Thyroid over the counter

Cough and Cold Remedies

A large number of medicines are available, generally not requiring a prescription, to treat the cough or symptoms of a cold or flu. Many of these medicines carry warnings about potential problems if the patient has thyroid disease. These medicines can be subdivided generally into two groups; those that contain iodine or those that contain adrenergic agonists (stimulants) such as ephedrine, norepinephrine, pseudoephedrine, terbutaline, adrenaline, or xylometazoline.

Iodine is taken up and used by the thyroid to make thyroid hormone. In patients with untreated hyperthyroidism, administration of iodine can make the hyperthyroidism worse. However, once treatment with medications such as PTU or methimazole has been started, excess iodine is blocked from being incorporated into the thyroid hence cough and cold medicines are usually safe to take. Small amounts of iodine may precipitate hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism in previously normal patients, however this is also uncommon. Patients already taking thyroid hormone have a very low risk of having any new thyroid-related problems develop if they take cough and cold medicines containing iodine. For more on how iodine may affect the thyroid, see Iodine.

Medicines containing ingredients such as ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, adrenaline, noradrenaline, or xylometazoline (adrenergic agonists) are often used to constrict dilated blood vessels in those, in order to relieve sinus or nasal congestion, reduce stuffiness and improve breathing. These medicines if taken in sufficient doses, may also increase the heart rate and blood pressure. Similarly, patients taking medicines for asthma that contain adrenaline, salbutamol (Ventolin), terbutaline or related drugs may also note an increase in heart rate, nervousness and tremor. Since patients with moderate to severe hyperthyroidism may experience palpitations, tremor, increased sweating, rapid heart beats, and increased blood pressure, the class of cough and cold medicines that contain adrenergic agonists should be used with caution under a physicians supervision until the hyperthyroidism is brought under control.

Patients who have had complete removal of their thyroid and who are already taking thyroxine do not need to be as concerned about taking medications containing small amounts of iodine or adrenergic stimulants.

Bit retrospective this! What meds can you take… – Thyroid UK

From Mary Shoman’s website:-…

Cough & Cold Medicines and Decongestants: What Do Thyroid Patients Need to Know?

Why Cough and Cold Medicines Have Warnings for Thyroid Patients

By Mary Shomon

Updated July 22, 2009

Thyroid patients need to avoid some cold and flu medications.

Many packages of over-the-counter cough and cold medicines and decongestants say “Do not take if you have one of the following…” and then go on to list thyroid disease. You may wonder, then, if you can take these products for your cold or flu?

The reason for these warnings is the stimulant pseudoephedrine, an ingredient in some formulations of Sudafed and some cold and allergy medicines. Stimulants can be dangerous to people with active hyperthyroidism, as they can add strain to an already taxed heart and high blood pressure found in hyperthyroidism.

What about people with hypothyroidism? Can you take these types of medicines? This is something that needs to be decided, but generally, it is not recommended that people with thyroid problems take any products with pseudoephedrine or natural ephedra, ingredients that are sometimes found in natural weight loss, energy and cold remedies. There are anecdotal reports of people with thyroid disease becoming extra-sensitive to stimulants like caffeine, pseudoephedrine or ephedra.

As far as over-the-counter medicines, you might want to ask your doctor about using a product likeCoricidin HBP, a cold remedy made specially without stimulating ingredients. You can also consider trying some of the natural suggestions described later in this article.

Alternatives, Vitamins and Supplements for Cold and Flu?

There are a number of alternative remedies that you can try to help with cold and flu.

Noted alternative practitioner Andrew Weil, MD suggests vitamin C, garlic, echinacea, and the herb astragalus — among other natural remedies — to help boost the immune system during flu season.

Italian researchers also found that ginseng, when given throughout the season to people who had flu shots, reduced the cases of flu, and raised the activity rate of immune cells that fight infections.

When you’re in the midst of the flu, besides plenty of rest, fluids, and good nutrition, there are some additional alternative medicine approaches that some experts recommend.

Some other natural approaches that may be helpful for cold and flu include the following:

•Elderberry — Elderberry apparently works by strengthening the cell membrane so a virus cannot penetrate it. It also appears to inhibit the enzyme that viruses use to weaken the membrane.’s Alternative Medicine site has more information on elderberry.

•Vitamin C — Though the recommended daily dosage of vitamin C is usually no higher than 100 mg/day, some experts believe that as much as 1 to 6 grams (1000 – 6000 mg) of vitamin C per day may may be helpful during illness, and in particular, help reduce the duration of a fluvirus. The suggested dosage would be 1000 mg every 2 hours, unless diarrhea or gas occurs.

•Zinc Lozenges — Over-the-counter zinc lozenges, if take at the onset of symptoms, may help reduce the effects of a flu or cold.

•Oscillicoccinum — This homeopathic treatment may help with flu symptoms, particularly when taken right away after the onset of symptoms.

•Garlic – Garlic has natural antibiotic and antiviral properties, and some experts suggest a daily high allicin content garlic supplement which should begin during the first six hours of cold and flu symptoms.

•Camu-camu – The Amazonian rainforest fruit, rich in vitamin C, may also help combat viruses.

