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Acupuncture vs Cold Laser Therapy

What is the difference between Acupuncture Therapy, Trigger Point Therapy, Cold Laser Therapy and PhotoBioModulation (PBM)? 

Although lasers are most popular for treating broad areas of damaged cells using a large-area emitter , there is a growing number of practitioners using lasers to stimulate the body through acupoints and trigger points. This article is about helping you to understand how the requirements for a pinpoint laser are very different from broad lasers and to help practitioners understand the importance of sufficient power. The subject of Acupuncture Therapy, AKA Acupoint Therapy is written about in books such as “A Practical Guide to Laser Acupuncture” by VolkMar Kreisel / Michael Weber and eBooks such as “Cold Laser Therapy, the 22 AcuPoint Healing System with over 250 Protocols Made Easy” by Kalon Prensky and Monte Cunningham” which are showing practitioners that there are extensive possibilities and over 500 Protocols for laser therapy. I have heard repeatedly from Acupuncturists, Chiropractors and other practitioners that Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) with therapeutic lasers can be used to replace needles and achieve results, sometimes in mere seconds, what it can take 20-40 minutes to achieve with a needle. Dr. Weber says “LLLT is even more effective than metal needles in some studies,” and he predicts that “LLLT will become mainstream in all fields of Medicine.” 

Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) is frequently referred to these days as Cold Laser Therapy (CLT) since it is most commonly administered with a cold laser. However, the international community, in an effort to create a standardized name that that includes most forms of light therapy including from Lasers, LEDs, Red and Infrared Light and Broadband light, came up with an alternate name. PhotoBioModulation or PBM for short. PBM is the application of red and near infra-red light over injuries or lesions to improve wound and soft tissue healing, reduce inflammation and give relief for both acute and chronic pain. 

Top 12 Benefits of Photobiomodulation (PBM) are:

  • Decreased inflammation
  • Less pain
  • More Energy
  • Better sleep
  • Improved Circulation
  • Faster recovery, faster healing
  • Fantastic for post-op healing and recovery
  • Speeds up wound healing
  • Improves mood and decreased stress
  • Relief from symptoms associated with autoimmune issues
  • Beautiful Skin
  • Aids in weight loss and management

Small tip cold lasers typically utilize power between 100mW and 500mW for safety and efficacy. Because these systems are used statically, no one makes a system with more than 500mW at the tip because of the risk of overheating tissue. On the low end, there are plenty of low-cost 5mW lasers on the market that are claimed to be acupuncture lasers, however in reality they offer minimal effectiveness due to such low power output. When you do the math, you will see that these lasers will not produce enough joules/cm2 or photonic energy to a given point in under an hour to illicit measurable, effective and reproduceable results. The reason they are common is because no FDA clearance is needed to buy or sell them if they are 5mW or less. Any company can order them for super cheap and then mark them up 500% and resell them as the next great thing. Sad, but true.

In order to produce superior results, we offer an easy to use, effective cold laser system for needleless acupoint therapy to treat Acupuncture points and Trigger points utilizing the Scalar Wave Laser (SWL). 

The SWL Pulsar Probes each have a photonic output of over 100mW and are available in 3 different wavelengths, Infrared 780nm, Red 650nm and Blue/Violet 405nm. The laser probes also utilize additional components that add to the therapeutic benefits. Each laser probe has 4 blue/violet 5mW narrow beam LED’s to help condition the laser because violet wavelength carries more information than all other wavelengths. Next, the probes are powered through a data cable from the main SWL unit, which delivers scalar waves to help shift the polarity of the cells and clear outdated cellular data and finally, the SWL delivers proprietary Hz frequencies to support the overall healing process, including unwinding trauma, pain and contraction in the treated area, helping to restore the cells and tissues to a neutral, healing state. As the photons are absorbed into the cells, the Mitochondria (powerhouse of the cells) are quickly able to convert the photonic energy into ATP, which is the preferred energy source of cells in the body. Thus healing occurs naturally and quickly.

Laser Acupuncture Systems and Photon Power Requirements:


According to VolkMar Kreisel and Michael Weber (and other authors), the typical acupuncture point takes 1 to 8 joules per point to clear it. For people with dark skin, more energy is typically needed, thus the max of 8 joules may be required for each of the acupoints on the body. For children with light skin the minimum dosage of 1 joules is appropriate. For the average person white skin we can assume a typical dosage to be 4-6 joules for a body point and 2-3 joules for an ear or head acupoint.


In order to calculate treatment times we use the following equation:


Treatment time = Dosage x 1000 / Laser power [a](mW) x adapter efficiency[b] x pulsing duty cycle[c]


[a]In most cases, the paser power is the rated max output of the laser AT THE TIP and not the rated output at the laser diodes, which can sometimes be remote-mounted and require fiber optics to get the energy to the treatment area. Fiber optic connections can significantly reduce the available power.
[b]If the laser emitter requires an adapter to focus the energy down to a small point, these adapters typically have max 50% efficiency. Some small tip lasers have a point finder that focuses the energy into an even smaller area that is better for ear treatments.
[c]If the laser is set to pulsing, then the power must also be de-rated by the duty cycle.


Type of Treatment Points


Area / TypeDepthDosagePreferred Wavelength*
Trigger PointsDeep tender painful spots within a taut band of muscle tissue4-12
780nm to 850nm
Body AcupointDeep meridians which form the main paths for the circulation of Qi4-6 joules780nm to 850nm or 
600nm to 660nm
Infant or Toddler BodyAny1-2 joules600nm to 850nm
Auricular AcupointsShallow points, many points close together2-3
780nm to 850nm or 
600nm to 660nm

* For Auricular points treating one at a time is ideal, and allows you to treat specific issues. However, as a general tonic, using a larger cluster type of laser such as the SWL can allow the user to treat all 75+ major auricular points at the same time, which is also beneficial.

Treatment times for treating a SINGLE Trigger Point (4-12 joules)

These type of points tend to be deeper, more contracted and sometimes painful. In order to reach the depth, unwind the contraction and release the pain and tenderness, Infrared Lasers are ideal. The dose of joules/cm2 is higher because more energy delivery to the target tissue can achieve additional analgesic benefits. The 780nm Pulsar Probe is very strong and can alternately be used as a laser massage tool, and by applying pressure to the trigger point, this displaces blood, thus allowing for even deeper penetration.


Treatment times for treating a SINGLE acupoint (4-6 joules)

The US was initially stifled by impediments to alternative and complimentary medicine, but a lot of progress has been made over the last few decades and we now have access to more options and an abundance of knowledge that was previously hidden from the average person. There is a huge need for alternative care options in the US and we can learn a lot from the developments in the other parts of the world. Statistically about 50% of the people who are candidates for acupuncture are afraid of needles. With laser therapy acupuncturists and energy workers can increase their potential customer base by adding laser to their practice.

If you wish to quickly and easily learn to master the art of finding and treating acupuncture points with cold lasers, then consider getting an eBook such as “Cold Laser Therapy, the 22 AcuPoint Healing System with over 250 Protocols Made Easy” Includes how to find and treat the 22 master acupoints of the human body and also reveals with many charts and diagrams the many key points that exist on the ears, hands and feet, also known as the micro-systems.


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