Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Thyroid Health: Is it Safe to Use?

Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Thyroid Health: Is it Safe to Use?

It may come as a surprise to thyroid patients, but there are plenty of over-the-counter supplements that have the potential to cause problems with your thyroid. 

Even though some supplements may be beneficial for certain conditions doesn’t mean they will play well with your thyroid condition. 

The supplement we are going to talk about today is one of those nutrients that gets some negative press in the thyroid community: Alpha lipoic acid. 

Alpha lipoic acid, abbreviated as ALA, is a very powerful antioxidant that is frequently used to treat various conditions ranging from diabetes to metabolic disorders, and even weight gain. 

The problem? 

There is at least one study that shows that it might cause problems with your thyroid. 

And in a world where thyroid function should remain top of mind, this can be an issue. 

The advice that most practitioners give you would be to just stay away from this ingredient because why take any risks when you don’t need to? 

And while I can’t argue with that logic, I think there’s more to the story. 

Today you will learn: 

  • More about what alpha lipoic acid is and how it can benefit your body. 
  • More about how alpha lipoic acid may interfere with thyroid function. 
  • Whether or not the pros of using this ingredient outweigh the potential cons to your thyroid.
  • How to use it (if you want to). 
  • And much more…

Let’s jump in: 

What is Alpha Lipoic Acid?

First things first, let’s define what we are even talking about here. 

Alpha lipoic acid is an antioxidant that is created in your mitochondria. 

r and s enantiomers of lipoic acid

It serves a vital role as a cofactor and it is essential for the production of ATP in your cells. 

ATP, of course, is the currency that your cells use to perform just about every function you can imagine. 

Without ATP your cells would cease to function and you’d cease to be alive. 

Outside of this mechanism, alpha lipoic acid has a powerful antioxidant capacity. 

And this is really what most people use it for. 

Antioxidants act to neutralize compounds called oxidants which float around in your cells wreaking havoc. 

Antioxidants neutralize these oxidants and prevent cellular damage. 

This is important because it is cellular damage and inflammation which is thought to be at the heart of just about every major disease. 

Reducing this cellular damage has been shown to have positive benefits in treating conditions like obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and peripheral neuropathy. 

And these are the very conditions that patients use alpha lipoic acid for. 

In fact, one of the more common is weight gain. 

As a thyroid patient, you can probably see where I am going with this. 

Thyroid patients tend to experience many of these metabolic problems including weight gain, insulin resistance, and elevated cholesterol which means that alpha lipoic acid is an attractive supplement. 

But they are often pushed away from using it because of the fear that it may cause further problems with their thyroid. 


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Does Alpha Lipoic Acid Negatively Impact Thyroid Function? 

This fear stems from a study that was done in 1994 which showed that the use of alpha lipoic acid may negatively impact thyroid conversion (1). 

study showing that alpha lipoic acid may negative impact thyroid conversion

Thyroid conversion is the process by which your body takes inactive T4 thyroid hormone and converts it to the active T3 thyroid hormone

Anything that has the potential to negatively impact T4 to T3 conversion has the potential to cause a lot of problems with your thyroid because it may interfere with the production of the most powerful thyroid hormone: T3. 

So, in a sense, it’s absolutely correct to exercise some caution before using an ingredient that may interfere. 

But there’s more to this story that can be found by dissecting the paper in question. 

The first thing to know is that this study was done in an experimental hyperthyroid model in rats (2). 

lipoic acid study done in hyperthyroid induced rats

In other words, these rats were caused to be in a hyperthyroid state and then given lipoic acid to see what would happen. 

This small bit of knowledge changes things quite a bit, here’s why: 

Hyperthyroidism is a state of excess thyroid hormone production where the thyroid conversion process is in overdrive. 

In the majority of cases, treatments are given to these patients to slow down or reduce thyroid conversion to reduce how much thyroid hormone is present

In other words, a treatment for hyperthyroidism is said to be successful if it reduces thyroid conversion (which is what this study showed). 

But just because something reduces thyroid conversion in hyperthyroidism does not mean it will do the same in hypothyroidism. 

