Lighting Up Your Brain On A Budget

Recently I’ve been seeing more and more talk about intranasal light devices and decided to look into the subject again. A few years ago I tried to read up a little but I couldn’t find much data. The early Vielight devices were out at that point but I couldn’t find specifications for them. Normally when I see an expensive device without specifications I’m pretty suspicious nut some of the specs are now available.


Vielight Intranasal Specs – 14mW For 810nm Infrared – 8mW for 650nm Red

There are some promising early results in Alzheimer’s using intranasal and a combination of transcranial and intranasal light. In this case 810nm infrared. The devices are currently unavailable on Amazon…. Vielight Neuro – Intranasal 810  – 655nm Laser Intranasal

There was significant improvement after 12 weeks of PBM (MMSE, p < 0.003; ADAS-cog, p < 0.023). Increased function, better sleep, fewer angry outbursts, less anxiety, and wandering were reported post-PBM. There were no negative side effects. Precipitous declines were observed during the follow-up no-treatment, 4-week period. This is the first completed PBM case series to report significant, cognitive improvement in mild to moderately severe dementia and possible AD cases. Conclusions: Results suggest that larger, controlled studies are warranted. PBM shows potential for home treatment of patients with dementia and AD.

The power output is relatively low, at least for some of the intranasal devices (14mW and 8mW). There are some pretty interesting studies with the Vielight and I’ve seen also quite a few very positive personal anecdotes. There’s also a lot of talk about light devices used in the ear to treat tinnitus and other related problems. The studies on tinnitus and other aural problems are inconclusive and it has been a heated topic of debate on tinnitus forums for years now. It seems some people may benefit from proper treatment. Others feel they have been scammed by expensive devices or treatments.

These devices are pretty expensive and I wanted to see if there was some way to create a cheaper solution. I first thought about a fibre-optic fault locator which I purchased a few years ago. This device is rated at 10 mW. I purchased a 30 mW fibre-optic fault locator along with some fibre-optic cable and moulding material.  I tested the output of the devices and used the moulding material to create an intranasal and intra-aural attachments.

I’ve really only skimmed some of the studies using light through the nasal cavity and ear canal. This article is not advising people to put these devices in your ear or nose. If you don’t know anything about the specifics of these types of treatments my advice is to assume that they are dangerous until you’ve done enough reading to argue otherwise. That said, let’s take a look and see what I came up with.


10 Mw fibre-optic fault locator. Red 650 nm wavelength. US   UK
30 Mw fibre-optic fault locator. Red 650 nm wavelength. US  UK
3 metre single fibre-optic jumper cable (ST/ST). US  UK
Tenmars TM206 Solar Meter US  UK
100g Pebeo Gedeo Siligum Moulding US 300g  UK 100g

I bought the Tenmars TM 206 for about 60USD on Ebay a few years ago. It’s more expensive now. Might be worth looking around if you’re interested in a solar meter.

Mix The Two Parts Of Molding Material Together And It Sets In 5 MinutesThe first thing to note when testing the output of these lasers is that the beam is rather narrow. When you put the laser up to the solar metre the beam does not cover the entirety of the sensor. When you move the beam around the sensor you get different readings.

After moving the beam around for a few minutes here are some of the readings.

10mW laser.
This device can produce up to 64 mw reading on the solar meter. The lowest stable reading is about 20 mW.
30 mW laser.
The highest stable reading I can get is around 108 mW. On other parts of the sensor I can get stable readings down to 30 mW.

I don’t know how accurate the solar meter is testing these devices. It’s suitable for the wavelength but the beam width might not give correct readings. It certainly seems like it’s more variable testing these lasers than the wider beam LED devices that I have tested. I’m unsure whether the meter reports a maximum reading at any point on the sensor or an average over the entire sensor (or something else). These beam from these devices don’t cover the entire sensor surface with light, at least not too any great intensity when the devices are close to the sensor.

