53 of 57 people found the following review helpful
on July 28, 2008
After receiving radioactive iodine therapy for hyperthyroidism, I experienced a near-complete emotional and mental breakdown soon after: I could not stop crying; I had vivid, violent nightmares; it was extremely difficult to get up in the morning; I had no control over my emotions, and I picked fights with my boyfriend almost constantly. The "possible slight depression" I was warned about in hypothyroid pamphlets from my doctor was much different than what I was experiencing... In my mind, I was going crazy--and I didn't know what to do. A friend came across this book and it was only then that I realized my symptoms were related to severe hypothyroidism and I went in to see my doctor sooner.
My RAI treatment had taken effect very quickly and my thyroid levels were extremely low, which explained my symptoms. Doctors like to warn you that you may "gain weight," an easy physical symptom, but they do not warn you that you may feel like you are losing your mind.
I have struggled with thyroid disease for 18 years, having a sub-total thyroidectomy in my teens for hyperthyroidism, only to have the disease recur in my early thirties. The endocrinologists I have seen during this time treated me based on my TSH, T3 and T4 levels from blood tests--but they never explained to me the level at which my emotional and mental health depends on the balance of these levels. I realize now how dangerous it is to give patients incomplete information.
This book connects the endocrine system to the whole person: the physical, mental and emotional health, with the physical, mental and emotional everyday life of the patient. Without an understanding and an explanation to the patient of these synergies, medicinal treatment alone becomes inadequate and the patient suffers.
If you have thyroid disease or plan to undergo RAI or surgery for treatment, please prepare yourself and read this book. You'll be glad you did.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on May 31, 2009
I read this book, The Thyroid Solution by Ridha Arem, many months ago, so some of my specific recollections are a little hazy, but I do remember thinking that overall it was pretty good--a solid 3 1/2 stars. (I rounded up to four even though it isn't quite up to that.) But even though it's pretty good and worth reading, there were a few respects in which it disappointed.
Dr. Arem's thorough yet understandable exposition of the thyroid, how it works in concert with other bodily systems and organs, and the wide-ranging consequences of deviations from optimal functioning relative to health and well-being is sufficient in and of itself to justify recommendation of this book.
Moreover, Dr. Arem is head and shoulders above the all-too-typical McMedicine types who robotically prescribe Synthroid based only on TSH reference ranges. For example, Dr. Arem recognizes that some patients are unable to convert adequate T3 from T4, so he frequently prescribes T3. And he also recognizes that some people will have to be pushed lower than others on the TSH to really feel good.
Disappointingly, he strongly resists using natural, desiccated whole thyroid in favor of synthetics for reasons that aren't entirely convincing (e.g., that the natural ones aren't sufficiently standardized). In fact, his antipathy toward natural (e.g., Armour) thyroid is so great that he tries to migrate his patients who are already taking it to other "better" synthetics. Perhaps some of his patients would do better if he were more willing to prescribe whole thyroid. For whatever reason(s), some patients respond better (from the patient's perspective) to whole thyroid than even the T4/T3 combo. My impression from reading Dr. Arem's book was that unless a patient came in already on whole natural thyroid, they would be extremely unlikely to be encouraged to try it.
I didn't like the way he spoke slightly dismissively of pioneers such as Broda Barnes as if what he did was OK for the time, but now that we're out of the Stone Age it's time to get sophisticated. (He wasn't as disrespectful as the way I just stated it, but that was substantially the drift.) To some extent this attitude is understandable. Dr. Arem and most other modern practitioners rely heavily on lab/blood results (which weren't available to clinicians of earlier times), but one wonders if modern reliance on the labs sometimes detrimentally takes precedence when in conflict with clinical symptoms.
His overly cautious thoughts regarding iodine supplementation are likely to be unhelpful for at least some patients. While acknowledging its importance, he's inordinately concerned that people will take too much. (There is evidence that the problem is overwhelmingly in the other direction: many people suffer because they ingest too little; his worries will probably scare some from taking enough iodine to help themselves.)
