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How To Take Armour Thyroid Medicine

How Quickly Does T3 Work

Armour thyroid – 10 things you should know BEFORE using it

It can take weeks to feel the effects of added T3, but some people feel them right away.

Thyroid patient Leah felt immediate effects: Within 20 minutes of taking my first dose of generic Cytomel, I was like a wilted flower put in water. On T3 I have my life back. I can hold down a full-time job I have enough energy to keep up with my grandchildren.

You Think All Compounding Pharmacies Are The Same

Some compounding pharmacies have a bad track record when producing compounded, time-released T3 medications. Research and choose carefully, ensuring that your pharmacy has a good reputation for high-quality production of compounded thyroid medication.

Corey made this mistake.

“I moved my time-released T3 prescription from one pharmacy to a local one. After taking just one pill from the new pharmacy in the morning as usual, that afternoon I felt like I had electricity running up and down my arms! I switched back to the old pharmacy, and it all calmed down.”

Armour Thyroid Vs Other Brands Of Ndt

Armour thyroid falls into a class of drugs known as NDT.

NDT stands for natural desiccated thyroid and drugs in this class are all similar but differ in their inactive ingredients.

Armour thyroid is the original formulation of NDT but there are many other medications including WP thyroid, Nature-throid, NP thyroid, and more.

Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Because of this, it’s important that you are at least aware of these other brands of medications.


Because it’s possible that while you may not necessarily tolerate one formulation of NDT it doesn’t mean you won’t tolerate them all.

I’ve seen many patients who don’t tolerate Armour thyroid but do tolerate Nature-throid and vice versa.

Don’t give up on NDT medications if you experience a small reaction during your transition to Armour or when you first start it.

Instead, take note of your symptoms, try to determine what is causing them, and make changes as appropriate.

You may find that your problems are dose-related, medication-specific, or related to your sensitivities.

All of these issues can be overcome with careful consideration.

Read Also: Is Thyroid Surgery Serious

Do You Need To Dose Multiple Times Per Day

Another strategy to mitigate the potential side effects of Armour thyroid is to split your dose and take it multiple times throughout the day.

This is a strategy employed successfully by many people taking all types of thyroid medications .

The logic for using this strategy is simple:

A normal thyroid gland, when functioning correctly, secretes a small amount of thyroid hormone constantly throughout the day.

When you take thyroid medication by mouth you are taking one massive dose which is supposed to last all day.

This means that you are temporarily taking more than you need first thing in the morning and this large dose of thyroid hormone can cause problems for certain sensitive individuals.

You can combat this by splitting your dose in half and taking your dose in regular intervals throughout the day.

This reduces the massive flush which occurs from once a day dosing and may be ideal for some people, especially those who are sensitive to the T3 found within Armour.

Splitting your dose is actually very easy and shouldn’t cause any issues .

Let’s use an example:

Suppose that you are taking 2 grains of Armour thyroid per day.

Let’s also suppose that you are someone who is experiencing palpitations and flushing about 30-60 minutes after you take your medication.

You decide to alter how you take your medicine and split your dose into 2 divided doses.

You would proceed by taking 1 grain first thing in the morning around 7:00 am .

That would look something like this:

Candidate Is Taking Armour Thyroid Rather Than Levothyroxine

Armour Thyroid Medication Guide: Weight Loss, Dosing, Side ...

When MedPage Today wrote that Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s physician, Lisa Bardack, MD, had released additional health information about Clinton, one item received several comments: Bardack’s use of the porcine product Armour Thyroid rather than levothyroxine to treat Clinton’s hypothyroidism.

“Armour Thyroid. One would think we could do better for our former First Lady,” wrote one commenter.

“I am glad to hear she is taking Armour Thyroid rather than synthetic substitutes which contain only T4 and not T3. I always prescribed Armour for my patients because it is more natural, safer and more effective,” wrote another.

