Using Lasers (LLLT) To Treat Hashimoto's - Do They Actually Work?

Using Lasers (LLLT) to Treat Hashimoto’s – Do They Actually Work?

Using Cold Lasers to Reverse Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a therapy that you could use which required very little effort on your part and had a profound effect on your thyroid gland?

I've always told you to be critical of such claims because they are almost always not true

But laser therapy may be the closest thing that we can get to such a therapy which means that it's definitely something that you should be aware of. 

Can laser therapy completely heal or reverse your Hashimoto's without you putting any effort in on your end?

Probably not, but it IS something that you can add to your existing therapies including things like changing up your diet, exercising daily, using supplements, and so on. 

The problem with laser therapy is not that it doesn't work but that it can be hard to find someone who specializes in this type of therapy. 

But make no mistake:

Using laser therapy can potentially help heal Hashimoto's thyroiditis (1). 

Today you are going to learn...

  • More about thyroid gland tissue regeneration and whether or not you can regenerate thyroid gland tissue (2)
  • What types of lasers can be used to treat Hashimoto's thyroiditis
  • Why the thyroid gland is anatomically in the right place for this type of therapy
  • How laser therapy helps people who have Hashimoto's
  • And what type of doctor you should see if you want to use this type of therapy

Let's jump in...

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Can Thyroid Gland Tissue Regenerate?

The first thing we need to discuss is whether or not thyroid gland tissue can regenerate. 

I frequently get asked this question in some form or another, almost on a daily basis:

"I've had my thyroid removed or [insert other therapies including radioactive iodine ablation], can I get off of my thyroid medication?"

Really what these people are asking is whether or not they can regenerate thyroid gland tissue so they aren't reliant upon thyroid medication for the rest of their lives. 

Most people know that thyroid hormone is required for life. 

Put another way, you simply can't survive if you don't have thyroid hormone surging through your body. 

So if you've ever had your thyroid gland tissue cut out or permanently damaged (either because of radioactive iodine or because of end-stage Hashimoto's) then you MUST take thyroid hormone for the rest of your life. 

There is no getting around this, even with laser therapy. 

Currently, there is no way for thyroid gland tissue that is completely destroyed to grow back. 

So if you've had your thyroid completely cut out, or if you've undergone radioactive iodine ablation therapy, or if you are in end-stage Hashimoto's then lasers won't be effective for you. 

But it's not all bad news. 

Even though it's not possible to regenerate DEAD thyroid gland tissue, it's still possible to heal DAMAGED thyroid gland tissue. 

Thyroid gland cells that are only damaged, but not destroyed, can still be salvaged and healed. 

Hashimoto's thyroiditis is what is referred to as a progressive disease. 

The progression of the disease results in more damage over time. 

So the longer that you have the disease, the more dead thyroid cells there will be. 

But before a cell actually dies, it first gets damaged. 

And these damaged cells are the ones that laser therapy can potentially help. 

I should also point out that while thyroid gland cells cannot grow back they can undergo something called hypertrophy

Hypertrophy just means that something gets bigger. 

Imagine that you have had half of your thyroid gland removed. 

Half of the gland is completely gone and will never come back but the other half can undergo hypertrophy and grow larger. 

The remaining size can grow and may be able to do some of the work of the missing half due to this growth. 

But you will never be able to grow back those dead thyroid cells that have been removed. 

We can take advantage of hypertrophy in Hashimoto's to essentially do the same thing. 

If 20-30% of your thyroid gland has been destroyed due to Hashimoto's thyroiditis, you may be able to get the remaining 70-80% to hypertrophy and grow to essentially do the job of the cells that are dead. 

But in order to have this happen, you need to STOP the destruction and inflammation of Hashimoto's

And that's where laser therapy steps in. 

What is LLLT?

When we talk about laser therapy to treat Hashimoto's we are talking about a very specific type of laser. 

