pillsWhy does this page state that for too many patients, T4-only didn’t work?

First know that it’s not based on strong opinion. Instead, the information is based on reported experiences of a large body of patients over the years while on their T4-only meds (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Levothyroxine, Unithroid, Eltroxin, Levaxin, Norton, Eutrosig, Oroxine, Tirosint, for example).

i.e. T4-only was NOT doing the job as a sole treatment for all too many…unless you think that an elevator that goes up to the 5th-floor-only on a 50-story building is “doing the job”.

You can read a lot more about T4-only in Chapter 1 of the revised STTM book.

But “we’re all different” right?? What doesn’t work for one may work for another, right?

If ten people were playing in a street, and seven were run over, would you still approve of playing in the street because three didn’t get run over…in the name of “We’re all different”?

Here’s the deal: when you look at years and years of reported experiences of T4-treated patients, you’ll see any of the following scenarios. Can you see yourself, or will you see yourself?

  • Some never feel totally well on T4-only. i.e. many report having their own degree and kind of continued symptoms due to an inferior treatment. And it all gets worse the longer they stay on the unnatural treatment of T4-only.
  • Some state they are doing well on T4, but can actually have problems they don’t realize are related to a poor treatment. This is VERY common. And when they change over to NDT, they have been amazed how much better they feel, even when they thought they were doing pretty good on T4-only. Others on T4 are on prescription meds or supplements to treat hypo-related problems, or they have to take naps to get by, or they dismiss their problems as genetic or from “being a mom”, or being “older”…and they didn’t realize it was all due to being on T4 and remaining hypothyroid.
  • Some who state they are doing well, and have for “x-number years”, report suddenly finding themselves with one or more hypo-related problems (and some serious!), such as heart issues, low cortisol, low iron, low B12 or Vit. D, depression, rising cholesterol or blood pressure, hair loss…on and on…all due to being forced to unnaturally live on T4 alone for years.
  • Some find out they never needed treatment it in the first place. i.e. the doc just once caught a higher TSH due to stress or anything else. These folks got off and are fine today.

Tell me more about T4. And is there something else?

Did you know that a healthy thyroid makes five hormones?? They are T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin.

T4, also called thyroxine, is simply a storage hormone meant to convert to T3, the active hormone. But a healthy thyroid doesn’t make you totally depend on conversion alone, and also gives you “direct” T3 plus the other hormones above. So in other words, being on a T4-only med means you are missing out on four other hormones directly, and thus, you are being forced to live for conversion alone! Also, calcitonin is a hormone that helps keep calcium from leeching out of your blood. That’s important!

And what do uninformed doctors do for the symptoms you might continue to have, or seem to acquire the longer you stay 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, anxiety, weight gain, the need to nap, aches and pains, rising cholesterol or blood pressure, heart problems, “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, or suddenly find yourself with, symptoms of a thyroid disorder? “It’s not your thyroid. Your TSH is normal, and you’re optimally treated.” :(

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 a better alternative to being on T4-only?

Patients are returning to a medication that was successful from the late 1800’s onward: natural desiccated thyroid hormones (NDT). Most 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).

You can read a LOT more about natural desiccated thyroid in Chapter 2 of the revised STTM book–a must have!

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 which need correction, and which NDT will reveal. Read the link carefully and find yourself. Because NDT does 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, no one can really decide what’s right for you, but there is plenty of reported patient experience and wisdom worth considering…. 

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.