An older, natural treatment can help patients dealing with thyroid issues

Published: Apr. 13, 2017 at 4:16 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

At least 20 million Americans, including 80-percent of them women, suffer from low levels of thyroid hormones which can have major consequences.

The thyroid gland regulates your metabolism, heart, muscle and brain functions. Now, an old, but rarely-used therapy may be making a comeback among patients looking for a natural solution.

Cheryl Williams, 62, has a lot of energy these days for walking the dog and practicing yoga, but for years she had none and doctors had no idea why.

"They’ll say ‘oh, everything looks great. All your levels are just great.’ and I’m going, ‘well how come I need a wheelchair to get out of here?" said Williams.

Doctor Jane Sadler did tests which showed that Cheryl has a thyroid deficiency, hypothyroidism.

"Their body is going to run into problems with heart failure, osteoporosis, low heart rate," said Dr. Sadler.

Hypothyroidism is often treated with synthetic human thyroid hormone, but that didn’t improve Cheryl’s energy level so Doctor Sadler tried a seldom used remedy: pig thyroid extract. Doctors rarely prescribe the pig hormone because unlike the synthetic hormone, the concentration can vary, but it worked for Cheryl.

"It’s rewarding, but I will emphasize that i have to monitor Cheryl’s levels of thyroid much more closely than I would somebody on a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement," said Dr. Sadler.

"So when I think back now, it’s like wow, I can do these things without it being such a challenge and struggle," said Williams.

The American Thyroid Association says the number of Americans with thyroid deficiency could be as high as 60 million, with 60 percent undiagnosed. A simple blood test to measure TSH thyroid stimulating hormone will provide the answer.




REPORT: MB #4246

BACKGROUND: The thyroid is a gland that sits low on the front of the neck, along the front of the windpipe. It has two side lobes connected by a bridge in the middle. It is rich with blood vessels and holds nerves that are important for voice quality. The thyroid secretes several hormones, called thyroid hormones. The main hormone is thyroxine, also called T4. Thyroid hormones act throughout the body, influencing metabolism, growth and development and body temperature. When the thyroid is its normal size, you can’t feel it. A common thyroid condition is called hypothyroidism which is when the thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormone. Having a low level of thyroid hormone affects your whole body. It can make you feel tired, weak, or depressed, have dry skin or brittle nails, cause memory loss or difficulty concentrating, and have constipation or heavy/irregular menstrual cycles. If left untreated it can raise your cholesterol levels and be dangerous during pregnancy. People of any age can get hypothyroidism, but older adults are more likely to get it. Women age 60 and older have the highest risk. You are more likely to get the disease if it runs in your family. Hypothyroidism is usually treated by taking synthetic thyroid hormones in pill form, but there is another option for those who have no reaction to the synthetic hormone: desiccated pig thyroid. Source:

TREATMENT: Animal thyroid hormones, also known as desiccated thyroid extract, were once the standard treatment because they were the only option available up until the 1960s. They are made from taking a pig’s thyroid glands which are then dried and powdered and placed into pill form. Animal thyroid medications are still available today and the most popular brand is Armour Thyroid. This supplement, made from desiccated pig thyroid glands, is a combination of both T4 and T3 hormone. Animal thyroid hormones are considered all natural which appeals to patients who prefer all natural supplements. Source:

CONTROVERSY: Most doctors prefer synthetic thyroid hormones because animal thyroid pills are not purified, which means that they contain substances that aren't naturally found in humans. While desiccated thyroid contains both T4 and T3, the balance of T4 and T3 in animals is not the same as in humans, so the hormones in animal thyroid pills aren’t necessarily “natural” for the human body. Some believe that doctors only choose to prescribe synthetic hormones because it gives more money to the large pharmaceutical companies. There are very strong opinions for either side of the argument, but at the end of the day it is wise to choose whichever option shows the best results. Source: