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Seeking experience with desiccated thyroid.

Despite the fact that desiccated thyroid has exhibited a remarkable 130-year history of safe use, there still seems to be great controversy surrounding this substance. Recently, to my surprise, despite approximately 12 to 15 years (of a 27-year career) successfully and safely using the porcine extract, I find myself in hot water with my local provincial medical board. Not yet successful in locating a local nor national "expert" to counter the local endocrinologist whom the board will call for an opinion, I am going international; hence this letter. My lawyer informs me that the best thing to do is to find an expert with a countervailing opinion.

Since reading Broda Barnes's book Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness, I started measuring basal body temperatures (BBT) and treating those people with low BBT and clinical hypothyroidism with the porcine extract. I start the therapeutic trial with a 30 mgm dose and increase the dose by 30 mgm every 3 to 4 weeks if tolerated, dividing the doses between morning and afternoon. I carefully explain to the patients what I am proposing, that it is not mainstream, and that, when the doses are increased slowly and prudently, there is no danger. I also explain that should they experience any one of the symptoms or signs of excessive dosing (palpitations/tachycardia, tremor, insomnia, nervousness/ jitteriness/anxiety, excessive heat), that they reduce the dose back to the previous symptom-free dose. I teach that one should always respect the mind/body and, if the patient feels unwell, reduce the dose and call me. These are people with combinations of a plethora of symptoms attributable to hypothyroidism: fatigue, oftentimes debilitating and long-standing, depressed or anxious mood, dry and thickened skin, puffiness, hair thin and falling out, fragile fingernails, feeling cold, cold hands/feet/nose, difficulty losing weight despite good nutrition and exercise, constipation and other digestive problems, cognitive problems (concentration and memory, etc.), menstrual problems, sleep disturbance, oftentimes nonrecuperative hypersomnia, and others. All this occurs more often than not with a "normal" TSH. There are occasionally antithyroid antibodies present, but not always.

Hypothyroidism Type 2: The Epidemic, by Dr. Mark Starr, has an Letters excellent chapter on environmental toxins which can affect thyroid hormone function at various metabolic target points. He makes particular reference to the heavy metals lead, arsenic, and mercury. I only mention this because the medical board does not approve of the Doctor's Data postchelation urinary toxic metals test either. Since starting to do this test, I have found a remarkable number of patients with high mercury and/or lead urinary levels.

I would also suggest an excellent article by Dr. Alan Gaby in Alternative Medicine Review and subsequently the "Hypothyroidism" chapter in his recent book, Nutritional Medicine, in addition to an eye-opening, combative article by Dr. John C. Lowe in the journal Thyroid Science.

The reason I am writing this letter is an unabashed solicitation for help from anyone in the Townsend Letter community who has experience with desiccated thyroid, as well as testing for and treating heavy metals. I would ask you to please write a brief letter stating just that. My hope is that, even if I cannot find an MD who will satisfy the medical board as being an expert, that the overwhelming numbers of health professionals practicing as I do will prove to them that I am not dangerous merely by the fact of using desiccated thyroid and testing for heavy metals.

For the moment, pending their final decision, they have told me not to initiate therapy with desiccated thyroid (I can use L-thyroxine or compounded thyroid) nor to request any urinary toxic metal tests outside the province of Quebec.

Mark Starr, whom I know personally, having been a co-presenter at an International Society for Orthomolecular Medicine conference, has been kind enough to send a letter. Alan Gaby estimated, in an exchange of e-mails, that "there are probably hundreds if not thousands of doctors who are using thyroid hormone the way we do," but that he knew of nobody in particular. Therefore, I'm sending out an SOS to my tribe.

I can only hope that Dr. Gaby is right, especially for the sakes of our patients.

Thank you.

Barry Berger, MD

776 Crescent

Morin Heights

Quebec, Canada JOR 1H0



Barnes BO. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness. New York: Harper & Row; 1976.

Starr M. Hypothyroidism: Type 2. The Epidemic. Columbia, MO. Mark Starr Trust; 2010.

Gaby AR. "Sub-laboratory" hypothyroidism and the empirical use of Armour thyroid. Alt Med Rev. 2004;9:157-179.

---. Hypothyroidism. In: Nutritional Medicine. Concord, NH: Fritz Perlberg; 2011.

Lowe JC. Stability, effectiveness, and safety of desiccated thyroid vs levothyroxine: A rebuttal to the British Thyroid Association. Thyroid Sci. 2009;4(3):C1-C12.
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Title Annotation:Letters to the Editor
Author:Breger, Barry
Publication:Townsend Letter
Article Type:Letter to the editor
Geographic Code:1CANA
Date:Jul 1, 2011
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