mechanisms of a range of complementary and alternative energy therapies, including homeopathy, as well as serving as the gateway to comprehending the roles and mechanisms of the chemiluminescence of the blood cells in neuroscience and immunity.

A Brief History of Biophotonic Therapy

Biophotonic Therapy emerged from the intensive experimentation on the interaction of light with living tissue during the early part of the 20th century. Many researchers illuminated in vitro blood samples, and a few tried to do the same with in vivo shunts. Beginning in 1923, Seattle scientist Emmet Knott, D.Sc., sought to harness in a systematic, extracorporal way the known bactericidal property of ultraviolet rays in order to treat infectious diseases of the blood. Knott built an apparatus that would remove blood from the body through a tube, citrate it to avoid coagulation, expose it in a small chamber to calibrated UV, and then pump it through a tube back into the body.

In experiments with dogs, Knott first attempted to treat the entire volume of blood after infecting the dogs so as to induce severe septicemia. The treatment cleared their blood of any trace of infection, but they all died in 5-7 days of profound depression and a progressive respiratory slow-up and failure. After further experimentation in which the apparatus failed part-way through the experiment but the dog survived without infection, Knott concluded that it sufficed to treat a mere 1.5 cc of blood per pound of body weight–some 3-4 percent of the total volume of blood–and that this dose had no untoward side effects at all.

Knott’s notion of treating the blood with UV to destroy microorganisms was a rather obvious one. But demonstrating that this could be done in a safe and effective manner as well as devising over many years of careful testing a practical mode for so doing–these constituted a major scientific contribution.

The first treatment of a human occurred in 1928. The patient was a woman moribund following a septic abortion complicated by hemolytic streptococcus septicemia. Treatment with ultraviolet BT returned her to normal health. Indicative of the caution with which Knott and his medical collaborators worked, they did not attempt further treatment of a human subject until 1933 when the device again cured a patient with advanced hemolytic streptococcus septicemia.

The ultraviolet BT device then began to be used with some frequency on patients with severe septicemia and subsequently on patients with viral pneumonia. By the 1940s scores of physicians were regularly using Knott’s device according to the technique established by Knott. They treated bacterial infections, pneumonia, poliomyelitis, botulism, non-healing wounds, encephalitis, peritonitis, asthma, pelvic inflammatory disease, biliary disease, hepatitis, and many other infectious, inflammatory, and autoimmune disorders. Surgeons were particularly interested in the use of ultraviolet BT pre- and post-operationally to treat infections, and The American Journal of Surgery ran many articles on ultraviolet BT.

In more refractory illnesses, the treatment would be repeated many times over the course of a few weeks, with varying results depending largely on the stage of the disease. In the treatment of tens of thousands of patients, the main side effect observed was a flushing of the skin. The results of treatment included:

  • inactivation of toxins
  • destruction and inhibition of growth of bacteria
  • increase in the oxygen-combining power of the blood and oxygen transportation to organs
  • activation of steroid hormones
  • vasodilation
  • activation of white blood cells
  • stimulation of cellular and humoral immunity
  • stimulation of fibrinolysis
  • decreased viscosity of blood improved microcirculation
  • stimulation of corticosteroid production
  • decreased platelet aggregation.

Proponents of BT published their findings in dozens of scientific articles. Thousands of patients were treated at leading centers like Georgetown University Hospital. Ultraviolet BT fared well in several clinical trials with controls, but most of the published studies consisted of series of cases without controls.

One critical study (Moor et al., 1948) pointed out the lack of controls and the unclear criteria for success in the articles published by BT’s proponents. It also claimed that ultraviolet BT had no effect on bacteria or toxins. But its own methodology was faulty. The researchers erroneously assumed that it was the direct extracorporeal treatment of the blood that was claimed to destroy great numbers of infectious microorganisms, whereas Knott had discovered that it was the pharmacological and immunostimulative action of the activated blood cells upon their return to the body that constituted the true therapy. Likewise, in a test of ultraviolet BT’s effects against overwhelming infections in rabbits innoculated with botulism, the critics used only a single dose of BT–not surprisingly, with no effect.

Another critical study (Schwartz et al., 1952) was funded in part by the American Medical Association and appeared in its Journal. Again, even though the researchers quoted Knott on the point that it was not the direct treatment of the blod that destroyed the bacteria but rather the effects in vivo of small, repeated doses, they proceeded to test the direct bactericidal effect of the BT device and found it wanting. They then tested ultraviolet BT on 68 patients with a wide range of symptoms. Ultraviolet BT reduced ulcers in 5 out of 8 patients but was apparently ineffective against most of 11 cases of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID).

The study had serious flaws, however. The 23 cases of hepatitis were acute ones which would presumably have resolved with or without intervention. No report was made on the effects on 7 arthritis patients, and objective improvements in various indications were glided over. Most PID patients received only 1-2 treatments, even though their cases were generally severe. In certain PID cases, the researchers turned off the device to test whether the patients would report subjective improvement (they did). But the researchers then listed these treatments as if the device had been turned on. In one case, a patient listed as having three treatments apparently received no BT whatsoever. The researchers’ scatter-gun approach on other indications was of anecdotal value only, especially since the samples were too small (often a single patient), criteria for improvement were no provided, and there were no controls. In addition, no effort was made to distinguish between the effects of BT on early and late stages of the disease.

It is hard to avoid concluding that this study revealed more about the bias of the researchers and the AMA than it did about Biophotonic Therapy.

In Europe, Czech physician Karel Havlicek and others began using ultraviolet BT via muscular reinjection of small doses of blood, often just 10 ml.

Federico Wehrli treated oxygenated blood with UV in a procedure termed Hematogenic Oxidation Therapy (HOT). Since then, HOT has enjoyed a certain popularity in Central Europe.

The dramatic advances in antibiotics, vaccines, and corticosteroids in the 1950s put a halt to the growing interest in BT. Amid the enthusiasm over the new wonder drugs, only a handful of physicians continued to use BT. Even though it was illogical to set aside a therapy that could treat viral diseases (e.g., chronic hepatitis and viral pneumonia) that were impervious to antibiotics, this illogicality came to pass.

From 1955 until the 1990s, only a few American physicians continued to work with the ultraviolet BT device. It did, however, receive FDA status as a device that was sold and distributed in interstate commerce prior to 1976 (510(k) status). This cleared it for use in treating the indications for which it had been advertised….


Kenneth J. Dillon is an historian who writes on science, medicine, and history.   See the biosketch at About Us.


Tagged with: , , , , , ,
Copyright © Scientia Press, 2023