Low-level laser therapy, also known as cold laser or photo-biomodulation, has existed since 1967 but has predominantly been used in Europe and Asia. Low-level laser has the capacity to heal various dysfunctions in the body, increase blood flow to tissue and reduce inflammation. Additionally, this therapy is painless, non-invasive, and carries a low risk as it does not use ionizing radiation.
Marcy White M.Ac., L.Ac. received her training from Dr. Margaret Naeser of BU Medical and the VA in Boston, one of the foremost researchers in this field. Marcy has used Low-level laser for the past 11 years in her practice for a variety of health issues such as chronic and acute pain, neurological conditions such as concussion, migraine, Bell's palsy and post-stroke. Marcy has also developed a fertility laser program at Copley Acupuncture.
LASER FOR FERTILITY
Copley Acupuncture is the first acupuncture clinic in Boston to offer patients this clinically-tested system that uses low level laser to stimulate blood flow to the reproductive organs and enhance cellular energy production. It is particularly promising for couples struggling with age-related reproductive problems.
Western reproductive medicine has traditionally maintained that aging and declining egg quality is irreversible. Recent ground-breaking research with low level laser therapy from Denmark and Japan is showing that it may be possible to improve egg quality and improve fertility in women. The studies show that low level laser therapy used on acupuncture points on the neck and over the abdomen enhance mitochondrial activity and ATP production, increase blood flow and helps to reduce oxidative damage. These studies are showing that low level laser may significantly boost the pregnancy rates of women who have been unsuccessful with other assisted reproductive treatments like vitro fertilization (IVF).
Every cell in the body is powered by tiny organelles called mitochondria. Women's eggs have almost 200 times more mitochondria than any other cell in the body. Mitochondria of older eggs produce less ATP, which is the source of cellular energy. This has a significant impact on fertility, as the rate of division and successful implantation of embryos has more to do with how much energy (ATP) the eggs are producing than with maternal age.
The capacity of the low level laser to improve the ATP production of eggs has a potentially dramatic effect on their viability. When eggs develop, they use a significant amount of energy. Implantation and early embryo division also use great stores of energy. Most clinics for reproductive medicine believe that after 35 years of age, mitochondria of the eggs wear down and by age 40, as many as 9 out of 10 eggs may be abnormal.
By using low level laser to increase energy level (ATP) in the cells, improve blood circulation to the follicles and uterus, and reduce inflammation, it is possible to have greater success in producing viable eggs and a receptive uterine lining in the hopes of having a successful pregnancy.
Please contact the office if you are interested in the Laser Fertility Program.
LASER FOR HASHIMOTO'S
The following information on Photobiomodulation for Hashimoto's is from Dr. Isabella Wentz PharmD:
Researchers in Brazil have been studying the effects of low level laser therapy on the thyroid gland in Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and the results have been astonishing!
Most significantly, they found that all patients who received the therapy were able to reduce their levothyroxine dose, while 47% were able to discontinue levothyroxine and have normal thyroid function during the 9-month follow-up.
Additionally, LLLT can increase Transforming Growth Factor B (TGF-B), which is a cytokine that helps to induce and maintain the tolerance of self thus, also reduce thyroid autoimmunity.
Lasers that emit LLLT are also known as “cold lasers.” and have shown to regenerate various tissues when the therapy is applied directly over an organ. This therapy is known as “photobiomodulation” and can be achieved using a laser or an LED device.
LLLT can increase circulation in the thyroid gland and increase thyroid hormone levels in animals. While most body organs are not accessible to laser therapy, the thyroid gland is close enough to the skin surface so that the laser will be able to penetrate it.
Additionally, this therapy is painless, non-invasive, and low-cost and carries a low risk as it does not use ionizing radiation!
Here’s a brief summary of four different studies that were done with LLLT in Brazil:
In their initial pilot study, researchers tested LLLT on 15 patients who had Hashimoto’s and were treated with levothyroxine. Patients received 10 applications of LLLT (830 nm, output power 50 mW) in continuous mode, twice per week for 5 weeks over the thyroid gland.
Thirty days after the LLLT intervention, they began to see improvements on the thyroid ultrasounds. Thyroid antibody levels began to decrease within two months of the LLLT, and thyroid function began to improve and continued to improve until it reached a peak at 10 months post treatment.
Thirty days after the LLLT treatment, medications were discontinued and then reintroduced, if needed. Researchers tested levels of thyroid hormones, TPOAb, and TgAb, at 1, 2, 3, 6, 9, months after stopping the levothyroxine. 47% of the patients were able to stop levothyroxine all together and maintain normal thyroid function. The rest were able to reduce their dose of medication.
The average levothyroxine dose dropped from 96 +/- 22 mcg/day, to 38 +/- 23 mcg/day.
Out of 15 people, 10 saw a reduction in thyroid antibodies, while two did not see a change, and three saw an increase. The mean TPO level reduced from 982 to 579 over the course of the study. The greatest improvement was from 2354 to 135.
With respect to TG antibodies, 8 people saw a reduction, 5 people did not see a change, and 2 saw an increase. The mean TGAb dropped from 650 to 517, while the greatest reduction was from 966 to 35 in one person.
Before the treatment, 20% had reduced thyroid volume, 27% increased volume and 53% normal volume. After the treatment, 43% of the people who had an abnormal thyroid volume saw that their thyroid size normalized. The remainder also saw an improvement towards normalization, reaching near normal values. Thus this therapy may also be helpful for reducing goiter size.
This group also performed a randomized, larger placebo-controlled trial, of 43 patients in 2011.
The results showed:
a reduction of levothyroxine dose from a mean of 93 mcg to 38 mcg (with 95.7% of treatment group being able to reduce or stop medications…47.8% no longer needing thyroid medications)
a reduction in TPOAb, mean 1289 to 656 (around 50% reduction)
a reduction in TG antibodies, 720 to 656
a normalization of thyroid volume (in 66%)
and less infiltration of the thyroid gland on ultrasounds (meaning fewer inflammatory cells were present). Echogenicity index on thyroid ultrasound was improved in 95% of the study group, meaning that their thyroid gland had less damage and fewer white blood cells on ultrasound.
Please note, this therapy has not been tested on people who take immunosuppressants like corticosteroids, in those with thyroid nodules, nor in those with hypothyroidism from postpartum thyroiditis or Graves disease.
Furthermore, there is some evidence that taking antioxidants, like vitamin C, selenium, and N-Acetylcysteine (three supplements that are normally really helpful for Hashimoto’s), may negate the effects of the LLLT. Steroid medications and anti-inflammatory medications may also make it less effective. This is because the therapy works to produce healing by initially increasing oxidative stress in the thyroid gland. The antioxidants/anti-inflammatories may block this initial upregulation that sets off the healing cascade.
Additionally, if you have had your thyroid gland destroyed, removed surgically or if you were born without a thyroid, the LLLT is not likely to work.
Holding DB et al. Low-level laser therapy in chronic autoimmune thyroiditis: A Pilot Study. Lasers in Surgery and Medicine 42: 589-596 (2010)
Hofling DB, et al. Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy on the serum TGF-B1 Concentrations in individuals with autoimmune thyroiditis. Photomedicine and laser Surgery, Vol 32, 8, 2014
Hofling DB. Assessment of the Effects of Low-Level Laser Therapy on the Thyroid Vascularization of Patients with Autoimmune Hypothyroidism by Color Doppler Ultrasound. ISRN Endocrinology, 2012