Gail's Thyroid Tips
THYROID MEDICATIONS and HORMONES:

OK, for starters, here is some basic background information
about the function of the thyroid gland. This info is vital to
understanding why synthroid doesn’t provide full relief from
your symptoms and why natural desiccated thyroid is a
superior medication for most people. It is true that not all
women are alike and therefore what we do with one will not
necessarily have the same effect on another. However, my
research has shown that at least 80% of people feel best
on a natural desiccated thyroid product (such as Armour or
Westhroid) than on the incomplete synthetic products
(synthroid, levoxyl, unithroid, cytomel, thyrolar etc). Why?
Because the healthy thyroid gland does not produce merely
T4 and T3. It also produces reverse T3, 3 kinds of T2, T1,
T0, and calcitonin.

What is calcitonin, you ask? Well, this is the hormone
(produced by the parathyroid gland) which removes calcium
from your blood and deposits it into your bones. You know
how there’s the big worry about osteoporosis when you are
on thyroid replacement therapy? That’s probably because
95% of people today are given synthetic hormone which
does not contain calcitonin. The desiccated thyroid products
do have it. This is just one more reason to take Armour or
Westhroid or some other natural thyroid product. The
calcitonin helps counter the bone-destroying effects of
thyroid hormones.

Don’t EVER forget that people with normal thyroid glands
have the full spectrum (including T3) of thyroid hormones
coursing through their blood streams all day long every day!
So they are at just as much risk for osteoporosis as a
woman on natural thyroid supplement! A doctor who leaves
you hypothyroid in order to "protect your bones" is a doctor
to fire. The best thing you can do for your bones is to
exercise; light resistance training (weights) will increase
your bone mass very significantly (you don’t even have to
use heavy weights). How well does it work? Studies with
the elderly in nursing homes using just 5-pound weights a
few minutes daily increased bone mass so well the test
group got fewer than half as many fractures as those who
did not exercise with weights. And not only that, it builds
muscle which will raise your metabolic rate and make you
lose weight more quickly and easily.

Whenever anyone tries to tell you "natural thyroid is
dangerous because it has T3," you tell them "Hurry! Run to
the hospital and get your thyroid gland yanked out QUICK!!!
It’s pumping T3 into your bloodstream NIGHT AND
DAY!!!!!!" Did you know those studies that say oral thyroid
causes osteoporosis were all done on SYNTHROID, not
desiccated thyroid (Armour)????!!!! And these studies
showed that the connection existed only in post-menopausal
women. Meanwhile a whole slew of studies were done that
showed no connection between oral thyroid and
osteoporosis, not even in post-menopausal women. In other
words, there is no proof either way and the doctors need to
start doing their homework and actually REALIZE this
instead of listening to the slick marketing techniques
practiced by the makers of synthroid. Millions of women in
this country are being forced to take synthroid to protect
their bones from Armour---not because of scientific
research proving osteoporosis but because the makers of
synthroid said so.

Now, back to the various other thyroid hormones…

As you know, the thyroid hormones consist of a tyrosine
molecule with iodine molecules stuck to it. If 4 iodines are
stuck on, you have T4. 3 iodines gives you T3. Reverse T3
is created with 3 iodines stuck in different positions. T2 has
2 iodines; there are 3 types of T2 all depending on where
the iodines are stuck. Etc.

The hypothalamus gland takes note of how much thyroid
hormone there is in the bloodstream and if the amount is too
low, it releases a hormone called TRH. This is Thyrotropin
Releasing Hormone. It goes to the pituitary gland and
stimulates it to release TSH. This is Thyroid Stimulating
Hormone, and it goes to the thyroid gland to tell it to make
some more thyroid hormone. So the thyroid gland takes in
the amino acid tyrosine and the mineral iodine and then
combines the two, creating the thyroid hormone. There is
T0 and T1 (0.5%), T2 (4.5%), T3 (15%), and T4 (80%)
(These percentages are approximate; I have found different
numbers from different sources). Each of these hormones is
stored in the thyroid gland and also released into the
bloodstream. No one knows what T0 and T1 are for. T4 is
very stable and courses through the bloodstream, ready to
be taken up by a needy tissue for conversion to T3 and T2.
What your gland does is to make a little bit of T2 and T3
and release them to the body for instant usage. Then your
gland also produces a stockpile of T4 which it releases to
travel around in your blood, ready for any needy cell to
convert over into useable T3 (and T2). To convert T4 into
T3 (and T3 into T2), your tissues use an enzyme,
deiodinase, to knock one of the iodine molecules off. Well,
some of your tissues require a supply of T2 in order to
make this enzyme (while other tissues are able to make
deiodinase without T2). Now, there are also several
different deiodinase enzymes and they knock different
iodines off. This means you will sometimes get reverse T3
instead of T3. And this is how your body creates the 3
different types of T2.

