Open Thread For Any Health & Fitness Topics

I have a to-do list a page long and am simply going to have to devote the necessary time for it, so probably no post today.

So, I’ll just leave it open for anyone who’d like to start a topic or two or three in the comments and get one or more discussion threads going. I can suggest a few things to get you thinking.

~ Those who recall my Paleo Problems post, and then the Iodine post, might recall Diana Hsieh’s extensive comment documenting her problems. Well, she’s now written an extensive blog post about how she’s mostly fixed those problems, and in a remarkably short time.

~ Next, and this is somewhat related, as Stephan linked to that Paleo Problems post in his latest installment on the body fat set-point and how you might change it.

~ Finally, here’s an interesting story from Dr. Cannell, a sort of case study of autism and vitamin D and Dr. Cannell’s thoughts on the matter.

Later: Let me add another, via a commenter on another post. Get a load of this poison being fed to kids they call "school lunches."

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. AJ on February 1, 2010 at 16:19

    Matt – There seems be a growing body of evidence that O-6’s mess with leptin and more specifically leptin receptors. But I’m not so sure that low carbers fail because of leptin per se. I think most of the problem comes from the conventional wisdom that our metabolisms “need” fuel every few hours. If this faulty logic is applied to someone following a low-carb diet, then there are going to be 5-6 high fat feedings daily. Why is this a problem? Well, if one tries to lose fat then it makes sense to look at the lypolitic hormones : growth hormone, testosterone, adrenaline, epinephrine, nor-epinephrine. Growth hormone, in particular is important here. Growth hormone pulses are suppressed when insulin and ffas are elevated. We know that low-carb lowers insulin levels, but if there are 6 or more high fat feedings, ffas are elevated for most of the day. This is a problem…

    It is very well known that eating carbs or fats an hour or less before a high intensity workout will blunt growth hormone response. Many people prefer to train after a fast for this reason. If low-carbers cut down their feedings to 2-3 per day (or only when actually hungry) and followed a lactic acid training protocol, some might find success through unlocking the lypolitic hormones.

    I think the most concise place I’ve found basic, solid recommendations are from Mr. Mahler

  2. John FitzGibbon on February 1, 2010 at 11:57

    As a paleo adherent I believe that there has been little changes in human physiology due to evolution in the last 10-20 thousand years. Now consider that the gut biome has begun to be thought of by some as an organ, although this is not universal we can all agree that the gut bacteria can be an important factor in our health. What we can also see is that gut bacteria have been evolving over that 10-20k years. How has this change effected the way we react to a paleo diet, and does it start to explain the problems that richard has mentioned above.

    • Adam on February 1, 2010 at 13:32

      John – very interesting question. I would add to it a bit, by asking what role fermented foods played in diet and how they contribute to the gut biome. Would seem that scavenged or primitively stored food would tend to make more bacteria available. Many traditional foods are fermented (yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi come to mind), but these foods tend not to be as prevalent in the modern diet.

      Seth Roberts discusses this issue at:
      And there was a National Geographic article discussing Daniel Fisher’s hypothesis of meat being stored in ponds:



  3. Michael on February 1, 2010 at 12:12

    I posted this in the school milk thread but is probably better here regarding the grass fed beef article on slate.

    Something from my twitter feed:

    “Slow down people. SLATE E. Coli article on grass fed beef incomplete, read on

  4. Diana Hsieh on February 1, 2010 at 12:14

    Thanks for the link love, Richard! I hope to write more on the issues surrounding hypothyroidism — including iodine — in coming weeks. (For those who don’t know, I blog politics and culture, plus silly fun stuff, on the weekdays, then health and diet issues on Saturday.) I’m taking an iodine loading test today, so I’ll definitely be reporting on those results.

  5. Guy on February 1, 2010 at 12:46

    I am stunned at the school lunches. And why is it all packaged? No need to answer. Just ranting.

    Our 1st grader goes to private Montessori, where they take their lunch and prepare it themselves! Yes, if what we pack needs heating, he does it himself. If he doesn’t like what we packed, he goes hungry. A typical lunch is turkey lunch meat roll ’em ups (slices of deli meat I roll up), cheese, kiwi, whole milk yogurt and unfiltered cigarettes. Just kidding, they’re actually filtered.

  6. Riley on February 1, 2010 at 13:06

    Here’s a really good video about how and why sugar causes diabetes, high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease and more. He goes quite in depth down to the biochemistry of it, but its still entertaining the whole way through. Very much worth the watch. He even mentions the paleo diet briefly.

  7. Stephan on February 1, 2010 at 16:03

    Hi Richard,

    You’re getting a lot of traffic around here. I got a major boost when you linked to my post. Thanks!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2010 at 16:14

      Finished up January with 123,000 visits and 243,000 page views. Unique visitors nearly 60k, so that’s a lot of new people being exposed to these ideas. It’s probably in synergy with all the stuff coming out in various media lately. John Durant, the guy featured in the NYT show is going to be on Comedy Central’s Colbert show Wednesday, there’s interviews coming out in Der Spiegel & Maclean’s, and more.

    • Stephan on February 1, 2010 at 18:24

      No kidding! I’ll have to watch that interview.

  8. Diana Hsieh on February 1, 2010 at 17:44

    Matt — If the standard symptoms of hypothyroidism have little or nothing to do with the thyroid gland, then why would those symptoms be alleviated by desiccated thyroid? And why would iodine supplementation, which primarily affects the thyroid, make such a difference? That’s what I’d like to see you explain, if you can.

