High T3 Levels affect Memory, Language, and Math Ability

Can’t remember anything lately?  Having problems recalling the right words or performing simple math like adding and subtracting?  Taking longer to perform simple cognitive tasks?  You may be on too much T3 if you’re on a high dose of desiccated thyroid or on the T3-only protocol.  The brain has a very narrow range of what it considers optimal T3, and it achieves this by converting any T4 to rT3 if there’s too much T3 coming in, or by converting more T4 to T3 if there isn’t much T3 coming in.  But someone taking no T4 or too much T3 can literally short circuit this mechanism, resulting in severe memory problems.

In one study, females with previous thyroidectomies who were stopping their levothyroxine dose (for more tests) were given cognitive tests when mildly hyperthyroid, normal, and profoundly hypothyroid.  They took the longest to perform the same task when mildly HYPERthyroid, longer, in fact, than when they were profoundly HYPOthyroid!  Graves’ hyperthyroid patients also tend to have problems with attention, memory, and complex problem solving.  [References and more info on this topic at http://tiredthyroid.com/rt3-7.html]

I know I could not do simple subtraction when I was taking T3 + desiccated thyroid, but my math skills returned when I dropped back to just desiccated thyroid.  I feel my memory and thinking have improved even more since I’ve lowered the desiccated thyroid and added some T4.

Has anyone else noticed any changes in their brain power with different levels of T3?  Please share your story.

9 thoughts on “High T3 Levels affect Memory, Language, and Math Ability

  1. Yep. I ran into the trap of thinking that more t3 is better. I think no one should be taking solo t3. High thyroid levels give me diarrhea, fatigue, and forgetfulness. I think a lot of people have adrenal problems that are undiagnosed that make them think that all they need is to add more thyroid.

    As for taking t4 that is also a delicate issue as hyperthyroidism can ensue quite easily. The potential for overdose is still there with t4.

  2. Hi Barb,

    I seem to be the OPPOSITE to you.

    Thyroid Extract (compounded Aussie Armour Equivalent) did absolutely nothing for me. The day I started T3 only my brain fog lifted. Took some months before other things like energy & motivation improved though.

    I am on 100mcg T3 daily by the way & am the best I have been in well over a decade. I can now read a book, watch a movie, have a conversation, cook, shop, garden, sleep ONLY 7-8 hours (as opposed to up to 20hours a day), am never sick, no more Fibromyalgia, no more IBS, no more daily headaches, no more high HR & BP, etc etc.

    Never tried T4 only & no plans to do so.

    • Hi Lethal,

      I’m so glad to hear the T3-only protocol is working for you. But aren’t you the one who has known genetic anomalies? As you said, we are opposites, and my only point in writing this is to point out that we all have different biochemistries, and what works for you would be extremely toxic to me. People need to be able to pick what works best for them, whether that is all T3, all T4, or any combination in between. Mostly T4 turned out to be what works for me, but I missed that simple solution because it is demonized by so many on the internet. T4-only does not work for many people, like you. But T3-only has made others sick too. Both statements are true, it’s not an either-or, as others have made it out to be.

      • I absolutely agree that no single way is best for all. Just posted that very thought on RTH in fact.

        Don’t agree that T4 is demonised by many, certainly be some & with good cause.

        In the vast majority T4 is idolised to the exclusion of all else.

        Certainly those opposing this T4 idolisation can be vocal but they probably feel they have to try & address this imbalance?

        My genetic anomolies are fairly common ones. I have only been tested for 2. I am positive for a single Hemocromatosis gene & a single MTHFR gene. Most Docs & certainly all specialists would tell me that these would cause absolutely no health issues. But I have found treating them has certainly helped me.

  3. I agree that really high T3 can be bad. I had Grave’s and the memory issues were awful. But, now that I have hypothyroid, and after going the T4 only route for many years, I really feel that some of us don’t convert that T4 very well and so we need extra T3. Mine is top of range and I feel great. So, yes, we are all different and no one treatment protocol should be used for us all.

  4. It’s a delicate balance made more difficult by the fact that we are all indeed different.

    For *most* people dessicated thyroid (t4+t3) plus synthroid (T4) seems to work best if optimal lab values are achieved and maintained.

    For me, low T4 means I have no energy. Period. Low T3 means I cannot think. Period. If both Free T3 and Free T4 are above mid-range, I seem to do ok on both counts. Granted, I run a bit high:
    Free T4 must be almost 100% of range
    Free T3 must be above 75% of range

    Exceeding those levels result in symptoms that are almost as bad as being extremely hypo. Math skills out the window, energy levels tank, reasoning skills also diminish.

