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Can Flickering Lights Boost Your Brain’s Own Immune System?

During a pandemic, we think about our immune systems more than usual. One of the factors that may determine how easy it is to catch a virus is that particular virus’s “infectious dose”: how much of the particle must enter your body before an infection is established. Why does a dose lower than this threshold not make you sick? Because your immune system can destroy the viral particles before the infection takes hold. And of course, when you do get sick with a virus, and then after some time get better again, it’s because your immune system has succeeded in killing the virus that caused the infection.


We have some medicines and therapies that can help kill a viral infection, but nothing as powerful as what the healthy body can do on its own. An immune system that’s working well can overcome an infection and even sometimes prevent reinfection.

But our immune systems do more than kill viruses. In fact, your brain has its own immune system for clearing away toxins that prevent your neurons from communicating properly with each other. Your brain produces special cells that act as trash collectors to clean up these toxins. These cells are called microglia, and they’re macrophages: cells that engulf and break down toxic debris. Microglia are your brain’s first line of defense against amyloid plaques that can accumulate between the neurons and disrupt their functioning.

Potentially life-changing research is focusing on microglia and how they are activated and mobilized to do their vital work. Researchers have known for some time that a healthy brain produces waves at a certain frequency (40Hz per second) and that this rhythm is disrupted in the brains of people with Alzheimer’s disease.

In 2016, researchers from MIT found that exposing mice to lights that flicker at this same frequency—40 flickers per second—could actually reduce the build-up of the brain-disrupting plaque that is thought to cause dementia in people with Alzheimer’s disease. New research, building on that breakthrough study, has discovered more about the mechanism behind this surprising effect. The flickering light, tuned to the brain’s natural rhythm, increases the expression of cytokines, a special chemical whose job it is to recruit microglia to break down the toxic plaques.

Notice that this research is focused on understanding how the healthy brain works. The flickering lights in both studies are designed not to target the toxic amyloid plaque directly, but to encourage the brain to use its own system more efficiently. The light serves to boost the health of the brain—not to interfere with or replace the brain’s natural functions.


The flickering light, tuned to the brain’s natural rhythm, increases the expression of cytokines, a special chemical whose job it is to recruit microglia to break down the toxic plaques.

Human trials using flickering lights to boost the brain’s own immune system have just begun. Science — especially medical science — moves very slowly. Yet people are suffering from Alzheimer’s disease now. Even more important, the toxic brain disruptors that cause Alzheimer’s are thought to start building up long before they cause any symptoms. Preventing the toxic build-up in the first place would be even better than finding a way to reduce it.

Beacon40 is a light whose design was inspired by cutting-edge research into Alzheimer’s disease. It flickers at, 40Hz,  the frequency of healthy brain waves to provide light therapy in accordance with this new and rapidly developing research into brain health. It’s made to support your brain’s own system for staying healthy. It can be used by people who want to encourage their brain’s immune system to prevent the build-up of toxic plaques, and it can also be used by those who believe they already have such build-up in their brains. In both cases, its purpose is to support and encourage your own special plaque-fighting cells to work more efficiently.

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The Beacon40 is completely noninvasive and easy to use. It’s never too early to try light therapy to support your brain’s own system for clearing away the toxins. And for those who are already battling cognitive decline, light therapy for dementia offers a flicker of hope: not just for the future, but here in the present.