Biophotons (from the Greek βίος meaning “life” and φῶς meaning “light”) are photons of light in the ultraviolet and low visible light range that are produced by a biological system.

They are non-thermal in origin, and the emission of biophotons is technically a type of bioluminescence, though bioluminescence is generally reserved for higher luminance luciferin/luciferase systems. The term biophotonused in this narrow sense should not be confused with the broader field of biophotonics, which studies the general interaction of light with biological systems.

Biological tissues typically produce an observed radiant emittance in the visible and ultraviolet frequencies ranging from 10−17to 10−23W/cm2(approx 1-1000 photons/cm2/second).[1]This low level of light has a much weaker intensity than the visible light produced by bioluminescence, but biophotons are detectable above the background of thermal radiation that is emitted by tissues at their normal temperature.

While detection of biophotons has been reported by several groups,[2][3][4]hypotheses that such biophotons indicate the state of biological tissues and facilitate a form of cellular communication are still under investigation,[5][6]and claims that biophotons are responsible for physical healing are still controversial and lacking compelling evidence

Detection and measurement

Biophotons may be detected with photomultipliers or by means of an ultra low noise CCD camera to produce an image, using an exposure time of typically 15 minutes for plant materials.[8][9]Photomultiplier tubes have also been used to measure biophoton emissions from fish eggs,[10]and some applications have measured biophotons from animals and humans. [11][12][13]

The typical observed radiant emittance of biological tissues in the visible and ultraviolet frequencies ranges from 10−17to 10−23W/cm2with a photon count from a few to nearly 1000 photons per cm2in the range of 200 nm to 800 nm.[1]

Possible physical mechanisms

Chemi-excitation via oxidative stress by reactive oxygen species and/or catalysis by enzymes (i.e., peroxidase, lipoxygenase) is a common event in the biomolecular milieu.[14]Such reactions can lead to the formation of triplet excited species, which release photons upon returning to a lower energy level in a process analogous to phosphorescence. That this process is a contributing factor to spontaneous biophoton emission has been indicated by studies demonstrating that biophoton emission can be increased by depleting assayed tissue of antioxidants[15]or by addition of carbonyl derivatizing agents.[16]Further support is provided by studies indicating that emission can be increased by addition of reactive oxygen species.[17]


Imaging of biophotons from leaves has been used as a method for Assaying R Gene Responses. These genes and their associated proteins are responsible for pathogen recognition and activation of defense signaling networks leading to the hypersensitive response,[18]which is one of the mechanisms of the resistance of plants to pathogen infection. It involves the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), which have crucial roles in signal transduction or as toxic agents leading to cell death.[19]

Biophoton have been observed in stressed plant’s roots, too. In healthy cells, the concentration of ROS is minimized by a system of biological antioxidants. However, heat shock and other stresses changes the equilibrium between oxidative stress and antioxidant activity, for example, the rapid rise in temperature induces biophoton emission by ROS.[20]

Theoretical biophysics

Hypothesized involvement in cellular communication

In the 1920s, the Russian embryologist Alexander Gurwitsch reported “ultraweak” photon emissions from living tissues in the UV-range of the spectrum. He named them “mitogenetic rays” because his experiments convinced him that they had a stimulating effect on cell division.[21]

Biophotons were claimed to have been employed by the Stalin regime to diagnose cancer. The method has not been tested in the West. However, failure to replicate his findings and the fact that, though cell growth can be stimulated and directed by radiation this is possible only at much higher amplitudes, evoked a general skepticism about Gurwitsch’s work. In 1953 Irving Langmuir dubbed Gurwitsch’s Mitogenetic Rays pathological science. Commercial products, therapeutic claims and services supposedly based on his work appear at present to be best regarded as such.[citation needed]

But in the later 20th century Gurwitsch’s daughter Anna, Colli, Quickenden and Inaba separately returned to the subject, referring to the phenomenon more neutrally as “dark luminescence”, “low level luminescence”, “ultraweak bioluminescence”, or “ultraweak chemiluminescence”.[citation needed]Their common basic hypothesis was that the phenomenon was induced from rare oxidation processes and radical reactions.

In the 1970s Fritz-Albert Popp and his research group at the University of Marburg (Germany) showed that the spectral distribution of the emission fell over a wide range of wavelengths, from 200 to 750 nm.[22]Popp proposed that the radiation might be both semi-periodic and coherent.[23]

One biophoton mechanism focuses on injured cells that are under higher levels of oxidative stress, which is one source of light, and can be deemed to constitute a “distress signal” or background chemical process is yet to be demonstrated.[24]The difficulty of teasing out the effects of any supposed biophotons amid the other numerous chemical interactions between cells makes it difficult to devise a testable hypothesis. A 2010 review article discusses various published theories on this kind of signaling.[25]

Controversy with the Healing Arts

Many claims with few if any scientific proof have been made for cures and diagnosis using biophotons.[26]An appraisal of “biophoton therapy” by the IOCOB[27]notes that biophoton therapy claims to treat a wide variety of diseases, such as malaria, Lyme disease, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and depression, but that all these claims remain unproven.

F. Popp, a researcher who investigates biophoton emission, concludes that the complexity of cellular chemical reactions in living systems is such that it excludes the possibility to create a machine to selectively heal systems using biophotons, but there are always people who believe in these “miracles.”[27][28]

Nonetheless, many innovative discoveries are made with controversies, but it usually takes many years before the evidence becomes decisive.


