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Research exposes how biophotons may be responsible for the transmission of adverse effects of radiation between individuals, and illuminates how the fabric of human consciousness may be based in light
To clarify the role of biophotons in communication not only between cells but between individuals, it is instructive to use the bystander effect, a phenomena applicable to conventional allopathic cancer therapy, as a case study.
The Bystander Effect: The Potential Ripple Effect of Cancer Radiation
It was previously thought that the adverse effects of radiation, one of the only legally sanctioned standards of care for cancer patients, were due only to the damage incurred by genetic material secondary to energy deposition of ionizing radiation (1). This notion, however, was refuted by evidence that healthy cells exhibit the effects of radiation exposure when transferred to a medium in which irradiated cells were incubated (2) or when they merely reside in the same vicinity of previously irradiated cells (3), and that patients administered radiotherapy show abscopal effects, or the effects of radiotherapy even in organs distant from the site of radiation (4, 5, 6).
Adding to this body of literature is that clastogenic, or chromosomal-damaging factors, are produced in tissues or cell cultures that were not directly irradiated upon exposure to irradiated serum (7, 8). Accompanying this discovery is the insight that so-called bystander information is conveyed from irradiated to un-irradiated cells, tissues, and animals such as bullfrog tadpoles, rainbow trout, medaka, fathead minnow, zebrafish, and mice (9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16). In some of these experiments, fish that are directly irradiated, for instance, liberate signals that are communicated to and affect non-irradiated fish (11, 12, 13, 14). Similarly, signals secreted by irradiated mice have been illustrated to incite immunosuppression in non-irradiated mice (10).
In one experiment, radiation-naive rodents placed in the same cage with rodents that had previously received a single dose of ionizing radiation to one brain hemisphere revealed that similar or even greater effects were observed in the cage mates relative to the irradiated rats, illuminating that signal transmission occurred between two live animals (1). Despite radiation of an isolated brain hemisphere, release of bystander signals occurred from both cerebral hemispheres as well as a remote organ, the bladder, which altered the physiological response in non-irradiated cells (1).
Most frightening were experiments where irradiated rats translated bystander factors to un-irradiated rats, which incited signal production in both the brain and bladder of the un-irradiated animals that merely shared a cage with irradiated animals for two days (1). The researchers in fact conclude, "Our results support the hypothesis that proximity to an irradiated animal induces signaling changes in an unirradiated partner…the results could have implications for caregivers and hospital staff treating radiotherapy patients" (1, p. 72).
When mammals are dosed with radiation equivalent to or exceeding doses of 4 grays, their un-irradiated cage mates exhibit various adverse effects, including leukopenia, or decreased numbers of white blood cells, which predisposes individuals to infection, alongside other markers of immune suppression and chromosomal damage (1, 17). This research may suggest adverse health effects for medical practitioners and family in close proximity to cancer patients receiving radiation.
The Bystander Effect: Biophotons as a Central Player
Taken cumulatively, this evidence points to a phenomenon dubbed the radiation-induced bystander effect (RIBE) (1). However, the vehicle through which the bystander effect is conveyed long remained to be elucidated. Recently, though, research has implicated photons of light as the mechanism through which the signaling occurs (18).
A revolutionary revelation in the past century is that organisms, at a macroscopic level, and cells, at a microscopic level, communicate through the medium of weak electromagnetic waves known as ultra-weak photons or biophotons. First called mitogenic rays by the Russian scientist Alexander Gavrilovich Gurwitsch in the early twentieth century due to their propensity to induce cellular proliferation in nearby unexposed cells (19), biophotons "have been observed in bacteria, fungi, germinating seeds, plants, animal tissue cultures, and different parts of the human body, including the brain" (20).
The electromagnetic transmission of cellular information by these packets of photonic energy was first demonstrated almost forty years ago by a researcher in the Soviet Union named Vlail Kaznacheyev (21). He divided cell cultures into two quartz containers segregated by a thin optical quartz window, and then subjected cells in one of the apparatus to ionizing radiation (21). Although the other sample did not receive any radiation exposure due to complete environmental shielding, the cells in the unirradiated culture died within twelve hours as a result of absorption of ultraviolet photons from the irradiated cells on the other side of the optical window (21).
German biophysicist and radiotherapist Fritz-Albert Popp later coined the term biophoton to refer to a wider spectrum of ultra-weak photon emissions (UPE) that "appear to communicate with all the cells of the body instantaneously in a synchronous wave of informational energy" (21). Although these quanta of light have frequencies within the visible electromagnetic spectrum, spanning the near-ultraviolet to near-infrared range, they can only be measured and perceived with sophisticated scientific instruments with sensitivity far superior to that of the naked eye (22).
These biophotons, which originate and accumulate in the DNA contained within the cell nucleus, are speculated to "represent a complex cell-to-cell communication that relies upon speed of light transmission," since light represents the most rapid mediator of information transfer ever identified (21). Due to the capacity of light beams to twist, researchers speculate that it can adopt a "propagated helical shape that possibly could scan and encode parts of DNA and transmit an enormous amount of data" (21).