http://www-hsc.usc.edu/~hkaslow/Teach/Handouts/Thyroid-
2000.pdf
This is a scientific treatise about how thyroid
hormone is made, the different deiodinase enzymes that are
necessary to convert the various hormones, and what
happens next.

Synthroid (levoxyl, unithroid, and all other levothyroxine
products) consist only of T4. The theory is that since T4 is
barely active metabolically, when you take it you won’t
notice any metabolic effect on your body (heart palpitations,
etc). But then it will start to break down into T3, reverse T3,
(which go down to the T2s, etc) and your body will use
these hormones. Well, that’s the THEORY.

OK, why doesn’t synthroid make us feel great then? Well,
because some cells in our bodies need the T3 that is made
by the thyroid gland directly. They cannot convert T4 into
T3; they must have T3 directly from the bloodstream. About
75% of the T3 your body uses is converted by your tissues
from T4. But at least 25% of the T3 your body needs
comes directly from the thyroid gland. Your different tissues
throughout your body use T3 at different rates. And some of
the tissues, such as your brain, require serum T3 for good
function. These tissues are not adept at converting T4 into
T3. Because people with healthy thyroid glands receive at
least 25% of their T3 directly from the thyroid gland,
hypothyroid patients should also receive direct T3, either
from their glands or from their medication. NO ONE
SHOULD BE EXPECTED TO GET ALL OF HER T3 FROM
T4 CONVERSION. IT SIMPLY IS NOT ENOUGH. And
other cells must have T2. So you see, you just don’t get the
same effect from synthroid. Your body demands all 9 of the
thyroid hormones that a healthy thyroid gland makes.
Desiccated thyroid products come closest to providing the
exact hormones your body would make if it could. http:
//freespace.virgin.net/smokey.quartz/gaby.html

NOTE: Forest Pharmaceuticals does not "add" calcitonin,
T0, T1, or T2 to their product. These hormones are present
already because of what Armour is. Armour is desiccated
pig thyroid. The thyroid gland is removed from a pig, dried,
and then ground to powder.  The glands from many pigs are
mixed together until testing shows that the T3 to T4 ratio is
exactly 1:4.22 (there is 1 mg of T3 for every 4.22 mg of
T4).  Then binders and fillers are added to produce tablets.
So every hormone present in the live gland is also present in
the tablet. However, since medical professionals currently
believe that only T4 and T3 are active hormones, Forest
does not measure or even acknowledge the presence of
calcitonin, T0, T1, or T2 in their product. They only measure
and guarantee the amount of T3 and T4 in each tablet.

Here is a scientific study proving the body needs T3; notice
the last sentence of the "conclusions" section clearly states
that this study shows your body needs the T3 DIRECTLY
SECRETED by the thyroid gland (not the T3 made from T4
conversion).
http://content.nejm.
org/cgi/content/abstract/340/6/424?
maxtoshow=&HITS=10&hits=10&RESULTFORMAT=&author
1=Prange%
2C+A&author2=Bunevicius%
2C+R&titleabstract=triiodothyronine&fulltext=neuropsycholog
ical&searchid=QID_NO
T_SET&stored_search=&FIRSTINDE
X=&fdate=1/1/1975&tdate=5/31/2001&journa
lcode=nejm

OK, now here is some scientific proof that T2 is not some
inactive substance ignored by the tissues. You’ve heard that
I’m sure. I just got a comprehensive thyroid labwork done
and it talked about the T4 levels, the reverse T3, the active
T3, and then mentioned T2 as "an inactive byproduct."
WRONG! This study is contained in the below link and it is
very technical. Several hours with a medical dictionary
unlocked the mysteries. Here’s what it basically says, in
layman’s terms:

--T3 is taken up by the cells and used for protein synthesis.
Protein synthesis means the actual building of cells (to
replace dead cells, fix damaged cells, and make new cells).
So you see, T3 is needed to maintain the tissues of our
body.

