Thyroid Tidbit: Oprah was on Methimazole, a thyroid blocker

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(This page was updated in 2015. Enjoy!)

Oprah admitted in January, 2009, on her Best Life Webcase, that she was on Methimazole (Tapazole) when treating her thyroid problem.

Methimazole is an anti-thyroid drug, often used to treat hyperthyroidism, aka Graves disease, or a toxic multinodular goiter. It’s known to inhibit the enzyme thyroperoxidase. In healthy thyroid functioning, this enzyme is made in your thyroid and is an important component in the production of thyroid hormones. But with hyperactivity of the thyroid, it can become a problem.

Oprah may have needed the treatment for Hashimoto’s Toxicosis–an autoimmune combination of Hashimotos and Graves.  Treatment with Tapazole can be common in treating Hashimoto’s Toxicosis. Because of that treatment, she may have then fallen into hypothyroidism, since there was mention of a 20 lb weight gain, exhaustion and depression—common symptoms of hypothyroidism.

We don’t know much else, but it’s too bad this issue by such a well known celebrity didn’t move her into more discussion about better thyroid treatment with Natural Desiccated Thyroid or T3 in one’s treatment, especially when so many lives have suffered due to the medical practitioner love-affair with Synthroid and other T4-only medications. Many of us were highly disappointed.

Anybody had Hashi’s Toxicosis and treated with Tapazole? What’s your experience with Methimazole (Tapazole)?

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19 Responses to “Thyroid Tidbit: Oprah was on Methimazole, a thyroid blocker”

  1. ibeji

    AFAIK, a treatment of Hashimoto-toxicosis with thyroid inhibitors is not very effective, because it doesn’t prevent the uncontrolled rupture of thyroid follicles as a consequence of the autoimmune process (attack on the thyroid gland by the immune system), but only prevents the thyroid from producing more thyroid hormones. Eventually this will lead to a drop in levels of thyroid hormones in the blood, but only after the worst peak is over anyway (after many follicles produced by the thyroid before the treatment was started have ruptured) – at least as far as I understand the process (I’m not a doctor, just a patient with Hashimoto’s myself).
    Again AFAIK, a treatment with corticosteroids is sometimes used to dampen the autoimmune process which is the direct cause of the toxicosis.
    Anyway, the fact that Oprah Winfrey has had weight problems and other symptoms of hypothyroidism for years (if not decades) makes it very likely that she is actually suffering from Hashimoto’s.
    With Hashimoto’s, recurrent transient phases of toxicosis are common.

    Reply
  2. ibeji

    P.S.: In 1996, when it was discovered that I had a prolactinoma, the thyroid was also checked. My TSH at that time was suppressed, fT3 and fT4 were normal, and I had high titers of anti-TPO- and anti-TG-antibodies but anti-TSH-receptor-antibodies well below the threshold. This was (mis-)diagnosed as Graves’ and treated with Carbimazol, and later with hormonal replacement. After a year or so of treatment, and after stopping treatment without relapse, I was told to be cured (and also was told I had a 50% chance of a relapse in the coming 10 years).
    I think this was really a Hashi-toxicosis and Hashimoto’s from the very beginning.

    Reply
  3. aprillv68

    I was prescribed Tapazole as initial treatment for my thyroid (it turned out to be Hashi’s) 4 years ago by the first endo i ever went to, she had me convinced that i had Grave’s Disease, yet i had high thyroglobulin antibodies (above 90, normal is 20 or below, every lab is diffent) I felt great for about a month, then i relapsed on it and ended up with a TSH of 11, that was when the drug was stopped, had another TSH a week later, it was a 7. I was then diagnosed with Hashi’s and put on Synthroid ,i’m now on Armour & the rest is history, the same goes for the idiot endo, who i fired several months later.

    Reply
  4. gina

    i had the same response as ibeji did: it sounds like oprah had the wrong therapy for the wrong diagnosis!

    i believe i had an occurence of Hashi-toxicosis, which led me to this excellent overview of “Subacute Thyroiditis”, which seems to be a more general name for it.

    http://emedicine.medscape.com/article/125648-overview

    a few quotes:

    “Only suspicion by the clinician and use of radioactive iodine uptake measurement can distinguish Graves hyperthyroidism from silent thyroiditis.” in other words, an under-educated md can mistakenly conclude that the appropriate diagnosis is graves, as in ibeji’s case (and probably in oprah’s as well, altho she and dr. oz continue to be maddeningly vague).

