thyroid demyelination

Thyroid Dysfunction With Medication or Vaccine Induced Demyelinating Diseases

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It is always amazing to me when seemingly disparate research articles come across my desk and within an instant there is a shift in understanding. That is what happened over the last two weeks, community members from different disease groups shared research articles. From the Gardasil community: CNS Demyelination and Quadrivalent HPV Vaccination .  From our friends at Thyroid Change: Triiodothyronine Administration Ameliorates the Demyelination/Remyelination Ratio in a Non-Human Primate Model of Multiple Sclerosis by Correcting Tissue Hypothyroidism. And I connected some dots.

Thyroid and Neuromuscular Reactions to Gardasil and Lupron

Among the more common side-effects reported by Gardasil injured and a group we are just beginning to study, Lupron injured women, include decreased thyroid function, sometimes associated with Hashimoto’s, thyrotoxicosis or even thyroid cancer. Simultaneously, but frequently viewed as separate or unrelated disease processes, both groups of women report a constellation of neurological and neuromuscular symptoms, many consistent with demyelinating disorders such as multiple sclerosis (MS). Indeed, case reports of central nervous system (CNS) demyelination or MS and Gardasil have been reported (cited above). There may be a connection between the demyelination process and the thyroid injury that develops as an adverse immune response to a drug or vaccine. More importantly, there may be a treatment opportunity.

Thyroid Hormones Affect Myelination

Almost a decade of research conducted solely in animals, rodents and monkeys, shows a connection between decreased thyroid function and demyelination disorders. Specifically, researchers found that administration of the thyroid hormone triiodothyronine (T3) not only improves the clinical course of the MS – like symptoms but effectively switches the disease process from a primarily demyelinating progression to remyelination. That is, the T3 induces cell level responses that regrow the protective myelin sheaths around CNS axons and corrects the medication-induced, tissue level, hypothyroidism. For the young women experiencing the host of neurological and neuromuscular symptoms post HPV vaccine, Gardasil or Cervarix, and/or post Lupron, this research may point to both an etiology and a treatment opportunity – disrupted thyroid metabolism mediated by an inflammatory reaction and T3 supplementation, respectively.

Dysregulated Thyroid in Critical and Chronic Illness

Vast amounts of research show a connection between thyroid function and critical and chronic illness. Hypothyroidism is common in what are otherwise considered ‘euthryoid’ or ‘normal’ thyroid individuals, but whose physiology is so severely stressed by disease or injury, thyroid function is affected. The presentation of diminished thyroid function during severe or chronic illness of unrelated etiology is often difficult to determine and its treatment is controversial. In these cases, thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) is within the normal range in all but about 10% of patients and thyroxine (T4) may or may not be reduced. If and when further analysis is completed, T3, however, is often shown to be significantly diminished, the T4/T3 ratio is larger, reverse T3 (rT3), the T3 deactivating hormone is increased, while the enzymes responsible for converting T4 to T3 are reduced; clear evidence of disrupted thyroid metabolism that can be missed with traditional testing.

With the mixed laboratory presentation and evidence that supplementing with levothyroxine (synthetic T4) does little to improve patient outcomes, treating illness induced thyroid dysfunction is controversial, many physicians and medical organizations argue against treatment. Indeed, even in primary hypothyroidism, treatment with anything other than levothyroxine – T4 is controversial. Perhaps it shouldn’t be. The evidence reported in these animal studies, clearly indicates, T3 dysfunction and consequent supplementation controls the demyelination and remyelination process at the cell level and may improve clinical outcomes.  In this research, T3 supplementation also improved T4 levels without a concomitant onset of hyperthyroidism, the reason often cited for not utilizing T3.

What This Means

If you or your child are suffering with the constellation of symptoms associated with an inflammatory nerve disease such as multiple sclerosis and/or if you have known hypothyroid symptoms in combination with undiagnosed neuromuscular symptoms, it’s time to connect the dots. The two may be related and may require T3 supplementation. Whether these symptoms were initiated with an adverse reaction to a medication such as Lupron, a vaccine such as Gardasil or Cervarix, or by some other process entirely, the research presented here clearly suggests a role for T3 in the array of symptoms associated hypothyroid disease and CNS demyelinating diseases.

Some of the symptoms associated with MS include:

  • Vision problems (optic neuritis)
  • Numbness or tingling of the face, arms, legs
  • Chronic, unexplained pain
  • Muscle spasms – painful muscle contractions
  • Uncontrollable, often painful jerking of the arms or legs
  • Extreme fatigue and weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo (spinning)
  • Balance or gait (walking) problems
  • Hearing problems or loss
  • Seizures
  • Uncontrollable shaking
  • Breathing problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Trouble swallowing
  • Dysfunctional bladder urinating frequently, strong urges to urinate, or inability to hold in urine
  • Bowel problems – constipation, diarrhea, or loss of bowel control
  • Memory problems
  • Concentration problems
  • Language/speaking
  • Depression
  • Rapidly switching moods
  • Uncontrollable moods
  • Inappropriate moods

These symptoms have been noted in post Gardasil or Cervarix reactions, and as we are learning, in post Lupron reactions as well.  Even though these are two entirely different medications with entirely different mechanisms of action, the core reaction illness that ensues is inflammatory and often attacks the thyroid. When the thyroid is compromised, a range of other pathophysiological processes emerge, including demyelination. Certainly, additional research is warranted, but in the absence of time, and in the face of great suffering, T3 testing and supplementation may be indicated.

