Wall Street Journal’s recent thyroid article: 13 ways it could have been SO MUCH better!

Screen Shot 2013-08-06 at 1.05.29 PM(This was updated in 2015. Enjoy!)

As usual, informed thyroid patients can only roll their eyes about the latest example of a watered-down, thyroid-themed article in the media. This time, it’s from Wall Street Journal Online and appeared Monday, August 5th, 2013.

Now on the positive side, the title looks good: New Call for More Thyroid Options. 

But let’s set it straight: this is NOT new! Informed thyroid patients have been clamoring about better treatment for more than a decade!!

I started the Yahoo Natural Thyroid Hormones group in 2002 as a way to begin the important discussion about the efficacy of Natural Desiccated Thyroid as a treatment for hypothyroidism over T4-only. The Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM) site first went up in December 2005–a compilation of worldwide patient experiences which included lives being changed thanks to natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). The STTM book by the same name first appeared in 2008, and the revision in 2011. The STTM II book came out in late 2014. Today, there are numerous thyroid groups all over Facebook which have been extolling the virtues of better treatment.

Let’s break the article down and go into further detail, correction or clarification–all which might have made this a MUCH more informative and accurate article:

1) Grass roots patient-activist organizations….and the doctor-founded National Academy of Hypothyroidism, say that the current screening test for hypothyroidism leaves out some symptomatic patients and that the main medication used to treat patients, doesn’t always alleviate many symptoms.

True! And let’s be more specific about that so-called “screening test”: it’s the inane use of the TSH lab test which has been a monstrous screening failure! The TSH is a pituitary hormone, NOT a thyroid hormone! And it can consistently look “normal” for years (according to the parameter of an erroneous man-made “normal” range), yet we have raging hypothyroid symptoms…all the while the patient has to hear his or her doctor state they need to “exercise more and eat less”. The “main medication” is the all-too-often lousy T4-only medication like Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine, Eltoxin, etc. Yet, a healthy thyroid makes FIVE hormones, not just one.

2) They are calling for doctors to be open to other therapies, including a combination of synthetic hormones and the use of natural, animal-based ones.

True. But though adding synthetic T3 to synthetic T4 is a huge step in a much better direction and can be applauded (and so can being on T3-only), a multitude of worldwide patient experience has found that Natural Desiccated Thyroid has given these patients even better results (in the presence of good iron and cortisol levels). Doctors need to listen to that!

3) Hashimoto’s Disease: A Primer (box on the left side of the article) 

What a perfect way to lower the quality of an article. As usual, it contains the dark ages information about the use of the TSH, and mentions the “common” treatment of T4-only. They might as well have inserted a primal on blood-letting.

4) [In reference to Dr. Ridha Arem’s correct comment that “There are so many unhappy thyroid patients,”] :  Many of his mainstream medical counterparts disagree. “The vast majority of people are fine on the standard therapy,” says Jeffrey Garber, an associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical Center and chair of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists Thyroid Scientific Committee. Still, he says, “there’s a whole group out there who just thinks we’re clueless. 

Yup, millions of informed thyroid patients worldwide would definitely put you in that clueless category, Dr. Garber.

5) The wide range of symptoms, so similar to those of many other diseases, can make diagnosis tough. 

Totally untrue, say thyroid patients! Thyroid disease has a common cluster of symptoms in patients, which can include one or more of depression, fatigue, the need to nap, rising cholesterol, rising blood pressure, achiness, hair loss, weight gain, inability to lose weight, dry skin, dry hair, achiness, a low mid-afternoon temperature (below 98.6F/37C) and so many more symptoms.

Additionally, we have noted that if our free T3 is mid-range or lower, or our Free T4 is low, along with the above symptoms, it’s a sure sign that we are hypothyroid. Finally, family history underscores it for others, as can an ultrasound. It’s not that difficult when you understand the clinical presentation of hypothyroidism over an ink spot on a piece of paper!

6) Newborns and pregnant woman are routinely tested. Experts recommend screening all women over the age of 35 every five years. 

And how does that help when the testing/screening is with the inadequate TSH lab test, which we, as patients, already know leaves millions of us undiagnosed for years.

