To all doctors and pharmacies: cellulose IS a problem with desiccated thyroid

A patient recently reported on Facebook that a particular large and well-known health center in Texas decided to make their own compounded natural desiccated thyroid for their hypothyroid patients…with cellulose.

Having read my blog posts about widespread negative patient experience with cellulose, she told the pharmacy that many of us have noticed distinct problems with the addition of cellulose in our desiccated thyroid medications–exactly why the newly formulated Armour caused too many patients to see a return of their hypothyroid symptoms. Naturethroid has not escaped the same fate for some.

When she asked if they could remove the cellulose, she received a firm and condescending “No” from the pharmacist, referring to cellulose as “a common ingredient in many medications and not a problem.”

Not a problem? Once again, patients are dismissed as if we couldn’t possibly know what works, and what doesn’t work, in our treatment and in our own bodies. A shameful reality. She left disappointed. 

What is cellulose? Cellulose is the most common organic substance found on our planet–a fiber abundantly found in plants and trees, and most especially in cotton.

Where is cellulose used? You wear it and you write on it! You eat it when you consume celery, potatoes, or mushrooms. It’s used to stabilize and thicken processed foods, and may be found in many cheeses, dry milk, puddings, and more. And since it’s difficult to find anyone allergic to wood, it’s been a common ingredient in medications, used as a filler.

So where’s the problem for thyroid patients?

  1. Unlike the happy cows in their pastures chewing their cuds, human stomachs  have a limited ability to break cellulose down. Cellulose is a fiber. And what does fiber do? It “binds”. It binds to the desiccated thyroid that has gone down with it.  i.e. the life-changing effects of desiccated thyroid are clearly dampened by the presence of cellulose. Our “experience” has revealed it all across the globe since Armour was reformulated with an increase of cellulose in the mix.  i.e. we have witnessed a massive return of hypothyroid symptoms on the newly formulated Armour, and to some degree, on Naturethroid, whether the latter switched to microcrystalline cellulose or not (as compared to the larger celled methylcellulose).
  2. Hypothyroid patients do not digest well. As one of many complications of hypothyroidism,  especially due to the inadequate treatment of T4-only medications and poor diagnosis from the TSH lab test,  low stomach acid and poor digestion is COMMON in hypothyroid patients.  So when you add cellulose to the mix, you are further damning thyroid patients.
  3. Though not specific to just thyroid patients, we are not too comfortable with finding out that cellulose can collect in our lungs, as revealed in pubmed articles here and here.  (Thanks to thyroid patient Danny for alerting me to this.)

Bottom line, desiccated thyroid is a quality and superior treatment medication which has changed the lives ten-fold for thyroid patients around the world.

But cellulose and desiccated thyroid DO NOT MIX. And BRAVO to those compounding pharmacies who have listened and have used the beneficial probiotic acidophilus as a filler. We appreciate you.

P.S. I absolutely loved this comment made by another patient on Facebook when we were discussing the grief of taking our last pre-formulated Armour: Would love to get my hands on some old Armour again….those were the days my friends…

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Want to know your options for better thyroid treatment?? Go here.

Need help finding a good doctor? Go here.

Think desiccated thyroid didn’t work for you?? Go here.

See common Questions and Answers here.

28 Responses to “To all doctors and pharmacies: cellulose IS a problem with desiccated thyroid”

  1. DeAnna

    Do you think it really will ever get easier to treat or just “deal with” being thyroidless…doubtful. I’m more exhausted everyday and have been dealing with this almost my entire life. Thanks to this reformulation, I’m back to Synthroid – the single worst drug ever invented. I wish I could sit across from the surgeon that ripped my thyroid out at 22 MONTHS old in 1979…alas – I’m struggling daily and the battle continues. Everyday is a challenge…not just struggling to make the mainstream medical society understand…but just us as patients living our everyday lives and trying to make our families understand our pain/struggle and not think we’re crazy. Being a nurse myself, also thyroidless…It’s not looking too good for my lifetime :( I wish there was a real Dr. HOUSE like the television show portrays….

    Thank you for the cellulose information. I for one also had a severe reaction to the reformulation, but mine was immediate hypoThyroid so apparently I cannot absorb a filler such as cellulose. I’m still trying to recover from whatever funk the new armour put me in. Oh how I would also give anything to just get a bottle of the old armour. To feel as good as the one year of my entire life I was symptom free = when I discovered old ARMOUR. I miss that….I hate Forest Labs :(
    DeAnna

    Reply
  2. Heather

    Where can I find a com­poun­ding phar­ma­cy that doesn’t use cellulose?? This would explain my sudden return of several symptoms – some aren’t dire, but I’ve had to cut a LOT of different foods out of my diet (my blood sugar isn’t regulating as easily as it used to).