Hyperthyroidism: Overactivity of the Thyroid Gland

There are readily available and effective treatments for all common types of hyperthyroidism. Some of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism (such as tremor and palpitations, which are caused by excess thyroid hormone acting on the cardiac and nervous system) can be improved within a number of hours by medications called beta-blockers (eg, propranolol; Inderal).

These drugs block the effect of the thyroid hormone but don’t have an effect on the thyroid itself, thus beta blockers do not cure the hyperthyroidism and do not decrease the amount of thyroid hormone being produced; they just prevent some of the symptoms. For patients with temporary forms of hyperthyroidism (thyroiditis or taking excess thyroid medications), beta blockers may be the only treatment required. Once the thyroiditis (inflammation of the thyroid gland) resolves and goes away, the patient can be taken off these drugs.

Anti-thyroid Drugs

For patients with sustained forms of hyperthyroidism, such as Graves’ disease or toxic nodular goiter, anti-thyroid medications are often used. The goal with this form of drug therapy is to prevent the thyroid from producing hormones.

Two common drugs in this category are methimazole and propylthiouracil (PTU), both of which actually interfere with the thyroid gland’s ability to make its hormones. The illustration shows that some hormone is made, but the thyroid becomes much less efficient. When taken faithfully, these drugs are usually very effective in controlling hyperthyroidism within a few weeks.

Anti-thyroid drugs can have side effects such as rash, itching, or fever, but these are uncommon. Very rarely, patients treated with these medications can develop liver inflammation or a deficiency of white blood cells therefore, patients taking antithyroid drugs should be aware that they must stop their medication and call their doctor promptly if they develop yellowing of the skin, a high fever, or severe sore throat. The main shortcoming of antithyroid drugs is that the underlying hyperthyroidism often comes back after they are discontinued. For this reason, many patients with hyperthyroidism are advised to consider a treatment that permanently prevents the thyroid gland from producing too much thyroid hormone.

Radioactive Iodine Treatment

Radioactive iodine is the most widely-recommended permanent treatment of hyperthyroidism. This treatment takes advantage of the fact that thyroid cells are the only cells in the body which have the ability to absorb iodine. In fact, thyroid hormones are experts at doing just that.

By giving a radioactive form of iodine, the thyroid cells which absorb it will be damaged or killed. Because iodine is not absorbed by any other cells in the body, there is very little radiation exposure (or side effects) for the rest of the body. Radioiodine can be taken by mouth without the need to be hospitalized. This form of therapy often takes one to two months before the thyroid has been killed, but the radioactivity medicine is completely gone from the body within a few days. The majority of patients are cured with a single dose of radioactive iodine.

The only common side effect of radioactive iodine treatment is underactivity of the thyroid gland. The problem here is that the amount of radioactive iodine given kills too many of the thyroid cells so that the remaining thyroid does not produce enough hormone, a condition called hypothyroidism.There is no evidence that radioactive iodine treatment of hyperthyroidism causes cancer of the thyroid gland or other parts of the body, or that it interferes with a woman’s chances of becoming pregnant and delivering a healthy baby in the future. It is also important to realize that there are different types of radioactive iodine (isotopes). The type used for thyroid scans (iodine scans) as shown in the picture below give up a much milder type of radioactivity which does not kill thyroid cells.

Surgical Removal of the Gland or Nodule

Another permanent cure for hyperthyroidism is to surgically remove all or part. Surgery is not used as frequently as the other treatments for this disease. The biggest reason for this is that the most common forms of hyperthyroidism are a result of overproduction from the entire gland (Graves’ disease) and the methods described above work quite well in the vast majority of cases.

Although there are some Graves’ disease patients who will need to have surgical removal of their thyroid (cannot tolerate medicines for one reason or another, or who refuse radioactive iodine), other causes of hyperthyroidism are better suited for surgical treatment earlier in the disease.

One such case is illustrated here where a patient has hyperthyroidism due to a hot nodule in the lower aspect of the right thyroid lobe. Depending on the location of the nodule, the surgeon can remove the lower portion of the lobe as illustrated on the left, or he/she may need to remove the entire lobe which contains the hot nodule as shown in the second picture. This should provide a long term cure.

Concerns about long hospitalizations following thyroid surgery have been all but alleviated over the past few years since many surgeons are now sending their patients home the morning following surgery (23 hour stay). This, of course, depends on the underlying health of the patient and their age, among other factors. Some are even treating partial thyroidectomy as an out-patient procedure where healthy patients can be sent home a few hours after the surgery. Although most surgeons require that the patient be put to sleep for operations on the thyroid gland, a some are even removing one side of the gland under local anesthesia with the aid of IV sedation. These smaller operations tend to be associated with fewer complaints.
A potential down side of the surgical approach is that there is a small risk of injury to structures near the thyroid gland in the neck including the nerve to the voice box (the recurrent laryngeal nerve). The incidence of this is about 1%. Like radioactive iodine treatment, surgery often results in hypothyroidism. This fact is obvious when the entire gland is removed, but it may occur following a lobectomy as well.

Whenever hypothyroidism occurs after treatment of an overactive thyroid gland, it can be easily diagnosed and effectively treated with levothyroxine. Levothyroxine fully replaces thyroid hormones deficiency and, when used in the correct dose , can be safely taken for the remainder of a patient’s life without side effects or complications. Just one small pill per day.

