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  • A cure for infertility

    Posted by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)
    Sunday, December 23, 2012 8:54 am Email this article

    Low thyroid can cause infertility and menstrual problems.

    This was discovered back in the 1800's, but seems to have been forgotten about by modern medicine.

    Below is information on this from Mark Starr, MD's wonderful book, "Hypothyroidism Type 2" and Broda Barnes, MD, PhD's wonderful book, "Hypothyroidism the Unsuspected Illness".

    This video tells how giving desiccated thyroid has been used to cure infertility.

    It tells how doctors such as Broda Barnes, MD, PhD and Mark Starr, MD have used desiccated thyroid to cure menstrual problems such as painful cramps, excessive bleeding and irregular periods.

    It also tells how desiccated thyroid can prevent the need for hysterectomy and D&C (scraping the lining of the uterus).

    It also tells how desiccated thyroid is superior to Synthroid (T4) and superior to T3 + T4.


    Here is the chapter on “Menstrual Disorders, Fertility Problems, and Avoiding Needless Surgery” from the book “Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness” (1976)

    By Broda Barnes, MD, PhD

    Chapter 9

    Menstrual Disorders, Fertility Problems, and Avoiding Needless Surgery

    WHEN A THIRTY-THREE-YEAR-OLD WOMAN presented herself for examination at a major clinic, she thought, understandably, that she was in serious trouble.

    Among her complaints were weakness, anemia, menstrual problems, and “heart trouble.”

    Four years before, six months after she had delivered her third child, she had noted an increase in the amount, duration, and frequency of menstrual flow.

    A dilatation and curettage (D & C) had been followed by a return to a normal cycle of twenty-seven days but with a heavy flow lasting four days.

    After this operation, she had received three transfusions of whole blood.

    Over the next several years, she had received eight additional blood transfusions.

    With the last two, she had developed hives, chills, fever, and symptoms of asthma.

    She had also taken vitamins and iron orally and had been given several injections of liver extract.

    Gynecologists who examined her at the clinic found her to be obese, slow, somewhat dull, and apparently chronically ill.

    She was 66 inches in height and weighed 186 pounds.

    Her voice was husky and her skin was pale and dry.

    An electrocardiogram showed no abnormality of the heart.

    A test of thyroid function showed clear-cut hypothyroidism.

    Menstrual problems disappeared with desiccated thyroid

    Menstrual problems disappeared after 2 months with 1.5 grains of desiccated thyroid

    Two months after she was placed on one and a half grains of thyroid daily, her menses returned to normal and all her other symptoms disappeared.

    There isn’t anything unique in the experience of this woman, not in the fact that low thyroid function was the cause of her menstrual disturbances as well as her other problems and not in the fact that her hypothyroidism went unrecognized for several years.

    There are many possible causes for menstrual difficulties.

    Among them are ovarian cysts, fibroids, and cervical polyps.

    Endometriosis, a condition in which tissue like that found in the uterus occurs aberrantly in various locations in the pelvic cavity, can cause menstrual problems.

    But in the vast majority of women, there is no evidence of any organic problem.

    What is evident commonly if it is sought is low thyroid function.

    Discovered in the 1800’s

    That many menstrual irregularities are due to low thyroid discovered in the 1800’s

    That many menstrual irregularities are hypothyroid in origin was firmly established in the last century [in the 1800’s] when thyroid deficiencies were first recognized.

    Forty years ago, after many years of successful use of thyroid therapy, leading gynecologists in this country and elsewhere were reporting that thyroid had cured more menstrual disorders than all other medications combined.

    Modern Medicine has forgotten about this

    Modern Medicine has forgotten that menstrual problems and infertility can often be cured with desiccated thyroid

    Unfortunately, that lesson seems to have been largely lost.

    Thyroid blood tests are unreliable

    Thyroid blood tests do not identify all cases of low thyroid

    Unless the commonly used but unreliable thyroid function tests point to thyroid deficiency, patients are either denied thyroid therapy or have the medication discontinued if some other doctor previously prescribed it.

    Symptoms may have been relieved by thyroid and may recur if the medication is stopped and disappear again if the therapy is resumed, yet some physicians are adamant unless the laboratory test is positive.

