a bottle of Armour thyroid pills, better than T4

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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  1. Sharon McConville

    My doctor says that Armour will cause heart problems for me. I really don’t believe it. However I did have my aortic valve replaced but my arteries appeared to be fine with no plaque to speak of. I am 80 years old. He thinks I’m going to have a heart attack if I switch from Levothyroxine to Armour but I’m losing my hair, and I can’t figure out why.

  2. Jan

    I took various brands of T4 drugs for years. I still was depressed. Also, I lost a lot of hair. I finally lost almost all body hair, even. Taking the T4 was a life-saver in the beginning but gradually I felt it was just not working as it had before. I asked for Armour Thyroid. It was given to me, and the improvement was almost instant. The problem with taking it in America is that endocrinologists aren’t very favorable about it. One even told me it was an antiquated treatment and that Synthoid was the standard. I have seen so many endocrinologists, and I get tired of changing constantly. I would like to have a doctor who believes in what I am taking instead of being negative or at the best passive about it.

    When trying to get treatment from regular doctors, they don’t know how to administer the drug and try to treat me as if I was taking the Synthroid. In short, most doctors don’t know how to use Armour, and it is a nightmare when dealing with regular doctors. Also, even PAs in an endocrinologist’s office don’t know what to do with it. They are as ill-informed as those in regular doctors’ offices. I think it is really a shame that doctors in the US don’t see the value of treating with both T3 and T4. I feel so much better with it.

  3. Sherry R.

    You have 2 articles today of interest. One is the thyroid meds, and the other is about the inactive ingredients in meds.

    I was on Levothyroxine for several years, and my face was breaking out with rosacea and weird pimples on my nose. The dermatologist tried everything to no avail. I decided to do some research on my own last year and looked up the inactive ingredients in Levothyroxine and Cipro another drug I am highly hypersensitive to. Lo and behold, 7 out of the 10 inactive ingredients were the same so I asked my Dr to change to Armour. Two weeks later my entire face cleared up.
    Inactive ingredients can be just as harmful to one’s body as the active. We have to be our own advocates.

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