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Thyroid UK
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Perpetuating The Myth ! (Programme On Radio 4)

Please contact this programme presenter and/or Dr Vanderpump!

Radio 4's "Inside Health" again...I have already complained to them once. Listening today to their two weeks ago broadcast, they had on a Consultant Physician and Endocrinologist Dr Mark Vanderpump of The Royal Free Hospital. I knew it was downhill all the way when he was asked the question "so, is the synthetic thyroid hormone exactly the same as our natural hormone"? "YES" he says !!!!!!! He also advocates "Our Holy Miracle Of The Infallible TSH Test" (

for those of you who haven't yet seen it) as THE test that "we all go by". and finished off of course by "you can find further help and advice by following our links" which of course lead us to The British Thyroid Foundation! Oh dear, what work we all still have to do!

This programme reaches millions, it is available for a year after broadcast so it reaches more millions, this stuff is very damaging and I think if some of us on here could complain then we would have at least put a bit of pressure on.

The programme presenter is Dr Mark Porter. Here is the link to the programme if you want to hear it for yourself, it is on toward the end. bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pp5zj The place to make a comment is on their actual website, not on the "listen again" podcast. I wrote to Dr Porter last year in March after a similar programme. His response then was that it was too late to do anything about it now, (having only The British Thyroid Foundation on the link....) Well, there's no excuse as to why TPAUK and Thyroid Uk were not on there this time!! I think if members of the forums wrote saying how much TPAUK and Thyroid Uk had helped them it might help to get our organizations on their links. It does help to state that the organizations are Charities, that can make people more ready to listen.

22 Replies


I can be as annoyed about the TSH test, the BTF, and so on as anyone. But to ask a specific question:

What do you claim is the difference between a molecule of thyroxine/T4 when it is produced in your thyroid from one that has made it into your bloodstream from a tablet of synthetic levothyroxine?

I ask so that we can get clarity here.


If thyroid-produced thyroxine and synthetic levothyroxine were indeed bio-identical then why does this paper, link below, say:

"T4 treatment displays a compensatory adaptation, but does not completely re-enact normal euthyroid physiology. This invites a study of the clinical consequences of this disparity."

I think this vindicates Phoebs.





Got bit between teeth now, shall I keep going? Lots more to dredge up from internet. Mixed metaphors, but readers will get the point.


link does not work to Mercola site, correct one is:

articles.mercola.com/sites/... -worse.aspx


Aaargh, curses, metaphorical ones, of course...third time lucky.


If still not right then just go to articles.mercola.com and use the search box.


This one works for me :)

Article title is:

Are Synthetic Thyroid Drugs, Like Synthroid, Actually Making Your Condition Worse?



Right folks. The issue here is in several parts.

First, hydration. The recent MHRA Levothyroxine report goes on quite a bit about the differences between levothyroxine (anhydrous) and levothyroxine pentahydrate and, indeed, at least implicitly, about other hydration states of levothyroxine.


Part of the difference shown in the two diagrams is because the Synthroid one is shown with xH2O – which means with some, indeterminate, amount of hydration.

Do bear in mind that whatever the hydration level of Synthroid, or any other source of T4 including desiccated thyroid, when in the form of a tablet, by the time it is in your blood it fully be fully hydrated.

Second. Another difference is that the Synthroid is shown with a Sodium atom (Na) replacing one of the Hydrogen atoms of Thyroxine.

Now why is the Sodium there? Well, what a surprise, I wrote a blog about this back in October 2012:


Somewhere between putting in your mouth and it actually working as thyroxine in your body, that sodium atom gets replaced by a hydrogen atom. I am no biochemist, but the most obvious place for this is the stomach. But, without having anything to hand to demonstrate that, this is simply a guess.

Third. The remaining differences (I think) are entirely due to how the people decided to draw the diagrams. They have absolutely NOT been drawn to the same standards or conventions.

I have to say, I had forgotten that article, and remember being somewhat surprised that Mercola used the diagrams from GreenMed Info apparently uncritically. And I am very unimpressed that we are shown two pictures which are obviously visually different and allowed to assume that there are as many real differences as there are apparent differences.

Somewhat ironically, you can go to the Armour prescribing information and see a diagram which is very much closer to Synthroid (i.e. Levothyroxine sodium) than to the Thyroxine as per Mercola and GreenLine Info.


I would go so far as to suggest one of two possibilities. Either lack of understanding or a deliberate choice to manipulate the reader by someone, somewhere (not Mercola - he merely propagates it).