    “The high thyroid hormone levels are a result of destruction of the thyroid follicle and release of preformed thyroid hormone into the circulation [and are] not a function of new thyroid hormone synthesis and secretion. Because no new hormone is being made, antithyroid medications are not effective in these conditions”. (exactly as ibeji said.)
    finally, the recommended medication for this condition: “The treatment of subacute thyroiditis is generally supportive to reduce the symptoms of thyrotoxicosis … Therapy is directed to reducing the signs and symptoms of the hyperthyroidism with beta-blockers or iodine agents.”
    does oprah have graves? probably not. should she have been treated with tapazole? almost certainly not. but then what do i know – i’m not a doctor! 😉

    Reply
  5. Josee

    YES!!!! My daughter has Hashitoxicosis with high Thyroid Peroxidase, Thyroglobulin and TSH Receptor Antibodies. Sure we can do nothing and eventually she’ll go HypO and she’ll also be left with a high risk of TED (Thyroid Eye Disease) and other proven health problems unless the TSH Receptor Antibodies magically disappear into thin air.

    Her doctor, unlike most mainstream American doctors, believes we have to get rid of the TSH Receptor Antibodies — all three types: stimulating, binding and blocking; to reduce her risk of complications down the line.

    She takes a small dose of an anti-thyroid drug and at the same time thyroid replacement hormone. You see the only way to rid the body of these Graves’ related antibodies is with an anti-thyroid drug — this has been proven repeatedly in medical research studies.

    My daughter has elevated TSI, TRab and TBII; her TSH is low normal with below range FT4 and mid range FT3 along with high TPOabs and TGabs. Before treatment she had very high FT3.

    Likewise she was diagnosed with Graves’ disease by several doctors, but I never bought it. Her symptoms screamed hypO. Many Hashi patients have been hypEr before becoming hypO and still have blocking TSH Receptor antibodies and they also have eye problems along with various other conditions.

    Mainstream medicine ignores treating thede TSH receptor antibodies other than the stimulating (TSI) antibodies. When a Graves’ patient becomes hypO just give them thyroid replacement and pretend that TED and other risk factors don’t exist.

    Many HypOs still have blocking TSH receptor antibodies and will never feel well. Most hypO patients don’t know that they even have TSH receptor antibodies because they are never tested nor treated. Unless you happen upon a knowledgeable provider, like we did — which are few and far apart.

    Also — Scientists recently found MANY other places in our bodies have TSH Receptor sites (not just on the thyroid). We already are aware about the eye muscle (TED) and the skin (pretibial myxedema) and acropachy (bone issues in the fingers) are seen in some cases of Graves disease when TSH Receptor antibodies attach to them. But TSH Receptors are also found on the adrenal and pituitary glands. Maybe that explains why TSH Receptor antibody positive people often have adrenal/cortisol issues and even when they are severely hyPO they have pituitary TSH suppression. Some other locations where TSH receptor sites have been found are in the bones, brain, and pancreas. And we already know that people who have TSH Receptor Antibodies can end up with thyroid encephalopathy, and diabetes.

    Reply
    • kim

      Your post was so long ago so I hope your daughter is doing well! It sounds as if she is very lucky to have you and your provider to figure this out. Can you tell me what course of treatment has proven effective? I have same diagnosis and am working through this.

      Reply
    • kriss

      I am exactly what u have told us about your daughter, and actually feel like your talking bout me . I live in australia and have been to alot of specialist and 22 years later they still cant get my medication right… can u tell me what your daughter takes now as i am sick of living like this .. the pain in my fingers n joints is so painful and my Eye sight is getting so much worse..

      Reply
  6. Nancy

    I also was misdiagnosed with Graves Disease by my endo. He put me on Methimazole 10 mg 4x per day and Inderol 40mg 2x per day back on December 12th. On February 11th he finally admitted I had silent thyroiditis although he had blood work sitting on his desk since December 10th suggesting it probably was not Graves. The following blood work was normal: TSI,(TPO)Ab, Antithroglobulin AB. The other blood work was not normal: T uptake(high), Free T4(high), Free T3(high),Reverse T3(high),TSH .01(low). As of Feb 11th,I now have Free T4(normal),Free T3 (low), TSH .05(low).Endo is now weening me off of Inderol, but Still has me on Meth 10 mg 2x per day. I developed Raynauld’s Syndrome because of Inderal. I am questioning why endo still has me Meth. Does any one know? Or is endo wrong again? Would it hurt me to go off Meth?

    Reply
    • Richard

      What happened to you? I had the exact same situation as you? Are you better?

      Reply
  7. BK

    She probably had “Hypothyroid Graves disease”, rather than Hashitoxicosis. Hashitoxicosis is when the cells of the gland are destroyed, and stored hormone is released.

    If you have TRab antibodies (TSH receptor antibodies) then you *DO* have Graves disease. Graves disease is also known as “TSH RECEPTOR AUTOIMMUNITY”.

    Methimazole doesn’t work on a gland that is releasing stored hormone. It only works at the first level – at the iodine molecule binding level, by preventing the creation of hormone.

    HypOThyroid Graves disease is when the TRab antibodies are more potent in the “blocking” stage, and less potent in the stimulatory (TSI) phase. Getting TRab/TBII tested will often tell you if the TRab are causing you to swing back and forth from hypO to hypER and back, like Oprah is.

