According to government estimates, 4.6% of the US population aged 12 or more has hypothyroidism (low thyroid function). Based on treatment guidelines published in 2012 by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE), only synthetic thyroid hormone (levothyroxine, Synthroid, Levoxyl) is an appropriate therapy for this condition. According to these guidelines, the biologic product Armour Thyroid, is unfit for this treatment purpose. Armour Thyroid, an extract of porcine thyroid, has been available as a treatment for hypothyroidism for about 100 years. It was first used in the U.S. to treat hypothyroidism in 1892, a year after it was introduced into the United Kingdom. The impact of the AACE guidelines is more than symbolic Continue reading →
Early in May 2014 a patient being treated with Armour Thyroid (desiccated thyroid) for hypothyroidism reported that her pharmacy service would not refill her prescription for Armour Thyroid because it was an “illegal” drug. We were both very distressed to learn of this, but for different reasons. My patient was rightfully concerned that she might be receiving a wildly inappropriate medication, while I was concerned that I might not be able to prescribe a medication I knew to be extremely helpful and safe. Continue reading →
I am often asked by patients with hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone levels), “What is the right thyroid hormone dose for me”.Of course, a physician wants to find the appropriate dose of medication to treat each condition a patient has. When it comes to thyroid disease however, this can be a complex question. Not only is there an issue of whether T4 alone or combination T3 and T4 will be required to treat a particular individual but the therapeutic window of these hormones must also be considered. Continue reading →
Our member, Ella, has analyzed her own T4 plus T3 thyroid replacement needs and offers a terrific explanation of how she arrived at her conclusions. Follow her thinking in her message to metabolism.com
The 2013 guidelines issued by the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists and the American Thyroid Association reiterated their long standing opinion that only a single hormone, T4 (Synthroid, levothyroxine) is advised for treatment of hypothyroidism. These key organizations
Mainstream endocrinologists seem to be moving grudgingly toward acceptance of combination T4 plus T3 therapy for hypothyroidism. A great example of the mixed feelings harbored by endocrinologists in this regard is the title of a recent editorial, “ Combo (treatment) a Last Resort for Hypothyroidism” . Although the author, Dr. Bruce Jancin of the University of Colorado, recognized the value of combination T4 plus T3 therapy, he did so with the least possible enthusiasm. In his article the doctor acknowledged the weakness of scientific studies showing negative results with combination therapy and pointed out the findings of the Watts Study which provides a genetic rationale for why some people need to have T3 added to T4 to return to proper thyroid hormone balance. Continue reading →
A long time member of metabolism.com, Eric Pritchard, has been a determined critic of “T4 only” treatment of hypothyroidism. In his latest comment Eric shows that scientists were aware of the inadequacy of “T4 only” treatment since 1947! I wanted to give everyone a chance to read his comment so I am posting to the main blog. Thanks again for your insight Eric.
Endocrinologists have a hard time with the symptoms of hypothyroidism in the same sort of way that New York City folks believing that there is anything worthwhile west of the Hudson River. However, there are very relevant functions to the thyroid hormone effectiveness that exist beyond the boundaries of the classical endocrine system. This potential was given initial credence by Drs. Kirk and Kvroning in 1947 when they published a note saying that not all patients’ symptoms were managed by thyroxine (T4). This was collaborated in 1954 by Dr. Means. Drs. Gross and Pitt-Rivers discovered triiodothyronine (T3) and found it far more active than T4, which is now called a pro-hormone. The concept of euthyroid (your thyroid is OK) hypometabolism (but you are dragging anyway) was demonstrated by Dr. Goldberg in 1960. Drs. Refetoff and Braverman, circa 1970, discovered the connections between the thyroid gland and symptom producing cells, namely the cellular reception of hormones and the conversion of T4 to T3 outside of the endocrine system, which produces 80% of the body’s requirement for the active hormone, T3.
Another issue that is dismissed is the necessity of supporting chemistry to function properly. For example, every thyroid hormone replacement counter-indicates is use if the adrenals are insufficient.
So there is far more going on than endocrinology is willing to promote. That is why there are 1.7 million patients suffering in spite of T4 therapy. That is why there are still more patients suffering from false negative diagnoses for the symptoms of hypothyroidism.