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From the Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients
December 2002

Overcoming Thyroid Disorders
by David Brownstein, MD

review by David Goldstein, MD
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Overcoming Thyroid Disorders
by David Brownstein, MD
Medical Alternatives Press (4173 Fieldbrook Rd., West Bloomfield, Michigan 48323 USA); www.drbrownstein.com; 1-888-647-5616. Softcover, 2002, US/$15, 272pp.

Overcoming Thyroid Disorders, by Dr. David Brownstein, is a must read for practitioners and patients alike. Although there have been many books written about thyroid disorders, this book is unique in that it explains the underlying causes of many different thyroid illnesses and describes how an individualized program to treat these illnesses can be successfully implemented. This book provides a wealth of information about how a holistic program can be applied to those suffering from many serious conditions, including hypothyroidism, Graves' disease, Hashimoto's disease, chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia and more. Dr. Brownstein's approach to treating these difficult conditions includes using combinations of vitamins, minerals, herbs, natural hormones, diet and detoxification. In addition, Dr. Brownstein describes how the treatment of coagulation disorders further improves patients with chronic illnesses. As in his previous books, The Miracle of Natural Hormones, 2nd Edition and Overcoming Arthritis, Dr. Brownstein illustrates his success with actual case studies from his practice.

In Chapter 2, Dr. Brownstein succinctly explains why thyroid disorders are so prevalent today. He makes the case that hypothyroidism may be the most under-diagnosed condition today. Dr. Brownstein feels that up to 40% of the population may have an underactive thyroid condition, which is being missed by the common blood tests used today. This book builds on Dr. Broda O. Barnes' groundbreaking work on hypothyroidism. Dr. Brownstein illustrates his belief that a more holistic approach, which takes into account the clinical picture in addition to the blood tests and the basal body temperatures, is a comprehensive way to diagnose thyroid disorders. Dr. Brownstein explains his ideas and supports much of what he says with numerous citations.

In Chapter 3 Dr. Brownstein describes a condition in which many individuals are unable to convert the inactive thyroid hormone, T4, into the active thyroid hormone, T3. Dr. Brownstein provides a complete list of over 30 items that inhibit this conversion. These items include commonly used drugs such as beta-blockers, birth control pills, estrogens and lithium. Also included in this list are: advancing age, chronic illness, hypoadrenal states, vitamin and mineral deficiencies, heavy metal toxicity and foods such as soy. By inhibiting the conversion of inactive to active thyroid hormone, these agents can lead to a hypothyroid state. This is one of the most complete lists of thyroid-inhibiting agents that I have seen. This Chapter needs to be read by all those that suffer from hypothyroidism. Thyroid hormone resistance is also covered in this chapter. Dr. Brownstein describes how individuals with thyroid hormone resistance, which is similar to the insulin resistance that diabetics have, may require larger amounts of thyroid hormone to overcome the cellular resistance to thyroid hormone. In addition, Dr. Brownstein points out that when thyroid hormone resistance is present, the TSH test cannot accurately predict what is happening in the body. The explanation Dr. Brownstein provides is concise and his logic is easy to follow.

There are not many books that tackle autoimmune thyroid problems, including Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease. Chapter 4 deals with these illnesses and gives a holistic perspective on treating them. Dr. Brownstein provides evidence that infection may be underlying these illnesses and that proper diagnosis and treatment of the infection can significantly improve the condition. He also points out that dietary changes are paramount to helping the body heal including the avoidance of gluten-containing products. Also, he describes the problems with the ingestion of aspartame and the relation of aspartame ingestion to autoimmune disorders. Dr. Brownstein also gives specific nutritional recommendations to help the body overcome these disorders.

Fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome are covered in Chapter 6. Dr. Brownstein presents data that indicates these illnesses may be secondary to thyroid problems. He points out that these illnesses became more prevalent in the medical literature after doctors started relying on blood tests, instead of the clinical picture, to diagnose and treat these illnesses. Dr. Brownstein feels it is impossible to overcome fibromyalgia or chronic fatigue syndrome if the thyroid gland is not functioning adequately.

The relationship between the other hormones of the body and the thyroid gland is covered, in depth, in Chapter 6. Dr. Brownstein shows how the other hormone glands, the adrenals, ovaries, pituitary, testes and others, relate to the thyroid gland. He shows how the synergistic effect of using combinations of natural hormones is more beneficial than using hormones individually. He builds upon the data presented in his first book, The Miracle of Natural Hormones. Hormones covered in this chapter include: DHEA, Natural Progesterone, Natural Estrogens, Pregnenolone, Human Growth Hormone and Natural Testosterone. Dr. Brownstein is adamant that natural versions of the hormones are much more effective than the synthetic versions.

Dietary recommendations are given in Chapter 7. Dr. Brownstein recommends six steps to improving your diet:

1. Eliminate Refined sugar

2. Eliminate Trans Fatty Acids

3. Eat Organic Food

4. Drink More Water

5. Eliminate Artificial Sweeteners (including aspartame)

6. Eat A Balanced Diet

Dr. Brownstein reviews all of the above items and gives specific recommendations for each category. Perhaps the most interesting part of this Chapter describes why it is so important to eat organic food. He points out that much of the commercially-raised food is tainted with hormone-disrupting chemicals that cause imbalances in the immune and hormonal systems, including the thyroid gland. Eating organic food reduces this negative influence on the thyroid and the entire hormonal system of the body.

Detoxification is covered in Chapter 8. Dr. Brownstein describes why it is important to detoxify the body and he gives specific recommendations on how to accomplish this. He shows how a detoxification program can improve the functioning of the thyroid gland.

Chapter 9 provides new information on the relation between coagulation disorders and thyroid illnesses, particularly Graves' disease and Hashimoto's disease. Dr. Brownstein provides case histories and information about how treating defects in the coagulation system will significantly improve the health of those suffering from chronic illness.

Overcoming Thyroid Disorders by David Brownstein, MD provides a wealth of information about thyroid disorders. This book contains a lot of information, in an easy to read and understand format. I cannot recommend this book highly enough to both patients and practitioners alike.

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