    Reply
  3. Linda

    Is cellulose in supplements a problem for hypo people too?

    Reply
  4. Suzanne Adair

    What are the contraindications for using aci­dophi­lus as a filler?

    (From Janie: much less than using cellulose. Acidophilus naturally occurs in our gastrointestinal tract, mouth, and vagina, and as a friendly bacteria, has probiotic, helpful-digestive characteristics. In some, it’s use may increase gas.)

    Reply
  5. Tony

    So cellulose can get into your lungs from eating it? How would that work?

    Reply
  6. Julie

    I’ve been ordering my “old Armour” from overseas for the past year and never felt better. I brought it to my DO’s attention. She researched it, gave it her blessing, and when she saw what kind of turnaroud I had in less than 90 days on it, she now has many of her patients on the same thing.

    I just want you guys to know it’s out there… you CAN get it, and it didn’t break the bank, or need a prescription. It’s called Thyroid-S, and I have NEVER FELT BETTER. I know I sound like a commercial here, but the US just isn’t giving us many options and the dessicated situation just keeps getting worse. I know there are some compounding pharmacies out there who are doing a GREAT job! And yay for them and those who have found relief!

    It’s got that same sweet taste old Armour did. It dissolves easily under the tongue. And because of it, my symptoms have nearly disappeared altogether. I haven’t felt this good in so long!

    This is my personal testimony that it is true and real. There are others out there who can attest to it too. I never want anyone to feel as hopeless as I once felt. You can never stop being proactive in getting your body the thyroid hormones it really needs.

    Reply
  7. brad cherson

    As a compounding pharmacist I am interested in providing the needs of each patient. If in your best interest I need to use a different filler, that you know will provide a better therapy, all you have to do is ask….we have the acidophilus, vitamin c, etc.

    Currently, I have had almost all of our patients comment on well they feel using Avicel, however; the info posted here regarding your absorption issues gives me another option to think about when formulating a dosage form.

    To better Thyroid health,
    Brad Cherson, RPH

    Reply
  8. Justine

    My new doctor just put me on Priority One’s Thyroid 65 mg. The only other ingredients listed on the bottle are rice powder and gelatin. No cellulose. I’ve only been on it for 5 days but seem to be feeling better. I believe the doctor said the thyroid comes from bovine. Their website is http://www.priorityonevitamins.com but it’s mostly for professional health care providers and there’s no listing of further ingredients. Any one else aware of this product?

    Reply
  9. Susan Elizabeth Siens

    I keep finding the newsletter very helpful. I have put two and two together, and think my symptoms have worsened since I went to the reformulated Naturethroid. I don’t know if anyone else has my problem, but I have very fast digestion (fast oxidizer), and fibrous foods can pass right through me without a chance for my body to break them down. I have plenty of stomach acid as I have never used antacids or such, and take 10-18 grams of Vitamin C a day. I LOVE the idea of using acidophilus instead of cellulose in the medication; what an excellent idea!

    I have gone to letting the tablets dissolve/chewing them up before swallowing them (yuk) due to your suggestion. I am hoping that eventually I might see some improvement. How ridiculous to pay for a medication in a form which your body cannot use!

    Reply
  10. Anonymy

    The thyroid-s contains fillers with aluminum in it.
    Long term this will make aluminum
    toxicity and you’ll have more problems than you do now.
    I’m taking thiroyd and it’s a dream come true.
    It is like the old armour andfeels very natural.
    Although I don’t know what the fillers are, I would rather not know than take
    something that will worsen my existing aluminum
    toxicity.
    Forget armour or nature. Get the stuff from Thailand!
    Also http://www.drlowe. Just released a natural organic dessicated thyroid product.
    I may try this too. Hope you all find health.

    Reply
  11. Lorie

    DeAnna..

    Have you tried Erfa Thyroid from Canada? It doesn’t contain cellulose, you can take it sublingually and it also doesn’t have aluminum.

    Reply
  12. Jenny

    Everyone, I’ve had success by getting my doctor to prescribe the dessicated thyroid with the instruction not to use cellulose as a filler.

    However, my pharmacy is using LACTOSE as the filler. Is this OK? I’m newly diagnosed so I have no prior experience for comparison with how I feel.

