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Historical Facts About NDT

Written by Dr. Bjørn Øverbye, 2007

Original language: Norwegian


In the period 1892-1958, there was only one medicine for metabolic failure: Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT). During this period, the doctors defined "low metabolism" as a group of disorders that could be identified via the patient's symptoms and thorough medical work, and which improved or improved with NDT. Here's how people thought at the time:

With love for knowledge

Let it be clear from the start: This is not a site promoting the use of Natural Thyroid (NDT) in favor of synthetic hormones. When we bring up the topic of NDT, it is solely because we are searching for knowledge about why doctors of the past could report so many positive results with NDT before you even got commercially available synthetic hormones.

When the use of synthetic hormones came into general use is unclear. But it is known that Thyroxin Natrium was registered in Norway in 1950 and Synthyroid in the USA in 1958.

Did the Norwegian authorities allow bad medicine for 8 years?

So in Norway, 1950 is considered the year when "the new era started". This year is tainted with a somewhat curious piece of information. According to the American Drug Administration (FDA), Thyroxin-Natrium was not an FDA-approved drug before the year 2000 because its mode of action was poor.

This could mean that for 8 years the Norwegian Medicines Control Authority allowed the use of a poor-quality medicine for hypothyroidism that was not approved by the FDA. Even more strange: It seems that the authorities in many states allowed the sale of Thyroxin-Natrium despite this.

Today, 50 years later, it is considered in the USA that it was not until 1958 that synthetic thyroxine of good quality came on the market that could compete with NDT. The good product was called Synthyroid. (Steven B Johnson, Division of Pharmaceutical Evaluation Phase II-FDA, 13 March 2003)

We have therefore chosen in this website to use 1958 as the year when reliable synthetic thyroxine (T4) became commercially available, as the year when NDT gained a credible competitor.

A problem based on a misunderstanding

The starting point for our search is to understand what type of medical work was carried out in the period 1892-1958 when NDT was the only therapy offered and which led the doctors to say that they observed improvements in people with metabolic diseases. What did they do that led to completely different conclusions than what opponents of NDT come up with now in recent times?

In this context, we make a clear reservation: We do not believe in any praise from the past. We take advantage of the limited laboratory services of the time. We realize that today's "gold standard" double-blind placebo-controlled trials were not possible to carry out because:

  1. There was only one preparation of good quality against metabolic failure, namely NDT, until 1958. (Thyroxin-Natrium came on the market in Norway in 1950, but in the USA it is stated "in the 50s")

  2. Placebo testing was not used as it would be revealed immediately. That's because if you have a hormone deficiency, you notice that it's a dummy pill because they can't induce a hormonal effect.

We therefore cannot, as many do, blame the doctors of the past for not doing as they do today. The situation was frankly incomparable.

What was found of research must only be assessed as to whether it was good or bad medical work. It is the results from the doctors who did good medical work that we will examine, to see if they can give us an answer as to how good NDT was.

Devotion to provable facts

It is something that strikes one when one reads the positive statements in favor of NDT from 1920 onwards, when doctors such as O. P. Kimball (1933), G. K. Wharton (1939), and then B. Barnes (1976) and a number of other outstanding doctors made his observations, namely this one fact: The good doctors were faithful to a professional ethic based on devotion to reality.

The good doctors were true to reality in that they had faith in the patients' stories and the changes they saw in the patient's body, which they termed as myxedema in one version or another.

Second, they considered it their moral obligation to use the drug they had available, NDT, in such doses that they observed gradual improvement in the sick (Barnes 1976).

Thirdly: The doctors were still working in an age when medical science was not paid by the pharmaceutical industry to prove that certain chemical industrial products should have an advantage over other products. There was only NDT.

First observe, then conclude

The doctors who conducted research and recorded experiences with NDT describe how they assessed the effect by listening to what the patients said about subjective improvements (symptoms) (Barnes page 24)

Furthermore, by observing and touching the patients, they describe how to observe changes in the patient's body shape and body consistency (signs). In addition, to measure muscle strength.

They describe what measurements they made to seek measurable effects of therapy such as:

  1. Weight

  2. Measure blood pressure.

  3. Listen to your heart

  4. Take EKG (already available 120 years ago)

  5. Woltman's sign: Delayed whole-tendon reflex (discovered in 1870)

  6. Measuring the temperature (since the 1920s)

  7. Make measurements of certain blood values that change with metabolism, such as cholesterol, the calcium index, the blood sugar load curve etc.

The doctors thus had good methods for observing changes as a result of taking NDT and the dosed tablets so that the changes became increasingly similar to what we see in healthy people.

Hormone tests in the blood only came much later

Commercial measurements of thyroxine in the blood first came in the 1960s. The test for free thyroxine came in 1965.

Commercial tests for TSH appeared in 1975, but it was not until 1985 that the TSH tests became usable.

But as late as 1992 there was great disagreement among chemists and doctors about the most commonly used Free T4 tests, whether they were at all usable in clinical work.

The discussion regarding whether Free T4 and TSH were in accordance with the facts continued until 2009 (John Midgely 2014). This means that well into our century, much of so-called "modern thyroid research" was fraught with major problems and that placing all trust in laboratory values was not as good as many people today think.

Doctors must learn from nuclear physics

The first generations of thyroid doctors were therefore dependent on observing the results of actions. This is also consistent with another discovery made at the end of the nineteenth century in atomic physics that made physics a brilliant success:

The physicist realized that you could not comment on something until it had happened. (Feynman 1963)

In physics, it became clear that no one can predict what will happen at the atomic level without measurements. This was the reason why many inventive atomic theories that were made before having good measurements were discarded, because the inventive theorists could not provide measurements that supported their assumptions. (Feynman 1963)

Physicists understood that you have to measure what you have to say about, whatever that may be.

This became the cornerstone of physics. You cannot create a theory/mental images accompanied by mathematical models until you have measurement data. Therefore, contemporary physicists were horrified when Einstein stated that mystical experiences were a path to knowledge.

This meant that Einstein did not receive the Nobel Prize for his theory of relativity, because he claimed to have constructed it on principles that had not yet been explained by measurement. He did, however, get it for the explanation of Planck's photo-electric experiment.

Medicine is not science until one has observed

This will necessarily also apply to the medicine, you cannot comment on a medicine until you have measured its effect on the individual patient. The observations must then be able to be described in understandable language that points to a recognizable reality. (Korzybski 1994)

Since people's ability to react to a drug depends on a number of factors, the measured and observed effect will depend entirely on what the patient experiences and the doctor records.

It is therefore virtually impossible to carry out medical activities, dose the sick with standard doses, and forget the basis for objective materialistic science, namely the ability to observe.

The doctor must train patients to understand what is happening in their own body so that the patient can tell the doctor what is happening. The doctor must then observe what is happening. (Skrabanek and McCormick).

One cannot have any meaningful conversation about NDT versus Thyroxine and whether one is better than the other. One can only determine the observations made by the patient himself and by the doctor using medical tools.

Therefore, according to Professor Broda Barnes and others with him; without accurate observation made by patients and by doctors with their tools, there is no basis for a credible expression of opinion in a debate or in argumentation in front of patients and colleagues.

Continuing this logical consideration, we ask you who are reading this;

Does a person get better with synthetic hormone than with NDT? What will this person then use?

Someone else only gets better with NDT and not with synthetic hormone, what should this person use?

We leave the conclusions to the reader, because this was intended as a summary of historical facts and not a discussion of one versus the other.

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