Conventional treatment for hypothyroidism recommends Levothyroxine/T4 (commonly known as Synthroid), the biologically inactive form of thyroid hormone. While many do benefit from this treatment, a large percentage of my patients still feel extremely unwell and have difficulties losing weight while on high doses of thyroid medication. This occurs because your body does not metabolize or convert the synthetic hormone into the biologically active thyroid hormone, called T3. Low conversion is common since it can be effected by hormone levels (low progesterone/high estrogen), nutritional deficiencies (specifically B vitamins and selenium), and chronic stress.
Desiccated thyroid extract is a natural thyroid hormone derivative and contains both T4 and T3. This is an excellent option for patients that do not feel well on conventional medications since it contains the biologically active form of thyroid hormone, and therefore bypasses conversion issues. After assessing your thyroid function via symptoms and lab testing I often prescribe desiccated thyroid (available only through a prescription) along with dietary and lifestyle changes in order to optimize your thyroid health.
Desiccated Thyroid: An Effective Alternative to T4 Therapy
A randomized, double blind study of 70 patients with hypothyroidism were treated with either prescription desiccated thyroid or T4 (Synthroid) for 12 weeks. After each treatment period, patients were weighed, had blood tests, underwent physical testing and were asked which therapy they preferred based on improvements in symptoms. The study reported that 49% of the patients preferred desiccated thyroid extract, while only 19% preferred levothyroxine. Desiccated thyroid extract use was also associated with significantly more weight loss and both types of thyroid hormone were able to normalize the abnormal thyroid blood tests.