This article is based on a dissertation published in the Ukraine 2006. This dissertation is on the topic of pulsed laser treatment of hypothyroidism and markers of coronary heart disease. A lot of research into autoimmune hypothyroidism has been conducted in Ukraine because of the rise in this condition due to the Chernobyl meltdown.
Laser treatments improves TSH, T3, T4, TPOab.
Positive changes were seen in the level of T-cell phenotype (CD8 +) and immunoregulatory index (CD4 + / CD8 +).
Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL – C, VLDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol all improved, along with the atherogenic ratio.
Malondialdehyde decreased – Glutathione increased.
The paper starts by outlining some of the problems in treating autoimmune thyroiditis. It becomes clear reading the introductory passages in the dissertation that knowledge of the pathological processes surrounding hypothyroidism and its common treatments are very well understood in Ukraine.
The paper explains that the common medication treatment of autoimmune hypothyroidism is relatively unsuccessful, often leading to goitre and malignant tumours. These are complications which often lead to surgical intervention. Surgery does not deal with the root cause of the problem. Surgery increases the aggressiveness of the autoimmune processes. Antithyroid antibodies tend to increase after surgery.
The paper describes an observed increase in dyslipidaemia after thyroid surgery. Dyslipidemia is an abnormal amount of lipids – fat, triglycerides and cholesterol in the blood. Dyslipidemia and the more advanced hyperlipidaemia are well-known risk factors for cardiovascular disease.
There is the observation by Ukrainian doctors and scientists that the common medical treatment for hypothyroidism (levothyroxine/ T4) is associated with an increase in coronary artery disease and angina. The paper notes the increase in cardiovascular disease in Ukraine, while obviously there has been a concurrent increase in autoimmune hypothyroidism from Chernobyl.
The question of whether dyslipidemia causes cardiovascular disease, or whether they are both symptoms of hypothyroidism is worth asking, but it’s not something I’m gonna go into here. You could take a look at the work of Broda Barnes for more on heart health and hypothyroidism. I’m going to take the assumptions of this dissertation at face value for the purpose of this article.
The purpose of this study was to examine the changes in thyroid autoimmunity and markers associated with cardiovascular disease in the period of years after surgery. Then to assess the effect of an intervention with pulsed laser therapy. (Photobiomodulation or Low Level Light Therapy.)
The researchers created a number of groups of people based on disease categorisation.
Group A consisted of 20 people with autoimmune hypothyroidism.
Group B consisted of 57 patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism and diagnosed coronary heart disease.
Group C was made up of 14 people with only coronary heart disease.
There was a control group of 10 people who are deemed to be healthy, these were age-matched to mimic the other groups.
The hypothyroid groups consisted of individuals who were all at least one year post-surgery. Group B (hypothyroidism+heart disease) was further split into two groups for active laser treatment and control, which forms the basis of the interesting data.
The laser treatment procedure involved irradiation of the thyroid gland and the blood (via the skin of the elbows). In another article I looked at some similar procedures where light is applied to the thyroid, the eardrum, the clavicle area, and the blood vessels in the elbows.
That study showed that radiation of the thyroid gland had a strong effect on the thyroid hormones, whereas radiation of other areas had a more potent fact on improving autoimmune status. These types of treatments were originally developed in Russia to treat arthritis. When that improvement in autoimmunity was observed the techniques became incorporated into experimental treatments for autoimmune hypothyroidism.
The laser device was a ML 01K. This has 10 narrow laser diodes with a peak output of 5000 MW. The wavelength of 890 nm is in the invisible near-infrared. With devices which have peak power outputs in >1000 milliwatt range you will usually see that they are pulsed on and off. The pulse rate in this study was 80 Hz.
These parameters are known to penetrate tissue to a depth the 70 mm. Higher peak power means deeper penetration, you generally get deeper penetration as you move up through the red wavelengths towards the end of near infrared A also. The paper doesn’t give the reasoning for using a pulsed beam. Many arguments have been made for pulsing – the most common purpose of pulsing is to dissipate heat while maintaining a good depth of penetration.
The device was used for four minutes on each side of the thyroid. Power density is listed as 0.03 J per centimetre. This is *likely* averaged over the total area of the thyroid gland. The area actually covered by the narrow beams of laser would be getting much more energy. The initial course was 10 separate sessions of this treatment. These parameters are somewhat similar to the parameters in the previous study looked at on pulsed laser irradiation treatment of hypothyroidism.
One of the experimental groups that I mentioned earlier – Group B – (consisting of 57 patients with autoimmune hypothyroidism and diagnosed coronary heart disease) – was split into a treatment group of 30 people and a control group of 27 people. The control group got a sham treatment where they went through the laser application procedure but where the laser device was not switched on.
The laser treatment led to an improvement in thyroid stimulating hormone and the thyroid hormones free T3, and T4. Three months after the course of laser therapy the TPO antibodies had it decreased significantly.
The study looked at some of the important T cell indicators of cellular immunity and results showed that laser therapy led to significant improvement. Positive changes were seen in the level of T-cell phenotype (CD8 +) and immunoregulatory index (CD4 + / CD8 +).
In the analysis of lipid profiles the laser treatment proved to have a significant beneficial effect. Total cholesterol, triglycerides, LDL – C, VLDL cholesterol and HDL cholesterol all improved, along with the atherogenic ratio.
The study also looked at some measures of the antioxidant system and lipid peroxidation, some improvement was seen in both of those areas. Namely a decrease in malondialdehyde, a highly reactive compound used as a marker for oxidative stress and secondly an increase in glutathione, and antioxidant that protects against lipid peroxidation and other free radicals.
The improvement in the balance of the oxidative system is hypothesised to minimise some of the potential damage the heart by improving heart specific metabolism. A number of measurements of heart health were assessed in the study and they showed improvement. (Reduction of the DAC, increase of vWF, IVRT E was decreased.)
Positive trends in all these markets were seen even six months after the last treatment. The number of patients in the experimental group who were assessed to have a high risk of developing further heart disease decreased by almost 85% during the period of the study. The author recommends repeating the 10 session treatment after six months and says that the second session builds upon the improvements of the first. The data supplied supports this claim.
Some of the lipid metrics recorded are:
Total cholesterol of 8.2 down to 4.4 after 12 months.
LDL 5.8 down to 3.3 after 12 months.
VLDL 1.17 down to 0.7 after 12 months
HDL 1.06 up to 1.34 after 12 months
For thyroid related tests:
T3 from 0.9 to 1.8 (nmol/L)
Free T3 from 0.64 to 1.38
T4 from 48 to 76
Free T4 from 5 to 10
TSH from 10 to 4.4
There’s more data in the linked reference if you’re interested, including plenty of data tracking cellular immunity.
A complex method for treating patients with autoimmune thyroiditis in presence of hypothyroidism and accompanying coronary disease.