Basically, my impression is that Dr. Arem is a very competent medical professional with more empathy for his patients than a typical doc (which isn't saying much, unfortunately). He's probably more completely successful with a higher proportion of thyroid patients than most endocrinologists (based on his prescribing of T3 inter alia). Similarly, it is likely that his book will be helpful to most who are seeking solutions to thyroid issues. But there will still be a few who should wish the "Stone Age" Broda Barnes were still around. (Barnes is gone, but his writings are still here and there are some clinicians who've continued to blaze his trail and who could help at least some of those for whom Dr. Arem's approach proves to be less than ideal.)
Go ahead, read this book and be prepared to find it helpful. For many, this book will be enough. But if it doesn't get you 100% to where you need to be, don't think it's the last word.
36 of 39 people found the following review helpful
I have been researching thyroid imbalances for over a decade, have read most of the books on the subject, and this was one of the better books, ahead of its time, when first published in 1999. It still contains many good explanations and - as one reviewer says - will make you much better informed than your doctor (almost any doctor, including most endocrinologists!).
However, today it is FAR better to read "Stop the Thyroid Madness" which is right up to date, wonderfully practical and detailed, and based on the experiences and feedback of thousands of thyroid patients. A lot of that information is also available on the website of the same name. That book shows just how outdated most doctors are. Sorry, but it's true.
If you also want a book written by a "professional", I'd suggest:
- "Hypothyroidism Type 2; The Epidemic" by Mark Starr ("type 2" meaning the thyroid problems for which there are no lab tests and therefore they don't get diagnosed), which shows how to see the low-thyroid signs for yourself and how all chronic pain is linked to low thyroid, including those involved with diabetes, heart problems, both bleeding & blood clots (including strokes) and some cancers
- Hypothyroidism, Health & Happiness: The Riddle of Illness Revealed by Steven F. Hotze, a good introduction.
Also visit the Broda Barnes Foundation website and click on the "educational info" on the left for how to get a list of the few thyroid-sympathetic doctors in your state.
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2008
I was lucky to live in Houston when I found myself hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat. After testing I was found to have Graves disease. The first book I picked up on the subject was Dr. Arem's. Not only was it an excellent source of information, his office was just a couple miles from my home. This book explained a lot of what I had been through for many years, knowing that something was very wrong with my health, only to be told by every kind of doctor that I should see a shrink. And I'm a VERY happy person! I did have RAI treatment directed by Dr. Arem. He monitored me so closely that I didn't have wild swings in my levels post treatment. Five years later I'm doing very well. I really thank my lucky stars I finally fell into the right hands and his book put it all into perspective. I finally feel like I have a clear understanding of what was happening to me.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on April 1, 2014
Pros: He does a good job of explaining the relationship between the thyroid and conditions that are often thought to be psychological. He gives medical treatment advice that seems good and original (although since I never tried it and am not a doctor, I can't say more than that).
He also discusses ways to manage the situation where, once the thyroid becomes functional, the body doesn't catch up and the symptoms don't go away immediately.
The book seems comprehensive in terms of thyroid problems.
Cons: His diet advice seemed self-contradictory and arbitrary. He says that controlling calories and exercising more doesn't work in the real world for losing weight, and then advises controlling calories and exercising for losing weight and gives a basic 'intro to exercise' exercise plan. (As someone who has been overweight much of my life, I find it demeaning when someone assumes that because you are overweight you don't exercise, and one might assume that someone motivated enough to read a book about thyroids might already have figured exercise.)
Given that the trend nowadays is to promote saturated fats as a healthy alternative to vegetable oils such as canola or safflower, and many people do well with that both for thyroids and weight loss, I was surprised at his insistence on not eating saturated fats. It seemed like he was just repeating popular belief about what is "healthy".
