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prescription vs OTC thyroid hormones

About two weeks ago, someone in another community on another website was sure that there are OTC supplements containing actual thyroid hormones (pig, cow thryoid hormones).  I am very sure that it's illegal to have any of these hormones without a prescription.  I remember reading months ago that thyroid hormones are regulated by the FDC and  that any OTC supplement claiming to support the thyroid must have the actual hormones extracted.

I need to know if I am right and where I can find specific clauses so I can present this information to the person who's wrong (and that the supplement she linked to was either a trick or produced illegally).

Do MedHelp doctors check out community boards or do I need to post this in the doctor advice forum as well?
11 Responses
499534 tn?1328704178
The over the counter supplements usually have a thyroid glandular product in them. There are many types of glandulars on the market. BUT the thyroid glandulars are not strong enough for actual thyroid disease....I know I tried them. They are considered a food supplement product and can be bought in health food stores.
Unless they are getting thyroid meds from a different country or illegally......not good.
Most likely they are talking about glandular products....most naturopath drs treat with these as well until there is more pronounce thyroid disease involved, then you need prescription strength.
Avatar universal
Hm.  What's the difference between OTC thyroid supplements and Armour?  Are thyroids processed differently?  I thought the thyroid itself is a gland, so how can the stuff in an OTC supplement be glandular but not contain much thyroid hormones?
581310 tn?1253029550
I am on Armour it is extracted from pigs. It has T1, T2, T3, T4 hormones. The glandular OTC supplements aren't as strong and I don't think they are quite the same as Armour. You have to have a prescription to get Armour and  it has been around like 100 yrs. The OTC supplements would not treat someone as effectively with hypothyroid. Hope this helps.
484482 tn?1319378880
Does anyone know why some doctors would not prescribe armour and insist on you taking synthroid or levothyroxine.I am on 100mcg of levo and i still feel the same but want a more natural way of dealing with hypo...but i can't find a doc who will prescribe..
Avatar universal
Synthroid or levothyroxine meds are T4 only.  As you said, Armour is a natural product and it contains both T4 and T3, in a ratio of about  4.2 to 1.  Although some people report side effects with the T4 meds, as a reason to change to Armour, the best reason seems to be when you need additional T3 and your body is not converting T4 adequately.  

A majority of patients seem to be successful with the synthetics.  When they are still suffering with symptoms it is sometimes due to inadequate dosage.  If you still have hypo t symptoms and that is the reason for your interest in Armour, then I suggest  as a first step that you post your lab test results and reference ranges so that we can assess your current status.  
Avatar universal
I would add only to the above that the normally functioning human thyroid produces T4:T3 in a ratio of about 20:1.  So, Armour is very heavy on the T3.  My endo doesn't use it for that reason.  If you need some T3, it's easier to control the amount with a synthetic.  Also, when on Armour, it's really important to monitor your FT3.  Having said all that, lots of people swear by Armour.
649848 tn?1534633700
COMMUNITY LEADER
I've seen websites that sell OTC thyroid meds - personally, I'd be really scared to buy from them because I can see where they could cause LOTS of problems if a person wasn't feeling the way they thought they should and tried to "adjust" without accompanying blood work, etc.  

I have to admit that I LOOKED at these things and THOUGHT about it because my pcp was NOT helping me at all; fortunately, I let common sense take over and didn't act on my impulse.  

I've since been going to an endo who has me on levothyroxin + cytomel.  Feel much better, but still having some issues so plan to give it a bit longer and then might ask endo for Armour because it seems that so many people do a lot better on that than on the synthetics.  I'm still in the thinking stages on that one.  
Avatar universal
T4 in both the synthetics and Armour are the same.

If you are still not feeling better, you should get new blood work for your thyroid levels.  If your TSH is still off (should be under 3), your doc can up your dosage.  If after stabilizing your TSH to less than 3 and you still don't feel better, you can request cytomel (T3) or even Armour.  Your doctor is probably using the "try this and see" approach.  You should also get tested, if you haven't been already, for other things like anemia, vitamins D and B deficiencies, etc.  T3 is has a short half-life, so it's easier to take two or three doses of Cytomel through the day as opposed to a single dose of Armour.

Personally, I wouldn't take Armour because:  I am a vegetarian; and Armour is made of raw thyroids.  There is a risk with consuming raw animal products.  (There is no  risk, however, with contracting the swine flu from using meds like Armour.)
Avatar universal
Too much emphasis is placed on the lab/blood test.  It is not conclusive and does not show the TSH 3 & T 4 levels/problems.  Years ago, I am one where I had all the blood tests show mine was normal but had all the symptoms.  I got so desperate because no one would listen to me, & I was absolutely miserable, that I took my Mother's thyroid med.  I immediately lost all my symptoms.  Finally found a doctor that would listen to me & looked at my family history.  Later I went off them for some time because I experimented & did not seem to need them.  The doctor had retired & years later when symptoms started to return, I ran into the same wall with the doctors.  I will not see a doctor since they have proven ineffective with this problem.  They ignore your symptoms and the fact that my whole family has thyroid problems.  I got tired of them playing God & not listening to someone who knows their body.  I am not one that takes medication unless necessary, I prefer a holistic method yet most regular medical doctors & the FDA want to shut them down, there is no money in natural cures.  Diet is a big factor in our health, yet you see them keep pushing drugs instead of education.
Avatar universal
Because synthetic thyroid is really easy for doctors to monitor and change dosages accurately, whereas pig thyroid is more difficult to get the precise dosage needed. I have been on pig thyroid for over 50 years (yes, 50+) and one or two doctors have tried to get me to change to synthetic, but I only take 60 mg. and my full thyroid panel always comes out fine.  Some doctors have always used synthetic thyroid and just do not know how to begin you on, or change you to, pig thyroid, so if that is often the case the patient may need to see an endocrine specialist after inquiring whether they do use both types of thyroid supplements and start from there. If you need thyroid it's probably a good idea to see a specialist anyway to determine whether everything else is functioning at a healthy level.
649848 tn?1534633700
COMMUNITY LEADER
You've commented on a very old thread.  Mahogany hasn't been active on the forum since the post in 2009, so it's unlikely you'll get a response.  I'm glad you're doing well.
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649848 tn?1534633700
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