  • Hyperthyroidism: an overview
  • Causes of Hyperthyroidism: the most common to the obscure
  • More about making the Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism
  • More about different Operations Performed on the Thyroid for different diseases
  • Back to Thyroid Introduction

Updated on: 05/07/19

Can You Manage Thyroid Symptoms With Over-the-Counter Treatments?

Thyroid problems can cause a variety of uncomfortable symptoms, but relief is available. When a thyroid condition is treated properly and managed under a doctor’s care, most thyroid symptoms will subside. However, it can take some time for your doctor to get the dosages right, temporarily leaving you with untreated symptoms. For minor thyroid symptoms, over-the-counter (OTC) medication may offer some relief … if taken correctly and with your doctor’s permission.

Cautions When Using OTC Products for Thyroid Diseases

If you are taking any form of thyroid hormone replacement, your blood levels of the hormone, your thyroid symptoms, your weight, and other factors need to be closely monitored by your physician, says Sarah Pritts, MD, assistant professor of family medicine at the University of Cincinnati. “If someone self-treats without a physician’s supervision, they run the serious risk of taking too much or not enough thyroid hormone — and both situations can lead to serious health complications.

Dr. Pritts says that self-treatment with OTC medications can be risky for several reasons. If thyroid symptoms continue while you’re taking OTC medications, this indicates that the condition isn’t being treated adequately. In addition, some OTC medications won’t be effective in relieving symptoms of hypothyroidism long-term. “For example, constipation is a common symptom of hypothyroidism,” she says, “and though use of laxatives may give temporary relief, they do not address the underlying problem.”

Some OTC medication can also be dangerous to people with thyroid problems. The weight-loss drug Alli (orlistat), for instance, may decrease the body’s ability to absorb prescribed thyroid hormone medication. Even a simple decongestant like pseudoephedrine (Sudafed, Dimetapp) can be dangerous for people taking thyroid medication, she adds, as thyroid hormones may heighten the effects of such medications.

Because of the potential for OTC medications to cause harmful interactions when taken in conjunction with thyroid medication, Pritts strongly recommends that anyone with a thyroid condition taking prescription medication consult with a doctor before considering any OTC treatment.

OTC Treatments for Hypothyroid Symptoms

Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone, causing a person’s metabolism to slow down. Hypothyroid symptoms can include:

  • Feeling cold all the time
  • Fatigue
  • Problems with memory and concentration
  • Constipation
  • Dry skin
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle pain
  • Swelling of the legs, feet, and ankles

Hypothyroidism and its symptoms can easily be managed by taking a prescription thyroid hormone supplement to replace what the body isn’t able to produce naturally. For most people, once the supplement is prescribed at the right dose, symptoms will disappear. But until the right dose is calculated, the following OTC medications may help ease some symptoms:

  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) can help with muscle pain.
  • Fiber and laxatives can alleviate constipation.

Additionally, says Pritts, “there are some thyroid hormone products, such as desiccated thyroid, that can be purchased without a prescription. I have had some experiences with patients taking these products, and I generally do not recommend them.” Desiccated thyroid, which is derived from animal thyroid (usually pig), is not regulated by the FDA and does not contain the exact hormones that the human body needs to function properly.

OTC Treatments for Hyperthyroid Symptoms

Hyperthyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland produces too much thyroid hormone, leading to an increase in metabolism. Thyroid symptoms can include:

  • Anxiety, nervousness, and irritability
  • Excessive sweating and intolerance to heat
  • Increased heart rate
  • Insomnia
  • Thinning hair, skin, and nails
  • Weak muscles
  • Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements
  • Weight loss

Hyperthyroidism is typically treated with surgery to remove the thyroid gland, radioactive iodine to destroy the gland, or antithyroid medication to control overactivity. After surgery or radioactive iodine, a patient will commonly become hypothyroid and will need to take synthetic thyroid hormones to replace what was previously produced by the body.

Many of the symptoms of hyperthyroidism can only be managed with medication or destruction of the thyroid gland. But, if diarrhea or frequent bowel movements persist, Imodium (loperamide) or other OTC anti-diarrheals can provide some relief.

And remember, all OTC medications should be taken only with your doctor’s supervision and permission, as they may interact with other drugs that you’re taking to treat your thyroid condition — that’s the smart, safe way to get symptoms under control.

Can I take over-the-counter drugs instead of levothyroxine?