Armour Thyroid is a thyroid tablet derived from the thyroid glands of pigs and “has a strong, characteristic odor,” according to the drug’s prescribing information. The tablets “provide 38 mcg levothyroxine and 9 mcg liothyronine per grain of thyroid.”

Although thyroid hormone extracts have been used for centuries, the first reports of use in the English-speaking medical literature were in England in 1891, explained James Hennessey, MD, an endocrinologist at Beth Israel Deaconness Medical Center in Boston and associate professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School. Initially the extract was derived from sheep and given in the form of an injection.

Humans vs Animals

Opinions Vary

Some More Favorable

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Armour Thyroid: What Is It And How Does It Work

About 4.6 percent, or one out of every 20 people ages 12 and older, are affected by an underactive thyroid gland, also known as hypothyroidism. This common hormonal imbalance is more likely to affect women than men, and adults over the age of 60 are also more likely to be diagnosed with the disorder.

An underactive thyroid is problematic because the body requires balanced levels of thyroid hormones to carry out numerous bodily functions, including metabolism and the growth and repair of cells. Patients with an imbalance of thyroid hormones may need medications like Armour Thyroid, a form of dessicated thyroid, to restore hormonal balance and minimize the unpleasant symptoms associated with hypothyroidism.

Because hypothyroidism is so common in the United States, synthetic thyroid hormones like Armour Thyroid are among the most popularly prescribed medications in the United States, but how the medication works is not commonly understood. What is Armour Thyroid and how does it work?

Is Armour Thyroid Better Because It Contains T3

One of the main arguments for the use of Armour Thyroid is that it contains T3 as well as T4.

Its possible that a minority of people will do better on a combination of T3 and T4 replacement therapy. However, there is only a small amount of evidence available to support this theory .

A trial of combination T4 and T3 therapy is recommended for patients who do not experience symptom relief on Synthroid. This is experimental and should be stopped if no positive results are seen after three months .

While it may be beneficial, there are some issues associated with using Armour Thyroid to replace T3, including:

  • Inconsistent dosage in Armour Thyroid: There may still be inconsistencies and stability problems in the preparation of Armour Thyroid. This can result in fluctuating blood levels of thyroid hormones.
  • Difficulties maintaining T3 levels: The ratio of T4 to T3 in Armour Thyroid is much higher than that typically excreted from a healthy human thyroid. Additionally, T3 does not last as long in the body and is much more difficult to maintain a consistent level.

T3 levels may spike or become elevated and symptoms such as heart palpitations and others seen in hyperthyroidism can occur. Slow release or multiple daily doses of synthetic T3 are likely to produce much more consistent blood levels and less side effects .

Read Also: Levothyroxine Doses In Mg

Space Supplements Apart From Your Thyroid Medication

These supplements should be taken a minimum of 4 hours apart from thyroid medication:

  • Calcium: Supplements of calcium, such as calcium acetate, citrate, or carbonate, should be taken at least 4 hours before or after thyroid hormone. Calcium interferes with hormone medications by preventing them from being fully absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • Iron: Many thyroid patients are deficient in iron, and iron is essential for thyroid hormone conversion and utilization of iodine. But when iron is taken near the time of thyroid medicine, it can bind to thyroid hormones which does not allow proper functioning of the hormone. Whether you solely consume iron or it is part of a multivitamin complex, wait at least 4 hours before or after taking your thyroid dose.
  • Magnesium: Many thyroid patients are deficient in magnesium as well, and it’s an important mineral for well-being. Be aware that magnesium can impair the absorption of thyroid medication, so the general recommendation is to wait 4 hours before or after your thyroid dose. Because of its relaxing properties, many patients find that taking magnesium at bedtime is helpful.

Here are other supplements to be mindful of:

Armour Thyroid Dosage And Administration

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The dosage of thyroid hormones is determined by the indication and must in every case be individualized according to patient response and laboratory findings.

Thyroid hormones are given orally. In acute, emergency conditions, injectable levothyroxine sodium may be given intravenously when oral administration is not feasible or desirable, as in the treatment of myxedema coma, or during total parenteral nutrition. Intramuscular administration is not advisable because of reported poor absorption.