--T2 is taken up by the cells and acts directly on the
mitochondria. The T2 is used to produce ATP. ATP is the
fuel for our cells; it is the energy our cells use to function.
So you see, T2 is absolutely vital for the cells to function.
Yes, it is true that a healthy thyroid gland does not make
very much T2. But certain cells in the body depend on it.

http://physiology.cup.cam.ac.
uk/JPhysiol/1997/505p2/7060/7060

This would explain why so much of your overall body pain
goes away when you take Armour and are thus getting
plenty of T2; without T2 your cells are starving for ATP. I
experienced this firsthand myself; when I switched to
Armour most of my pain was relieved. I immediately told my
hypothyroid sister who has been on 100 mcg synthroid plus
100 mcg of cytomel daily and still hurting all over (100 mcg
cytomel is FOUR TIMES the normal daily dose!). She
lowered the two synthetic hormones to 75 mcg each and
added in a grain of Armour; her body aching improved
tremendously within 2 weeks. Even though this provided her
with LESS oral T3 intake than she had before, nearly all of
her fibromyalgia disappeared! She was left only with some
foot and leg pain on one side, but the rest of her body was
completely better. We all know that Dr. John Lowe has
recommended using T3 to cure those pains (fibromyalgia)
and he is right. (http://thyroid.about.
com/health/thyroid/library/weekly/aa042799.htm). The T3 is
VITAL. However, I offer up my sister as proof that it is more
than just T3 we need to use. I have no proof of this, but I
believe that it is the T2 (and perhaps the T1---no one has
figured out what it does yet) in Armour which produces the
kinds of results she had.

I myself was on only synthroid last year, but at Christmas I
took some of my sister’s cytomel. There was a minor
improvement in my fibromyalgia but I still hurt all over.
However, when I switched to Armour in January, my pain
went away almost instantly (all except my feet, which were
cured by supporting my adrenals) even though I was getting
less oral T3 from the Armour than I had taken over
Christmas with cytomel. Dr. Lowe states that it can take
months or even years to undo the fibromyalgia using T3, but
he feels it is the cure. I plan to write him a letter and tell him
the story of my sister and me and also include the research
on T2 which I have found. My sister and I had lived with our
pain for years, and for both of us, it was alleviated in less
than a month using natural thyroid. T3 breaks down into T2,
but the body cannot perform that transformation without
deiodinase. I have found research suggesting that cells
need some T2 directly from the thyroid gland in order to
make deiodinase at all. I wonder if Dr. Lowe’s treatment
with oral T3 takes so long because the cells have such
trouble converting the T3 into T2. I have no proof of any of
this, but I think it warrants research. And if you are a thyroid
patient with aches and pains, it’s worth trying natural thyroid
to see if it will go away.

Here is another article proving that T2 is a metabolically
active hormone:

http://journals.endocrinology.org/joe/149/joe1490319.htm

And another! http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/entrez/query.fcgi?
cmd=Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=8921356&dopt=Abstr
act

T2 is so metabolically active, as a matter of fact, that it is
used by bodybuilders to lose fat and buff up:

http://www.t-mag.com/html/body_119dawg.html

http://www.vitaplus.ws/newt2120cap.html

This is actually quite exciting news for us thyroid patients.
First of all, this could explain why many hypothyroid women
struggle to lose weight: they are on synthroid so their
bodies are deprived of T2. And if you read these articles,
you’ll see that oral T2 does not make you hyPERthyroid.
This suggests that an overweight thyroid patient on a TSH-
suppressive dose of oral thyroid hormone might be able to
use oral T2 as a weight-loss aid. I just began taking T2 last
week; my “T2 Weightloss Journal” is below so you can
follow along with my progress.

