Should you Take Thyroid Glandular Support Supplements?

Should you Take Thyroid Glandular Support Supplements?

Thyroid glandulars may be the most potent over-the-counter ingredients that thyroid patients can take. 

But does that mean you should take them?

The answer, as usual, is that it depends. 

There are huge benefits that you may be able to realize while using thyroid glandulars but only if you are using the right type and from the right brand. 

For reasons we will be discussing in this article, it's not always safe to use over-the-counter thyroid glandulars. 

So before you run out and grab some, make sure you read through this article to ensure that you get the right type! 

In this article, you will learn:

  • More about thyroid glandulars and why they are so powerful for thyroid patients
  • Potential pitfalls to watch out for when determining what type of thyroid glandular to use
  • How to make sure your version of thyroid glandular does NOT contain active thyroid hormones
  • How adrenal glandulars compare to thyroid glandulars (and why you may want to use both)
  • And additional thyroid support supplements to use in place of thyroid glandulars if you prefer that route 

Let's jump in...

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What Are Thyroid Glandulars?

First off, let's start with a basic introduction to thyroid glandulars. 

What are they?

Put simply, they are an over-the-counter ingredient that is cultivated from the thyroid gland of animals. 

When you take thyroid glandulars you are consuming portions of animal thyroid gland (usually bovine). 

This may sound like a strange practice but humans have been using animal glands and animal tissues to promote "healing" for thousands of years (1). 

In fact, early civilizations would often recommend consuming the organ of an animal that you were having problems within your own body. 

So if you were having liver issues then it would be recommended to you to consume liver and so on. 

The question we need to ask ourselves right now is whether or not this practice is actually beneficial, especially to a thyroid patient. 

In other words, is it beneficial to consume the thyroid gland of an animal if you have a thyroid problem?

And, actually, it makes sense why it might work.

Here's why:

The thyroid gland of animals contains at least some of the same thyroid hormones that the human body would produce. 

In addition to these hormones, the thyroid gland is also filled with enzymes, proteins, pro-hormones, nutrients, and other factors that the thyroid gland needs to produce thyroid hormone. 

So you can imagine if you consume that thyroid gland of an animal you are putting the same ingredients into your body that your thyroid gland could then theoretically use to produce more thyroid hormone. 

If you could enhance the function of your own thyroid gland by taking these glandulars then you would be, in effect, healing your own thyroid gland (or at least improving thyroid function). 

But does that actually play out in the real world?

There's no question that MANY people benefit from using thyroid glandulars (2).

I can attest to that from my own personal experience using glandulars on myself as well as other patients. 

But what I don't know is exactly HOW they are working in the body. 

Another potential pitfall of thyroid glandulars is that even though they have the potential to work, they don't work in every single case. 

The reason for this probably has to do with the fact that there are many different causes and types of thyroid problems and there really isn't a one-size-fits-all treatment for every single case. 

That by itself isn't necessarily a problem but there are some other issues that you should be aware of before you think about using thyroid glandulars. 

Thyroid Glandulars vs Natural Desiccated Thyroid

One of the biggest problems to be aware of is the addition of thyroid hormones. 

As you learn about thyroid glandulars you may start to get excited. 

After all, wouldn't it be nice to be able to get the thyroid hormone that your body needs through an over-the-counter supplement without the need for a prescription?

It sounds good in theory but it can actually be quite dangerous. 

In addition, it's also illegal. 

In the United States, thyroid glandular supplements can NOT contain active thyroid hormones (T4 and T3). 

These ingredients are only available via a prescription from your doctor which means they must be removed from supplements that contain thyroid glandulars. 

A lot of people confuse Natural Desiccated Thyroid with Thyroid Glandulars and it's easy to see why. 

Natural Desiccated Thyroid is essentially created in the same way as thyroid glandulars but the only difference is that the active thyroid hormones (T4 and T3) are not excluded. 

Natural Desiccated Thyroid (or NDT for short) is a prescription version of thyroid glandulars that is standardized to contain 38mcg of T4 and 9mcg of T3 in each grain (unit of measurement). 

Thyroid glandulars, on the other hand, are created via a very similar mechanism but the active thyroid hormones are removed. 

Because of this, there is no standard unit of measurement for thyroid glandulars like there would be for NDT medications like Armour Thyroid

One big danger in using thyroid glandulars is that these hormones may not be removed, at least not in all cases. 

Whether by negligence or by intent, some thyroid glandulars still retain these active thyroid hormones. 

As I mentioned above, this may sound good at first but it usually causes much more harm than good. 

