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    T3 thyroid hormone increases resting metabolism

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Tuesday, March 08, 2005 3:36 pm Email this article
    T3 thyroid hormone plays a major role in determining resting metabolism independent of fat-free mass (muscle) according to a new study from Germany. Increasing T3 by 32% increases resting metabolism by 13% or 143 calories per day

    Increasing T3 by 1.8 pmol per liter increased resting metabolism by 143 calories per day. This was a 32 percent increase in levels of T3 associated with a 13 percent increase in resting metabolism.

    Thyroid extract used as obesity treatment for 75 years

    Thyroid hormones was first used to treat obesity in 1893 and used for 75 years according to the Handbook of Obesity (Bray, 1998, p. 953 and 969).

    “Thyroid hormone has no place in the treatment of obesity…”

    “Thyroid hormone… has no place in the treatment of obesity unless hypothyroid is present,” according to Bray (Handbook of Obesity, 1998, p. 969)


    I disagree with this.

    I agree that huge doses of thyroid hormone should not be used because they can cause serious problems.

    However, it makes sense to me to give T3 to increase levels to high-normal in people struggling to lose weight or maintain their weight.

    But how much is safe to use? A 2001 study suggests a possible answer.

    Thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is a way of measuring abnormal thyroid function.

    High levels of TSH indicate a thyroid deficiency—it is signaling to the thyroid gland to produce more thyroid hormones—whereas, low levels of TSH indicate an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) and that levels of thyroid hormones are too high.

    TSH of 1.3 to 2.0 lowers the risk of death

    The optimum level of TSH appears to be between 1.3 and 2.0 mU per liter according to a 2001 study from the England which followed 1191 people over the age of sixty who were not taking thyroid hormones (Parle et al, 2001).

    At this level, between 1.3 and 2.0 mU per liter, there were 10 percent fewer deaths from all causes and 30 percent fewer deaths from circulatory diseases after five years (Parle et al, 2001, Table 2, page 862).

    Other TSH levels and the risk of death were as follows.

    TSH less than 0.5 increases risk of death 80%

    TSH of less than 0.5 mU per liter increased the risk of death from all causes after five years by 80 percent and from circulatory diseases by 100 percent (that is, the risk was doubled) (Parle et al, 2001, Table 2, page 862).

    They also noted that having a TSH level below 0.1 mU per liter increases the risk of developing atrial fibrillation 3.1-fold (Parle et al, 2001, p. 861).

    TSH 0.5 to 1.2 increases risk of death 10%

    TSH levels of 0.5 to 1.2 mU per liter increased the risk of death from all causes after five years by 10 percent and decreased the risk of death from circulatory diseases by 10 percent (Parle et al, 2001, p. 861).

    TSH 2.1 to 5.0 increases risk of death 20%

    TSH levels of 2.1 to 5.0 mU per liter increased the risk of death from all causes after five years by 20 percent and increased the risk of death from circulatory diseases by 10 percent (Parle et al, 2001, p. 861).

    TSH greater than 5.0 does not affect risk of death

    TSH levels greater than 5.0 mU per liter did not affect the risk of death from all causes after five years and lowered the risk of death from circulatory diseases by 20 percent (Parle et al, 2001, p. 861).

    Final Comment

    This suggests to me that T3 can be used safely in people trying to lose weight or maintain their weight loss provided that their TSH levels do not fall below 0.5 mU per liter, and preferably stay in the range of 1.3 to 2.0.


    Onur S, Haas V, Bosy-Westphal A, Hauer M, Paul T, Nutzinger D, Klein H, Muller MJ. L-tri-iodothyronine is a major determinant of resting energy expenditure in underweight patients with anorexia nervosa and during weight gain. Eur J Endocrinol. 2005 Feb, 152(2):179-184.


    Institut fur Humanernahrung und Lebensmittelkunde
    Christian-Albrechts-Universitat zu Kiel
    Kiel, Germany


    Parle J, Maisonneuve P, Sheppard M, Boyle P, Franklyn J. Prediction of all-cause and cardiovascular mortality in elderly people from one low serum thyrotropin result: a 10-year cohort study. Lancet. 2001 Sep 15, 358(9285):861-865.