    As for your thesis about O6 overload, that certainly doesn’t fit my case. Before going paleo, my diet was very heavy in O6 and light in O3. Now that’s changed for the better — way better. However, as a wrinkle in that, I wonder whether consuming my SAD fat stores — I lost about 18 pounds over 9 months when I first went paleo — screwed with my body in some way. Also, I should mention that I’ve never been super-low carb. Last time I measured, I ate about 80 g of carbs per day.

    In any case, I do appreciate your comments, and I hope that you write that blog post. Also, it’s worth mentioning that Richard’s thyroid problems predate his switch to a paleo diet, and I’m pretty certain that mine did too. (Plus, in my case, I’ve discovered that most of the women in my family are hypothyroid.)

    From what I’ve seen, it seems that some people (myself included) seem to have low-level, often unrecognized hypothyroid symptoms for years, then some months after going paleo-ish, we hit a major wall of hypothyroidism. I’m not sure what the explanation for that could be. Perhaps eating paleo (especially w/ losing weight) is metabolically demanding on the body in some ways. Perhaps the switch from iodized salt to sea salt depletes the last of the body’s resources of iodine. Perhaps it’s just coincidence. Perhaps it’s something else.

    Also, leptin has been on my radar. I’ve had my leptin level checked, and it’s normal.

  9. Ned Kock on February 1, 2010 at 17:54

    Thanks Richard. Soon we’ll see you on Oprah having a testy debate with Dr. Oz.

    I believe you mentioned vitamin D supplementation in a previous post, so I did some digging, and it seems that our body’s design strongly favors sunlight exposure, due to the long half-life of vitamin D and a few other related biofeedback mechanisms.

    One article caught my attention, because it discusses the U curve shape of the relationship between vitamin D and health problems. I added a post with more details here:

    I think this issue is important for various reasons; e.g., some of the paleo diet problems reported recently here might possibly be seasonal, related to vitamin D deficiency in the winter.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2010 at 18:01

      I read your entry this morning, Ned, but I’m not even close to being convinced of that and I’ve read just about everything on the sites of the vitamin D council and grassroots health. There are ton of interesting things here:

      For each block on the left column is a different set of papers and/or slide presentations.

      My levels stay right in the sweet spot of 80-100 year round. I supp 6K IU and have been doing so for a couple of years, I think, and I also get quite a lot of sun in the summer.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 1, 2010 at 18:07

      That said, sure, sunlight, fish, and animal fat would be the preferred way to get D, but not everyone lives where they can get sun, synthesis decreases with age (according to Dr Davis & others), there’s not much D in any of the food sources, etc.

      I’m pretty convinced that a level above 60 ng/ml is optimal and I don’t see very many older people obtaining it without supplementation. The epidemiology for various cancers, and even type 1 diabetes and such is associated both in latitude and time of year (more disease in winter).

      I have some past posts about these associations if you search things like vitamin d along with cancer, melanoma, and so on. I did three of those that I published a bit over a year ago, 12/30/08, I believe, so you can find them that way.

    • Ned Kock on February 2, 2010 at 06:20

      All valid points, and thanks for the links. I have been reading more on this, and will be reading those as well. The peer-reviewed articles are great but sometimes too narrow.

      What caught my attention in the article discussed in the post is the accelerated aging effect of hypervitaminosis D. In mice, it was not that fast, but it was marked. There was another photo of the same mice in the article, at 4 months, and they looked the same. It was at 8 months that they looked very different, suggesting a chronic hypervitaminosis D effect.

      By the way, I don’t think blood levels of vitamin D are an effective way of measuring vit. D concentrations in the body. Vit. D has a long half-life (25 days or more), and accumulates in fat tissue. So measuring blood levels is a bit like measuring the amount of energy store in a battery based on the amount of current flowing out of it.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 11:31

      From what I’ve read of Cannell and many others, hypervitiminosis symptoms don’t show up in humans until blood levels of 25OHD get to 200 ng/ml or above.

  10. Future Primitive on February 1, 2010 at 22:33

    Free for All.

    I’ve got some:

    1) Is the concern over slightly low body temp legitimate in *every* case? Should our degree of concern depend on context or not? While we can consider T3 a regulator (direct or otherwise, *certainly* other factors are in play…) of basal body temp, and that T3 is often appears to be lowered in cases of overall caloric and carbohydrate restriction, is this really the same thing as low T3 in the case of overt hypothyroidism due to, say, an autoimmune condition? (i.e. how does T3 receptor come into play, leptin, insulin sensitivity, and other metabolic factors (the list goes on) in this elaborate metabolic dance of allostasis, etc…?)
    Indeed, just browsing a few studies, one can see that lowered T3 is considered to perhaps be a *benefit* of caloric restriction for those interested in life extension…
    I *don’t know*, just throwing it out there.

    2) How much supplemental iodine is too much? As we’ve discussed before, this is likely context dependent (Dr. Harris explained this the best, though I don’t have the quote handy – see his iodine-SAD post comments).

    Right now, 12.5 mg sounds bold from where I’m sitting.
    I’ve no *outward*, overt symptoms of hypothyroidism: I’ve got tons of energy, shiny hair and nails, good skin, I can sprint like a jackrabbit, my bench press, et al, are all *ON*… blah, blah… I’m ripped at 40 years of age, and I can lose fat almost without trying – yet, my TSH was at 4,2 after going on a 2 drop 5% daily dose of Lugol’s solution.

    “U” shaped curve, right there? Dunno.

    Was it due to cutting out the refined carbs? I’m thinking it was the iodine in large part, but I may never know for sure. I don’t have a pre-Iodine supplementation measurement, unfortunately, though I suspect my TSH was lower beforehand.

