The recent press release by the UK's Royal College of Physicians about the new guidelines on the diagnosis and management of primary hypothyroidism hit the web with a resounding, stiff-necked thud.
Of course, no UK thyroid patient would be surprised by the tunnel-visioned press release, titled Thyroxine is the only treatment for primary hypothyroidism. The government-funded National Health Service (NHS) makes sure patients are clearly steered towards thyroxine (aka Eltroxin, Levothyroxine, etc) in the treatment of their hypothyroidism. And testing can only be via the serum TSH and free T4, mentioned in the same press release as "the only validated method of testing thyroid function." Oh, jolly.
Justifying these two "onlys," the press release underscores the purported worry that people are being wrongly diagnosed or treated because of unvalidated diagnostic tests and 'natural' treatments, implying either can be dangerous, because the wrong treatment can cause serious side effects, or the true cause of symptoms can be left undiagnosed and untreated.
Yup, it all sounds reasonable and sound. Who wants to be wrongly diagnosed because of unvalidated tests or incorrectly treated due to unsubstantiated treatments? Who wants to live with serious side effects? And who wants the "real cause" of particular symptoms to be undiagnosed? Problem is that a growing body of enlightened thyroid patients are shouting a different truth:
- That being wrongly diagnosed is rampant due to the very 'validated' TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) lab test result they support, i.e. a pituitary hormone, which can be "normal" for years before it rises high enough to reveal one's cellular hypothyroid state;
- That thryoxine is the medication wrongly treating thyroid patients, since it leaves most all patients with lingering hypothyroid symptoms which doctors dismiss as belonging to something else;
- That those natural treatments, such as desiccated thyroid like Armour made by Forest Labs of the US, are changing lives and removing those lingering hypothyroid symptoms because of the presence of direct T3;
- That side effects from the use of natural desiccated thyroid are due to undiagnosed adrenal fatigue and low cortisol which needs treatment, not the desiccated thyroid itself; and
- That the adrenal fatigue so many thyroid patients find themselves with is, in fact and ironically, due to the inadequacy of both the TSH lab test and thyroxine.
The Royal College of Physicians is not comfortable with the increasing volume of patient voices who mention the above realities in their lives. And clearly, neither are the other groups which support the guidelines which the press release is about: The Association for Clinical Biochemistry, The Society for Endocrinology, The British Thyroid Association, The British Thyroid Foundation Patient Support Group, and The British Society of Paediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes.
In the Guidelines, the creators seem to step all over themselves to dismiss Armour thyroid and T3, claiming "it is inconsistent with normal physiology, has not been scientifically proven to be of any benefit to patients, and may be harmful".
To the contrary, Armour and any other prescription desiccated thyroid gives patients exactly what their own thyroids would be giving them: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Granted, the percentage of T3 in Armour, which is derived from porcine thyroid, is slightly greater than human amounts, but since when is being treated with nothing more than a storage hormone (T4) "consistent with normal physiology", ask patient advocates, wise doctors, and educated patients around the world?
And to call desiccated thyroid treatment without benefit and harmful goes against the huge body of patients worldwide who have lives and quality of health completely restored with a lowering of high cholesterol, balancing of blood pressure, strengthened heart function, renewed energy and vigor, removal of certain aches and pains, warmer and more normal body temperature, softer skin, hair regrowth, a lifting of depression, better mental health, sharper thinking skills, improved immune systems, increased stamina, healthier sex hormone function, improved chances of pregnancy when it's so desired...and a myriad of other reported and substantiated benefits when on desiccated thyroid and dosing according to the free T3, free T4 and removal of symptoms.
If patients have to hold their breaths to wait on "science" to prove what their treatment experience has always revealed to them, they'll die from lack of air.
American thyroid patients send their condolences to UK thyroid patients.
Janie A. Bowthorpe, M.Ed. is a thyroid patient activist, author of the book Stop the Thyroid Madness: a Patient Revolution Against Decades of Inferior Thyroid Treatment and owner of the website www.stopthethyroidmadness.com