What is the Best Type of Thyroid Hormone to Take?

There’s a bit of controversy about which thyroid hormone is most effective. Dr. Ruscio examines a study that sheds research-backed light on that question and also offers suggestions on what to do if no type or dose of thyroid hormone brings improvement to symptoms at all.

If you need help with your thyroid, click here

What is the Best Type of Thyroid Hormone to Take?

When the thyroid doesn’t make enough hormone called thyroxine, it is due to a condition that doctors classify as hypothyroidism.  Hypothyroidism causes the body’s metabolism to slow down.

This can cause symptoms like tiredness, feeling cold, dry skin, and hair loss. The number one cause of hypothyroidism is Hashimoto’s disease, an autoimmune disease that causes thyroid inflammation and renders it unable to produce enough thyroid hormone.

Thyroid autoimmunity and hypothyroidism are often treated with a combination of diet, lifestyle changes, and synthetic thyroid hormones. There are different types of synthetic thyroid medications available and doses vary based on individual needs.

Standard thyroid hormones are divided into two classes. There are those that contain T4 hormone only, such as Synthroid and Levothyroxine. The other option is a combination of T3 and T4 hormones, available in the form of Westhroid, Nature-Throid, and Armour Thyroid, which are desiccated thyroid extracts.

There is much debate over which is the best thyroid medication.

A recent study clarifies this question.

The study was placebo controlled, as no one knew what they were getting. It was also a crossover trail, which means that both groups of testers tried each type of thyroid hormone for 16 weeks each.

At the end of the study, 48 percent of participants said they preferred the combination of desiccated T3 and T4 hormone, while 18 percent preferred the T4 hormone only and 32 percent said they had no preference.

According to this study, the majority did better on the combination T3 and T4 hormones. The reason for this preference is that it helped testers shed an average of 4 pounds. Also subjective assessment of symptoms improved.

If you’re just starting thyroid hormones, or unsatisfied with T4 only, the combination of T3 and T4 hormones may be promising.

However, it’s important to give hormones enough time to work. Try each hormone for a few months and work with a physician to adjust the type and dose of hormone.

If you are still not feeling better after exhausting these options, it may be time to look elsewhere.

Many people in this situation will pursue deeper thyroid testing for reverse T3, free T3, and free and total fractions to get to the root cause of the problem. However, this may be a waste of time and money.

Perhaps symptoms that may seem thyroid-related have a different root cause? Looking towards the overall health of the gut is the best next step.

Infections and other gut imbalances can cause many of the same issues and symptoms as thyroid dysfunction.

The gut can contribute to thyroid-like symptoms in three ways.

First, the inflammation produced by the gut can look very similar to symptoms of hypothyroidism.

Secondly, problems in the gut can cause malabsorption of thyroid hormones. That means issues with adequately getting the right hormone dose into the system and extra challenges with stabilizing the medication dosage and symptoms.

Lastly, gut issues and infections can fuel the symptoms of autoimmunity. Issues like leaky gut in particular have been associated with the development of autoimmune diseases. This can be an underlying cause of hypothyroidism.

In summary, one study shows that a T3 and T4 desiccated hormone was preferred by people with hypothyroidism. If trying various types and dosages of hormones under a doctor’s supervision doesn’t work, consider some gut testing and repair.


If you need help with your thyroid, click here

What do you think? I would like to hear your thoughts or experience with this.

Dr. Ruscio is your leading functional and integrative doctor specializing in gut related disorders such as SIBO, leaky gut, Celiac, IBS and in thyroid disorders such as hypothyroid and hyperthyroid. For more information on how to become a patient, please contact our office. Serving the San Francisco bay area and distance patients via phone and Skype.

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