By taking additional thyroid hormone that isn't accounted for in your thyroid medication, and that isn't standardized, it can create a confusing picture when you are trying to figure out what is working for your body. 

It can also confuse your doctor as it may cause fluctuations in your thyroid hormone tests such as TSH, free T4, and free T3

Because of these problems I used to make the recommendation to avoid thyroid glandulars. 

In recent years, I have since walked back that recommendation because it's actually fairly easy to get the benefits from the glandulars while simultaneously minimizing the negative consequences (more on this below)

Potential Problems with Using Thyroid Glandulars

Before you run out and take a thyroid glandular supplement, there are a few things you should know. 

In a 2014 study (3), researchers took a look at 10 thyroid support supplements 5 of which claimed to contain animal thyroid tissue and 5 of which claimed to contain only herbs. 

They found:

  • 9 out of the 10 supplements tested contained varying concentrations of T4 and T3 thyroid hormone. 
  • 4 out of the 9 supplements contained a total dose of 10mcg per serving. 
  • 5 products contained detectable amounts of both T4 and T3.
  • 1 product contained levels of T4 and T3 hormone restricted to prescription medications (T3 > 5mcg per serving and T4 at 25mcg per serving). 
  • All of the herb-based supplements tested positive for T3. 
  • 2 of the 5 herb supplements tested positive for T4 between 17 and 91mcg per serving.

For perspective, most of these doses are not that high. 

For instance, a dose of 5mcg of T3 would be considered a baby dose of Cytomel or liothyronine

A dose of 25mcg of T4 would also be considered a very low dose of levothyroxine or Synthroid

The primary issue is that thyroid patients taking these supplements would have no idea that they were taking those active thyroid hormones! 

In addition, because these ingredients are not being tested for, there is most likely wild variability in T4 and T3 concentrations between lots. 

In other words, the same supplement might have some T4 and T3 this time but zero the next time. 

This could easily lead to confusion on the part of the thyroid patient taking them as they see swings in their thyroid lab tests and swings in how they are feeling. 

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Whether the manufacturers leave in the hormone intentionally or not is not known but the point is that many of them may have it. 

Leaving the thyroid hormone in the supplement may make the supplement more attractive to customers, but it also comes at the cost of making it more dangerous. 

In addition to the active thyroid hormone problem, there are other things that you should be aware of:

  • Supplements are not regulated by the FDA (4) - Well, technically they are regulated by the FDA but not in the same way as a prescription medication would be. The FDA more closely overseas the production and quality standards that prescription medications must abide by but doesn't hold supplement manufacturers to the same standard. There are still standards that must be upheld in order to produce and manufacture supplements in the US, however. The name for this is GMP (5) which is a set of standards that supplements must abide by. 
  • They may contain active thyroid hormones - We mentioned this one previously but thyroid glandulars, if they are not produced correctly, can sometimes contain active thyroid hormones. 
  • They may cause side effects - Typically, thyroid supplements do not cause negative side effects but because thyroid glandulars are more powerful than most other thyroid support ingredients they can cause issues in some sensitive people. If you are experiencing more severe symptoms while taking glandulars then it's probably from active hormones. 
  • They may cause problems with your current medication - Any supplement has the potential to cause issues with thyroid medications which is why you should have been instructed to take your supplements away from whenever you take your thyroid medication. Some ingredients cause more problems than others
  • Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy - Some people are concerned that thyroid glandulars will increase your risk of developing this condition. Fortunately, this isn't the case. You can only get this condition by consuming the brain tissue of an animal infected with the disease. Because the thyroid gland is NOT in the brain, this isn't an issue that you need to worry about when using thyroid glandulars. 

Yes, You Can Still Take Thyroid Glandulars Safely

Having said all of this, you might think that I'm recommending against the use of thyroid glandulars. 

I'm not. 

I think they are perhaps one of the most powerful ingredients that can be used to support thyroid function outside of using thyroid medications. 

Because they are so powerful they have the potential to provide some relief to patients with low thyroid function of many types. 

Thyroid glandulars are particularly helpful in those who do not have a thyroid or in those who have had permanent thyroid gland damage from conditions like Hashimoto's and radioactive iodine. 

Regardless of your thyroid status, they can be helpful for treating just about any low thyroid condition. 

I've provided all of this information here so that you can ensure if you do decide to use thyroid glandulars that you use them in a safe and effective way. 

The worst thing you can do is purchase a low quality overseas thyroid glandular supplement that makes you feel worse and jump to the conclusion that they aren't helpful or effective!