    (From Janie: if you don’t have lactose intolerance, I’m thinking it may be fine. Maybe others can comment. By the way, my husband’s lactose intolerance was completely removed by putting one tablespoon of Apple Cider vinegar by Braggs in water every morning.)

    Reply
  13. Kathleen Seay

    I had to have my doctor request the use of aci­dophi­lus as a filler…I have a doctor that will listen so it helps. There are 3 compunding pharmacies in Houston that I know will use aci­dophi­lus as a filler. Gloyers, Tomball, Compunding Solutions ( FM 1960, and Piney Point Pharmacy onm Fondren.

    Reply
  14. Kathleen Seay

    I had to have my doctor request the use of aci­dophi­lus as a filler…I have a doctor that will listen so it helps. There are 3 compunding pharmacies in Houston that I know will use aci­dophi­lus as a filler. Gloyers, Tomball, Compunding Solutions ( FM 1960, and Piney Point Pharmacy onm Fondren.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Could you please share your Houston doctor’s name? I’m in need of a new doctor that’s willing to listen. Thanks.

      Reply
  15. Lorie

    Heather,

    Skips pharmacy in Boca Rotan Florida will use whatever filler you want. You cannot transfer a script to them however, they require a new script sent to them. You can fax it to them and then follow up with it in the mail. I learned about them when I was a member of the LDN (low dose naltrexone) board on yahoo. Give ‘em a call: 800-553-7429 Fax: 561-218-8873

    http://www.skipspharmacy.com/home.php

    Reply
  16. Nickie

    Jenny asked if Lactose was an issue and since it’s sugar it can increase yeast and yeast symptoms. Aren’t most medications in capsule form using cellulose as a filler? I was on Armour and then Nature-throid and didn’t like it as well but have been on the compounded natural thyroid with cellulose and have not noticed any side-effects. Still doing great on it. We are all different so what may work for me may not work as well for someone else. I too wish we could have the original Armour but to me all of the natural is still going to be better than the synthetic forms.

    Reply
  17. surfingramma

    I just got off the phone with my compounding pharmacy, Women’s Health in Madison WI. They treat me GREAT! HOWEVER, this is the second time I have spoken with this particular pharmcist and he seem a bit annoyed when I asked questions about my compounded thyroid. There is no corn or gluten involved but when I pushed him about the cellulose he started to hesitate and get defensive! I didn’t tell him WHY I was calling and was not confrontational. He did confirm that there was a minute (and he emphasized MINUTE) amount of crystalline cellulose. When I asked if I could have it compounded with acidophilus he kept saying “um…ummm”. then said since that deals with digestion you do not want that as a base. I said, “well many hypo patients have a] digestion issues. So what you are telling me is that I can’t have my Dr request it?” he could not answer me…I went on to ask him that since they are a compounding pharm that basically whatever I needed to have mixed for me they could potentially do, correct?” He then said, ‘Well of course”. UGH!!!
    I am writing a letter to them today since this same guy last time told me that it was mixed with oil, Even tho today he said that there is no oil base at all.
    I am new to all this and while I have not had alot of the issues many have had I can say that I have learned from those that are having them. I thank each and everyone of you that make comments and discuss your struggles. And I thank you Janie for making this an “easy Read”. it’s get overwhelming with all the info out there.

    Reply
  18. Dwayne

    All of the more reason I am sticking with ERFA Thyroid- I have to pay more for it but it sure beats feeling like poop and my whole bodily systems run fantastic and I am not about to ruin a good thing after getting myself turned around yet again! LOL I love this stuff and it works nicely with all my other supplementation. It dissolves really nicely under the tongue too. Go Erfa and there isn’t a day I don’t go by that I don’t thank my doctor- she has been wonderful!

    Reply
  19. Tammy

    I must comment on the use of cellulose in compounded thyroid. Cellulose does not collect in the lungs when taken orally. In the studies referenced above, the cellulose was given by intravenous and intratracheal routes. Cellulose is widely used as a filler because it metabolically inert. Other fillers have drawbacks. Lactose can cause problems for those with lactose intolerance. Ascorbic acid can cause loose stools. Probiotics can cause gastrointestinal symptoms like bloating, cramping and diarrhea. Both Vitamin C and probiotics are critical to good health, but they should be taken separately in order to make dose adjustments to bowel tolerance. If thyroid syptoms are unresolved, an adjustment to the thyroid dose should be considered.

    Reply
  20. Janie

    Tammy, raising has not helped the cellulose problem.Instead, it has caused even more problems.

