Thyroid Medication: Why I chose The “Natural” over “The Pharma” for my Little Girl


For me there is no contest; it’s Natural Desiccated Thyroid Hormone over Synthetic T4 only Thyroxine from now onwards…

I changed Hana’s thyroid meds a few weeks ago. Way back in December, before her tumour was diagnosed, I’d been sure she had an under active thyroid and I decided over Christmas that I would ensure she received natural thyroid replacement rather than synthetic. There is HEAPS about this online, especially in the very informative ‘Stop the Thyroid Madness’ this website is a thyroid consumer’s bible and a must, must, must read.

Anyway, the tumour was diagnosed, removed and  Hana was automatically put on a T4 only medication (a Synthetic Pharmaceutical) and we have been barely keeping our heads above water for six months, surviving the fallout of the enormous surgery. Now, 8 months in, as I make my through each every one of Hana’s medications, perfecting them where I can, I’ve made my way to her thyroid meds, and I made a decision to switch her off the T4 to Natural Desiccated Thyroid.

Natural is the old way of doing it…

A while ago, the only treatment for under active thyroids was Natural Desiccated Thyroid Hormone – or NDT (the thyroid gland from a cow or pig, ground up, dried and put in capsules). This form of medication is as bio-identical as it gets; our thyroids secrete multiple substances including T4, T3, T1, T2 and Calcitonin. NDT includes all these substances. Back then, consumers report that they did VERY well on this hormone replacement. So although it may seem like this ‘natural’ way of doing it is a hippy-herbally thing, it’s actually not, it pre-dated current medical practice for a long time.

But then T4 was synthesised and patented;

Because it is believed that the body can **mostly** convert blood levels of T4 to tissue accessible T3, some clever scientists thought it would be better to make a pill that only contains T4 to replace missing thyroid hormones.

Note some people seem to do OK on T4 only meds. The main reason doctors cite as not wanting to prescribe NDT for their hypothyroid patients are concerns with batch quality and variability, which at the outset is a fair enough consideration. But then, if you start trawling through consumer reports and feedback on the net, there are SO many positive experiences in those using NDT, in my opinion, too many to ignore – without at least trying it first.

Many don’t do well on T4 only. Some people have issues with T4-T3 conversion and something called reverse t3, this leads to them exhibiting chronic hypothyroid symptoms inspite of their taking large doses of T4 to try and compensate. Sometimes doctors will prescribe T3 in addition to T4 only meds to relieve these symptoms, but the fact is, most doctors don’t. Many just go off blood levels of T4  and T3 (the T4 may be really high) but these levels don’t reflect tissue absorption of T3 – and it is the tissue utilisation of T3 that will alleviate hypothyroid symptoms. And so we could start discussing ‘looking at the patient not the blood values’ but that’s a whole new topic.

What about Hana?

Hana appears to convert T4 to T3 pretty well, she doesn’t exhibit obvious hypothyroid symptoms with a higher dose of T4. However, she is VERY sensitive to T4 and will be tachycardic, have insomnia and heat intolerance at the slightest dose increase. Yet she’d still be tired with sluggish circulation. Paradoxical. So it wasn’t to eliminate whole bodily hypothyroid symptoms that I decided to start her on NDT: I just wanted the best possible match to what her body was missing plus I wanted to see if her fatigue and circulation would improve with a bio-identical match.

Let’s just go over the facts again:

Pharmaceutical Thyroid Medication provides a patient with: T4.

NDT provides a patient with: T4, T3, T1,T2 AND calcitonin. 

For me it’s a no brainer.

How could someone possibly declare that T4 only medication is the best/adequate replacement therapy when the body itself has evolved (very cleverly) to produce much more than T4? There MUST be a reason why our thyroids secrete these other hormones even if we don’t know what that reason is yet. No matter how convinced medical researchers are that it is “OK” to only substitute one. I personally trust the evolved human body more than a group of scientists who may/may not make some profit off patenting a product that is not bio-identical. Or perhaps they are happy with people leading lives that are just – adequate. Adequate isn’t good enough for me,I want to give my daughter a fighting chance at living the happiest healthiest life that she can with her permanent health conditions.

What happened on the NDT?

So far, after a few weeks on NDT I’d say her overall energy has improved, heart rate has picked up a bit but not to the extent of being tachycardic nor insomniac plus her body temperature has elevated slightly too and this is at a dose of NDT which at the equivalent T4 dose would have given her a very fast heart-rate, difficulty sleeping at night and would also interfere with daytime naps yet her fatigue would still persist. These improvements reflect an increased BMR (basal metabolic rate), which we really need. I’ve actually just had to increase her dose again – so I’ll keep you posted on what happens with the new dose over the next few weeks.

But the most interesting thing I’ve noticed about her? Her face. She just LOOKS better than she has in 8 months. It may sound unscientific – but it’s a pleasure to see a much healthier ‘look’ about her. And hey, I’m allowed to be unscientific right? Nurse Naomi Blog was hijacked by me, the mum, 8 months ago. 🙂

There are lots of others out there who’ve done LOADS of reading on Thyroid meds (it’s a huge, complex topic) so I invite you all to share your research and thoughts below.

