Low Level Laser Therapy (LLLT) and Hashimoto’s Hypothyroid Disease
According to the American Endocrine Society and the American Academy of Family Physicians the only accepted treatment for Hypothyroidism or Hashimoto’s Hypothyroidism is T4 replacement hormone therapy. That paradigm just got turned on its head with a South American research article titled: Low-level laser in the treatment of patients with hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: a randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Chronic autoimmune thyroiditis (CAT) is the most prevalent cause of hypothyroidism and typically requires life long (T4) levothyroxine replacement. According to the American Endocrine Society, 90% of those diagnosed with Hypothyroidism (elevated TSH, low T4) will also have positive anti-thyroglobulin antibodies or thyroid peroxidase antibodies (or both). The presence of these antibodies indicates autoimmune thyroid, AKA Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
The typical person with Hashimoto’s Disease is female, although men can have Hashimoto’s. The development of symptoms are usually associated with a significant hormonal fluctuation such as pregnancy or a period of stress. Symptoms such as low energy/fatigue, hair loss, depression/anxiety, constipation, cold hands and feet, heart palpitations, increase in weight even though they may not be excessively consuming calories, and mental sluggishness (brain fog) are some of the most common complaints. Sounds familiar? Then blood is pulled and hopefully the TSH level is elevated (people can still have all of the symptoms and normal TSH because of CAT) indicating hypothyroidism. Medication is given and the patient is told to take this the rest of their life, regardless if they continue to have symptoms after hormone replacement!
This is why I am so excited about the research coming out of South America. For the first time a randomized, placebo control trial indicates that a very reasonable amount of low level laser therapy (10 sessions according to the trial) may increase thyroid hormone levels (T4), start regeneration of the thyroid follicle cells (think damaged thyroid tissue from autoimmune activity) and decrease thyroid peroxidase antibodies! WOW! The researchers actually suspended thyroid hormone replacement therapy after 30 days and re measured levels 9 months later.
Here is a snippet from the research, please note LT4 is the Thyroid hormone replacement, L group is the treatment group and P group is the control (did not receive therapy).
Excerpt from Lasers in Medical Science, 2013 (743-53).
“A reduced LT4 (thyroid hromone replacement) dose or complete cessation of therapy was possible in 22/33 patients (95.7%) in the L group (therapy group). In the P group (control, no therapy), a reduced LT4 dose was observed in only 1 of the 20 patients (5%). There was no need to reintroduce LT4 before the ninth month of the follow up-period in 11 of the 23 patients (47.8%) in the L group, but all of the P-group patients required LT4 reintroduction. None of the L-group patients needed increased LT4, while 8 of the 20 patients (40%) in the P group did.”
According to the research, 9 months after thyroid hormone discontinuation only about 50% needed to restart the LT4 therapy to reach a normalized TSH! I think this is absolutely amazing because in only 10 laser sessions ½ of the study participants did not need LT4 therapy at 9 months! Of course it would have been wonderful to see a 2,5 or even ten year follow up but it still points that by reducing the inflammation in a tissue it may become less susceptible to autoimmune attack plus low level laser therapy is consistently shown to regenerate tissue destroyed in auto-immune disease.
Dr. Autoimmune is looking into developing cold laser protocols. I anticipate that this therapy will add another level to the healing process and can help optimize the recovery of those suffering from Hashimoto’s hypothyroid. From helping fractures recover faster, decreasing pain in autoimmune disease to chronic pain patterns in the back, knee and shoulder it is exciting to start employing this noninvasive therapy for our patient’s benefit.
If you are curious how functional medicine and our cutting edge technologies can help you optimize your recovery please consider attending our next lecture Wednesday, August 26th at 5:30PM. Seating is limited so to reserve your spot please contact 303-882-8447.
Supporting Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, Celiac, Rheumatoid, Multiple Sclerosis and other auto-immune conditions since 2008.
Yours truly in health & wellness,
Ian Hollaman, DC, MSc, IFMCP, DAAIM