    Going for a full thyroid panel soon, now that I’ve stopped with the iodine for a good while. Somehow I think 500 mcg supplemental iodine would have been a much better idea, if at all. I will confess that I felt nearly superhuman during my iodine supplementation experiment – a good thing? Or was I misleading myself and going to seriously eff up had I continued? What does it all mean? I have no friggin’ clue.
    This stuff is complicated, confusing, and probably best not screwed around with haphazardly. My only real concern is permanent iodine induced hypothyroidism, and that’s pretty serious stuff, no doubt.

    Also, as a maths guy, I find these lab tests really less than satisfactory from a sampling standpoint… I want implants providing (near) continuous sensor measurements. A single sample every now and then is of dubious value. Noise, noise, noise… Okay, yeah. Implants. I sound crazy.

    3) Richard, thanks for looking out for the kids.

    I look at my beautiful, healthy, vibrant little girl and thank you.

    Thank you for kicking all of those mofos square in the sack and telling it like it is.
    Not everybody knows what’s going on with breast feeding, their formula, their baby food, with their kid’s school meals – You are shaking people awake, and that’s what counts the most. Holy crap, it’s a mess out there.


    • Kurt G Harris MD on February 2, 2010 at 05:11

      “one can see that lowered T3 is considered to perhaps be a *benefit* of caloric restriction for those interested in life extension”

      I have run across some articles suggesting that lower body temperature is inversely correlated with longevity in some animal models as well. Truly food for thought for those who believe a basal temp below 98.6 is prima facie evidence of hyp0thyroidism and must be corrected.

      “This stuff is complicated, confusing, and probably best not screwed around with haphazardly…”

      You are a smart man and thinking like real scientist ( skeptically, that is)

    • AndrewS on February 2, 2010 at 09:03

      All of the caloric restriction studies I’ve seen have been “we fed one group of rats a ton of poison and carbs, and a second group half as much. The second group lived longer. Obviously, this was because they ate fewer calories.” Have you seen any longevity studies that teased results independent of carb/toxin loading?

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 09:19

      Your is a good but completely independent point. The same studies that give us information about sirtuin and decreased inflammation and apoptosis, and increased neuroprotection, etc. are the ones that use these flawed models.

      I totally agree (in fact I have a whole series of blog posts about it – see “calorie restricted monkeys” on my site) that the longevity effects could be achievable without caloric restriction or with spontaneous CR on a low carb now garbage ad-lib diet, but the fact remains that some of the parameters that some consider pathologic low body temp and low free T3 are markers for increased longevity, and may be physiologic adaptations we are misinterpreting from our SAD perspective.

      It is not unreasonable to assume that lower free T3 and lower body temp could be markers of slower but more efficient metabolism and could be correlated with longevity regardless of the diet used to achieve it.

      I have a blog post I am researching right now that makes the same criticism of calorie restricted high PUFA therapeutic ketogenic diets and proposes some alternatives.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 11:51

      Really looking forward to that, Kurt. I just may soon do another experiment and go off the Armor (and stop the iodine — but eat seafood a couple of times per week) and see what happens and especially, how I feel.

    • Meeses on February 4, 2010 at 14:22

      Looking forward to your post! On a completely unscientific level, let me just say that from where I stand (n=1 anecdote), having a lower body temperature is very, very unpleasant.

    • Mario on February 2, 2010 at 09:19

      Really? Kurt, you have soo many good ideas, but on this one I think I will pass and be with Broda Barnes ideas.

      Metabolism and aging: effects of cold exposure on metabolic rate, body composition, and longevity in mice:

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 09:27

      Yes, many people worship and even misinterpret Broda Barnes. I have read him more critically.

      Endocrinologists I respect that are comfortable with current issues like dessicated thyroid and not treating TSH alone are also skeptical of basing everything on body temperature.

      Broda Barnes also thought that all atherosclerosis could be explained by hypothyroidism. That is simply nonsense.

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 09:50

      By the way, the abstract you linked is just one experiment that refutes nothing I have said.

      I have not personally endorsed a lifetime energy = longevity equation – that is obviously quite simplistic – what I said was plausible is quite different.

      I only said it was plausible that some markers like T3 and body temp (not lifetime energy expenditure) could be markers – linked to – slower and more efficient metabolism – does a more efficient car engine mean you necessarily consume less gas over the lifetime of the car?

      I am sure you would agree that how things happen makes a difference as well.

      Is a cold experiment the same as low carb is the same as running continuously on a treadmill?

      I am only trying to encourage skepticism on the “everyone has hypothyroidism”meme. It is highly prevalent, but not reasonably defined by slightly low temperature alone.

    • Mario on February 2, 2010 at 10:59


      What I know is, as far as I can remender, I allways had a low body temp (around 96.8). My mother and my wife also. And many other symptoms of hypo, like white hair since I was 18, dry eyes, low body hair, low blood pressure, mitral valve prolapse, infections, intolerance to cold, etc, etc. But, only last year, at age of 44, I was diagnosed with hashi. Now my body temp is 98.6.

