Fight Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism with Red and Near-Infrared Light Therapy
Several 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.
A recent 2013 randomized, placebo-controlled study in hypothyroid patients demonstrated that in people who got near-infrared light therapy, thyroid function dramatically improved, and remarkably, that thyroid antibody (TPOAb) levels were massively reduced. Amazingly, 47% of patients were able to stop medication completely! Moreover, the researchers also followed up 9 months after treatment and found that the effects were still evident! They even published a 6-year follow- up, which basically said that even at 6 years, some of the benefits still remained, but periodic sessions were recommended to maintain all benefits. (To be honest, I don’t suggest red/NIR light as a one-time treatment that is expected to last long-term. For optimal benefits, most research indicates that sessions be done with red/NIR therapy at least once a week consistently.)
A 2010 study found that red light therapy helped 38% of study participants reduce their hypothyroid medication dose, with a whopping 17% being able to stop taking the medication altogether!
A 1997 study done in Russia included some data on people with autoimmune hypothyroidism who underwent 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.
A 2003 study done in Ukraine showed that red light therapy can decrease thyroid medication needs by 50-75% in people with postsurgical hypothyroidism.
A 2010 Russian dissertation study gave 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 25-50μg.
A 2014 study used 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 averaged at 2.2 mIU/L after just 10 light treatments.
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.