Desiccated Thyroid & Your Bones
It’s a common scare tactic heard by thyroid patients who are doing wonderfully on natural desiccated thyroid and feeling great: “Your TSH is too low and you will get osteoporosis (or heart problems).”
But patients have found out that this is totally ludicrous. Doctors are confusing the low TSH seen with Graves disease (hyperthyroidism caused by an attack on your thyroid stimulating immunoglobulins) with the low TSH seen when optimal on Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT), which simply means you are giving yourself the thyroid hormones you need, and the pituitary gland has no need to demand a thing, and it goes low on the lab result.
A very low TSH while on an optimal amount of NDT is COMMON, and has NOT resulted in bone loss or heart problems!
Dr. David Derry, in his book “Breast Cancer and Iodine”, remembers that before labs were used to diagnosis and treat thyroid disorders (i.e. before 1973), “the normal dose of thyroid was three times the level seen now and there were no cases of fractures or osteoporosis ever reported in the previous 80 years.”
In fact, he also surmises that patients on doses used before labs came into existence “felt better, energetic and motivated, so they remained more active during all of their lives.” And this fact would be another factor in stopping Osteoporosis!
The following is a remarkable testimony of a patient concerning NDT and her bone density:
“More than ten years ago, while taking synthetic Thyroid replacement hormones, a bone density study was done on me. The results were “okay” (that was in the days before I cared enough to get the real results).
I had my second bone density test done today. I have been on Armour over a year. The results? The test shows that I am adding bone mass! The nurse started to check my records to see if I was taking any medication to accomplish this, but I told her not to waste her time because I wasn’t taking anything for that. She checked my history sheet and records to see what else I am taking. The only prescriptions being used right now are Armour (every day) and Celebrex (PRN when needed). That is when I told her what she needed to know…. “Armour Thyroid contains T4, T3, T2, T1 and Calcitonin. The Calcitonin is what is needed to build or rebuild bone mass.”
The doctor resisted putting me on Armour because he had been told that T3 can speed up the loss of bone mass. Now I can tell him that the proof is in his own records that when it is given in *Natural* form via Armour, it is beneficial, not detrimental to the body. Hooray for Armour! Oink! Oink!
And a second testimony from thyroid patient Linda D:
My TSH has been completely suppressed for 37 years and my 6 bone scans have all shown me to have well above average bone density. Doctors never believe me which explains having to have had six scans. Anyway, undetectable TSH has had no negative effect on my bones. (So don’t let unknowledgeable doctors scare you about that TSH!!)
And even from the ultra conservative Thyroid Foundation of Canada website comes this Q & A refuting the scare by doctors that taking too much thyroid meds (i.e. suppressing the TSH) can cause osteoporosis:
I have been taking thyroxine 0.15 mg for the past 30 years. At my last appointment with my new family physician, I was told my dose is too high. I feel very well and don’t look forward to the possibility of changing my hormone level. However, I understand there are risks of osteoporosis when thyroid hormone levels are too high. I wonder how great these risks are and whether my current sense of well-being should be taken into consideration when making a decision to change my dose of thyroxine.
The treatment with thyroxine can be for two purposes, either to suppress thyroid tissue or merely to treat hypothyroidism. It would be appropriate to suppress TSH in the case of a goitre or previous treatment for thyroid carcinoma. A low (subnormal) TSH may be due to pituitary damage, or may be due to excess production of thyroxine or T3, or excess intake of these agents. In the latter situation, the TSH is supressed. However, when one is trying to treat hypothyroidism, the ideal treatment would be to bring TSH down into the normal range, but not suppress it necessarily. Nevertheless, concerns which many physicians have expressed over the past few years about osteoporosis if TSH is suppressed by thyroxine have proven recently to be incorrect. Studies have shown NO reduction in bone mineral density, and no osteoporosis when thyroxine is taken even in suppressive doses. Only when patients have had actual Graves’ disease — “overactive thyroid,” is there a risk of osteoporosis and even that risk is small. Nevertheless, one should strive for ideal therapy and the ideal for hypothyroidism is to have all tests of thyroid function normal.
Bottom line: don’t get fooled by the warning that a suppressed TSH, or a free T3 at the top of the range, equates to Osteoporosis!! And by the way, simply being in the “normal” range does not always equal optimal treatment.
And for you who put weight on studies, click here for one which did not find a correlation between a suppressed TSH and loss of bone density.
To order your own LAB WORK: http://www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/recommended-labwork