      And, from all what I read on hypo forums and email groups body temp really agree with people’s symptoms. Even Dr. Williams seems to agree with this:

      Also, what I know is that a low T3 and free T3 are implicated with hearth diseases and depression:

      Non-thyroidal illness syndrome and short-term survival in a hospitalised older population:

      “CONCLUSIONS: low T3 syndrome is very common in the hospitalised older population, emerging as the most sensitive independent predictor of short-term survival. Serum FT(3) determination should be included in the assessment of short-term prognosis of acutely ill older patients”

      Thyroid hormone profile in acute coronary syndromes:

    • Mario on February 2, 2010 at 11:14

    • Mario on February 2, 2010 at 11:01


      Low-T3 Syndrome, A Strong Prognostic Predictor of Death in Patients With Heart Disease

      Low-T3 Syndrome and Signal-Averaged ECG in Hemodialyzed Patients

    • Mario on February 2, 2010 at 11:02


      Acute effects of triiodothyronine (T3) replacement therapy in patients with chronic heart failure and low-T3 syndrome: a randomized, placebo-controlled study:

      Depression and thyroid axis function in coronary artery disease: impact of cardiac impairment and gender:

      Non-thyroidal illness syndrome and short-term survival in a hospitalised older population:

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 13:44

      I don’t have time to debate this whole area on Richards’s blog. I’ll just say a few things:

      1) I am familiar with every argument made by you and your sources, including Dr. Davis – and i still do not agree that any body temp other than 98.6 is abnormal – (there is evidence that the true mean is 98.2 and not 98.6 anyway) and it matters when and how and where you measure it.

      2) Non thryoidal illness syndrome or euthyroid sick syndrome has little to nothing to do with thyroid function in non-acutely ill individuals so I have no idea why you are referencing that. It is like using CRP studies in people with infections to say what our lab values should be when we are not infected.

      3) “Hypo forums” and email groups? That is science? Have you spent any time on other types of forums? You may need to hone your BS detector – any physician will tell you people are highly irrational about their own health and people can be convinced that anything causes or cures anything – I’ve seen it all.

      4) By Dr. Williams I guess you mean Dr. Willliam Davis. I have read all of his posts on thyroid.

      5) I am mildly hypothyroid myself (probably more than Dr. Davis) so I have some motivation to understand these issues.

    • Ned Kock on February 2, 2010 at 06:35

      > Also, as a maths guy, I find these lab tests really less than satisfactory from a sampling standpoint… I want implants providing (near) continuous sensor measurements. A single sample every now and then is of dubious value. Noise, noise, noise… Okay, yeah. Implants. I sound crazy.

      Indeed, a simple blood pressure test can give very biased results depending on various factors, including how anxious one is about having a high blood pressure reading!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 11:36

      I think it depends. For BP, sure, you want lots of samples so you can see if there’s a trend. This is exactly what I did nearly three years ago when I began my path. I was at 160/100 consistently, then I was going to the gym for brief & intense workouts and was able to establish a definite downward trend over the next month (helps to have a monitor that stores data you can export and chart).

      But for something like D that’s fat soluble with a long half life, and if you are taking a continuous regular dose, I don’t see how frequent testing is going to help. I’ve testyed three times, now, twice in spring and one in summer, and ranges are always 80-100 ng/ml, and I supp 6k IU per day, most days.

    • Future Primitive on February 3, 2010 at 00:13

      “I think it depends. For BP, sure, you want lots of samples so you can see if there’s a trend. ”

      Right, you want to take enough samples so that you can see the actual trend, and you need a high enough sample rate to be sure you’re not seeing aliasing artifacts. Blood pressure and heart bpm are good examples of measurements that can turn on a dime.
      I recall seeing an article many months ago about a continuous measurement fingertip blood pressure logger, for instance -allegedly useful for uncovering potential issues that wouldn’t be apparent with standard procedure, otherwise.

      There’s also a benefit in taking several samples in a very short time frame and then taking the average in order to filter out any noise inherent in the measurement process. Looking at my vitamin D test kits I just got through the vitamin D council, I can see several blotter spots for blood drops – presumably for the same purpose? I can only guess that other lab measurements aren’t just one shot and there you go… Anybody know how this sort of thing is done?

      In terms of a much lower useful sample rate for for 25(OH)D3, I think you’re right – looks like it has a half life of 60 days or so.

      Lots of different time scales all these things play out on…

  11. Bonnie on February 2, 2010 at 00:25

    It’s my pet theory that many of the problems people are having with paleo are partially due to the rapid and extreme weight loss (I hear people lauding losses of 2-5 lbs per week – even though a lot of this is probably carb bloat, I think that is dangerous) so many experience, and also to the dangerously low-calorie diets people often adopt when they lose hunger/cravings on VLC.

    I don’t have any science at my fingertips to back this up – besides the numerous studies that show weight loss in people’s lifetime, especially later in life, appears to have a deleterious affect on short and long-term health. If anyone would like to explore further, please do.

    Thankfully I do not want to lose weight, nor have I. A paleo-type diet has cured my hypo-ish symptoms. I eat a lot of calories, and a lot of fat. My appetite is pretty ravenous, too.

  12. Tamara on February 2, 2010 at 04:33

    Former SAD times my Hashimoto was awful. I was also a big fan of iodine supplement but it make things worse. Since I´m keto I´m always between 0,2-0,7 TSH. T3 is lower but shows no symptoms so what? Maybe because of starvation mode? Low body temperature, mood troubles aso. are also signs of calorie deficiency.
    Not everything is always “the thyroid”.-
    Because of the autism suggestion; friend of mine has Asperger´s. He´s doing great with keto, casein-free, B6+D3+n-3.

  13. AndrewS on February 2, 2010 at 09:17

    I’ve been hypo for about a decade now. I actually lowered my dose of Synthroid (from 200 to 150) since going paleo. I’d like to try Armour but haven’t yet. Also, my hands are very warm, my body temp has always tested good, my hair is soft, and my skin is (usually) good, although now that I’m at altitude and frequently in sub-freezing weather my skin is very dry (sometimes to the point of cracking).

    Symptoms seem to vary considerably from person to person. The one thing that clearly tells me my thyroid function is too low is mood; I get very irritable, and increasing my dosage cleans that right up.

