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Stability of Natural Thyroid Drugs vs. Synthetic

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Are natural thyroid drugs really less consistent or stable than the synthetics? -- Mary Shomon


It is my professional opinion that natural thyroid products are excellent choices for many thyroid sufferers. Some people do better on these dessicated animal gland medicines than they would ever do on any brand or combination of synthetics. Other people do fine on the synthetics, in fact, some do better on synthetics than they would on natural thyroid. There is no one best medicine for everybody; people's metabolisms are just too different.

Regarding stability and uniformity of dose, the synthetic medicines do not have a corner on the market in this area. Several times over the years, the Synthroid company has been called to task for nonconformity and nonreliability of dosage strength. More recently, Levoxyl tablets have faced the same charge, and had to be recalled. This suggests to me that stability and uniformity is an issue with any and all thyroid products, both the prescription type and over the counter variety.

Considering the tremendous benefit to some patients that natural thyroid products provide, the uniformity of potency may well be a minor issue. It has certainly been a smokescreen for the prescription drug companies to further denigrate the natural products. What we believe is that a medicine that words really well, be it Armour thyroid, Naturethroid, or BioThroid, may well be preferable compared to any possibly more precisely-dosed amount of a synthetic medicine that doesn't work all that well in your body.

What we recommend is that with any thyroid medicine, be it prescription synthetic, prescription natural, or a totally over the counter regimen, is to realize that optimal dosing is a moving target - an ongoing process. Keep well aware of your symptoms and your basal temperatures, along with periodic blood tests, and let them in combo be your guide as to whether you need a midcourse correction toward more or less intervention. As we've always said, optimal health is an ongoing process, not a destination.

Bottom line - if you try natural thyroid and do well with it, the variability of dose per pill should not pose any significant problem. If you would like to try natural thyroid because you are not doing that well on synthetic, don't for a moment let the dose-variability issue stand in your way. (July, 2002)

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Dr. Richard Shames has practiced for over 30 years, written and lectured widely on thyroid-related topics, and is considered an expert in the field. He practices in San Rafael, CA. Karilee Shames has been an assistant professor of nursing, and has led thyroid support groups for many years. In addition to writing their popular book, Thyroid Power, they are regular contributors to, and provide a service offering thyroid coaching education sessions to consumers nationwide by telephone. For more information, see their site,

Sticking Out Our Necks and this website are Copyright Mary Shomon, 1997-2003. All rights reserved. Mary Shomon, Editor/Webmaster
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