Endocrinologists and the looney tune TSH lab test

“It is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.” –Dr. Carl Sagan

You may have seen the segment on NBC’s Today Show this morning, January 29th, 2010, or you may have heard about it on the internet. But in case you didn’t, the Today Show had a rare short piece about hypothyroidism and diagnosis which presented a Nurse Practitioner, Eola Force, with clear symptoms of hypo, including extreme tiredness, feeling like she’s dying, huge weight gain, depression, and brain fog, to name a few.

Yet, she had a so-called “normal  “TSH” lab test. The explanation for her symptoms?? She’s FAT, HORMONAL and FEMALE, of course!

And because she is under the care of a wise and knowledgeable doctor named Dr. Kent Holtorf and his clinic, which uses additional tests besides the TSH, he diagnosed her clearly, put her on thyroid hormones, and changed her life.

And the response by Dr. Singer, an Endocrinologist? There is “no real scientific basis” for what Holtorf does in his practice, and it was equivalent to the “laying on of hands”.

Well my dear Dr. Singer sir, if hundreds of millions of patients all over the world waited on “science” to prove what they know by decades of miserable experience because of the TSH, we’d all still be sick as dogs. The mutually accepted delusion by the Endocrinology field about the TSH lab test has left millions of thyroid patients undiagnosed and undertreated for nearly 40 years of its existence.

Other than to potentially diagnose a pituitary problem, no, the TSH lab test is NOT the gold standard for thyroid screening anymore than reading tea leaves tells me what kind of day I’m going to have.

Read more about the TSH lab test here, or find even more detail in Chapter 3 in the book called TSH: THYROID STIMULATING HOOEY.

See much better labwork than simply the TSH here.  Find what your results mean here. And here‘s how to find a much better doctor.

P.S. Thyroid patient Lynn Dunning emailed me about talking about the craziness of current thyroid treatment at her work, and one of her colleagues put this up on the work website:
http://www.spunout.ie/health/Healthy-body/Thyroid-madness Good for Lynn and the SpunOut website!

22 Responses to “Endocrinologists and the looney tune TSH lab test”

  1. Lisa Barnes Murray

    Dr. Singer–in his use of that statment– used one of the OLDEST form of argument–MOCKERY! But be assured that God is not mocked, neither is a patient who is lucky enough to find a Physian willing to test free T4, free T3, TSH, Reverse T3, RIA, IRMA, Thyroid Binding globulin, Neurotransmitters and Amino Acids, DHEA, Cortisol, and other hormones via Blood and Urine
    and Biopsy—WHATEVER it takes to get that patient well! No amount of mockery can undermine that!

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  2. Heather

    Dear Dr. so&so – I use the term “doctor” lightly… It took me TWELVE years to get a proper diagnosis because of morons like that (you!).

    I finally had a doctor who tested everything – and even though everything was within the norm (note here – inside the norm for the USA – NOT inside the norm for Australia – THEIR numbers are more tightly confined) – he decided that it was indeed NOT normal to have constant anxiety attacks & not have to shave my legs for 6+ months at a time – save for the 10 hairs that DID grow. Over a year later & I’ve had to start buying razors again lol. I hope that doc doesn’t go back for a second whack with the stupid stick…

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  3. Dwayne

    We, the patients, have finally caught on and the uninformed Dr’s are the ones now lost in the dark- extremely frustrated because we, the patients, have to educate them on how to treat thyroid disease and even more frustrated they get when patients have more options than they are even aware of- bottom line to the idiot doctors- you either work WITH us or we will find someone else who will OR we will do it ourselves. Quite frankly, I got better through doing what other patients do- not what a so called Dr. told me to do. This is why Dr’s have LOST ALL RESPECT. The game is over. And the longer you remain uneducated- the more pissed off patients are getting and taking action- YOU WILL LOSE IN THE END. :-)

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  4. April

    Honestly the response from Dr. Singer leaves me extremely disheartened and frustrated. It takes a lot of work to continually stand firm on my decision to treat my Hashimoto’s with dessicated thyroid. I have made it clear to all of my doctor’s that this the treatment I am pursuing, that I understand their position, but they will not sway me. I have since moved to another state and need to find a whole new set of doctors. The thought of this has been worrying me because I know I will need to ready myself for the fight once again. It is such a shame that we have to argue for our right to be healthy!

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  5. Maria

    WHAT ARE THEY AFRAID OF??? Why not offer both? I DON”T understand!!!! If I’m NOT doing well with the medication!!!!Why not try the OTHER???I have been suffering for over 20years!! I KNEW there must be something else out there that would work!! My laughed at me. I’m so thankful for Janie’s book and Mary’s. They opened my mind. I WAS NOT CRAZY! It was not all in my head!!

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  6. Maria

    Janie, how can I get one of those stickers? I did not get one with the book. I found your book when I googled Hypothyroid Cures. I bought it on Amazon.com.

    Thank you for all you do for US.