    I was off Synthroid completely for a few months last year, and I felt great. My TSH went through the roof (42!), but I didn’t feel normal symptoms. I, too, would like a daily TSH/fT3/fT4/etc test.

    Until then, I’m taking one thing at a time. I take kelp now, but it’s a pitiful 225mcg per day. Because of this thread and others, I’ll be upping that to the milligram range.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 11:43

      Well AndrewS:

      “I was off Synthroid completely for a few months last year, and I felt great. My TSH went through the roof (42!), but I didn’t feel normal symptoms. I, too, would like a daily TSH/fT3/fT4/etc test.”

      My experience, too. When almost a year into the evfit/paleo deal, beginning of 2008, I dropped the syn T4 (Levothroid). I was on a 120 mcg dose. When I dropped it an began employing the IF is when I had the most rapid weight loss. I felt great, all the time. In the summer 2008 I had a test and TSH came back 16 something. Still felt great. I stayed the course. Then spring 2009 another test (with the t4 and t3 tests, too) and TSH was down to 11 and t3 and 4 low half of norma range. Then I went on the Armor and it seems that since then I have generally felt worse.

      Lowering protein and upping fat has helped, and I’m tweaking a few other things, too. But I keep coming back to wondering what the thyroid panels of HGs are and if TSH really means that much.

    • Diana Hsieh on February 2, 2010 at 12:12

      Richard — What were your FT3 and FT4 at those times? And are you on the new (apparently crappy) Armour, or are you using that term generically?

    • Diana Hsieh on February 2, 2010 at 12:13

      Ugh. Apparently I can’t read. I see that you said enough about your FT3 and FT4 already.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 12:31

      Yep, on Armour, 120mg.

      My latest tests were in Nov and I had been on 90mg of Armor for some months. Unfortunately, the doc ordered free T4 and total T3 (TRIIODOTHYRONINE, total). At any rate, here’ s the whole history (standard ranges and units in parentheses):

      7/2008 (no meds)

      TSH: 16.4 (0.2-5.5 uIU/mL)

      3/2009 (still no meds)

      TSH: 11.36 (0.10-5.50 uIU/mL)
      Free T4: 0.9 (0.8-1.7 ng/dL)
      TRIIODOTHYRONINE: 112 (70-200 ng/dL)

      11/2009 (90mg Armour since 3/2009)

      TSH: 1.77 (0.10-5.50 uIU/mL)
      Free T4: 0.9 (0.8-1.7 ng/dL)
      TRIIODOTHYRONINE: 157 (70-200 ng/dL)

      So, the result of the Armour was a massive drop in TSH, free T4 unchanged, and what’s apparently total T3 increasing from about half of the bottom half of the range to close to half of the top half of the range.

      Since 11/2009 I have been at 120mg of Armour and will be tested soon.

    • Diana Hsieh on February 2, 2010 at 12:44

      Richard, as you probably know, tons of people have reported terrible results on the new formulation of Armour — for many, all of their symptoms returned with a vengeance. So perhaps you might try another form of desiccated thyroid. That might make a difference for you. Oh, and in addition to checking your Free T3, you might also check your Reverse T3.

      In any case, I’m fascinated by your results: it’s just another case where labs are doing a piss-poor job of predicting symptoms and well-being. The thyroid is a little devil of a gland, I think. And we don’t understand nearly so much about it as I would like!

    • Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 13:25

      Do you know what’s the go-to brand right now, and can it be obtained without a scrip? I’d just as soon buy it as to try to deal with Kaiser on it. They were hard enough on the Armour.

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 13:53

      Hi Richard

      Your labs look pretty good and consistent with Armour. Dessicated thyroid is T3 heavy so when therapeutic your T3/T4 ratio will go up- your T4 may be a littel lower because you are supplying more T3 directly. I would guess your FT3 is upper range if you are feeling good.

      For a more consistent and reliable source of dessicated, google “canadian thyroid” – the drug is actually called “thyroid” and if you can fax them a script they will ship it to you direct from the manufacturer.

      The other reasonable thing is just to add cytomel (T3) to your levothyroxine – this actually has some dosing advantages over dessicated, IMO, and you will never have to worry about FDA pulling the plug on your domestic or imported dessicated.

      But if you feel good on dessicated I would stick with that.

    • Diana Hsieh on February 2, 2010 at 14:50

      Here’s a detailed list of the various kinds of desiccated thyroid:

      I get mine from a local compounding pharmacy: they have access to the straight dessicated thyroid powder. I open the capsules, then take it sublingually in two doses each day.

      You might want to look at this page too:

      As for Dr. Harris’ suggestion of synthetic T3 plus Synthetic T4, that might work for some people. But given that I spent two irretrievable months of my life as a walking corpse on Synthroid, that’s not an option that I’d even consider at this point. And it’s not something that I’d recommend that anyone else try, unless they’re not doing well on good dessicated thyroid (i.e. not current Armour) for mysterious reasons. People do sometimes add T4 to their desiccated thyroid, if a different ratio of T3 to T4 is needed, often with good results. (I’m somewhat fuzzy on the molecular differences between synthetic and natural T4/T3, but they do exist, and they seem to make a difference. Personally, I won’t try synthetic hormones again.)

      So … the government can pry my iodine and my desiccated thyroid out of my cold, dead hands… along with my Glock.

    • Kurt G Harris on February 2, 2010 at 17:25

      No difference – T4 is T4 and T3 is T3 It is like the difference between synthetic or naturally occurring alcohol or water.

