Is Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) Safe?

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The standard treatment method for hypothyroidism, synthetic T4 or levothyroxine, has left much to be desired for many patients. Frequently, hypothyroid patients report that symptoms of their condition remain even after standard treatment practices. Perhaps it is time to investigate other treatment options.

An effective alternative to levothyroxine is natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Unfortunately, because of ignorance of NDT and proliferation of misinformation, many doctors and patients are unaware or fearful of this viable treatment. Lack of awareness and insidious rumors have resulted in misguided concerns regarding the safety of NDT. In reality, natural desiccated thyroid is a well-researched, safe, and effective method for treating hypothyroidism.

What is NDT?

There are multiple important elements that make natural desiccated thyroid hormone an effective treatment option.

Natural desiccated thyroid, also known as NDT or porcine thyroid, is naturally sourced from the thyroid gland of pigs. The dried pig gland is ground into a powder and compounded into a pill.

A major difference between the two medications is that NDT naturally contains all the thyroid hormones: T4, T3, T2, T1, and T0. In contrast, levothyroxine only provides a synthetic form of T4. The naturally produced hormones of the pig gland are more biologically similar to those produced by humans. Therefore, NDT is more easily used and integrated into your system than levothyroxine.

 

Thyroid disease

Is It True that NDT is Dangerous?

There are multiple rumors in the medical community regarding NDT. The insidious nature of such medical myths has ultimately limited the accessibility of a drug that could significantly improve thyroid function and well-being.

The most prominent misconceptions and untruths of NDT are: NDT has the potential of transferring infectious diseases from the sourced animal; it increases the risk of heart disease; it has no scientific support or proven benefits; it is improperly formulated and contains too much T3; all evidence supporting NDT is anecdotal. These statements are all false, but many practitioners believe them. This has led many physicians to openly and wrongly claim that NDT is not a viable treatment for hypothyroidism.

A lack of information on NDT has fed into the propaganda that it is unsafe. Some may point to the fact that NDT never underwent the scrutiny of a “New Drug Application.” Because the drug was developed prior to the creation of the FDA it was grandfathered into legality. However, NDT has and continues to be regulated by the FDA and remains approved as a safe treatment option.

The treatment has been safely utilized for over 100 years and for many patients; it provides greater results than T4-only medications.

 

The Impressive Effect of NDT

Many practitioners mistakenly believe that synthetic T4 is the only valid method available for treating an underactive thyroid. We can see this belief in the estimated 30 million annual prescriptions for levothyroxine compared to the multiple million prescriptions of NDT. The most common prescription in 2015 was a brand of the synthetic form of T4 (levothyroxine), called Synthroid.

Synthetic T4 is the standard medication prescribed for hypothyroidism. However, it frequently results in patients continuing to experience symptoms related to poor thyroid function even after practitioners are satisfied with hormone levels and testing.

The issue with this treatment is that T4 must be properly converted into T3 by the body before it has any positive effect. Unfortunately, poor conversion is a common issue among thyroid patients. Approximately 25%-40% of those treated with synthetic T4 have poor T4 to T3 conversion. Therefore, the current medical standard of utilizing synthetic T4 formulations as the sole method of treatment is not a universal answer to hypothyroidism. Those with conversion issues may see a significant benefit from other treatment options.

Natural Dessicated Thyroid

A 2013 study titled, “Desiccated thyroid extract compared with levothyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study“, set out to display the efficacy of treating hypothyroidism with NDT compared to levothyroxine. The study was composed of 70 patients that were treated with either NDT or synthetic T4 over a 16-week period. After the initial 16 weeks, they then treated the patients with the other medication for another 16 weeks. The results showed that NDT was a more effective method for treating hypothyroidism when compared to synthetic T4 options.

Patient reports of preexisting symptoms including difficulty thinking or concentrating, fatigue, and insomnia were significantly improved when treated with NDT. Furthermore, after the study concluded, participants were asked to share their treatment preferences. Nearly 49 percent preferred NDT, while about 19 percent said levothyroxine was better. Approximately 33 percent declined to state a preference. The impressive results displayed in this study show the remarkable efficacy and validity of NDT as an alternative to T4-only and synthetic medications.

Finding the Right Treatment

Some patients benefit from T4-only treatments, but for many hypothyroid patients that is not enough. Treating patients as individuals with unique needs is critical to improving thyroid health!

To achieve better wellness, it is necessary to provide the best treatment possible for the patient’s unique situation. Therefore, NDT should at the very least be considered as a treatment option. NDT is an established, safe, and impressively powerful way to treat hypothyroidism.

At Holtorf Medical Group, our physicians are trained to provide you with cutting-edge testing and innovative treatments to properly diagnose and treat your thyroid condition, optimize your health and improve your quality of life. If you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, but aren’t getting the treatment you need or if you have symptoms associated with thyroid dysfunction, call us at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!

Resources

1. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Understanding Local Control of Thyroid Hormones: (Deiodinases Function and Activity).” National Academy of Hypothyroidism and Integrative Sciences.
2. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Thyroid Hormone Transport.” National Academy of Hypothyroidism and Integrative Sciences.
3. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Diagnosis of Hypothyroidism: Are we getting what we want from TSH testing?” National Academy of Hypothyroidism and Integrative Sciences.
4. Kent Holtorf, MD. “Why Doesn’t My Endocrinologist Know All of This?” National Academy of Hypothyroidism and Integrative Sciences.
5. Huong, T.D., et al. “Desiccated thyroid extract compared with levothyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013 May;98(5):1982-90.
6. Peterson SJ, Cappola AR, Castro MR, et al. “An Online Survey of Hypothyroid Patients Demonstrates Prominent Dissatisfaction.” Thyroid. 2018;28(6):707-721.
7. Grozinsky-glasberg S, Fraser A, Nahshoni E, Weizman A, Leibovici L. “Thyroxine-triiodothyronine combination therapy versus thyroxine monotherapy for clinical hypothyroidism: meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2006;91(7):2592-9.

About Jason Dobruck

Jason is a freelance writer with experience covering health, food, nutrition, and supplementation for NAHIS, HoltraCeuticals and other wellness outlets. He has been writing medical and health related content for over three years. Jason enjoys covering everything from general health tips to comprehensive condition overviews and treatment options.