  1.  Popp, Fritz (2003). “Properties of biophotons and their theoretical implications”. Indian Journal of Experimental Biology. 41(5): 391–402. PMID 15244259.
  2. ^Takeda, Motohiro; Kobayashi, Masaki; Takayama, Mariko; Suzuki, Satoshi; Ishida, Takanori; Ohnuki, Kohji; Moriya, Takuya; Ohuchi, Noriaki (2004). “Biophoton detection as a novel technique for cancer imaging”. Cancer Science. 95(8): 656–61. doi:10.1111/j.1349-7006.2004.tb03325.x. PMID 15298728.
  3. ^Rastogi, Anshu; Pospíšil, Pavel (2010). “Ultra-weak photon emission as a non-invasive tool for monitoring of oxidative processes in the epidermal cells of human skin: Comparative study on the dorsal and the palm side of the hand”. Skin Research and Technology. 16(3): 365–70. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0846.2010.00442.x. PMID 20637006.
  4. ^Niggli, Hugo J. (1993). “Artificial sunlight irradiation induces ultraweak photon emission in human skin fibroblasts”. Journal of Photochemistry and Photobiology B: Biology. 18(2–3): 281–5. doi:10.1016/1011-1344(93)80076-L. PMID 8350193.
  5. ^Bajpai, R (2009). Biophotons: a clue to unravel the mystery of “life” – Book= Bioluminescence in Focus – a collection of illuminating essays; ed Meyer-Rochow VB; Res Signpost Trivandrum. 1:. pp. 357–385.
  6. ^arXiv, Emerging Technology from the. “Are there optical communication channels in our brains?”. MIT Technology Review. Retrieved 9 September 2017.
  7. ^Beloussov, LV; Opitz, JM; Gilbert, SF (1997). “Life of Alexander G. Gurwitsch and his relevant contribution to the theory of morphogenetic fields”. The International Journal of Developmental Biology. 41(6): 771–7, comment 778–9. PMID 9449452.
  8. ^Bennett, Mark; Mehta, Monaz; Grant, Murray (2005). “Biophoton Imaging: A Nondestructive Method for Assaying R Gene Responses”. MPMI. 18(2): 95–102. doi:10.1094/MPMI-18-0095. PMID 15720077.
  9. ^Takeda, M; Kobayashi, M; Takayama, M; et al. (August 2004). “Biophoton detection as a novel technique for cancer”. Cancer Science. 95(8): 656–61. doi:10.1111/j.1349-7006.2004.tb03325.x. PMID 15298728.
  10. ^Yirka, Bob (May 2012). “Research suggests cells communicate via biophotons”. Retrieved 26 January 2016.
  11. ^Masaki, Kobayashi; Daisuke, Kikuchi; Hitoshi, Okamura (2009). “Imaging of Ultraweak Spontaneous Photon Emission from Human Body Displaying Diurnal Rhythm”. PLOS One. 4(7): e6256. Bibcode:2009PLoSO…4.6256K. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0006256. PMC 2707605. PMID 19606225.
  12. ^Dotta, B.T.; et al. (April 2012). “Increased photon emission from the head while imagining light in the dark is correlated with changes in electroencephalographic power: support for Bokkon’s biophoton hypothesis”. Neuroscience Letters. 513(2): 151–4. doi:10.1016/j.neulet.2012.02.021. PMID 22343311.
  13. ^Joines, William T.; Baumann, Steve; Kruth, John G. (2012). “Electromagnetic emission from humans during focused intent”. Journal of Parapsychology. 76(2): 275–294.
  14. ^Cilento, Giuseppe; Adam, Waldemar (1995). “From free radicals to electronically excited species”. Free Radical Biology and Medicine. 19(1): 103–14. doi:10.1016/0891-5849(95)00002-F. PMID 7635351.
  15. ^Ursini, Fulvio; Barsacchi, Renata; Pelosi, Gualtiero; Benassi, Antonio (1989). “Oxidative stress in the rat heart, studies on low-level chemiluminescence”. Journal of Bioluminescence and Chemiluminescence. 4(1): 241–4. doi:10.1002/bio.1170040134. PMID 2801215.
  16. ^Kataoka, Yosky; Cui, Yilong; Yamagata, Aya; Niigaki, Minoru; Hirohata, Toru; Oishi, Noboru; Watanabe, Yasuyoshi (2001). “Activity-Dependent Neural Tissue Oxidation Emits Intrinsic Ultraweak Photons”. Biochemical and Biophysical Research Communications. 285(4): 1007. doi:10.1006/bbrc.2001.5285. PMID 11467852.
  17. ^Boveris, A; Cadenas, E; Reiter, R; Filipkowski, M; Nakase, Y; Chance, B (1980). “Organ chemiluminescence: Noninvasive assay for oxidative radical reactions”. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 77: 347. Bibcode:1980PNAS…77..347B. doi:10.1073/pnas.77.1.347. PMC 348267.
  18. ^Iniguez, A. Leonardo; Dong, Yuemei; Carter, Heather D; Ahmer, Brian M. M; Stone, Julie M; Triplett, Eric W (2005). “Regulation of Enteric Endophytic Bacterial Colonization by Plant Defenses”. Molecular Plant-Microbe Interactions. 18(2): 169. doi:10.1094/MPMI-18-0169. PMID 15720086.
  19. ^Kobayashi, M; Sasaki, K; Enomoto, M; Ehara, Y (2006). “Highly sensitive determination of transient generation of biophotons during hypersensitive response to cucumber mosaic virus in cowpea”. Journal of Experimental Botany. 58(3): 465. doi:10.1093/jxb/erl215. PMID 17158510.
  20. ^Kobayashi, Katsuhiro; Okabe, Hirotaka; Kawano, Shinya; Hidaka, Yoshiki; Hara, Kazuhiro (2014). “Biophoton Emission Induced by Heat Shock”. PLOS One. 9(8): e105700. Bibcode:2014PLoSO…9j5700K. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0105700. PMID 25153902.
  21. ^Gurwitsch, A. A (1988). “A historical review of the problem of mitogenetic radiation”. Experientia. 44(7): 545–50. PMID 3294029.
  22. ^Wijk, Roeland Van; Wijk, Eduard P.A. Van (2005). “An Introduction to Human Biophoton Emission”. Complementary Medicine Research. 12(2): 77. doi:10.1159/000083763.
  23. ^Ignatov, Ignat; Mosin, Oleg; Stoyanov, Chavdar (2014). “Biophysical Fields. Color Coronal Spectral Analysis. Registration with Water Spectral Analysis. Biophoton Emission”. Journal of Medicine, Physiology and Biophysics. 6.
  24. ^Bennett Davis (23 February 2002). “Body Talk”. Kobayashi Biophoton Lab. Archived from the originalon 11 November 2007. Retrieved 2007-11-04.[self-published source?]
  25. ^Cifra, Michal; Fields, Jeremy Z; Farhadi, Ashkan (2011). “Electromagnetic cellular interactions”. Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology. 105(3): 223. doi:10.1016/j.pbiomolbio.2010.07.003. PMID 20674588.
  26. ^ Jump up to:
    abBarrett, M.D., Stephen. “Some Notes on the American Academy of Quantum Medicine (AAQM)”. Retrieved 8 May 2013.
  27. ^ Jump up to:
    ab“Biophoton therapy: an appraisal”. Archived from the originalon 22 June 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2013.


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