Archive for the ‘Forest Pharmaceuticals’ Category

Almost Nirvana and Other Madness

This week’s blog is for my fellow thyroid sufferers and other “spoonies”. A thyroid friend contacted me the other day and asked how I was doing (Hi Olivia) that got me to thinking that I hadn’t reported recently on the status of my health. There isn’t really anything earth shattering to report, nothing fabulous or horrific but I feel after a year on T3 only, and hitting more than a few bumps in the road, things are nearly there, almost nirvana (but superstition keeps me from saying anything more).

I will do a quick rundown of the past year for those who might be unfamiliar. I have had hypothyroidism for 15 years give or take a year. In those years my dose of Syn-crap was constantly inadequate and being increased every time I had my blood drawn. I found a good doctor who would let me try Armour in 2010 but after about a year on Armour I was still having problems with an irregular heartbeat that began three years prior to trying Armour (things started out quite well on Armour but then Forest Pharmaceuticals changed the formulation and the irregularity came back with a vengeance).

I decided to go the “T3 only” route in April 2010 after reading Stop the Thyroid Madness by Janie Bowthorpe and investigating various health forums that she introduced to my world. I had been battling this irregularity for more than three years now and despite what my doctor was telling me (you need to see a cardiologist) I knew  my heart was reacting to something akin to an improper release of adrenaline and that had to be caused by one thing, my improperly treated thyroid. I fit the description of a person with a Reverse T3 issue, basically an inability to get enough T3 to the thyroid receptors because they are blocked by T4. If the receptors are blocked by T4 the T4 is not converted to T3 as it needs to be for the thyroid to use it, so you are always under treated and have a resistance to any thyroid medication that has T4 in it.

Around this time last year, that is July Fourth and approximately 3 months on T3 only, I suddenly started having panic attacks, inability to sleep through the night, a feeling of not being able to swallow, diarrhea and a basal temperature of 98.2 -98.4. My daytime average wasn’t that high and other factors led many with whom I consulted to feel I was suffering intolerance. Adrenal fatigue can lead to intolerance issues, so I tested my adrenal health. The tests showed challenged adrenals, not full blown adrenal fatigue but low normal results especially midday, so I did try Isocort and then hydrocortisone but by and large those made me feel worse. [In retrospect, thanks to many talks with Nanci, I have concluded that my adrenals were weak but should never have been treated with anything containing hydrocortisone but hindsight is 20/20 as they say].

I “cleared” in July and had to drop my dose from 125 mcg to 68.75 mcg. I stayed on the Isocort (taking it like this 3-3-2-1) and gradually increased my dose of Cynomel according to my temperatures. Increasing according to my temperatures meant that I actually increased too much and too fast and eventually developed a bothersome tremor in my hands. It was so pronounced that it made my job (dental hygienist) difficult but the good news is I never had to quit working despite what I would call the rigors of clearing T4 from my receptors.

Last autumn was actually pretty miserable as I diligently climbed my way back to taking  125 mcg of T3. I was constantly taking my temperature three times a day and finding it sub normal over all, sometimes even my basal temperature was below 97.6, so I would up the dose despite the tremor and sleepless nights. Things weren’t great, I didn’t feel “normal”, my temperatures weren’t “normal” and I was getting discouraged.

Christmas was the nadir of my T3 only treatment. I had increased and decreased and now I was taking 118.75 mcg. It was Christmas Day and we were in Bayfield, Wisconsin with family an activity that usually brings me joy. That weekend I hardly slept, my heart was racing constantly. Basically, I was miserable, so I decreased again despite my temperatures  (which still weren’t normal) to 112.50 mcg. Nothing improved, nothing.

To make this now long introduction a little  shorter, after talking online for months with several helpful “thyroid friends” (to whom I am most grateful) this last winter, in February, I decreased dramatically to 50 mcg of T3. Miracles of miracles, almost overnight all of my objectionable symptoms disappeared, my temps didn’t come up but I finally felt human again after months of, gosh I hate to be dramatic, torture. I honestly couldn’t believe what a difference it made. I could go upstairs without feeling breathless, I was sleeping the sleep of normal people, my thinking was clear, my tremor completely disappeared and miracle of miracles my irregular heartbeat was better than it had been in years.

