Hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid disease is a common disorder wherein a thyroid gland does not make enough thyroid hormone. According to some estimates, about 4.6% of the US population ages 12 and older have hypothyroidism. Despite the fact that most cases of this disease are mild, that accounts for about 5 in 100 people. The treatment for underactive thyroid disease revolves around medications, a synthetic thyroid hormone T4. It is not uncommon for patients to seek other forms of treatment including light therapy. Is light therapy helpful in this case? Can you benefit from this therapy? Keep reading to find out!
What is light therapy for hypothyroidism?
Low-level laser light therapy (LLLT) is a common treatment approach to various conditions from seasonal affective disorder to depression. The treatment is based on research confirming that near infrared radiation and red light improve cellular energy metabolism through activation of the enzyme complex called cytochrome C oxidase.
The energy boosting effect from light therapy protects tissues from inflammation. When it comes to light therapies, near infrared lamp is able to penetrate deeper due to the fact that light is concentrated to a small area.
Is light therapy really helpful?
With the increased popularity of light therapy as a holistic approach towards better thyroid health without medications, one has to wonder whether it is really that helpful. Multiple studies have been carried out on this subject. For example, the ISRN Endocrinologypublished findings from the research which showed that applying red light directly to the thyroid gland (front of your neck) increases hormone production. In fact, the LLLT demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties and the tremendous ability to regenerate biological tissues.
The beneficial effects of infrared lasers are associated, to some extent, with alterations in gene expressions and serum levels of several cytokines. A group of researchers from Brazil concluded that light therapy was able to improve thyroid parenchyma vascularization which is linked to autoimmunity in patients whose hypothyroidism stems from the CAT (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis).
Furthermore, a study whose results were published in the journal Photomedicine and Laser Surgerydiscovered that light therapy improves the level of thyroidal hormones. Researchers used male mice and found statistically significant hormonal level changes the first day and seven days later.
Similar findings occurred when a separate study used rabbits to investigate the impact of light therapy on hypothyroidism. Scientists found the evident differences between rabbits that underwent LLLT and the control group. Also, there were differences regarding the level of irradiation too. They concluded that light therapy promoted a beneficial alteration in thyroid hormonal levels.
As you can see, scientists have confirmed the benefits of light therapy on hypothyroidism through anti-inflammatory effects, enhanced hormone production, and tissue recovery. Patients who suffer from hypothyroidism hope this treatment can help them discontinue using medications or at least lower the dosage.
Other benefits of light therapy on hypothyroidism
Besides advantages of light therapy mentioned above, there are many other positive effects of this treatment approach. Here are some of them:
- Light exposure – this is particularly beneficial for individuals who work indoors and don’t get to spend enough time outside. When our exposure to the natural light is reduced, it also affects thyroid health
- Stronger immune system – light therapy improves the function of white blood cells by elevating body temperature in order to improve the body’s ability to eliminate foreign pathogens and cellular waste products
- Weight loss – one of the most pronounced symptoms of hypothyroidism is weight gain. Light therapy can also speed up your metabolism, which is vital for weight loss and successful weight management
Should I give light therapy a try?
Most people look for a natural way to deal with their health condition, including hypothyroidism. Light therapy gives a glimpse of hope that you can use a natural approach to tackle this disease and manage symptoms you experience. Studies confirm the benefits of light therapy which is always a good thing to know. However, before you undergo one such treatment session make sure you consult your doctor.
What else you can do to manage hypothyroidism
If you, or someone you know, have hypothyroidism it is crucial to follow doctor’s orders and recommendations. Besides taking medications prescribed or giving light therapy a chance, you should also make some lifestyle modifications such as:
- Consume a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables
- Exercise regularly
- Find your own unique way, some relaxing activity, to manage stress
- Get enough sleep
Hypothyroidism is a very common disease with a multitude of symptoms and complications. Taking medications is the standard treatment option but light therapy emerges as a natural, safe, and effective way to reduce inflammation, enhance tissue recovery, and improve production of thyroidal hormones. Of course, you should consult your doctor first if you plan to give this therapy a chance.