Doctors generally treat Hashimoto’s the same way as primary hypothyroidism – by replacing the missing hormones. And while that might be effective for replacing the missing hormones, it does not address the auto-immune aspect of the disease; and when your immune system is unbalanced it can wreak havoc on your health, and even lead to the development of more auto-immune conditions.

For patients with Hashimoto’s disease, hormone replacement therapy should never be the sole treatment. Hormone replacement should always be complemented with adequate nutrition, diet and lifestyle changes.

Synthetic Hormones

thyrofix-ad-3This is the most common form of treatment hypothyroid patients receive. When you see your doctor, you’re usually presented with a prescription for generic levothyroxine or synthroid (T4). While some patients respond well to that type of treatment, others still suffer from debilitating symptoms. Sometimes you’ll need your dosage adjusted in order to feel better, or you may be given a combination of T4 and T3.

T3 medications are synthetic, and are also called Liothyronine Sodium. Some of the more popular brands are Cytomel, Cynomel, Tiromel And Tertroxin.

The main problem with taking synthetic thyroid hormone is that it doesn’t do anything for the actual cause of your condition, and that paves the way for other auto-immune conditions developing in the future.

Natural Thyroid Hormone

When a patient isn’t doing so well on synthetic hormones, he or she may be prescribed natural thyroid hormone. Some patients prefer the natural thyroid hormone, made from porcine or bovine thyroid glands. There are several brands available like Armour, WP Thyroid and Nature-Throid. All these contain the same hormones as your own thyroid: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin, working harmoniously to resolve symptoms of hypothyroidism: fatigue, weight-gain, depression, muscle aches and pains, dry skin and hair, high blood pressure, cholesterol, impaired heart function and many others.

Here are some of the more popular brands available:

NP Thyroid tablets from Acella Pharmaceuticals offer an option for naturally desiccated thyroid containing levothyroxine (T4) and liothyronine (T3) that can be swallowed whole or taken sublingually. Patients report having success in the treatment of hypothyroidism symptoms with this brand so it might be worth a try. Active ingredients are listed as 38 mcg levothyroxine (T4) and 9 mcg liothyronine (T3) per one grain (60 mg), but like all desiccated thyroid, has all 5 hormones. You can learn more about it here:

armour thyroidArmour Thyroid is a natural, porcine-derived thyroid hormone replacement containing both T4 and T3. In 2009 Armour underwent a reformulation with an increase in cellulose and a decrease of the sucrose. Many patients reported that Armour no longer worked for them and their hypothyroidism symptoms returned. It’s currently made by Activas Pharmaceuticals (it used to be made by Forest Labs). From 2015 after Activas bought out Forest Labs, some patients noticed a difference in the tablet- similar to what happened in 2009. It also tripled in price in 2015. While Armour used to be the premier brand in natural desiccated thyroid, patients are moving away to other brands as Armour seems to be no longer as effective.  You can learn more about it here:

Nature-Throid is a hypoallergenic combination thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) hormone replacement drug made from Thyroid USP. It’s made by RLC Labs, formerly Western Research Labs. Nature-Throid is formulated using hypoallergenic inactive ingredients and does not contain any artificial colors or flavors, corn, peanut, rice, gluten, soy, yeast, egg or fish/shellfish. Nature-Throid says that it has guaranteed T4 and T3 hormone levels. One grain is 65 mg and contains .038 mg (or 38 mcg) of T4 and 9 mcg of T3, plus unmeasured amounts of T2, T1 and calcitonin. Strengths are 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 grain, 1 1/4, 1 1/2, 1 3/4, 2 grains, 2 1/4, 2 1/2, 3, 4, and 5 grains. You can learn more about it here:

WP Thyroid  – formerly known as Westhroid-P is made by RLC Labs. Stated to contain natural desiccated thyroid (porcine). Strengths are 1/4, 1/2, 3/4, 1 grain, 1 1/2, 2. One grain equals 65 mg total, which is composed of 38 mcg T4 and 9 mcg T3–the others (T2, T1 and calcitonin) aren’t measured, but are there. RLC states it’s gluten free.

THIROYD – non-prescription desiccated thyroid extract by Greater Pharma Ltd., a Thai pharmaceutical manufacturer. One grain contains T3 at 8.31 microgram; T4 at 35 microgram, which is 0.013% and 0.058% respectively. The tablets reportedly dissolve well sublingually and seem to have a good potency.  This is a link to the manufacturer’s website:

THYROID-S – non-prescription, made by Sriprasit Pharma Co., Ltd. in Thailand. Patients report that this product works quite well. The maker states Thyroid-S is gluten-free, however it does contain several different fillers including lactose, Magnesium stearate, Talcum, artificial colors, and Methyl paraben among others. Content in one tablet (60 mg thyroid extract): approximately 38 mcg Levothyroxine (T4) and 9 mcg Liothyronine (T3); Source of extract: Porcine

CANADA’S “THYROID” by ERFA, formerly by Pfizer and now made by Erfa. Tablets come in 30, 60 and 125 mg. They are said to contain Dried Thyroid, Magnesium Stearate, Cornstarch, Talc and Sugar. From around the spring of 2014, many patients have reported that Erfa was no longer effective and was causing a return of their hypothyroid symptoms.

Some patients prefer to try out both synthetic and natural types of hormones in the course of several weeks to determine which one works better for them. As in the case with synthetic hormones, natural hormones also do not address the cause of the disease; all they do is replace the missing hormones and manage the symptoms stemming from low thyroid hormone levels.

Taking Your Medication Correctly

Many patients experience problems when taking levothyroxine or other thyroid hormone replacement medication. The most important thing is consistency: take the same dosage at the same time of the day, with the same interval from foods. After you’ve been on the medication for a couple of weeks (up to six weeks), which is how long it takes to build up to optimum levels, you’ll notice that your body is actually expecting a dose of hormones at that time. If you become inconsistent with the timing, undesirable side-effects may occur.

Consistency is more important than which time of day you choose to take your medicine. Although most doctors recommend taking Levothyroxine first thing in the morning, many people find they suffer from fewer side effects if they take their dose mid-morning or even last thing at night. Recent studies have shown that a night-time dose seems to be the most effective, least disruptive and best-tolerated time for taking thyroid medication so you might want to reconsider if you’re taking it in the morning and suffer from side effects.

The majority of the levothyroxine dose is absorbed from the small intestine so make sure you drink a full glass of water with your medication. Allow at least one hour before eating or drinking anything else besides water to allow the medication to be absorbed and converted correctly in the body. Allow at least four hours between taking calcium or iron supplements and a dose of thyroxine. Be sure to check that any orange juice you drink is not fortified with calcium, as even a small amount can affect absorption.

T4 needs to be converted into the active form T3 in order to be used by the body. Once T4 is in the blood, it is converted into T3 mainly by the liver and kidneys – using cortisol, a hormone secreted by the adrenal glands. The T3 enters the body’s cells, connects to the right receptors, and the energy is released.

But when the adrenal glands’ store of cortisone – the precursor of cortisol is depleted, conversion cannot occur. This means that anyone prescribed Thyroxine should ideally have their adrenal levels tested before taking the drug. Even if the T4 is converted to T3, it must still enter the body’s cells and connect to the right receptors to affect their metabolic function.

Some substances bind with the Levothyroxine (Synthroid), so that it cannot cross the gut wall to be absorbed. These substances should never be taken at the same time, or within an hour of taking levothyroxine tablets: iron salts, Aluminum hydroxide, antacids, calcium carbonate (including milk), sucralfate, cholestyramine, Cholestyramine (Questran) and soy-based formulas.

Recent research suggests that caffeine may also prevent full absorption of Levothyroxine. Selenium is a component that helps convert T4 to T3, so deficiencies of selenium can impair thyroid function and worsen hypothyroidism. However, selenium can be toxic in large quantities, and some studies have shown that an excess intake of selenium can actually depress T3 levels. The optimal dose of selenium for hypothyroidism patients is 200mcg. Please visit the Wellness Store to check out my specially-formulated for hypothyroidism nutritional supplements.

Natural Treatment Protocols

Many patients are opting for natural treatments in an attempt to reverse hypothyroidism so they won’t have to depend on hormone replacement for the rest of their lives. These include diet and lifestyle changes such as removing allergens from your diet, avoiding artificial ingredients, avoiding foods that suppress thyroid function, improving the health of your immune system and eating whole foods.

Most Hashimoto’s patients are told by their doctor that they will need to take pills forever but that’s not always the case. Many patients can restore the function of their thyroid gland back to normal by following the right treatment protocol. What’s worse, many patients are being told that “it’s all in their head” or being prescribed anti-depressants in lieu of correct hypothyroidism treatment.

Of course, there are exceptions – people who have had thyroid surgery or received radioactive iodine treatment will need to take thyroid hormone for the rest of their lives. But for those who haven’t had their thyroid glands completely damaged or removed it’s very possible to restore their health back to normal if the cause of the disease is addressed.

Even patients who can’t have the function of their thyroid gland completely restored back to normal still need to correct the autoimmune response, weak adrenals, and whatever other problems they are experiencing. If these issues are not addressed, chances are this will lead to other conditions in the future.

It’s imperative that your treatment plan includes the right diet for you, otherwise it just won’t work. The type of treatment may vary from patient to patient. The therapy depends on various factors which include the cause of hypothyroidism, your age, the level of thyroid hormones in your body, and any other medical conditions you have.

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