    Not infrequently, there may be no suspicion of the possibility of thyroid involvement and no check at all for it.

    Three women who had hysterectomies

    Three women who had hysterectomies before the age of 25, all had symptoms of low thyroid

    Recently, within a period of a few months, I saw three women who had undergone hysterectomies before the age of twenty-five for excessive bleeding.

    None had been suspected of having low thyroid function yet each had numerous other symptoms of the disorder-easy fatigability, dry skin, circulatory disturbances-which promptly disappeared with adequate thyroid therapy.

    The odds are high that needless surgery might have been avoided and these women could have raised families if hypothyroidism had been considered earlier.

    Even from the Start

    The normal woman begins her periods at about the age of twelve or thirteen, flows for four or five days, suffers no cramps, and repeats the cycle every twenty-six to thirty days.

    She should be able to become pregnant when she wishes to, go through nine months of gestation with little more than occasional discomfort, and should be able to deliver a healthy baby after a labor of several hours during which, in my opinion, she is entitled to some sedation.

    (Anyone can be trained to withstand pain and not complain about it, but the physician who teaches his patients that the pain of childbirth is all mental should, at least, so I believe, listen to himself say that and then have an eight-pound watermelon shoved through his anus; I wonder if he could then convince himself that pain is all mental.)

    Low thyroid function is capable of disordering menses in many ways, beginning even with affecting its onset.

    Paradoxical as it may seem, it is a fact that hypothyroidism may either hasten the onset or delay it.

    It may bring on menstruation several years before the usual time.

    In one case reported in the medical literature, the girl was only five years and two months old when flow started and by age nine had fully developed breasts and pubic hair.

    At that point, a disturbance of thyroid function was suspected and thyroid therapy not only stopped the precocious menstruation but also led to regression of breast size and loss of pubic hair.

    Later, menstruation and development followed at the normal time.

    Among patients known to me personally, the youngest at onset of menses was eight.

    Her thyroid deficiency was not recognized until the age of twenty-two when I saw her for problems other than menstrual difficulties alone.

    Her history revealed that after her first period occurred at the age of eight, she skipped three months but then continued to have periods at irregular intervals thereafter.

    All through her childhood and adolescence, she displayed other indications of thyroid deficiency: repeated respiratory infections, fatigue, frequent headaches.

    These symptoms responded to thyroid therapy, her menstrual cycles became smoother and subsequently she had two healthy babies.

    In preparation for writing this book, I reviewed the records of 301 current hypothyroid women patients who had had some type of menstrual difficulty.

    In not all, by any means, had low thyroid function affected onset of menses.

    For eight, however, menstruation had begun at the age of nine, and for nineteen at the age often.

    On the other hand, for forty-three, menstruation had not begun until the age of fifteen or later.

    The Build-Up of Evidence

    The build-up of evidence that low thyroid can cause menstrual and infertility

    Thyroid deficiency was associated with menstrual disturbances even before thyroid therapy became available.

    About one hundred years ago, when thyroidectomy -removal of the thyroid gland—came into use to help patients threatened with strangulation by huge goiters, menstrual irregularities developed in many women after the operation.

    Among 69 women with low thyroid, 15 reported miscarriages (22%)

    Only 6 children born to 69 women after the onset of low thyroid

    When the British Commission investigated 100 patients with myxedema in 1888, 37 women among them had menstrual irregularities.

    Fifteen of the 69 married women [22%] among the patients reported miscarriages and only six children had been born after onset of myxedema.

    As soon as thyroid became available in 1891 for therapy, there were reports of successful use of it in menstrual problems.

    Some patients who had ceased menstruation prematurely resumed it; some who had suffered from excessive flow benefited; many who had experienced painful cramps were relieved.

    It seemed that a new era of reproductive physiology was at hand.

    When, later, the basal metabolism test became available for checking on thyroid function, many women not previously suspected of being hypothyroid were treated successfully with thyroid for their menstrual problems.

    Among the many reports of the effectiveness of thyroid therapy was one in 1939.

    It covered fifty women, aged sixteen to thirty-four, with menstrual irregularities, in all of whom there was evidence of reduced thyroid function.