Yikes! Breaks my heart when I hear stories like this, but I have good news, levothyroxine is a generic thyroid hormone replacement medication, and as such, is on the $4 list at Wal-Mart. Surely you can swing $4 a month? That’s cheaper than most OTC meds, after all.
Your thyroid med is not optional. If your doc prescribed this medication, you are hypothyroid, and that funky little organ in your neck is under producing the chemicals that drive your metabolism for the whole day. Without your pills at best you’ll be dragging through the day, and at worst will fall asleep at the wheel driving.
Oh, and be sure to take it in the morning with a nice glass of water quite a bit before you eat, and without any other pills. Like a spoiled toddler, levothyroxine does not play nice with others.
But there are lots of other needed meds for which there are no generic alternatives, and at first glance that may seem pretty hopeless, so I want to spend a quick moment on that. Some frontline drugs can be $200, $300, $400 a month or more.
If you have no health insurance, or if you are in Medicare Part D’s “doughnut hole” you will probably qualify for Patient Assistance. The big pharma companies all give hundreds of thousands of dollars of drugs away every month. Check the website of the medication you need, or contact your local community health center. In addition to Patient Assistance, many Federally Qualified Health Centers have what are called 340B pharmacies. The 340B is a non-profit cash only pharmacy that sells meds at the price the Veteran’s Administration pays, plus a very small administrative fee.
The prices can range from fair to amazing, sometimes literally pennies on the dollar.

OTC Thyroid ‘Boosters’ May Harm

This article is a collaboration between MedPage Today and:

Patients who take over-the-counter supplements that promise to enhance thyroid function may get more than they bargained for, endocrinologists warn.

The supplements could contain unlabeled ingredients, including the active thyroid hormones T3 and T4, which could make patients hyperthyroid, increasing the risk of side effects such as high heart rate, sweating, and anxiety, according to Stephanie Lee, MD, PhD, director of the thyroid health center at Boston Medical Center.

“Over-the-counter thyroid supplements are not supposed to contain any thyroid hormone,” Lee told MedPage Today. “But there’s no truth-in-labeling in these supplements.”

“People who are unsuspecting, or who are already on thyroid medications … can become significantly and severely hyperthyroid,” Lee said.

Lee said thyroid supplements have gained popularity because the symptoms of hypothyroidism — especially fatigue and weight gain — are so common in normal aging. Women looking for a quick fix to those problems may be attracted to supplements that promise to boost thyroid function.

The problem, Lee said, is that only about 6% to 8% of women are truly hypothyroid and need hormone replacement. When supplements claim to only contain herbs, women may think this can do little harm.

But when those supplements do contain thyroid hormone without saying so on their labeling, and women without genuine thyroid deficiency take them, that’s when problems can arise, Lee said. And it’s not uncommon for these supplements to be mislabeled.

Supplements Use Cow Thyroid

Grace Kang, MD, chief of endocrinology at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, and colleagues decided to look into 10 popular thyroid supplements after one of their co-authors saw a patient who developed thyrotoxicosis after taking over-the-counter thyroid supplements.

In a study in Thyroid, they analyzed the biochemical composition of these supplements via liquid chromatography to measure levels of the two main thyroid hormones — thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

They found that nine of the 10 supplements had detectable levels of either thyroid hormone, and when taken at recommended daily doses, could give patients a much bigger kick than clinicians would recommend even for deficient patients.

Nine of the supplements contained T3, ranging from 1.3 mcg to 25.4 mcg per tablet. If patients took those supplements as recommended on the label, they could get as much as 32 mcg per day.

Five of the supplements were found to contain T4, which is essentially levothyroxine (Synthroid), the main medication used by doctors to treat hypothyroidism. The doses ranged from under 0.5 mcg to about 23 mcg, the latter being equivalent to the lowest starting dose of the drug.

If taken per label instructions, patients may be ingesting approximately 92 mcg of T4 per day, Kang and colleagues found.

Even when patients do have clinically diagnosed hypothyroidism, giving the exact needed dose of thyroid hormone is critical, because thyroid drugs are classified by the FDA as having a narrow therapeutic index.

“That means the amount of medication is so important to have just right, that it requires physicians monitor and measure hormone levels,” Lee said.

When patients with normal thyroid levels get this much hormone — the kind in supplements usually comes from cows — they can develop hyperthyroidism. Lee said patients will feel like they’ve had too much coffee with a bolstered heart rate and feeling shaky, as well as a bit edgy.

And it’s not just excess thyroid hormone that poses a problem for thyroid supplements, Lee said. Some are formulated with high doses of iodine, the main element used by the thyroid to synthesize its hormones.

Often these supplements are made from seaweed, she said, and can contain as much as 800 mcg of iodine per drop, when the standard recommended daily intake is only 150 mcg.

They can also be contaminated with heavy metals, particularly arsenic, Lee said. Seaweed is exposed to these compounds in seawater and when it’s dried out, the arsenic and other contaminants can concentrate.

“It’s dangerous to take these supplements,” Lee said. “You just don’t know what’s in there.”

Supplement Regulations

The $24 billion supplement industry faces little regulation. It’s governed by the 1994 Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act (DSHEA), which exempts these pills from FDA quality assurance tests prior to getting on the market.

But experts say clinicians can pick up that slack.

“My study emphasizes that providers remain alert about patients’ supplement use, and educate patients about the potential adverse effects related to dietary and herbal supplements marketed to aid thyroid function,” Kang said in an email to MedPage Today.

Lee pointed out that clinicians need to be especially vigilant with patients whose thyroid levels are particularly challenging to control.

“You should not only make sure that they’re taking their medication correctly — on an empty stomach 30 minutes away from food or coffee, and 2 hours away from iron — you really have to ask about supplement use,” Lee said. “It’s clear enough that thyroid hormones in supplements can make someone’s levels abnormal even if they only take one tablet a day.”