For instance, changing up your diet and eating healthy whole foods has the potential to improve thyroid function if you are hypothyroid but also has the potential to reduce thyroid conversion if you are hyperthyroid

Would you go around saying that eating fruit and vegetables is harmful to hypothyroid patients if a research paper showed that they reduce thyroid conversion? 

Not at all!

Because you’d know (I hope) that natural treatments like diet and exercise have a balancing effect on the body and thyroid. 

Their impact isn’t absolute, which is why changing up your diet is pretty much never a bad idea whether you have hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. 

Second, this study was done in rats. 

There’s nothing wrong with doing research on rats (3), but you should know that the results from rat studies can’t always be extrapolated to humans. 

Animal studies give us a very good idea of what type of things we should look into in humans, but it’s rarely the case that the exact results from animal studies can be replicated in humans. 

So in this case, it’s a good idea to take the results from this study and combine them with real-world experience (more on that below). 

Third, this is only one study!

I’ve spent some time researching and I’ve only been able to find one study which showed that alpha lipoic acid may cause thyroid conversion problems. 

There are also several studies that have shown that alpha lipoic acid may have an overall pro-thyroid effect. 

The following studies have shown that alpha lipoic acid may: 

And in one human study, alpha lipoic acid was shown to: 

alpha lipoic acid may improve endothelial function in patients with subclinical hypothyroidism

I’m not saying that any of these studies prove that alpha lipoic acid is safe and effective for those with thyroid disease because they are all fairly weak, but I am saying that there’s no reason to put more weight on one study that showed a potentially negative outcome while there are several others which showed a positive one. 

The bottom line is that the jury is still out when it comes to thyroid function and the use of alpha lipoic acid. 

In settings such as these, personal opinion, patient experience, and anecdotes can be helpful. 

My Personal Experience & Opinion

I’ve had the advantage of seeing and helping thousands of thyroid patients over the years because of my website and my supplement line. 

One of my supplements, Berberine 500+, contains a combination of berberine and alpha lipoic acid. 

This supplement has been used successfully on thousands of thyroid patients and not once have I ever seen any issues relating to thyroid conversion in thyroid patients who have used it. 

This leads me to believe a few things: 

#1. The potential benefits outweigh the potential cons. 

Let’s assume for a minute that alpha lipoic acid does reduce T4 to T3 conversion. 

I’m not convinced it does based on the information that I presented above, but let’s assume that it does for argument’s sake. 

Even if there is a small amount of reduced T4 to T3 conversion, it seems clear that the benefits of alpha lipoic’s antioxidant potential outweigh this potential negative outcome. 

And if you think about it, this sort of thing happens all of the time with natural therapies. 

Think about exercise. 

The entire goal of exercise is to cause minor stress to the body and muscles so that it rebuilds stronger than before. 

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Your muscles rebuild bigger and stronger than they were before which improves their metabolic function. 

You then experience the benefits of a higher metabolism and a better-looking physique

Knowing this, I think we would all agree that the potential negative side effect of muscle damage from moderate exercise are outweighed by the potential positive side effects. 

I think this is very likely what is occurring when alpha lipoic acid is used in thyroid patients. 

Even though there may be a temporary decline in thyroid conversion (again, this is debatable), the other positive effects experienced with its use outweigh this small problem. 

#2. Using alpha lipoic acid for weight loss has a net positive effect on thyroid function. 

In my opinion, one of the best use cases of alpha lipoic acid is to treat obesity

alpha lipoic acid as a potential weight loss therapy

Weight gain and obesity may result in an inflammatory condition of the fat cells known as adiposopathy (11). 

This inflammatory condition of your fat cells predisposes you to develop hormone-related issues like leptin resistance. 

It also makes fat loss more difficult because the function of your fat cells is dysregulated. 

We also know that weight gain causes issues with thyroid function more generally

So anything that impacts your weight will ultimately impact your thyroid. 

If you use alpha lipoic acid to assist with weight loss, and you are successful in losing weight, then you will experience a net positive benefit on thyroid function. 

Losing weight has the potential to improve thyroid function which makes weight loss easier which improves thyroid function further and so on. 

Anything that pushes this cycle into motion would be considered a good thing. 