Also Check: What Does Np Thyroid Stand For

Armour Thyroid Contains Both T4 And T3

This one probably isnt a surprise for many of you but its still worth pointing out.

Armour thyroid falls into the class of Natural Desiccated Thyroid medications.

These medications are notoriously beneficial because they contain more than just the standard T4 thyroid hormone in medications such as levothyroxine and Synthroid.

Armour thyroid contains BOTH T4 and T3.

Each grain of Armour thyroid contains 38mcg of T4 and 9 mcg of T3.

This ratio is roughly about 77:23 which is somewhat close to the 80:20 ratio of T4:T3 that your thyroid gland produces naturally.

Some doctors will suggest that Armour thyroid should not be used because they contain too much T3 compared to what the body produces naturally.

But more recent studies show that healthy thyroid glands produce around 80% T4 and around 20% T3.

Some doctors try to suggest that the thyroid gland produces 95% T4 and 5% T3 but these values are not supported by more recent studies.

Why should you care that it contains T3?

I think the most important reason is that T3 is by far the most biologically active thyroid hormone .

Its roughly 300x more potent than T4 at stimulating the thyroid receptors on your cells.

Pretty much everything you want thyroid hormone to do stems from the direct actions of T3 thyroid hormone.

Why isnt it used more frequently?

Most doctors are simply not comfortable using it or feel that it is too powerful or too difficult to dose.

Synthroid For Other Conditions

In addition to the uses listed above, Synthroid may be used off-label for other purposes. Off-label drug use is when a drug thats approved for one use is used for a different one thats not approved. And you may wonder if Synthroid is used for certain other conditions. Below is information on a use for Synthroid thats not appropriate.

Synthroid for hyperthyroidism

You shouldnt use Synthroid to treat hyperthyroidism. With this condition, you have increased levels of thyroid hormones in your body.

Instead, Synthroid is FDA-approved to treat hypothyroidism, which is the opposite of hyperthyroidism. With hypothyroidism, you have low levels of thyroid hormone.

Synthroid is a man-made form of T4. It replaces or adds to your natural thyroid hormones, which helps your body to have the right amount of T4.

Taking Synthroid for hyperthyroidism will increase the amount of thyroid hormone in your body even more than its already increased. This raises your risk of serious side effects, such as tremors, anxiety, and irregular heart rate.

If you have hyperthyroidism, talk with your doctor about appropriate treatment options for your condition.

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What Are The Different Kinds Of Thyroid Medication

To combat hypothyroidism, you must take a daily thyroid hormone replacement medication. Thyroid medication typically works by increasing circulating thyroxine levels. T4 is responsible for regulating your weight, heart rate, temperature, muscle strength, and overall energy and mood. Levothyroxine provides synthetic T4 to replenish low thyroid hormone levels.

There are also thyroid medications that increase triiodothyronine , the other primary hormone produced by the thyroid gland. Examples of T3 drugs include Cytomel and Triostat.

There are also combination T4/T3 formulations that come in a single pill. In the United States, these come as natural desiccated thyroid . While every person is unique in what will work best for them, synthetic T4 is usually the standard treatment method for hypothyroidism.

What Should I Know About Storage And Disposal Of This Medication

How to Properly Take Your Thyroid Medication

Keep this medication in the container it came in, tightly closed, and out of reach of children. Store it at room temperature and away from excess heat and moisture .

Unneeded medications should be disposed of in special ways to ensure that pets, children, and other people cannot consume them. However, you should not flush this medication down the toilet. Instead, the best way to dispose of your medication is through a medicine take-back program. Talk to your pharmacist or contact your local garbage/recycling department to learn about take-back programs in your community. See the FDA’s Safe Disposal of Medicines website for more information if you do not have access to a take-back program.

It is important to keep all medication out of sight and reach of children as many containers are not child-resistant and young children can open them easily. To protect young children from poisoning, always lock safety caps and immediately place the medication in a safe location รข one that is up and away and out of their sight and reach.