    Jayne A. Franklyn
    Division of Primary Care
    Public and Occupational Health
    Birmingham, UK
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

    Articles on the same subject can be found here:


    On Mar 09, 2005 at 3:37 am Randy Smith, MD wrote:

    . . . . .

    The quote by Dr. Bray: ?Thyroid hormone? has no place in the treatment of obesity unless hypothyroid is present,? is very rigid and misleading. In medicine many things are not so absoulute.

    In my Antiaging Medicine practice I have found increasing thyroid levels to the high normal range to be very useful in promoting weight loss. This is the same approach I take with other hormones such as Human Growth Hormone and Testosterone. The idea being that optimizing hormone levels can promte an optimal metabolism and body composition.

    On Mar 09, 2005 at 6:00 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .

    Dr. Smith,

    Thank you for your input.

    I know a very successful doctor who specializes in weight loss who gives his patients small doses of thyroid hormone as well as testosterone to men, and finds it very useful.

    On Mar 09, 2005 at 4:17 pm Kathryn Martyn wrote:

    . . . . .

    I don't think supplementing T3 is likely to become widely prescribed because of the dilemma present in a too high level causing calcium loss, or am I mistaken?

    I'm hypothyroid (my thyroid was removed due to a benign tumor), and must take supplements for life, but the struggle in keeping a proper level of T3 has not been easy. I had one doctor go on a screaming rampage when I suggested a specialist because he refused to raise my synthroid dose despite my symptoms including inabliity to stay awake, constant tiredness, etc., etc. I was not then, and am not now overweight either, so he could not have assumed I wanted a higher dose for that reason. He told me, "You'll just come back and sue me when you get osteoporosis."

    Needless to say, I found a different doctor. LOL

    Kathryn Martyn, M.NLP

    On Mar 11, 2005 at 9:47 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Yes, you are correct.

    Elevated levels of thyroid hormone are associated with bone loss.

    "Prolonged elevation of thyroid hormones has been linked to osteoporosis and increased fracture risk," according to a 1997 paper (Burman, 1997)


    Burman K. Thyroid disease and osteoporosis. Hosp Pract (Off Ed). 1997 Dec 15, 32(12):71-3, 78-85; discussion 85-6.

    On Mar 11, 2005 at 9:51 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    I repeat this from a comment about another article about low thyroid function.

    I think that metabolism is a very important part of weight maintenance.

    The impression I get from the literature is that most researchers do not recognize or appreciate the impact of low metabolism -- even a couple hundred calories per day -- on weight maintenance.

    This difference in metabolism is the equivalent of walking a couple of miles per day.

    This is one reason that smokers tend to be thinner than non-smokers; nicotine stimulates metabolism.

    Studies have repeatedly found that obese people have lower metabolism when calculated per pound of lean body mass (muscle).

    A number of studies have found that, for example, a 300 pound person has a higher metabolism than a 200 pound person, and therefore have mistakenly concluded that metabolism isn't the problem.

    I disagree.

    Studies have also found that people who used to be obese have a lower metabolism than people of the same weight who were never obese, yet most obesity researchers do not recommend giving thyroid to these patients.

    My guess is that many of them secretly believe in the idea, but don't want to stray to far from the herd which would cause them to be seen as a "quack".

    I think that many years ago main stream medicine threw out the baby with the bath water when they recommended that doctors stop using thyroid to help patients lose weight.

    The problem was that they were given large doses of thyoid for weight loss which caused people to lose large amounts of muscle and caused heart problems in some patients.

    However, this does not mean that small amounts of thyoid are not useful or are not safe -- I believe that they are.

    I know of at least one very successful doctor -- and I imagine there are many more around the country -- who gives his weight loss patients a small dose of thyroid to help maintain their metabolism after losing weight.

    I agree with this practice.

    On Mar 11, 2005 at 9:53 am Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .

    This is also repeated from a comment on another article.

    The type of thyroid given is probably also important.

    Many doctors give Synthroid (containing T4 only), however, a couple of doctors who I have a great deal of respect for -- Jonathan Wright, MD, and Ward Dean, MD -- say that natural desiccated thyroid, which contains both T4 and T3 (such as Armour Thyoid), is better.

