Let me say it clearly–the TSH does not work

Sing with me:

The TSH and symptoms do NOT AGREE
How long will it take doctors to SEE
Now we’ve said our ABC’s
How many doctors do we have to FLEE???

Yup, sometimes even something as simple as a reworked nursery rhyme song says it all. Because as long as doctors look at the TSH as a reliable marker of thyroid function, patients continue to suffer. Why? Because the TSH lab is FLAWED, and the proof is in the pudding.

I work with numerous thyroid patients, both here and other sites, as do several other thyroid patient advocates who run the forums here. And I can’t begin to count the OVERWHELMING number of patients who come to us in desperation because they have a “normal” TSH, yet screaming hypothyroid symptoms, and a doctor who refuses to treat them because he has the myopic view that the TSH is a reliable window into the function of the thyroid.

The TSH is a reliable window into the function of the thyroid as much as a stomach ache is a reliable indication that it’s about to rain.

No one said it more aptly that Dr. David Derry in an interview by Mary Shoman: “Why are we following a test which has no correlation with clinical presentation? The thyroidologists by consensus have decided that this test is the most useful for following treatment when in fact it is unrelated to how the patient feels. The consequences of this have been horrendous. Six years after their consensus decision Chronic fatigue and Fibromyalgia appeared. These are both hypothyroid conditions. But because their TSH was normal they have not been treated. The TSH needs to be scrapped and medical students taught again how to clinically recognize low thyroid conditions.”

It’s called clinical evidence by the recognition of symptoms, not clinical evidence because of ink marks on a piece of paper!!

No wonder thyroid patients have lost so much respect for doctors! Most doctors have become akin to pilotless aircrafts operated by the mindless remote control of their medical school training and the pharmaceutical reps who tinker with their engines.

14 Responses to “Let me say it clearly–the TSH does not work”


    My daughter was diagnosed at 13 with Graves, and after RAI she has converted to hypothyroidism. She was being treated only with Synthroid for the last year. After noticing she ws still feeling not quite herself ,we had her teted and found her free t3 decreased> We added t3 to her treatment and now she is feeling much better. After seeing 7 different physicians trying to get a diagnosis, I have learned that the patient or their parents need to take control. You understand what is going on better than the doctors. My daughter has a thyroid storm twice and gratefully we knew what was happening and sought emergency treatment.
    My advice: don’t give up and ask for a test. It is your life and the life of your child.

  2. Mark

    I have had thyroid/adrenal gland problems for over 20+ years now and it sure is a major relief to find this site. I have only recently discovered the real cure for hypothyroidism and this site adds even more great information. To make a long story short, I found my answer when I heard Dr. Hotze’s radio show (am 700 KSEV in Houston) and first heard of Armour thyroid.

    Dr. Hotze was a conventional dr, but almost quit because he couldn’t really help his patients with all the standard drugs that only cover up symptoms and do not identify and remove the cause the illness. By the grace of God, he ran into many others who led him down the right road to proper health treatments.

    His services are very expensive ($2,500 and up) because he does not use insurance companies, which end up controlling the care a doctor can give to their patients in a negative way. The upside is that he has total control and can give the best care possible. His websites will prove very helpful to any body with hormone problems.

    As an alternative, Dr Pharo does a similar service for much much less. http://www.awakenhealth.com/id4.htm

    Hope all is well!

  3. PN

    It just hit me this week that doctors will ignore all or our complaints of common symptoms of hypothyroidism;
    exhaustion, unexplained weight gain, eyebrow and hair loss, skin disorders, constipation, brain fog, heavy periods, depression, feeling cold all the time…
    YET, let us have even ONE symptom of HYPERthyroidism, such as high blood pressure, feeling warm (which can be caused by medication) or irritablility (which can be caused by endos) we are branded hyper.

    Their worship of the TSH test, which has been proven to be useless in patients who are already taking armour, and their insistence that synthroid is superior despite all evidence to the contrary leaves patients wondering if they have forgotten the most important part of their oath, ‘first, do no harm.’

  4. faith

    I some how happened across your web site. I have been treated for hypo thyroid for 17+ years. I was diagnosed after I gave birth to twins. I am so tired of going from doctor to doctor. I know my family thinks I’m crazy, but I am soooooooo tired of being tired. I have so many of the symptoms today that I had 17 years ago when I started this venture. I have lost so many good years but I don’t know where to go? All I hear is your TSH is normal, with the medicine you are taking. Don’t they think I should know what is normal? please email me with some ideas on where to go from here?

  5. Janie

    Faith, just peruse this site and you’ll find everything you need. Read T4-ONLY MEDS DON’T WORK, then NATURAL THYROID 101 and THINGS WE HAVE LEARNED. Look at HOW TO FIND A GOOD DOC. And before you visit the new doc, read MISTAKES PATIENTS MAKE to avoid them. Become familiar with the page RECOMMENDED LABWORK. All can be found in the links to the left of the page. I also have a SITE MAP page to find any page on this site. If you want one-on-one help, go to the FORUMS. And remember: YOU are your own best advocate in the face of doctors who are keeping patients sick. Become informed. This site will help you. We’ve treaded the path before you and this site gives you what we have learned. 🙂 Janie