    Seems it’s been proven over and over that people, especially women, are hormonal creatures. Our brains need these things to function properly. Which is why TSH worshipping doctors are the bane of everyone’s existence.

  5. I just stumbled upon your site and this blog. I applaud anyone who tries to sift through all the confusion and misinformation on the net and in the medical profession.
    I am a little concerned with the tone of the site and these blogs relating to T3 only treatment. Personally, I feel that the tone against T3 only and rT3 treatment on the main page is almost as bad as the way T4 only doctors treat anyone that suggests that TSH is not the end all. One has to read through the heading of the page and the first paragraph before you get to the point that “The T3-only protocol is not for everyone”. I definitely agree that blind permanent prescription of T3 only based solely on the rT3 ratio is not appropriate. But the title and the first paragraph of the site makes it sound like T3 only is as evil as T4 only.
    You say that rT3 does not block T3 reception, but below are a number of sources that describe how rT3 negatively impacts the affect of the T3 that’s in the body. Again, I applaud your great effort to cut through the FUD in the community, but I feel like your content is not free of its own spin and errors.

    Okamoto R et al. Adverse effects of reverse triiodothyronine on cellular metabolism as assessed by 1H and 31P NMR spectroscopy. Res Exp Med (Berl) 1997;197(4):211-7. blocks T3 lower metabolism

    Tien ES, Matsui K, Moore R, Negishi M. The nuclear receptor constitutively active/androstane receptor regulates type 1 deiodinase and thyroid hormone activity in the regenerating mouse liver. J Pharmacol Exp Ther. 2007;320(1):307-13.

    Benvenga S, Cahnmann HJ, and Robbins J. Characterization of thyroid hormone binding to apolipoprotein-E: localization of the binding site in the exon 3-coded domain. Endocrinology 1993;133:1300–1305.

    Sechman A, Niezgoda J, Sobocinski R. The relationship between basal metabolic rate (BMR) and concentrations of plasma thyroid hormones in fasting cockerels. Follu Biol 1989;37(1-2):83-90.

    Pittman JA, Tingley JO, Nickerson JF, Hill SR. Antimetabolic activity of 3,3’,5’-triiodo-dl-thyronine in man 1960; Metabolism;9:293-5.

    Santini F, Chopra IJ, Hurd RE, Solomon DH, Teco GN 1992 A study of the characteristics of the rat placental iodothyronine 5-monodeiodinase: evidence that is distinct from the rat hepatic iodothyronine 5-monodeiodinase. Endocrinology 130:2325–2332.

    • I want to make several points:

      1. We are each entitled to our own opinion, and there are many regarding thyroid treatment. My opinions were formed from the many research articles I’ve read; they do not support the concept that “rT3 blocks the receptors.” One could initially think that was the case, but further research proves that idea to be erroneous.

      2. More than one patient has had serious, negative, life-changing effects on the T3-only protocol. I am not aware of any other source of information that warns them about these negative side effects. Patients should have access to both points of view.

      3. “rT3 blocking the receptor” and “negatively impacting the T3 in the body” are actually two different concepts, which means you understand that rT3 doesn’t really block the receptor. The best analogy would be the number of firemen present at fires. Do you blame the firemen for causing the fire? The larger the fire, the more firemen! So if you eliminate the firemen, then there should be no more fires, right? When someone takes T3-only to eliminate rT3, they have effectively eliminated the firemen, but the “fire” that caused the elevated rT3 in the first place was never addressed. In my opinion, that is not a good idea.

      You posted legitimate references from medical journals, but your oldest reference was from 1960, or 54 years ago! We now have high technology digital microscopes and staining techniques that were not available then. This one shows that rT3 does not block the receptor, and is blocked at the cell membrane: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2647704/figure/F7/

      Your references also confirm what I wrote about on my rT3 page: rT3 naturally rises after surgery (mouse liver), fasting (cockerels), and during pregnancy (rat placenta). It is a natural response to a trigger, and you have to identify and address the trigger. A T3-only protocol only masks the underlying issue.

      I feel that everyone should be able to choose the treatment that works best for them, and if you feel that T3-only works for you, that’s your choice. But I can tell you that it does NOT work for a lot of people. And that is a fact, not an opinion.

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