#3. Reducing inflammation has a net positive effect on T4 to T3 conversion in cases of hypothyroidism and Hashimoto’s. 

Because of its antioxidant potential, alpha lipoic acid has been shown to act as an anti-inflammatory agent in certain situations (12). 

This is important because general widespread inflammation in your body and cells is a known deterrent to thyroid conversion. 

The more inflammation that you have in your body, the less active your T3 will be

With this in mind, reducing inflammation is one way that you can increase your T3 levels and one way you can do that is with the use of anti-inflammatory agents like alpha lipoic acid. 

It’s not the only one, of course, but it has the potential to be helpful. 

My experience suggests that using alpha lipoic acid to reduce general widespread inflammation in the body has a net positive effect on T4 to T3 conversion. 

What this suggests to me is that even if there is some minor inhibition of thyroid conversion when using alpha lipoic acid, the reduction in inflammation is more important and has a more profound negative effect on thyroid conversion compared to alpha lipoic acid. 

In other words, your focus should be on reducing inflammation if you want to increase thyroid function and conversion. 

#4. Protecting the thyroid gland from thyroid gland-induced inflammation has a net positive effect on thyroid function in cases of Hashimoto’s. 

Finally, it is well known that thyroid gland inflammation is the hallmark of Hashimoto’s thyroiditis

And this thyroid gland inflammation is primarily mediated by the immune system. 

The best treatments for those with Hashimoto’s are those treatments that directly reduce thyroid gland inflammation or which reduce the autoimmune attack on the thyroid gland or do both simultaneously. 

That’s why treatments like thymoquinone, pycnogenol, glutathione, and selenium are so effective in patients with Hashimoto’s. 

Alpha lipoic acid may also be included in this list. 

If you can do anything to reduce thyroid gland inflammation then you will naturally improve thyroid function. 

After all, it’s hard for the thyroid gland to do its job when it’s inflamed. 

It’s been my experience that using alpha lipoic acid to assist in reducing thyroid gland inflammation provides an overall boost to thyroid function even if there is a small decline in thyroid conversion from its use. 

Should You Use ALA (Alpha Lipoic Acid)? 

So, as a thyroid patient, what are you to do? 

Should you risk taking a therapy that may cause potential issues for your thyroid in hopes that you may get some benefit that outweighs this problem? 

Or should you completely avoid it and opt for therapies that you know are 100% safe for your thyroid?

I think it depends on the situation and there is no right or wrong answer. 

I wouldn’t fault you at all as a thyroid patient if you just wanted to leave alpha lipoic acid alone because why bother with something if there’s even a small chance it may cause issues for your thyroid?

On the other hand, avoiding alpha lipoic acid as a treatment means that you are losing one potential therapy that can be used to treat some of the most concerning and pressing symptoms that thyroid patients face including:

Obesityinsulin resistance, inflammatory conditions, thyroid gland inflammation, and autoimmune disease. 

Given the fairly weak evidence that alpha lipoic acid causes issues with thyroid conversion, and the other evidence that it may have an overall pro-thyroid effect, I personally believe that it’s a safe therapy to use in thyroid patients. 

I make this statement based on my experience and a fairly large database of thousands of thyroid patients who have used my own supplements with alpha lipoic acid in the past. 

But, as always, you should spend the time to do your own research and make your own educated decisions. 

After all, it is your body we are talking about! 

Now I want to hear from you: 

Have you used alpha lipoic acid in the past? 

Did you notice any overall benefit when using it? Or did you notice a decline in thyroid function? 

Were you aware of this controversy (not many thyroid patients are!)?

Are you planning on giving alpha lipoic acid a try after reading this?

Leave your questions or comments below to keep the conversation going! 


#2. 1991 – Effect of alpha-lipoic acid on the peripheral conversion of thyroxine to triiodothyronine and on serum lipid-, protein- and glucose levels.pdf











does alpha lipoic acid really cause thyroid problems

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About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 80,000+ people have used them over the last 7 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do.

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70 thoughts on “Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA) and Thyroid Health: Is it Safe to Use?”

