Issue #262  December 11, 2014

Welcome to KnowYourThyroid.

Today, I have some great information on natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). I have many people who ask if this is a good choice for them. I can’t answer that, all I know is I take Armour Thyroid, and since I changed from levothyroxine many of my symptoms are gone.




How long has Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) been around? 

It’s been used by patients for over 110 years, as reported in old medical journals. For interesting information on its history & details on the product itself, see the revised STTM book, Chapter 2.

What’s the big deal about natural desiccated thyroid (NDT)?

Unlike T4-only meds (Synthroid, Levoxyl, generic levothyroxine, Eltroxin, Oroxine, Levothyroid, Levaxin or Euthyrox, etc)…desiccated thyroid is natural and gives you exactly what your own thyroid would be giving you: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin.  Chapter One of the revised STTM book details what each of these hormones are. Patients who’ve tried T4-only, or even the two synthetics (T4 and T3) or even straight T3, have reported far better results with NDT. It’s a smoother treatment, removes lingering symptoms, improves your immune system (which helps Hashimotos), allows many to wean off anti-depressants, statins, BP meds and more, gives you your life back, stops you from falling into low cortisol/sluggish HPA function (which SO many patients end up with because of the inadequacy of T4-only) and could be far better for your immune system if you’ve ever had thyroid cancer (because of the direct T3 within NDT).

pigsWhat are the brands of desiccated natural thyroid?

They are all listed here. You’ll see Armour, Naturethroid, Acella’s NP Thyroid, Erfa, Thyroid-S, and more. They all work–it’s just individual which you want to use. Sometimes one is reformulated–if that happens, I’ll put it on the above linked page. You will also see internet over-the-counter brands which may not be as effective as the above.


What exactly is natural desiccated thyroid?

Desiccated thyroid is powdered thyroid from pigs (mixed from several pigs, not one), and it meets the stringent guidelines of the US Pharmacopeia i.e it’s made according to standards, contrary to what some doctors say. To see ingredients of all,go here. To see all available options for desiccated thyroid, go here.

Are there any non-prescription desiccated thyroid products?

Nutri Meds which is available in either porcine or bovine desiccated thyroid, and is far weaker, plus Dr. Lowe’s ThyroGold, which seems to be stronger and workable.  Neither Thyroid-S or Thiroyd from Thailand are by prescription, and patients report them working quite well.

How do I move from taking T4-only to NDT? 

Many patients do their T4 one day, then stop and start on desiccated thyroid the next with a safe beginning dose, usually one grain (see below), with no problems whatsoever.  Some doctors guide their patients to lower T4, such as by half, start on desiccated thyroid, then continue lowering the T4 as they raise the NDT. But the former works well. Work with your doctor.

How do patients dose with natural desiccated thyroid?

Thyroid patients and their doctors have found it wise to start on a smaller dose of desiccated thyroid than they will ultimately need, such as 1 grain (60/65 mg). Why? Because the body may need to adjust to getting direct T3 again, and there may be other issues which can reveal themselves, such as sluggish adrenals or low iron levels. Those who start on natural desiccated thyroid have discovered that it can be wise to RAISE by 1/2 grain every two weeks or less to prevent hypothyroid symptoms from returning due to suppression of the internal feedback loop in your body, which can happen if you stay on a low dose too long before raising. Most patients start to slow those raises down in the 2-3-grain area to give the T4 time to build (which can take 4-6 weeks) and show its conversion results..then inch their way up if needed.  Some patients end up in the 3-5 grain area when optimal, some on a lot less, and some on more. It’s individual. (Janie Bowthorpe is on 3 1/2 grains, for example)

Can I go by those Synthroid-to-Armour equivalency charts?

Not unless you want to stay hypo. Read right above.

Do I simply swallow it?

Yes, you can swallow it and do great, as patients have done. But others like to do it sublingually, i.e under the tongue. Both Erfa and Acella can be done well sublingually, as can Thiroyd. When swallowing desiccated thyroid,  it will be important to avoid iron, estrogen and calcium supplements at the same time, plus possibly magnesium, since all bind the thyroid hormones to some degree. If the tablet is quite hard due to excess cellulose, chewing it up before swallowing can give better results, say some patients.

Do I take it once a day?

To the contrary, most patients have found it beneficial to divide their dose to at least twice a day in order to spread the energy-giving affect of T3.  Desiccated thyroid contains direct T3, which is short-lived, and which peaks about 2 hours after you take it. An example is taking 2/3 or your natural desiccated thyroid in the morning, and the other 1/3 in the early afternoon. Your own thyroid, if healthy, would have given you what you need throughout the day instead of one dump; thus, multi-dosing has always been our way to replicate that.

How do I know when I’m on enough?

Before labs were developed, doctors successfully treated hypothyroid patients by symptoms. Today, patients and many wise doctors still find symptom elimination an ideal way to treat. As we are raising from the starting dose of one grain (60 or 65 mg), we look for the complete removal of our hypothyroid symptoms, an afternoon temp of 98.6F/37C, a morning before-rising temp of 97.8 – 98.2 (held under arm ten minutes), a good heart rate and blood pressure, plenty of energy and more positive signs. We also discovered over the years that when optimal and feeling pretty good (and in the presence of good cortisol and good iron), our free T3 is at the top of the range, and free T4 is midrange.

Note: if your free T3 is at the top of the range and you still feel horrible, or have hyper-like symptoms, time to test your iron (with blood) and cortisol levels (via saliva, NOT blood). Problems with either will cause T3 to pool high in your blood and not get to your cells well. Go here

Why is the T3 in desiccated thyroid so important?

In your cells, T3 is essential to reconverting ADP (the ‘flat battery’) into ATP (the ‘charged battery’). A shortage of T3 leads to a poor ratio between ATP and ADP. That would seem to explain why a long recovery period is needed after exertion; it takes a long time, at this deficient rate, to get back to a decent level of ATP so you’re ready for more activity.” This way of explaining it comes from this website.

How do I find a doctor who understands desiccated thyroid?

Patients regrettably find that many doctors are very ignorant about the efficacy and safety of natural desiccated thyroid. But many are finally coming around! If you click on the highlighted “doctors” above, you’ll find recommendations on how to find a good doc. And note that it is not uncommon to drive great distances to find an open-minded doctor–the latter which is a doctor’s most important quality. But be prepared that you may have to teach any doctor what you have learned from patient experiences!

Why did I feel lousy on NDT?

If upon starting desiccated thyroid or raising it, you have very strange symptoms, including anxiety, insomnia, shakiness, we learned it was a strong sign that you may have either an adrenal problem or inadequate levels of iron, which are revealed with NDT. See this video. And here’s a page that covers why NDT doesn’t seem to work for you. Or, if you felt great when you started NDT, only to see it go away and hypo symptoms return, you probably failed to understand that you needed to raise it! See mistakes patients make.

Why do some patients take T3-only instead of desiccated thyroid?

Chapter 12 in the STTM book is completely devoted to T3 and includes good information on RT3.

Are there any beneficial supplements that I can take with desiccated thyroid?

Many patients take a Selenium tablet with their thyroid meds, which assists the T4 to T3 conversion. L-Tyrosine helps some patients, too. Zinc and Vit. C may play a role. Your need for B-vitamins will increase as you improve your energy levels. Some patients benefit from iodine supplementation. Optimizing your Vit. D levels can be important. Minerals are also important. Chapter 15 in the revised STTM book has great information on supplements and good foods!

Any other tips?

Many patients are keen to having an emergency backup of desiccated natural thyroid just for that–emergencies! Desiccated thyroid has a long shelf life, but you can also wrap it securely to avoid damaging moisture and place it in the freezer.


Definitely get the Revised STTM book, which is especially handy to take into your doctor’s office, or when you just don’t want to be on the computer. 

*Read Things We Have Learned if you are new to this website, or need help understanding it all.

*To talk to others about desiccated thyroid, go to our Talk to Others page., including all associated social media, is for informational purposes only and
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