Will T-3 Help Dana with her weight, hair, skin and mood?

Although we often speak of the metabolic effects of thyroid hormone, we are really referring to the fact that this hormone helps to regulate the function of every system in the body. A system that is often a source of concern is known as the integument; the hair, skin and nails. The effects of disease is often first noticed due to effects on the integument and thyroid disease is one of the most likely to show up here. Brittle hair that sheds easily, and skin that is dry, itchy and flaky are often noticed early in hypothyroidism. Here is Dana’s story and I’m hoping that the addition of T3 will help her lose her excess weight and also reverse the deterioration she is experiencing in her integument, and her nervous system (mood).

Dana writes:

I was diagnosed as hypo a few years ago and my doctor just added 25 mcg of liothyronine (Cytomel) along with 100 mcg of Synthroid. In the past year I have gained 35+ pounds and it’s been alomost impossible to take it off. Last year I competed in my very first fitness/ figure competion. At 135lbs I came in 2nd place. I play softball and basketball on competitve level teams for the psat 15 years and I run about 3-4 times a week. I eat relatively healthy and have recent gone gluten-free, soy free, and nitrate free. Today is my very first day on the combined T3/T4 thereapy. I steppeed on my scale and it said 174lbs. Im hopeful that not only my weight will decrease but my hair will stopp shedding, dry skin/ scalp, joint pain, hopelessness and depression, and fatigue will all go away. I know patience is the key so I will be patient and wait.

My response:

Hi Dana

As you read here, some people are unable to return to normal thyroid equilibrium on t4-treatment alone; this may be due to an inherited form of enzyme defect preventing the normal conversion of the t4 hormone into the more potent t3 hormone; I am happy you found a doctor who will prescribe T3. Sometimes this needs to be given twice daily since t3 is a short acting hormone and the benefit may wear off within 6 to 8 hours. Some people don’t notice this while others definately do.
Good luck with your treatment. Also remember, thyroid hormone allows you to lose weight normally but doesn’t make weight “melt off”. You still have to do the right things with diet and exercise but at least your efforts should start paying off.
Good luck.

Gary Pepper, M.D.
Editor-in-chief, metabolism.com

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  • hashiprob

    i need some help–please! i’m a male and have been strugling with hashimotos for years but i have only just recently been diagnosed with it. my doctor sounds like she’s on the right track as she prescribed T4 & T3 meds. however i’m trying to find the right dosage of each.
    i’m currently on 150mcg of synthroid and 10mcg of cytomel.
    i take 150 of the synthroid with 5mcg of cytomel in the AM. another 5mcg of cytomel before lunch. however, by 4pm all my hashi symptoms have returned. the most devistating is the insomnia–i wake every night at about 3pm and can’t return to sleep. this has been going on for two years.
    should i be taking the cytomel in the AM, lunch and at bed time?
    thank you–all the posts have been very helpful to me though i’m sorry you all are dealing with the problems!

    • Dr. G. Pepper

      Hi Dan
      It is very difficult to say what the correct ratio of t4 to t3 is for any individuals. The often quoted “correct” ratio of T4 to T3 in humans is approximately 14:1 but that is merely an average. It’s like saying the shoe size of humans is 7 because if you take the average shoe size of 1000 people that is what you get. How many people out of that 1000 actually wear a size 7 shoe? Not many. Likewise the t4 to t3 ratio is highly variable between people and what you are asking is what should yours be. I don’t know but I can tell you that you and your doctor can come close to finding your ideal set point with some effort and willingness to be flexible with different dosing trials. As long as you and your doctor don’t go to extreme doses outside of normal physiology it is likely you will find a healthy and comfortable solution to this problem.

      Good luck.

      Dr. G. Pepper

  • Lovey

    Hi, I’m too scared to go to the doc as I have a large lump in my throat. I don’t know much about thyroids or how it works an wat the worse case situations r. Alls I know is that the lump is about as round n size of a golf ball maybe abit smaller. I’ve had this lump for about 4 years an it’s recently started to get bigger. Ive gain about 12kg in about 8 months but I still do everything the same. I weigh 75 kg an MT height is 174cm. Something is wrong isn’t it!!! 🙂

    • Dr. G. Pepper

      Hi Lovey

      I’m not sure if you believe me but there really isn’t anything to be scared about. For example, if it turns out your thyroid is under active (low functioning or hypothyroid) the treatment is very simple. For most people taking one pill per day is all that is required to get back to normal. May people with hypothyroid are taking their thyroid pill and feel fine.

      It’s hard to say exactly what the problem is in your case, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is something like hypothyroidism, which could be fixed so easily.

      So please get yourself to a doctor, clinic or whatever and have them look into this. Then you can stop worrying so much.

      Okay? Let us know what happens. I’m asking other members here to give you their words of support as well, since of the members here have gone through what you are experiencing and are happy they received proper treatment.

      Dr. G. Pepper