Cytomel is a synthetic thyroid hormone used medically to treat hypothyroidism. It is not recommended for weight loss or to treat obesity, and its use may cause a number of detrimental side effects.
In the United States, Glaxo-Smith Kline manufactures and distributes Cytomel (liothyronine sodium), a synthetic version of the naturally produced thyroid hormone liothyronine (also called T3). Under conditions of normal health, liothyronine increases and regulates the metabolism of fats, carbohydrates and vitamins, it affects protein synthesis, and makes increases adrenaline sensitivity. Liothyronine interacts with most cells, and a deficiency of this hormone can result in abnormal metabolism and development.
According to Rxlist.com, doctors can prescribe Cytomel to treat and prevent certain types of goiters, and to treat hypothyroidism, which is a deficiency in the natural production of liothyronine. Patients with hypothyroidism can suffer symptoms that range from fatigue, weight gain, increased sensitivity to cold, impaired growth, slow speech, loss of hair and a drying or thickening of the skin. Doctors prescribe Cytomel in order to reverse or alleviate these symptoms.
The recommended dosage depends on a number of factors, including the underlying cause of the patient’s hypothyroidism and the patient’s age. Patients suffering from mild hypothyroidism usually begin taking 25 micrograms (mcg) a day and may progress to a maintenance dose of 25 to 75 mcg per day.
Medline Plus, the drug information website of the National Institutes of Health, has issued the following warning regarding the use of Cytomel for weight loss: “Thyroid hormone should not be used to treat obesity in patients with normal thyroid function. Liothyronine is ineffective for weight reduction in normal thyroid patients and may cause serious or life-threatening toxicity, especially when taken with amphetamines. Talk to your doctor about the potential risks associated with this medication.”
According to Drugs.com, taking more than the recommended dosages of Cytomel can result in serious and fatal complications. Overdose symptoms can range from diarrhea, abdominal pain, menstrual irregularities, nervousness, headache and insomnia to profuse sweating, chest pain, rapid heartbeat and labored breathing. Patients may also experience shock, cardiac arrest or congestive heart failure.
In his article “Militant Fat Loss Tricks,” Bodybuilding.com author Jonathan Deprospo suggests that individuals and bodybuilders can use Cytomel to increase their metabolism, burn more calories and shed fat. While he recommends against the “more is better” attitude, Deprospo indicates a “suitable dosage” of 50 to 150 mcg or more daily. He advises bodybuilders to cycle this drug by starting with 25mcg daily for the first week and then adding increments of 25 mcg daily, building up to a maintenance level of 100 mcg daily for two weeks. Individuals should then taper off the drug slowly.
Drugs.com advises patients with a history of heart disease, chest pain or high blood pressure to consult a physician before taking Cytomel, and suggests that individuals with coronary artery damage should begin with lower dosages. Men suffering from testosterone deficiency should have this condition treated before taking Cytomel.
Additionally, any patients taking oral (pill or tablet forms) anticoagulants, aluminum-containing antacids, iron supplements and certain ulcer and cholesterol-lowering medications should take these at different times of the day from when they take Cytomel. The actions of these products can affect how well the body absorbs T3.
Cytomel has caused patients to suffer allergic reactions that may include nervousness, swelling of the lips, tongue or face, labored breathing, leg cramps, hives, closing of the throat, chest pain and irregular heartbeat.
Using Cytomel can also cause detrimental health effects, such as fever, excess sweating, insomnia, irritability, altered menstrual cycles and heightened sensitivity to heat.