Treatment of a thyroid condition requires a deep understanding of how hormones function and interact with the body. Perhaps the most important aspect of thyroid treatment is knowing that each patient has unique needs and will require an individualized approach.
Excerpt from Thyroid 101
Even though it goes against popular belief, there is no effective standard treatment for thyroid disease. If treatment is correct, patients may feel improvement immediately. Others may take longer to feel better as they progress towards effective medication. Understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the many treatment options available allows you to progress further towards optimal thyroid function.
Levothyroxine, Synthroid, and Levoxyl are the go-to treatments for hypothyroidism. These synthetic forms of T4 are administered to patients in the hopes that their levels will normalize. Unfortunately, this is based on an assumption that the body will correctly convert T4 into T3. If T4 remains unconverted or is over-converted into Reverse T3 (RT3), their health will not improve. Some patients may garner some benefits from T4-only formulations, but optimizing your thyroid is far more likely with a customized treatment plan.
T3 formulations such as Cytomel, are underutilized methods of treating thyroid disease. Patients suffering from RT3 issues, causing poor thyroid function even if the patient presents normal levels of T4 and TSH, can benefit greatly from preparations containing T3. Providing the body with appropriate amounts of T3 can reduce the need for additional T4. Thyroid function of those who over convert T4 to RT3 can experience worsening of their condition with T4-only treatments.
Natural Desiccated Thyroid
Unlike synthetic formulations, Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) drugs are a prescription hormone treatment derived from natural sources. These formulations are frequently created from the dried thyroid gland of pigs or cows (NDT is exclusively from pigs in the United States). NDT is also known as natural thyroid, porcine thyroid, or thyroid extract. There are multiple brands of NDT including Nature-throid, Thyroid WP, Armour, and Acella.
Many patients benefit greatly by switching from synthetic forms of thyroid hormone to natural formulations. Part of the reason NDT works better than synthetics for some individuals is that it more closely resembles human thyroid hormones. NDT is also highly customizable allowing for unique formulations of T4, T3, T2, T1 and other thyroid hormones and nutrients to be easily incorporated into the same treatment. As with all thyroid treatments, the efficacy of the approach is reliant on how well it is optimized for the unique needs of the patient.
Many patients benefit from a combination of T4 and T3 formulations. Acquiring a quality compound can also eliminate the inclusion of potential thyroid-inhibiting substances such as lactose and gluten, which are common in many medications. Physicians have the ability to customize the levels of T3 and T4 contained in their prescribed medication because it’s being tailor-made by pharmacists. This allows patients to acquire the specific quantities of hormones needed for their unique situation. Patients who have not done well using T4-only formulations or NDT frequently benefit from a specified compound treatment.
The Right Treatment for You
The many different brands, formulations, and interactions of thyroid treatments may seem overwhelming. However, having a basic introduction to the world of thyroid treatment provides a framework that can be built upon while moving towards better health. Learn more about thyroid disease and your treatment options in our FREE Thyroid 101 e-book.
At Holtorf Medical Group our physicians are trained to create an individualized treatment plan specific to your body and condition. If you are currently undergoing thyroid hormone treatment, but are still experiencing symptoms, give us a call at 877-508-1177 to see how we can help you!