      • Thank you very much for your response! I’ve read that both of them inhibit CYP2D6 but I don’t know what this means. I’d really like to take both

        • Hi Steph,

          That’s an enzyme in the cytochrome p450 family that metabolizes certain compounds in the body. They are important for drug metabolism because if something interrupts drug metabolism it changes how that medication impacts the body. But whether or not that impact is actually meaningful depends on a lot of factors.

  1. I have been taking a thyroid booster with 150mcg of thyroid plus many of the essential vitamins that are beneficial to the thyroid.I have stopped feeling the awful anxiety that many thyroid patients live with since taking it Also I have been taking Alpha lipoic acid for about 2 months for peripheral neuropathy and have had no negative effects I have been diagnosed with high cholesterol and the latest hurdle was pre diabetes which I have read can be caused by my underactive thyroid Any help you can give me would be much appreciated

    • Hi Chris,

      Based on your comment here it sounds like what you are taking is working! Can you clarify what type of help you are looking for or what problems are persisting?

  2. I actually took alpha lipoic acid right after dx of Hashimoto due to intense peripheral neuropathy and it helped tremendously.

  3. Hi Dr. Childs,
    I have been taking Levothyroxine 75 mg 4 days a week and 100mg 3 days since May, 2015. I had an earlier blood test, result 50%, and no follow-up until we moved and I had a blood test at our new doctor’s surgery. I then received a call at work telling me to go to see my doctor and also collect a prescription urgently. My Thyroid function was extremely low, and I think it had been for some time. I had also developed Arrhythmia in the meantime and my previous doctor put me on 20 mg Propanalol nightly and one 75 mg Aspirin.
    I know of the important benefits of Alpha Lipoic Acid and my son takes it, and has recently read of its particular benefits for the heart and increased take-up of oxygen. Without blood tests for levels T4 and T3, how easily will I know of any relative decrease and how this affects the balance of benefits of taking Alpha Lipoic Acid?

    • Hi Mrs. Sandra,

      I’m not sure I’m following the question as this article debunks the idea that ALA negatively impacts the thyroid. If that’s the case, which I believe it is, then your lab values aren’t really helpful for determining whether or not you should use it.

  4. I took my first bottle of 240 capsules or eight months of ALA for pre-existing peripheral neuropathy and definitely noticed a huge difference after I recently ran out. Near the end of this timeframe, my GP indicated I needed increased lactase – free Levoxyl for hypothyroidism, based on test results and I had no idea until today that ALA might have an impact, but have recently learned that the Covid vaccines or spike proteins can negatively impact low thyroxine levels so presumed that was the culprit because I had COVID-19 last September.

    Have you heard about the Covid connection? How can those two agents be assessed to know whether it is safe to return to ALA?

    • Hi Carolyn,

      Can you please clarify the question? If your concern is the ALA may impact the thyroid, this article debunks that idea. Perhaps I’m not understanding the question.

    • Hi Jennifer,

      I believe it is safe to use if you have thyroid problems. Here is the copied/pasted conclusion from the article:

      “Given the fairly weak evidence that alpha lipoic acid causes issues with thyroid conversion, and the other evidence that it may have an overall pro-thyroid effect, I personally believe that it’s a safe therapy to use in thyroid patients.

      I make this statement based on my experience and a fairly large database of thousands of thyroid patients who have used my own supplements with alpha lipoic acid in the past.”

  5. I have hypo and tested positive for the antibodies for Hashimotos back in 2016 (straight from the Drs mouth). I’ve been on Synthroid 112 a day. I’ve now just started perimenopause as well. Would this be beneficial to help lose weight as it’s really changed almost overnight. Or would it not help because it may just be hormone related (perimenopause) and not my thyroid?

  6. What about someone who doesn’t have a thyroid. I had hyperthyroidism, and I know I am now considered to have acquired hypothyroidism due to removal. Do you think this would help with the T4 to T3 conversion and help me lose weight? I know it can’t harm my Thyroid since I don’t have one, but I don’t need any other problems LoL!

    • Hi Rian,

      It can be used in those without a thyroid. Whether or not it will help (and by how much) depends on many other factors that can’t really be predicted.

  7. Is there a concern that ALA liberates mercury into the brain?
    I know there is a protocol that recommends very small amounts of ALA frequently during the day to remove mercury without it getting into the brain

    • Hi Steve,

      Not based on my experience. In a select few, maybe, but the majority should be fine without any precautions.

  8. I’ve been on 60mg armour thyroid and my doctor thinks I could go higher but it affects my pvcs.
    I’m also on hydroxychloroquine and methotrexate for rheumatoid arthritis. I am very interested in taking alpha lipoic acid for weight loss but I would first like to know if there are any negative interactions between the RA medications and also would it affect my premature ventricular contraindications?

  9. I have been taking alpha lipoic acid for many years, even before I found out I was hypothyroid. I take NP thyroid 60 mg. once per day and 30 mg. once per day in two separate doses. I was never aware that ALA had any impact on thyroid conversion. I am going to continue to take ALA daily.

    • Hi Marilyn,

      It doesn’t have any impact on thyroid conversion, at least not based on the information I shared in this article.

  10. My only problem with Berberine, is, it intensifies the side effects of the med’s I am on. I feel over with double vision and dizziness. life

  11. My thyroid has been surgically removed and I take 88mcg synthroid, do you still think ALA would be helpful, mainly to help with weight loss and inflammation? Thanks, Betty

    • Hi Betty,

      Unfortunately, there’s no way to predict who will or will not respond to alpha lipoic acid without some trial and error.

  12. Does Hashimoto’s cause peripheral neuropathy? I had many (expensive) tests done by a neurologist 5 yrs. ago to try and find the cause of peripheral neuropathy, and the doctor couldn’t determine the cause. What dose of ALA do I use to treat pn? Is it available OTC?

    • Hi Jackie,

      There is a connection between hypothyroid states and the development of peripheral neuropathy. It doesn’t guarantee that they are connected, but it’s possible.

  13. I took all several years ago but experienced terrible and intense insomnia from it. Have you heard of this reaction being a possibility?

    I do not have a thyroid as I had my thyroid removed 12 years ago due to grave disease.

  14. Hi from Oregon, I don’t have a thyroid due to cancer, can I take ALA still? Oh and I’m ofc on Levothyroxine 88 and cytomel .

    Appreciate you
    Heather 44 years old

    • Hi Heather,

      ALA can be used in all thyroid conditions/disease states, including those without a thyroid.

  15. Hi Dr Childs,

    I had my thyroid removed about 30 years ago.

    I am taking Euthyrox (T4) and Tertroxin (T3). I’m doing relatively well.

    Will taking alpha lipoic acid interact with the Tertroxin (T3) that I am taking thus making it less effective?

    My biggest issue that I have with not having a thyroid is inability to lose weight. 🙁

  16. I took ALA for a while. I was taking a liquid version because I typically see better results when using liquid supplements. I didn’t feel there was any impact. Do you think it was because it was a liquid? If a person has trouble absorbing supplements and grinds them into a powder to take do you think this helps or hinders absorption?

  17. Berberine lowers testosterone in women. I was told not to take it because I have very low testosterone due to hyperprolactinemia. I start Low T treatment soon. How much Alpha Lipoic Acid daily is beneficial for weight loss? I’m on Tirosint 112mcg for my thyroid, and Cabergoline 1mg 2x week for my pituitary. No other meds.

    • Hi Cari,

      I’ve never seen evidence that berberine lowers testosterone in either gender. Can you please share your reference or is this just anecdote?

  18. I have hashimoto’s. Shortly after i was finally diagnosed i was hit with three autoimmune diseases one right after another, it was a terrible time. After being given prednisone in large doses for a while and weaned off, I have not developed any more autoimmune diseases. I believe I will try the Alpha Lipoic Acid to see if it helps with the inflammation, autoimmune issues, post menopausal endometriosis, and weight that is so difficult to come off despite healthy eating habits and exercise.

  19. I have just ordered ala 600mg tablets. I’m going to give it a go as I’m finding it very difficult to lose weight, so fingers crossed. It was very expensive I brought it on Amazon UK £70 I think it’s a months supply. Do you think I should just take one tablet a day or two?

  20. Does Berberine and Propanolol have an interaction if taken together? I am on a lose dose of 20mg per day of propanol but was wanting to take Berberine to aid in weight loss as well as it’s other health benefits.

