The Complete Guide to using Naturethroid: Dosing + Weight loss & More
Is Naturethroid the missing link to helping you FINALLY feel better?
The short answer: Maybe...
Like most things in life the answer is never straightforward!
And that's why I've created this guide.
I will show you which patients do best on Naturethroid, when you should consider switching to Naturethroid and what to do if Naturethroid isn't enough for your body.
But first we need to dive into some basics...
What Is Naturethroid?
Naturethroid is a medication used to treat Hypothyroidism.
One of the reasons you may have found this article is because you're currently being treated with Levothyroxine and you have heard that Naturethroid or Armour thyroid might be a better option for you.
And that may be true for many people...
But we need to discuss why:
Is Naturethroid better than Levothyroxine?
Many people actually do better on Natural Desiccated Thyroid hormone instead of T4 containing medications.
Not only is that popular opinion on the internet, forums and blog sites - it's also been confirmed in research studies:
Many patients actually prefer to be treated with NDT (Naturethroid, Armour thyroid, WP thyroid, etc.).
They also noted an increase in weight loss and quality of life:
So why is that?
Naturethroid (and other forms of Natural Desiccated thyroid) contain a combination of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone.
Remember that T3 is the ACTIVE thyroid hormone while T4 is the INACTIVE thyroid hormone.
So most Doctors give patients T4 only medications (Synthroid and Levothyroxine) hoping that the body will convert it to T3 on its own.
That turns out to not be the case in many individuals so many patients feel terrible on T4 only medications.
Patients who should consider switching to Naturethroid
If you are one of the many patients who feels terrible on T4 only medication you're probably wondering right now if Naturethroid will help you feel better...
And for many patients that turns out to be true (though not everyone!).
Certain patients tend to better than others, but not everyone does best on Naturethroid.
In my experience patients who fall into these categories tend to do best on Naturethroid or other forms of Natural Desiccated thyroid:
- Patients who have not felt better on T4 only medications like Synthroid, Levothyroxine or Tirosint
- Patients with mild weight problems (defined as 10-20 pounds overweight)
- Most patients who have not been on thyroid medication before (or are newly diagnosed with hypothyroidism)
- Patients with low free T3 and low free T4 levels but with relatively normal Reverse T3
If you fall into one or more of the categories above there is a good chance that Naturethroid may be right for you.
Switching form Levothyroxine to Naturethroid
If you're on Levothyroxine and would like to try switching to Naturethroid there are a few really important things you need to know.
By making sure you follow the steps below it will ensure that you've given Naturethroid a proper chance at working...
1. Titrate SLOWLY
When switching from T4 only medication it is VERY important that you start out slow with your dosing.
T3 containing medications (Like Naturethroid) can be VERY stimulating to patients who have never been on them before.
Which means it's best to start with LESS medication compared to the equivalent T4 dosing in the beginning.
During this transition you may feel slightly worse until the dose gets ramped up as your body acclimates to the new medication.
If you find that Naturethroid is too stimulating for you it may be best to split your dose in half and take it at different times of the day.
This allows for less T3 hormone in your blood stream.
Symptoms of too much T3 in your body include:
- Increased anxiety or agitation
- Heart palpitations or rapid heart beat
- Heat intolerance or hot flashes
- Uneasy feeling or overall feeling worse
- Increased fatigue
- Dizziness or the sensation of being light headed
If you have any of these symptoms it doesn't necessarily mean Naturethroid is NOT for you, instead it might mean you titrated too quickly.
Starting dose may be as low as 16.25mg to 32.5mg taken at morning and/or in the afternoon.
If you experience the symptoms above they may resolve over time, or they may not - if they persist beyond 2-4 weeks, it's like that they will stay.
2. Get the Right Dosing
Dosing is also very important when switching medications.
Any time you add T3 containing medications the TSH will always drop very quickly.
Because of this many Doctors will under-dose thyroid patients when switching to NDT or Naturethroid and then use that as an excuse that the medication doesn't work.
When switching medications it's important to start low and titrate slow.
That means a starting dose of 16.25-32.5mg with an increase every 10-14 days unless you experience symptoms of too much T3 (stated above).
Instead of basing dosing off of the TSH, dosing with T3 medications should be based off of a combination of the following: lab tests (free t3/reverse t3/sex hormone binding globulin), subjective symptoms, body temperature and heart rate.
Using standard dosing recommendations with the TSH will generally result in under treatment for many patients.
3. Monitor your Symptoms
Whenever you switch to T3 containing medications I recommend that you follow both your resting heart rate and basal body temperature.
Both of these will increase when taking T3 containing medications (direct effect from thyroid hormone) and tracking them will help prevent accidentally dosing yourself too high.