    Methimazole also has immunomodulation effects — which can reduce TRab in as little as 4 days. If she has both type of Graves TRab antibodies, then MMI will indeed be a big help. It will reduce the TSI quickly and promptly.

    Reply
  8. Donna Marble

    I have been on mithimazole for almost 4 years to treat Graves Disease.

    It is working fine.

    Reply
  9. Eileen

    I am just starting to go through this whole process. Had a small painful spot on my throat. Dr. sent me for a ultrasound of thyroid, then a thyroid scan and finally a biopsy. Oridginal blood came back with normal thryoid levels. 3 weeks later sympotoms increased to difficuly swallowing, moderate neck swelling and painful to the touch. Dr. diagonosed Hasimotos, sent me to an endo new blood work came back with hyper levels and possible graves, am now taking Methimazole low dose 10mg a day. I am really confused and just don’t know what really going on. Any Help/suggestions?

    (From Janie: Eileen, use patient groups for good feedback. http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/talk-to-others )

    Reply
  10. heidi whiting

    I had graves four years bac,my symtoms were so severe, racin heart, achin muscles,bad eyes. Endo said I was headin for heart attack. They tried to treat but in the end had to hav thyroid totally removed. I’ve bin on 200mcg levothyroxine ever since. still hav many of the ‘lingerin symtoms’. hav recently bin researchin ‘natural thyroid’ treatments on advise from friend. I’m realy confused as I can’t seem to find any answers for people with no thyroid …. please can anyone help??

    (From Janie: there’s no difference in treatment–without a thyroid or still having a sick one. You still need desiccated thyroid. Go here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/things-we-have-learned And use patient groups for more feedback: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/talk-to-others )

    Reply
  11. heidi whiting

    thx u for yr comment,goin bac to my doctor next week
    to ask for new blood works to check me out as gettin
    more lingerin symtoms as the months go by

    Reply
  12. Elizabeth

    If you hae issues with Synthroid and Armour makes you nervous, then check into Maca. It helped me the most but now I have to take methamazole because I am hyper due to a nodule. It is helping. I think the stress of my job is what has set all of this off. I will get to retire in 4 years and hope that this issue is resolved. Methimazole is helping me. 10 mg 3 time a day. I also only hae 1/2 of my thyroid due to surgery. I had radiation treatment as a child but not cancer.

    Reply
  13. Kevin

    Nancy, how did your silent thyroiditis turn out? When did it resolve itself?

    Reply
  14. Lisa

    I am a RN & was diagnosed with Graves this past year. I have had hyperthyroid episode about 3 years ago. I was trained to listen to doctors, not only by profession, but from my family. I didn’t questioned them. However, once I started dealing with my health issues & not getting any results I started to question. I was on death’s bed & started to make arrangements for it. I really felt as if I was going to die not to mention I didn’t want to live if this was the rest of my life. I was in my mid-thirties & I felt like I was in my 80s. I will let everyone in on a secret….Doctors work for you. We pay them, therefore they are our employees. YOU MUST ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF! I have fired many doctors & will continue to do so if my employees don’t work with me to better my health. I have done my own research & I always take my information to the doctors. I believe that a good dr will be open to any & all info, if not their not for me. ALWAYS, ALWAYS, trust your own body. No-one knows it better than you. I have found many resources that have been helpful including this site. Here are a few drs that can be looked up online that have helped me. Dr. Joseph Mercola, Dr. David Brownstein, they are MDs that specialize in alternative medicine too. There is not one answer for every person because we are all different. There is no classic textbook symptoms that fit everyone. Please do not give up because you are worth the fight to exellent well-being.

    Reply
  15. Saivite

    Reading all the above comments breaks my heart. I was diagnosed with Graves disease and a swollen thyroid (goiter) . I have worked with an herbalist and gp for years so began a treatment that was a combination of herbal, homeopathic and diet. I am symptom free WHEN I stay on my protocol: auto immune paleo eating, 9+ hrs of rest, no caffiene of any kind, my herbals/homeopathics, mild exercise, and practices to keep stress low. This is immune system fail first and foremost. DO be your own advocate and EXPLORE options that may work for you, allopathic, herbal, whatever. Research and get informed and get support.

    Reply
  16. Jenny

    Hi,

    I was just diagnosed with Graves however have been acutely symptomatic for months. I’m a 32 yo NP and work in a busy cancer center. My symptoms: tachy 110-190, blurred vision, depression, weight loss then GAIN, insomnia, restless, terrible concentration, heat intolerance, fatigue, tremor. I was just started on methemazole 20 mg daily a few days ago. I already feel different — chilled, slowed down. I’m also drinking cruciferous veggie smoothies to also bring down my thyroid hormone (TSH is undetectable <0.05).

    My question: do you think this is a large dose to begin on? Have any of you had luck with diet changes alone? What's the smallest effective dose? I'm tempted to go down to 10 mg per day.

    Suggestions? Thoughts ?

    Reply

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