Enter Kris today. I am enjoying summer in Minnesota (yes, it finally has arrived), my new grandson and relatives visiting for the Fourth of July. I am still taking 50 mcg of T3 spread out in four equal doses the last one being as I turn the light out at bedtime. My daily average temperature is sub-par but my basal is within normal limits (97.8) and as long as I feel “human” I am sticking to 50 mcg of T3.

I know my current regimen flies in the face of everything my gurus on the RT3 site recommend but my heart is as regular as it has been in years and the other night I actually found myself sleeping on my left side. That is a significant event only for those of us who have experienced the sound of a pounding irregular heartbeat. When you lay on your left side the sounds of your heartbeat are magnified and, needless to say, unbearable when those beats are irregular. When I awoke sleeping on my left side I knew I had passed a milestone in my treatment.

I have my daily supportive routines like taking at least 1/2 teaspoon of Celtic Sea Salt every day, twice a day. I take one Thorne B #12, Thorne folocal if I take additional B12, Krill oil, antioxidants with 2000 mg of Vitamin C, and Bio-Astaxanthin every day. Other days I might add Vitamin D3, Vitamin A, Zinc Picolinate Plus, Super K, Chlorella and Spirulina.

Three times a week I put a scoop of  Boku Superfood in my morning smoothie which consists of some form of protein powder (SunWarrior or Mercola’s Whey). I am currently not following a gluten free diet but my carb intake is very low during the week and only on the weekend do I eat more carbs. I guess you could call it carb loading for a day or two which is sometimes recommended by exercise coaches.

All in all, I feel my health this summer is far better than last summer. My blood test panel showed improvements but certainly not perfection. My hormones are all low but my SHBG was very high, so that is the explanation for the low levels of my sex hormones. I know I need to compensate with higher doses of Estradiol and Progesterone but have yet to find a doctor who is knowledgeable in treating with the Wiley Protocol. My gall bladder still troubles me but that has been ongoing for years and I now understand that a sluggish thyroid lends itself to a sluggish gall bladder, so I take the necessary steps to keep it as healthy as I can. I have a very dry burning mouth at times and my eyes feel dry, so I suspect Sjogren’s but there is no diagnosis of such a thing and with a diagnosis I am not sure anything would change. I use natural lubricant for my eyes and I have very good oral hygiene.

Does my heartbeat still trouble me? Sometimes I can feel it “skip a beat” but instead of panicking I take it in stride and soon things are normal again. It is never precipitated by exercise, so I am not fearful. My blood pressure is nearly perfect if on the low side. My energy is good but I am careful not to overdo as I feel my adrenal health is still compromised (indicated by my low temperatures of 98 degrees most afternoons that I check). My sleep is the best it has been in years and I often don’t wake at all or if I do it is only once and I go right back to sleep.

My wish for all the “thyroid friends” and “Spoonies” who read this is that you, too, can find your peace. Just know that some day you will turn the corner and find your self again. Even if it is fleeting, for that singular moment just enjoy the experience of  being you again.

Happy Fourth of July,



I’m Sorry I Can’t Hear You

This has been a fascinating week in my crazy thyroid world and I just have to share it now that things seem to be on the upswing. I will try to be brief for those who are bored by mundane subjects regarding the butterfly shaped organ called thyroid, so you will have to refer to previous blogs to get all the facts.

On Wednesday I had my now regular three month phone appointment with my functional medicine man, Dr. Rob Bruley. As always he asked how I was feeling to which I replied “great”. Then we discussed my present opinion of my thyroid which included the question “how are the heart palpitations?” I responded “Knock on wood (and I did just that) they are really good at the moment. I haven’t had any for a week and ever since I started on the dessicated thyroid from Women’s Health America they have been much better.” I also foolishly told him I was sleeping like a rock with my newly updated amount of bio-identical progesterone. Next time just put duct tape on my mouth.

Why oh why do I say these things? Within an hour of my conversation with Dr. Bruley the palps started up with a vengeance and persisted for most of the rest of this past week. When the irregularity is bad during the daytime hours I feel the need to cough especially if the palpitation or irregularity is more than every 20 beats or so. If the irregularity occurs every 4th or 5th beat then I cough this dry cough that seems to nip it in the bud for the time being but it will return soon after that. Usually by the time I go to bed or shortly after supper the daytime palps are gone or not noticeable. Normally I then sleep perfectly with no palpitations or irregularity during the night.