Lasers of all types are used quite frequently in medicine and health for all sorts of disease states. 

For instance, lasers are often used in the field of cosmetic dermatology (fractional CO2 lasers) to help tighten the skin. 

Hot lasers are also used in medicine to cut through tissue, to remove certain types of tissues (even cancer cells), or to assist in surgery. 

The type of lasers that work for Hashimoto's are NOT considered hot lasers. 

In fact, it's quite the opposite. 

If you want to use lasers for Hashimoto's then you want to look for something called low level laser (light) therapy or LLLT for short. 

supplements designed for hashimoto's

These are cold lasers (meaning if they touch your skin they don't feel hot) and they are ideal for stimulating cellular tissue, reducing inflammation (3), and pain relief (4). 

Even though these low level lasers do not produce heat, they still provide energy to target cells. 

And they are frequently used in medicine as well. 

When I had my physical practice I would frequently use low level lasers to treat conditions such as peripheral neuropathy to help with nerve cell regeneration (5), and I've even used it to kill certain types of toe fungus (6).  

If cold lasers are so effective, why is this the first time I've heard about them?

Even though cold lasers can be very effective it's not always possible to use them. 

Why?

Because they only work if they can penetrate deep enough into the body to affect the right tissue. 

They work on the thyroid gland because the thyroid gland is so superficial and close to the skin. 

The thyroid gland sits in your neck and cold lasers only have to penetrate through a thin layer of skin and fat to get right to the thyroid gland. 

And because these lasers don't penetrate deep into the body, they really don't work to treat your internal organs. 

Even though they can be quite effective in treating Hashimoto's, it's still unlikely that your doctor will even be aware of their use in Hashimoto's. 

Why?

As I've mentioned in previous articles and blog posts, doctors really don't consider Hashimoto's a treatable disease/condition. 

They consider HYPOTHYROIDISIM (low thyroid) a treatable condition, so they really only care about Hashimoto's insofar as it CAUSES low thyroid. 

In their minds, Hashimoto's is "treated" by putting you on thyroid medication. 

Laser therapy like we are talking about here focuses on treating thyroid gland inflammation and the autoimmune component of Hashimoto's, so it's not really on the radar of your endocrinologist or regular doctor. 

Benefits of LLLT in Hashimoto's Thyroiditis

How does LLLT (laser therapy) help people who have Hashimoto's thyroiditis?

We have several studies that have evaluated this very question. 

These studies have taken people who have Hashimoto's thyroiditis and put them on a weekly laser therapy protocol (usually 2 to 3 times per week) over a period of time. 

They then looked at various markers to see if there was any improvement. 

These studies show that laser therapy does indeed result in improvement in several markers for those who have Hashimoto's. 

I've included several of the potential benefits that LLLT can provide to those who have Hashimoto's:

  • Laser therapy may increase thyroid function - Researchers noted that the thyroid gland produces more thyroid hormone after exposure to LLLT. This means that more T3 and T4 thyroid hormones are produced by the thyroid gland after treatment sessions. 
  • Laser therapy may decrease your need for thyroid medication - Patients who used LLLT did not need as much thyroid medication AFTER laser therapy. This is most likely related to improvement in the thyroid gland. If the thyroid gland can produce more thyroid hormone then you will be less reliant upon other sources of thyroid hormone such as thyroid medication. 
  • Laser therapy may help reduce thyroid antibody levels (7) - Some patients who used laser therapy saw a decrease in thyroid antibody levels. These antibodies, including thyroglobulin antibody and thyroid peroxidase antibody, cause inflammation and damage to the thyroid gland. 
  • Laser therapy may help improve blood flow to the thyroid gland (8) - Some patients also experienced an increase in blood flow to the thyroid gland. Blood flow allows for more nutrients that can be delivered to the thyroid gland to support thyroid hormone production and to potentially help reduce inflammation. 
  • Laser therapy may increase thyroid gland volume - Some patients also experienced an INCREASE in thyroid gland volume as measured by ultrasound after laser therapy use. The enlargement noted here is a good thing and should not be confused with a goiter. Over time, Hashimoto's may cause thyroid gland atrophy or shrinkage. An increase in thyroid gland volume may be an indicator of reduced inflammation and thyroid tissue recovery. 

“The RCT showed evidence that LLLT promoted the following: (a) an improvement in thyroid function, as indicated by the reduction in the dose of LT4 used to treat hypothyroidism; (b) a reduction in serum anti-TPO concentrations; and (c) improvement in the echogenicity, volume, and thyroid vascularization pattern in CDU [6, 7]. Such results suggest that LLLT may be an interesting alternative for the treatment of CAT-induced hypothyroidism. However, the long-term effects and safety of this approach are unknown.”

It isn't exactly clear how these lasers are working to treat Hashimoto's but it appears that they have an effect on inflammation as well as autoimmunity. 

The result is decreased damage to the thyroid gland and improved thyroid function. 

How to Find a Doctor who Uses LLLT

Because LLLT is not FDA approved to treat the thyroid gland, it may be difficult to find a standard doctor who utilizes this treatment. 

But just because it is not FDA approved does not mean that it won't work. 

Remember:

FDA approval typically requires a lot of money and time which from research studies that reach a certain standard that the FDA sets. 

Once they reach this measure, the FDA will then put their official stamp of approval on it. 

Often times, though, it doesn't make sense for manufacturers of products to pay that kind of money to get the approval. 

So instead, these therapies end up being used "off-label". 

Because of this, and the other reasons that I mentioned previously, it's not likely that you will hear about laser therapy from your endocrinologist or family practice doctor. 

In my experience, doctors which tend to be the most educated on laser therapy are chiropractors. 

Chiropractors often use cold lasers to help reduce inflammation in joints and tendons and to treat chronic pain syndromes, so many of them have these lasers already in their office. 

The protocols used to treat the thyroid gland are different from those used to treat joints and muscles, though. 

In addition, you need to make sure that you are using a cold laser that operates at the right frequency and one that will actually penetrate your tissues into your thyroid gland. 

For this, you will want to see someone who has at least used cold lasers to treat thyroid patients previously. 

Many companies which produce and manufacture these lasers have a list of doctors and providers who have purchased them. 

You can look at these lists and locators to see if someone is near you

If you use the wrong type of laser, or if you don't use it too much, you may not see the desired results. 

Most of the research studies that I mentioned previously used the cold lasers 2-3 times per week over a 10 week period. 

It is also possible to purchase cold lasers over the counter for personal use. 

They are surprisingly affordable with a price range anywhere from $500 to $1,000. 

If you can't find someone nearby who specializes in laser therapy then you may be able to personally purchase one and use it that way. 

Wrapping it up

LLLT or "laser therapy" is something that all patients with Hashimoto's thyroiditis should be aware of. 

It can easily and safely be added to therapies such as thyroid medication, diet changes, exercise routines, supplement protocols, stress reduction, and so on. 

When used with the other therapies listed above it may help to reverse Hashimoto's, prevent further damage from occurring, and may even help regenerate damaged thyroid gland cells. 

If you want to use LLLT make sure you find a licensed practitioner who is knowledgeable about both lasers and Hashimoto's. 

Using the right type of laser for the right duration and at the right frequency, are all important if you want results. 

My recommendation is to look for local chiropractors to see if they have a cold laser in their office. 

If all else fails, you may also want to look at purchasing a laser for personal use as well. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Did you know that lasers could potentially be used to treat Hashimoto's?

Have you tried using lasers before to treat your thyroid?

If so, what was your experience? Did you find that it helped?

Leave your questions, comments, or experience below! 

References (Click to Expand)

Can lasers treat and reverse hashimoto's thyroiditis?

Dr. Westin Childs

About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 45,000+ people have used them over the last 4.5 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do here.