    From Janie: Maria, it only comes if you order from the publishing website, and if it’s directly requested at the time of the order. :(

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  7. Enrique

    Watching that video clip made me very angry and I think it stressed out my adrenals! LOL! These so-called ‘experts’ like Dr Singer deserve a good ‘kick in the rear’.

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  8. Mona

    Well, Janie, I hope that you sent your eloquent rebuttal directly to the executive producer of the Today Show, as well as to the reporter who filed that story.

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  9. Babs

    So disheartening. I’ve been going thru the same thing. Free T4 extremely low, Free t3 in the low range. Doctors won’t treat because TSH is fine. (I’m so tired of hearing “It’s the Gold Standard!”) F* that!! I started on Armour, and within a week I felt better than I’ve felt in 20+ years. 10 days later, though, symptoms came right back. Docs don’t want to increase because of TSH. TSH went below range on it. Meanwhile, I can hardly function, and *I* know what is wrong. I’m going to call this clinic and see if I can get an appt. I’ll fly across the country if I have to. I can’t take this anymore.

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  10. Theresa

    To Babs,

    Don’t give up. Find a doctor who can ignore the TSH. Mine was panicked when my TSH started coming in at 0.03 or 0.04! The lab always flags it as abnormal, and automatically checks FT4 (something they will not otherwise allow testing). My doctor stated concerns about bone health with such a suppressed TSH, so I had a bone mineral density test. Turns out my bones are 20 and I’m 50!! We also monitor FT3, which is kind of useless, since my thyroid doesn’t work, and my normal FT3 levels are attributable to dessicated thyroid. Good luck.

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  11. Brenda

    For 10 years I walked around with a golf-ball sized goiter sticking out of my neck. 4 different Endochrinologists determined that I was fine since my TSH was in the acceptable range! One endochrinologist refused to order a urinary iodine test because his office doesn’t order those. I got declined for life insurance at the age of 31 because the agent did not think it’s very normal to have a tumor sticking out of my neck! Even the insurance agent had more common sense then a slew of highly trained endochrinologists. Today I am much healthier thanks to surgery, diet, natural thyroid, and a Doctor is NOT an endochrinologist!

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  12. Babs

    Thanks Theresa, I have an appt to be seen at the Holtorf Clinic in a few weeks. I am so looking forward to it. To feel like a normal person will be a true blessing. I’ll travel if I have to in order to be healthy. It makes me NUTS when I’m sitting in front of a doctor, too tired to move, and in tears, and the doctor says, “I don’t see anything wrong.” I want to scream, “Stop looking at the TSH and look at me.” The last thing when they can’t find anything wrong is “Are you depressed?” No. Not at all. But I will be if I have to go on like this much longer.

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  13. Cris

    I’ve been studying thyroid for 15 years, and sex hormone interactions for about 10. Being high estrogen/low progesterone will screw with your thyroid and adrenal hormones, as well as your DHEA levels. You will usually have “normal” thyroid panels yet be clinically severely hypo thyroid. Dr. Norman Shealey has a very informative booklet, a quick read and cheap, on using progesterone cream to help relieve a lot of the triple crown of symptoms (hypo T, adrenal and low progesterone/high estrogen share MANY symptoms!). Also, Dr. John Lee’s book has some information in What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Menopause (not just for menopausal women).

    Once you get your progesterone levels back up (use Dr. Shames Canary Club for the saliva testing) THEN work on what is left lacking in thyroid and adrenals as they often start working again after the progesterone levels are back up to optimum. Not all progesterone creams work, you need to find reliable sources or have your doctor put you on troches (sublingual lozenges). Low progesterone sickness applies to men too. If you are overweight, you have high estrogen. High estrogen also causes insulin resistance as well as resistance to thyroid, adrenal and sex hormones necessitating higher than normal doses for the same benefits others get on ‘normal’ doses.

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  14. Elizabeth Hitchcock

    I fired my endo for relying solely on that #!@$%**! TSH test and insisting that I reduce my dose of Armour from 90 mg to 60 because my TSH was “on the low side”! My FT3 and FT4 were also on the “low side”, but that did not matter to her! Enough of this TSH crap!! I suffered horribly for over 17 years because of Synthroid, stupid doctors, and the “most sensitive” TSH test!! (AND, little did she know I was really taking 180 mg of Armour and feeling better than I had in 20 years!)

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  15. Laura

    I am finally getting around to watching the Today show clip. I love her story, love that she’s lost weight and doing better on hormone replacement, wondering if she’s on Synthroid or dessicated?

    But, most of all, I LOVE her kitchen! I am needing ideas for colors for cabinets and decorating ideas too. Currently I am on a painting kick, I have lived in this house for 16 years in hypo hell and have never had the energy to fix things up. Well, after a couple years on dessicated thyroid, look out.

    Anyway, I love her cabinets and the grey and white. Another option to consider for my colors!