    Painful menstruation relieved in 90% of women given desiccated thyroid

    90% of women cured of painful menstruation, excessive blood flow, and converted irregular periods to normal ones when given desiccated thyroid

    On thyroid therapy, more than 90 percent of those with painful menstruation were relieved, most of them completely.

    The results were fully as good in converting irregular periods to normal, regular ones.

    And in six of seven women with excessive menstrual flow, normal flow was established.

    In 1949, I published a report on 143 women with menstrual disorders whom I had seen in my practice and for whom, after taking a thorough history and carrying out a complete physical examination including examination of the pelvis, I had prescribed thyroid therapy.

    These were women without evidence of fibroids, ovarian cysts, or any other organic disease.

    In some, a basal metabolism test indicated thyroid deficiency; in others, the basal temperature test was used.

    Relief from menstrual cramps with desiccated thyroid

    45 of 48 women got relief from menstrual cramps when given desiccated thyroid; 35 got complete relief

    Forty-eight of the women suffered from menstrual cramps.

    Only five failed to get some relief from thyroid therapy; thirty-five experienced complete relief.

    Irregular cycles became regular with desiccated thyroid

    41 of 45 women with irregular cycles became completely regular with desiccated thyroid

    Forty-five of the women had irregular cycles.

    Forty-three benefited, with the cycles becoming completely regular in forty-one.

    Excessive bleeding relieved with desiccated thyroid

    46 of 50 women with excessive bleeding resumed normal flow with desiccated thyroid

    Fifty women suffered from excessive bleeding.

    Two failed to benefit; two improved somewhat; forty-six resumed periods with normal flow.

    Many of the women who benefited from thyroid therapy provided added evidence that it was the thyroid which was responsible.

    These were the women who, upon being relieved of their problem, stopped taking medication only to return in a few months with their original complaints.

    Thyroid therapy again overcame their difficulties.

    As I indicated in the 1949 report, thyroid therapy in these patients not only helped with their menstrual problems but also brought improvement in general health.

    Many of the women had complained of undue fatigue, of requiring more than the usual amount of sleep and yet of awakening tired, of being nervous, irritable, easily upset by insignificant incidents.

    These symptoms were relieved.

    In the many years since that report, I have seen many hundreds of women with menstrual problems and with low thyroid function indicated by below-normal-range basal temperatures respond to thyroid therapy.

    In that time, there have been reports from other physicians underscoring the association between menstrual disturbances and hypothyroidism.

    Abnormal menstruation in women with low thyroid

    8 of 10 women with low thyroid had abnormal menses

    In one study of ten unselected myxedematous women, only two had normal menses.

    In another with patients with severe menorrhagia, or excessive flow, thyroid therapy corrected the menorrhagia.

    Menstrual disturbances in half of women with low thyroid: Mayo Clinic

    28 of 58 women with low thyroid had menstrual disturbances according to Mayo Clinic study

    In a study at the Mayo Clinic covering fifty consecutive young women with hypothyroidism, twenty-eight had menstrual disturbances.

    Abnormally profuse menses was a common disturbance; frequent bleeding between periods was another; in some cases, both problems were present.

    Thyroid therapy relieved the disturbances.

    Thyroid tests are NOT absolute

    No single test or procedure will define thyroid status according to Mayo Clinic

    But the twofold problem remains: the need for recognition that low thyroid function very often can provoke menstrual problems, and the need for recognition, too, that hypothyroidism may be present despite laboratory tests suggesting it is not.

    In their report on the study at the Mayo Clinic, Drs. Joseph C. Scott, Jr., and Elizabeth Mussey observed that a patient may be considered to be mildly hypothyroid by one physician and euthyroid (with normal thyroid function) by another on the basis of a single interview or test.

    “No single test or procedure,” they emphasized, “will define the status of the thyroid gland.

    “Furthermore, any combination of methods may lead to erroneous interpretation or to inconsistent results.

    “The clinician must have the faculty of correlating the clinical appearance of the patient with the laboratory findings.”

