Natural thyroid pills derived from pig thyroid glands. by Wikipedia Commons and USDA
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Natural Thyroid has been used successfully for more than 100 years
(3), and it is blatantly obvious to any experienced clinician that
natural desiccated thyroid is superior to T4-only medications such as
Synthroid and Levothyroxine.
American Thyroid Association (ATA) Guidelines
However, in spite its obvious clinical superiority, Endocrinology Societies such as the ATA have published guidelines advising doctors to stay away from natural thyroid (1). Over the years, they have used a variety of reasons. The latest reason is that there are no controlled trials. Here is the quote from the ATA Guidelines: "As of 2012 there are no controlled trials supporting the preferred use of desiccated thyroid hormone over synthetic L-thyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism or any other thyroid disease."(1)
A New Controlled Trial Comparing Natural thyroid to Synthroid
This has changed, as a new controlled trial was just published in the May 2013 Journal of Endocrinology by endocrinologists at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Maryland (2).Switching OVER to Synthroid
When a new patient comes into the Walter Reed Medical Center on natural thyroid, they are immediately switched over to Synthroid (or T4-only meds).
Occasionally DID NOT Feel As Well
"Patients on natural thyroid (desiccated thyroid extract, DTE), after being switched over to levothyroxine (l-T4), occasionally did not feel as well (despite adequate dosing based on serum TSH levels) "(2).
This is exactly what I have found in actual clinical practice over the years. Patients feel much better on natural thyroid.
Comparing Synthroid to Natural Thyroid
Their controlled study compared natural thyroid with Synthroid. What they found was that roughly half of the patients (48%) felt better on the natural thyroid, one-third had no preference, and one-fifth (18.6%) felt better on the Synthroid. Clearly the natural thyroid wins the comparison test (48.6% vs. 18.6%).
Now that we have a controlled trial showing the natural thyroid is better, maybe the ATA should change its guideline?
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