32 thoughts on “Using Lasers (LLLT) to Treat Hashimoto’s – Do They Actually Work?”

  1. Hi Dr Child’s:
    Can the LLLT laser treat hypothyroidism? I don’t have Hashimoto’s but I do have a slow thyroid. Thank you in advance for all your help

    Reply
    • Hi Rose,

      It’s more helpful for reducing inflammation, so it would only be effective if you had an inflammatory based type of hypothyroidism.

      Reply
  2. I have Hashimotos and this is the first I’ve heard of this direct therapy . I am interested as I have every thyroid associated syndrome and condition there is – hbp, high cholesterol, hair loss , dry eyes and skin, muscle pain irregular heartbeat. Constipation , anxiety depression etc etc. Any Drs in the Miami area ? Does Radio frequency have the same impact ? It would stimulate blood supply …. RF is frequently used for the same conditions as cold laser .

    Reply
    • Hi Bonnie,

      I personally don’t know any doctors in that area but I’m sure the resources I linked to in the article could help direct you to one 🙂

      And I’m not sure about the use of radiofrequency in treating thyroid disease.

      Reply
    • Hi Deanna,

      I’m not aware of any adverse side effects and, in my experience, they are quite safe. I’m sure it’s possible to hurt yourself somehow, though, so it’s always best to do it under supervision or at a doctor’s office.

      Reply
  3. This blew my mind-I have never heard of this option before. I will most definitely pursue this further. I have recently found out that I have a nodule on my thyroid, marked as “mildly suspicious” and no need for follow up. My GP wants me to follow up with an endocrinologist. Have you ever used this treatment for a Hashimoto’s patient w/a nodule(s)? Thank you!

    Reply
  4. Hello Dr Childs. Thank you for all you share.
    I have a LLLT and have used it for pain relief for many years. I also use it on a specific frequency for my vagus nerve that was damaged by severe whiplash. imho, that damage set off the Hashimoto’s.

    Re this video, I am curious…do you consider using LLLT at the right frequency to be “treatment” for Hashimoto’s? Or simply support for the thyroid that would still be under attack by the Hashimoto’s? I am so hoping to find a way to actually treat and END the Hashimoto’s…

    My body has been in a hyper histamine state since the car crash and I have yet to find a way to turn it back off. I know the vagus nerve ~ parasympathetic nervous system is a key … but using the LLLT on it has not affected the Hashimoto’s enough to get it gone.

    Thank You!

    Reply
    • Hi Lois,
      I have the same thing and I went down to Florida to get treated by Dr. for prolotherapy. I went to surgery on my spine and now I am a mess. Which unit did you buy for LLLT. I think if you go to see the doctor in Florida he will help you. I have Hashimotos too and My Histamine has been high as well. I am worse now since my cspine surgery. I can give you doctors name if you like to research. Let me know.

      Reply
    • Hi Lois,

      I think the argument could be made that it is a treatment for Hashimoto’s. Lasers induce complex cellular changes which can accelerate tissue regeneration, improve circulation, and protect cells.

      Given how it works, it’s probably likely that it is more helpful for those with active thyroid gland inflammation/autoimmunity. I’m not sure if it would help someone who is in remission stay in remission. But this is conjecture, I don’t have any studies to support that claim.

      Reply
  5. Dear Childs,
    You are the best! Thank you for this information. You are a lifeline to us our here struggling.
    God bless you and all you do.
    Karen

    Reply
  6. Hi, Dr. Childs,

    Would the laser use hurt the vocal cords? I am a singer and am concerned about this but would love to do it but want to be sure my vocals would be safe.

    Reply
    • Hi Keyna,

      The lasers mentioned here are unlikely to penetrate deeply enough to cause problems with the vocal cords.

      Reply
    • Hi Lindsey,

      I don’t have a specific recommendation but I would look for one with a wavelength in the NIR spectrum.

      Reply
  7. I have a device at home and have recently started using it specifically for my thyroid and I believe it’s helping. Combined with other therapies, it appears the Hashimoto’s I’ve had since 1998 is going into remission. My most recent labs (off medication):
    TSH 1.77
    free T4 .8
    free T3 2.3

    Dr. Childs, I very much appreciate all the information you share! In 1998, I was told ‘you’ll just have to take this thyroid hormone for the rest of your life but you’ll be fine’. If only I’d known then what I know now, but better late than never! 🙂

    Reply
  8. I have a microlight 830 cold laser. Would I put the laser on the skin on outside of the thyroid to give cold laser treatments?
    Thanks, Ken

    Reply
  9. Hello Dr. Childs,

    Fascinating material with regard to the cold laser therapy. However, would it be possible for you to guide me in the right direction as to a unit to purchase. Will a level 1-2 work? Or do I need a level 3 or 4?

    I would be using it for the thyroid as well as for sports injury therapy.

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Hi Sam,

      The studies I was referencing make no mention of the class of the laser so I can’t say for sure on that one.

      Reply
  10. Puzzle: My doctor does tsh test says it is normal. Patient, me does a full thyroid panel on my own. (My friend notices over several years that I have some of the hypothyroid symptoms). I pay out of my own pocket for a full panel and everything shows normal except TGAB antibodies are high. My doctor does a TGAB test and it shows high antibodies. My doctor talks to an endocrinologist and tells me I will probably never have to take thyroid hormones. I still have symptoms of fatigue etc. My doctor says I have beginning Hasimotos and I will probably never need to thyroid medication. I pay to retest six or eight months later and my TGAB antibodies are normal. What? How? Is it normal for them to go up and down? I am so puzzled and have been for the last year.

    Reply
    • Yes, they can fluctuate up and down and that’s not abnormal. Based on some research, and my own experience, because you had elevated antibodies present you will be at increased risk for developing Hashimoto’s later in life. It would be a very good idea to keep an eye on them.

      Reply
  11. Hi Dr Childs,

    I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s in late 2018, showing anti-TPOs in the high 490s, before any thyroid-related symptoms had appeared. Then I underwent a successful parathyrodectomy in June 2020.
    I own an LEDPlatinum full-body panel of red light and NIR LEDs that I use daily for 30 minutes or more, including at least 5 minutes of direct, skin-contact application to the base of my neck, my chest, and my abdomen. My instinct led me to start this regime; I’m glad to hear your support. Could you confirm that the LLLT you’re talking about is from red and NIR LED lights?

    Reply
    • Hi Verne,

      Yes, the wavelength of the studies I am referring to were in the range 830 nm which would put it in the near IR wavelength.

      Reply
  12. Hi Dr. Childs,
    I found it very interesting that LLLT can be used for Hashimotos. A long time ago I purchased something called a DPL (Deep Penetrating Light) panel to help accelerate the healing of scars on one side of my face. I just looked up the specs and it uses a combo of red and (white) near infrared lights which can penetrate to a depth of about 10mm (which might be enough to reach the thyroid).

    I stopped using it because it worked too well. The side of my face that was scarred sure enough healed but it also tightened to the degree that it pulled down that side of my face. From that experience I put it away and haven’t used it since. Perhaps I might shield my face and try it on the thyroid. What do you think?

    Thanks,
    Nancy

    Reply
    • Hi Nancy,

      I’m not familiar with DPL so I can’t say for sure but you can use this study to see what researchers used in terms of wavelength and duration of therapy to get an idea of what has worked for other people: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20662037/

      Just ensure that the wavelength and the energy produced are roughly equivalent.

      Reply
  13. Hi Dr. Childs,

    Do you have an estimate of the duration of each LLLT treatment?
    I would like to try this. I have been struggling for 6 years and nothing seems to be helping.
    Thank you.

    Margaret

    Reply

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