Mary Shomon, Thyroid Mary

The thyroid medicine levothyroxine (Synthroid) is among the top ten drugs dispensed in the US. The inevitable conclusion is that thyroid malfunction is extremely common.

Even after diagnosis and treatment, however, many people continue to feel bad. Research has found a genetic basis that explains some people’s problems with levothyroxine.

Would a new approach to treatment help? What should it be? We talk with Dr. Antonio Bianco about his research on the genetics of hypothyroidism and the complexities of T4, T3 and TSH.

Thyroid superpatient Mary Shomon gives us an overview of what many individuals with hypothyroidism find helpful, and how you could make that work for you.

This Week’s Guests:

Antonio Bianco, MD, PhD, is head of the division of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Rush University Medical Center. His articles include: “Coordination of hypothalamic and pituitary T3 production regulates TSH expression.” Journal of Clinical Investigation, April, 2013; “Cracking the code for thyroid hormone signaling.” Trans American Clinical and Climatological Association, 2013; “Defending plasma T3 is a biological priority.” Clinical Endocrinology, Nov. 2014; “Differences in hypothalamic type 2 deiodinase ubiquitination explain localized sensitivity to thyroxine.” Journal of Clinical Investigation, Feb. 2015; “Coupling between nutrient availability and thyroid hormone activation.” Journal of Biological Chemistry, online Oct. 23, 2015; and many others.

Dr. Bianco also co-chaired an American Thyroid Association task force that updated the guidelines for treating hypothyroidism. They were published in the journal Thyroid.

Mary Shomon has been a patient advocate and activist for thyroid and hormonal health since 1997, when she became the guide/thyroid expert for the popular Thyroid.About.com website. She is author of 13 books on thyroid health, hormones, and weight loss, including the NY Times bestseller Thyroid Diet Revolution. The photograph is of Mary Shomon.

Her websites are: http://thyroid.about.com

http://www.thyroid-info.com

http://www.facebook.com/ThyroidSupport

http://www.twitter.com/thyroidmary

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free for four weeks after the date of broadcast. After that time has passed, digital downloads are available for $2.99. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

In addition to this broadcast, we offer two web extras: bonus interviews with Dr. Antonio Bianco which includes the entire conversation we had with him, unedited, and with Dr. Ridha Arem concerning his approach to the ideal diet for people with hypothyroidism.

Should you wish to share the latest research on the T3-T4 combination treatment strategy with your doctor, you will find our downloadable 25-page Guide to Thyroid Hormones helpful in this regard. It also provides in-depth explanations of diagnostic workups and treatment options.

Air Date:December 5, 2015

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  1. Brenda
    varnvile, sc
    Reply

    What do you ask for when it comes to an iodine supplement dose and do Doctors even give it for thyroid?

  2. Richard
    Raleigh, NC
    Reply

    I’m surprised your thyroid experts have not mentioned the widespread lack of iodine in people’s diets these days. Iodine is necessary for proper thyroid function, and is needed by every organ in the body. Iodine used to be added to bread but that was stopped in the mid-1970s, to be replaced by bromine which is not used by the body. Also, iodine is added to some salt products, but not enough, and many people have cut back on salt use. Consequently, many people need to supplement iodine nowadays. I learned this by reading two books: Iodine Why You Need It- Why You Can’t Live Without It by David Brownstein, M.D. and The Iodine Crisis by Lynne Farrow. These books describe how many people’s thyroid problems are solved by iodine supplementation. What does The People’s Pharmacy think about this?

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      We think that medical experts have assumed that most people are getting iodine from their salt, and we are not sure that assumption is justified. It is alarmingly easy to buy salt without iodine without even realizing it. In addition, the salt used in processed food is not iodized, and the fancy sea salt or Himalayan salt that many people prefer do not have iodine. It is quite possible that more people are low in iodine than the public health experts realize.

  3. Eve H.
    Durham, NC
    Reply

    I have been on levothyroxine for 10 years after my doctor wanted to do a routine lab test which showed hypothyroidism. I have been mystified at those lab values, (which are within normal limits now) because I never felt the slightest symptom of hypo. Has anyone else had this experience?

  4. Amy
    NC
    Reply

    My doctor wants me on thyroid med because my numbers are a little low. I haven’t started on it because I have enough energy to accomplish what I want to do, and I sleep well. Who can steer me toward research I should read since I seem to be asymptomatic?

  5. J. David A.
    Springfield, MO, USA
    Reply

    I have not listened to the whole show. This discussion would be incomplete without giving credit to Dr. Wilson and Wilson’s Syndrome who/which was vilified terribly by some powerful docs whose analytical and creative abilities were not up to Dr. Wilson’s level. Some of us have been testing and treating T3 hypothyroidism for decades – especially since Amiodarone came into use, and all those patients quit converting T4 to T3.

  6. alxzba
    NC
    Reply

    I thought this was an excellent presentation on what obviously is a serious condition which I have discussed with primary doctor, who had the T3/T4 tests done and switched me over to Armour without much concern as to results. I have one problem with Shomon’s recommendation, or as I understood it, that the patient go on a cash basis with a new physician in order to get more attention in the exam for hypothyroidism. She’s overlooking the ability of many people to do that. There’s got to be a better solution. Her knowledge of the thyroid is obviously excellent and deserves more study to understand it. Thanks for this excellent show on P Pharm.

  7. Beth
    Reply

    I am a 78 year old lady. I have been on Levothyroxin for years. The last few years, my hair has been falling out a lot. It is always on my clothes, and when I wash it, there is always a lot more than before this started.

    I have brought this up to my primary and she has checked me and says my prescription is okay. If it is not my thyroid, what is it. I have not changed my prescriptions in a long time. I am taking Biotin.

    Beth

  8. Margaret
    Reply

    My doctor tests me annually for TSH and occasionally (at my request) for free T4 and T3 — all of which look fine. I take Armour every morning and so the blood test is usually made within 3 hours of taking the medication. Is the test really measuring my “baseline” free T3 or is it measuring the T3 I have just taken? In other words, is the T3 used quickly or slowly and does taking the medication close to test time skew the results?

  9. Kim
    Reply

    Love your show. My only symptom for hypothyroid was the constant need to chew ice. Strange, but my doctor listened to me and ran a few tests. (About 6 years ago). I went Gluten Free just over a year ago and my TSH value went down to 0.14. I would be interested in reading a study that evaluates the effect of Gluten on TSH. Is there any such study? I have a lot of ‘auto immune dx’ in my family.
    Thanks

    • Terry Graedon
      Reply

      Hypothyroidism often travels in families with auto-immune diseases. As for the gluten, you may be interested in Mary Shomon’s book, The Thyroid Diet Revolution, or in Dr. Arem’s book, The Thyroid Solution Diet. Both discuss gluten and the thyroid.

  10. Deborah
    Missouri
    Reply

    I have had Grave’s Disease for the last 17 years. I initially resisted the idea of blasting my thyroid gland with radioactive iodine for a year, but finally had to give in when my symptoms became life-threatening. Since the “removal” of my thyroid gland, I have gone from a very active, healthy and relatively happy person to a still active, but always exhausted, overweight, depressed and moody person. I never get really ill, (haven’t had so much as a cold in years) but I never feel truly well. I get up feeling as if I never went to bed, I ache and feel like I have to drag myself through the daily routine — regardless of the amount of sleep I get or the caffeine I chug. I look “gray” and tired and old and fat. (None of which helps my moods!)

    A few years ago I read about adding T3 to the treatment mix, but my doctors (I have tried a few) all pooh-pooh it and basically show me to the door when I mention it. My current doctor actually told me it was “a load of hogwash”. Apparently my having gained over 65 pounds in the last 17 years is due to overeating and a lack of exercise (and implied “bad attitude”), despite my being a strict vegetarian who grows and cooks all my own food from scratch — sans hydrogenated fats, junk food and most sugar, AND despite walking between 4 and 14 miles daily in addition to my regular work in my extensive organic gardens and around my homestead. [My husband and I rescue animals (informally) and always have plenty of sheds to muck out, dogs to walk, troughs to clean, buckets and hay bales to haul, etc. I am NOT a couch potato! I don’t even own a television, and haven’t watched one for over 30 years.]