Also Check: Stop Levothyroxine

Each Person Is Different

Before we jump into the specifics, it’s important to realize that the dosing of thyroid medication is highly unique and individualized.

Each person will require a slightly different dose compared to the next person, even individuals who have the same body weight/metabolism/etc.

Having said that, I want to give you some idea as to what dose range you should be expecting when taking Armour thyroid. This way you know if you are likely being underdosed or overdosed.

The average dose that most people need is somewhere between 1 grain and 2 grains per day.

About 60-70% of individuals will fall into this range.

About 5-10% of people will need a dose less than 60mg per day .

About 10-20% of people will need a dose higher than 120mg per day .

These percentages are not perfect, but they are based on my own personal history in treating patients and discussing various doses with other doctors and practitioners.

Finding out where you fit into this spectrum can be difficult, but you can use the resources found here to help you find your optimal dose.

Calcium Supplements And Thyroid Medication

Not everyone realizes this, but there are a few different types of calcium compounds. However, so far, only two types are used in supplements: calcium carbonate, which contains40% calcium, and calcium citrate, which has 21% calcium.

Both types of calcium have a similar impact on how the body absorbs thyroid medication. One particular study showed that calcium supplements could interfere with your bodys ability toabsorb thyroid hormone replacement medications such as levothyroxine and other thyroid extract supplements. The interference tends to occur when you take both of them at the same time.

Fortunately, this absorption issue can be avoided by taking a few steps:

  • Taking your thyroid medication on an empty stomach to allow your body to absorb it properly
  • Taking it shortly after your wake up, at least an hour before you eat breakfast or have your cup of coffee
  • Waiting at least four hours before consuming a calcium supplement

Pro tip: if you plan to take your thyroid medication at night, be sure to do so at least four hours after taking your calcium supplement so the two dont interfere with each other.

Read Also: Does Fasting Affect Thyroid Blood Test

Thyroid May Cause Side Effects Tell Your Doctor If Any Of These Symptoms Are Severe Or Do Not Go Away:

  • weight loss
  • shaking of a part of your body that you cannot control
  • headache
  • irritability or rapid changes in mood
  • difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • flushing
  • sensitivity or intolerance to heat
  • nervousness
  • seizure

Thyroid may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration’s MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program online or by phone .

Other Points To Be Mindful Of

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  • Give the medication several weeks to have its full effect. Treating hypothyroidism is often not a quick fix. T4 thyroid hormone takes 4-6 weeks to build up in your system, while T3 is more short-acting. There will often be dose adjustments to get you to your optimal thyroid hormone levels. Read more about optimal thyroid levels here.
  • Look out for common hyperthyroid symptoms . Let your doctor know immediately if you feel prolonged heart racing, muscle aches or weakness, feelings of agitation or aggression, a shaky feeling, or excessive sweating.
  • Don’t stop taking your thyroid medication suddenly. This could cause a sudden return of hypothyroid symptoms, including changes in mood. Always speak with your doctor if you feel you need to reduce or increase your dose.
  • Be aware that you may need a different form of thyroid medication. Many patients need a combination T3/T4 approach with either a levothyroxine/liothyronine method, or through natural desiccated thyroid medication, which contains all the thyroid hormones.

Read Also: Does Graves Disease Ever Go Away

You Don’t Take Your Medication Correctly

Thyroid medication should generally be taken in the morning, an hour before eating any food, drinking coffee, or drinking milk, and at least three hours apart from taking any calcium or iron supplements or calcium-fortified drinks. If you take it in the evening, you should wait at least three to four hours after eating.

Some thyroid medications, however, have specialized instructions. Levoxyl brand levothyroxine, for example, needs to be taken with a full glass of water, according to prescribing instructions from the manufacturer. According to Anne: “One of my worst thyroid medication mistakes was taking Levoxyl without plenty of water. Once I started drinking a full glass of water after taking the pill, I started losing weight and my pill worked effectively.”


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