Natural Approaches to Thyroid Health
What Is Desiccated thyroid medication?
Desiccated thyroid extract (DT) is thyroid gland that has been dried and powdered for medical use. It is used to treat hypothyroidism and taken by mouth. It is often referred to as "natural" thyroid hormone.
Why use Desiccated thyroid extract?
DT is preferred by some individuals over levothyroxine (i.e. synthroid - the more common thyroid medication) because certain patients continue to have symptoms of hypothyroidism when taking levothyroxine. These symtpoms sometimes resolve when switched to the desiccated extract. The reason being because DT contains BOTH forms of thyroid hormone (i.e. T3 and T4), whereas levothyroxine only contains T4. T4 is the inactive form of thyroid and has to be converted to T3 in order for the body to use it. This conversion does not occur properly in all patients, hence the issue with just taking inactive thyroid hormone.
Is it safe?
When used under the supervision of a trained healthcare practitioner DT is very safe. Naturopathic Doctors who prescribed DT have undergone additional training and have special certifications enabling them to safely use this medication with their patients. They are able to order and/or analyze the necessary and related blood work and monitor your progress.
Is Desiccated thyroid for me?
If you are on synthroid medication or not but told your TSH level is slightly elevated however not enough to start medication, and you feel as though you still have low thyroid symptoms (refer to the ones listed above) then DT may be a good option for you. Make an appointment with Dr. Slipacoff, ND to discuss this along with other options that may be more suitable given your specific presentation.
How Long Would I Have to be on DT For?
It depends. There are certain circumstances when people are able to correct the functioning of their thyroid gland through supplements, diet and lifestyle changes. In these cases DT would only be used for a certain period of time. However in other situations it is a lifelong therapy. Fortunately there are very few, if any, adverse effects related to using natural thyroid hormone medication.
Is DT covered by my insurance?
Most insurances do cover DT prescriptions however it's always best top check with your insurance provider first so that you know about the details. Your insurance may also have a health expenditure account that could cover the prescription.
What is hypothyroidism?
The thyroid to a person is often compared to what the engine is to a car. It helps to give us proper energy, fuels our metabolism keeping our weight in check and is very important to our overall sense of health and well-being. Hypothroidism occurs when the thyroid gland begins to underfunction. There are many causes for this including genetics, chronic stress as well as nutritional deficiencies (e.g. iodine, selenium and zinc to name a few).
What are the most common symptoms?
The most common symptoms include fatigue, constantly feeling cold, unexplainable weight gain, dry brittle hair, skin and nails, depression, and sometimes constipation, depression, irregular periods and elevated cholesterol levels.
Do my thyroid blood levels always have to be abnormal in order for there to be a problem with my thyroid?
No! Some individuals have "normal" thyroid levels (i.e. TSH) however they still notice many hypothyroid symptoms. This is called Sub-Clinical Hypothyroidism i.e. some of the thyroid hormones levels fall within the normal range but they still feel most of the symptoms outlined above. This is where optimal thyroid ranges along with free T3 and free T4 measurements are helpful to consider. Subclinical hypothyroidism can be effectively treated with natural medicines including diet, specific vitamin and mineral combinations, desiccated thyroid extract, stress management and other natural interventions.
OTHER NATUROPATHIC APPROACHES TO THYROID CARE
There are various non-medicated herbal and vitamin formulations that can also be effective at improving thyroid function either by supporting other related systems of the body, production of thyroid hormones or the body's use of the hormones. For example, stress can negatively effect the adrenal glands (i.e. the body's stress glands) which has a negative impact on thyroid function since the stress hormone "cortisol" interacts so closely with the thyroid gland. Certain foods can also be used therapeutically and should always be considered as an essential part of the treatment plan.
Read more information on our holistic approach to treating thyroid conditions: