Issue #208  June 5, 2014

Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.

Today, Louise O’Connor is talking about thyroid medication. Many people take a T4-only medication for their hypothyroidism but still don’t feel very well. Louise explains below.



How effective is T4-only medication?

This month I answer a question I often get asked. “I am taking a T4 med. Why don’t I have feel better?”

The truth is there can be limitations to the effectiveness of levothyroxine, the generic name given to the widely prescribed single T4 medication. After months, or even years many people experience little or no improvement in their overall health and wellbeing.

Levothyroxine for hypothyroidism {how effective is single T4 medication?}

  • Taking a thyroid medication is only one piece of the puzzle. From my Naturopathic viewpoint there are a broad range of factors that influence thyroid health and to see real improvements in your health and vitality it is critical to identify and address the underlying root causes of your thyroid problem. Stress, an unhealthy diet, specific nutrient deficiencies, long term illness, chronic infections, food sensitivities and environmental toxins take a serious toll on the thyroid.
  • Your body may need more than T4. Looking at the role of the different thyroid hormones it becomes clearer why a single prescription of T4 may be not be adequate.Thyroxine (T4) is considered the ‘storage’ thyroid hormone. T4 is converted through to triiodothyronine (T3) by the body when a greater thyroid response is required. This means even a supplemental form of T4 needs to be converted through to T3 to be effective. Individuals who do not do well on a T4-only medication usually get better results on a T4/T3 combination.
  • It is widely assumed the body is able to efficiently convert a T4-only medication to the biologically active T3. Unfortunately this is not always the case. Adding levothyroxine to your body’s hormonal mix does not necessarily mean more T4 will convert effectively through to T3. Stress, strict dieting and a lack of zinc and selenium are key factors that impair conversion.

Live well, live vibrantly,

Louise O’Connor

Naturopath + Wellness Coach
Author: ‘The Natural Thyroid Diet: The 4-Week Plan to Living Well, Living Vibrantly’

Please note: Levothyroxine medication requires ongoing monitoring. You should not discontinue, or change your medication without the informed consent of your prescribing medical practitioner.