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The Effects of Blue Light on Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism

A look at the pros and cons of blue light for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism.
The Effects of Blue Light on Hashimoto’s and Hypothyroidism
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Blue light exposure and blue light therapy have been the subject of research into the pros and cons in terms of mood, sleep, and other health issues, including thyroid conditions. How does blue light affect you, and how can you avoid any adverse effects? And, when you have Hashimoto’s disease or hypothyroidism, is there a role for blue light therapy as a natural treatment option? This article explores blue light and how it affects your thyroid and health.

What is blue light?

Blue light, also known as high-energy visible (HEV) light, is a color in the visible light spectrum that can be seen by the human eye. It has a short wavelength and produces higher amounts of energy compared to other forms of light. Blue light is emitted by the sun and digital devices such as smartphones, tablets, and LED screens.

The blue light you’re exposed to during the day is necessary for your body’s daily functioning. Blue light has benefits such as boosting alertness, improving attention span, and elevating mood. Blue light is, in fact, the most potent type of light for sleep and mood. Specifically, blue light:

  • Regulates circadian rhythm and the sleep-wake cycle
  • Keeps you more alert and awake by decreasing sleepiness and increasing body temperature and heart rate
  • Blocks melatonin, the hormone responsible for the sleep-wake cycle
  • Causes an increase in cortisol, a stress hormone

Even low levels of blue light are enough to make people wake up from sleep. A lack of exposure to blue light during the daytime can lead to sleep disorders, often seen in aging people, who are less sensitive to and affected by blue light exposure.

Computers, tablets, e-readers, and smartphones emit blue light, and using these devices frequently means your eyes are often exposed to blue light at times when they’re not meant to be – in the evening, for example. While using these devices during the daytime (sun hours) might not impact the sleep-wake cycle, using them close to bedtime results in:

  • Shorter sleep
  • Lower sleep quality
  • Longer time falling asleep

In addition, animal studies have shown that regular exposure of three months or more can harm the thyroid gland and thyroid hormone levels.

How to use blue light to improve sleep quality

Getting sufficient amounts of quality sleep is crucial for people with hypothyroidism, who often struggle with fatigue. In addition to following sleep hygiene recommendations, you can actually use blue light to help facilitate better sleep. Here are some tips:

  • Expose yourself to sufficient natural light — through the sun — during the daytime.
  • Restrict or avoid using devices that emit blue light during the evening. If you must use such devices after sunset, enable nighttime light display settings on your devices. Be aware, however, that these modes don’t totally block out blue light and other lights that might keep you awake.
  • Wear glasses or lenses that block blue light.

What is blue light therapy?

Blue light therapy is a non-invasive treatment that uses natural violet or blue light to address various health issues. Blue light therapy works by stimulating light-sensitive molecules at the cellular level in cells known as chromophores. These chromophores absorb the blue light, triggering a series of biological reactions that can influence cellular function. Specific wavelengths of light stimulate cellular processes, reduce inflammation, improve skin texture and tone, and accelerate healing.

Blue light therapy is commonly used to treat sun damage, premalignant or malignant skin cancer growths, and acne, and for collagen stimulation. The therapy can also be effective for depression, particularly in the treatment of major depressive disorder with seasonal patterns, formerly known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD). Blue light therapy is often delivered as an outpatient procedure and is considered a painless and quick process. The treatment is generally safe and has limited long-term side effects, making it a promising option for various conditions.

In addition to its dermatological applications, blue light therapy has shown potential in managing chronic inflammatory skin diseases such as atopic dermatitis, eczema, and psoriasis. It has been demonstrated to induce an anti-inflammatory effect and may also improve wound healing. 

Blue light therapy for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism

For people with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism, research has shown that blue light therapy can have positive effects on hormonal balance and inflammation, making it a potential option that patients with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism can include in their thyroid treatment.

In the case of thyroid disorders, blue light therapy may help regulate the production of thyroid hormones and reduce inflammation in the thyroid gland.

