The Nature-Throid Shortage Explained
As a thyroid patient, you are probably accustomed to stock issues when it comes to thyroid medication.
In the last year alone we've seen several recalls for various brands of NDT which have negatively impacted the stock and availability of these medications.
These recalls and issues have trickled downstream to thyroid patients who are now experiencing a return of many of their symptoms when they were previously controlled.
In addition, we've also seen many people who have issues when these medications come back in stock due to changes in the formulation.
I do my best to keep thyroid patients informed and provide them with alternatives when certain thyroid medications go out of stock which is why we are talking about Nature-Throid today.
I've been getting a lot of questions recently about Nature-Throid and whether or not it is available.
At this time of this writing, Nature-Throid is out of stock and is not currently being produced or manufactured.
That means if you were previously taking Nature-Throid as your primary thyroid medication you will need to switch to a different brand or type of thyroid medication.
For those who aren't aware, Nature-Throid is a brand name thyroid medication that falls into the class of Natural Desiccated Thyroid.
Natural Desiccated Thyroid, or NDT for short, are medications derived from crushed up animal thyroid glands that contain active thyroid hormones.
Nature-Throid contains a combination of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone as well as additional ingredients including some amounts of iodine, calcitonin, and traces of other thyroid hormones like T2.
NDT brands have long been preferred over synthetic versions of thyroid medication due to their "natural" classification.
I've discussed why it's probably not appropriate to think of them in this way but there's no denying that many people prefer NDT over traditional synthetic versions of thyroid medications such as levothyroxine and Synthroid.
Because Nature-Throid contains a combination of both T4 and T3 thyroid hormone, though, it is often far more effective at helping manage symptoms such as fatigue and weight gain.
If you were previously using Nature-Throid with success the prospect of swapping over to levothyroxine is probably the last thing you'd want to do.
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Why Did it Happen?
What caused the shortage?
We don't actually have a clear answer but right now the manufacturer of Nature-Throid is stating that the shortage is due to multiple issues including:
- An increased demand for NDT given the recent recalls of other brands of NDT
- Increased demand due to the recent recall of both Nature-Throid and WP Thyroid
- Delays in manufacturing from changes to manufacturing facilities
Unfortunately, this is the best information we have right now but as more information becomes available I will continue to update this section.
When Will it be Available Again?
At this time, we don't have clear information on when Nature-Throid will become available again.
The current official website for Nature-Throid shows the following image regarding the various strengths and their availability of Nature-Throid:
As you can see from the image above the following Nature-Throid dosages are all temporarily unavailable:
- 1/4 grain (16.25 mg)
- 1/2 grain (32.5 mg)
- 3/4 grain (48.75 mg)
- 1 grain (65 mg)
- 1 1/4 grain (81.25 mg)
- 1 1/2 grain (97.5 mg)
- 1 3/4 grain (113.75 mg)
- 2 grain (130 mg)
- 2 1/4 grain (146.25 mg)
- 2 1/2 grain (162.5 mg)
- 3 grain (195 mg)
In addition, when you click on their "availability statement" you are met with a "PAGE NOT FOUND!" which means they do not have a current ETA for these doses right now.
In the past, the manufacturers of Nature-Throid have been pretty good about providing updates regarding issues they have with doses or recalls.
Their current recall page posted on September 29th, 2020 can be found here as an example.
Don't Stress! What to use Instead of Nature-Throid
Even though it can be disheartening to hear that Nature-Throid is out of stock and not available at this moment doesn't mean that there aren't options great available to you right now.
The following options can be used if you were previously using Nature-Throid:
- NP Thyroid - **Note: as of April 30th, 2021 there is another NP Thyroid Recall which is impacting NP thyroid availability. At this time only some doses are available** Even though NP thyroid is similar in the sense that it is NDT doesn't guarantee that it will jive with your body. There are many people who are currently experiencing issues with various lots of NP thyroid so your mileage may vary in terms of how effective it is for you. Having said that, it's still a potential option for those not able to use Nature-Throid and should be considered for most people!
- Armour Thyroid - Armour Thyroid is another brand of NDT that should be available at most pharmacies right now as well. It tends to be more tolerated than NP thyroid but has its own issues as well. Just like NP Thyroid, you may need to experiment with Armour Thyroid to see if it works for YOUR body.
- Compounded Desiccated thyroid - Another option is to have a compounding pharmacy compound desiccated thyroid for you. Compounded desiccated thyroid contains the same active ingredients (including T4, T3, T2, T1, calcitonin, and iodine) but differs in inactive ingredients. Compounded pharmacies can match your previous dose of Nature-throid almost exactly. The compounded desiccated thyroid base contains many of the same ingredients as active NDT medications but is typically slightly more expensive because it requires handling by a human. If NP Thyroid and/or Armour Thyroid don't work you can always try this option. Worth noting is that some compounding pharmacies are experiencing issues in obtaining the base desiccated thyroid needed to create various doses of compounded thyroid medication. You may need to call your local compounding pharmacy to see if they have access to the raw ingredients needed to make your medication/dose.
- Combined T4 and T3 thyroid medications - Lastly, you can always combine synthetic versions of T4 and T3 to create your own personal thyroid medication regimen. Remember: each grain of NDT contains 38mcg of T4 and 9mcg of T3. You can match this ratio by taking two types of synthetic medications such as levothyroxine/Tirosint/Synthroid (to satisfy the T4 portion) and liothyronine/Cytomel (to satisfy the T3 portion). You can then adjust and titrate the individual amounts of T4 and T3 as needed. A simple way to get a roughly 80/20 mix of T4/T3 would be to use 100mcg of Tirosint and 20 mcg of Cytomel.
Don't Rely Solely on Thyroid Medication
There will be times when you can't control the availability of your thyroid medication, I get that.
But there are always things that are within your control that can help reduce your reliance upon thyroid medication.
And even if you are someone who no longer has a thyroid (such as those who have had it surgically removed), you can still do things to enhance the maximum potential of whatever thyroid medication you are using.
Imagine this scenario for a moment:
You were someone who was taking Nature-Throid previously and had your symptoms under control or at least mostly managed.
Everything was going great and then BOOM the Nature-Throid recall hit.
Because you could no longer get Nature-Throid you were forced to switch to Armour Thyroid.
While Armour Thyroid worked somewhat you still noticed a recurrence of some of your old symptoms.
Is all hope lost?
Not at all!
There are things that you can do which may help make your medication more effective even if it isn't the "best" thyroid medication for you.
Some of these therapies include:
- The use of thyroid supplements designed to enhance T4 to T3 conversion - Some supplements, such as this one, can help your body convert T4 into T3. Even though Nature-throid (and other versions of NDT) contain T3 in them they mostly consist of T4 so this process is still very important. Naturally improving your T3 levels will help you feel better.
- Consuming an anti-inflammatory whole food diet - The food that you eat has a huge impact on your thyroid. Certain foods promote a reduction in inflammation which can indirectly help thyroid conversion and thyroid function. Focus on eating whole foods and cutting out industrial seed oils from your diet.
- Exercising regularly - Exercise can naturally increase both free T3 and free t4 levels. If you are not exercising regularly then you are missing out on this simple and effective way to naturally boost your thyroid. Regular exercise of 3-5 times per week is enough to give you this benefit.
- Cutting out caffeine/coffee from your diet - Coffee and caffeine both have a suppressive effect on thyroid function at the level of the brain. Yes, they may give you some temporary energy but it comes at the cost of a slight reduction in thyroid function.
- Taking time to fix/improve your gut function - If you can improve your gut then you can improve how much of your thyroid medication gets absorbed. Small changes to your gut may allow more thyroid medication to get INTO your body so that it can then activate and use it.
- Change when you take your thyroid medication - If you haven't already, you can try taking your thyroid medication at night instead of in the morning. This small change is sometimes enough to improve thyroid hormone levels in the body! Many thyroid patients make the switch and see improvement almost right away.
- Ensure that you are taking your thyroid medication appropriately - If you are taking your thyroid medication with food or with supplements or other medications then you are not taking it correctly. Use this resource to make sure that you are following all of the right rules.
These therapies can help make your current thyroid medication more effective by allowing your thyroid to pick up the slack.
Supporting your own thyroid gland may reduce your need for thyroid medication and may allow you to reduce your dose or get off of it completely (depending on the situation).
By the way, these are the things that you should be doing anyway regardless of whatever thyroid medication you are taking and whether or not it's having stock issues!
Preventing Stock Issues and Frustration in the Future
I've always been an advocate of creating a personal supply of thyroid medication as "just in case" insurance.
My current recommendation is to try and get at least a 1 year supply of whatever thyroid medication you are currently taking and have that on hand whenever you might need it.
There are too many variables outside of your control that can impact our medication supply chain.
Issues with manufacturers, supply and demand issues for raw materials, trade wars with other countries, defects in the manufacturing process, and companies going out of business can happen at any time.
And let me tell you this:
Issues with thyroid medications are becoming the norm, not the exception.
In the last decade, we have seen issues with nearly every brand of thyroid medication including the synthetic versions.
The good news is that there are various tips and tricks you can use to increase your own personal supply of thyroid medication to prevent issues when these problems occur.
And you don't have to be unethical about it either.
There is a way to safely ensure that you have extra for yourself without taking it from someone else.
Trying to stock up in the middle of a shortage will never work but if you plan it out and stock up BEFORE the shortage hits then you are golden.
It can be difficult to get your doctor on board but by doing simple things like asking them to double your supply of thyroid medication you can slowly help you build up your reserve supply.
If you are currently taking 1 grain of Armour Thyroid then you can ask your doctor to double your dose to 2 grains per month instead of 1.
You will then continue with your regular dose of 1 grain of Armour thyroid but each month you will gain an additional month that you can store for a rainy day.
It also doesn't cost that much, either.
You can find additional tips and tricks on how to stock up here.
At the time of this writing, Nature-Throid is not currently available and there is an ongoing shortage.
We don't have clear information about when it will be back in stock or when manufacturing will continue but I will keep an eye out!
In the meantime, there are plenty of solid options available to you.
While these options may not be exactly the same as Nature-Throid, you should be able to find a combination of medications that works for your body.
Now I want to hear from you:
Were you impacted by the Nature-Throid shortage?
Were you forced to change thyroid medications?
If so, what are you currently using? Is it working for you as well as Nature-Throid did? Is it better?
Let me know in the comments below!