    About 10 years ago (approximately 1994), there was a 30 minute program on thyroid on the now defunk channel called American Medical Television. Several thyroid experts were on the program and every one of them recommended giving Synthoid (T4 only). None of them recommended T4 plus T3 (natural desiccated Armour Thyroid).

    The idea behind giving Synthroid (T4 only) is to let the body convert T4 to T3 as necessary.

    (T4, which contains 4 atoms of iodine, is converted to T3, which contains 3 atoms of iodine. An enzyme, which acts like chemical scissors, removes 1 iodine atom to make this conversion. T3 is more active in the body than T4. Some people have said that T3 is 4 times more active than T4, while others say it is 10 times more active. T4 is sometimes referred to as the storage form of thyroid hormone in the body, while T3 is the active form.)

    I think that the idea of using Synthoid (T4 only) came from years of research funded by the drug company selling Synthroid (T4) in order to promote sales of their product.

    However, Dr. Jonathan Wright has said that "Synthroid, or synthetic thyroid, has undesirable side effects in most people."

    Dr. Ward Dean has said...

    "Synthroid, the most commonly-prescribed hormone for hypothyroidism, contains only one fraction of thyroid hormone - T4.

    "T4 is normally converted by the body into T3, the active form. I believe that many hypothyroid patients are unable to efficiently perform this conversion.

    "Armour thyroid, on the other hand, is a desiccated preparation of porcine thyroid, containing all thyroid hormone factors - T2, T3, and T4.

    "I have found that it is very difficult to provide adequate thyroid supplementation with Synthroid without causing patients to become thyrotoxic.

    "On the other hand, most patients who switch from Synthroid to Armour thyroid, report that they feel much better with the Armour product.

    "The dramatic improvements that many of my patients have achieved on thyroid therapy often appear miraculous.

    "It is very gratifying to hear a patient who has suffered for decades express how their lives have been totally turned around by a few cents worth of thyroid.

    "Unfortunately, most physicians have been bamboozled by the manufacturers of synthetic thyroid hormone (Synthroid) into thinking that the Armour thyroid product is an inferior, non-standardized drug. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

    "In fact, a recent study confirmed the efficacy of the Armour product compared to synthroid."

    Dr. Ward Dean has also said...

    "Treatment of subclinical hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone is very safe.

    "There is little risk of excessive thyroid dosage if:

    "(1) the patient feels well;

    "(2) the temperature remains below 98.2;

    "(3) the pulse is less than 75 beats per minute; and

    "(4) the thyroid function tests remain normal.

    "(Note that most hypothyroid patients feel best with sub-normal TSH levels)."

    Because of Dr. Wright and Dr. Dean, I also believe that natural desiccated thyroid such as Armour Thyroid (T4 plus T3) is superior to Synthroid (T4 only).

    On Mar 15, 2005 at 1:33 pm Kathryn Martyn wrote:

    . . . . .

    I tried to submit this reply a couple days ago but the script gave an error. Hopefully it will work now.

    I agree with your views on Synthroid. I'm coming from the standpoint of one who require thyroid supplementation (mine was removed) and the huge problem it has been to get doctors to prescribe correctly based on my blood tests AND how I feel. Most strictly look at the test results and will not give me an adequate dose for me. I had to look long and hard to find a doctor who works with me (he's a naturopath, not an MD, and therefore is not covered on my insurance). I'd think it difficult to find many doctors who would prescribe thyroid hormones for weight loss.

    There are other ways to raise metabolism such as increasing muscle mass through resistance exercise, decreasing excess body fat, eating more healthier foods more often etc.


    On Mar 15, 2005 at 2:56 pm Larry Hobbs wrote:

    . . . . .


    Thank you for your input.

    I agree with you that I think it is probably difficult to find a doctor who will prescribe even small amounts of T3 to their weight loss patients. I imagine they may be worried about liability issues, that is if something happens to a patient, they may get sued. I understand their point of view.

    It is interesting what you said about having a difficult time finding a doctor to prescribe what you needed.

    As I mentioned above, for more than a decade much of the medical community, even thyroid specialists, seem to have convinced by the makers of Synthroid (T4) that T4 is the only thing that should be prescribed.

    Please feel free to share your comments about this article.




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