T4-only meds like Synthroid do NOT work, exclaim many patients!
Why does this page state T4-only treatment doesn’t work?
First know that it’s not based on anyone’s strong opinion, which we all see so much of on the internet, and we don’t know whose opinion to believe. :(
Instead, it’s based on a massive amount of first-hand reports by a large body of thyroid patients worldwide for decades–namely that T4-only meds (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine, Unithroid, Eltroxin, Levaxin, Norton, Eutrosig, Oroxine, Tirosint, for example) are NOT doing the job as a sole treatment…unless you think that an elevator that goes up to the 5th-floor-only on a 50-story building is “doing the job.
“But I feel better on T4-only!”
You are believed! Because yes, you might feel better than before you got on, and your symptoms may be improved. Some do report that!
But when you look at the experiences of a large body of patients, you’ll see that they are left with their own degree and kind of symptoms due to an inferior treatment. And patients on T4 either experience them from the get-go, or they see them crop up the longer they are on T4-only. i.e. the body is NOT meant to live for conversion alone, which is what T4 does for you–converts to T3. You are getting NO “direct T3″, which a healthy thyroid would be giving you!
Even if you don’t identify with the lingering symptoms (click on blue words above), it’s all too common to have them crop up the longer you stay on T4-only.
In other words, symptoms of a poor treatment creep up on patients the longer they stay on T4-only. i.e. it’s going to bite you in the behind, sooner or later, with symptoms related to a poor hypothyroid treatment. That can include low iron, low cortisol, low B12 or Vit. D, depression, rising cholesterol or blood pressure, hair loss, the need to nap…on and on and on.
And what do uninformed doctors do for the symptoms you might continue to have, or seem to acquire, on T4-only meds?
They put you on anti-depressants, statins, pain meds, blood pressure meds, and all sorts of bandaid medications to cover the effects of a poor thyroid treatment, which include chronic depression, irritability weight gain, the need to nap, aches and pains, rising cholesterol or blood pressure, “Chronic Fatigue Syndrome”, “Fibromyalgia”, bi-polar, anxiety, hair loss, dry skin or dry hair… to name just a few. When you mention your poor energy levels, they tell you to exercise more. When you mention your weight problems, they tell you to eat less.
And the worst thing they’ll say when you continue to have symptoms of a thyroid disorder? “It’s not your thyroid. Your TSH is normal, and you’re optimally treated.” That, friends, is not so… and has lead many thyroid patients on T4-only into continuing agony and self-doubt.
But my mother/aunt/siblings/friends are on T4 and they are doing fine! It does work for some…doesn’t it??
Here are things we have noticed about those who you may feel are doing fine:
- Some who state they are doing well actually have problems they don’t realize are related to a poor treatment, as listed above. . This is VERY common, and many of them are on other meds or supplements to treat those problems.
- Many of us have known first-hand folks who were put on T4-only and never really needed it in the first place. The doc just once caught a higher TSH due to stress. These folks got off and are fine today.
- Some seem to do well for awhile, only to suddenly discover problems dropping up down the line, and regret they didn’t listen to what patients have learned.
What is “T4”?
T4, also called thyroxine, is the thyroid storage hormone. Its main function is to convert to the active thyroid hormone–T3, which gives you good overall health, energy and stamina. T3 affects every single cell in your body!!
The theory was that T4 would convert to the T3 needed for the body. But in a large body of patients on T4 meds, they either 1) do NOT convert into an adequate amount of T3, or 2) do convert, but you are still left with continuing symptoms. In other words, healthy thyroid function does not rely soley on T4-to-T3 conversion! A healthy thyroid gives you T4, but also direct T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. If they weren’t important, why would the human body make them? Did you know it’s calcitonin along with that T3 that keeps calcium from leeching out of your bones?
But there’s even more to the problem: it’s called the TSH lab.
Around 1973, the TSH lab test was developed. Based on a sampling of several volunteers, a so-called “normal” range was established—.5 to 5.0 (recently lowered to 3.0). But volunteers with a history of family hypothyroid were NOT excluded, leaving us with a range that leans towards being hypothyroid! In fact, the TSH RARELY corresponds to how a patient feels. There is a large majority of patients who have a “normal” TSH, even in the “one” area of the range, and have a myriad of hypo symptoms. ***There is a complete chapter on the TSH with more information in the revised STTM book.
So what’s the solution?
Patients are returning to a medication that was successful from the late 1800’s onward: natural desiccated thyroid hormones (NDT), more commonly known by certain brand names as Armour, Naturethroid, Erfa’s Canadian “Thyroid”, Acella’s NP Thyroid, etc. They are made from pig glands, meet the stringent guidelines of the US Pharmacopoeia, and give patients EXACTLY what their own thyroids give them—T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. It’s powerful and it works.
Additionally, patients who are working with certain wise doctors are not dosing by the TSH. Instead, they raise their desiccated thyroid (NDT) according to three criteria (and not in any particular order):
- 1) the elimination of symptoms (which means you can wean off many prescription meds)
- 2) getting a mid-afternoon temp of 98.6F/37C using a mercury thermometer, while maintaining a normal, healthy heartrate and BP, and
- 3) getting their free T3 towards the top of the range (in the presence of healthy adrenal function and optimal iron).
I once tried NDT and it gave me problems! Why?
You are here if anything went wrong. It wasn’t because NDT doesn’t work. It’s because you didn’t realize a few things. Read the link carefully and find yourself. Because NDT works wonders!!
*** IMPORTANT NOTE: you need to have good cortisol and optimal iron levels for NDT to work well for you. And those on T4-only often end up with poor levels of each, thus making it important to look at these ahead of time. Because if you don’t have optimal levels of either or both, you can find yourself with reactions to the T3 in the form of heart issues, palps, anxiety, shakiness, etc due to the failure to get T3 to the cells well. Here is what patients have learned about what to look for in your iron and saliva cortisol labwork.
Bottom line, dig deep.
Decades of patient experience with the lousy T4-only medications like Synthroid have something quite important to teach you. Either now because you already know it’s not working…or later when it all comes tumbling down (as it will), there’s just a lot of patient experience before you which screams that T4-only is not your best choice!
- To read more detail on T4, it’s history, why it’s been such a widespread failure for so many, see Chapter One in the revised STTM book. A must have book.
- To listen to an audio version of some of this page, go here.
- Watch Janie talk about T4-only vs NDT here.
- To proceed from this page and learn more about natural desiccated thyroid, go here.
- To benefit from what patients and wise doctors have learned about far better thyroid treatment overall, go here.
- To see the different brands of desiccated thyroid, go here.
- To see labwork you need and places to get it on your own to share with your doctor, go here.
- To work with a good doctor, go here. And remember: YOU have to go in there informed and assertive. Use the revised STTM book to take with you.