Don’t Thwart Your Thyroid

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Natural Insight

Don’t Thwart Your Thyroid

By Sabeen Faquir

***This article was previously published in November 2015

Having worked at a pharmacy, I’ve seen a lot of medication dispensed for thyroid support. Armour Thyroid and Nature Throid are popular brands. Did you know you could get similar ingredients from supplements?

According to Forest Laboratories, Inc., “Armour Thyroid is a natural, porcine-derived thyroid hormone replacement containing both T4 and T3.” And according to WebMD, Nature Throid “…is a natural product made from animal thyroid glands (usually a pig’s). Well, supplements like Natural Resources Raw Thyroid and Thyroid Glandular by American Biologics provide thyroid hormones from bovine sources.

In practice, the consumption of porcine hormones delivers needed T3 and T4 hormones to patients with hypothyroidism.  In fact, the body secretes a T4:T3 ratio as 11:1 and Armour Thyroid delivers a 4.22:1 ratio. To make up the difference, compounding is suggested (Snyder, Listecki).  You may be wondering what are T4 and T3 hormones? These are hormones produced by your thyroid gland that control your metabolism. In a below-average functioning thyroid, these levels drop. In order to be diagnosed with hypothyroidism, your TSH (Thyroid Stimulating hormone) levels must be over a certain level. An inverse relationship exists between T4 and T3 hormones and the TSH hormone. In fact, a TSH level over 2.0 is associated with an increased risk of hypothyroidism over 20 years (Dayan et al).

So, could non-pharmacueticals with bovine hormones also help raise our T4 and T3 hormones? In theory, consumption of bovine thyroid hormones should produce the similar results as the consumption of porcine thyroid hormones.  But unfortunately, I haven’t found much evidence supporting the consumption of thyroid hormones through dietary supplements. One study found that commercially available thyroid supplements delivered so much of the T4 and T3 hormones, it could potentially cause thyrotoxicosis or hyperthyroidism (Kang et al). In a hyperthyroid condition, TSH levels drop and T4 and T3 levels rise dangerously high. 

What can you do for support of a slow functioning thyroid? Iodine is needed by the thyroid to make thyroid hormones and selenium is used in the conversion of T4 to T3. According to the NIH, the Recommended Dietary Allowance for Iodine is 150mcg for someone 19 years or older. Depending on salt intake or the presence or absence of foods rich in iodine, people get more or less than the upper intake level, daily. Please only take supplemental iodine under the guidance of a healthcare provider. This is because excess iodine intake is also associated with thyrotoxicosis and complications of hypothyroidism, according to Integrative Health of West Palm Beach.

Selenium, on the other hand, is well associated with benefits for the thyroid gland. A study in China found an association between low selenium status and increased risk of thyroid disease (Wu et al). In another study, it was found to reduce likelihood of postpartal hypothyroidism (Gartner). Also, supplementation of selenium is found to improve the structure of the gland (Drutel et al). So, if you are thinking about alternatives to your thyroid treatment, talk to your doctor.

Disclaimer: The statements in this article are not intended to treat, prevent, diagnose, or cure disease.

Sources:

Home. Armour Thyroid. Forest Laboratories, Inc. 2015. http://www.armourthyroid.com/default.aspx accessed September 21, 2015

Nature-Throid. Drugs and Medications. WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-18006/nature-throid-oral/details accessed September 21, 2015

Snyder S, Listecki RE. Bioidentical thyroid replacement therapy in practice: Delivering a physiologic T4:T3 ratio for improved patient outcomes with the Listecki-Snyder protocol. International Journal of Pharmaceutical Compounding. 2012 Sep-Oct;16(5):376-80.

Dayan CM, Saravanan P, Bayly G. Whose normal thyroid function is better–yours or mine? Lancet. 2002 Aug 3;360(9330):353.

Grace Y. Kang, Jonathan R. Parks, Bader Fileta, Audrey Chang, Maged M. Abdel-Rahim, Henry B. Burch, and Victor J. Bernet. Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine Content in Commercially Available Thyroid Health Supplements. Thyroid. October 2013, 23(10): 1233-1237.

Qian Wu, Margaret P Rayman, Hongjun Lv, Lutz Schomburg, Bo Cui, Chuqi Gao, Pu Chen, Guihua Zhuang, Zhenan Zhang, Xiaogang Peng, Hua Li, Yang Zhao, Xiaohong He, Gaoyuan Zeng, Fei Qin, Peng Hou, and Bingying Shi. Low population selenium status is associated with increased prevalence of thyroid disease. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism. August 25, 2015, 1945-7197.

Gärtner R. The Role of Selenium in Autoimmune Thyroid Diseases. Der Nuklearmediziner. 2013, vol. 36, no04, pp. 241-245.

Anne Drutel, Françoise Archambeaud, Philippe Caron. Selenium and the thyroid gland: more good news for clinicians. Clinical Endocrinology. February 2013, Volume 78, Issue 2, Pages 155–164.

Iodine, Fact Sheet for Health Professionals. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. https://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Iodine-HealthProfessional/#h2 accessed September 21, 2015

Alternative Thyroid Treatments, Hypothyroidism. Integrative Health of West Palm. http://www.ihwpb.com/west_palm_thyroid/hypo_treatments.php accessed September 21, 2015