Natural Thyroid 101
How long has Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) been around?
It’s been used by patients for over 115 years, as reported in old medical journals. For interesting information on its history & details on the product itself, see the revised STTM book, Chapter 2.
What’s the big deal about natural desiccated thyroid (NDT)?
Unlike T4-only meds (Synthroid, Levoxyl, generic levothyroxine, Eltroxin, Oroxine, Levothyroid, Levaxin or Euthyrox, etc)…desiccated thyroid is natural and gives you exactly what your own thyroid would be giving you: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Chapter One of the revised STTM book details what each of these hormones are. Patients who’ve tried T4-only, or even the two synthetics (T4 and T3) or even straight T3, have reported far better results with NDT. It’s a smoother treatment, removes lingering symptoms, improves your immune system (which helps Hashimotos), allows many to wean off anti-depressants, statins, BP meds and more, gives you your life back, stops you from falling into low cortisol/sluggish HPA function (which SO many patients end up with because of the inadequacy of T4-only) and could be far better for your immune system if you’ve ever had thyroid cancer (because of the direct T3 within NDT which appears to improve immune function–that is big).
What are the brands of desiccated natural thyroid? Is one better than the other?
They are all listed here. You’ll see Naturethroid, Acella’s NP Thyroid, Erfa, Thyroid-S, and more. No, one brand is not better than another. They all work as reported by patients–it’s just individual which you want to use and which you feel works best for you! You will also see internet over-the-counter brands which may not be as effective as the above, or may be.
What exactly is natural desiccated thyroid?
Desiccated thyroid by prescription is powdered thyroid from pigs (mixed from several pigs, not one), and it meets the stringent guidelines of the US Pharmacopeia i.e it’s made according to standards, contrary to what some doctors say. To see ingredients of all, go here. To see all available options for desiccated thyroid, go here.
How do I move from taking T4-only to NDT?
Many patients do their T4 one day, then stop and start on desiccated thyroid the next with a safe beginning dose, usually one grain (see below), with no problems whatsoever. Some doctors guide their patients to lower T4, such as by half, start on desiccated thyroid, then continue lowering the T4 as they raise the NDT. But the former works well. Work with your doctor.
How do patients dose with natural desiccated thyroid and find their optimal amount?
Thyroid patients and their doctors have found it wise to start on a smaller dose of desiccated thyroid than they will ultimately need, such as 1 grain (60/65 mg, which is considered a “starting dose” for most–it’s individual). Why just one grain? Because the body may need to adjust to getting direct T3 again, and there may be other issues which can reveal themselves, such as sluggish adrenals or low iron levels.
Do some doctors start patients lower than one grain? Yes. They may feel there is a good reason. But patients who want to start lower learned to keep going up, bit by bit, to counter the feedback loop. i.e. those lower doses have made some patients feel even worse. But again, it’s individual.
Those who start on one grain natural desiccated thyroid have discovered that it can be wise to RAISE by 1/2 grain every two weeks or less to prevent hypothyroid symptoms from returning due to suppression of the internal feedback loop in your body, which can happen if you stay on a low dose too long before raising. Most patients start to slow those raises down in the 2-3-grain area to give the T4 time to build (which can take 4-6 weeks) and show its conversion results..then inch their way up if needed. Some patients end up in the 3-5 grain area when optimal, some on a lot less, and some on more. It’s very individual. (Janie Bowthorpe is on 3 1/2 grains, for example)
How do I know when I’m on enough?
Before labs were developed, doctors successfully treated hypothyroid patients by symptom elimination. Today, patients and many wise doctors still find symptom elimination an ideal way to treat. As we are raising from the starting dose of one grain (60 or 65 mg) and sometimes less, we look for all of the following: the complete removal of our hypothyroid symptoms, an afternoon temp of 98.6F/37C, a morning before-rising temp of 97.8 – 98.2 (held under arm ten minutes with a liquid thermometer if you are imitating what Dr. Broda Barnes did), a good heart rate and blood pressure, plenty of energy and more positive signs.
We also discovered over the years that when optimal and feeling pretty good (and in the presence of good cortisol and good iron, which is crucial to get the benefits of NDT), our free T3 is towards the top of the range, and free T4 is midrange.
Note: if your free T3 is at the top of the range and you still feel horrible, or have hyper-like symptoms, time to test your iron (with blood) and cortisol levels (via saliva, NOT blood). Problems with either will cause T3 to pool high in your blood and not get to your cells well. Go here.
Can I go by those Synthroid-to-NDT equivalency charts?
Not unless you want to stay hypothyroid. Read right above.
Are there any non-prescription desiccated thyroid products?
Nutri Meds which is available in either porcine or bovine desiccated thyroid, and is far weaker, plus Dr. Lowe’s ThyroGold, which seems to be stronger and workable. Neither Thyroid-S or Thiroyd from Thailand are by prescription, and patients report them working quite well.
