Believers in Wilsons Thyroid Syndrome

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"Wilson's syndrome" is not a recognized thyroid disease or condition by any conventional thyroid practitioners or by the American Thyroid Association. Named by Dr. Denis E. Wilson, it borrows from some of Broda Barnes's theories about low body temperature as a sign of unrecognized hypothyroidism in spite of normal thyroid lab tests. In this case, Wilson, too, suggests that a host of nonspecific ill-health symptoms, which can be attributed to hundreds of conditions, combined with low body temperature, means that you have "Wilson's thyroid syndrome," which can be treated only with a special preparation of triiodothyronine (T3). For this reason, some people who say they have "Wilson's syndrome" wrongly insist they have a "T3 deficiency," which is not even the correct definition of "Wilson's thyroid syndrome." What is bizarre about this so-called syndrome is the recommendation of only T3 therapy for unrecognized hypothy-roidism. There is simply no basis for this treatment, even if hypothyroidism were discovered based on the strange diagnostic methods and criteria proposed here.

In Wilson's syndrome literature such as his book Wilson's Thyroid Syndrome: A Reversible Thyroid Problem (1991), published by the Wilson's Syndrome Foundation (which also appears on the Wilson's Syndrome website), more than thirty-seven symptoms as well as "others" are listed as part of the condition. There are few people, healthy or not, who could say that they don't have at least a few of the symptoms on the list. And while some of these symptoms can be due to genuine hypothyroidism, some of the symptoms describe completely unrelated problems, such as asthma. Wilson's list of symptoms also mimic those that you'll find under the following conditions: neurasthenia, chronic fatigue, fibromyalgia, multiple chemical sensitivity, chronic Epstein-Barr disease, and chronic candidiasis. Since these conditions typically describe people with chronic malaise, in search of an answer to their malaise, it is suspicious and convenient that Wilson's syndrome seems to offer an answer—which, however, is unsupported and false. Given that at any time, more than 20 percent of adults report significant fatigue and 30 percent have current musculoskeletal symptoms, while the typical adult has one of the "Wilson's" symptoms every four to six days, and more than 80 percent of the general population has one of these symptoms during any two- to four-week period, most of us could actually say we have "Wilson's syndrome" if we were looking for a disease label that explained our symptoms. People who truly suffer from some of these other conditions are being exploited. It's crucial, too, to consider that many of these symptoms are rooted in psychological or social stress or mood disorders, including depression and anxiety.

Similar to Barnes's followers, devotees of "Wilson's syndrome" with low morning basal body temperature insist that they are hypothyroid in spite of normal lab tests (see Chapters 2 and 3 for normal ranges). The basal body temperature detection method is highly flawed and inaccurate for the reasons we discuss in the Barnes section.

And, as we've discussed, T3 is not the best treatment for hypothyroidism anyway. As explained in Chapters 3 and 10, T3 therapy results in wide fluctuations in T3 concentrations in blood and body tissues, producing symptoms of thyrotoxicosis in some people, especially cardiovascular complications in some patients, making it potentially dangerous.

Where is the evidence that T3 cures "Wilson's syndrome"? Well, you can read testimonials from satisfied customers on the Wilson's syndrome websites. You don't need us to tell you this is not exactly evidence-based medicine. Without double-blind studies (one group with symptoms taking T3 versus another group with symptoms taking a placebo, or fake pill, with neither research participants nor doctors knowing who is receiving what and just recording symptom relief), we have no idea how people actually feel in any unbiased and fair way. Biochemically, if you give people with normal thyroid function T3 when they don't need it, they will become thyrotoxic (see Chapter 4).

Also, even if we assume these testimonials are real, they fail to account for two well-known facts. First, a lot of people will just get better on their own because these symptoms tend to resolve once certain stressors are removed—even in people who have symptoms for months at a time. And second, the placebo effect (the power to heal yourself based solely on the belief that you're taking effective medicine) often makes people feel better, as discussed further on.

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