7) For treatment, guidelines generally call for the prescription of levothyroxine, a synthetic version of a hormone called thyroxine, or T4, which is produced by the thyroid. The gland also produces one other hormone, Triiodothyronine, or T3. 

A healthy thyroid gland produces FIVE known thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. So what’s the motive to prescribe only a storage thyroid hormone???

8) Most doctors, says Dr. Arem, generally prescribe T4-only medications. But such medications may leave some patients with lingering symptoms such as fatigue and depression and, in some cases, low T3 levels. 

He’s right! But there’s more to the story. Even those T4-only treated patients who see a removal of those lingering symptoms still end up seeing them crop up the longer they stay on T4! T4-only treatment is NOT a pretty picture.

9) Some patients go to alternative health professionals to get prescriptions for drugs such as desiccated thyroid extract (DTE) prepared from animal thyroid glands, which include a combination of T4 and T3.  

Thyroid patients are NOT just getting their natural desiccated thyroid (NDT is the common term, not DTE) from alternative health professionals. They are also getting it from open-minded and progressive regular doctors who LISTEN to their patients experiences!

10) The danger here, Dr. Arem says, is such patients could end up with an excessive amount of T3, resulting in symptoms of overactive thyroids, such as anxiety and a fast or irregular heart rate. He advocates a combination approach with amounts tailored to the individual.  

With all due respect to Dr. Arem, who is light years ahead of his colleagues in many areas, an excessive amount of T3 is not because of the use of NDT. It’s because NDT will reveal the problems of inadequate iron or inadequate cortisol–either of which can cause T3 to pool high in the blood and not make it to the cells. When patients correct those, they eventually soar on NDT. A newer page on STTM explains why NDT appears to cause problems.

11) Most studies looking at combination approaches show conflicting results. 

This is because those doing the studies made several key mistakes!! a) they dosed by the TSH, which leaves patients underdosed, b) they had no clue about the problem of inadequate levels of iron or cortisol, either which will leave a patient hypothyroid! Learn from patients!

12) The study’s authors said in a news release that it showed DTE may be a good alternative therapy for a limited number of patients. Harvard’s Dr. Garber says there may be certain subsets who are genetically programmed to respond to such combination therapies. 

That’s like saying a “limited number” of human beings and only those “who are genetically programmed” will do well with a healthy thyroid (NDT gives the exact same hormones as a healthy thyroid!! T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin).

13) Dr. Garber, like many endocrinologists, uses T4 medications with the vast majority of his patients. Occasionally he’ll also use conservative doses of a synthetic T3 drug, but he virtually never prescribes the animal-derived form, he says, because of complications that could arise for women trying to get pregnant or in early pregnancy, as well as individuals with heart disease.  

And this is why most thyroid patients, when they report about their doctor experiences, find Endocrinologists to be the worst doctor they ever went to, using descriptive words such as arrogant, close-minded, blind. And by the way, even some heart surgeons know that T3 SUPPORTS healthy heart function, not hurts it! See the Medical Research page on STTM which supports what we already know by our experiences!

See the actual Wall Street Journal article here.

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* Did you know that the original and revised Stop the Thyroid Madness book is in four languages?? English, Spanish, German and Swedish. Wooo hoooo!!  And now, there’s a STTM II book with each chapter written by medical practitioners! 

* The STTM Facebook page is very active and informative about successful thyroid patient treatment! Come join us! Discussion groups listed on the Talk to Others page.

10 Responses to “Wall Street Journal’s recent thyroid article: 13 ways it could have been SO MUCH better!”

  1. Lynn

    Please go to the article and post your entire blog comment as a “comment” to the article. I hope they don’t have a length limitation to the comments because EVERYTHING you’ve stated needs to be put out there in mainstream media. Thanks for everything you do for all of us!!

    Reply
    • Janie

      As I understand it, you have to have a paid subscription to post a comment on the Wall Street Journal online page. So someone else will need to do it. Or simply include the link to the blog post.

      Reply
      • Jacquie

        Hi Janie

        You can post your comment above for FREE on the WSJ.

