This week, Wall Street Journal columnist Melinda Beck, who writes a weekly health column, hit an important gong with her wonderful attention-getting article titled “Doctors Hear Patients’ Calls for New Approaches to Hypothyroidism.”
“Doctors and patients have been at each other’s throats for decades over how to treat a little gland in the neck—and patients may be gaining ground.” ~Melinda Beck
Beck underscored the sad reality that doctors have been relying “on a single form of treatment for hypothyroidism”, aka T4-only like Levothyroxine or Synthroid. And it’s been travesty.
Why T4-only as a sole treatment is a scandal
As I explained in detail in the revised Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM) book, a healthy thyroid produces five hormones: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin, with T4 being the storage hormone, and T3 being the powerhouse of all the thyroid hormones. In that healthy thyroid, T4 will convert to T3, but the gland also produces “direct” T3. That is an important distinction.
Yet this “single form of treatment” with simply a storage hormone, which was thrust upon thyroid patients by 1960 (see Chapter 1 in the revised STTM book for excellent historical details), has forced us all to live for conversion alone…and hundreds of millions of us over the past five decades have a paid a hefty price. There are simply too many reasons why the conversion of T4 to T3 can be impaired, ranging from genetic factors, to diet, to stress, to illness, to age.
That is exactly what compelled me, in 2002, to start what is now the largest active thyroid group still on Yahoo, and later, the largest “system of thyroid groups” on Facebook, called the FTPO (For Thyroid Patients Only) groups–the only system of patient groups endorsed by Stop the Thyroid Madness.
How patients are dismissed
In addition to quoting a few doctors, Beck interviewed thyroid patient/advocate Mary Shomon, who stated “It’s so much easier to tell a woman to get up off the couch or hand her a prescription for antidepressants.” Also interviewed was thyroid patient/advocate Dana Trentini, who feels her second pregnancy ended in miscarriage due to only being dosed by the TSH, which in her case was left high–another hefty problem in the treatment of thyroid patients.
Major kudos to Antonio Bianco, president of the American Thyroid Association
When the American Thyroid Association (ATA) has been the height of disappointment for informed thyroid patients with it’s strong emphasis on “synthetic thyroxine” as well as its poor details about NDT, it was extremely refreshing to see him quoted as stating: “I credit this to patients pushing doctors and saying, ‘You don’t know what you’re talking about. I don’t feel fine’.” followed by Beck’s words that Bianco ‘has refocused the research to search for answers for such patients’. You give us a light of hope, Dr. Bianco.
Seven areas that patients beseech their practitioners to be wiser about…
1. Levothyroxine, Synthroid and all other T4-only medications
They have failed far too many of us. It’s not about exercising more, eating less, seeing a therapist or putting us on a myriad of other medications to treat conditions which are actually the results of that failure. Learn from us.
2. Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT)
And to the contrary, NDT’s T4 to T3 ratio of 80/20 (as compared to the human ratio of 93/7) has not been a problem for the vast majority. Instead, problems are usually “revealed” on NDT due to a cortisol issue and/or low iron–both common problems that arise with patients who have been put on T4-only, or who have been left undiagnosed.
3. The TSH lab test
The TSH lab test is and has been as much a failure for thyroid patients as has T4-only. To be held hostage to a “pituitary hormone” has been a complete **nightmare** for thyroid patients. Even one of your own esteemed colleagues, Jeffrey Dach MD, as well as many others, know the travesty of the TSH as explained in chapter 4 of the practitioner-written book Stop the Thyroid Madness II. Learn from us.
4. Lab tests that count, and how to read them
It’s the free T3 and free T4 lab tests which have been superior for either diagnosis or dosing, not the TSH. And a key observation noted by informed thyroid patients is “where” a result falls in the so-called “normal” range that has meaning. Many key lab tests have helped us in our journey towards feeling wonderful again. Learn from us.
5. Symptoms that go along with hypothyroidism
To the contrary, there are clear symptoms that go along with the right lab tests to reveal hypothyroidism. Depression is overtly common in an undiagnosed or poorly treated hypothyroid state, as is afternoon fatigue, poor stamina, dry skin, hair loss, rising cholesterol, rising blood pressure, painful joints, and/or others. How do we know as informed patients? Because they go away when optimally treated on Natural Desiccated Thyroid. Learn from us.
6. T3 added to T4
Adding T3 to T4 has proven to also be far superior to T4-only, and to the contrary, it has NOT been “difficult to sustain therapeutic levels” if practitioners will simply learn from their patients how to use T3-only with T4. The same goes for the even more superior Natural Desiccated Thyroid. Learn from us.
7. Listening to your patients instead of dismissing them
Finally and most importantly, though we appreciate the intense medical training that all our doctors have received, it’s time to consider that we, as informed patients, might have something valuable for our doctors or practitioners to consider and open their minds to. It’s not just about clinical trials. It’s time to RESPECT AND LISTEN TO YOUR PATIENTS, THEIR EXPERIENCES, CLINICAL PRESENTATION, AND THEIR OWN INNATE WISDOM. Learn from us.
ANNOUNCING: A new powerful YouTube video in honor of thyroid patients worldwide: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2n0NfAUyOKo Please share this video to your blogs, private Facebook pages, groups, Twitter, email. Join the PUSH!