Thyroid dysfunction is surprisingly common. Hypothyroidism, in which the thyroid gland does not work efficiently, affects nearly five percent of U.S. adults. Doctors treat it by prescribing the thyroid hormone levothyroxine (the most common prescription in the country). But not everyone responds well to levothyroxine. How does it compare to Armour Thyroid?

Levothyroxine vs. Armour Thyroid:

Q. I was on levothyroxine for about 30 years, and then I started having really bad side effects. It made me itch all over, as if bugs were biting me. Heartburn was a constant torment and my hair was falling out.

My doctor suggested Armour Thyroid, which is all natural. It has made a huge difference.

Thyroid Function Test Results:

Before I started on Armour, I stopped taking the levothyroxine for a couple months. By the end of that time I felt really lousy, so I had blood work done. My TSH was 114.4. After taking Armour for six weeks, my level is in the middle of the normal range and I feel good.

Who Might Benefit Most from Armour Thyroid?

A. Levothyroxine (Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint, Unithroid) is a synthetic T4 thyroid hormone. Armour Thyroid is made from dried pig thyroid glands. In contrast to levothyroxine, Armour provides both T3 and T4 hormones.

The thyroid hormone that is active in body tissues is T3. Normally, T4 is converted to T3 to provide what the body needs. That is why doctors prescribe stand-alone T4 (levothyroxine). In fact, most people with hypothyroidism do well enough taking this drug alone.

Conversion Difficulties:

Some people are less efficient at this conversion, however (Abdalla & Bianco, Clinical Endocrinology, Nov. 2014). They often feel better on a combination of the two hormones. You may be one of these. That could explain why Armour Thyroid made such a difference for you. Up to one-fifth of patients with hypothyroidism might benefit from such a combination (Welsh & Soldin, European Journal of Endocrinology, Dec. 2016).

Learn More:

We discuss the symptoms of hypothyroidism, the pros and cons of natural vs. synthetic thyroid hormone treatment and how to interpret lab results in our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. Not all endocrinologists are enthusiastic about Armour Thyroid, and the guide explains why. By reading it, you’ll also learn about the various ways people like you can get the extra T3 hormone their bodies need.

You may also be interested in Show 1015: Thyroid Mysteries, Controversies and the Latest Research. In it, Dr. Antonio Bianco explains the results of his studies on the enzymes that convert T4 to T3, and patient advocate Mary Shomon describes how to feel good despite thyroid dysfunction.

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