It seems increasingly difficult for consumers to sort out credible medical information from complete bunk. Thyroid conditions have their areas of legitimate medical controversy, but the sheer volume of pseudoscience and dubious advice on offer buries the fact that most thyroid diseases are well understood and highly treatable. Two weeks ago I examined a clinical trial that answers an important question about whether or not treating a laboratory-diagnosed form of low thyroid offers patients any meaningful benefits. Since that post I’ve received several emails and messages from people seeking more information about treating thyroid dysfunction. I was pointed to a thyroid post on Goop which I have to admit, left me a bit shocked. Sure, Goop’s advice is dubious, but I didn’t realize the website lets totally unqualified individuals give medical advice, especially when that advice is based entirely on claimed communication with the spirit world. This was my introduction to Anthony William, the “Medical Medium”, whose apparent claim to fame is channeling ghosts that give medical advice. Since William was also on your list of suggested blog topics for me to write about, I couldn’t resist diving in. Take a deep breath.
Ignorance of science is seemingly no barrier when you have the spirit
The website Psychic Gurus (yep) tells me that a medium is someone who can communicate with spirits (spirit guides, angels, etc.). All mediums are also psychics, but not all psychics are mediums. It’s worth noting at this point that no medium has ever been proven to be legitimate. Probably the strongest critics of mediums are the “mentalists”, who know it’s all a con, and are more up-front about the fact that any apparent “skill” of a medium is based on insights derived from the real world, and not based on supernatural abilities.
Anthony William has an extensive and detailed disclaimer on his Facebook page which gives a more concise summary of his qualifications than his own biography. In short, he advises:
- His information is not a substitute for medical information or advice
- You should never disregard medical advice based on his writing
- He is not a medical doctor or healthcare professional
- You should speak with a medical doctor or healthcare professional before acting on any of his advice
- Quack Miranda, etc.
With that in mind, here’s what William says about his own abilities:
Anthony William was born with the unique ability to converse with a high-level spirit who provides him with extraordinarily accurate health information that’s often far ahead of its time. Since age four, when he shocked his family by announcing that his symptom-free grandmother had lung cancer (which medical testing soon confirmed), Anthony has been using his gift to “read” people’s conditions and tell them how to recover their health. His unprecedented accuracy and success rate as the Medical Medium have earned him the trust and love of thousands worldwide, among them movie stars, rock stars, billionaires, professional athletes, best-selling authors, and countless other people from all walks of life who couldn’t find a way to heal until he provided them with insights from Spirit. Anthony has also become an invaluable resource to doctors who need help solving their most difficult cases, and has recently released his NY Times Best Seller “Medical Medium.”
The Spirit’s views on hypothyroidism
Judging by William’s writing, his spirits are channeling straightforward alternative medicine approaches. His advice seems largely similar to the pseudoscience that you see offered by naturopaths, homeopaths, and other alternative-to-medicine practitioners today. Reading his writing, you’ll quickly discover you have adrenal fatigue. Gluten needs to be avoided. You need a detox, and so on. But the thyroid seems to be a focus for William, likely because he has a book about thyroid on the way. There’s just too much to wade through in William’s 7,000+ word opus to respond point by point, so I’ll touch on some of the highlights. (TL; DR: William blames the Epstein Barr virus for causing thyroid issues, and recommends herbs and supplements to cure it.) William’s advice isn’t supported by any credible evidence, yet that doesn’t stop him from making very specific statements about the causes and treatments of thyroid disease:
|The Medium||The Science / The Translation
|“because without true insight into what causes thyroid illness, medical communities aren’t yet able to offer remedies that heal the underlying problem”||There are safe effective medical treatments for thyroid conditions that can enable people to live normal lives without symptoms.|
|“Currently, the autoimmune theory proposes that in certain conditions, a person’s immune system becomes confused and starts attacking part of the body. In the case of Hashimoto’s, patients are told that the immune system mysteriously produces antibodies that target and damage the thyroid gland as though it were a foreign presence. This hypothesis will not hold up over time. Why? Because it’s not the real answer.”||Hashimoto’s thyroiditis (chronic autoimmune thyroiditis) is a common cause of hypothyroidism, seen in up to 10% of the population. There is sequential thyroid failure duo to an immune dysfunction. The cause is believed to be a combination of combination of genetic susceptibility combined with environmental factors.|
|“What medical research has not yet uncovered is that the body never attacks itself; it only goes after pathogens.”||There are numerous autoimmune diseases where the relationship to infection is unclear or unproven.|
|“It’s also important to keep in mind that while science has advanced in its understanding of many aspects of physical function, the thyroid gland remains largely a mystery.”||Most mysteries of the thyroid can be addressed by consulting medical resources, or asking an endocrinologist.|
|“In over 95 percent of today’s thyroid disorders, including Hashimoto’s and even thyroid cancer, Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is the cause.”||There is no evidence this is the case.|
|“(The other 5 percent of thyroid problems come from radiation exposure due to chest X-rays, dental exams, and/or plane travel.)”||Ditto.|
|“It [the thyroid] uses this memory of homeostasis to transmit radio-like frequencies (not yet detected or measured by medical science or research) that delegate tasks and responsibilities to multiple body systems and organs.”||How the thyroid, and thyroid hormones work, is well documented. As evidence by thyroid replacement therapies, medical science has developed an effective treatment.|