Similarly, he encourages the reader to eat soy, and then comments it MAY have deleterious effects on the thyroid. Maybe it's just me, but if I were reading a book because I had a thyroid problem, and someone said a food MAY cause a problem, well, I wouldn't want to eat it. You know.
Lastly, as a female, I found his comments on the female reproductive urge and what women "really want" in that department to be somewhat bemusing and cliche.
All in all...it seems it is useful for his area of specialization - diagnosis and treatment of thyroid problems, as well as managing psychological effects - but I'd recommend taking the rest with a grain of salt.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on August 30, 2011
And I'm not kidding.
I was diagnosed with Graves disease (hyperactive thyroid). My heart rate was 120 bpm at resting rate, and people thought I was a cocaine addict. My endo warned me that if we didn't do something, I'd be dead in a few years from heart failure. He suggested radioactive iodine. Within 6 weeks, I gained 30 pounds (ended up gaining 80!), felt like I had rigor mortis, and was depressed. My thyroid was officially dead. RIP.
Fast-forward several months. I'm on Synthroid, and have weekly visits with a psychiatrist for severe depression. I'm also on 3 Prozacs a day and a tranquilizer, with numerous visits to emergency rooms for anxiety attacks. The shrink wanted to wait one more month and try lithium. I asked what if that didn't work. He said then we would talk about hospitalization.
Yeah -- the psych ward.
A few days later I stopped by a book store and happened to see The Thyroid Solution as a featured book in the store. I picked it up and see an entire chapter on depression.
Oh my God -- I'm reading my life in this book....
Read the book cover-to-cover in 24 hours, called my endo and told him I wanted Cytomel in addition to the Synthroid. He replied that he didn't think it would help, but he was willing to prescribe it.
Within two weeks I was off the prozac -- no more shrink, no more tranquilizers, no more anxiety attacks. Lost some weight, muscles don't seize up anymore, other hypothyroid symptoms easing up.
So -- it saved my life.
And people -- this guy is an endocrinologist. Had he not mentioned that I needed Cytomel (T3), I'd probably be in the looney bin by now. My own endo dropped the ball on this.
This book is a MUST READ for thyroid patients.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on July 3, 2008
This writer's medical background is clearly demonstrated in this thorough, thoughtful, useful book on the thyroid and what can go wrong with it. If you have a thyroid condition (or fear that you might) you need to read this book.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2012
Yes, as the other reviewers point out 'The Thyroid Solution..' is a comprehensive look at thyroid diseases. It goes into great detail about how the thyroid works, causes of thyroid problems, the myriad of symptoms caused by thyroid disease, etc. It is told in a professional yet understandable manner. The book is most certainly a must read for anyone with serious thyroid issues where surgical intervention is contemplated. Yet for the vast majority who suffer from mild/moderate hypothyroidism without complications I think buying this book is overkill and worse, it might be a bit frightening due it its sizable discussion of severe thyroid disease, such as thyroid cancer. I felt as though only 30% of the book was applicable to me, someone suffering with mild hypothyroidism, and the rest was for those relatively few who are really having a tough time.
Bottom line: everything you always wanted to know about the thyroid ... and a WHOLE LOT MORE.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on September 29, 2008
I highly recommend this book to anyone who suspects they might be having a thyroid problem. It is well-written and you don't need a medical degree to understand it. I struggled with symptoms of hypothyroidism for 4 years and saw an internist, my ob/gyn and an endocrinologist. None of them would listen to me. They just wanted to give me an anti-depressant and send me on my way. After reading Dr. Arem's book, I scheduled an appointment. With 1 week, I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer. A week after that, I had surgery. I'm 2 years out and doing great, thanks to Dr. Arem!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on February 7, 2009
If you are taking 100% responsiblitity for your health-
and you want to discuss your "condition" intelligently with your doctors-
THEN THIS BOOK IS A MUST. You will learn facts and find hope, there is a good solution if you pursue it, and this knowlege is priceless. I wish I had known more years ago as I would have taken my low tyroid condition more seriously.