Do I simply swallow it? Should I avoid anything when swallowing it?
Yes, you can swallow it and do great, as patients have done. But others like to do it sublingually, i.e under the tongue. In spite of what some literature says (that the molecules are too big to be done sublingually), patients report an even better result. Both Erfa and Acella can be done well sublingually, as can Thiroyd.
It is false that you have to have an empty stomach when using NDT. But when swallowing desiccated thyroid, it might be a good idea to avoid iron, estrogen and calcium supplements at the same time, plus possibly magnesium, since all bind the thyroid hormones to some degree. But note the “to some degree”. It’s only partial binding. Supposedly, we read that the tannins in coffee or tea can also bind thyroid hormones to some degree, but some patients report they take their NDT with coffee and are fine.
If the tablet is quite hard due to excess cellulose, chewing it up before swallowing can give better results, say some patients.
Do I take it once a day?
To the contrary, most patients have found it beneficial to divide their dose to at least twice a day in order to spread the energy-giving affect of T3. Desiccated thyroid contains direct T3, which is short-lived, and which peaks about 2 hours after you take it. An example is taking 2/3 or your natural desiccated thyroid in the morning, and the other 1/3 in the early afternoon. Your own thyroid, if healthy, would have given you what you need throughout the day instead of one dump; thus, multi-dosing has always been our way to replicate that.
Why is the T3 in desiccated thyroid so important?
From a defunct biology website, but still good information: In your cells, T3 is essential to reconverting ADP (the ‘flat battery’) into ATP (the ‘charged battery’). A shortage of T3 leads to a poor ratio between ATP and ADP. That would seem to explain why a long recovery period is needed after exertion; it takes a long time, at this deficient rate, to get back to a decent level of ATP so you’re ready for more activity.
And here is a study which does underscore the above: http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/280/5/E761
How do I find a doctor who understands desiccated thyroid?
Patients regrettably find that many doctors are very ignorant about the efficacy and safety of natural desiccated thyroid. But many are finally coming around! If you click on the highlighted “doctors” above, you’ll find recommendations on how to find a good doc. And note that it is not uncommon to drive great distances to find an open-minded doctor–the latter which is a doctor’s most important quality. But be prepared that you may have to teach any doctor what you have learned from patient experiences!
Why did I feel lousy on NDT?
It’s always related to either being held hostage to a dose too low (because of a TSH obsessed doctor or one who isn’t informed about NDT) or due to have a cortisol or iron problem. i.e. iff upon starting desiccated thyroid or raising it, you have very strange symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, shakiness, we learned it was a strong sign that you may have either an adrenal problem or inadequate levels of iron, which are revealed with NDT. See this video. And here’s a page that covers why NDT doesn’t seem to work for you. Or, if you felt great when you started NDT, only to see it go away and hypo symptoms return, you probably failed to understand that you needed to raise it! See mistakes patients make.
Why do some patients take T3-only instead of desiccated thyroid?
Chapter 12 in the STTM book is completely devoted to T3 and includes good information on RT3–the latter thre reason why people might be on T3-only.
Are there any beneficial supplements that I can take with desiccated thyroid?
Many patients take a Selenium tablet with their thyroid meds, which assists the T4 to T3 conversion. L-Tyrosine helps some patients, too. Zinc and Vit. C may play a role in assisting your thyroid. Your need for B-vitamins will increase as you improve your energy levels, says some literature Some patients benefit from iodine supplementation. Optimizing your Vit. D levels can be important along with Vit. K2. Minerals can also be important. Chapter 15 in the revised STTM book has great information on supplements and good foods!
If I’m at retirement age or older, am I supposed to lower my NDT a great deal to have my free T3 and free T4 lower?
We haven’t found that to be necessary as far as a “great deal”. That idea comes from a study done with those on T4-only and who appeared to be overdosing themselves and had more bone fractures. But with NDT, the direct T3 has helped our bone strength, not make it worse. It’s possible if your activity level dropped, you might need slightly less NDT than one does in age 30.
Why does my doctor say NDT is “unstable”?
Because he doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Synthroid has been recalled NUMEROUS times. NDT meets the guidelines of the US Pharmacopeia for stability.
Any other tips?
Many patients are keen to having an emergency backup of desiccated natural thyroid just for that–emergencies! Desiccated thyroid has a long shelf life, but you can also wrap it securely to avoid damaging moisture and place it in the freezer.
WANT EVEN MORE INFORMATION ON DESICCATED THYROID?
Definitely get the Revised STTM book, which is especially handy to take into your doctor’s office, or when you just don’t want to be on the computer.
*Read Things We Have Learned if you are new to this website, or need help understanding it all.
*To talk to others about desiccated thyroid, go to our Talk to Others page.
Want to order your own labwork?? STTM has created the right ones just for you to discuss with your doctor. Go here: https://sttm.mymedlab.com/
Need help interpreting your lab results? Go here: www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values/