    Basal Temperature Test

    Barnes preferred basal temperature test taken under the arm to determine thyroid status: (Normal temperature is 97.8 to 98.2 degrees F according to Barnes)

    Certainly, this is true, and I would add only that, for reasons already noted in this book, the basal temperature test can be a guide, often more valuable than any laboratory test, to recognition of a hypothyroid state.


    Miscarriages can be caused by low thyroid

    One of the most tragic experiences for a woman is to lose her baby through miscarriage.

    For some women, the tragedy is repeated many times.

    Miscarriages in half of women with menstrual difficulty

    164 miscarriages out of 301 women with menstrual difficulty

    Among the 301 women in my current practice with a history of some type of menstrual difficulty, 164 had miscarriages.

    One woman had 16 miscarriages

    One woman had 16 miscarriages and 5 live births; her history suggested low thyroid

    Some had only one but the “champion”—if that is a suitable term to use in such a connection-is a woman who was pregnant sixteen times and had only five live births.

    I first saw her when she was sixty-three, much too late to do anything about her reproductive physiology.

    But her whole history-not only of menstrual difficulties and miscarriages but of many other symptoms often associated with low thyroid function-suggests that she was an unrecognized hypothyroid who might have been spared her childbearing tragedies and much other trouble in her life if she had been treated as a hypothyroid.

    Certainly, miscarriage is not invariably related to low thyroid function.

    There are many other possible causes.

    Yet soon after thyroid therapy first became available, it was found that patients with a history of miscarriages often had a history compatible with thyroid deficiency and that full-term pregnancies might follow treatment with thyroid.

    One woman had 4 miscarriages

    One woman had 4 miscarriages while not on thyroid, and 3 live births while on desiccated thyroid

    I remember one of my earliest miscarriage patients.

    She was the wife of a psychiatrist and had been able to carry through to term three babies in the course of seven pregnancies.

    When I suggested that she might have a thyroid deficiency that could account for her miscarriages, she told me that she had actually been on thyroid several times in the past and when she got to feeling well would stop taking the thyroid.

    When, together, we went back over her childbearing history, we found that she had had her live babies during the times she was on thyroid and her miscarriages during the times she had chosen to stop taking thyroid.

    One woman had 2 miscarriages before taking desiccated thyroid

    She had 4 successful pregnancies after starting on desiccated thyroid

    Another patient I saw many years ago was a twenty-four-year-old woman who had miscarried once and was then well along in her second pregnancy.

    She had a history of irregular menstruation with severe cramps, along with other symptoms compatible with low thyroid function.

    Her basal temperature was low.

    I placed heron thyroid but it was too late for this pregnancy and shortly afterward she miscarried again.

    Thereafter, however, continuing on thyroid therapy regularly, she had four successful pregnancies.


    Infertility can be caused by low thyroid

    Millions of married couples—an estimated 10 percent of the total—are unwillingly childless, longing for but unable, seemingly, to raise a family.

    Infertility has many possible causes-and, certainly, among them is thyroid deficiency.

    Infertility in animals whose thyroid gland is removed

    Infertility can be caused by low thyroid

    Animals thyroidectomized at an early age lack reproductive power.

    Baby rabbits whose thyroids are removed at the age of three weeks never mate.

    Cretinized female swine, in experiments I have carried out, have never come into detectable estrus.

    Thyroid and reproduction

    The thyroid gland is linked to reproduction

    The thyroid gland is intimately linked with reproduction although all the details of how are still not completely understood.

    It is known that the gland becomes enlarged in women at puberty and with pregnancy.

    Sexual depression was noted long ago in both men and women with myxedema.

    Thyroid secretions in adequate amounts appear to be essential for the development of the egg and for proper ovarian secretions.

    If thyroid function is low, an egg may be discharged from an ovary but it may not be fertilizable or, if fertilized, may not be capable of nesting so that pregnancy is quickly aborted.

    Desiccated thyroid is helpful in BOTH men and women with infertility

    BOTH men and women may need desiccated thyroid when a couple is infertile

    The medical literature is full of reports going back many years that provide evidence that thyroid medication, used when indicated, is one of the most helpful measures in the treatment of infertility in both men and women.

    And not infrequently it may be needed by both partners in an infertile marriage.