Thyroid desiccated

Generic Name: thyroid desiccated (THYE roid (DES i kay ted))
Brand Name: Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid, NP Thyroid, Westhroid, WP Thyroid, Thyroid Porcine

Medically reviewed by on May 2, 2019 – Written by Cerner Multum

  • Overview
  • Side Effects
  • Dosage
  • Professional
  • Interactions
  • More

What is desiccated thyroid?

Desiccated (dried) thyroid is a combination of hormones that are normally produced by your thyroid gland to regulate the body’s energy and metabolism. Desiccated thyroid is given when the thyroid does not produce enough of this hormone on its own.

Desiccated thyroid treats hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone). Desiccated thyroid is also used to treat or prevent goiter (enlarged thyroid gland), and is also given as part of a medical tests for thyroid disorders.

Desiccated thyroid should not be used to treat obesity or weight problems.

Desiccated thyroid may also be used for purposes not listed in this medication guide.

Important Information

You may not be able to use thyroid desiccated if you have a thyroid disorder called thyrotoxicosis, or an adrenal gland problem that is not controlled by treatment.

Call your doctor if you have signs of thyroid toxicity, such as chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats, feeling hot or nervous, or sweating more than usual.

Before taking this medicine

Since thyroid hormone occurs naturally in the body, almost anyone can take desiccated thyroid. However, you may not be able to use this medication if you have a thyroid disorder called thyrotoxicosis, or an adrenal gland problem that is not controlled by treatment.

To make sure desiccated thyroid is safe for you, tell your doctor if you have:

  • heart disease, angina (chest pain);

  • coronary artery disease;

  • congestive heart failure;

  • any type of diabetes; or

  • problems with your adrenal gland.

Desiccated thyroid is not expected to be harmful to an unborn baby, but your dose needs may be different during pregnancy. Tell your doctor if you become pregnant while taking this medicine.

Small amounts of desiccated thyroid can pass into breast milk, but this is not expected to harm a nursing baby. However, do not use this medication without telling your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby.

How should I take desiccated thyroid?

Follow all directions on your prescription label. Your doctor may occasionally change your dose to make sure you get the best results. Do not use thyroid desiccated in larger or smaller amounts or for longer than recommended.

While using desiccated thyroid, you may need frequent blood tests.

Keep using this medicine as directed, even if you feel well. You may need to take thyroid medication for the rest of your life.

Call your doctor if you notice any signs of thyroid toxicity, such as chest pain, fast or pounding heartbeats, feeling hot or nervous, or sweating more than usual.

If you need surgery, tell the surgeon ahead of time that you are using desiccated thyroid. You may need to stop using the medicine for a short time.

Store at room temperature away from moisture and heat.

What happens if I miss a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember. Skip the missed dose if it is almost time for your next scheduled dose. Do not take extra medicine to make up the missed dose.

What happens if I overdose?

Seek emergency medical attention or call the Poison Help line at 1-800-222-1222.

What should I avoid while taking desiccated thyroid?

If you also take cholestyramine (Prevalite, Questran) or colestipol (Colestid), avoid taking these medications within 4 hours before or after you take desiccated thyroid.

Avoid taking an antacid within 4 hours before or after you take desiccated thyroid. Some antacids can make it harder for your body to absorb desiccated thyroid.

Desiccated thyroid side effects

Get emergency medical help if you have signs of an allergic reaction: hives; difficult breathing; swelling of your face, lips, tongue, or throat.

Common side effects may include temporary hair loss (especially in children).

This is not a complete list of side effects and others may occur. Call your doctor for medical advice about side effects. You may report side effects to FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.

Thyroid desiccated dosing information

Usual Adult Dose for Hypothyroidism:

Initial dose: 30 mg orally per day
Maintenance dose: Increase in increments of 15 mg per day every 2 to 3 weeks to a usual maintenance dose of 60 to 120 mg/day

-This product has not been found by the US FDA to be safe and effective and the product labeling has not been approved.
-A lower dose of 15 mg/day is recommended in patients with long-standing myxedema, especially if cardiovascular impairment is suspected.
-Occurrence of angina is cause for dose reduction.
-Therapy is usually initiated at low doses, with increments which depend on the cardiovascular status of the patient.
-Failure to response to doses of 180 mg/day may suggest lack of compliance or malabsorption.
Uses: For use as replacement or supplemental therapy in patients with hypothyroidism of any etiology, except transient hypothyroidism during the recovery phase of subacute thyroiditis

Usual Pediatric Dose for Hypothyroidism:

0 to 6 months: 4.8 to 6 mg/kg/day orally
6 to 12 months: 3.6 to 4.8 mg/kg/day orally
1 to 5 years: 3 to 3.6 mg/kg/day orally
6 to 12 years: 2.4 to 3 mg/kg/day orally
Over 12 years: 1.2 to 1.8 mg/kg/day orally
Comments: This product has not been found by the US FDA to be safe and effective and the product labeling has not been approved.
Use: For the treatment of congenital hypothyroidism

What other drugs will affect desiccated thyroid?