Biophotons are additionally hypothesized to regulate diverse physiological processes including cell growth, differentiation, metabolism, catabolism, redox reactions, aging and death (23). They are synthesized in the decay of electronically excited molecular species as a result of oxidative metabolic pathways such as cellular respiration, which produces the cellular energy currency, adenosine triphosphate (ATP), in the mitochondria (24, 25). Impressively, bioenergetic fields in which biophotons play a role may even govern social interactions and the energetic exchanges of therapeutic modalities in the realm of alternative medicine, and their emission may be influenced by mental intention as well as physical health (26, 27, 28, 29). In fact, the implications of biophotons stretch well beyond the role of the bystander effect in radiation therapy.
Biophotons: A Mechanism Connecting Human Consciousness to Light
Despite the innovations of human intelligence and advancements in neuroscience, the origin of consciousness and subjective experience itself remains elusive and uncharted territory. Our knowledge of the mechanisms through which anesthesia functions, as well as the processes responsible for establishment of memory and conscious perception are rudimentary at best (25).
Because biophotons have been found in the brain and are hypothesized to be quintessential to neurological activity, scientists are exploring the possibility that neurons communicate via photonic emissions in addition to the classic electro-chemical signaling comprised of neural impulses and neurotransmitters (20). Biophotons are optimal candidates, as "They travel tens of millions of times faster than a typical electrical neural signal and are not prone to thermal noise at body temperature owing to their relatively high energies. It is conceivable that evolution might have found a way to utilize these precious high-energy resources for information transfer" (25).
Not only that, but axons, the projecting appendages of nerve cells that conduct electrical impulses away from the neuronal cell body, which are surrounded by an insulating fatty myelin sheath, may serve as waveguides for biophotons to travel between neurons (20). Myelin sheaths are created by specialized glial cells in the central nervous system known as oligodendrocytes, which lends credence to the idea of biophoton-mediated neural communication since another kind of glial cell called the Müller cell has been proven to guide light in mammalian eyes (30, 31).
Myelin sheaths rectify the problem of communication across spatially separated agents in the nervous system since the insulating property of myelin increases the propagation speed of action potentials (the electrical spikes that occur when a neuron sends information down its axon to another neuron) (25). This theory is also supported by the observation that light conduction is enhanced along white matter tracts comprised of myelinated axons (32).
Link Between Biophotons, Quantum Entanglement, and Human Consciousness
Photonic communication channels are a viable candidate for neurological information transfer because they can transmit quantum information. Quantum effects are implicated in several biological phenomena, such as avian magnetoreception, a sensory modality used by birds for directional orientation, flight navigation, and development of a magnetic compass for regional mapping (33). Quantum processes are likewise applicable to olfaction, or sense of smell, as well as photosynthesis, the process whereby plants convert light energy into chemical energy (34, 35).
It is possible that biophotons could mediate long-range quantum entanglement, a complex phenomena that researchers characterize as the "whole is more than the sum of its parts in a well-defined physical and mathematical sense" (25). Quantum entanglement can solve the "'binding problem' of consciousness, which questions how a single integrated experience arises from the activities of individual molecules in billions of neurons" (25). In other words, quantum entanglement may explain the synchronicity and merging of electrochemical signals from discordant neurons into a unified whole experience.
Although studies have approximated that the average rate of biophoton emission is one photon per neuron per minute, which is orders of magnitude lower than the frequency of electrochemical spikes, this cumulatively amounts to over a billion biophoton emission events per second given the sheer quantity of neurons the brain contains (25). Dr. Giulio Tononi, distinguished chair in consciousness science at the University of Wisconsin, conceptualizes consciousness in units of "bits" analogous to the way information theorists measure the quantity of information stored in a computer file or a cellphone (36). Experiments which have shown that the bandwidth of conscious experience is less than 100 bits per second can be reconciled with this theory of biophotons as a mode of supplementary information carriers, since the billion photon emission events per second "could be sufficient to transmit a large number of bits, or to distribute a large amount of quantum entanglement" (25).
The Body of Light: Future Applications
These discoveries, suggesting that our consciousness is linked to light, may reflect why many cultures have historically used halos of light as symbolic imagery to convey a sense of spiritual ascendency and enlightenment. The notion of light has been tightly interwoven into the fabric of human experience, tied to tales of morality, and scattered through our cultural metaphors and ritual. People who have near-death experiences often describe gravitating towards a bright light, and our circadian rhythms and many other biological cycles are intimately entrained to the light-dark cycle. Even from a linguistic perspective, "enlightenment" is inextricably intertwined with the word "light". It is no wonder that light may play such a pivotal role in our consciousness as well.
This research is in its infancy, and raises more questions than answers. However, the implications of biophotons for human health and disease, group dynamics, social cohesion, and more abstract concepts such as spontaneous remission, remote healing, the placebo effect, and the power of intentionality, may all operate via biophotons (37). Research in this arena may be positioned to change the face of medicine and biology itself.
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