Laser Treatment Of Hypothyroidism – Part II

The human data on red and near infrared light treatment of hypothyroidism mostly falls  into two categories. The low power output non-pulsed series of studies which I have discussed here and the pulsed studies with much higher peak power output which I will look at in future.

This article is going to look at a different series of papers published in Ukraine around 2002 that form the basis of a dissertation. These are low-power non-pulsed treatment methods that have different treatment metrics and different outcome measurements than the papers mentioned in the previous article.

Unfortunately some of the most important metrics are not given in these papers and they cannot be calculated from the information that is given. Wavelength and power output range are specified but neither total dose nor time is specified. I think it’s worth talking about this data because it looks at a much broader range of  outcome measurements than the other non-pulsed studies. This paper should give us a better idea about what non-pulsed light can do.


With the occurrence of the nuclear disaster in Chernobyl in 1986 rates of hypothyroidism in Ukraine have increased tenfold. Ukrainian health authorities are very aware of the problems posed by hypothyroidism and the limitations of drug and surgical treatments. It was with this in mind that the investigation into low level laser therapy for thyroid conditions was initiated in Ukraine.

This paper deals with a type of autoimmune hypothyroidism called hypertrophic autoimmune thyroiditis (HFAT) or Hashimoto’s disease. The paper references a couple of studies on the effectiveness of laser therapy in thyroid conditions dating back to 1989, however these papers did not go investigate structural changes in the thyroid gland or the immune system changes induced by low level laser therapy in Hashimoto’s.


The study set out to develop an approach using low level laser therapy in patients with Hashimoto’s disease to treat goiter, thyroid gland function (hormones) and autoimmunity. The study looked at thyroid hormones, antibodies, ultrasounds, lymphocytes and immunoglobulins. Hashimoto’s patients who were clinically euthyroid, clinically hypothyroid and clinically hypothyroid were included.

Patient Groups

115 patients were enrolled in the study. All patients were diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease.

There were 89 patients in group 1. Average TSH of 4. Euthyroid.

Group 2 had 10 people and were sub-clinically hypothyroid. Average TSH of 7.5.

Group 3 had 16 patients who were clinically hypothyroid. Average TSH of 17

Groups one and two tended to have a shorter disease duration of 1 to 5 years, whereas the clinically hypothyroid group 3 tended to cluster at 5 to 10 years. 

Treatment parameters

The laser treatment parameters are incomplete and unclear. The power is reported as 2 to 70 mW. Three separate wavelengths are reported. First is in the visible red spectrum at 634 nm. Above that they also record 850 nm infrared and lastly 1300 nm infrared. The duration of the treatment is not reported, neither is the energy fluence dose. It seems that 634 nm and  850 nm were both used on thyroid concurrently. The study reports using both of those in order to reach different depths of thyroid tissue.

Treatment Of Other Areas

This study also used laser irradiation on other parts of the body. The blood was irradiated via the veins in the elbow and three laser acupuncture points were used. In some similar but pulsed experiments they seem to infer that laser treatment points other than the thyroid can be used to lower inflammation and autoimmune processes while limiting the amount of laser radiation to the thyroid gland itself. See previous article on why this might be important here

Immunocorrection Via Blood Irradiation?

This paper refers to the irradiation of the blood as a treatment for “immunocorrection”. The acupuncture points aren’t identified specifically but described as “the points of the central and peripheral immunocompetent organs; points of general toning; paravertebral points”.  It seems that only the red wavelength was used for blood irradiation. It’s not specified where the 1300 nm laser is used.

Treatment Frequency

Treatments were five days on and then two days off for to 2-3 weeks, depending on the size of the thyroid gland. The treatment was then repeated after 3 months. 4 treatment courses were applied in this study. The first two has 3 months gap, it’s unclear to me when the others were applied.

Results – Goiter

A good reduction in the size of goiter was seen in all three groups. Of the 89 patients who started with goiter – 59 saw a reduction in size. Both physical examination by palpation and ultrasound confirmed positive changes in thyroid volume and structure. These benefits were retained at six and nine months after treatments. In patients with phase 3 goiter there was a decrease from 60% to 40% of people with this diagnosis between the second and fourth treatment. All of the patients who had this diagnosis saw improvements (decrease) in goiter size. Similar results were seen in other patients, no negative effects on goiter size or density were reported.

Inflammatory Tissue

The improvement in goiter was associated with a softening of the thyroid gland. The paper reports a decrease in the inflammatory tissue of the thyroid and decreasing lymphoid infiltration of the gland. This occurred with a decrease in the production of growth stimulating antibodies.

Immune Parameters

The paper describes a universal improvement in immune parameters in all groups. Specifically, the paper states that “there was a probable increase in the relative number of common T-lymphocytes and TCH E-PUK.” IgG antibodies were decreased from laser treatment and 6-9 months after treatment were at normal levels. IgM antibodies were also decreased.


Levels of ATTG decreased significantly over the course of the study. I think this is thyroglobulin antibodies (TGab). The levels of ATTG fell from an average of 800 to 300 during the study and at six month follow-up after the last treatment were at an average of 168. The nine month follow-up showed a slight reversal in the trend giving an average ATTG of 200. In the subclinical hypothyroid group ATTG levels were within the normal range four years after treatment. Many of the patients had normal ATTG  levels at nine months.

TSH – T4 – T3

In the euthyroid group TSH levels were halved after four courses of treatment, from 4.0 to 2.2. T4 levels in the euthyroid group were increased at the two-year point from an average of 75 to an average of 100. There was only a very slight drop in T4 (98) at the four year point.

In the subclinical hypothyroid group TSH was normalised during the course of treatment. There was also a significant increase in T4, from 68 to 113 after the fourth course. T4 was still elevated above baseline in this group after nine months.

T3 levels increased significantly but gradually. Four years after treatment the average levels of T3 had increased from 1.09 to 1.76. These levels remained relatively stable 6 to 9 months after treatment.

In the hypothyroid group the TSH level decreased from 17 to 4 with treatment. This improvement was maintained at six and nine months. T4 rose on average from 56 to 108. T4  showed a decrease six months later to 90 and at nine months was at 88.

T3 levels in the clinically hypothyroid group increased from 1.0 to 1.38 by 2 years. Laser therapy achieved normal levels of T3 in this group. This method of treating hypothyroidism led to a normalization of thyroid hormones and a decrease in goiter and immune markers.



So these are the results from this paper as well as I can make them out from the translation. Low level laser therapy normalised thyroid function is defined by TSH, T4, and T3 levels in subclinical hypothyroidism caused  by Hashimoto’s disease. A lot of useful data is missing and some of the paper is a little unclear because of automated translation from Ukranian. I’ve tried to avoid reporting on things that are not clear on the paper. You should, of course, read the papers yourself to get the full context.


At the end of this paper there is a section entitled practical recommendations that gives some guidelines for treating autoimmune hypothyroidism. That’s worth taking a look at if you’re interested, unfortunately doesn’t give any more of the laser metrics.

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Possibilities of using low-intensity laser radiation in the treatment of hypertrophic form of autoimmune thyroiditis.