NOTE: If you wish to do your own search for info on T2,
you must type "diiodothyronine" into the search engine; you
don’t get results if you put in "T2."  To purchase T2, put
“BioTech T2” into your search engine; there are many
places to buy this product and lots of different prices so you’
ll want to shop around.

This does not mean that the body does not need T4!! I
cannot find the reference right now but we also have
research showing that certain cells must have serum T4 to
convert to T3; these cells cannot use serum T3. Well, the
same is true for all 9 thyroid hormones; almost every one of
these hormones is required by a particular type of cell. This
is why you cannot take just synthroid and be fully healthy.

While I believe that natural desiccated thyroid is the best
medication to take, each of us has different amounts of
semi-permanent damage to our bodies from years of
untreated hypothyroidism or years of synthroid. If you are
making too much reverse T3 out of the oral T4 in your
Armour, your doctor will have to add in a dose of Cytomel
to the natural hormone (take BOTH). I have also found in
myself and other women that T4 levels may not be quite
high enough when using Armour (or other natural products)
alone. No one is sure exactly why yet. Some theorize that
T4 isn’t absorbed through the gut well. Others theorize that
pigs make more T3 than humans do so that natural products
aren’t quite the right proportion. Others think that it is so
easy for the body to convert the T4 in natural products that
the result is high serum T3 and low serum T4 levels.
Whatever the reason it happens, probably the best solution
is to take mostly Armour and then add a very small dose of
synthetic T4 to it. So if you are taking 100 mcg of synthroid
daily, perhaps you should switch to 2 grains of Armour and
50 mcg Synthroid. Perhaps you’ll need 2.5 grains Armour
and 25 mcg synthroid. Or maybe YOUR body will need only
1.5 Armour and 75 mcg synthroid. Mine needs 3 grains of
Armour and 25 mcg of synthroid. Everyone will need a
different amount depending upon how long she had
untreated hypothyroidism and how resistant her cells have
become to T3, etc. The dose will vary between individuals,
but this is probably the best combination of medications for
most of us and is the most likely to make us feel good (and
ideally, you won’t be given Synthroid at all; they’ll give you
Unithroid instead since synthroid is so unstable. I am using
the term "synthroid" to refer to any pure levothyroxine
product). There is nothing wrong with combining the
different thyroid medications and a really good doctor will
do this if it is necessary to optimize your health. In addition,
your doctor should be willing to try different brand names
because of the different binders and fillers used.
Naturethroid, for example, is natural desiccated thyroid
made with different binders to be gentle on your stomach. It
is made by Western Research Labs.

And it is important for the doctor to allow you to take
ENOUGH hormone (haven’t we all heard that before?!). I
had a doctor finally switch me to Armour but he wouldn’t let
me take more than 2 grains because his boss had decided
that no one should take more than 2 grains. Never mind that
I was half dead and barely functioning (I was fine as long as
I just stayed in my house and didn’t do anything except cook
a bit and fold the laundry). Just 3 months ago he told me "I
will not give you more than 2 grains of Armour.  You have
an incurable disease so you will always feel bad. You’ll
never feel really healthy again." Well, I changed doctors to a
man who said for me to increase my medication at the rate
of ½ grain per week up to 4 grains. I stopped at 3 grains
because I felt great at that level. So much for feeling bad
forever! If you have thyroid disease, you just don’t have to
feel bad. Period. What you need is a doctor who is willing to
treat you as an individual and figure out what replacement
therapy works on YOU.  

Your doctor may tell you that he cannot give you Armour or
any other medication containing T3 because it is
"dangerous." But T3 is natural and your body must have it in
order to live. Without it you DIE. Your doctor has it in HIS
body! However, when taken orally it does enter the
bloodstream quickly. The solution is simple; patients using
Armour (or other T3 medications) simply split their dosage
up and take a little bit throughout the day. How can you tell
if you are taking too much T3 at once? Your heart-rate will
increase and you may start to sweat. So just break up the
dosage and don’t take it all at once. If this means having to
break your pill, get a pill-splitter from Wal-Mart and break it!