    Reply
  21. Me

    Well, once again a “well-known health cen­ter in Texas” has given their patient the finger. Not listening, as always. I guess it doesn’t matter how well known you are, listening and respecting the experiences of patients and their ability to know what’s going on in their very own bodies, is lost in the mix. I’m not surprised. I guess we have to remember that they think they are in charge and when big brother says “No” then no it is. Very very sad and yet oh so typical. I hope this person finds a doctor/pharmacist who can think outside the box and maybe try something that could potentially help with no possibility of a negative side effect. Yeah, probiotics are really going to kill someone.

    Reply
  22. jpatti

    If you can’t digest cellulose well, increasing the dose is a bad solution. Digestive problems can vary in severity, so the dose you’d be getting would vary as well. Increasing until you’re unhypo today could make you hyper tomorrow as the thyroid improves your digestion, not a good solution.

    Furthermore, some folks with digestive problems can not tolerate cellulose at all. I’ve recently been talking to a woman who found her digestive issues worsen significantly with any cellulose at all. It’s not “inert” if your GI tract is damaged with few villi remaining; any sort of fiber causes further damage by scratching up the surface and causing severe pain.

    While ascorbic acid may cause loose stools at high doses, the neutral forms of vitamin C, such as sodium ascorbate, magnesium ascorbate and calcium ascorbate do not. It is very easy to use a form of vitamin C that does not cause this problem and this has been common knowledge for decades, heck even Linus Pauling discussed it.

    I’m not sure how much vitamin C is needed to compound a script, but I suspect it’s not enough to cause loose stools even if using the acid form.

    Certainly it’s not enough acidophilus to cause problems, many of us get more than would fit in a pill in our yogurt and kefir, especially if we do homemade types. Saying the amount of acidophilus in a compounded pill could cause problems is similar to saying it’s unhealthy to drink a pint of kefir – it’s just ridiculous. The vast majority of probiotics do not colonize the GI tract anyway, but pass, so it’s highly unlikely this would cause a problem even if your script was compounded in some silly manner that had you swallowing 10-20 pills a day.

    Similarly, the amount of lactose in a pill would be very small. Unless you’re eating an entirely carb-free diet, this is not going to increase blood glucose significantly, certainly not enough to feed yeast. Those of us eating a more “normal” low-carb diet of 70-100 grams carb per day are not going to be increasing carbohydrate significantly with a pill’s worth of lactose. Though obviously those with lactose intolerance must avoid it in any dose.

    In short, compounding pharmacies ought to deal with customer’s known issues with fillers… some will have issues with cellulose, some with lactose, etc.

    Avoiding those issues is the way to keep customers coming back; insisting they MUST have a filler they know cause them problems is just ridiculous.

    Reply
  23. DC

    Tammy,

    Not only did the new Armour formula effect my adrenals in a negative way, I also had an allergic reaction as well. It was very scary and very damaging to my health. It took weeks to get out of my system. I had been taking the old formula for 2 1/2 years at that point with only good results.

    Seems a bit irresponsible to make a blanket statement to just raise a med without knowing the problems/symptoms that people had or without seeing labs first.

    If it wasn’t the cellulose in the new formula then what was it that caused such a reaction in so many?

    Reply
  24. thycan

    Having been without a thyroid for many years, I will not tolerate the inferior thyroid replacement products that are being touted as efficacious when in fact, they are useless to me. A thyroid cancer patient needs to be fully suppressed (low TSH) in order to discourage any cancer growth. But it is more than a low TSH. If Free T4 and Free T3 are not optimal, the product does not work, period! When people play with a thyroid formulation that has worked for over 100 years and try to tell the patient to “just adjust the dose” this angers me no end. The reformulation of Armour thyroid was a complete debacle. Compounded versions that do not take into account the patient’s needs are equally destructive, bordering on cruel and unusual punishment.

    Reply
  25. Kathleen

    @”Anonymy”

    Thyroid-S is excellent (I take it myself) and does NOT have aluminum in it. You can see the ingredient list right here on STTM. Please do not put out false information in order to push the other Thai-made competitor, Thiroyd. Thank you.

    Reply
  26. Zak Fisher

    well we do have some lactose intolerance in our family and we just cut out on dairy products.

    (From Janie: One tablespoon of Apple Cider Vinegar in water or juice, once or twice a day, will soon take away lactose intolerance)

    Reply
  27. melissa creel

    does anyone know how long after taking thyroid meds you need to wait before taking anything that may have cellulose in it such as vitamins, etc?
    Thanks,
    Melissa

    Reply

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