Category Archives: Uncategorized

Petition to Protect Armour Thyroid Surpasses Goal


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“I have been on Armour Thyroid for 15 years and it has changed my life. For three years prior I was on synthetic thyroid medication and I felt horrible. My doctor even tried a medication that was specifically for T4 so I could get what I was missing. I was having such horrible migraines. Now I am doing so much better. I know how physically traumatic it is to adjust thyroid medication or to go without it and it can be life threatening for certain individuals. Like myself. People are individuals not objects and they have different reactions to some medications. There are a group of people who desperately need to continue taking Armour please do not substitute the ingredients or take it off the market. I feel the adjustments that have been made in the medication since Armour was taken off of the market for almost a year. I had to resort to buying my medication from Canada!

Quote from Kathleen, a signer of the petition to Ensure Continued Supply of Armour; Read over 125 comments from other Armour supporters at ipetitions.com

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Armour Thyroid, the most popular form of desiccated thyroid hormone replacement in the U.S., has been the center of controversy for decades in the medical community. Despite over 100 years of successful use, the major endocrine specialty organization in the U.S. called for a prohibition on its use. Medicare dropped its coverage of this medication in 2008.  Forest Pharmaceuticals, the company that manufactured Armour for decades ran in to regulatory issues and was recently acquired by a succession of larger pharmaceutical companies, the latest being Allergan. Meanwhile, the public continues to demand access to this medication many thousands swear by as the best treatment for hypothyroidism.

Users of Armour have noticed that the price of the medication is increasing steadily. Some are paying three times what they did a few years ago. There is no restriction on what a pharmaceutical company can charge for a medication and within the past years companies such as Turing Pharmaceuticals have tested the limits of just how outrageous the cost increases can be. We therefore initiated a local and on-line petition, to place Allergan on notice that there exists a large and very active advocacy group insisting on continued fair access to this medication. Combining both the on-line and hard copies of signatures,  I am proud to say that as of today we have surpassed our goal of 500 signatures to support this effort.

The next step is to present the petition to the corporate leadership of Allergan in such a way as the voices of those who need the medication most will be heard. There is still time to add your name and comments to the on-line petition at ipetitions.com.

Are Drug Companies Paying to Control Your Doctors’ Prescription Pad?


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by Dr. S. Brown

As a physician in private practice familiar with highly skilled pharmaceutical representatives pitching the latest (and most expensive) medications, I am fairly good at separating truth from salesmanship. These clear cut interactions with the drug reps visiting my office are relatively harmless. Drug maker’s are now changing up the game however, with a new, more subversive tactic to influence doctors’ prescribing habits.

I have been compiling a “medical propaganda” file, consisting of emails directed to my work and personal address offering cash for my time. In less than a year, I count over 500 of these emails. Here are twenty from the past week. Some details are blacked out for legal reasons. Continue reading

Medical Specialists Remain Resistant to Treatment for Hypothyroidism Preferred by Patients


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by Gary Pepper, M.D.

According to government estimates, 4.6% of the US population aged 12 or more has hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Based on treatment guidelines published in 2012 by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), only synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine, Synthroid, Levoxyl) is an appropriate therapy for this condition. According to these guidelines, the biologic product Armour Thyroid, is unfit for this treatment purpose. Armour Thyroid, an extract of porcine thyroid, has been available as a treatment for hypothyroidism for about 100 years. It was first used in the U.S. to treat hypothyroidism in 1892, a year after it was introduced into the United Kingdom. The impact of the AACE guidelines is more than symbolic Continue reading

What is Metabolism?


CHAPTER 1

What Is Metabolism?

“I’ve searched the web but found nothing that tells me how to

distinguish if my metabolism is healthy. I’ve found plenty of

ways to tell me how to improve my metabolism but nothing

that explains what is normal. Are there outward signs that

will tell you if your metabolism is healthy?”

Metabolism.com member

      According to Webster’s Dictionary, metabolism is “the chemical and  physical processes continuously going on in living organisms.” But when most people think about metabolism they focus on one specific process—the process that releases and stores energy from the food we eat. This is because this type of metabolism not only affects how efficiently your body burns fuel but also influences how easily our bodies gain or lose weight.

 Turning Food into Energy

In simple terms, your metabolism is the rate at which your body breaks down nutrients from the foods you eat and converts them into a form the body can use. After you’ve eaten a bowl of cereal or a sandwich, chemicals produced in the digestive tract, known as enzymes, break down all of the complex molecules that make up the food into smaller, more usable nutrients. Proteins are broken down into amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars like glucose. These nutrients are then absorbed into the blood where they are transported all over the body.

 At this point the nutrients can be used in different processes. Amino acids are usually used to build and repair tissues, while glucose enters cells and is metabolized for energy. Any extra nutrients left over after these processes are generally stored in body tissues, especially the liver, muscles and body fat, and used for energy at a later date if the body needs it. (Think of it like a squirrel stocking up nuts for the winter.)

In this way, the process of metabolism really is a balancing act between two very different types of activities: (1) building up body tissues and energy stores, and (2) breaking down energy-rich nutrients, body tissues and energy stores to produce fuel that will power the body. Continue reading

Layla hits a plateau in her treatment of hypothyroidism


Layla inquires about how to approach this common situation in the treatment of hypothyroidism:

Hello, I am a 23-year-old girl, and at the beginning of 2013 I started rapidly putting on weight, where I ballooned from 128 lbs to 155 within a few months, despite extremely healthy eating and exercise. I had my TSH tested and it was 4.71. I was put on 25 mcg of levothyroxine, which was eventually increased to 50 mcg (I am still currently taking this). It decreased my TSH to 0.69 and increased my free T4 t0 1.2, but recently my weight loss has slowed and I put on a little fat despite an extremely low carb diet. I retested and it showed that my TSH had gone up to 2.1, and my free T4 had gone down to 1.0. My endo was not tested T3, but she finally gave in when I asked, though she refused to test free T3. My total T3 came in at 40 (range 50 – 180, though I’ve seen 80 as the lowest amount for health), which is extremely low. I have always had incredibly slow metabolism, and even when I was at 128 lbs, I had a lot of body fat. I keep asking for Cytomel, and the endo is almost there in giving it to me, but she insists that my low T3 is due to some mystery illness that she thinks is temporary, and wants me to retest. My question is this: how much T3 should I end up taking, to get rid of my excess weight and body/belly fat, and improve my symptoms (dizziness, extreme fatigue, depression, PCOS)? I want to be around 115 – 120 lbs. I figure the starting dose will be around 5 mcg, but do I need more than this for optimal functioning and metabolism? Should I split the dose? Any advice is appreciated.

Why Emotions Trigger Food Cravings


The old saying, “The way to a man’s heart is through his stomach” implies there is a deep connection between emotions and eating. My guess is  no one is really surprised by this idea. Both men and woman can identify ways in which their mood and appetite are intertwined and it is no mere quirk of man’s personality that this is true.

Evolution tells us that we were born to eat. The earliest creatures in the world’s history were simple eating machines. Their bodies consisted of an entrance for food, a digestive tract and an exit for refuse. In order to become more efficient at getting food creatures developed a system to locate food and to move toward it. This system is known as a nervous system. The first creature to have this ability is the worm. Eventually the nervous system controlling the digestive system (enteric nervous system) began to sprout nodes which were early brains.  As time went on and the brain became better developed it split off from the nervous system that controlled the digestive tract. Everything that followed in evolution, has served the purpose of developing  increasingly efficient brains (central nervous system) for acquiring the fuel of life.