Tell your doctor about all medicines you use, and those you start or stop using during your treatment with desiccated thyroid, especially:

  • birth control pills or hormone replacement therapy;

  • a blood thinner such as warfarin, Coumadin, Jantoven;

  • insulin or diabetes medication you take by mouth;

  • medications that contain iodine (such as I-131);

  • salicylates such as aspirin, Nuprin Backache Caplet, Kaopectate, KneeRelief, Pamprin Cramp Formula, Pepto-Bismol, Tricosal, Trilisate; or

  • steroids such as prednisone and others.

This list is not complete. Other drugs may interact with desiccated thyroid, including prescription and over-the-counter medicines, vitamins, and herbal products. Not all possible interactions are listed in this medication guide.

Further information

Remember, keep this and all other medicines out of the reach of children, never share your medicines with others, and use this medication only for the indication prescribed.

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

Copyright 1996-2018 Cerner Multum, Inc. Version: 4.07.

Medical Disclaimer

More about thyroid desiccated

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  • Drug class: thyroid drugs
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Consumer resources

  • Thyroid
  • Thyroid, Desiccated
  • Thyroid (Advanced Reading)

Other brands: Armour Thyroid, NP Thyroid, Nature-Throid, WP Thyroid, Westhroid

Professional resources

  • Thyroid (AHFS Monograph)
  • … +2 more

Related treatment guides

  • Hashimoto’s disease
  • TSH Suppression
  • Underactive Thyroid
  • Depression
  • Hypothyroidism, After Thyroid Removal
  • Thyroid Cancer

The conventional treatment for hypothyroidism — an underactive thyroid — is a prescription generic or brand- name thyroid hormone replacement drug like levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levoxyl, Tirosint), or natural desiccated thyroid drug (Nature-throid, Armour). But if you have been diagnosed with hypothyroidism, you, like many others with a thyroid condition, may wonder if there is a “natural” — meaning non-prescription — way to treat your hypothyroidism. Or, if you search on “natural treatments for hypothyroidism,” you will find thousands of websites, promoting videos, books, e-books, supplements, “drug-free” chiropractic programs, and specialized diets that promise to treat or even cure your thyroid condition without any prescription drugs. The real answer is more complicated and controversial.

Why are you hypothyroid?

An important first question is to ask why you are hypothyroid. The answer can help determine whether natural approaches may be a help to you.

If you are hypothyroid because you have had thyroid surgery to remove your thyroid gland, or radioactive iodine (RAI) to ablate your thyroid, you will require a prescription thyroid hormone replacement for life. Thyroid hormone is essential to survival, and there is no over-the-counter supplement or diet that can provide the thyroid hormone you need to function. Supplements or dietary changes might help you better relieve symptoms and enjoy better overall health after surgery or RAI, but they can’t replace the prescription medication you need.

If you are hypothyroid because you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it’s possible that natural approaches, such as a gluten-free diet, might help calm your autoimmune reaction or resolve your hypothyroidism. That possibility depends, however, on the extent to which your thyroid has already been permanently destroyed by antibodies, and whether you have certain underlying conditions that may be triggering your Hashimoto’s.

If you are subclinically or mildly hypothyroid because of iodine deficiency, iodine supplementation may help restore you to normal thyroid function without medication.

Following a gluten-free diet

A subset of people with hypothyroidism—especially those whose hypothyroidism is a result of autoimmune Hashimoto’s disease—also has celiac disease, an inability to process gluten, a protein found in wheat and many other grains. For some people with celiac disease or sensitivity to gluten, gluten triggers an autoimmune reaction that can ultimately result in Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. Researchers have found that when people who have confirmed celiac disease or gluten sensitivity along with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis follow a strict gluten-free diet, a small percentage of them will see thyroid antibodies and other thyroid levels drop towards more normal levels. They may even achieve a full remission of Hashimoto’s, hypothyroidism, and thyroid symptoms, and no longer require thyroid hormone replacement medication.

The caution here is that even if you have celiac disease, following a strict gluten-free diet is not a guaranteed way to lower thyroid antibodies or resolve your hypothyroidism. But, if you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it may be worthwhile to investigate getting screened for celiac disease as a first step.

Taking supplemental iodine

Some practitioners and nutritionists claim that hypothyroidism can be treated by taking supplemental iodine. Iodine is the primary building block and ingredient in thyroid hormone. Your thyroid needs you to get enough iodine from food and supplements in order to produce thyroid hormone.

The idea that supplemental iodine can treat hypothyroidism is misleading, however. Some cases of hypothyroidism are the result of an iodine deficiency. This most often occurs, however, in areas with severe iodine deficiency, including parts of Africa and Asia where salt is not iodized, and there is less iodine in the food supply. It is far less common in the United States, where iodized salt and iodine-fortified food is common.

If you have subclinical or mild hypothyroidism, your next step is not to just grab a bottle of iodine off the vitamin shelf and start taking it. Instead, you should have your iodine levels tested. Practitioners can do a urinary iodine test or a blood test to evaluate whether you have iodine deficiency. If you are shown to be deficient in iodine, appropriate iodine supplementation may be enough to nudge your slightly underactive thyroid into better functioning and resolve your symptoms.