Bionase Rhinitis LED

A few years ago I bought an intranasal device called a Bionase. These intranasal devices are marketed mostly for rhinitis. There is huge variation in the price but some places sell them at 2/3x the price of a 30 mW rated laser fault locator. This device consists of a box which does little more than hold a battery and  an LED power indicator. This box powers the intranasal  LEDs. These LEDs max out at about 6 mW according to my solar meter. It seems the laser fault detectors are significantly more powerful than the Bionase. The Bionase is described as a 630 nm device whereas the fault locators are described as 650 nm. You can clearly see looking at output from both that the fault locator is having deeper red hue. I found the Bionase useless.

Testing The Bionase (Real Testing Done In Lower Light)

Laser Fault Locators Vs Bionase Color Difference

The fault locators alone aren’t very useful because of their shape and the fact that the diode is set slightly below the top of the device. These devices use short fibre-optic cables called jumpers. These cables have a number of different interfaces or standards. I purchased a number of these fibre-optic cables that are ST standard on both ends (linked above). I wasn’t sure if these ST jumper cables would require an adapter to attach to the head to the fault locator. They don’t. The ST jumper cables come with small plastic covers over each end. You can remove these covers in place the end of the cable into the head of the fault locator, making a pretty tight seal.

ST/ST Jumper Connected To Fault Locator

The endpoint of the jumper cable is extremely sensitive to oil or dust. If it touches anything it can significantly limit the amount of light which is transmitted through the fibre-optic cable. The ends of these fibre-optic cables need to be kept clean and the caps need to be kept on them when they are not in use. Handling the ends leads to very low light transmission through the fiber optic cable.


Testing Fiber Optic Output

The power output readings through the fibre-optic jumper cables are obviously lower than at the head of the laser device itself. The light coming through the fibre-optic cable produces an even narrower beam of light than than that from the head of the device.

These are the measurements I was able to get through a (clean) 3 meter ST/ST fibre-optic jumper cable.

10mW laser.
This device can produce a reading up to 21 mw on the solar meter. The lowest stable reading is about 6 mW (similar to the Bonase).

30 mW laser.
The highest stable reading I can get is around 55 mW. On other parts of the sensor I can get stable readings as low as 15 mW.

As you can see, the theme of these readings is variability. Sometimes if there’s a little bit of dust on the end of the fibre-optic jumper cable it will effect the light output when the cable is rotated a little. Most of these readings are above what is seen in the intranasal adapter for the Vielight (14mW) device and most of them are significantly higher than the Bionase optical output.

Mixing Siligum To Wrap Around The Jumper For A Mold – I Kept The Cover On While Making The Mold

The ends of the jumper cables are hardened there is a metal attachment which can clip into other adapters. In order to secure this cable into the eardrum you would need something to attach it to and prevent it from falling out or going in to deep. You certainly don’t want to slip while putting one of these jumper cables in your nose or ear, they could perforate an eardrum. I decided to find out if I could use some sort of mould to attach them securely. I have used molding material to make earplugs before and decided that that would be useful material to try.

The Idea Was To Have The Fiber Optic Inside The Ear Plug

I decided I need a little bit more molding material than is in a standard “mold your own ear plug set”, so I bought 100 g of similar material. I got good molds on the second try in both the ear cavity and the nasal cavity. This is somewhat flexible material but it solidifies to to a soft rubber or dense foam texture after about five minutes. If the output from these devices was suitable for any type of treatment you would need a separate jumper lead for each cavity, because all the moulds are different shapes. The ear mold is relatively comfortable, having a mold in your nose is not. My nasal cavity felt a little irritated after setting the mold in there for a few minutes. 


It seems that there is enough power out of these devices to be useful. There may be too much power and the variability may be a problem. The battery drain will increase the variability further. I have mild tinnitus myself and may be interested in trying these in my ear. I’m gonna hold off until I did some more reading on the subject first before I use it for any length of time.

Intranasal Mold Needed Some More Mold Applied To The Rear To Stabilize It


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