  21. Some already asked this, but is there a concern that it can detox mercury, then deposit it if it isn’t completely detoxed out? I read that you should take small amounts every 3 hrs to make sure it isn’t deposited.

    • Hi Tammy,

      Theoretically, this may be an issue for some but it’s not a clinical or practical issue that I’ve run into after years and years of recommending alpha lipoic acid. It doesn’t make sense to make recommendations based on the minority (1-2%) of the population when 99% won’t have any issues with standard dosing.

  22. I brought them and took my first tablet 600mg at lunch time today. My heart feels like it’s racing and my stomach feels like it’s warm I’m not able to sleep. My last blood test before taking tablet was:-

    Serum TSH level < 0.01 mIU/L [0.27 – 4.2]; ?Thyroid problem-hypothyroidism

    Serum free T4 level 25.6 pmol/L [12.0 – 22.0]; ?Thyroid problem-hypothyroidism

    Have I made things worse taking this tablet ? Please advise many thanks

  23. Question: I’ve taken ALA and soon became severely allergic to it (even at low dosages of 50; 100 mg), thus having to avoid any supplement that has ALA in it. Some of your products you sell have ALA in it (yes, I have hypothyroidism). What can be used, that you sell, that does NOT have any
    ALA in it, to help my hypothyroid condition? Thanks in advance for your help and advice.

    • Hi Diane,

      It’s a double edged sword for sure. The information/data from animal studies doesn’t directly translate to humans and their physiology but it does allow us to rapidly test theories that would otherwise be untestable in humans. I’m not sure if you are speaking about this from a moral standpoint or a physiological standpoint, but there are certainly issues with both.

  24. Hello Dr Child’s
    Have you ever heard of ALA causing blurry vision and cloudy consciousness?
    I experience these things pretty regularly and am trying to pinpoint what’s causing it because it’s not every day that it happens and has me baffled as to what’s causing it, hence I am now going through all of my supplements and eliminating some to see if I can feel normal again. I’ve stopped taking the antioxidant formula the last couple of days that I regularly take and oddly it seems the last two days I haven’t had the cloudy vision or mental processes.
    I’ve already done food eliminations and nothing seems to affect these symptoms either way.
    It is very possible I do have a thyroid imbalance as well though all my labs from the doctor say I’m “in range” though I know that their tests are not the best panels offered so don’t put much faith in them.
    If you have any info of ALA causing blurry vision I’d be appreciative to hear it as all I’ve able to find i how it helps with vision which doesn’t feel like it’s the case for me.
    Thank you for your time to read and consider my question.

    • Hi Jill,

      I can’t say that I’ve ever seen ALA cause those symptoms. My ALA supplement has been used by thousands of people so far so I have a decent sized data base to pull from.

  25. I take NP Thyroid 15 mg. Are there any guidelines about whether I can take ALA at the same time as my thyroid medication, or do I need to separate them out?

    • Hi Cody,

      You should never take any supplement at the same time as your thyroid medication, they should always be spread out. This applies to all supplements with the exception of T2 thyroid hormone.

  26. Based on the information you provided, I will be trying ALA for “trial period”, although I am hypothyroid – but managing it with natural therapies. I tried NP thyroid, but had an allergic reaction to it. I use Berberine, Cinnamon, a few drops of Lugols Iodine – so far it’s maintaining. I am also pre-diabetic, after gaining a lot of weight after menopause. I want to excercise but am in too much pain due to sciatica/back pain, as well as knee pain and foot pain. I need to get this pain under control quickly, and ALA was recommended from another site to help with chronic inflammation. If you have any other advice, I’d love to hear it. I am 66, still working (barely able to get through a day), and struggling to even get in and out of my vehicle.

  27. Hi
    I have hashimotos and celiac disease and would be interested in taking ALA… if i take my thyroid mediciane first thing in the morning, is it a good idea to take the ALA in the evening?

  28. I’m beginning ALA for hypothyroid and will try to let you know after I’ve taken it for a month or so. Thank you for the great advice as always Dr Childs. You are one of my absolute favorites!!


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