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Dr Lowe Q&A – Exercise and Fibromyalgia

October 29, 1997

Question: Have fibromyalgia patients who have had significant improvement using your protocol also been able to lose weight that was gained WITH the onset of fibromyalgia?

Dr. Lowe: In two of our blinded studies, in which fibromyalgia patients improved or recovered with the use of T3, there was no change in the patients’ average weight. In another of our studies, patients lost a significant average amount of weight. (The average weight decreased from 136 lbs to 133 lbs.)

Laboratory tests indicated that only in one study did patients lose lean tissue mass, and the loss was very slight. It is common for fibromyalgia patients to accumulate body fat after developing fibromyalgia, and it is not unusual for them to lose the fat as they undergo metabolic therapy.

If fibromyalgia patients are to markedly improve (including depletion of excess body fat), however, they must engage in exercise to tolerance. Whereas before beginning metabolic therapy many patients are not able to exercise, after beginning therapy their ability to exercise without adverse consequences increases remarkably. The patients in our studies did engage in exercise. In general, increased activity decreases body fat, but it also increases lean tissue mass. Because lean tissue is heavier than fat, the result is that the patient’s weight loss during therapy is not proportional to the amount of fat lost. Thus, using weight to assess fat loss during metabolic therapy can be deceptive.

Let me emphasize that taking thyroid hormone to lose weight without consuming a wholesome diet, taking nutritional supplements, and participating in regular exercise to tolerance is self-abusive. The patient doing so runs a high risk of detrimental consequences. On the other hand, many fibromyalgia patients are hypometabolic due to thyroid hormone. These patients by using thyroid hormone, good diet and nutrition, and exercise can improve their health in many ways, including possible depletion of excess body fat. At the same time, by using this regimen they decrease their susceptibility to potentially life-threatening pathological processes, such as cardiovascular and liver diseases.

Jackie Yellin has asked that I add a comment from her. She has been a rigorous aerobic exerciser her whole life. Until she began taking thyroid hormone as a treatment for her fibromyalgia, losing weight was very difficult for her. Now, shesays, she can lose weight more easily as she exercises. But (and she said to emphasize the “but”), she still has to exercise!

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