Guest Author - Jim Lowrance
The questions in this series were sent to me from thyroid patients or those asking on behalf of patients. I have briefly summarized the questions that were asked, followed by the answers I supplied them.
QUESTION: I’m taking thyroid hormone replacement but also taking a thyroid extract supplement, what do you think of this combination?
ANSWER: To be honest, I'm warey of thyroid extract supplements because they vary in dose-to-dose consistency and when added to your prescription thyroid
hormone, has potential to over-dose you and cause hyperthyroid symptoms
(thyro-toxicity). I'm a stickler for prescribed thyroid hormone, monitored
by a treating Doctor.
PART TWO OF SAME QUESTION: This combination regimen is being administered and monitored by my treating Doctor does this make it a safer option?
ANSWER: If your Doctor is over-seeing your regimen of both, that is a whole different story and as long as he is retesting your blood levels, I would think it might work great for you.
Also the "thyroid extract" may be a specific type supplement that contains an exact amount of T-3 and/or T-4 in it and may be referred to as an extract in certain parts of the U.S. or other countries but is actually a high quality supplement closely regulated. It might even have the USP approval on it. I mention this because there are two Canadian brands called Naturethyroid and Westthroid and while they are sometimes referred to as thyroid extracts, they are high quality and require a prescription if purchased within the U.S..
Your Dr. may be a Naturopath but makes no difference as long as he is good at treating hypothyroidism and retests your blood thyroid hormone levels to monitor your treatment every 6 to 8 weeks until you are well stabilized on your regimen.
QUESTION: Jim, have you been seeing information on the fact that patients with hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, can have antibodies directed against their TSH receptors which can cause their TSH level to be unreliable when blood tested to monitor their hypothyroidism?
ANSWER: Yes, I've been seeing more info in regard to how common different types of antibodies are in Hashimoto's patients that block TSH and its receptors which can make their TSH lab results less reliable. This is another reason TSH-only testing is not a good way to go with diagnosing and for follow up retests after new patients are started on thyroid hormone replacement therapy.
I've also been seeing articles and books mentioning that there can also be antibodies present in Hashimoto’s patients, directed against thyroid hormone, especially against T-3 and may be why patients on brands of thyroid hormone like Armour (brand I take) have success for a while on the medication and afterward lose some of that improvement because some of the hormone is being destroyed by the antibodies. You would think that simply a dose increase would over-ride this problem but I suppose it might not if the antibodies increased to very high levels. I'll definitely keep watch on these subjects and cover them as we go along in new articles. It remains a really interesting field as they continue to research and find new info and improved treatments!
See link to Part I in the "related links" area below this article.
Watch for Part III of this series!