The only people who need to be concerned about taking
oral T3 are cardiac patients. Does this mean they should be
deprived of T3 just because they have cardiac issues? No!
They need it just as much—if not more than—the rest of us.
They just have to take it in very small doses throughout the
day and should be carefully monitored.

The fact is that a thyroid deficiency CAUSES cardiac
problems. Hypothyroidism will give you heart disease. So if
you already have a heart problem, you sure aren’t going to
get any better if you leave the thyroid only partially treated!
You will only get worse. My aunt who is 84 years old has
been on synthroid for 30 years (she had her gland removed
in the 50s). She’s had heart disease so bad she’s had
quadruple bypass surgery 4 times already. Well, she just
started showing the signs of Alzheimer’s, and Alzheimer’s is
related to low T3. Her doctor just switched her to 3 grains
of Armour and she is doing great. As a cardiac patient, it’s a
miracle she was able to get the Armour. Thank the Lord she
has a reasonable doctor.

OK, what will happen to you if you are currently taking pure
T4 (synthroid, levoxyl, unithroid) and do not get switched
over to a natural thyroid medication? Well, your body will
suffer. Left completely untreated, hypothyroidism will kill
you. And if you treat it "halfway" (meaning that you take only
T4 and do not take natural hormone), your tissues develop
T4 resistance, which means that they lose the ability to
convert the T4 into T3. Also, cell receptor sites shut down
and cease to function, which can leave you semi-
permanently damaged. The longer you leave it untreated,
the harder it is to respond to the medication when you do
get it. You will spend the remainder of your life in a state of
cellular hypothyroidism, regardless of how high your blood
serum levels are. Thus you will be at risk for all long-term
effects of hypothyroidism (Chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia,
high blood pressure, diabetes, emphysema, arthritis, sleep
apnea, speech impairment, depression, weight problems,
ME, carpal tunnel syndrome, high cholesterol, heart
disease, cancer, etc). Your body will continue to be in a
constant state of partial hypothyroidism; some of your
tissues will be just fine because they are capable of using
the Synthroid, but the rest of your body will always be
"hungry" for T3 and will be chronically sick without it. This
can be true even if you are feeling pretty good on your
synthroid; even if you feel no physical pain, there are tissues
in your body which are still deprived of the hormones they
need.

And any patient who still has hypothyroid symptoms while
on hormone replacement therapy is at risk for two major
catastrophes:
a)she may permanently lose the use of her cell receptor
sites
b)she will be at risk for all the long-term effects of low
thyroid (high blood pressure, diabetes, emphysema,
arthritis, depression, weight problems, ME, carpal tunnel
syndrome, high cholesterol, heart disease, cancer, etc).

Overweight thyroid patients will also need more thyroid
hormone (just as a 140-pound woman needs more than a
90-pound woman). They have a lot more cells in their
bodies and will therefore require their serum levels to be
closer to the higher end of the normal range. Low serum
levels will only serve to create a low metabolic rate which
means they will only get fatter. More supplementation
should be given, raising serum levels and increasing
metabolic rate. The patient will then be able to lose the
excess weight and will require a lower dose of thyroid
hormone in the future to maintain good health. Does this
mean that switching to Armour is going to result in an instant
weight loss? No. Thyroid hormone does control your
metabolism; without thyroid, you have no metabolism and
you will gain weight. But once you have good high serum
levels of T3 and T4, you are now on a level playing field
again, and the equivalent to all the others out there who
don't have thyroid disease. This means you have to exercise
and eat properly for good health and weight, just like
everyone else.