However, when I have them at night it is different and this week I was rudely awakened three nights in a row with palpitations stimulated by really bad dreams that I am calling my night terrors. I have the night terror, wake up with a start and my heart is pounding. Within moments I can feel a small blip, twenty beats later another blip and so on. It lasts about an hour and then finally I can sleep again with a calm heart and no more night terrors. Being the health investigator that I fancy myself to be this causes quite a stir  because I simply have no answer, well no answer at first.  I have a theory now and that is what prompts me to share my experience in this week’s blog entry.

Yesterday,  frustrated by several nights of interrupted sleep I changed my regimen. First I reviewed whatever information I could glean from Stop The Thyroid Madness. In that information one point stuck with me because I have been suspicious that this was the case. Sometimes what you think are hyperthyroid symptoms are really symptoms of  a hypothyroid state and you need to increase your dose of dessicated thyroid. This is a scary thing for me to do because I HATE the racing pulse that comes with the increased dosage but a rapid heartbeat beats an irregular heartbeat every time. The other thing that a lot of thyroid advocates state over and over is divide your dosage throughout the day, something my doctor poo-poos (But then again I told him about the Armour shortage and the bad reaction people were having to the reformulated Armour and he said he had no knowledge of either. He does now.).

Being armed with the information I needed once again (amazing how one forgets what you read) I took half of my 90 mg tablet in the morning, the other half at noon and around supper with some trepidation I took less than a quarter of my 180 mg Armour tablet (I have about three months worth of what I now assume is the newly reformulated Armour that doesn’t work very well). That should be very roughly 135 mg of dessicated thyroid and nothing bad happened, all my fears were for nothing. The good news is I slept much better. I did have a night terror episode but it was accompanied by the startle and the racing heart but only one or two minor blips and I was soon sleeping soundly again. It is sad when a night like last night somehow seems fabulously restful but it is the truth I feel like a new person or perhaps better said, I feel like me again.

Here is the summary (for those who are now yawning) I am going to continue to take the 135 mg of dessicated thyroid until I start having the palpitations again at which time I will increase the dose to slightly more. I suspect that my normal dose will eventually be 180 mg but by then I will be using the dessicated thyroid from Women’s Health America and I will not return to Armour as Forest Labs has proven to be unreliable and uncaring about the people who take their products. My adrenals for all intents and purposes are fine. I pass all the tests with flying colors (blood pressure, pupil dilation), so I see no need to take cortisol despite STTM’s recommendation to do so. If my pulse starts to regularly be greater than 80 bpm I will cut back my dessicated thyroid as my normal resting pulse is close to 70 and my blood pressure is a comfortable 110/73.

Wish me luck because I suspect I need a smidgeon of that as well. I am keeping a diary of events, so that when I next talk to Dr. Bruley I can with certainty tell him all about what has happened in the last three months. I suspect when asked how I have been feeling I will cautiously say “fine” and as for the heart palpitations question I may just feign cell phone static or some cosmic interruption, tell the good doc I can’t hear him and carry on from there.

Feeding Your Thyroid

My latest update on Facebook from Janie Bowthorpe was basically a continuation of her disagreement with Forest Pharmaceuticals and their changing the formulation of Armour Thyroid and Janie’s successfully getting many people to switch to Naturethroid and Westhroid. It is all getting old to me and I will apologize right now to any readers that offends and tell you that I am grateful to Janie Bowthorpe for her very informative book Stop The Thyroid Madness. I have a different take on the subject of the new formulation causing relapse in everyone and I will share it with my readers.

Early this winter I finally talked my very open minded doctor, Rob Bruley, in to prescribing Armour Thyroid instead of my compounded pharmaceutical T3 and T4 because we were not resolving my hypothyroidism issue after more than a year of constantly increasing my dosage. Admittedly he reluctantly did it, but he did it and told me I had to take a 3 grain dose of Armour Thyroid which by the way had to be special ordered at Target pharmacy (I tell you because it is useful information). 3 grains was equal to the T3 and T4 I was taking that wasn’t working very well although we had corrected several aspects of my thyroid malfunction. At that time I also started a bio-identical testosterone cream and progesterone tablet because those hormones were low in a recent hormone test I had taken.

I don’t want to quote exact times here because it is all a blur of history but approximately 6 weeks later I was having heart palpitations and sudden jolts that would awaken me in the middle of the night. I started taking half a 3 grain tablet at that time and when I called Dr. Bruley he agreed that this was the right thing to do, so he prescribed a blood test  which showed my T3 was now too high, T4 was okay and the TSH was within range although on the low side. I continued on 1 1/2 grains and when I had the next blood test I didn’t take my Armour the morning of the test as it will affect the T3 reading according to Janie and I was not in the mood to take any higher dosage. I was now feeling rather hyper at times and for instance if I was writing something it would almost look scribbled because I was writing too fast (my own test) so I knew I was a little over medicated but the test would tell.

That test came back with both T3 and T4 within range but my total TSH was .3 which indicates suppressed thyroid. I have since cut my half tablet in to half which amounts to 3/4 grain of Armour Thyroid. I will need a blood test in a few weeks but I can tell you that I still feel a little hyperthyroid. On 3/4 grain my heart palpitations are almost non-existent but at times I feel agitated like I need to run a marathon but I don’t run anymore.

Now to my point, the newly formulated Armour has seemingly corrected my thyroid problem greatly reducing my need for thyroid stimulating hormone. I don’t take it sublingually anymore because most of my digestive issues are resolved by not eating grain of any kind and drinking kefir every day. Swallowing Armour allows for slow release of the thyroid stimulating hormone. If and when I did what Janie suggested and took the tablet sublingually I would get a jolt in the morning that was uncomfortable and if I took some early afternoon when it had worn off I was too hyper to relax by bedtime. Swallowing it with my morning tea works perfectly for me I have sustained energy during the day and I am ready for bed at night.

I am now taking Alpha Lipoic Acid (300 mg) twice a day (with breakfast and supper) as well as a B-Complex vitamin for energy and liver health. If you take ALA you must add a B Complex as the ALA lowers your levels of the B vitamins. I also take 200 mcg of a sodium selenate/selenomethionine supplement. When I feel an energy lag I have a great B12 supplement called ProBoneO by Life Enhancement (Dr. Wright). I eat a diet free of gluten, with lots of greens, fresh eggs, avocados, grass fed meat, etc. My conclusion is that by balancing my hormones and taking the right supplements (no excipients or fillers), following a gluten free diet and staying away from excititoxins I am healing my thyroid.

Instead of complaining about the reformulation of Armour Thyroid I would tell you to try it. If it doesn’t work or you start to experience hypo symptoms again follow this advice before you change to Naturethroid or Westhroid:

Balance all your hormones not just your thyroid hormone.

Eat a gluten free diet full of greens which can be from Barley grass and Alfalfa grass or greens from the garden that are raw or lightly steamed. Add homemade kefir with no sugar added for a health gut.

Throw away supplements that have excipients and fillers as they negatively affect your immune system and create a bio film that keeps you from absorbing the supplement.

Judiciously stay away from MSG which means making your own fresh food with no boxed convenience foods and reading The MSG Myth.

Exercise using the T-Tapp method as she concentrates on cleaning your lymph system and allowing your body to heal itself.

If you do all these things and still suffer from hypo symptoms then it is time to try something new. If you choose not to try these steps first don’t cry foul on Forest Pharmaceuticals point your finger at the real guilty party, you.

