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.
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.
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.
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.
When a recent series of lab tests revealed that I was hypothyroid, I contacted a nurse practitioner friend and asked her what books she might recommend. She told me that Dr. Arem's book was not only the one she recommended to her patients, but the one she kept in her office. I now understand why.
Before I was even given my medications, I was able to better understand my disease ... and to see how many times I had been diagnosed with another ailment because the symptoms of hypothyroid are so similar to clinical depression and perimenopause. I found myself both a little angry and a little relieved as I read this book, wondering how many health issues might have been resolved many years ago if my doctors had tried a simple blood test (as a new physician did) instead of dismissing my symptoms as "merely part of growing older."
I will admit that I skipped sections on hyperthyroidism, thyroid cancer and thyroid disease relating to fertility ... but the good news is that they are there should I need to reference them at any point.
This book is an outstanding read for a layman, whether it is themselves or a family member for whom they are gathering information. Dr. Arem provides information on which vitamin supplements to consider along with medical treatment, how to start taking exercise if one has previously been unable to do so due to thyroid-related joint pain and so on.
I'm one who likes to study what's going on with my body, and this book was (and will continue to be) an outstanding resource. Highly recommended!
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.
on November 7, 2011
Don't bother getting any other books on the subject!
After reading this one you will know more about the realities of Thyroid Problems and solutions (and similar conditions that look like or go with Thyroid Problems) than any other book can tell you! (You will also realize that most of the other authors are just making stuff up!) I read through about a dozen other books, that were highly recommended, on Thyroid Problems. This was the only one that used science and reality as a foundation.
Ridha Arem is an endocrinologist. He started out as a psychologist and realized that a lot of his patients were not having mental problems (despite what their doctors were telling them). He then went on to become an endocrinologist because he realized that very little real research was being done in the field of thyroid problems, and that there was a huge need. He had accidentally stumbled into some solutions to the thyroid problems that made him want to make a significant impact on the huge numbers of untreated thyroid patients; especially for hypothyroid patients, who suffered but were ignored until their symptoms were life threatening!
This book is easy to read and FULL of great information!
I think that my favorite part of this book is all the quizzes that allow one to determine if one really has a Thyroid Problem, or if it is a similar condition that shares a lot of the same symptoms.
My next favorite part is where the book informs readers of conditions to watch for. Apparently, if you have certain conditions, they tend to run in parallel. If women have issues with uterine fibroids, endometriosis, or sleep apnea, these could instead be symptoms of hypothyroidism. If you have lupus, you could be more likely to become hypothyroid. There are lots of lists of this kind of helpful information that can help one to gain an accurate diagnosis of what is REALLY the problem!
Ridha Arem also discusses why diagnosis' are so poor. Endocrinology is, apparently, still very poorly understood. The workings of the brain and the endocrine system have not had a lot of advances until the last decade or so; and most doctors have no training in either field, more or less the advances that have occurred since they left medical school.
So, if your numbers are outside of .6 to 2.0, or if your numbers go up and down more than .1, then you should be reading Ridha Arem's (M.D.) "The Thyroid Solution"!
This book saved my life!!!
(The only other book that was of any use at all, was Kathryn R. Simpson's (MS) "The Women's guide to Thyroid Health". This book has some good information along with some clearly bogus information...)
on September 18, 2013
As a patient who has been diagnosed with borderline hyperthyroidism, I have been gathering as much information as I can about thyroid disorders. In terms of well-researched information, this book is definitely one of the most thorough and informative. And for that I give it three big stars. The reason I didn't give it an additional two stars is because this resource left me feeling more depressed, hopeless -- and even terrified -- after I read all the standard options for hyperthyroid treatment.
The "solutions" outlined by the author seem nothing short of barbaric and inhumane and outdated -- often worse, in many ways, than enduring the actual disease itself. The author's brutal honesty about the severity, side effects, and risks of the various hyperthyroid "solutions" or treatments is commendable -- yet not at all reassuring to the patient faced with frightening decisions. Would you like to have your thyroid gland nuked with radioactive iodine and then be forced to take thyroid meds for the rest of your life? Or would you prefer an unpredictable course of antithyroid meds that could possibly damage other organs while temporarily "treating" your thyroid symptoms...??
The fact that there are no real cures for thyroid disease is not the fault of the author, of course. But after reading this carefully researched book, I was more inclined to go untreated than to try any of his "Solutions." Sadly, alternative or naturopathic therapies are not included, which was another disappointment. One can only hope that there have been at least a few medical advances -- or new research -- in thyroid endocrinology since this book was "revised" in 2007. I purchased the book in late 2013, and kept reminding myself that the information in the book was updated nearly 7 years ago. I am hoping there's something more hopeful in the way of treatment and reference sources for thyroid patients in the future.
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.
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.