Desiccated Thyroid Medicine vs. Synthetic T4 only (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine)

Its easy to think all medicine is the same but when it comes to thyroid treatment, there is controversy about the effectiveness of the synthetic medicines like Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine, Oroxine, and Norton. If you are taking a synthetic prescription like these keep reading, its possible the treatment is only doing part of the job, and possibly more harm than good.

The Basics about Thyroid Hormones

When it comes to treating Hypothyroidism, its important to understand the relationship between two important thyroid hormones; T3 and T4. According to Stop the Thyroid Madness (STTM), T3 is the active thyroid hormone which gives your body overall health, stamina and energy.  While, T4 is the thyroid storage hormone which converts T3 in the body.

Synthetic medicines like Synthroid only provide T4.  However, and this is the critical point, STTM claims a growing number of patients and doctors are realizing T4-only medicines do not help with the conversion of T3 in the body.  Most patients taking T4 only (synthetic medicine) are left with hypothyroid symptoms and related conditions, like high cholesterol, which could affect our overall health.

T4-only Medicines Doing More Harm than Good?

While synthetics medicines might be doing part of the job in treating Hypothyroid symptoms, according to STTM they may also be doing harm because lingering hypothyroidism puts stress on the adrenals which can lead to low cortisol.  To make matters worse, you think you are getting treatment with T4-only medicine but still have hypothyroid symptoms like chronic low grade depression, high cholesterol, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, Fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis, bi-polar, anxiety, trouble sleeping, hair loss, but don’t know why.

Desiccated Thyroid Medicine

According to STTM, natural desiccated thyroid hormones have been around for over 100 years. They are available by prescription and give patients the T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin our bodies need (not just T4).  The most common brands are Naturthroid, Westhroid, and Erfa (in Canada). Natural desiccated thyroid hormones are made from pig glandular (gross I know!) but they meet the stringent guidelines of the US Pharmacopeia, and have a long proven track record.

My Medicine

Until 2010 I had tried both Naturthroid and Armour. Both worked great for me until they both reformulated! After the reformulations, many people including myself experienced more hypothyroid symptoms and other issues. Largely people seem to have a reaction to the filler used in the new formula.

From 2010 until mid-2013, I had my thyroid medicine custom made through a compound parmacy, so I could control the filler being used. The pharmacy is called Collier’s, located in Fayetteville Arkansas. Anyone can order from Collier’s. It’s very easy. Just ask your doctor to call Rodney at (479) 935-4336. Ask for the “Miss Lizzy Compound” and he can talk with your doctor about the prescription details. It costs about $50/mo, so its definitely more than Armour or Naturethroid but for me it was well worth it.

MEDICINE UPDATE (Jan 2014): Starting mid-2013 I switched to a new dessicated thyroid medicine called “NP Thyroid” by the pharmaceutical company “Acella”. They had some shortages over the summer of 2013 but have had good stock since then. NP Thyroid reminds me of the “old Armour” before it was reformulated. I have done very well on NP Thyroid. It dissolves easily under the tongue — which is great because you can eat and drink immediately before and after taking the medicine. And I have a good reaction to NP Thyroid overall.

I continue to meet women who say they are “getting treated” on T4-only medicines but still experience many hypothyroid symptoms like depression, terrible PMS, weight gain, arthritis, or are going bald. Its so scary! And they have no idea the medicine may not be working for them. If you know someone like this who is taking T4-only medicine and still having problems please share this blog post.




Miss LizzyDesiccated Thyroid Medicine vs. Synthetic T4 only (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine)