3 min|Dr. Jam Caleda

Sunlight in the Blood: Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy (UVBI)


Summer is in full force and I’m beginning to see the effect of the Vancouverite sun. It’s nice to see the daily amalgamation of solar craved skin on Kitsilano beach getting a hefty dose of vitamin D. It’s our skin that uses most of the UV for the benefit of making nutrients in our body, but what would happen if we got sunlight in our blood?

In 1903, Dr. Neils Ryber Finsen was awarded a Nobel Prize in the Physiology of Medicine for successfully treating people suffering from lupus and various skin conditions using UV light exposure to the blood. From then on, research was conducted and it showed that UV light exposure in the blood was also effective in treating systemic infectious diseases that were once deadly.

This therapy was a main conventional practice in hospitals in the United States and Europe until the 1940s, when pharmaceutical vaccines, antibiotics, and corticosteroids became the standard of care. However, ultraviolet blood irradiation therapy (UVBI) was still used by many researchers and doctors to treat infections and other immune dysfunction diseases.

Since then, new technology in the treatment has created a development of protocols that now treat autoimmune disorders, cardiovascular disease, fatigue, depression, and much more. In Germany, UVBI has been used as an adjunctive cancer treatment and is still used alongside chemotherapy and radiation. There are preliminary studies indicating that UVBI may be useful in treating HIV. A phototherapy machine has been approved by the FDA for clinical trials on people with HIV and Graft vs. Host disease.

How Does It Work?

UVBI is delivered by a polychromatic device (PCD). The PCD has numerous light sources for different wavelengths of light. The different wavelengths emit high energies ranging from ultraviolet to visible light. Each wavelength has a specific mechanism of action:

  • Red supports detoxification enzymes and stabilizes normal DNA in cells.
  • Amber releases nitric oxide inside and outside the cells, which act to both dilate the blood vessels and improve cellular signalling.
  • Green supports the proper structure and function of red and white blood cells
  • Blue promotes the dilation of blood vessels, reduces inflammatory markers in the blood, and increase oxygen and nutrients to cells
  • UV light disinfects blood of any external pathogen, as well as support the structure and function of all blood cells.

Treatment Protocol

UVBI is performed by extracting blood and running it through an IV line which passes through the PCD in a closed system. After exposure to the light the blood is then returned back into the body through the same vein it was removed from. Aside from the initial needle stick it is a relatively painless procedure.

What to Expect

People undergoing the treatment may experience an increase in energy, overall mood, and improvement in symptoms. It is possible to experience an exacerbation of symptoms or illness one day to 2 weeks after the procedure. This is due to an enhancement of immune system function which may result in a ‘die off’ of any external pathogens in the blood. This die off process is also known as a Herxheimer reaction.

A typical treatment may include a re-circulation of 100ccs of blood through the machine, which would take approximately 30-45 minutes. Depending on the extent and type of disorder being treated your physician may prescribe up to 3-4 treatments a week for numerous weeks. Be sure to have food before the treatment. Normal activities are usually resumed after.

Talk to a Naturopathic Doctor to see if Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation Therapy (UVBI) is right for you! →

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