|“When EBV enters the scene, this ideal functioning gets thrown off, which in turn throws off the entire endocrine system. To compensate and power the body, the adrenal glands pump out excess adrenaline, which is one of EBV’s favorite foods. The virus feasts on the adrenaline in order to get stronger, multiply, and go after its ultimate target: the nervous system.”||No. Virus don’t eat adrenaline.|
|“Hypothyroidism can cause body temperature fluctuations, a bit of fatigue, and dry skin—that’s it. What about all the other symptoms typically associated with low thyroid hormone levels? They’re symptoms of the EBV that’s infecting the thyroid, not low levels of thyroid hormones. Aches and pains, muscle weakness, memory issues, mood changes, and more: these are viral symptoms, not a result of hypothyroidism.”||Thyroid replacement alleviates symptoms of hypothyroidism. They are not symptoms of an EBV infection.|
|“What’s really happening is that back when Epstein-Barr was in Stage Two and hiding out in your liver, it weakened the organ and burdened it to the point of creating a sluggish liver.”||There’s no such thing as a “sluggish liver”.|
|“It’s worth noting that even if haven’t been diagnosed with a thyroid condition, a viral infection of the thyroid and the effects I just described could still be behind your struggles to lose weight.”||(Here’s where the supplement pitch begins.)|
|“In some cases, instead of causing an underproduction of thyroid hormones, EBV prompts the thyroid to overproduce them. This is called hyperthyroidism—and the diagnosis that many people with hyperthyroidism receive is Graves’ disease, an illness tagged as autoimmune that leaves far too many patients feeling that their bodies have let them down.||William isn’t even internally consistent, blaming EBV for both promoting and suppressing thyroid function.|
|“It wasn’t until the publication of my first book, Medical Medium: Secrets Behind Chronic and Mystery Illness and How to Finally Heal, which includes a chapter on hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s, that the truth finally reached the public about EBV as that underlying cause.”||There is no clear evidence EBV causes Hashimoto’s, despite William’s claim.|
|“It’s time to reclaim your power and understand that Hashimoto’s is a label and not a judgment or life sentence. The reason for your suffering does not come from within. Your immune system is not going haywire or out to get you. It’s this virus—this invader—that’s causing the damage, making you feel miserable, and holding you back in life. Your body just needs the proper support, which I’ll describe soon, to triumph over the virus.”||Hypothyroidism is almost always a lifetime treatment.|
|“When the immune system isn’t able to destroy the virus altogether, it goes with its fallback option: attempting to wall off the virus with calcium. That’s what thyroid nodules are: calcium prisons for EBV cells.”||There’s no evidence of this.|
|“Your body fights for you. Your body is on your side. Your body loves you unconditionally. It just happens to be up against a pernicious adversary—one that can be tamed with the right approach.”||In essence, your disease, your fault.|
|“With adrenal fatigue, the adrenal glands can produce adrenaline and cortisol erratically, sometimes flooding the bloodstream and sometimes holding back. In this case, your adrenals may be overactive when you’re getting your blood drawn even if the doctor’s office is your favorite place in the world, and so, again, the results can be inaccurate.”||Adrenal fatigue is a fake disease.|
|“Millions of women unknowingly walk around with hypothyroids that wouldn’t register on today’s tests.”||Hypothyroidism is laboratory-diagnosed. There is legitimate medical debate about treating laboratory-diagnosed thyroid dysfunction when there are no symptoms.|
|“If your thyroid is in need of help, you’ve come to the right place. Below are foods, herbs, and supplements that can help restore a damaged thyroid, strengthen the other glands of the endocrine system, and lower the viral load specifically within the thyroid—as well as insight into iodine and a warning about a food trend that’s derailing many who suffer with thyroid issues”||There are no specific foods, herbs or supplements required to treat hypothyroidism.|
|“Among the most healing foods for thyroid conditions are Atlantic dulse, wild blueberries, celery, sprouts, cilantro, garlic, asparagus, radishes, kale, parsley, butter leaf lettuce, spinach, hemp seeds, coconut oil, Brazil nuts, kelp, and cranberries. Variously, they can kill EBV cells, provide micronutrients, repair thyroid tissue, reduce nodule growth, flush toxic heavy metals (which feed EBV) and viral waste, and boost production of thyroid hormones. For maximum benefits, consume at least one cup each of wild blueberries, celery, cilantro, and asparagus daily.”||You cannot heal Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism with food, and specific foods will not “boost” thyroid function or “flush toxic heavy metals”.|
|“No matter what food belief system you subscribe to, whether paleo, vegetarian, or the like, it’s a good idea to remove eggs, dairy products, pork, canola oil, soy, corn, and gluten from your diet while you’re dealing with a thyroid issue. It’s not that these foods cause inflammation, which is the theory you might have heard. Rather, these foods feed EBV, and then the EBV creates inflammation.”||There is no need to remove any foods from your diet in the belief you are “feeding” EBV.|
Same whine, new bottle
William the “Medical Medium” offers alternative medicine, with a supernatural twist. William may genuinely believe he has a gift. But he has no medical knowledge or training. His ignorance of medical science is evident from his dismissal of it. It’s worth remembering that William has enough sense (or caution) to write a disclaimer that emphasizes that anything he says should be reviewed with a medical professional. If you’re seeking credible, science-based advice on thyroid issues, this medical professional’s advice is to ignore anything suggested by the Medical Medium, and to discuss your questions with your family doctor or an endocrinologist.
Photos via medicalmedium.com and flickr user clairewinterphotography.