Are natural desiccated thyroid medications like Armour, Nature-Throid® and WP Thyroid® completely off the market?
Are the companies that make them getting shut down by the FDA?!
There are a lot of rumors flying around about these medications thanks to supply shortages, and I’ve heard from a lot of concerned patients.
I use these medications often in my clinic because many patients see the greatest improvement in symptoms and lab work when they’re on them. However, they do have their downsides.
To make sure you’re getting real facts from a reputable source, I talked to the maker of Nature-Throid® and WP Thyroid®, RLC labs, and did my own research.
Today I want to share what I’ve learned and bust 5 myths you may have heard so you can make an informed and confident decision about which medication may be best for you.
Myth #1 The makers of these medications are going out of business or being shut down by the FDA
This is absolutely not true. All NDT medications are produced in USDA-inspected and approved facilities.
The biggest issue behind the shortages has been suppliers. NDT hormones come from the dried thyroid glands of pigs, so the makers of these medications are dependent upon pig farmers. Unlike a chemical lab, you can’t ramp up the production of live animals overnight.
This is the same reason that manufacturers don’t exclusively use organic pigs. It was attempted in the past but there wasn’t enough volume, which is unfortunate.
Myth #2 All NDT medications are the same
Many people refer to NDT medications simply as Armour because that was the first one on the market. However, there are multiple options available, including both Nature-Throid® and WP Thyroid® from RLC labs.
Each medication comes in different strengths and contains different inactive ingredients, including fillers and binding agents. My personal favorite is WP-Thyroid® because it is one of the cleanest products available on the market. Nature-Throid® is a strong second though, as it has a variety of dosing options which allows for very precise dosing.
Myth #3 NDT medications are allergen-free
This is a big concern for many patients since some synthetic medications have been known to contain gluten and corn. Gluten is a known trigger for autoimmune thyroid reactions so you definitely do not want it in your thyroid medication!
Fortunately, NDT medications do not contain gluten. But both Nature-Throid® and WP Thyroid® do contain very small amounts of lactose, which can be problematic if you are extremely sensitive to dairy.
To put the amount in perspective, 1 gram of NDT concentrate has 9 mg of lactose, whereas an 8 oz glass of milk has 15,000 mg.
Myth #4 The amount of thyroid hormones in these medications isn’t regulated
The United States Pharmacopeia or USP sets quality, purity, and strength standards for all medications in the US. They put regulations in place back in the 80s that made T4 and T3 hormone levels just as precise in NDT as they are in synthetic drugs.
Per their regulations, 65 mg of NDT powder must contain 38 mcg of T4 and 9 mcg of T3. Their regulations only allow for deviances of up to 10%. RLC labs has even stricter quality control standards in place and only allows for a 2-5% deviance.
However, these medications also contain T1 and T2, which are not regulated because testing has not been standardized.
Myth #5 NDT medications are full of formaldehyde
This is the latest and quite possibly the most ridiculous rumor I‘ve heard, from a physician who was upset because a mutual patient preferred NTD to levothyroxine. He said, “I don’t understand why anybody considers these medications natural when they are extracted from the pig and preserved in formaldehyde”.
This was a new one for me, but I never want to write off any theories no matter how crazy it sounds; so I did my homework. To my delight, I confirmed this statement is absolutely not true! The thyroid glands used for NDT are removed from pigs already being slaughtered for meat and they are freeze-dried and later ground into powder with no added preservatives. Rest assured, if you hear your thyroid hormone is laced with formaldehyde, that is simply not true!
I hope this helps clear things up and that it gives you a good starting point to have an informed discussion with your doctor.
Before I go, I also want to remind you that thyroid medications are only one piece of the puzzle when it comes to thyroid dysfunction.
If you’re ready to get to the root of your symptoms with an approach that goes far beyond medications I’d love to work with you in my clinic.
We’ll work together to find the real cause of your condition and put a plan in place to get life-changing results that last, with support and accountability every step of the way.
About the Author: Dr. Seth Osgood is a Doctor of Nursing Practice, Board Certified Family Nurse Practitioner and Institute of Functional Medicine (IFM) Certified Practitioner. Dr. Osgood received his post-graduate training in Functional Medicine through the IFM and from working with Dr. Amy Myers. He has helped people from around the world improve their health utilizing a Functional Medicine approach.
Want to work with Dr. Osgood and the GrassRoots team? Become a patient in our West Lebanon, New Hampshire Functional Medicine clinic, our Burlington, Vermont Functional Medicine clinic, or our Austin, Texas Functional Medicine clinic!