      Synthroid likely did not work for you because it is only T4, not because it was synthesized versus harvested from a pig. Would you refuse adrenaline or any of a thousand other compounds because they were synthesized instead of obtained from dead animals? That’s a bit irrational.

      The idea that T4 from pigs is “better” is mostly superstion. Armour works because it has both T4 and T3.

      It is combining T4 and T3 that makes the difference.

      “And it’s not something that I’d recommend that anyone else try, unless they’re not doing well on good dessicated thyroid (i.e. not current Armour) for mysterious reasons.”

      Your scientific basis for saying this is…..?

      Rhida Arem, who is an actual honest-to-god endocrinologist and who wrote by far the best and most scientific book on the subject that I have read ( out of about a dozen books so far) uses T3 with T4 with great results as do MD psychiatrists I know.

      There is a lot of nonsense and hyperbole on “Stop the madness” IMO.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 3, 2010 at 09:31

      Feeling better and better, actually, so I guess I’ll stick for now. I’ll soon see what the results are after upping from 90 to 120 mg. Of course, I’m also taking iodine and now 200mcg selenium, a bit of zinc, and some magnesium, so there could also be a confounding of variables issue.

      I’ll have a post up later about my most recent experience in knocking a cold on its ass in 2 days with added vitamin D. And plus, I feel super fantastic, energetic, as though it’s summer and I just spent an hour by the pool.

    • Diana Hsieh on February 4, 2010 at 08:26

      Dr. Harris —

      I’ll have to look into whether synthetic T4 and T3 is bioidentical. (From what I’ve googled so far, I’ve gotten conflicting information from unreliable sources.) My understanding was that (1) Synthroid was patented but (2) bioidentical hormones couldn’t be patented. If that’s right, then Synthroid couldn’t be bioidentical. If I’m wrong about that, of course I’d like to know. But I’d like a reliable source, not your mere assertion.

      But more to the point, I’d ask: What is your basis for saying that porcine desiccated thyroid yields identical outcomes to synthetic T4 plus T3? (That is what you seem to be saying, but correct me if I’m wrong.)

      Given that you’re a radiologist, you can’t have experience treating patients for hypothyroidism, unless you’re practicing far outside your specialty. And I’m not aware of any good studies comparing synthetic T4 plus T3 with desiccated thyroid. From what I’ve read, even the studies on the addition of synthetic T3 to the standard synthetic T4 regimen are conflicting: some report a benefit, while others don’t. (I’ve not looked at them myself, so perhaps some were poorly designed.) And we know that desiccated thyroid contains more than just T3 and T4.

      As for my recommendation of desiccated thyroid, that’s based on my own remarkable experiences, plus the reported experiences of others. It’s not scientific to ignore one’s own (and others’) careful reports about their experiences! The doctors who take that dismissive approach to their hypothyroid patients are the same doctors who treat them so poorly with T4-only meds, then deny that their persistent raging hypothyroid symptoms have anything to do with their thyroid.

      Perhaps the people now on desiccated thyroid would have gotten the same benefits with synthetic T4 plus T3. Perhaps some would do well on that, but others would do better on desiccated thyroid. I don’t know, but the possibility that desiccated thyroid would be superior for some people can’t be dismissed out-of-hand.

      Personally, my doctor was inclined to do what you recommend: add synthetic T3 to my synthetic T4. I asked for desiccated thyroid instead. I wasn’t willing to risk suffering another two months of near-senility, inability to work, total lethargy, weight gain, etc. I’m not going to recommend that others risk that misery either, not when desiccated thyroid has such a good track record.

      Of course, I expect people to make up their own minds about their own health choices. I’m not any kind of authority, except on my own experience. That might be an advantage though. If I were an endocrinologist, I’d likely recommend a high-carb diet for my diabetic patients and insist on T4-only for my suffering hypothyroid patients!

      In general, I’m extremely wary of the standard medical literature on hypothyroidism. (I’m also extremely wary of the “alternative” literature, for reasons that I stated in my blog post.) The standard treatment regimen has been too wrong for too many people to trust it any more than I trust the pushers of hearthealthywholegrains and haters of arterycloggingsaturatedfat. Frankly, medicine doesn’t seem to have a good handle on the relevant biochemistry — or they’ve not integrated what they know with patient care. So on this issue, I trust real-life experience of sensible patients and diligent doctors more than anything else.

      Hence, all of the reading that you’re doing doesn’t mean nearly as much to me as the experience of the Drs. Eades in actually treating hypothyroid patients. And for the record, they used Armour.

      — Diana Hsieh, Ph.D

  14. Dan Linehan on February 2, 2010 at 12:47

    Everyone should go buy a day pass at a local rock gym and try indoor rock climbing. In my opinion, there is really nothing better for your overall fitness.

  15. Richard Nikoley on February 2, 2010 at 13:14

    Dr. Cannell came out with an update to his vitamin D and autism letter of yesterday. Unfortunately, he hasn’t put it up on the website, so I’ll copy is here:


    The Vitamin D Newsletter

    More letters on autism

    February 2, 2010

    This is a periodic newsletter from the Vitamin D Council, a non-profit trying to end the epidemic of vitamin D deficiency. If you want to unsubscribe, go to the end of this newsletter. If you are not subscribed, you can do so on the Vitamin D Council’s website.

    This newsletter may be reproduced as long as you properly and prominently attribute its source. Please reproduce it, post it on Internet sites, and forward it to your friends.

    Below are three more letters I received in response to my last newsletter:

    Dear Dr. Cannell:

    My nephew was showing signs of delayed development : delayed speech, a slow tongue, rarely smiled, shy, loner, unusually uncommunicative for a toddler. He just seemed sad. After evaluation and confirmation of the abnormalities particularly the poor neuromuscular control of his lower face and tongue, he was enrolled in speech therapy several times a week with some improvement over 6 months or so but he still spoke in one word sentences.

    His mother kept him perpetually in sunscreen and sunscreen fabrics and hats with flaps. As he approached his third birthday, I convinced my sister-in-law to try him on some Vitamin D. As he was about 43 lbs (big, not overweight), I told her to give him 2000 IU per day and sent her a bottle of drops to make it easy (2000 IU/day). Six wks later, they came up to our home to go sledding this past December.

    They both were ecstatic about the change in him. He was now speaking in complete complex sentences, was smiling, out-going and had finally begun to become toilet trained. She was delighted with the effects but she confided that she was having trouble giving him the Vitamin D, no matter what she put it in; he often refused to eat it. I found this inexplicable, how hard could it be to get one drop into him?

    It quickly became apparent that she had been trying to give him one DROPPERFUL per day, roughly 60,000 to 150,000 IU per day, flooding his system with D. She has dropped the D down to 2000 IU/day pending a blood level but he will never be without adequate D again. As they were leaving, he said “Mommy is going to back the car up and then we get in?” His father keeps happily exclaiming that he is a whole new kid.

    Dr. Marisa Burrows,

    New Hampshire

    Dear Dr. Burrows:

    Dr. Gene Stubbs, a child psychiatrist from the Oregon Health Sciences University told me of a similar case, accidental Vitamin D overdosing leading to dramatic and rapid improvements in autistic symptoms. However, even if your nephew took 150,000 IU/day for six weeks, I doubt he will be clinically toxic; but he may have high blood calcium, the dose was dangerous. Remember, from 1955 to 1990, every child in East Germany got 300,000 IU at their doctor’s office every three months until 18 months of age. I predict the autism epidemic started later in East Germany’s former lands (mid 1990s) than it did in the USA (mid 1980s).

    Stop all Vitamin D until his 25(OH)D level is around 80 and then restart at 3,000 IU per day, attempting to obtain a level of 80-100 ng/ml, year around. You may notice a rebirth of his symptoms as his 25(OH)D falls precipitously but I believe that his symptoms will again disappear again if you maintain his level in the high normal range.

    Dear Dr. Cannell:

    I was disappointed to read some of your statements in your latest newsletter regarding autism, although I am quite convinced that Vitamin D deficiency plays a key role both in the development and the continued symptoms of autism.

    However, you seem to imply that most, if not all, autistic children could be solely treated and even cured by nothing but Vitamin D. I have two autistic children, a girl age 21 months and a boy age 3 1/2 years, who both tested as Vitamin D deficient (among other things,) and we have been supplementing them with 1,000 IU for the 21-month-old and 2,000 IU per day for the 3-year-old. They have been on the vitamin D for six months. Both of them are now at sufficient levels–74 and 87 ng/ml, respectively–and yet I assure you, while they have improved, they are still very much autistic.

    They also take Vitamin A in their powdered multivitamins, including 3,500 IU per day of retinyl palmitate. They’ve never received a large dose of vitamin A (or anything else) in our DAN doctor’s office.

    You do a huge disservice to the community when you say,

    “The “all autism is caused from vaccinations crowd cannot accept the Vitamin D possibility as it threatens their core beliefs. They simply cannot change their minds.”

    I would submit that the “all autism is caused by any one thing” crowds are all wrong, and that includes the Vitamin D crowd. I simply cannot change my mind that my daughter’s vaccination caused her autism because I watched it happen, starting the very day she received her shot. On the other hand, my son’s development did not include a single, major regression following a vaccine, and I know his etiology is completely different and was not caused directly by a vaccine.

    Many autistic children show improvement with their Vitamin D supplements, just as they show some improvement with other supplements as well. The woman in your newsletter whose son showed such a complete turnaround with just one supplement is lucky to have found her major puzzle piece. But biomedical parents in the autism community struggle with skepticism enough as it is, and we need to be coming together to find each child’s different set of puzzle pieces, not pointing fingers at each other.


    Mary Nelson,

    San Jose, CA

    Dear Mary:

    Your children have subclinical vitamin A toxicity, which blocks the effect of Vitamin D. The 3,500 IU of preformed retinol they are taking would be as if I were taking 25,000 IU of preformed retinol a day. It may take years for the toxic amounts of vitamin A to be removed from their system because, unlike vitamin D, the body has no good system to remove vitamin A quickly.

    Vitamin A competes with vitamin D directly at the receptor site. When vitamin A levels are too high, the two retinoic acid molecules bind to each other instead of one vitamin A molecule binding with one vitamin D. When the two vitamin A molecules bind with each other, as occurs with high doses of vitamin A, the two vitamin A molecules then bind to the Vitamin D receptor and weakly stimulate the receptor, and may act as a weak agonist. But, weak agonists block the function of receptors, preventing the vitamin D from working.

    Many DAN Doctors use Vitamin A, either as a large bolus dose or the in the powdered multivitamins your child is taking. As such, I predict DAN treated children will be less responsive to Vitamin D until their Vitamin A toxicity clears. For more on the dangers of Vitamin A, see the last part of the paper below, written by 16 experts, warning of the dangers of Vitamin A.

    Indeed, a recent Cochrane Review found that vitamin A supplements increased total mortality rate by16%.

    Bjelakovic G, Nikolova D, Gluud LL, Simonetti RG, Gluud C. Antioxidant supplements for prevention of mortality in healthy participants and patients with various diseases. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2008 Apr 16;(2):CD007176.