Is your doctor a Synthroid Nazi? If I get a urinary tract
infection and the doctor gives me amoxicillin and the
infection persists, does the doctor just keep handing me
amoxicillin and tell me to learn to live with it? No! He
changes medications until he finds one that kills the
infection. I recognize that a hormonal imbalance is different
from an infection; I understand the differences quite clearly.
But when you consider that there are over a dozen
medications for thyroid disease, why should a patient be
forced to use only synthroid if it is not making her better?
Synthroid lowers TSH very well, but that does not mean
your tissues and cells can use it. As a matter of fact, our
research has shown that T2 is necessary for the creation of
certain deiodinases and you just don’t get T2 from
Synthroid. No wonder your serum T4 levels go so high! The
synthroid just goes into your bloodstream and circulates
'round and 'round, lowering your TSH and shutting down
your own thyroid gland, but depriving your cells of hormone
since they cannot use T4 as easily as they use T3 and T2.
Did you know that T4 is what lowers TSH when it enters the
pituitary? This is why synthroid is so effective at lowering
TSH. But a low TSH doesn’t mean the patient is healthy. If a
person eats rocks and they lower her TSH, does that mean
that her hypothyroidism is controlled? Health comes only
when the cells and tissues of the body are getting T3 and
T2. And most doctors measure only TSH. Sometimes they’ll
go ahead and measure free T4 as well, but they rarely
measure T3. You know, if I eat potatoes, there will be
potatoes in my stomach. Well, if I eat T4 tablets every day,
there will be T4 in my blood! How about we see if it’s
actually being used and converted to T3????? But it took
me almost a year to convince someone to measure my T3
levels; prior to that I’d had only TSH tests and free T4 tests.

And while we're on the subject of lab tests, I would like to
emphasize that lab tests should be only secondary to clinical
presentation (symptoms). Why? Well, there are several
reasons. We'll start with the TSH test. This is not a measure
of the function of the thyroid gland. TSH is produced by the
pituitary. Using the TSH to diagnose poor thyroid function is
a reverse approach. TSH can be elevated even if the thyroid
gland is fine. For example, if you have a pituitary tumor,
your TSH will be very high even if your thyroid gland is
functional. In addition, TSH can be low even if you have
thyroid disease. Dr. Barry Durrant-Peatfield discusses this
effect; if your body is deficient in thyroid hormone, every cell
in the body is affected---including the cells of the pituitary
gland. Yes, even these cells cannot function well without
thyroid hormone. So if your body is very hypothyroid, your
TSH may actually be very low (and thus your doctor may
refuse to treat your condition). In other words, there is
absolutely no correlation at all between TSH and thyroid
symptoms. And yet the TSH test is used almost exclusively
to diagnose and treat this disease. Though there is much
literature by thousands of doctors discussing the
uselessness of the TSH test on patients taking oral thyroid
hormone, almost every doctor out there continues to base
our dosages on our TSH. Oral hormone can circulate in the
blood, lowering TSH even if it is not used by the tissues. So
the doctor measures your TSH, sees a 0.4, and declares
you to be hypERthyroid even if your skin is scaly, you're
depressed and in brain fog, and you're getting fatter by the
minute. Once you are on oral thyroid hormone of any kind,
the TSH test is nearly worthless and does not need to be
performed.

Another little note about the TSH test: you know how the
doctor will yank your medication when your TSH is too low
even if you still are hypo? And you say "why?" and he says
"because you are starting to become hyperthyroid." He is
basing this solely on your TSH, which has nothing
whatsoever to do with the actual use of thyroid hormone by
the tissues, and you may very well be full of hyPO
symptoms from head to toe. But he is all up in arms over
your low TSH and wants it to move up to a nice "normal"
level of at least 1 rather than a 0.3 so you won't be
hypERthyroid. I take this opportunity to remind everyone out
there that this is 100% NUTS. Doctors and patients alike
MUST remember that millions of women are given TSH-
suppressive doses of thyroid hormone every single day in
order to stop thyroid cancer. Are you familiar with this
situation? If you have thyroid cancer, a treatment option can
include high doses of oral thyroid in order to lower your TSH
to 0; this stops the function of the thyroid gland, which stops
the growth of the cancer. Read up on this treatment and
you will find that these patients--with those 0 TSH levels due
to oral thyroid hormone--are perfectly normal and not
hyPERthyroid at all! And the doctors all think this is a fine
treatment---and yet they will refuse to give a Hashimoto's
hypo patient enough hormone to make her healthy if her
TSH goes below 1, no matter how awful her hypo
symptoms are.

