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Thyroid Science 3(1):C1-2, 2008

Dr. Kenneth Blanchardís
False Beliefs About T3 Therapy


Dr. John C. Lowe

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Yesterday, January 10, 2008, I received the following question from a person expressing concern about his use of T3 alone. Iím responding to his question in this newsletter because I often receive similar emails expressing the same concern. Their concern always arises because of an opinion of some doctors about the use of T3 alone. The doctorsí opinion is wrong, as I explain in my reply to this troubled gentleman.

Question: Iím a confused thyroid patient. Thyroid experts say so many things that conflict with what others say that I donít know who to believe. Armour and Levoxyl didnít work for me, so my doctor, who has read your studies on T3, has been treating me with Cytomel for several years. It gave my life back. Last night, however, I read Dr. Kenneth Blanchardís answer to a woman named Annie who asked him how he feels about prescribing T3. If he is right, Iím afraid Iím heading for trouble with Cytomel. I am concerned, so Iíll be grateful if youíll respond to his answer to Annie:

"The important thing in prescribing a thyroid hormone is that you have to attain the right T3 in the body. I don't think that anyone is well served by using T3 only. Dr. Wilson published a book in 1991 called Wilson's Syndrome. This book is interesting in that it has many pages of glowing testimonial letters. The problem is that T3 slowly lowers the balance in the body. T4 levels fall slowly in the tissues. The patient feels better for a few months but then they [sic] crash. I guarantee that no one can take only T3 for very long. [Italics mine.]

 

Dr. Lowe: First I want to say that I admire Dr. Blanchard, an endocrinologist, for some of his points of view. In the first edition of Mary Shomonís Living Well with Hypothyroidism, Dr. Blanchard and I were the two doctors she heavily quoted. Since reading some of his statements in her book, Iíve felt that he is courageous for thinking outside the fault-laden belief-box of conventional endocrinology. Some of his beliefs are scientifically sound.

That said, I want to emphasize that his statements about using T3 alone are balderdash. I simply donít understand how he could publicly express such nonsense.

Dr. Blanchard refers to Dr. Denis Wilsonís book containing "glowing testimonials" about T3 therapy. I will give you a testimonial of my own, but first let me make something clear: In my book The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia, I document that some of Dr. Wilsonís beliefs are so contrary to scientific evidence that they are simply nuttyóas nutty as Dr. Blanchardís beliefs about T3 therapy. Except for Dr. Wilsonís advocacy of T3 therapy, I adamantly disagree with many of his views. On the other hand, my own testimonial about T3 could fit right into his book.

My testimonial about using T3 alone makes Dr. Blanchard patently wrong or me psychotically deluded. He wrote in his answer to Annie that he doesnít think anyone is well served by using T3 alone. Despite that, we have a massive research literature on patients with thyroid hormone resistance. That literature shows that most of the patients are served well by no thyroid hormone therapy other than T3 alone. If Dr. Blanchard questions this, he should read my extensive chapter in The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia on the science and treatment of thyroid hormone resistance.

Here, though, Iíll say that T3 alone has served me very well for twenty-three years. My father and some of his siblings committed suicide, and Iím convinced that their deaths were from depression due to thyroid hormone resistance. He took his own life at age twenty-eight only three years after T3 was discovered, so the hormone wasnít available clinically to avert his early demise. I have been more fortunate. Unlike my father, I had the help of a wise psychiatrist and the research conducted by psychiatric investigators in the 1970s. That research showed the effectiveness of T3 therapy in relieving many patientsí depression. Because of my long-term use of T3 alone, Iíve long been free from the desire to exterminate myselfóa desire that dominated half my thoughts from my earliest memories as a boy until I began using T3 alone.

Is Dr. Blanchard right and I psychotically out of touch with reality? Have I not been "well served by using T3 only"? Iíll put it this way: Before my use of T3, I was crippled at doing math, as well as most other intellectual tasks. Since using T3 alone, my major past time has been the highly technical practice of mathematical logic. In this practice, I reduce arguments to symbolic notation using quantifiers and analyze them for validity using rules of inference. I do this in a quantificational language that would take most highly intelligent people years to learn, as it did me. Dr. Blanchard would undoubtedly argue that my long use of T3 has impaired my mental faculties. But the truth is, T3 has given me a razor-sharp mind; I know this from the brief times Iíve been off T3. Each time, the familiar thick mental fog ensheaths me again, causing me to back away from my dry erase boards, unable to quantitatively express and analyze arguments. In view of this personal history, I humbly contend that it is Dr. Blanchard who is wrong.

I want to repeat a statement he made in his reply to Annie: "The patient feels better for a few months but then they [sic] crash. I guarantee that no one can take only T3 for very long." [Italics mine.] As a thyroid hormone resistance researcher, I have for many years followed patients who have used T3 alone, some for up to seventeen years. And, of course, Iíve followed myself for a full twenty three. Have we "crashed," as Dr. Blanchard claims we inevitably will? Absolutely not! My follow-up of long-term T3 users shows that most are healthier than people in general. And this is true of myself now within two weeks of the age of sixty-two.

Dr. Blanchardís "guarantee that no one can take only T3 for very long" is as concretely false as the claim that the earth is flat. At the time he made his should-be-embarrassing statements about T3, he apparently hadnít bothered to read the scientific literature that proves him wrong. But thatís okay; I always stand ready to show him that my long-term use of T3 alone has not in the least hampered my health and vigor. Iím always ready to arm wrestle him or take him on in a long race up the side of any mountain. However, rather than arm wrestling or racing, he would do better to study The Metabolic Treatment of Fibromyalgia, or at least the T3 literature in PubMed. If he did, he would probably revise his beliefs about the use of T3. By doing so, he would far better serve the interests of patients like you.

At any rate, I hope you donít let Dr. Blanchardís mistaken beliefs instill you with fear. And I sincerely wish you the very best with the extraordinary health youíre likely to enjoy, as I have, through your continued use of T3 alone.

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© 2008 Thyroid Science