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Thyroid health problems are somewhat unique. They are incredibly common – more than 12 percent of Americans will experience them at some point in their lives And yet, very often they go undiagnosed and untreated. It’s time to look into red light therapy for thyroid function.
Poor thyroid health can affect your quality of life and turn more serious over time. This is why it’s important that the issue gets recognized and addressed in a timely manner.
Red and near infrared light therapy is emerging as a viable treatment option. Red light LED therapy for thyroid may be supplemental or it can even replace other types of treatment.
The thyroid is part of the endocrine system of the body. It is a butterfly-shaped gland located in the front of the throat. The two wings of the butterfly are called lobes, and the part that binds them is called the isthmus. Behind the thyroid gland is the windpipe, and above it is the Adam’s apple and the voice box.
This small gland regulates a surprising number of metabolic processes in the body. The tissue of the thyroid consists of lobules. These are small sacs full of thyroid hormones that the gland steadily releases into the blood flow. It is these hormones – T3, T4 and Calcitonin – that play a part in the body’s metabolism.
Thyroid hormone levels depend upon instructions from the brain. The hypothalamus uses the Thyrotropin-releasing hormone (TRH) to trigger the pituitary gland. The pituitary gland is a small gland at the base of the brain which uses a hormone called TSH or the Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, to tell the thyroid how much of each hormone it needs to secrete.
T3 – or Triiodothyronine, and T4 or Thyroxine are the two main hormones that the thyroid gland secretes. Each thyroid hormone exists in the body both in its free (or active) or bound (inactive form). There’s more of an inactive form, and T4 can also converts into T3.
To produce either of these, the thyroid needs Iodine – an element that is not naturally present in the body, and that we must get from food.
T3 is responsible for your metabolism, digestion, and bone health. T4 plays a part in temperature regulation and affects the mood and is also important for various other metabolic processes.
The third player, Calcitonin, is important in blood Calcium regulation. It decreases blood Calcium levels, counteracting the effects of the parathyroid hormone (PTH), which increases them. Calcitonin does its job through two mechanisms: by inhibiting the breaking down of bones, and by allowing Calcium release into the urine.
The conditions that affect the thyroid gland can include hormonal dysfunction or changes in the gland’s physiology. A person can develop thyroid nodules or their thyroid can become enlarged. It also sometimes produces too much or too little hormones.
By far, the most common thyroid disease is hypothyroidism. This is a condition which occurs when the thyroid doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone.
There can be several causes for an underactive thyroid. The most common one is autoimmune hypothyroidism – an autoimmune condition called Hashimoto’s disease. When a person has Hashimoto’s disease – their immune system attacks their thyroid.
Hashimoto’s disease affects millions of people worldwide, and is 4 to 10 times more likely to affect women than men.
It’s also fairly common to have hypothyroidism induced by chronic autoimmune thyroiditis – an inflammation of the thyroid. Other causes include an Iodine deficiency and treatment for an overactive thyroid – which might be thyroid surgery or thyroid hormone medication.
Hyperthyroidism occurs when the thyroid is overactive and produces too much of the hormones.
The most common cause is an immune disorder by the name – Graves’ disease, but hyperthyroidism might also occur due to an excess of Iodine, benign nodules, thyroid medication, or an inflamed thyroid.
One of the biggest issues with thyroid problems is that so many of the symptoms are extremely easy to attribute to other diseases and conditions. That is part of the reason why so many cases never get diagnosed.
One study in Europe set out to discover the prevalence of undiagnosed hypothyroidism – which is just one possible thyroid condition. They found that a significant proportion of the European population, most commonly older women, are affected by undiagnosed subclinical hypothyroidism.
People with an underactive thyroid usually experience a low mood or even depression, chronic fatigue, chronic pain in the muscles, a sensitivity to cold, and poor skin health.
When exposed to too many thyroid hormones, the human body reacts with anxiety and nervousness, insomnia, overheating, diarrhea, constant thirst, or a frequent need to urinate.
You should also check your thyroid hormone levels if you notice swelling around the area where the thyroid is located, or if you experience heart palpitations, hair loss, unexplained weight loss, or vision problems.
Anyone can develop a thyroid problem. That said, thyroid issues are much more common in women.
The mechanism of why thyroid disorders affect a disproportionate number of women is not yet completely clear. However, research shows that this might be because of the effects of female hormones on the immune system. Estrogen and progesterone seem to affect the differentiation and maturation of lymphocytes as well as the immune response.
This probably also explains why, in a lot of cases, women with thyroid problems often feel better during pregnancy when these hormones are at a high level, and their state deteriorates during menopause when hormone levels drop.
Depending on your condition, there are several treatment options and lifestyle changes that you can choose to manage your thyroid health.
Red light therapy, or low level laser therapy is a kind of therapy that uses LED lights to emit red and near infrared LED lights. Light of these frequencies mimics natural sunlight and boosts the health of the entire body. The health benefits of red light therapy for the most part stem from the fact that red and near infrared light penetrate the skin and stimulate the cells.
This results in significant improvement when it comes to tissue repair, wound healing, immune function, joint pain, collagen synthesis and general anti aging and skin rejuvenation, pain relief and even mental health disorders such as seasonal affective disorder.
Due to its anti-inflammatory effect as well as its boosting effects to mitochondrial energy production, and its significant effects on hormone regulation, red light therapy devices are emerging as the preferred line of treatment for thyroid problems.
Red light therapy is beneficial for the treatment of various thyroid conditions, whether they are hormone disorders, or physiological changes to the gland.
One long-term placebo controlled clinical trial studied the safety and efficacy of red light therapy for thyroid treatment. The study participants were invited for a follow-up six years after the original study. They were screened for presence of nodules and the study also took into account the dosage of thyroid medication they required.
Compared to the placebo group, their results were significantly better. The control group required much higher doses of synthetic hormones to manage their condition.
But let’s see how red light therapy works when it comes to thyroid treatment.
Hypothyroidism often comes hand in hand with chronic low cellular energy. Regular use of red light devices boosts cellular energy production which can help with the constant fatigue from hypothyroidism. It also promotes mitochondrial health immensely.
Red light therapy also significantly affects the immune system. In a lot of cases, thyroid disorders are auto-immune – meaning that the immune system goes haywire and white blood cells attack your own body instead of pathogens. Red light therapy regulates immune cells.
Red light therapy mimics the red and near infrared light from the sun which signals to our brain when to go to sleep or wake, and also when to secrete which hormones. The daily cycles of blue and red light govern most of the metabolic processes in the body.
The signals for thyroid hormone secretion come from the brain, and consistent use of LED light therapy can help regulate these signals and ensure optimal levels of thyroid hormone levels.
Red and infrared light therapy is a simple and non-invasive treatment option to boost the health of your thyroid gland without medication or invasive surgical procedures.