Is Natural Thyroid Better Than Synthetic Thyroid

Is Natural Thyroid Better Than Synthetic Thyroid

Is Natural Thyroid Better Than Synthetic Thyroid

Taking thyroid medication but still feeling lousy?

Is your doctor telling you that your thyroid labs are normal yet you still feel hypothyroid?

Hair falling out?
Gaining weight?

These can be signs that your thyroid medication may not be working for you.

Over the years, I’ve been asked many times, “Dr. Brown, is natural thyroid better than synthetic thyroid medication? Would I feel better taking natural thyroid”. The answer is, “It depends.”.

1. Natural thyroid is a better choice for those who can’t convert from inactive T4 to active T3.

I’ve never met a patient who couldn’t convert any T4. More commonly, some hypothyroidism patients have a reduced abilty to convert to T3. The only way to know is testing a full thyroid panel

2. Natural thyroid may be a better choice if levothyrxoxine causes side effects.

Some people experience various side effects from generic levothyroxine. I’ve mostly seen brain fog, fatigue, nausea, and joint pain. This is less likely to occur with the brand versions of Synthroid and Tirosint, or natural thyroid like NP Thyroid and Armourthyroid.

3. Natural thyroid may not be a better choice if it causes side effects.

Natural thyroid may cause a heart palpitations, rapid heart rate, in some sensitive individuals. This is why I always advise the lowest possible dose first. When switching from synthetic T4, I slowly decrease the synthetic dose while slowly increasing the natural dose. Because natural porcine thyroid contains three times as more T3 than humans need, it can cause agitation and insomnia. In these cases, combining synthetic thyroid hormone and natural thyroid hormone is often the best combination.

4. Natural thyroid may not be a better choice if you are over age 65.

Because of the risk of heart palpitations, it’s not recommended to start natural thyroid after age 65. Heart palpitations can lead to irregular heart beat. Medicare will not cover natural thyroid prescriptions.

5. Natural thyroid may be a better choice for personal preference.

If given the choice, many of us simply prefer natural over synthetic. Natural thyroid also contains other thyroid hormones, not just T4 and T3.

Did You Know that Doctors Preferred Natural Thyroid Hormone Until the 1970s?

Natural thyroid was the first medication used to treat hypothyroidism. The Chinese recorded its use in the 6th century CE. Western doctors began using it in the late 1800s.

The synthetic form of thyroid hormone, levothyroxine, became available in the mid 1900s. At first, Western doctors were not convinced that levothyroxine could treat hypothyroidism. They preferred natural thyroid until the mid-70s because it contained both thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4), and triiodothyronine (T3). Levothyroxine only contains thyroxine hormone (T4).

Nowadays, most people with hypothyroidism take levothyroxine.

It’s favored because of its long half life and safety. It’s very safe because it is an inactive hormone. Inactive! Only for awhile. It’s supposed to convert to active T3. If our bodies couldn’t convert T4 to T3, we’d die!

T3 (triiodothyronine) hormone is rarely used on its own. T3 is active thyroid hormone with a very short half life and potentially dangerous side effects at high doses. If used on its own, it must be microdosed throughout the day or put in a sustained release capsule.

Natural thyroid contains both T4 and T3.

Because T3 has potentially dangerous side effects, many doctors are nervous about prescribing it.

Different Thyroid Medications Available Today

Pharmaceutical thyroid medications:

T4. This goes by the names: Levothyroxine, Levoxyl, Synthroid, and Tirosint. Available only in fixed dosages.
T3. This goes by the names: Liothyronine and Cytomel. Available only in fixed dosages.
Compounded T4 and T3. Compounders use levothyroxine and liothyronine to compound in variable dosages. The amount of T4 and T3 can be tailored to suit individual needs.

Natural Desiccated Porcine Thyroid:
Armour Thyroid. Natural desiccated porcine thyroid. It comes from pig thyroid. Available only in fixed dosages.
NP Thyroid. Natural desiccated porcine thyroid. It comes from pig thyroid. Available only in fixed dosages.
Naturethroid and WP thyroid. Natural desiccated porcine thyroid. It comes from pig thyroid. Mostly unavailable at this time.

Over the Counter Thyroid Glandular Supplements:
Many OTC products are advertised to boost thyroid health. They contain natural dessicated bovine thyroid. Advertised as not containing thyroid hormone, many do. They are not recommended because of lack of oversight and variability in their products. They can be dangerous to those who physiologically depend on thyroid hormone. They can be dangerous to those who don’t need additional thyroid hormone.

Combining Different Thyroid Medications

Under the care of a doctor, using different thyroid medications in combination is often the winning ticket! Bovine and porcine thyroid is identical to human thyroid but it’s T4/T3 ratio is not. By combining synthetic T4 hormone with natural thyroid or synthetic T4 and T3 hormone, we can get the best of both worlds.

We don’t need to rely on the assumed conversion of T4 to T3. We’re able to deliver a balanced medication with similar ratios to people’s natural T4 to T3 ratio.

Remember to Always Store Medications Safely

A few years ago, a patient called me in a panic. Her dog ate her thyroid medication. Read more here.

Dr. Kimberly Brown ND, LAc specializes in all things hormonal; adrenal, thyroid and women’s hormones. Want to learn more and see how Dr. Kimberly Brown and San Jose Integrative Medicine can help you on your journey? Schedule your free phone consultation HERE.

Dr. Kimberly Brown, ND, LAc
Naturopathic Doctor
(408) 357-3422
San Jose Integrative Medicine
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