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Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash.

This article was published previously on Hormones Matter in August 2013.

Chandler Marrs MS, MA, PhD spent the last dozen years in women’s health research with a focus on steroid neuroendocrinology and mental health. She has published and presented several articles on her findings. As a graduate student, she founded and directed the UNLV Maternal Health Lab, mentoring dozens of students while directing clinical and Internet-based research. Post graduate, she continued at UNLV as an adjunct faculty member, teaching advanced undergraduate psychopharmacology and health psychology (stress endocrinology). Dr. Marrs received her BA in philosophy from the University of Redlands; MS in Clinical Psychology from California Lutheran University; and, MA and PhD in Experimental Psychology/ Neuroendocrinology from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.


  1. Liver … does it not convert thyroid
    Fatty liver ..insulin l have which could slow t3 ?
    I have pcos and endometriosis now hysterectomy low energy for many many years
    How can one feel better

  2. I was given lupron Depot injections. From that time to this very day my body is totally damages. My musles in pain, my nerves in pain, my thyroifs all massed up, cannot think straight, I feel and look like mentally I’ll. I am fat now, my body disformed, my neck is cracking noice when turn my head. all the side effects listed I got them fr the lupron. In Michigan you cannot suit a pharmaceutical co. I have been totally destroid by this medication.

  3. Thank goodness for people who look beyond old beliefs and practices. Endocrinology in respect to hypothyroidism is sadly lacking and what is taught in medical schools falls far short of the truth causing much suffering.

  4. I have MS and took Lupron for many years prior to being diagnosed for endometriosis . I am in need of some clarification. Does this mean I should have my T3 level checked and that there is something I can do that would alleviate my syptoms. Would love to know.

  5. Thank you so much for this article!!! I am 24 years post-Lupron and suffer from nearly all of the symptoms you outlined. The symptoms increase with age despite all my efforts, so I became disabled a few years ago. I’m on dessicated thyroid hormone, but tried T3 only without success. I’m wondering what your thoughts are on the interplay between Lupron (or some other medication damage), thyroid hormones and all others…particularly cortisol, estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone which are all very low for me even with supplementation. Would this neural demyelination or simply just a dysregulated thyroid cause hormone resistance generally?? No doc in all these years has been able to balance my hormones or my nervous system dysfunction.

    • Tia, I would suspect that all of the problems are related and that they would worsen over time. The thyroid is instrumental in so many physiological systems that when it is damaged other systems become problematic as well. More specifically though, because the thyroid is integral to mitochondrial functioning and vice versa, and mitochondria are necessary to power cells throughout your body, damaging the thyroid damages the mitochondria. Lupron and many medication also damage the mitochondria directly. So at the heart of many of your symptoms, is likely mitochondrial damage. Believe it or not, on the forefront of mitochondrial medicine and research is the role of nutrients in mitochondrial health and disease. Again, most medications leach nutrients from the mitochondria, in addition to other damaging effects, so the only way ne can heal the mitochondria is through high nutrition therapy and not exposing the body to any more toxicants, to the extent that is possible. We have a lot of articles on mitochondrial damage and health, those should give you some background to get started. Regarding the demyelination, yes, that could be contributing to the thyroid dysfunction and general autonomic dysregulation, again, look towards the mitochondria to rebuild. Finally, if you’d like to share your health story on the blog, that would be great. The more awareness we can bring to the issues, the more we can drive research forward.

  6. Thank you for your post. What you have discussed sounds very similar to what has happened to me. After a 6 month term of Lupron I changed. I had endometriosis before lupron and now have disabling fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue, migraines, weak immune system and severe bone pain, hair loss. I recently had a ultrasound of my thyroid which is prominent and several bilateral hypoechoic nodules and small cystic nodules. My tsh is fine so I am having a nuke scan to rule out cancer but was told there was no need to be on thyroid medication. I have felt I have a thyroid issue for some time but the TSH is always within normal range. Do you know of any doctors in SW Florida who are aware of these issues. I am not being treated well and feel I am on my own trying to research how to get me better.

    • You are welcome Lynette. I don’t know any physicians specifically, but if you reach out to an organization called ThyroidChange, they have a website and Facebook page, they have a list of patient recommended physicians and other resources for thyroid patients. For reference, there are several other tests to be run beyond TSH. Search thyroid on our blog and there are several articles. With Lupron especially, Hashimoto’s is common post medication. Make sure they do the antibody tests. Good luck.