You can prevent this sort of thing from happening by following a few simple rules when thinking about purchasing a thyroid glandular:

  • Only purchase supplements from reputable brands that produce their supplements in a GMP-compliant facility (this is the best practice for supplement manufacturers). 
  • Ensure that the manufacturer undergoes third-party testing of each lot of supplements - This will ensure that you are actually getting the ingredients stated on the label. 
  • Avoid purchasing thyroid glandular supplements from companies overseas - These countries do not have the same laws and requirements as the United States. 
  • Look for glandulars from cows in Argentina or New Zealand - Cattle in these areas produce clean and pure glandulars and come from animals that are grass-fed (mostly) and free-range. They are also routinely inspected by veterinarians to ensure they are healthy. In addition, bovine spongiform encephalopathy has never been identified in these countries. 

If you follow these guidelines then you will maximize the benefits of using thyroid glandulars while minimizing any potential risk. 

And, from my perspective, the benefits far outweigh the risks for most thyroid patients. 

How to Use Thyroid Glandulars

Ready to try thyroid glandulars? Here's what you need to know:

To get the most benefit, I recommend using between 150 and 600mg of Thyroid gland powder. 

The thyroid glandular ingredient may be called something slightly different on the back of your supplement but look for something that contains those words. 

Here's an example of what it might look like:

thyroid gland powder picture

In this picture, you can see that each serving (1 capsule) contains 150mg of thyroid gland powder. 

It even outlines the source of the glandulars which is from New Zealand or Argentina. 

You'll want to start out with 150-200mg of thyroid gland powder and see how you do over the course of a couple of weeks. 

When you start, pay close attention to how you are feeling, especially your thyroid symptoms. 

If you are feeling improvement but not quite getting to where you want to be then you can slowly increase your dose by 150-200mg increments every few weeks up to a total dose of 600mg. 

On the other hand, if you find that you are on the sensitive side then don't be afraid to stay at lower doses. 

If you'd like to get started on a thyroid glandular support supplement then look at one like this which meets all of the safety criteria listed above, comes from the right source, and comes in intervals that are easy for adjusting your dose as necessary. 

What About Adrenal Glandulars?

Thyroid patients can also benefit from using adrenal glandulars in addition to thyroid glandulars. 

Much of the same principles and benefits apply to adrenal glandulars. 

Like thyroid glandulars, these supplements are created in the same way using the adrenal glands of animals. 

They are then dried up and packaged into a supplement form that you can take by mouth. 

Like thyroid glandulars, adrenal glandulars have their active hormones from the adrenal gland removed (hydrocortisone and cortisol). 

You may find that many thyroid glandular supplements also contain adrenal glandulars. 

The reason is simple:

Because of the thyroid-adrenal connection, when one of these systems goes out it tends to take the other with it. 

So it's usually the case that if you have a thyroid problem then you will also have an adrenal problem and vice versa. 

It doesn't necessarily matter which one came first, either. 

This is why so many thyroid patients also turn to adrenal glandulars to support their thyroid health. 

Taking adrenal glandulars can provide your body with the basic building blocks it needs to produce more adrenal hormones which can then take stress off of your thyroid gland. 

By removing that stress, you can then support thyroid function in an indirect way. 

This is only true if you are taking adrenal glandulars which do NOT contain cortisol or hydrocortisone though. 

If you take a supplement which contains the active hormone hydrocortisone then you are going to cause much more harm than good. 

Taking exogenous hydrocortisone (by mouth) will temporarily shut down your normal HPA (hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal) axis (6). 

It will also cause problems with your thyroid in the process as both of these hormone systems are linked together. 

I'm a huge fan of using adrenal glandulars, but only if they are sourced from the right animals and only if they don't contain active hormones. 

The adrenal glandular supplement that I recommend for thyroid patients can be found here and it is the one that I've been using for years. It works very well and does not put an excess strain on either the adrenals or the thyroid gland. 

Thyroid Supplements that Work

Most people are looking to take a supplement for their thyroid because they may feel helpless in their current situation. 

Is this you?

Do you feel that your doctor isn't listening to you?

Do you feel that no matter what you do you still feel terrible?

Are you frustrated with making changes to your medication based on your lab tests without seeing improvement?

If so, you aren't alone. 

But don't let this helplessness cause you to look for quick fixes and promises from unregulated supplements! 

Don't fall for it!

Chasing temporary relief at the cost of your health is never worth it. 

A better approach is to focus on supporting your thyroid by focusing on the full spectrum of thyroid function. 

Thyroid glandulars are helpful, yes, but they really only help to support the thyroid gland directly. 

