a bottle of Armour thyroid pills, better than T4

Many people have a thyroid gland that doesn’t work properly. In some, the gland appears to spontaneously lose its ability to produce enough thyroid hormones. For others, surgery or radiation treatment for hyperthyroidism or thyroid cancer interferes with the gland’s function. Doctors usually prescribe levothyroxine (T4), and that appears to work well for most people. Over the last several years, however, patients and some thyroid researchers have begun to wonder if there might be a treatment for hypothyroidism that is better than T4 alone.

Suffering from Hypothyroidism:

Q. For years I suffered with hypothyroidism. My doctors prescribed T4 drugs like Synthroid, Levothroid or generic levothyroxine, but I was still depressed. Also, I lost a lot of hair, including almost all my body hair.

T4 was not working well for me so I asked for Armour Thyroid. After I started on that, the improvement was almost instantaneous.

Unfortunately, endocrinologists don’t like it. One even told me it was an antiquated treatment. I think it is a shame that so few doctors seem to appreciate the value of treating with both T3 and T4. I feel much better when I am on Armour Thyroid.

Who Might Find Armour Thyroid Better Than T4?

A. Hypothyroidism, caused by an underactive thyroid gland, is quite common. If your thyroid gland were functioning normally, it would produce both T4 (levothyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). These are thyroid hormones that affect how every part of the body works. The numbers indicate how many atoms of iodine each contains.

In most people, body tissues are able to convert T4, which is inactive, into active T3 hormone by removing one iodine atom. Some individuals don’t do that efficiently, however. We suspect that these are the ones who feel better on a product with both T3 and T4 hormones. However, researchers have not yet determined that people who don’t convert T3 to T4 efficiently are the same people who don’t feel well on T4 alone (Wiersinga, European Journal of Endocrinology, Dec. 2017).

What Is Armour Thyroid?

Armour Thyroid is desiccated thyroid gland from pigs. It does provide T3 as well as T4. The endocrinologists are right that it is old-fashioned. That doesn’t mean it isn’t helpful for patients like you.

There are definitely some people who find combination therapy better than T4 by itself. Perhaps a change in a particular gene explains some of this variability (Wartofsky, Current Opinion in Endocrinology, Diabetes, and Obesity, Oct. 2013).

You can learn more about symptoms of hypothyroidism and its treatment, including desiccated thyroid, from our Guide to Thyroid Hormones. You may also want to read what we have written about how to interpret thyroid blood tests.

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  1. Terese
    Wisconsin (WI)

    I am facing a complete thyroidectomy including several lymph nodes out, then radiation pill. I am on .75 Levothyroxine.
    Very dry hair, little energy,
    Tired all the time and a bit of weigh gain. Been on this almost 2 years.
    I have stage 4 thyroid Cancer. So after surgery my dosage of Levothyroxine will double.
    I am very scared.

    • Terry Graedon

      Good luck, Terese. Usually this surgery is effective, though of course it takes time to recover from such a treatment.

  2. Lynne

    I am allergic to synthroid – try putting your head in a 500 degree oven for 8 years! Armour made a huge difference in my life. Unfortunately, it is not covered by Medicare, who told me they cover two meds in each category. But in the thyroid category, Medicare only covers synthroid. Does anyone know how to change this?

  3. Jen
    Flyover State

    I have been on Armour for most of twenty years prescribed by my family doctor. Several years ago went endocrinologist, and she put me on Synthroid immediately. It was horrible. All kinds of symptoms. Most endo doctors are Synthroid only. Found a new family doctor (DO), as my old one had moved. Back to Armour. Endo doctors like whatever big pharma likes. Big Pharma can’t make $$ off of NDT as it’s all natural.

  4. Coralam

    I’m lethargic, overweight, have very dry skin, thinning hair, and am depressed. Have been taking levothyroxine tablets 100 ml / 150 ml for over twenty years & I feel like crap.

  5. Sherry

    I gained 17 pounds over three months when I was first prescribed Synthroid. I felt awful. The endocrinologist wouldn’t listen to me, so I found an internist who would. She prescribed Thyrolar (like Armour Thyroid), and the improvement was almost immediate. My eye lashes started growing again; I had energy and stopped needing a nap daily; I’ve stopped gaining weight. I feel normal again. I found some information on the Internet that many people feel better with a mix of T3 and T4; that’s what convinced my doctor to let me try it; I get it compounded now because Thyrolar isn’t always available.

  6. Cindy

    There are a huge number of us that benefit from natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) like Armour, NP Thyroid,etc. I was on T4 only medications for over a decade and kept telling my doctor I still had the symptoms of hypothyroidism despite their testing results that read out normal. Many doctors don’t listen and treat your lab results and not you! I finally found a doctor that would listen- ran the right lab tests and prescribed NDT. I am feeling so much better now. I also had to educate myself so I could speak fluently about this topic and insist on what is good for me and not the stockholders of levothyroxine!

  7. Joan K

    I had been taking synthetic thyroid for many years. It didn’t seem to be making me feel any better. I was tired, losing my hair, and although I ate very little I could not lose weight. About a year and a half ago my Primary Dr said that he would like to try Armour Thyroid and see if that would work better. He started me on 30 mg a day. Within a week or two I was feeling so much better I actually called the Dr and told him he had given me a miracle drug. I was feeling so much better that I started baking bread. I hadn’t felt like doing that in years. When I went back for a followup visit three months later I had lost 10 lbs. Not a big deal, I thought. The next visit I had lost even more weight, and now a year and a half later, I have lost over 100 lbs. It seems unbelievable but little by little the pounds were coming off. I went from a 2x to a medium. Had to buy a whole new wardrobe. I am 78 years old, and 5 years ago I lost my husband. I wish he could see me now.

  8. dzrlib

    I noticed a difference between Armour Thyroid and Synthroid when Armour was taken off the market years ago. It was a blessing when Armour Thyroid again became available.

  9. Trish
    Alta Loma, CA

    Armour thyroid saved the day. I am sensitive to all medications that are not natural, and Armour was the one treatment I needed after my thyroid was removed. I am finally losing weight and my sense of well being has returned. I feel better than ever. I am happy that my doctor took my suggestion to change me to Armour thyroid.

    • joani
      St. Charles, IL.

      Where can I get it? I agree. Years ago I took it and felt better. Every doc says no.

  10. Aya

    Armour Thyroid does not work for everyone, however. It made my heart race. There might be other options such as adding some low dose t3 to the Synthroid treatment.

    • Mary

      It could be the fillers rather than the thyroid itself. A different brand might work.
      If you don’t like Synthroid, it might be worth a test.

  11. Darla

    I also had problems with Synthroid and Levothyroxine. My thyroid levels were constantly up and down, which meant my medication dose was changed every time I had my blood work done. I felt terrible most of the time. Finally, my new doctor sent me to an endocrinologist who put me on armor thyroid. I feel like my old self now and haven’t had to adjust my dosage for years.

  12. Brenda C.

    I was initially started on Armour Thyroid over 10 years ago. From the start it worked great. After years of Armour a new doctor wanted to switch me to Synthroid. I allowed that change, and it caused high anxiety. It was a miserable experience. Went back to Armour and got back to normal within 7-10 days. Doctors have given me all kinds of reasons not to take it: antiquated, dosage not consistent, quackery, etc. In my experience many doctors have limited knowledge about treating thyroid illness.


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