If you think I have got anything wrong, please let me know. I would far rather have a bit of egg on my face now than realise in ten years’ time that I have been telling people an untruth because no-one pointed it out to me!



There might indeed be a need for T3, there might be all sorts of issues regarding how any levothyroxine is taken and absorbed. But is there any atomic/molecular difference between endogenous and exogenous T4 once in the bloodstream?

Must listen to the program - have got it waiting - but whilst I am more than happy with the idea that a hypothyroid person taking only T4 might not get 100% well, it does seem to me to be important to recognise why that might be. And at the "how the atoms join together" level of the molecules, I am not aware of any proved differences within the bloodstream.


Surely Mercola's diagrams prove there is a difference between ex. and en. T4? I do not see how this difference can be miraculously altered once the ex.T4 hits the bloodstream.


Sorry - responded under branch above!


This link shows you how they are different and why the difference is important. The synthetic molecule is unprotected. But the natural thyroid molecule is protected by thyrodglobulin. The model shows a direct like for like comparison.


A quick link which explains briefly the complexity of absorption and shift about in relation to the gut.


This link is extremely interesting as it outlines the absorption levels of the two products (among lots of other things!)



thyroglobulin - sorry typo


I am more than happy to accept that the whole delivery process is different in many ways.

I suspect that a thyroglobulin molecule is too large to be transferred through the gut wall. So perhaps, whatever happens between a pig's thyroid and the human gut wall, what actually gets transferred through that wall is simply the thyroxine (or liothyronine) molecule?

But regardless, once the synthetic levothyroxine molecule is in the human bloodstream, I believe there is no way it is different to exogenous thyroxine.

I do, however, believe that there might be any number of reasons that taking Levothyroxine sodium tablets might well be inappropriate or non-optimal for many, many people. Indeed I have communicated some of those reasons to the MHRA as my personal response to their recent Levothyroxine report.

Among these, what breakdown products of that levothyroxine might exist in the tablet by the time someone takes it? And the thyroglobulin might well make a huge difference to both the quantity and nature of any such products.


Looks like a pistols at dawn situation is heading our way. I'll be a second for deskplant as his links are very persuasive


Thanks nostoneunturned, I was just looking for the research. You have helped a lot. I will get back to ya'all when I've taken the dog out for a leap about in the snow, him unfortunately, not me!!


While you were out with the dog look what has happened! Interesting intellectual fisticuffs. Thanks for your initial post otherwise I would never have known of all the interesting links from deskplant and Helvella. Thanks, boys!


I have already written to Dr Mark Vanderpump, either last year or late 2011 as his views are so outdated and he perpetuates the myth that we are all 'out of touch'- and that we know less than the Endocrinologist whom we inform about feeling so unwell on levo. The Daily Mail, I believe, call on him to give explanations about thyroid gland problems and treatment thereof. At least my NHS Endo did allow me to have a trial of T3 added to T4 and it did make an amazing difference. I have since moved on and am well now, thanks to an alternative other than levothyroxine.

Why do the Establishment not listen to us. We may be in the minority of people using levothyroxine that don't feel better but no attempt is made to trial other thyroid hormone. They also stick to the TSH as a diagnosis and ignore clinical symptoms.

1 like

Sorry to join in here at the end, but will most Docs agree to test you for T3?


No scatterby, my GP,s surgery won,t. I am going to keep this info in my email folder, as after having an underactive thyroid for 11years, I,ve finally got an appointment with an Endo on the 21st Mar- will let you all know what I think. Best wishes to all Kathx


Oh my god have I been bogged down with the complexities of molecules....! I am finding out some really interesting stuff but understanding it is really hard as I'm not a scientist so I'll have to get back here after a lot more hard reading! Very interesting comments in the meantime I see. Something else I seem to be picking up from the research papers is perhaps the synthetic thyroxine is not binding properly with all the things that a natural thyroid molecule binds with, different proteins as I think I understand it. So if it can't bind with some of the proteins then that maybe why it doesn't work properly. If that is the reason maybe the way to go is to find a statement somewhere about this (in plain English!). If it's even been done yet. I'm sort of getting it and sort of not.



Nice, nice video. How can I post this to my GP surgery. I am not good with pcs, if you give the instructions my son can do it.


Hi It is a pity as sometimes Mark porter is excellent. it is the one radi/medical programme that consultants always listen to when ever possible!



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