    I am not the only person with thyroid disease who expresses these same symptoms and complaints. Are we really all just a bunch of lazy bums with hypochondria? What is wrong with all these doctors that they are in such denial about REAL symptoms? Why are they so opposed to even trying a different treatment? If it doesn’t work, okay — at least it is worth a shot. Could this have something to do with pharmaceutical companies or insurance coverage? Or are they merely being stubborn?

    Would it be possible, for those of us who are fed up with being ignored, to publish a list of physicians who are willing to consider holistic or alternative treatments?

    • Fran
      Chapel Hill, NC
      Reply

      In the world of thyroid problems, you’re really going to have to do a lot of the work yourself, because even most endocrinology departments at major university centers are fixated on diabetes and fairly ignorant about thyroid issues.

      The head of the dept. at one of my local big-deal universities explained to me, after testing my nodules, that virtually all middle-aged women who were a bit overweight thought they had thyroid problems but in actual fact it’s something like 1%. Come back in a year.

      You will no doubt have to go to an integrative or functional medicine doctor or to one of the doctors recommended by patients on Mary Shomon’s site or the Stop the Thyroid Madness! site – Janie Bowthorpe of Stop the Thyroid Madness also does reasonably-priced consultations, which was invaluable for me. I’m now on a compounded T3 medication and feel infinitely better, though I still have the nodules. I also take iodine and am considering adding Naltrexone, per Mary Shomon’s suggestion. Another way to approach it is to find your nearest compounding pharmacy and ask them who’s prescribing compounded thyroid medication, and call that person. There’s no easy solution.

      My big clue was Janie telling me to have my ferritin (stored iron) tested, and it was way low.
      Without it your thyroid meds won’t work well. When I followed her suggestions and raised it there was a dramatic result. Don’t just let this go! Your thyroid affects every single cell in your body, and if it’s not functioning well you’re not absorbing nutrients, for instance.

  11. Therese
    Florida
    Reply

    I can’t wait. My thyroid is enlarged and I have 6 nodules on it but because my blood work is “within normal limits” every single symptom I have (that my doctors noticed and had me tested) is thought to be imagined. And I was told to “come back in a year and we’ll see if there is any change”. I think that is inexcusable.

  12. Heather
    Australia
    Reply

    I am on Thyroxine for last 30 years. My Thyroid is Hypo (low) as I have rheumatoid and this is common in rheumatoid. 2 yrs. ago I started SAMe Methionine for the Rheumatoid 200mgs x 5 days a week is all I can afford. It helps the inflammation of Rheumatoid by about 30% but the amazing find is it truly helped my Thyroid which the test numbers show is within the suitable guidelines now for the first time ever !!

  13. Abigail
    NW
    Reply

    What is the broadcast date?

  14. Mary
    Reply

    Mary Shomon is probably one of the most experienced of the thyroid advocates. Her emails from about.com are available for us to read.

  15. Denise
    Reply

    I would like to read comments on the podcast. Thank you.

  16. Marla
    Reply

    I hope to be able to listen but here in Dallas, your show airs at 6AM on Saturday morning! I will definitely listen to the podcast, so I wanted to ask about the use of Armour Thyroid, which I have been taking for years. I have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Disease and take a high dose (150mg – both a 90 and 60 mg tablet) and it seems to be working for me (Synthroid was ineffective). I have just learned that my current insurance company will not be covering Armour Thyroid next year, and in researching other options, I’m finding that most won’t. Any reason why?

  17. Heide
    Delray Beach, FL
    Reply

    I have Grave’s Disease since 1993 and would LOVE to hear this program tomorrow, but UNFORTUNATELY our radio station does not carry Peaople’s Pharmacy at this time. To think I bought a BOSE when we moved here 15 years ago to catch Joe and Terry Graedon, but to no avail. A SILENT BOSE!! SAD!!!!
    Thanks for the newsletter. I NEED it.

  18. Debbie
    Reply

    You don’t say how we can listen to the podcast!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • The People's Pharmacy
      Reply

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