In conjunction with healthy lifestyle choices, several clinical trials support the use of red light therapy in improving thyroid health and even reducing the need for medication in some patients with chronic autoimmune thyroiditis.
Table of Contents
HOW RED LIGHT IMPROVES THYROID HEALTH
Red light therapy (also known as low-level laser therapy or infrared light) has been used to treat all sorts of health issues: from insomnia to seasonal affective disorder (SAD). It has also emerged as an effective and safe method to combat chronic autoimmune thyroiditis.
Millions of Americans suffer from hypothyroidism, with symptoms like fatigue, depression, and weight gain. Hypothyroidism is the state of low energy production in the entire body as a result of low thyroid hormone activity. The typical causes are complex, including various diet and lifestyle factors such as stress, heredity, aging, polyunsaturated fats, low carbohydrate intake, low calorie intake, sleep deprivation, alcoholism, and even excess endurance exercise. Other factors such as thyroid removal surgery, fluoride intake, various medical therapies, and so on also cause hypothyroidism (5).
Some studies conclude that applying red light appropriately on the neck may potentially break this vicious cycle by improving local energy availability, thus increasing natural thyroid hormone production by the gland again. With a healthy thyroid gland restored, a host of positive downstream effects occur, as the entire body finally gets the energy it needs (5).
HASHIMOTO'S THYROIDITIS STUDY
Clinical research on light therapy’s effects on the thyroid is in its early stages, but initial clinical trials are extremely encouraging.
A team of researchers conducted a 3-year, randomized, placebo-controlled trial of 43 patients with a history of levothyroxine intervention for hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (or CAT for chronic autoimmune thyroiditis).
These researchers, led by Dr. D.B. Höfling, have published a series of studies in medical journals outlining their findings, which included a 9-month follow-up with all patients (6).
They discovered that there was:
Less need for levothyroxine: After light therapy, patients’ need for the common thyroid drug declined, and in some cases went away entirely. The average dose required for the placebo group was nearly three times as high. Amazingly, 47% of participants in the light therapy group no longer needed levothyroxine at all during the entire nine-month follow-up after light therapy.
Decline in thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb): Study participants also showed a decline in levels of thyroid peroxidase (TPOAb), which are antibodies indicating an autoimmune problem—further demonstrating the benefits of near infrared light therapy.
Thyroid vascularity: Using color doppler ultrasounds, researchers found that light therapy treatments led to higher rates of vascularization of the thyroid lobes and increased systolic peak velocity (SPV) of the inferior thyroid arteries (ITA).
Overall thyroid health: The researchers concluded that light therapy is “effective at improving thyroid function, promoting reduced TPOAb-mediated autoimmunity and increasing thyroid echogenicity in patients with CAT hypothyroidism.”
While the effects were still evident after 9 months, these researchers continued to publish a 6-year follow-up. This demonstrated that even at 6 years, some of the benefits still remained, but periodic sessions were recommended to maintain all benefits (6).
For optimal benefits, most research indicates that sessions be done with red/NIR therapy at least once a week consistently.
OTHER EVIDENCE FROM RESEARCH STUDIES
Several other studies have shown profound benefits of red and near-infrared light therapy for autoimmune hypothyroidism. This is one of the only treatments that has been shown to potentially reverse (or at least greatly slow the progression of) autoimmune hypothyroidism (4).
A 2010 study found that red light therapy helped 38% of study participants reduce their hypothyroid medication dose, with 17% being able to stop taking the medication altogether (3).
A 1997 study done in Russia included some data on people with autoimmune hypothyroidism who underwent a thyroid surgery. They found that red/NIR light therapy improved thyroid hormone levels enough that they required, on average, roughly half as much thyroid hormone medication (3).
A 2003 study done in the Ukraine showed that red light therapy can decrease thyroid medication needs by 50-75% in people with postsurgical hypothyroidism (3).
A 2010 Russian dissertation study gavee red light therapy on the thyroid gland to a group of people with hypothyroidism and found that 17% of people could completely get off thyroid medication and 38% could decrease the dose by 25-50 μg (3).
A 2014 study used the light therapy for 10 sessions with 347 women with subclinical hypothyroidism. At baseline, the average TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) was 9.1 mIU/L. (Note: Higher TSH is a sign of hypothyroidism). After ten sessions of light therapy, the TSH was normalized in 337 (97%) of these women. Their TSH average at 2.2 mIU/L after just 10 light treatments (3).
While more research is still needed, the existing research is very consistent that red/NIR light therapy has profound beneficial effects on thyroid function. It appears to improve thyroid hormone output, increase blood vessel formation (and thus blood flow) in the thyroid gland, and decrease the progression of the condition through beneficial changes in thyroid gland health and immune system modulation (4).
HOW SAFE IS OUR RED LIGHT THERAPY?
Red light therapy provides a pain-free, natural and safe alternative to conventional therapies. Low-frequency infrared light has longer wavelengths than UV rays, making it safe and gentle on the skin.
We use Joovv Technology for our red light therapy, which meets the wavelength and power requirements used in the red light studies previously mentioned. Unlike our competitors, our red light is no-touch, very affordable, and efficient enough to generate powerful results after a 10 minute session.
Book a session with us today and see the results for yourself!
Höfling, D. (2013). Low-level laser in treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Lasers in Medicine and Science, 28(3): 743-53.
Höfling, D., et al. (2017) Long-term follow-up of patients with hypothyroidism induced by autoimmune thyroiditis submitted to low-level laser therapy.
Heiskanen V. “Valtsu'' (205). Hypothyroidism: Could it be treated with light? Valtsu’s.
Whitten, Ari. The Ultimate Guide to Red Light Therapy. Archangel Ink, 2018.
Joe. “Light Therapy and Hypothyroidism.” Red Light Man, 9 May 2021, https://redlightman.com/blog/red-light-therapy-shown-to-cure-hypothyroidism/.
“Learn the Science of JOOVV Red Light Therapy.” Joovv, https://joovv.com/pages/thyroid.