Blue light therapy has been studied for its potential benefits for thyroid health, in particular, the management of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s autoimmune hypothyroidism. Specifically, photobiomodulation (PBM) with blue light has been shown to be an effective therapy in managing autoimmune diseases. PBM is a form of light therapy that uses sources like lasers, LEDs, and broadband light to stimulate healing and tissue repair. PBM works by stimulating the mitochondria in cells, leading to an increase in cellular metabolism, which can reduce inflammation and accelerate the healing process.

A 2023 study looked at the effectiveness of PBM therapy – along with supplements -- in restoring thyroid gland balance in Hashimoto’s patients. One group of Hashimoto’s patients received supplements alone, and the other group had PBM (twice a week for three weeks) and supplements. The researchers found significant improvement in the group with PBM with supplements compared to the supplements-only group. In fact, the study participants getting PBM plus supplements lost more weight than the supplements-only subjects and also had improved body mass index (BMI), reduced hip and waist circumference, improved waist/hip ratio, and reduced TSH and levels of thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO). The study participants using PBM plus supplements were also able to reduce their dosage of thyroid medications

In addition to the improvement of thyroid function, there are other benefits of blue light therapy for patients with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. They include:

Hormonal Regulation: Blue light therapy has been shown to regulate hormonal balance by influencing the release of certain hormones, including thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) and thyroid hormones (T3 and T4).

Reduced Inflammation: Chronic inflammation in the thyroid gland is a hallmark of Hashimoto’s disease. Blue light therapy has anti-inflammatory properties that can help reduce thyroid inflammation, easing symptoms associated with the condition.

Improved Energy and Mood: Fatigue and depression are common symptoms of both Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Blue light therapy has been shown to boost energy levels and improve mood by stimulating the release of serotonin, a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating mood.

How to incorporate blue light therapy into your treatment plan

Here are some ways to incorporate blue light therapy into your hypothyroidism treatment.

Consult with Your Healthcare Provider: Before starting any new treatment, it is essential to consult with your healthcare provider, especially if you have underlying medical conditions or are taking medication. They can provide guidance on whether blue light therapy is suitable for you and help design a comprehensive treatment plan.

Invest in a Blue Light Therapy Device: Various blue light therapy devices are available on the market, ranging from lightboxes to wearable devices. Choosing a reputable brand and following the manufacturer’s instructions for optimal usage is essential.

Establish a Regular Treatment Routine: Consistency is vital when it comes to blue light therapy. Establish a daily or weekly routine that fits into your schedule and commit to it. Ideally, sessions should be done in the morning to mimic natural sunlight exposure.

Monitor Your Progress: Keep track of any changes or improvements in your symptoms as you incorporate blue light therapy into your treatment plan. This will help you and your healthcare provider assess the effectiveness of the therapy and make any necessary adjustments.

A note from Paloma

For optimal sleep quality and to reduce fatigue, thyroid patients must pay attention to exposure to blue light. Also, remember to limit nighttime exposure to blue light to prevent sleep disruptions.

When it comes to blue light therapy, it’s a promising new treatment for patients with Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. But remember that blue light therapy should be considered a complementary therapy alongside conventional treatments. It is not meant to replace thyroid hormone replacement medication.

Paloma’s healthcare providers specialize in treating hypothyroidism. They can work with you to review the potential benefits and risks of blue light therapy, safely and effectively incorporate it into your thyroid treatment plan, and easily monitor your thyroid function and response with easy at-home Paloma thyroid test kits.

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Vedrana Högqvist Tabor, Ph.D., contributed to this article.


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Mary Shomon

Patient Advocate

Mary Shomon is an internationally-recognized writer, award-winning patient advocate, health coach, and activist, and the New York Times bestselling author of 15 books on health and wellness, including the Thyroid Diet Revolution and Living Well With Hypothyroidism. On social media, Mary empowers and informs a community of more than a quarter million patients who have thyroid and hormonal health challenges.

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