You can still support thyroid function by focusing on thyroid conversion, improving gut health, reducing inflammation, detoxing your body, optimizing vitamin D levels, improving adrenal function, and much more. 

Each of these has the potential to help your thyroid in a slightly different way and as you stack these supplements and therapies on top of each other you will start to see significant improvement. 

My recommendation is to use supplements that contain known and proven ingredients designed to help your thyroid. 

Ingredients in this category include zinc, iodine, selenium, guggul, Vitamin A (7), Vitamin D (8), and ashwagandha/rhodiola (9).

If you find this information overwhelming or above your head then start with a daily thyroid support supplement such as this

It will provide you with 32 nutrients that your body and thyroid need to function optimally.  

Conclusion

The bottom line?

Thyroid glandulars have the potential to be an amazing tool that can be used to support thyroid function in many thyroid patients. 

On the flip side, they also have the potential to cause some serious issues, especially if they contain active thyroid hormones. 

In most cases, it's possible to obtain the benefits of these supplements while also minimizing the risks by purchasing your glandulars from a reputable source and brand. 

In addition to thyroid glandulars, thyroid patients may also find success with adrenal glandulars. 

Because the systems interact with one another, supporting one usually results in improvement in the other. 

If you are trying to avoid animal products due to religious or other reasons, you can still find benefit in using other thyroid support supplements that focus on other aspects of thyroid function. 

Now I want to hear from you:

Are you currently using supplements that contain thyroid glandulars?

What type of improvement have you seen from using them?

What type of side effects (positive or negative) have you experienced?

Are you considering using thyroid glandulars now? 

Are you also looking at using other thyroid support supplements?

Leave your questions or comments below! 

References (Click to Expand)

should you take thyroid glandular support supplements?

Dr westin childs photo

About Dr. Westin Childs

Hey! I'm Westin Childs D.O. (former Osteopathic Physician). I don't practice medicine anymore and instead specialize in helping people like YOU who have thyroid problems, hormone imbalances, and weight loss resistance. I love to write and share what I've learned over the years. I also happen to formulate the best supplements on the market (well, at least in my opinion!) and I'm proud to say that over 70,000+ people have used them over the last 6 years. You can read more about my own personal health journey and why I am so passionate about what I do here.

P.S. Need more help? Check out my free thyroid downloads and resources.

21 thoughts on “Should you Take Thyroid Glandular Support Supplements?”

  1. I had a kidney infection, was given Leviquin and had an iodine injection for a cat scan. At the time I was on Armour thyroid for many years. Since, then I have been unable to take any of the thyroid medications on the market and compounded, t3 and t4 in every possible way. My heart would race at the tiniest dose My doctor gave up on me. I read about Thyrogold and ordered it. I have been taking two of those a day for about 5 months now and no prescript thyroid meds. I know I need more thyroid but, nothing I try is tolerable. Do you have a path for me to try to figure out what’s wrong and fix me. I do take LDN 4.5 mg, progesterone and estradiol patch. My age is 65. Thank you for any possible suggestion.

    Reply
  2. Yea I was taking a glandular supplement. It did have, I believe, active T3. Thyroxine free. It did shrink my Goitre. Saggy neck skin. T3 made me hungry all the time. Stopped immediately. OTC thyroid SUPPS should not have active hormones.Full Stop

    Reply
  3. Doctors repeatedly failed to help me, said there was nothing wrong with me, and without even listening would decrease my medication. I would then feel awful for a year or more and then my synthroid would be increased. I was hostage to the rx pad. Dedicated thyroid has freed me. I feel great and no longer have to beg a doctor who considers me just a number.

    Reply
    • Hi Sylvia,

      I agree that NDT is great for many patients! But thyroid glandulars are not the same thing as Natural Desiccated thyroid. This article is all about the over the counter supplements, not natural desiccated thyroid.

      Reply
  4. I take Thyro-Gold and it works good for me. I have not had to adjust in years. Does it contain extra active hormones??? I don’t think so but how would I know? thanks!

    Reply
  5. Dr. Childs,

    Can adrenal glandulars (without active hormones) be taken for both high and low cortisol? I see them mostly talked about in relation to increasing cortisol, but I also know glandulars are supposed to modulate and not necessarily lower or raise.

    I have very high cortisol levels and want to start taking them as adaptogens have not helped, but am concerned to do anything that will raise cortisol at all.

    Thank you.