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  16. Starrie

    It really is ridiculous that we understand the science behind thyroid hormones better than these stupid endocrinologists. When I take into account how much money they make from misdiagnosing people it makes me SICK!

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  17. Elizabeth

    Exactly! Years ago, when one implied that I might be “depressed” because I was still freezing all the time while on synthroid, (Btw, there is NO connection to being cold and depression!) I felt compelled to say “the only thing that depresses me is ignorant doctors!!”

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  18. Jessica Williams

    I find it not just a medical nightmare but a representation of how women are generally treated by “authority figures” in the USA and elsewhere. In airports, we seem to be the ones on the no-fly lists. In cafes, we seem to become invisible when it’s our turn. In the area of heart health, most doctors still believe that “women don’t have heart disease”. It is our number one killer!
    It’s time to FIRE the doctors, the politicians, the bankers, and the corporate elite, almost ALL of whom are MEN. I am feminista and I am proud of it. I do not hate men. I distrust their logic and their absolutism. And I take strong issue their POWER over others. Any sane doctor knows by now that the TSH is a flawed, misleading test, one that gives little in the way of information about T3 and T4 in the bloodstream. “T4 only” works ok on men, it is true. This is because they have little estrogen in their bodies to bind with the T3 that’s created. Otherwise, T4 only meds should NEVER be used on a hypothyroid female. NEVER.

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  19. Elizabeth

    A well-stated commentary on our society; I agree 100%!

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  20. Terry

    Everyone, I am so angry, that I cannot express it!!! I am on my 16th doctor in 16 years. I only feel well when my TSH is 0 and below. I recently got new test results from tests ordered from a new doctor. The TSH was below o of course but my FT4 and Ft3 were normal(Ft3)and on the high side of normal (FT3). They called me with the results and told me how I needed to lower my dosage. I told them I was coming in to talk in two weeks. Anyhow I went to the pharmacy to pick up my T4, a refill I had ordered over the weekend, and the pharmacy assistant said that someone had already called in to lower my T3 dosage. They had not even talked to me yet and they had already lowered the dose and called it in, ahhhhhhhhhhh! Oh my God they treat you like you are not even there; like you are nothing! It is nothing short of mental abuse. I am presently on several drugs (bandaids) for all the problems I have that I believe are caused directly or indirectly from the undertreated hypothyroidism. (I still need to increase my T4 and they are lowering the T3.) They are literally killing me. I now have osteoporosis, seven years of pre-cancerous cells that I cannot get rid of in spite of two surgeries and the list goes on. I have developed restless leg, have chronic high chloresterol, refux, fibromyalgia. That isn’t counting the useral, dry skin, depression, anxiety, skin problems, puffiness, fatigue, confusion, two second memory, PMS, pigmentaion around eyes etc. I have decided to raise my T4 myself, talk to this doctor about using the FT3 and Ft4 tests to monitor my levels. If she refuses, I have one more source to try before just monitoring it myself. I wouldn’t even go to an MD except for the fact they have forced me to take several medications for all the problems I have developed and I can’t just quit the drug. All because they are obsessed with the Fool’s Gold standard test. I can see it now I am dying and collapsed on the floor with a large tumor protuding from my neck. The endocrinologist comes over to me and says, “good news your TSH test result is normal, there is nothing wrong with you!”

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  21. Bee

    After many doctors, hemithyroidectomy, and many years of being sick I finally decided to self-treat. When my last endochrinologist told me that he does not treat by “symptoms” but only treats by “TSH” numbers then I knew that I was on my own. I had carefully typed a list of my symptoms and he never looked at them (they matched all the obvious hypo symptoms on this site). It takes a while, but we all ultimately learn that there is nobody who will take care of us besides ourselves. It was absolutely critical for me to maintain my health and employment. I have no wealthy parents or spouse to pay my bills. I had reached a point in my life where my health had caused my job to be at stake. No employer will tolerate an employee who is unable to contribute with energetic involvement in the workplace. Loss of employment is a devastating possiblity with thyroid disease. I have seen many women have their thyroids removed and then leave their careers afterwards. I did not want to become a homeless bag lady! With that in mind, I decided to do whatever necessary … even if it means getting on a plane and going to another country to get treatment. Yes, I will fight my hardest to live. So I have found non-prescription sources for my natural thyroid medication and I have researched extensively and monitored myself as I increased my dose to 4 grains over a period of 2 years. The end result has been gainful employment, being alert in the afternoons, stabilization of my weight, elimination of hair loss, and the ability to have a relationship. I can’t begin to describe how thrilled I am to have the opportunity to live each day fully.

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  22. Laura Magee

    4 grains? I am having the problems with the new armour- could you tell me what your height and weight? The only reason I ask is that 1.5 grains is not working and I am at at a loss. The olde armour had me on the money and I was fine. Do you use a supplement of the naturthyroid and armour? Thanks

    (Laura, you’ll probably find yourself here: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/mistakes-patients-make )

    Reply

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