        All you have to do is go to the bottom of the WSJ page to the black section. You will see 5 or 6 columns with live links and one of those links (on the far right, I think) will say, ‘Register For FREE’. Click on that and it takes less than a minute to register and be able to comment.

        PLEASE post the above. It is so relevant and you couldn’t have said it better.

        Thank you for all you do!! x

        Reply
      • Susan Meyers

        Thanks for letting me know why I can’t post. I would really just like some authoritative medical info I can show my doctor to try to convince her to use NCT.
        How would I find a doctor who would prescribe this?

        Reply
  2. jaime (aprillv68)

    Thank you for making us aware of this lame- brained jerk!

    Reply
  3. Terry Reno

    At the end of the article, it says you can write to: Sumathi Reddy at sumathi.reddy@wsj.com. I assume this is the person that wrote the article.

    Reply
  4. msbets

    I FINALLY GOT A DR. TO PRESCRIBE THE NP.THYROID BY ACELLA, I HAD BEEN TRYING TO GET ARMOUR FOR 30 YEARS(BEING ON LEVOTHYROXINE) MY THYROID IS COMPLETELY GONE, IF I HAD BEEN ON SOMETHING THAT GAVE ME T 1,2,3i 4, I TELL YOU RIGHT NOW MY LIFE WOULD HAVE TAKEN A 360 DEGREE TURN, HAVE BEEN ON IT FOR ABOUT A YEAR, AND I FEEL ABSOLUTELY WONDERFUL, I THINK IT IS A CRIMINAL ACT FOR NITWIT DR’S NOT TO ALLOW PATIENTS THIS CHOICE AND THEY SHOULD HAVE THEIR LICENCES YANKED!!!!

    Reply
  5. Barb

    I have no thyroid; I don’t consider myself hypo, in need of supplementation. I need 100% REPLACEMENT. “Too much T3” isn’t possible, since T3 receptors only “absorb” whatever T3 they will use and the rest gets processed out like all other waste. In 2012, 1 in 4 women died from “heart disease”; in 2013, the statistic is 1 in 3. That doesn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence in doctors when they have no clue that women NEED more T3 than men, because of our “complicated” hormones. Hence, providing only 80% “replacement” with a T4-only med simply enhances doctors’ incomes and provides a very comfortable retirement for them. Not to mention that MILLIONS of us can’t convert T4 into the T3 we need; our receptors fill up with Reverse T3 instead, which PROMOTES, PERPETRATES AND PERPETUATES chronic, disabling, bankrupting and deadly “care”. It IS a punishable crime (cruelty) to “treat” chimps with a T4-only (thyroid) med based solely on a TSH (pituitary) lab test result. One in eight women WILL be diagnosed with a “thyroid problem”; WE DESERVE BETTER THAN CRUELTY!!!

    Reply
  6. Gwenn

    I received the email below from TPA UK this morning. Not sure if it’ll work from every computer, but worth a try?
    G xx

    I sent you an Email yesterday about the Thyroid article in The Wall Street Journal (Europe Edition). Many members have expressed their frustration at not being able to comment, without paying a fee. You don’t have to pay.

    Go to the article http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324635904578644532652110970.html and scroll right down to the very bottom. There you will see four (or is it five?) columns with many live links. Go to the last column on the right and in that list, click on ‘Register for Free’. I received an Email from Dow Jones, asking me to confirm my email address, which I did, and then I was free to comment. To do this, click ‘Comment’ right at the top of the page, above the article. There have now been 14 comments, but we need many, many more. The article was pretty weak – we need to give it some gusto!

    Reply
  7. Ivan

    I hate to dash any ones hopes their doctor might wake up and start prescribing natural thyroid, but you have to understand that most medical schools in this country are all or partially financed by the pharmaceutical industry and they have a say in what is taught. They teach doctors that a particular drug is used for what ever symptom. So the pharmaceutical industry is the manufacturer and the doctors are the pushers, and the pushers often get kick backs on certain drug, so the more scripts they write, the more money they make. The only thing you can do is find a homeopathic doctor.

    Reply

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