  6. Zev Lewinson

    Hello. I’m just amazed at this site. Sam, who is one of the contributors in the STORIES OF OTHERS page here, saw a post I once placed and emailed me this URL. I’ll be reading it and I’ll keep in touch. I’m the CEO of a mortgage company and a writer of childrens stories. I’m 53 and I lost my thyroid because of mercury poisoning. It’s a bit of a long story which I can’t get into now. I merely wanted to express my sincere thanks for your efforts with regard to creating this site. Thanks so much! Sincerely, Zev

  7. Kelly

    New lab tests…TSH = 0.050 range: 0.350-5.500
    T4= 10.2 range: 4.5-12.0
    T3 uptake = 32 range: 24-39
    Free T Indez = 3.3 range: 1.2-4.9.
    I have been on 100 Levo + 30 mg Armour + 25mg Cytomel daily. I split the Cyto and Armour and multi dose. After seeing these results, can anyone tell me WHY the doc would tell me to cut BACK on the meds? If the T3 and T4 are mid range shouldnt I stay with what I’m taking or even slightly increase? Seems this is proving the point of the weight the docs put on the TSH and ignore the T3 + T4. By the way, my temp is still below 98 in the AM and PM, I am dog-tired, still losing hair and struggling to lose an ounce. Stay with the dose or increase—advice? Thanks

  8. Administrator

    Hi Kelly. Your information and questions really belong over at the forums. You can find a link to them on the left of any page, towards the bottom of the links. (And by way, you need to strongly request having the free T3 and free T4, not a simple T4, or the useless Uptake.)

  9. SeaLady

    I went to my GP for 14 yrs, sleep was my main problem, followed by hip pain – he said I had bursitis, but isn’t that when there is excessive use of the joint I asked???

    I Had exhaustion, unexplained weight gain, eyebrow and hair loss, dry skin, ridged fingernails etc.

    I did not know anything about the thyroid – he finally did bloodwork, a TSH was included – he just told me I was normal. I didn’t know better.

    Years later with the same complaints plus…..he again checked my thyroid – NOPE your normal, you need to get more exercise and eat better.

    Could I kill him???? Maybe………when I finally switched doctors, in my Meet and Greet wellness visit, he said: You have thyroid problems??? I said No…….its been tested and is normal.

    He said “I don’t think so, you need an ultrasound”

    Well, enlarged thyroid, goiter and 7 nodules were hanging out in my throat.

    Please, please can someone tell me HOW the other doc missed this?????? He not only relied on the wonderful TSH test, but he didn’t even bother to feel around on my neck!!!!!

    AND people wonder why we do not trust Doctors????


  10. leisa

    me too!! 3 yrs of total hypo symptoms…i was put on 1/2 grain. symptoms worsened. NEVER has a doc felt my throat.now finally one thinks I have a nodule.

  11. Marie

    I’m glad to have found this website but am not sure if my answer is here. I was hyper at 8, treated until 18. Then hypo at 22 (or at least that’s what the dr said). Levoxyl until 41 yo. Always exhausted, dr said numbers perfect, diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, Mixed Connective Tissue Disease, depressed, anxious…Anyway, switched to Armour 120 mg. Felt heavy arms and legs, same other symptoms. Lowered to 90 mg, felt better. TSH was 31, T3 was 23.3, and T4 was 3.4 (I don’t think these are the Free tests you talk about) Dr said I needed more Armour, now on 105 mg, and feeling the arm and leg symptoms and such fatigue, not sleeping well. I think I’m over medicated again. I’m going to get your book. (from Janie: you have adrenal fatigue)

  12. Kim Reeves

    I have weight gain, severe hair loss, memory problems, frog in throat, dry skin, very sore skin around joints, ringing in my ears, severe charlie horses in legs, feet, freezing all the time, cold hands, cold feet, mental confusion, pain in neck..like choking, hoarsness, very exhausted, severe mood swings, irritability, rages, heart palpitations, blurred vision, ankle swelling, irrational behavior, low ferritin…my doc felt a nodule on my thyroid..but the tsh is normal..so he says.. nope no thyroid problems..you are fine.. Really, can someone direct me what to do now.. ? I am not fine, my daughter is hypo as well as my grandmother I am at the end of my rope here. I have been dealing with this for 20 plus years…..help!!

  13. Amber

    Starting at age 22, I began to rapidly increase in weight, going from 135 to 213, within months. I can not get the weight off no matter what I try, eating healthier, exercising, not eating, nothing works. I am extremely fatigued all the time. I have constipation, low temperatures, a blocked feeling in my throat (like its hard to swallow). I have gotten a thick layer of fat around my neck that sticks out and looks aweful. I was always very thin prior to the age of 22. I had a TSH completed in June 2003 and the GYN said it was normal. She just completed another on July 06, 2009 and I haven’t gotten the results back yet, so we’ll see, but if they come back normal, I don’t know. I still feel like I have multiple symptoms of Hypothyroidism, but everytime I ask my primary physican or OBGYN for testing they only do TSH test!!! I’m so frustrated!! What to do??

  14. April

    Hey Amber…I have the same exact symptoms as you complete with the same amount of crazy weight gain around that same age. I am now 31 and I eat right and hit the gym all to no avail. I also have that fullness in the neck too. I just had a TSH test taken a week ago and am awaiting the results as well. The doc did feel my neck though and her response was “Oh WOW! Yeah something is going on there!” And ordered the test. So I am waiting and wondering now if it will even be accurate.


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