    I would stop all vitamin A and increase the Vitamin D to 2,000 IU/day for the 21 month old and 4,000 IU/day for the 3-year-old until your children have 25(OH)D levels around 100 ng/ml, which is perfectly safe, and keep their levels that high for the rest of their childhood. By that time, my prophecy will be fact.

    Dear Dr. Cannell:

    You said the “all autism is caused from vaccinations crowd cannot accept the Vitamin D possibility as it threatens their core beliefs. They simply cannot change their minds.”

    How does Vitamin D deficiency explain an autism epidemic starting about 1990? How does your sunshine/Vitamin D theory of autism explain the absence of autistic children with rickets working all day long in the sunless factories of Victorian England? Since the current aggressive vaccination schedule has never been tested for safety against a less aggressive one, how can you so smugly deride the possibility of the damage from it? How do you explain the recent studies showing clusters of autism in California with higher rates among parents with higher education?

    How open-minded are you about your own “core beliefs”?

    Thomas R. Widden,

    Professor Emeritus,

    Bay State University, Maine

    Dear Professor Widden:

    The autism epidemic began in the mid 80s and tracks the sun -scare very closely, as it does the sale of sunscreen.

    The neuropsychiatric symptoms of rickets have never been studied in the modern era, as, once the diagnosis of rickets is made all attention is paid to bones and the rickets is aggressively treated. However, as far as the mental condition in rickets, at least two old papers have addressed it, both published before the diagnosis of autism was common.
    Hallerhan, M.M. The Effect of Rickets on the Mental development of Young Children. Archives of Psychology, July, 1938 vol 229, pp 1-67.

    Gilmour A. The Mental Condition in Rickets. School Hygiene 1912;9:222 pp 6-16

    Both papers describe “weak mindedness, feeble minds, mental dullness, and unresponsiveness” as being common in rickets. Gilmour found delays in speech were common. Developmental delays were common in both papers.

    Hallerhan reports previous authors found “withdrawal, and negativism” as well as “tantrums, selfishness, depression, and narrowing of interests.” However, both authors report that the mental condition in rickets improves with Vitamin D; that is the Vitamin D improves the brain as well as the bones.

    The controlled study by Hallerhan was conducted in 1938 where some control children, and not just the rachitic children, would have been on cod liver oil as that was a common hygienic practice in that day. In spite of that, differences were noted in verbal development and significant differences noted in motor development, mental development and social adjustment.

    As far as “mass vaccinations,” that is, giving multiple vaccinations all at once, you are correct that it has not, to my knowledge, been studied and may trigger autism in vitamin D deficient children. However, triggering and causing are two different things. Remember the co-occurrence of vaccinations and autism may reflect the fact that children are weaned from Vitamin D rich formula to the empty calories of juice, even breast fed infants get formula, around the time of their 12 to 18 month vaccinations, thus precipitously dropping their Vitamin D levels. Shopping malls are full of toddlers drinking my favorite toxin: pure, 100%, organic, fruit juice.

    As for your final point, Professor Widden, I assume you are referring to Dr. Karla Van Meter”s study from the MIND Institute, just published.

    Van Meter KC, Christiansen LE, Delwiche LD, Azari R, Carpenter TE, Hertz-Picciotto I. Geographic distribution of autism in California: a retrospective birth cohort analysis. Autism Res. 2010 Jan 4. [Epub ahead of print]

    California Autism Clusters Linked to Parent Education, Not Local Toxins

    Autism clusters tied to educated parents

    The main finding was that college educated parents, especially women, had an increased risk of having a child with autism. Actually, this is not a new finding. As I discussed in my 2007 autism paper, this has been known since the early 1980s but was dismissed as being caused by ascertainment bias, or how you pick your samples. Dr. Van Meter’s findings correlated well with CDC researchers who found a similar risk for the well-educated, findings that are difficult to dismiss as being entirely due to ascertainment bias.

    Bhasin TK, Schendel D. Sociodemographic Risk Factors for Autism in a US Metropolitan Area. J Autism Dev Disord 2007;37(4):667-77.

    What is known is the relationship between sun-avoidance and sun-block use, which is strongly correlated with higher education and socioeconomic achievement.

    Robinson JK, Rigel DS, Amonette RA. Summertime sun protection used by adults for their children. J Am Acad Dermatol 2000;42(5 Pt 1):746-53.

    Hall HI, Jorgensen CM, McDavid K, Kraft JM, Breslow R. Protection from sun exposure in US white children ages 6 months to 11 years. Public Health Rep 2001;116(4):353-61.

    What a tragic sight, all those rich kids in LA, clothed from head to toe and lathered with sunblock by their highly educated mothers, banging their heads on the swing set while professors miss such obvious clues.

    John Cannell, MD

    Executive Director

    Vitamin D Council

    This newsletter may be reproduced as long as you properly and prominently attribute it source. Please reproduce it, post it on Internet sites, and forward it to your friends.

    Remember, we are a non-profit and rely on your donations to publish our newsletter, maintain our website, and pursue our objectives. Send your tax-deductible contributions to:

    The Vitamin D Council

    1241 Johnson Ave., #134

    San Luis Obispo, CA 93401

  16. […] Subscribe ← Open Thread For Any Health & Fitness Topics […]

  17. Alex on February 10, 2010 at 18:23

    Hey Richard, have you seen this?

    • Richard Nikoley on February 11, 2010 at 10:56

      Hadn’t see it, but it’s pretty fair. What are you gonna do? Someone has to cough up the dough for these studies.

  18. Clenbuterol on August 27, 2010 at 02:08

    Nuts don’t contain gluten. Only some grains contain gluten naturally, although even those are most often contaminated with gluten.

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