In addition make sure to track your symptoms of Hypothyroidism (but don't base dosing off of these alone).
The rise in body temperature and heart rate usually indicate an increase in metabolism (this is what everyone wants).
The rise in body temperature stems from an increase in energy production from improved mitochondrial function.
This is from the effect of T3 on your mitochondria.
Will Naturethroid Help you Lose Weight?
Many people want to know if Naturethroid will be the magical medication to help them lose weight.
The answer to that is almost always no.
While it is true that Hypothyroidism can damage your metabolism, at most this usually leads to an excess of 10-20 pounds of extra weight.
If you have gained more than that amount of weight it is almost always due to another hormone imbalance.
To explain this effect further I've elaborated on the combination of hormone imbalances that occur in hypothyroid states which contribute to thyroid weight gain.
Having said that some patients will experience some weight loss while switching medication.
Patients more likely to experience weight loss usually are patients who don't have problems with T4 to T3 conversion or who have relatively low reverse T3 levels.
Generally the higher your reverse T3 levels, and the more metabolic damage you have (from calorie restricted dieting) the less likely naturethroid will help you lose weight.
That doesn't mean it won't help you feel better - because even if it doesn't help with weight loss it still is more likely to help reduce your symptoms when compared to levothyroxine or synthroid.
But the magical weight loss you are looking for may not occur unless you hit certain measures.
How to get Naturethroid
While many patients stand to benefit considerably from switching to naturethroid (or other forms of NDT), unfortunately it can be difficult to get.
Most Endocrinologists and Primary care providers are not comfortable prescribing Natural Desiccated thyroid or Naturethroid.
Part of this reason has to do with the fact that NDT contains T3 thyroid hormone (and they aren't comfortable prescribing T3).
In addition they also erroneously think that NDT results in unstable thyroid levels and concentrations throughout the day.
The current standard of care and treatment paradigm within the insurance model is to treat hypothyroidism (and hashimoto's) with T4 only thyroid medication and base dosing off of the TSH.
Unfortunately this treatment usually results in persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism, consistent weight gain among hypothyroid patients and overall a reduction in quality of life.
This means unless your Doctor is willing to work with you, you will need to find an integrative/holistic/functional medicine physician to provide this medication for you.
Finding this kind of physician to help you may be difficult but is certainly worth the wait.
In my opinion you can't put a price of finally feeling healthy and getting your life back and the single most effective thing you can do is find someone to help guide you along the way.
Managing your thyroid is very complex and involves multiple hormone systems, so figuring this out on your own is likely impossible.
Consider these resources to help find someone who may be able to help you further:
Note: I generally recommend against the use of a Chiropractor for managing your thyroid. They are unable to provide hormone treatment and this represents the crux of thyroid treatment.
How much does Naturethroid Cost?
Compared to other forms of Natural Desiccated thyroid Naturethroid is very reasonably priced as you can see below:
If your insurance will not cover Naturethroid you can use Goodrx.com to find the cheapest cash price near you.
Goodrx.com will provide you with a coupon you can use to take to your pharmacy to get a cash "discount" on medications (most medications).
Simply go to the website, type in naturethroid:
You will then be brought to this screen which will show you where the medication is cheapest and how to get your coupon for the discount:
You can even use goodrx for other medications (including armour thyroid, levothyroxine, etc.).
What is in Naturethroid?
Are you a sensitive person that reacts to fillers/dyes/etc.?
Naturethroid has a very limited amount of ingredients as you can see below:
It's also important to note that WP Thyroid has even fewer ingredients, so if you react to Naturethroid you may want to consider WP thyroid as an alternative.
What to do if Naturethroid isn't Working
While Naturethroid may be enough to alleviate the majority of your symptoms and issues it may not be enough to get you back to 100%.
If you fall into the following categories Naturethroid may not be enough for your body:
- High levels of Reverse T3 ( >15 ) or signs of thyroid resistance
- Leptin resistance (Leptin level > 12)
- Diabetes, prediabetes or insulin resistance
- Extremely low body temperature despite being on Naturethroid or NDT
- Personal history of bipolar disorder or a strong family history of mental health disorders
- Personal history of Fibromyalgia or Chronic fatigue syndrome
In these instances it may be beneficial to consider adding T3 hormone (Cytomel or Liothyronine) to your Naturethroid or NDT.
Cytomel is a medication that contains pure T3 thyroid hormone.
Unfortunately finding a Doctor to prescribe cytomel in addition to NDT/Naturethroid can be difficult, but in some patients it is necessary to feel optimal.