Armour Update

For those who are interested I have done some research with the help of my functional medicine doctor, Rob Bruley in to the formula changes of Armour Thyroid. As there is quite the buzz about this at the site I think it is good for all of us who take Armour Thyroid to be informed.
Forest Pharmaceutical did willingly talk to Rob Bruley, M.D. and told him there was a formula change within the last year. They did not change any of the active or inactive ingredients. What they did change was the amounts of two inactive ingredients. They decreased the amount of anhydrous dextrose and increased the amount of cellulose. Rob said that the increased amount of cellulose may have the effect of increasing the thyroid effect from a given dosage as I have had to really decrease my dosage of Armour Thyroid.
I had asked Rob about taking it sublingually as recommended at STTM, so he posed the question to them. They responded that they are asked this question frequently but they have no data to prove or disprove relative absorption of the product sublingually vs. swallowing. Therefore, they cannot endorse this route of administration. They say it was never intended to be taken sublingually. Rob also asked about gluten and they said it is gluten free (hurrah!). They also said they use no dyes because they use titanium dioxide as a lightener.
Now I conclude from all of this that one can still take it sublingually if desired, and I do most of the time. However, I also think that it is entirely possible that they tweaked the amount of anhydrous dextrose just enough to make the taste less pallatible when taken sublingually because they know people are doing it and they don’t want to be sued for misuse of the product. We are, after all, a very litigious society and they do have to cover their butts (pardon the expression).
If anything the increased cellulose should cause it to be better absorbed as the tablet will get to the stomach more intact and I know from using cellulose caplets that the cellulose disappears after just a few seconds in water, so it clearly will not last long in stomach acid.
Another issue a person could have with sublingual adminstration is a burst of T3 when you take it and a sudden drop in energy a short time later. As there are days when I don’t want to bother with taking it several times I find swallowing it and getting a slower release easier.
I hope this information is helpful and fairly presented. Please leave any questions or statements by clicking on “comments” and I would love to share what you have to say with other readers.

Natural Thyroid versus Big Pharma Synthroid

There is a big debate going on at the online site Stop The Thyroid Madness (STTM) because Forest Pharmaceuticals has altered the formulation of Armour Thyroid. Janie Bowthorpe, author of STTM and natural thyroid advocate, is all a twitter because allegedly the new formula is causing hypothyroid symptoms to return and the taste is awful. I am bothered because I just started Armour Thyroid and have seen good results (my t-3 has gone too high even) and I have decreased my dose by half of what it was with compounded thyroid. I have seen tremendous improvements from my days taking Levothyroxine, so I would love to hear from people on their experiences good and bad.

I have been letting my Armour melt under my tongue or in my vestibular area as Janie recommends and really have nothing to complain about. Does it taste like a piece of candy? No. Do I need everything to taste sweet? No and if you do you need to look at your diet and get rid of the sugar. Is the texture chalky? Yes but it is medicine. I do have a health problem and if a little chalky tasting tablet helps me feel better I am all in favor of it. The other issue that Janie brings up in her book STTM is that different times and seasons may necessitate more or less Armour (or some other natural thyroid) is it possible that the folks needing more grains with the new Armour thyroid are suffering from seasonal issues and not the alleged decrease of porcine thyroid or the addition of other ingredients that make up the tablet made by Forest Pharmaceuticals.

I must say that first of all Forest Pharmaceuticals needs to talk to Janie Bowthorpe. Quit refusing to speak to her because she has an online site or whatever your reasons are because you are creating a problem of confidence where there may be no need. All of us should have the right to talk to someone who has the answers about any medication we take and refusing to talk to her shows your childishness and typically inconsiderate behavior of every other arrogant pharmaceutical company. It is frightening for anyone who takes a pill for a certain quality of life and we need answers.

To Janie and the other voices complaining about the taste and texture, get over it. Also if the dosage has changed there must be a control group to determine this and not just one voice here and one voice there saying they have had to increase their dosage or that their hypo symptoms have returned. Do they, for instance, have allergies that their body might be fighting off as it is now spring? Did they have some recent incident, such as a death in the family, that could trigger return of symptoms? Have they just returned from an overseas trip because that taxes the body and causes hypo symptoms to become exagerated? Jane and John Q. Public cannot just start making accusations against Forest Pharmaceuticals without more substantial evidence that the new Armour Thyroid really has diminished abilities because all they do is scare the rest of us in to making a decison that could ultimately harm us not help us.

If you are interested in this ongoing Armour debate tune in to STTM and be a vocal participant. Twitter about the issue, put it on your Facebook page, in general call attention to the problem, openly discuss the issue with others who have a vested interest and in the end you will hopefully be able to make an educated decision that you can then discuss with your physician and make a change or stay with Armour. It is ultimately up to you to take control of your health.