Is Natural Thyroid Right For Me?


Issue #234  September 4, 2014

Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.

On Monday we talked about whether a T3 hormone medication might help you manage your hypothyroidism symptoms better. So today, I have an article from Gena Lee Nolin from her Thyroid Sexy website that explains exactly where Natural Desiccated Thyroid comes from, the brand names they go by, the history of Natural Thyroid and then she covers the myths about Natural Thyroid.

Most of you know that I switched from Synthroid to Armour Thyroid about a 18 months ago and have never felt better. I am one that needs more T3 in order to function and control my symptoms. I have read that synthetic T4 does not work for  approximately 20% of those with thyroid disease, but I have a feeling that percent is too low.




 Is Natural Thyroid Right For Me?


By Gena Lee Nolin


Also known as NT (Natural Thyroid) or NDT (Natural Desiccated Thyroid)


Comes from the thyroid gland of pigs. The glands are dried and ground into a powder that is combined with binders and fillers and is pressed into pill form.

Contains both of the main thyroid hormones, T4 and T3

May contain other hormones (T1, T2, calcitonin)


The natural thyroid brands manufactured in the United States include:

Armour Thyroid (made by Forest Labs)

NP Thyroid (made by Acella Labs)

Nature-throid and WP Thyroid (made by RCL Labs)

And in Canada, Thyroid (made by Erfa Canada Inc.)



Compounding pharmacies can also used the raw ingredient (USP Thyroid Powder) to fill an RX to a doctor’s specifications.




The History of Natural Thyroid



Hypothyroidism was first successfully treated in 1891 when a doctor was able to eliminate symptoms of hypothyroidism with injections of animal gland thyroid extract. It was later determined that the glandular extract of beef, sheep, and pig could resolve the symptoms of hypothyroidism; however the pig (porcine) thyroid proved to be the most effective. Natural thyroid began to be mass-produced and was the predominant from of hypothyroidism treatment in the first half of the 20th century.


A synthetic form of T4 (the predominant hormone produced by the thyroid gland) medication was first isolated in 1917 by University doctors. By the 1960s, aggressive marketing for the synthetic thyroid products caused natural thyroid to fall out of favor with doctors who were pressured to switch their patients to the supposedly “new and improved” medication.


In 1978, a research paper entitled, “Why Does Anyone Still Use Desiccated Thyroid USP” (“American Journal of Medicine, 1978”) was promoted by the manufacturer of Synthroid (a T4 only medication) as an endorsement of their product.


A review of the study on which that paper was based on reveals a number of problems including: the small number of patients studied, the brief length of the study, results based on laboratory tests and lack of discussion of symptoms.


The fact is: No long term study has shown that synthetic thyroid medications are superior to natural thyroid for the treatment of hypothyroidism.




Desiccated Thyroid Myths


Myth: Natural thyroid is an old and outdated hypothyroidism treatment

Fact:  Natural thyroid has been used safely and effectively for more than 100 years. Many have assumed that natural thyroid was “grandfathered” by the FDA, however, this product does need to undergo a current approval process, similar to the approval process that the newer synthetic T4 only medications had to undergo.


Myth: Synthetic thyroid medications are superior to natural thyroid.

Fact:   For many patients, synthetic medications work fine. But the fact is that for many other patients, natural thyroid resolves symptoms more effectively, perhaps because it includes both of the primary thyroid hormones, T4 and T3. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for hypothryoidism, so it is important that options of medications continue to be available. Unfortunately for thyroid patients, information about natural thyroid is not widely taught to modern day physicians.



Myth: Natural thyroid is unstable and inconsistent

Fact:   All thyroid products have had challenges with stability and consistency because of the glandular nature of raw material. It is worth noting, however, that synthetic thyroid medications have actually been recalled more often by the FDA for batch inconsistencies than the natural thyroid products. Pharmaceutical representatives have also perpetuated this myth. As they are a primary source of drug information for medical professionals, many doctors also wrongly subscribe to this myth.


To ensure that natural thyroid is consistently potent, analytical tests are performed on the thyroid powder (the raw ingredient, USP Thyroid) and on the actual finished pill product to measure T4 and T3. The quality control standards for synthetic thyroid medications are similar.




Myth:  Natural thyroid is dangerous because it contains too much T3

Fact:    Natural thyroid’s ratio of T4 to T3 is slightly higher than what the human thyroid produces.

The fact is, while most patients do fine on this ratio, synthetic T4 is sometimes added to more closely match the ratio produced in humans. Free T3 and Free T4 levels should be monitored when taking natural thyroid. Symptoms and other indicators such as body temperature and overall sense of well-being are also important indicators of the effectiveness of a dose.




Myth:  Thyroid cancer patients should not take natural thyroid

Fact:    Natural thyroid is effective for post thyroid cancer suppression and post thyroid cancer patients are not at increased risk for reoccurrence of cancer if they use natural thyroid.



Is Natural Thyroid Right For Me?



Hypothyroidism can cause a wide variety of symptoms, from physical symptoms, to cognitive and mood issues. Fortunately, there are several different treatment options. You may benefit from a treatment that includes T3 such as natural thyroid if your current treatment:

Hasn’t resolved your physical symptoms

Hasn’t resolved cognitive and mood issues

Has caused undesirable side effects or allergic reactions         



Armour website:


NP by Acella Website:


Thyroid by Erfa Website (Canada):

Canadian members, if you’re looking for a doc who prescribes desiccated thyroid in Canada, please call Erfa (they manufacture it, it’s called “Thyroid” in Canada)They have a database and will try to help you find a doc in your area.


Mon-Fri 8am-4pm EST


Nature-throid/WP Thyroid Website:


Thyroid UK:


Conversion Guide

(1 grain = 60mgs)


Have you been told or read that you shouldn’t take desiccated thyroid if you have Hashimoto’s Disease? Dr. Christianson explains why this is not true: