Twice as many people participating in a thyroid treatment trial felt natural thyroid extract worked better for them compared to the synthetic version – and the clinical results of the trail appear to back them up.
The study, published for the American Thyroid Association by Dr Thanh D Hoang evaluated the therapeutical benefits of desiccated animal thyroid extract (DTE), sometimes known as ‘natural thyroid extract’ in comparison with the more commonly prescribed thyroid treatment, Levothyroxine. The study was instigated on the back of previous work that found, “Patients previously treated with desiccated thyroid extract (DTE), when being switched to levothyroxine (L-T₄), occasionally did not feel as well despite adequate dosing based on serum TSH levels”.
The study compared DTE with Levothyroxine in terms of thyroid blood tests, changes in weight, psychometric tests and patient preference. The study was conducted over a total of 28 weeks, during which time patients were given both treatment options alternatively and were blind tested to ensure they were not aware of which treatment they had received.
The study reported that 49% of patients preferred the DTE. Only 19% preferred Levothyroxine, with 23% having no preference. In addition, the results indicated that use of the DTE resulted in more weight loss, with no difference in the thyroid function blood test, psychometric testing or other symptoms.
A later study, using a standard dosage DTE, confirmed that patients generally felt better on DTE compared to Levothyroxine and DTE should be considered as a viable option in clinical practice (2).
On reviewing the trial results for the American Thyroid Association, endocrinologist and Associate Professor of Medicine at UCLA, Dr. Angela M. Leung, said the trial’s results warranted more research into the therapeutical benefits of DTE.
“These results suggest that there may be a certain number of patients in who desiccated thyroid extract might be a reasonable treatment option. Further research is needed on this topic to confirm which patients this might benefit the most from desiccated thyroid extract therapy.”
What is Hypothyroidism?
The thyroid is a gland that produces hormones responsible for the development and correct functioning of many organs and bodily systems including the brain, the heart, metabolism, the muscular system and the digestive system as well as playing a part in regulating mood. Hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid gland is underactive, and if left untreated, can result in a wide variety of symptoms such as memory problems, depression and weight gain. These symptoms may have other nonthyroidal causes so it is important to seek advice from your health adviser to ensure you have the correct diagnoses.
What’s the difference between DTE and Levothyroxine?
Levothyroxine is the main thyroid hormone produced by the thyroid gland. A synthetic form of that hormone is commonly used for hormone replacement therapy, however some patients may continue to have symptoms despite this treatment. Prior to the development of the synthetic product, a desiccated animal thyroid extract (DTE) was used as a natural treatment for hypothyroidism. This product is still in use today as an alternative to Levothyroxine.
Things to know before you try DTE
DTE is commonly available in standardised dosages that may suit some people, some of the time. However no two people are the same and neither are their hormone levels. A standard dose of DTE may be too little or not enough for some people and may produce unwanted side effects. For this reason it is essential to have your thyroid condition properly assessed by an integrative medical practitioner, and if DTE is prescribed, it should be prepared by a reputable compounding pharmacy to ensure the dosage is personalised and customised to your particular needs. Buying this extract without prescription over the counter or by mail, could result in erratic thyroid results and lead to either a relapse to hypothyroidism or even to hyperthyroidism (3).
Note from National Custom Compounding: We have over 15 years’ experience personalising natural thyroid treatments for our customers in consultation with their integrative health provider. For more information on the safety, quality and efficacy of our productscontact National Custom Compounding on 1300 731 755 or [email protected]. We’re always happy to chat.
- Hoang TD et al Desiccated thyroid extract compared with levothyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism: A randomized, double-blind, crossover study. J Clin Endo- crinol Metab 2013;98:1982-90. Epub March 28, 2013.
- Meghna Shah et al A Tale of Two Therapies – A comparison of Armour Thyroid and Levothyroxine. J Endocr Soc. 2021 May3; 5 (Supple 1): A823-A824.
- C T Sawin & M H London – ‘Natural desiccated thyroid. A ‘heath-food’ thyroid preparation. Arch Intern Med. 1989 Sep; 149(9):2117-8.; B C Eliason et al Desiccated thyroid in a nutritional supplement, J Fam Pract. 1994 Mar; 3(3):287-8