Use Caution if you have Autoimmune Thyroiditis or Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
Any patient with autoimmune thyroiditis or a known diagnosis of hashimoto's thyroiditis should be careful when using Naturethroid or any other form of natural desiccated thyroid.
Because NDT is porcine based, meaning it comes from a different animal.
Even though the hormones themselves are bio identical (meaning they are the same hormone your body would have produced naturally), components of the animal still remain in the formulation.
Like any piece of foreign tissue it is possible for your body to create an immune response to it.
For this reason (and many others) some patients may actually feel worse when switching to naturethroid and feel like their symptoms come back even though their TSH may be low at the time.
This leads patients and providers to believe that the medication doesn't provide stable thyroid levels and this isn't necessarily true.
It doesn't mean you shouldn't take naturethroid if you have Hashimoto's or autoimmune thyroiditis, but you should take this into consideration when switching medication and if you feel worse during the switch.
If this does occur to you, you can check your thyroid antibody levels to determine if they raised in correlation with starting naturethroid.
If this occurs you may need to stop the medication (temporarily) and put your focus on your GI tract.
Treating any GI related issues like low stomach acid can improve your digestion and absorption of naturethroid and reduce any antigenic stimulus from the medication.
Naturethroid vs Armour thyroid
Even though armour thyroid and naturethroid are both forms of natural desiccated thyroid they are NOT the same medication.
Believe it or not, I've had many cases of patients who have simply switched from one form of NDT to another and have had all of their symptoms resolve spontaneously.
I want to provide a word of caution to you, especially if you fall into this boat.
Don't assume that ALL forms of NDT (naturethroid, wp thyroid, armour thyroid, etc.) won't work for you if one of them isn't currently working for you.
Much of this tolerance is likely due to the various fillers and binders used in each medication.
While all forms of NDT do contain the same amount of bio identical thyroid hormone, they differ in these inactive fillers and binders.
In the case of armour thyroid, the formulation was recently changed which reduced the amount of dextrose and increased the amount of methylcellulose in the formulation.
This change either dramatically improved or worsened the tolerance of the medication in many patients.
For some patients they had an immediate return in their hypothyroid symptoms.
The binder methylcellulose acts like a "glue" in the body and delays absorption of the medication.
This is the same binder that compounding pharmacies use for sustained release T3.
This example really highlights the importance of these fillers and binders and helps to explain why some people do very well on certain types of medications.
If you are on armour thyroid and it isn't working for you, then it would be worth a trial of switching medication to see if the switch improves your symptoms.
You can find more information about armour thyroid here.
Heart Palpitations with Naturethroid
One of the more concerning symptoms that patients may experience while taking naturethroid is the sensation of a rapid heart rate otherwise known as heart palpitations.
These palpitations result from the T3 that is inside the medication.
Recall that naturethroid contains a combination of both T4 and T3 thyroid hormones, compared to levothyroxine or synthroid which contains T4 only.
T3 is the active form of thyroid hormone in your body and it activates certain receptors in all tissues in your body.
In your heart T3 acts different than it does elsewhere by directly activating calcium channel pumps.
This may lead to increased force of contraction of the heart combined with an increase in the heart rate.
Because serum levels of T3 usually spike around 2-3 hours after ingestion of thyroid hormone, this is usually when patients experience the heart palpitations.
These palpitations don't necessarily indicate that the medication is harmful for your body, but it may mean that you are getting too much T3 too quickly.
You can combat these symptoms by changing how you take the medication.
Simply spacing your dose (take half in the morning and half at night) may be enough to alleviate many of these symptoms.
Alternatively, taking your complete thyroid medication at night may improve your symptoms dramatically due to absorption and other hormone changes.
Many patients report heart palpitations in the middle of the night (usually 2-3am) which likely stems from changes in cortisol levels and other hormones.
Taking thyroid hormone in the evening can help reduce those symptoms.
You can learn more tips and tricks on how to take your thyroid medication in this article.
Naturethroid is a medication that contains both the inactive T4 and the active T3.
Because of the active T3 and combinations of other thyroid hormones (listed above) many patients actually do much better on Naturethroid instead of T4 only medications like Synthroid and Levothyroxine.
If you are considering switching to Naturethroid (especially if you are switching from T4 only medications) make sure to start LOW and titrate SLOW.
That means starting at a lower than normal equivalent dose, but increasing your dose slowly every 10-14 days.
Doing this will prevent unwanted side effects from the T3 in the medication.
And remember that Naturethroid is not a magic weight loss pill, but it can help some individuals lose up to 10-20 pounds.
I want to hear from you!
Are you currently taking Naturethroid? Did it work for you? Why or why not?
Leave your comments below and I will personally respond.