What about other blood work? These tests are useful but
should not be used alone to titrate your medication. Again,
symptoms are the most important factor. When lab work is
ordered, both free T3 and free T4 tests should be done,
together, every time. Free T4 alone is not good enough; you
need a free T3 test to see if you are converting the T4. And
do not be in a huge rush to get these blood tests. Natural
thyroid doses are adjusted upward every few weeks until
symptoms are alleviated. If you are taking 2 grains (120
mg) or less and feel good, you really don’t need any more
labwork. If you are on 2 grains and still have mild
symptoms, get a free T3 and free T4 test to see if the T4 is
too low. If it is, add a small amount of unithroid and see if
the last of your symptoms go away. If they do not, you can
increase your Armour as well (and also check your
adrenals; this topic is discussed in detail below).

If you are on 2 grains and have severe symptoms, you
should keep increasing your Armour (as well as assessing
your adrenals, discussed in detail below). Your body may
very well have cellular resistance. Gradually increase to 3
grains and see if your symptoms are alleviated. You may
need 4 grains if you have extensive tissue damage. When
should you get labwork? Go ahead and get a blood draw
around 3 grains if you still have mild symptoms, to see if you
should add a touch of Unithroid. But do not be surprised if
your labwork is not in "normal" ranges. And do not be
alarmed if it isn't. Why? Because if you have been hypo for
many years and have a lot of tissue damage, you are no
longer normal and you will not be healthy when you are in
the normal range. My T3 levels, for example, are above the
top of the normal range. But I am not even remotely
hypERthyroid. I haven't the slightest symptom, in any form.
Actually, I feel wonderful and if I take any lower dose, I
become hypo again. My doctor says that my cells have a lot
of resistance due to 5 years of untreated thyroid disease.
We hope they recover in time, but for now I am not "normal"
and do not fit on the reference range anywhere. This may
very well be true for you too, so do not be surprised if your
labwork does not fit on the "normal" range. The important
thing to judge is how you feel. If you are not hyPER and all
your hypO symptoms have been alleviated, you're probably
on just the right dose, regardless of what your bloodwork
says.

So please, do not depend on lab work to adjust your
dosages! Too many doctors are already doing exactly that;
we don't need the patients to start doing it as well! Go by
your symptoms and find a doctor who will also do so.
Forget about the TSH test; you won't need it anymore. Use
the free T3 and free T4 tests only to determine if you need
to add in some Unithroid. Beyond that, don't bother getting
blood tests unless you start to feel bad again. Use the blood
work solely to see if it is your T3 that is low or if it is your
T4, so you know which medication to add or adjust. This is
how my doctor is taking care of me and I am comfortable
with this approach based on my research into thyroid
disease.

Back to the medications…. If your doctor absolutely
REFUSES to let you have anything but Synthroid, go to this
link about Synthroid and the FDA.

http://thyroid.about.com/blsynthroid.htm

Read through each of the links about Synthroid and print
them out for your doctor.  BE SURE to include the actual
letter from the FDA to Knoll Pharmaceuticals which denies
them "Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective" status.
And if that doesn’t work, fire your doctor and get a new
one. If your mechanic won’t fix your car properly and keeps
charging you for bad work, you go to a new mechanic. Well,
your body is more important than your car, so fire your
doctor if he won’t fix you! You can feel good again! There
are over a dozen different thyroid preparations on the
market so there is no reason for your doctor to force you to
use a medication that isn’t working on you.

Most of you are well aware of this: Synthroid is now in big
trouble. Synthroid is prescribed to about 60% of thyroid
patients and has been in use for almost 40 years. Knoll
Pharmaceuticals was allowed to bypass the FDA drug
approval process by grandfathering it in with Armour even
though the two products are totally different (Armour got in
because natural desiccated thyroid has been used
successfully for more than a century). Well, since then
synthroid has had so many potency and stability problems
that it has been recalled numerous times. So in 1997, the
FDA announced that all sodium levothyroxine products
would have to submit New Drug Applications by August
2000! This is an unusual step, but it was taken due to the
problems with Synthroid. Knoll Pharmaceuticals responded
by protesting and delaying. They delayed as long as
possible and did manage to get the FDA to extend the
deadline to August 2001. Meanwhile, Jerome Stevens Labs
submitted their application by Aug 2000 and their product
Unithroid was given FDA approval. Unithroid is now the
reference drug for all sodium levothyroxine products.

