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In this blog, we're exploring how Red Light Therapy (RLT) has been studied in relation to Hashimoto's Thyroiditis (HT), an autoimmune disease affecting the thyroid gland. We'll discuss a study conducted in July 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey, that investigated RLT's potential effects in this context.
- What is Hashimoto’s?
- Study Introduction
- The Study Development
- Study Results
What is Hashimoto’s?
Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, also known as HT, is both a B cell- and T cell-mediated, organ-specific autoimmune disease. It is caused by an autoimmune attack of the thyroid gland, and characterised by the presence of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies.
We have to note that no current treatment for underlying pathological mechanisms is available for HT, and once diagnosed it requires long-term levothyroxine (LT4) treatment in most patients.
Steroids or non steroid anti-inflammatory medication does not help in decreasing the destruction of the thyroid gland, and LT4 replacement + selenium supplementation may reduce TPO Ab levels in some patients.
In this difficult situation, red light therapy could possibly be an alternative treatment option in HT.
The light is supposed to interact with biological structures, improves anti-inflammatory responses and helps regeneration of tissues. In other words, red light therapy could potentially be effective in some autoimmune diseases, such as rheumatoid arthritis and Sjögren’s syndrome and it has also shown to possibly improve triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) levels in animal studies, for instance.
For those who are not familiar with it, red light therapy is a noninvasive, low-risk procedure. Moreover, it does not contain any ionising radiation, it is very easy to perform and it also has a low cost.
The aim of the study we are about to introduce, was to evaluate the effects of red light therapy on HT patients regarding thyroid functions, thyroid autoantibody levels, and decrease in hormone replacement needs.
The study we reference involved 350 patients with HT, examining the potential supportive role of RLT alongside dietary supplementation in managing this condition.
A selection of 350 patients with HT were selected for the study with a vast female dominance. 340 versus 10 men. The age of the subjects was approximately 37 with the youngest patient being 29 and the oldest 45.
We need to note that patients with other autoimmune diseases, thyroid nodules, history of radiation to the neck, and previous thyroid surgery or other diseases, which can interfere with the thyroid metabolism, were excluded from the study.
All patients were divided into two groups.
Group 1 received red light therapy and dietary supplementation including vitamin D, iron and selenium.
Group 2 received the dietary supplements only.
Patients’ needs for LT4 replacement levels, T3, T4, and TSH levels, T3/T4 ratio, and thyroid autoantibody levels were evaluated both prior and in the third month of the treatment.
The study focused on changes in thyroid function and autoantibody levels over three months.
The light chosen for the study was an 850nm wavelength light.
In terms of exposure, the application of the light was made with the patient’s neck extended and right into the thyroid gland. Each application was 2 seconds long, and with the light perpendicular to the skin.
The patients had a total of 6 sessions, twice a day for a total of 3 days.
Since it was a low level laser light, no protection was required.
First of all, we need to mention that none of the patients experienced any side effects.
In Group 1, T3 levels, T3/T4 ratio, vitamin D, selenium, and iron levels increased significantly and TPO Ab and weekly l-thyroxine doses decreased significantly after treatment.
In Group 2, T3/T4 ratio and T4 levels did not change significantly.
As we compare both groups, the increase in T3 levels and T3/T4 ratio was markedly superior in Group 1 (RLT group ). In addition, the decrease in TPO Ab levels was also significantly different between both groups. Hormone replacement needs were also significantly decreased in Group 1 compared with Group 2.
Finally, according to the logistic regression analysis, “red light therapy is 70 times more effective in increasing T3/T4 ratio and 15 times more effective in decreasing levothyroxine dosage than dietary supplementation alone”.
However, it's important to note that such studies are part of ongoing research and should not be seen as conclusive.
While the study offers interesting insights into RLT's potential as a supportive therapy for HT, it's crucial to approach these findings as preliminary. RLT might be considered as one of many tools in managing HT symptoms, but always in consultation with healthcare professionals.
We encourage those interested in exploring RLT, especially for thyroid-related issues, to consider it as a complementary approach alongside traditional medical treatments. Our devices, including those with the specific wavelengths used in the study, are designed for ease of use and can be integrated into a broader health management plan.
It's essential to approach any new therapy, including RLT, with a balanced perspective, acknowledging both its potential and limitations. For those exploring options for managing Hashimoto’s or similar conditions, informed decision-making with input from healthcare providers is key.
Source of information:
Impact of Photobiomodulation on T3/T4 Ratio and Quality of Life in Hashimoto Thyroiditis – ttps://www.liebertpub.com/doi/10.1089/photob.2019.4740