Medications for Hashimoto’s Disease
Hashimoto’s Disease is an autoimmune disease where the body is attacking and destroying the thyroid gland. Medications derived from desiccated porcine thyroid, such as Armour, are putting more natural thyroid into the body. This is where the controversy begins. Some doctors, such as Dr. Mark Starr, believe treating a patient who has any thyroid antibodies with desiccated thyroid medicine may not be the most effective treatment option. From Dr. Starr’s website:
"Mainstream endocrinologists and physicians are taught that the synthetic T4 is the only effective treatment for this illness. I recommend a combination of compounded synthetic T4 and T3. The porcine desiccated thyroid that I recommend for patients with type 2 hypothyroidism usually will make patients with thyroid antibodies feel worse as well as increase the antibody levels (titers). The composition of porcine glandular thyroid is virtually identical to that of our own thyroid gland. The body’s immune system attacks this additional thyroid just as it is attacking the patient’s own thyroid gland. Patient’s often feel better initially because of the increased thyroid hormone levels but become more fatigued and feel worse within several weeks of beginning treatment with desiccated thyroid. So with Hashimoto’s the synthetic forms of T3 and T4 are actually better."
However, as I have learned, many Hashimoto’s patients do very well on desiccated porcine thyroid and would not change a thing about the medication they are taking. The key seems to be giving the proper dose of medication. Patients, who stay on low doses of desiccated thyroid, may find their symptoms only worsen - patients may respond better on a high dose of desiccated thyroid. When the dose is too low and patients do not respond well, they may stop taking the medicine all together or the doctors may switch to another form, while increasing the dose of desiccated thyroid may be the answer.
Some patients are very happy with the desiccated thyroid medication that they are taking to treat their Hashimoto’s. Excellent! Others are still very sick and feeling bad. Whether you take natural desiccated thyroid, such as Armour, synthetic T4, such as Snythroid, or compounded T4 and T3, finding a treatment that works best for you and knowing the available medication options are two important pieces of the thyroid puzzle.
It makes me feel sad to hear some of the stories of patients who are struggling with symptoms and medications. The goal for all is to feel happy and healthy. That is definitely my intent in writing these articles