Another example of how deeply connected the gut and brain are, is to look at the development of the fetus. When a human fetus is still just a lump of jelly, the digestive  and nervous systems are one structure. Soon this organ splits into two, one to become our gastrointestinal tract and the other the brain and spinal cord (central nervous system). Even though they become physically separated the chemical signals used by the gut and nervous system remain virtually identical. These chemicals comprise the groups known as neurotransmitters and hormones.

The same chemicals in the digestive tract that cause the intestines to twist and convulse (peristalsis), in the brain stimulate the emotion of anxiety. This explains why people get “butterflies” in the stomach or diarrhea when they are nervous.  The brain chemicals involved in depression can cause constipation.  The syndrome of irritable bowel disease (IBS) with its cycles of diarrhea and constipation is thought to be a reflection of an emotional rollercoaster.  The chemical relationship between mood and appetite is even more complex but no less real. One of the most common side effect of mood altering drugs is increased appetite and weight gain. Just ask anyone who has been on an anti-depressant drug such as Prozac, Zoloft or Abilify.  The chemical in marihuana that gets people high is famous for triggering the eating binge called “the munchies”.

Appetite suppressant drugs often have effects on mood and can be the source of major side effects. One new generation of appetite suppressants being developed, Acomplia, failed to be approved by the FDA because it caused severe depression and suicidal thinking.

In the next part of this series we will look at ways we can influence the brain to control our appetite.

Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome Is Common in Adolescent Girls


Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) sounds like a rare disorder but it is surprisingly common. This is a disorder with onset in early adolescence effecting up to 10% of young women. Characteristic signs and symptoms include increasing facial and body hair, hair loss from the scalp, muscular or heavy build, acne, thickening and darkening of the skin known as acanthosis nigricans, blood sugar problems including type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol and irregular menstrual cycles and infertility. In older women with PCOS coronary artery disease is more common. In severe cases deepening of the voice and enlargement of the clitoris (clitoromegaly) can be seen. Before the underlying hormone disorders were clarified, the main method of diagnosing this disorder was by finding multiple cysts on the ovary. We now understand that the main problem is not the ovarian cysts but metabolic disorders including insulin resistance and elevated male hormone levels (testosterone) in the blood.

Another misconception about PCOS is that it only occurs in overweight women. Obesity is common in PCOS but thin women are also capable of developing PCOS. The underlying hormone problems are complex but are thought to be at least in part due to high insulin levels in the blood resulting from insulin resistance. With insulin resistance the body requires high levels of insulin due to insensitivity of the tissues to insulin’s presence.
What treatments are available for PCOS? There are very few, if any, drugs specifically approved for the treatment of PCOS. This is probably because of the low profit potential for treating this disorder. Drug companies cannot afford to invest millions of dollars in research because almost all of the existing standard therapies are generic drugs. Some of the most useful medications for treating PCOS are drugs used to treat type 2 diabetes because of their effect to reduce insulin resistance. These drugs are metformin and Actos. Metformin is the most popular oral medication for diabetes treatment in the U.S. Actos has been available for about 10 years but due to recent negative publicity about an unproven risk of bladder cancer, its popularity is declining. Neither drug is approved by the FDA for treatment of PCOS but multiple studies confirm the clinical and hormonal benefits of using these medications in this disorder. In 2011 research was published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism suggesting that the generic cholesterol lowering drug, simvastatin may also show benefits similar to metformin for the treatment of PCOS.

In the late 1980’s, I along with Dr. Lester Gabrilove at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York, published our research showing that an anti-fungal medication, ketoconazole, could reverse the hormonal, physical and metabolic problems associated with PCOS. Due to the potential toxicity of ketoconazole this therapy never gained wide spread acceptance. The manufacturer refused to fund additional studies to determine how to more effectively use this drug, due to the low profit potential and liability concerns.

This information is strictly for educational puroses. Due to high risk of toxicity of medical therapy in young women who can potentially become fertile under treatment for PCOS, no drug should be taken without the close supervision of a physician. The reader agrees to the Terms of Service of this website, metabolism.com