But Knoll continued to whine and delay. They insisted that
there was no reason for THEM to submit this NDA. To drum
up support for their cause, they began sending letters to
doctors and pharmacists all over the country. In this letter,
Knoll actually claims that they successfully petitioned the
FDA for "Generally Recognized as Safe and Effective"
status! This is a blatant lie; the FDA did NOT grant such
status to Synthroid and is still requiring a New Drug
Application. The FDA rebutted with a scathing letter which
denied all of Knoll’s requests and clarifies that Synthroid
does NOT have "generally recognized as safe and effective"
status. http://thyroid.about.
com/health/thyroid/library/weekly/aa050301a.htm

On 25 May, King received FDA approval for their
levothyroxine product Levoxyl. http://thyroid.about.
com/library/weekly/aa052501a.htm


WRAP UP

To finalize, I want to emphasize that I’m not a thyroid expert
nor am I in the medical profession. I’m just a thyroid patient
who had to do her own research to save her own life. In
addition, I haven’t had thyroid cancer. And my Hashi’s has
been atrophic thyroid disease. This means that my thyroid
gland has atrophied; it has shrunken and disappeared. I
never had glandular swelling or nodes like the majority of
Hashi’s patients have had. And I haven’t gotten hyPER on
my medications---no palpitations, sweating, anxiety, etc. So
I haven’t experienced many of the problems that other
women have dealt with.

But I have had fibromyalgia, CFS, depression, skin cancer,
dry skin, hair loss, menstrual complications, libido issues,
and a host of other symptoms common to all of us, no
matter what form our disease takes. I’ve done a lot of
research to figure out a solution and I feel WONDERFUL.
And I have found information that is being ignored by nearly
every doctor out there: the metabolic effect of T2 is not
even recognized by any doctors (not even my wonderful Dr.
Dean) because the research is so new. And for some
reason I can’t comprehend, nearly every doctor on the
planet is ignoring the adrenal function of their thyroid
patients. The physician’s desk reference clearly states that
patients must have their adrenals tested PRIOR to thyroid
treatment, but the doctors aren’t doing it.

So, while I know nothing about thyroid cancer, goiter, and
glandular nodes, I do hope I can help as many as possible
with this vital information that should be applicable to every
thyroid patient regardless of how she came into her
disease. I’m no expert and am not seeking any glory or
recognition. I just want everyone to feel better!

Hope this helps!
Gail
Thyroid Avenger
"Man cannot live on T4 alone."
NOTE: I am not a doctor
or medical professional,
nor do I play one on TV
(ha ha). The following
information is the story of
how I came to achieve
wellness, and the
information I found
during that process. No
warranty is expressed or
implied (ha ha again).

NOTE: If you think you
might use the information
contained in the various
links I’ve listed here, go
to the link and print out
the article immediately.
Some of these sources
archive their articles over
time and you cannot
access the links again.
This is especially true of
the New England Journal
of Medicine articles. I
have printouts of all these
articles. If an article has
been archived so you
cannot get it, post me at
admin@freebohemia.com
and I can scan my copy
for you.
This info is on many
levels; there is basic info
many of you will already
know but I include it
because many of you
are newly diagnosed and
just learning about this
disease. Other info is so
scientific you need a
medical dictionary! In
addition, I started
compiling this info after
being contacted by
Americans, but now
have requests from as
far away as Australia. I
do not know the
international policy of
Great Smokies
Diagnostic Laboratory!

I also recommend that
you subscribe to Mary
Shomon's newsletter
(www.thyroid.about.com
) so you can keep up to
date on all the latest
thyroid news from a
reputable source (rather
than some of the hearsay
that goes around the
forum; all sorts of
unfounded rumors
abound in the forum, in
addition to the
wonderful support and
helpful hints offered).