    A couple was infertile for 17 years before given desiccated thyroid

    After BOTH the wife AND the husband were given desiccated thyroid, they had 2 babies

    One case I remember very well involved, at first, a woman who for seventeen years had tried in vain to become pregnant.

    There had been many efforts by many physicians to help her.

    Among the many tests which had been performed, were the standard tests for thyroid function which indicated that hers was a normal thyroid.

    It was not normal, however, by the basal temperature test.

    I placed her on thyroid and that did much for her general health but it did not overcome the infertility problem.

    Fortunately, I finally saw her husband.

    He came in because of dysentery.

    Even as he walked through the door, it was obvious that he was markedly hypothyroid.

    He had the myxedema look, his face swollen and mask-like.

    He moved slowly, seemed clumsy, spoke with a slow drawl.

    He suffered from headaches, needed ten hours of sleep a night, had always been susceptible to respiratory infections, and had had five serious attacks of pneumonia in a twelve-year period.

    His basal temperature was 95.2 degrees.

    When he, too, was placed on the thyroid therapy he needed, his health and his whole appearance improved and several months later his wife conceived and in due course, at age thirty-nine, delivered a healthy first baby.

    She had another boy two years later.

    Toxemia of Pregnancy

    Thyroid deficiency may well be a factor in toxemia of pregnancy

    Toxemia, one of the potentially serious complications of pregnancy, fortunately does not occur often.

    It produces excessive fluid retention, high blood pressure, albumin in the urine and, in severe cases, convulsions and coma.

    As a rule, it occurs during the last three months of pregnancy and is more common in women who are pregnant for the first time.

    Although little is known about the cause of toxemia, thyroid deficiency may well be a factor.

    Increased need for thyroid hormones during pregnancy

    Previously mild hypothyroidism might be aggravated during pregnancy

    For it is well established that pregnancy entails an increase in the need for thyroid hormone since new growth is taking place and the load on circulation is about 50 percent higher.

    It seems likely that the extra stress of pregnancy may aggravate a previously mild hypothyroidism and at least in some cases could precipitate toxemia.

    Some evidence for this was presented years ago by investigators who found that administration of thyroid to women threatened with toxemia often prevented development of the condition.

    It seems to me more than coincidence that in the many years when I was functioning as a general practitioner and it was necessary for me to engage in obstetrics, I encountered only a single case of toxemia.

    During this time, I was checking for thyroid function both before and during pregnancy and using thyroid therapy when the function was low.

    The single case of toxemia occurred in a woman who first sought help for her pregnancy toward the end, coming in then because of headaches and excessive weight gain resulting from fluid retention.

    Her blood pressure was high and she was excreting large quantities of albumin.

    Her basal temperature was low and she was promptly started on thyroid but it was too late; only a few days later, she had to be admitted to hospital in convulsions.

    A Cesarian section was performed in both mother and baby survived.

    I have a strong suspicion that the toxemia could have been avoided if she had come in as soon as she became pregnant, allowing her thyroid deficiency to be detected and treated then.

    D & C’s and Hysterectomies

    D & C’s and Hysterectomies might be prevented with desiccated thyroid

    I want to emphasize, at the risk of seeming to be repetitious, that undetected and untreated thyroid deficiency can lead to needless surgery on the reproductive organs.

    The most frequent operation is dilatation and curettage (D & C).

    With hormone imbalance, the lining of the uterus may thicken and there may be profuse and prolonged bleeding during menstruation.

    As a result of the blood loss, the patient is weakened, becomes anemic, and is much more susceptible to infections.

    Brief hospitalization and scraping away of the uterine lining relieves the condition but does nothing to correct the cause and often the original condition reappears and the procedure must be repeated.

    Finally, the need for repeated dilatations and curettages may make hysterectomy seem to be the answer.

    Yet the odds are good that in many such cases hypothyroidism is present and its correction will return menstruation to normal.

    D & C’s unnecessary in some cases notes Harvard authority

    D & C performed, but all that was needed was desiccated thyroid notes Harvard authority on the thyroid

    That surgery is unnecessary in many cases was pointed out a quarter of a century ago by Dr. J.H. Means, a Harvard authority on the thyroid.

    Excessive menstruation, he wrote, “may be sufficiently impressive in ordinary myxedema so that in several cases that have come to our attention, patients have actually had a dilatation and curettage for it when all they needed was desiccated thyroid for treatment.”

    Excessive menstruation can occur at any age, as demonstrated by two cases reported from the Mayo Clinic by Dr. Griff T. Ross and his associates.

    Both had been referred for surgery because of the profuse menstrual flow.

    The first was a fifty-five-year-old woman who had received five blood transfusions the week before.

    She had been experiencing excessive flow for six months.

    Her history revealed that for more than three years she had suffered from increasing fatigue, dryness of the skin, puffiness of the face, and hoarseness, all suggesting hypothyroidism.

    Her basal metabolic rate, when it was finally taken, proved to be minus-22 percent.

    She was given three grains of thyroid daily.

    After five days, her bleeding stopped.

    She was discharged on two grains of thyroid daily.

    When she returned five months later for a checkup her fatigue, skin dryness, and other symptoms had disappeared, her menstrual periods were regular, and her basal metabolism was normal.

    The second woman was thirty-five years old and had required transfusion after losing more than one-third of her blood from profuse menstrual flow over a seven week period.

    Between her third and fourth child she had had three D & C’s for pathological bleeding.

    Her facial edema, dry skin, sparse body hair, and a basal metabolism of minus-29 percent left no doubt of the diagnosis.

    On three grains of thyroid daily, her menstrual bleeding stopped on the seventh day.

    When she returned to the Mayo Clinic for a checkup four months later, all of the symptoms of thyroid deficiency were gone, her menstrual periods were regular and the flow normal, and her metabolism was normal.

    In my own experience, no patient has required a hysterectomy for pathological bleeding unless uterine fibroids were present.

    If organic problems could be ruled out, as they could be in the great majority of cases, thyroid deficiency usually could be detected and treatment with thyroid solved the problem.

    The need for other surgery may be minimized by adequate thyroid therapy in women with low thyroid function.

    Cysts on the ovary are common in such women and correction of the thyroid deficiency often eliminates the cysts.

    Fibroid tumors have been rare in hypothyroid women who have been maintained on adequate thyroid therapy.

    It is possible to produce fibroids in experimental animals by injection of estrogens, and there is evidence of excess of estrogens in hypothyroid women.

    In hypothyroidism, there is increased activity of the pituitary gland aimed at trying to stimulate the thyroid to produce more hormone secretions, and the increased pituitary activity may spill over to affect the ovaries and increase their estrogen output.

    “The Pill” and Thyroid Function

    Some women given oral contraceptives should also be given desiccated thyroid

    Birth control pills have been and remain generally satisfactory.

    Adverse reactions, however, have been noted in some women.

    The most serious is thrombophlebitis, the development of blood clot in the presence of inflammatory changes, usually in a leg vein.

    Low thyroid function, as we have noted before, tends to make for sluggish blood circulation which may then result in a tendency for the blood to coagulate.

    The only women whom I have seen with blood clots associated with use of oral contraceptives have been a few who were put on them without any thought being given to thyroid function and whose histories left little doubt that they needed thyroid therapy before the contraceptives were started.

    A safe rule to follow is to check basal temperature before beginning use of oral contraceptives and if the basal temperature is low, thyroid therapy should be employed along with contraceptives.

    The Heart of the Problem

    Low thyroid recognized as a cause of menstrual abnormalities and infertility until 1940

    From what has been said, it would appear that the possibility of thyroid deficiency should be considered, and if found, should be treated in any woman with a menstrual abnormality or a reproductive problem.

    It was generally agreed that correction of thyroid deficiency solved many such abnormalities and problems -until about 1940.

    Desiccated thyroid helped 30% of infertile women get pregnant

    30% of infertile women with low thyroid became pregnant when given desiccated thyroid

    Some forty years ago, in an address before the Section of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association, Dr. Jennings C. Litzenberg, a Minneapolis gynecologist, summarized the experience of many physicians.

    He noted that 30 percent of previously sterile women with low basal metabolisms conceived on thyroid therapy.