Taking supplements

Some holistic doctors, chiropractors, and nutritionists tout two supplements — tyrosine and selenium — as “thyroid cures.” Tyrosine is an amino acid that helps your body convert iodine into thyroid hormone. Selenium can help facilitate production of thyroid hormone, and lower thyroid antibodies. While both supplements can be part of a practitioner-directed approach to support your thyroid, neither of them can replace actual prescription thyroid hormone to treat your hypothyroidism.

You may also see combination supplements touted as “thyroid support” or “thyroid glandular” supplements. They frequently include high levels of iodine, along with glandular thyroid extract.

Another popular claim is that coconut oil can “treat” hypothyroidism. While coconut oil can be part of a healthy diet and may have some benefits for your thyroid, it is not a replacement for prescription thyroid medication or a treatment for hypothyroidism.

Again, while these supplements may be a helpful part of a practitioner-directed approach to support your thyroid health, they can’t replace actual prescription thyroid hormone to treat your hypothyroidism.

Switching to “natural” thyroid drugs

There is some confusion about the term “natural,” because one of the prescription treatment options for hypothyroidism, natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), is sometimes referred to as “natural thyroid.” Prescription NDT is available as a generic, and the popular brand names in the United States include Nature-throid, Thyroid WP, and Armour Thyroid. These drugs have been available since the early 1900s, they are referred to as natural because they are made from the dried thyroid gland of pigs, rather than synthetic forms of thyroid hormone like levothyroxine and liothyronine (Cytomel.) While most endocrinologists and conventional physicians avoid prescribing NDT, many integrative, holistic, and natural medicine practitioners include NDT as a treatment option and even prefer it as a first-line treatment for hypothyroidism.

Some patients who were taking levothyroxine or a T3/T4 combination synthetic treatment find that they have better resolution of their hypothyroidism symptoms after switching to an NDT drug. Research has also shown NDT to be as safe and effective as levothyroxine. But keep in mind, NDT is available only by prescription. Over-the-counter thyroid support supplements are not NDT and they can’t replace prescription thyroid hormone medication for your hypothyroidism.

Recommendation: thyroid treatment is not a do-it-yourself project

There’s no question that some health issues can be dealt with by using vitamins, supplements, and dietary changes. In the end, though, it’s always best to work with a knowledgeable practitioner to guide you in how to safely put together a natural or integrative program to address any health concern. This is crucial when it comes to hypothyroidism. You require thyroid hormone for every body function, and to survive. Much like someone with insulin-dependent, type 1 diabetes should not stop taking insulin and attempt to treat their diabetes with vitamins, herbs, and supplements, it’s not safe for someone with hypothyroidism to stop taking prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication. Prolonged, untreated hypothyroidism can result in coma and eventually death.

Treating hypothyroidism, therefore, is not a do-it-yourself project. Don’t put your thyroid health in the hands of a nutritionist, a vitamin store clerk, someone who markets supplements, or sells videos or e-books. Don’t stop taking your prescribed thyroid hormone replacement medication unless directed to by your physician, and always consult a knowledgeable practitioner to help you create a specialized natural thyroid program of vitamins, supplements, nutritional changes, and lifestyle changes.

Also, please keep in mind that even if you have been able to successfully resolve your thyroid problem with supplements or dietary changes, you should still have periodic thyroid tests and screening, as you will remain at risk of developing other thyroid problems in the future.

See more helpful articles:

The Natural Desiccated Thyroid Controversy

Coconut Oil and Your Thyroid

The Risks for and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Many people with vague symptoms like these turn to dietary supplements that promise to jump-start metabolism by bolstering their thyroids with a mix of vitamins and minerals. Bladderwrack seaweed, iodine and an herb called ashwagondha are among the common ingredients.

But these over-the-counter products may also contain something that’s not so natural: thyroid hormones that should only be dispensed by prescription.


Credit Tony Cenicola/The New York Times

Researchers who tested 10 popular thyroid-boosting products sold online found that nine contained the hormones thyroxine (T4) or triiodothyronine (T3), sometimes both. The amounts varied, but in some cases the recommended daily dose contained amounts of thyroid hormone as high or higher than delivered by prescription medications, according to the report, published in November in Thyroid, a scientific journal.

At the recommended daily dose of four capsules, one supplement delivered 91 micrograms of T4 and 16.5 micrograms of T3, the researchers found. In clinical practice, the starting dose of T4 for patients with low thyroid function is just 25 micrograms a day; some older patients are given half that amount. A dose of 75 micrograms a day is sufficient to restore function in many petite women.

“This supplement could give you as much thyroid hormone as you get in a prescription drug or more,” said Dr. Victor Bernet, chairman of endocrinology at the Mayo Clinic in Jacksonville, Fla., and senior author of the study. He became interested in so-called thyroid-support supplements after seeing a patient with inexplicable test results. The patient eventually admitted that he had been taking a supplement that a friend recommended for “low energy.”

Thyroid disease is common — and more common in women, affecting one in 10 over age 50. Patients may suffer fatigue, lethargy and weight gain, but not everyone with those symptoms has the illness. Patients taking thyroid hormone should be checked regularly by a physician, Dr. Bernet said.

“Thyroid hormone has a narrow therapeutic window,” he said, and “it’s easy to go over or under” the optimal dosages.