There is still much more work to do, I’ve only just started tinkering  with and perfecting Hana’s medications and I’m no way near where I want to be. The biggest issue is of course Hana’s obesity and ravenous appetite. But I thought I’d share something positive with you today.

Read more on our Brain Tumour journey, our war against Hypothalamic Obesity and my quest to get Oxytocin studied and prescribed as part of every Craniopharyngioma survivor’s medicine regime here in the Brain Tumour category. I also update my Facebook Page daily, so please do get in touch, I love hearing from survivors, parents of survivors and anyone else interested in brain healing.






  5 comments for “Thyroid Medication: Why I chose The “Natural” over “The Pharma” for my Little Girl

  1. Martin
    August 19, 2014 at 4:04 am

    The conversion from T4 to T3 is an energetic process, and doesn’t work on natural diffusion, so our bodies need the energy of the T3 to effectively convert the T4 at adequate levels. Our bodies also need the T2 for lipolysis, and we need some T4 because some tissues do well at converting their own, and the body can participate in regulation by governing how much T4 is made into T3. For primary hypothyroidism, I’d strongly prefer NDT over synthroid, and for central hypothyroidism, I’d want to first try the NDT alone, and supplement it with T3 if necessary. (I suspect it would be).

    The worries about dosage variability are really minimal, and likely far less than they would be with synthetics. There is no evidence that I’m aware of showing that any brand of NDT has ever had a problem, but synthetic T4 has had LOTS of well documented problems with efficacy and variability.

    Although there is no such thing as an average or standard cow or pig, if you get your supplies from a broad enough crossection of animals, over a broad sample of seasons, statistically, it must become very uniform, and there is far less risk of under or overdosing this there is with a synthetic, made by machinery mixing chemicals that might slip a bit here and there.

    But by far the strongest argument to me for NDT is that if the body makes all if those various hormones, how can we be optimal without them?

    And as Naomi mentioned, we mustn’t settle for adequate or basic life support where our children are concerned, rather, we must strive for optimal, and never stop looking for answers!!!

    • Naomi R Cook
      August 19, 2014 at 7:04 pm

      Martin, as always, well said. Thanks for sharing that here xx

  2. Jane Thorne
    August 25, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    ❤ xXx

  3. October 26, 2014 at 8:12 am

    I am so glad to see she is doing well on NDT. In the very beginning on dx of PHP I detected something was wrong when taking thyroxine. I was started off on Eutroxsig which of course isn’t surprising. I would have moments of improvements, followed by slumps. All Doctors I saw at that time said I was paranoid as thyroxine ‘should’ be doing its job when it just wasn’t.

    At the time, this is considering as well I was ‘not’ on estrogen and progesterone or growth hormone. Little did I know at the time the reason for so much heartache concerning thyroid medication was because I wasn’t creating any of my own with these other hormones.

    After reading STTM and talking to many different thyroid patients, I decided to give NDT a shot and reacted very badly to it. I went hyper very quickly, symptoms of diabetes insipidus worsened and I started swelling uncontrollably (even though mood wise I felt quite good from the elevated T3). I eventually ended up in hospital from toxic T3 levels.

    Now, saying that I don’t look badly at NDT at all. I was quite scared of NDT after that encounter and swore I would never touch it again. And then, when researching about hormones ‘again’ realised the reason why I did so badly on it. No sex hormones, no growth hormone, no oxytocin. Just some hydrocortisone to compliment the NDT and that was it. Of course, being a woman who is 35 and doesn’t create her own – In order to tolerate the thyroid replacement I needed the other ones.

    This is why I have decided to give it another shot. It isn’t my first thing to fix on my list actually. Because there are so many other things that need tweaking. But like Hana I have no problem with conversion of T4 to T3. It is the paradox effect I have noticed though in regards to thyroid meds (thyroxine) that has me baffled though…. I heat up uncontrollably, have poor body temp regulation on lower doses of thyroid replacement. On increase of thyroxine with a slight increase of HC the heat disappears.

    After my last bad experience with NDT I ended up moving from Eutroxsig to Oroxine. I have heard medical professionals ‘swear’ there is no difference between the two considering Eutroxsig is generic. I call out BS on that one. I wonder at least if the difference in the fillers has caused a differing reaction.

    But like Hana I am usually ok on synthetic. But I just don’t feel ‘optimal’. I don’t feel it is the best I can do, and I am willing to take that flying jump into the unknown and try. Living a life with what ‘ifs’ never works. Thank you for sharing as always my lovely xoxo

    • Naomi R Cook
      October 26, 2014 at 10:10 pm

      This is so interesting, thanks for sharing!! My gosh you went thyro-toxic, poor thing! How frightening for you. I recently found out that Hana’s thyroid levels had dropped (she had been on the same dose since Feb but had doubled her weight due to the HyOb and gradually became hypothyroid.) We’ve been increasing her dose for 6 weeks and she’s doing great, much more energy, no catnaps…But still her face ‘looks’ better than it ever did on T4 alone, completely subjective observation and of no scientific use LOL. We definitely wouldn’t want to take her off NDT. The STTM is a fascinating site!

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