    Desiccated thyroid helped 70% of women with menstrual abnormalities

    Desiccated thyroid is more helpful for menstrual abnormalities than any other therapy; Mayo Clinic and prominent New York gynecologist note

    He pointed to reports from the Mayo Clinic that about 70 percent of women with menstrual abnormalities improved on thyroid therapy and he quoted Dr. Robert Frank, a prominent New York gynecologist’s emphatic declaration, that “The sole endocrine preparation that has proved itself of real value has been thyroid extract, which is of use in patients with lowered metabolism.”

    Desiccated thyroid for sterility and miscarriage

    Desiccated thyroid for sterility and miscarriage is often more efficacious than any other form of treatment notes Johns Hopkins University doctor

    About that time, too, Dr. Emil Novak of Johns Hopkins University, author of a textbook on gynecology, was noting that thyroid medication for sterility and miscarriage is often more efficacious than any other form of treatment.

    Lab tests seen as the absolute proof starting in 1940

    Starting in 1940, lab tests for thyroid were often seen as absolute proof of thyroid status

    Up to 1940, the only test for thyroid function was the basal metabolism.

    Some physicians used it when they suspected thyroid deficiency and many of those who did use it recognized its limitations and placed only a limited amount of faith in it.

    Other physicians did not use it at all because of its limitations.

    There was far greater reliance then than ever since on physical examination of the patient, on a careful check of history to pick up any clues to thyroid deficiency in the patient’s symptoms and problems, and on the physician’s clinical impression.

    There was reliance, then, too, whenever there was a possibility that the patient could have low thyroid function, when the symptoms fit, regardless of what the not too-reliable laboratory testing might indicate, on “try and see,” on starting with a small dose of thyroid and watching for improvement or lack of it.

    The results were admirable.

    There were mistakes, of course, but not many-and the moderate doses of thyroid used did no harm even when thyroid function was normal.

    But many hypothyroid patients received treatment they needed.

    If not all benefited with relief of menstrual or reproductive problems, a great many did and even among those who did not, few failed to improve in general health and have relief from other hypothyroid symptoms.

    About 1940, the Protein Bound Iodine test for thyroid function came into use.

    It was to be followed by other laboratory tests to measure thyroid function.

    For thyroid conditions, the era of the laboratory had appeared.

    The result was a pendulum-like swing to an extreme.

    Many physicians came to look upon the results of laboratory tests as absolutes.

    If a patient was hypothyroid, the laboratory was the place to determine so.

    If laboratory tests failed to indicate hypothyroidism, it could not be present—no matter the patient’s symptoms or even if a patient was already on thyroid therapy and benefiting from it.

    Willy-nilly, if the lab report came back negative for low thyroid function, the patient got no thyroid therapy and if the patient was already on it he or she was taken off it.

    It was to be years before there began to be recognition that the laboratory couldn’t be the final arbiter.

    Lab tests are often unreliable

    Lab tests for thyroid status are unreliable

    There began to be doubts about the value of the PBI test and, in 1967, Dr. Herbert Selenkow, Harvard thyroid specialist, crystallized them, pointing to PBI’s many pitfalls and unreliability.

    Since then, other authorities have been pointing out that all commonly used lab tests for thyroid function leave much to be desired, that they are useful in some but not all cases, and that they are no substitute for a good physician’s knowledge of what thyroid deficiency can bring about and his expert clinical impression of what it may be doing in the case of an individual patient.

    I certainly hold no brief for the basal temperature as the ultimate test.

    But until something better comes along, it can, I know, help many physicians to help patients.


    Here is contact information for Dr. Starr.

    Mark Starr, MD
    21st Century Pain & Sports Medicine
    10565 N. Tatum Blvd Suite B-115
    Paradise Valley, AZ 85253
    (480) 607-6503
    (480) 607-6533 fax
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)


    Here is the website for the Broda Barnes Foundation.

    Broda Barnes is deceased, but was one of the great thyroid experts of all time.

    Broda Barnes, M.D. Research Foundation, Inc.
    P.O. Box 110098
    Trumbull, CT 06611
    Phone: 203-261-2101
    Fax: 203-261-3017
    .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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