    Reply
  6. after taking natural dessicated raw thyroid for a year, I began to have a benign growth on my thyroid. It continues to slowly grow. With more information, I realized that the way the animal was treated and then slaughtered affects the activity and action of the glandular.
    “Fight or Flight” hormones released
    Could you advise me of how to get rid of the growth/

    Reply
  7. Hi Dr. Childs. I’ve been taking Thyrovanz NDT since December, 2019 for Hashimoto’s subclinical hypothyroidism. I started at 25 mg and worked up to 100 mg. My TSH, T3 and T4 are now all within normal range, but my Reverse T3 is sky high at 25 and I can’t lose weight. I also have uncontrolled high blood sugar (on Metformin topical), iron deficiency (taking Proferrin ES) and stress from this virus crisis. Can NDT supplements cause issues with thyroid hormones and high Reverse T3?

    Reply
  8. Hello Dr. Childs,
    I have Hashi’s and adrenal fatigue, along with a few other autoimmune illnesses. I have been taking NDT for years (at least 10) yet I feel I am still hypothyroid despite good numbers with blood work. I feel I need a boost to feel better, like more T3. However, due to extremely low adrenal function, I am taking 10 mg of Hydrocortisone every day. Could that be the cause of my body not seeming to be able to use the NDT? I would like to get off the Hydrocortisone, but I have been told it can be hard, esp if you have been on it for a while.

    Reply
  9. Hello, Dr. Childs. I am confused after reading this article because you sell thyroid glandular+. I made an appointment with a doctor with internal med background and I am supposed to bring all meds and supplements, so I want to be well prepared and informed if he asks me about the thyroid gladular+ I am taking in your hypothyroid bundle.

    Reply
    • Hi Alejandra,

      Thyroid glandulars are only a concern if they come from a dubious source. The product I sell is tested to ensure it doesn’t contain any active thyroid hormones so that isn’t a concern. I can almost guarantee that your doctor will tell you to stop taking it, though, out of concern that it will contain thyroid hormone but that is not an issue with my products for the aforementioned reasons. In addition, this is an outdated article, I will either update it or provide a new one with more information on the topic 🙂

      Reply
      • Hi Dr. Childs,

        I had RAI nearly two years ago, for Graves Disease, and since having RAI, I’ve become hypothyroid, and I’m now taking 120 mg of Armour Thyroid once a day. This dose lowered my tsh to 2.25, but has since raised to over 5, and my doctor has just increased my 120 mg dose to 150 mg, once a day. Would it be safe for me to take the thyroid glandular along with my 150 mg dose of Armour Thyroid?

        Many thanks for your help.
        Holly

        Reply
        • Hi Holly,

          Yes, you can safely use thyroid glandular+ with all thyroid medications including armour thyroid. It also sounds like your dose is not quite yet optimized and you may need up to 3-3.5 grains to get there.

          Reply
  10. With the current issues with supply chains I am concerned that in the future I will not be able to get my thyroid medication. I take 137mcg daily and I can assume that my thyroid is dead. That being said, if I cannot get my medication then what alternatives do I have with regards to supplements vs prescription (assuming that prescriptions are no longer).?

    Reply
  11. Hello my name is Becky, and I have hypothyroidism and hashimoto
    my THS is currently at 1.42 but my TPO is 3000.9

    will your supplements help me with my autoimmune disease?
    I have tried everything, but my hashimoto is my main focus right now.
    I have been battling with it since 2009.

    Reply
  12. Hi Dr Childs,
    Thank you so much for your helpful advice, I really appreciate it.
    Reading your article on Thyroid Glandulars today is very timely for me!
    With all the craziness of Covid going on I have been looking into the Bovine Thyroid Glandular medications.
    I live in New Zealand but am finding it hard to know where I can get the Bovine Thyroid Glandular – that seems weird, as I have seen online products from the USA stating they source New Zealand Bovine Thyroid Glandular.
    Also, with the Vaxxed & Unvaxxed craziness, I am concerned that it may become harder to get my prescription medication if things go awol!
    I had a total thyroidectomy 10 years ago because of cancer in my thyroid! So I depend on the medications!
    My current doctor is not keen to try me on T3 Liothyronine – even though I had been on it successfully for about 3 to 4 years under my previous doctor! I was doing really well on T3 medication along with Levothyroxine!

    Is there any other natural alternatives, that have the same actions to T3 & T4 medications besides the Thyroid Glandulars?
    Do you know where I could buy Bovine Thyroid Glandular supplements in New Zealand?

    Reply
    • Hi Barbara,

      Good question and unfortunately the answer is no. Glandulars have the active hormones taken out of them whereas the natural desiccated thyroid medications contain them. You won’t find a glandular with the hormones in it because then it would enter into the realm of medication and not supplement. I’m not sure if glandulars are available in new Zealand but I would assume so.

      Reply

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