There is no one size fits all when it comes to thyroid medication and trying to find the right dose seems to be an art more than a science. Listening to the body is the key ingredient to balancing your thyroid health.
Your thyroid gland produces two types of main thyroid hormones- T4 and T3. About 90 percent of the hormones produced is in the form of T4 (inactive form). Your liver and the help of enzymes convert T4 into T3, (the active form). Your thyroid hormones work with your brain (mostly your pituitary and hypothalamus) regulating the release of your thyroid hormone.
Your hypothalamus makes the hormone TRH and the pituitary makes the hormone TSH. If your body is working correctly you will make exactly what you need and have the right amounts of T3 and T4.
These hormones are what control your metabolism of every cell of your body. Not your metabolism ONLY but your metabolism of every cell in your body. Unfortunately, this balance can be disrupted very easily by nutritional imbalances, toxins, allergens, infections, gut imbalances, stress, and more.
The first step a doctor takes is to check your levels but most of the time not all the right levels. So before starting any medication make sure you check the correct thyroid levels, including:
- Free T4
- Free T3
- Reverse T3
- Thyroid Peroxidase Antibodies (TPO)
- Thyroglobulin Antibodies (TgAb)
Most conventional practitioners label thyroid patients as “normal” when they are in the thyroid lab range, measured through blood work. The issue is most lab ranges are very wide and don’t measure your optimal functioning. Unfortunately, life for thyroid patients can worsen from synthetic chemical medications.
The most common thyroid treatment is synthetic T4 hormone medication.
The thyroid drug Synthroid (levothyroxine sodium), is the most commonly prescribed and is anything but natural!
Unlike the natural thyroid hormone produced in our body, Synthroid is synthetic and contains very different substances. It is the most common drug prescribed in the United States with 21.6 million prescriptions a month.
The downside of T4 medications is that it doesn’t provide any T3. Many patients have trouble converting T4 to T3, because of adrenal fatigue or nutritional deficiencies, meaning no matter how much T4 they take their T3 levels will stay low and they will still experience symptoms.
Another issue with synthetic medication is the inactive ingredients in it. Thyroid hormones are prescribed in micrograms, which means the amount of T4 in each pill is ridiculously small. The rest of the pill is made of synthetic colors and fillers that vary by brand.
For example, Synthroid contains lactose and cornstarch. Levothyroxine ( the generic version of Synthroid) has many fillers that change often. Their fillers vary because pharmacies can change manufacturers of generic medications without warning. The inactive ingredients in your generic medications might vary from month to month.
Synthetic T3 Medication
If you are not converting T4 into T3 very well, then T3 can be prescribed to you. There are several types of medication, the most frequently prescribed is Cytomel. The downfall is T3 does not remain active in your body very long. Cyytomel is only effective for about 10 hours and must be taken twice a day!
This medication usually gives you a burst of energy and then it declines. I have found that many people claim that after taking it, they feel as like they took a couple of shots of espresso and then crash.
Compounded T3 medication can be prepared in a time-release formula to avoid the hormone up and downs patients often experience on Cytomel and other drugs.
The downside of compounded medications is that some insurance companies won’t cover them, and compound pharmacies are not as common as regular pharmacies. As for price, compounded medications are far less expensive than standard medications, so they are typically still affordable even without insurance.
How To Properly Take Medication
- On empty stomach
- With water only
- Take in the morning
- Do not eat foods high in fiber or iron until 2 hours after
There are vitamins that inhibit the absorption of your thyroid medication. Take these vitamins two hours after or two hours before medication.
Is Synthetic The Best Treatment For Hypothyroidism?
If you have hypothyroidism, it means that you have an underachieved thyroid, which produces less than normal amounts of thyroid hormones. Conventional medicines solution is usually the same for every thyroid patient, Synthroid thyroid medication.
If your thyroid gland is not producing enough T4 hormone, replacing that hormone with a synthetic chemical may not be a great idea. There are a number of reasons why this should be your last resort and not the first option of treatment.
- Synthroid is not identical to your natural thyroid hormone. In some cases, Synthroid can make your condition worse, as the synthetic T4 may compete with your body’s natural T4 for receptor sites.
- Synthroid only replaces the T4 (inactive hormone), leaving your body to convert your T3 ( the active hormone). Most people can’t convert the synthetic T4 to T3. This is why many researchers believe the combination of T4 and T3 works better than T4 alone.
- The conversion process to T3 can be affected by nutritional deficiencies such as low selenium and low zinc, toxins from the environment, stress, and more. So this leaves you will only a partial balance of thyroid hormones.
- Another problem with Synthroid is that it is extremely hard to keep your thyroid levels in normal range using this medication. If you take too little, your hypothyroidism will not improve. If you take too much you are at risk of serious side effects like bone fractures, impaired fertility, irregular heartbeat, muscle weakness, insomnia, vomiting, and “other unusual medical events” stated from the Synthroid website.
Medication And The Underlying Causes of Thyroid Problems
Finding the right thyroid medication that works for you is very important and will go a long way in helping you feel better, but remember that managing your thyroid levels through medication is only one part of the process. The real work comes in identifying the underlying factors that caused your thyroid disease and making healthy lifestyle changes to remove them.
Taking thyroid hormone should only be done when you fully rule out any other condition. Unfortunately this not the last form of treatment in conventional medicine, it is the first. There are conditions that cause thyroid dysfunction such as adrenal fatigue, leaky gut, gluten or other food allergies, hormonal imbalances, and more.
Natural Thyroid Medication
Natural thyroid products, like are Armour thyroid is a combination of T4 and T3 and made from dried porcine thyroid. Research has shown patients with hypothyroidism have greater improvements in mood and brain function when receiving Armour versus Synthroid. Although it’s wonderful we have these medications when needed, early intervention with lifestyle change can restore and balance your thyroid function by treating the root causes.