  7. I have anecdotal evidence to support your hypotheses. I started with mild neuropathy from Hashimoto’s disease, mostly very cold feet but not pain, cirva 2004-2010 I had been on Synthetic T3 plus T4. I moved states, changed doctors, and was refused T3. For two years (2010, 2011) I “tried,” the doctor assuring me this was better for my health. During that two years, the neuropathy got worse and worse. In that same period, I was treated with Levaquin + steroids, and as you know, adverse affects of that drug include neuropathy. When I asked the offending doctor about my feet, she suggested I “wear socks” and accept that my severe adolescent idiopathic scoliosis would cause me increasing problems as I age, including reduced citculation. I balked at this given that prior to T3 depletion, my pain management plan for scoliosis had allowed me to exercise and maintain a reasonable level of fitness. I was getting sicker and sicker. I finally found a new endo in 2012. He was shocked at my level of T3 depletion. He gave me a DX for peripheral neuropathy and and Fibromyalgia. He raised my T4 and put me back on T3. He also put me on the autoimmune protocol diet. He said the T3 & AIP would help manage Fibro pain, and it did, for a while. In late 2012, I had a fall, sprained my SI joint. It has yet to heal. I now believe Levaquin weakened tissues. During an MRI to examine the joint, very large cysts were is covered on my ovaries. I also had severe endometriosis. I had a complete hysterectomy, and went into surgical menopause at 48. So, enter hormone hell. I at least had my endo talking to my surgeon and looking at my thyroid numbers relative to the estrogen levels. I had a very rough time getting the estrogen right. I do not know what my progesterone levels are. I had the surgety late October 2012. By Christmas, my neuropathy was just over the top, completely unbearable. I finally see a neurologist in about two weeks. Meanwhile, my good endo suggested a bit of an experiment. We cut my T4 in half – from 150 to 75. And we doubled my Cytomel (T3) from 25 to 50, morning and late afternoon. It has not eliminated my pain, but has reduced it from an 11 to a range between 3 and 8. And since doubling the T3, I have not had any of the worst attacks in the feet, the ones that combined a new level of wet, icy cold with hornet stings, “taser” shocks and the feeling of all the bones being crushed. My pain today is a good 7. But I’m not screaming. I have to believe it is more than coincidence.

    • There are so many struggling with post medication/vaccine effects and often just undiagnosed thyroid disease, I wish I could get more people to rule this out before trying other treatments. Thyroid function is critical to so many aspects of health, it’s just ridiculous that something so simple isn’t addressed. It could ease so much suffering.

  8. Chandler it is fascinating when seemingly disparate groups of knowledge merge their penumbras. They are saying there is a common light source to blend the shadows.
    And so, what common thread brings together ;
    1. Low T3
    2. Demyeliantion of neurones
    3. and a possible link to immunisation?
    Thyroid function is not just measuring TSH to see if the person has end stage irreversable disease. The thyroid is an integral part of the insulin/glucose metabolic function and is intimately coalesced with oestrogen and reproduction.
    (sorry for shouting it! but I didn’t want you to miss the concept that merges the disparate, it is also the main thrust of my research project and when I get excited I tend to yell a lot !)
    To precis my findings, when the endothelial cell luminal insulin receptor is moderated by high levels of E2 then the glucose that is transported into the cell is converted into pre fat instead of energy. The endothelial cell then will become “full” if continually confronted by high levels of Glu from high carbohydrate dietary intake
    .The body makes more insulin as a response to shove more Glu in for energy but E2 is standing at the door and only lets the Glu be made into more fat.Teh blood levels of Glu fall and stimulate adrenaline and cortisol. The cortisol makes the liver produce SHBG’s which are also Thyroid Hormone Binding Globulins that slow the conversion of T4 into T3.
    Intercellular levels of T3 fall and allow the overloaded cell to convert the Glu into a snot like substance called ground substance which it will pump into the extracellular space. This is highly osmotic and will cause damage to surrounding cell membranes ie. to the Scwann Cells and thereby destroy the myelin sheath.
    Consequently if one immunises a female with high E2 (ovulation to period) and she has high carbohydrate intake ( most teenage girls) then in genetically susceptable people who get a generalised mild vasculitis due to the inflammatory response generated by the injected foriegn protein (the vaccine), they will generate the above abnormal reaction.
    So! it all fits together when seen as endothelial dysfunction rather than seperate disease processes, all of which are basically secondary effects to a breakdown in the hormonal miasma creating homeostasis.

  9. This is good news! I’ll pass this on my Multiple Sclerosis nurse contact so she can spread the word to her patients. I was dx’d with MS in 2002 even though symptoms became disabling in 1996. Doctors initially thought I had a rare brain disease or that was their best guess without doing a brain biopsy. Finally, in May 2013 I was dx’d Hypothyroid and now my life is turning around. BTW, my brain lesions and CNS inflammation disappeared 3 years ago, about the time I started taking Coconut oil to help stop head pain. This is another reason docs need to run a full thyroid panel when screening for suspected and confirmed demyelinating diseases.

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