Taking too much can disrupt the body’s ability to regulate hormone levels, and actually may trigger thyroid disease in a healthy person, Dr. Bernet said. Excessive doses of thyroid hormone also can cause anxiety, insomnia and emotional changes, as well as bone loss and serious heart problems.

Officials with trade groups that represent supplement manufacturers said they were troubled by the study’s findings and would welcome regulatory enforcement against what one called the “few bad actors” producing adulterated products.

“No dietary supplements should contain prescription drugs, period,” said John Shaw, chief executive officer of the Natural Products Association. “They are illegal and should be removed from the market,” he said, adding, “We don’t want dangerous products out there.”

Both Mr. Shaw and Duffy MacKay, of the Council for Responsible Nutrition, another supplement trade association, suggested the tested products did not represent all of them, even though nine of 10 contained detectable levels of medication.

Mr. MacKay, a naturopathic doctor, said most consumers do not use “obscure” products like thyroid-support supplements. “This is a real fringe category, the outsiders of the outsiders of the outsiders,” he said.

While the Food and Drug Administration can take action against unsafe supplements once they are on the market, the regulations governing supplements differ substantially from those for conventional medications, which go through extensive testing before approval. Under the Dietary Supplement Health and Education Act of 1994, supplement manufacturers are required to ensure that products are safe before putting them on the market.

An F.D.A. spokeswoman said the agency has stepped up enforcement in recent years, in one case issuing warning letters about widespread violations of good manufacturing practices at an Atrium Inc. plant in Wautoma, Wis., that makes red yeast rice and other supplements. She declined to say whether the agency would be investigating thyroid-support products.

Doctors are also concerned about iodine, an ingredient in about half the thyroid-boosting supplements. In order for the body to make thyroid hormone, it needs iodine, but excessive amounts of the element may be harmful, Dr. Bernet noted.

The recent study did not analyze the iodine content in thyroid-support supplements, but labels on five of the products listed it as an ingredient, with amounts of 100 to 240 micrograms in the recommended daily dose. The recommended daily allowance for adults is 150 micrograms (slightly more for women who are pregnant or breast-feeding). A teaspoon of iodized salt contains 400 micrograms.

For iodine, as for thyroid hormone, Dr. Bernet said, there is a “sweet spot” in the diet; too much or too little may be harmful.

He and his co-authors did not make it easy for consumers who want to avoid supplements contaminated with thyroid hormone: The published paper did not identify the tested products.

Dr. Bernet’s advice was to avoid all of these supplements. “You can’t trust any of these things. You don’t know what’s in them.”

Your Treatment Options for Hypothyroidism

Hypothyroidism is a condition where the thyroid gland doesn’t produce or make enough of two thyroid hormones: triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4). The thyroid gland is a small organ at the base of the throat that’s responsible for regulating your metabolism. The pituitary gland secretes a thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) that triggers the thyroid to make and release T3 and T4.

Primary hypothyroidism occurs when the thyroid doesn’t make enough T3 and T4 despite being instructed to do so by the pituitary gland. Secondary hypothyroidism occurs when there’s too little TSH stimulating the thyroid gland. Common symptoms of the condition include fatigue, body pain, palpitations, and menstrual irregularity. Although there may be no cure for hypothyroidism, there are ways to control it.

Medications and Supplements

Using synthetic versions of the thyroid hormones is one of the most commonly used treatments for hypothyroidism. Liothyronine (Cytomel, Tertroxin) is a synthetic version of T3 and levothyroxine (Synthroid, Levothroid, Levoxyl) is a substitute for T4.

If your hypothyroidism is caused by an iodine deficiency, your doctor may recommend an iodine supplement. Additionally, magnesium and selenium supplements may help improve your condition. As always, ask your doctor before taking any supplements.


Although many foods can improve thyroid function, changes to your diet are unlikely to replace the need for prescription medication.

Nuts and seeds rich in magnesium and selenium, including Brazil nuts and sunflower seeds, can be beneficial to your thyroid health.

Dietary supplements, like iron and calcium pills, and eating a high-fiber diet can reduce the absorption of certain thyroid medicines. In general, avoid eating soy and soy-based foods, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage as these foods can inhibit thyroid function, especially when eaten in raw form.


Hypothyroidism can trigger muscle and joint pain and can leave you feeling fatigued and depressed. A regular exercise routine can reduce many of these symptoms.

Unless your doctor advises you against certain activities, no exercises are off-limits. Still, the following activities may be especially helpful for hypothyroidism.

Low-impact workouts: One of the common symptoms of hypothyroidism is muscle and joint pain. Biking, swimming, yoga, Pilates, or walking at a brisk pace are just some low-impact activities that you can incorporate into your everyday routine.

Strength training: Building muscle mass, either by lifting weights or with exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups, can reduce any feelings of sluggishness or lethargy. Having a higher muscle mass increases your resting metabolic rate, which can help counter any weight gain and pains caused by hypothyroidism.

Cardiovascular training: Hypothyroidism has been correlated with a higher risk of cardiac arrhythmias, or an irregular heartbeat. Improving your cardiovascular health with regular exercise can help protect your heart.

Through medications, diet, and exercise, you can improve your thyroid health and manage your hypothyroidism.

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