Natural Standard Bottom Line Monograph, Copyright © 2013 (www.naturalstandard.com). Commercial distribution prohibited. This monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. You should consult with a qualified healthcare provider before making decisions about therapies and/or health conditions.
While some complementary and alternative techniques have been studied scientifically, high-quality data regarding safety, effectiveness, and mechanism of action are limited or controversial for most therapies. Whenever possible, it is recommended that practitioners be licensed by a recognized professional organization that adheres to clearly published standards. In addition, before starting a new technique or engaging a practitioner, it is recommended that patients speak with their primary healthcare provider(s). Potential benefits, risks (including financial costs), and alternatives should be carefully considered. The below monograph is designed to provide historical background and an overview of clinically-oriented research, and neither advocates for or against the use of a particular therapy.
Armour Thyroid®, Bio-Throid®, desiccated thyroid, desiccated thyroid extract, dry thyroid extract, glandular, glandular thyroid, homologous thyroid gland, human crude thyroid extract, hyperthyroidism, hypothyroidism, levothyroxine, levothyroxine sodium, liothyronine, LOCO X112, L-thyroxine, natural thyroid, natural thyroid hormone, Nature-Throid, Naturethroid®, raw thyroid, T3, T4, Thyranon®, thyroid BP, thyroid subcellular fractions, thyroid USP, thyreoideum, Thyroideum siccum, thyroxine, triiodothyronine, Westhroid®.
Thyroid extract is a type of glandular nutritional supplement derived from animal thyroid tissue. Glandulars and other tissue extracts have played roles in traditional medicine and are thought to improve the function of the specific gland consumed.
Although thyroid extract has been traditionally used to replace patients' normal thyroid activity, limited research does not support the use of thyroid extract for hypothyroidism. Thyroid extracts are still used by some practitioners, but most practitioners now use synthetic thyroid hormones.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Thyroid extract has been used traditionally to replace patients' normal thyroid activity. Limited research suggests that thyroid extract may increase survival in patients with thyroid cancer. More studies are needed in this area before conclusions can be made.
Thyroid extract has been used traditionally to replace patients' normal thyroid activity. Limited research does not support the use of thyroid extract for hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland). More studies are needed in this area before conclusions can be made.
According to human research, thyroid extract may increase the incidence of pregnancy in infertile patients due to luteal-phase deficiency. More studies are needed in this area before conclusions can be made.
*Key to grades:A: Strong scientific evidence for this use; B: Good scientific evidence for this use; C: Unclear scientific evidence for this use; D: Fair scientific evidence against this use (it may not work); F: Strong scientific evidence against this use (it likely does not work).
The below uses are based on tradition or scientific theories. They often have not been thoroughly tested in humans, and safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious and should be evaluated by a qualified health care professional.
Allergy, anemia (red blood cell defects), apnea (breathing problem), diabetes, endocrine disorders (gland restorative), goiter (enlargement of the thyroid gland), hypopituitarism (Sheehan's syndrome), immune function, inflammation, myxedema (a complication of hypothyroidism), obesity, sleep apnea (breathing problem during sleep), thyroid disorders (pseudohypoparathyroidism), urticaria (hives).
The below doses are based on scientific research, publications, traditional use, or expert opinion. Many herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested, and safety and effectiveness may not be proven. Brands may be made differently, with variable ingredients, even within the same brand. The below doses may not apply to all products. You should read product labels, and discuss doses with a qualified healthcare provider before starting therapy.
Adults (18 years and older)
Various doses have been studied, but there is no proven effective dose for thyroid extract. The following doses of thyroid extract have been taken by mouth: 50 milligrams of thyroid extract daily and 100 milligrams of Thyranon® daily for four months.
Children (under 18 years old)
There is no proven safe or effective dose for thyroid extract in children.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not strictly regulate herbs and supplements. There is no guarantee of strength, purity or safety of products, and effects may vary. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy. Consult a healthcare provider immediately if you experience side effects.
Avoid in individuals with a known or potential allergy or hypersensitivity to desiccated thyroid or thyroid extract.
Side Effects and Warnings
Thyroid extract may cause angina (chest pain), arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythm), blood clots, bone loss, changes in appetite, diarrhea, fever, hair loss, headache, irregular menstruation, irritability, leg cramps, nausea, palpitations (abnormal heartbeat), skin reactions, stroke, tachycardia (fast heartbeat), tremors, trouble sleeping, vomiting, or weight loss.
Over-the-counter thyroid supplements may be derived from animals that carry disease, including "mad cow disease" (bovine spongiform encephalopathy). Patients should be aware of the potential risk. Glandular extracts are also a potential source of transmission of Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease.
Use cautiously in patients with sensitive skin.
Use cautiously in postmenopausal women.
Use cautiously in patients with hormonal disorders, such as low levels of pituitary hormone.
Thyroid extract may raise blood sugar levels. Caution is advised in patients with diabetes or hypoglycemia, and in those taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that affect blood sugar. Blood glucose levels may need to be monitored by a qualified healthcare professional, including a pharmacist. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Thyroid extract may increase the risk of bleeding. Caution is advised in patients with bleeding disorders or taking drugs, herbs, or supplements that may increase the risk of bleeding. Dosing adjustments may be necessary.
Use cautiously in elderly patients.
Use cautiously in children, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Use cautiously during pregnancy and breastfeeding, due to a lack of available scientific evidence.
Avoid in the treatment of obesity.
Avoid in patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure or uncontrolled angina.
Avoid in individuals with a known or potential allergy or hypersensitivity to desiccated (dried) thyroid or thyroid extract.
Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
Use cautiously during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Thyroid hormones are considered safe during pregnancy (FDA Pregnancy Category A). However, there is limited available evidence regarding the safety of thyroid extract.
Most herbs and supplements have not been thoroughly tested for interactions with other herbs, supplements, drugs, or foods. The interactions listed below are based on reports in scientific publications, laboratory experiments, or traditional use. You should always read product labels. If you have a medical condition, or are taking other drugs, herbs, or supplements, you should speak with a qualified healthcare provider before starting a new therapy.
Interactions with Drugs
Thyroid extract may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with drugs that increase the risk of bleeding. Some examples include aspirin, anticoagulants (blood thinners) such as warfarin (Coumadin®) or heparin, antiplatelet drugs such as clopidogrel (Plavix®), and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDS) such as ibuprofen (Motrin®, Advil®) or naproxen (Naprosyn®, Aleve®).
Thyroid extract may increase blood sugar levels. Patients taking insulin or drugs for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by their qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists. Medication adjustments may be necessary.
Thyroid extract may interfere with the way the body processes certain drugs using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of drugs may be increased or decreased in the blood and may cause increased or decreased effects or potentially serious adverse reactions. Patients using any medications should check the package inserts and speak with qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists, about possible interactions.
Thyroid extract may also interact with agents that affect the immune system, agents that affect the nervous system, amiodarone, antacids, antidepressants, antiepileptic agents (such as hydantoins), barbiturates, bile acid sequestrants, calcium salts, carbamazepine, cholesterol-lowering agents, corticosteroids, digoxin, estrogens, iron salts, ketamine, magnesium supplements, rifamycins, sucralfate, theophylline, thyroid hormones, and weight loss agents.
Interactions with Herbs and Dietary Supplements
Thyroid extract may increase the risk of bleeding when taken with herbs or supplements that increase the risk of bleeding.
Thyroid extract may increase blood sugar levels. Patients taking insulin or herbs or supplements for diabetes by mouth should be monitored closely by qualified healthcare professionals, including pharmacists.
Thyroid extract may interfere with the way the body processes certain herbs or supplements using the liver's cytochrome P450 enzyme system. As a result, the levels of other herbs or supplements may become too high or too low in the blood. It may also alter the effects that other herbs or supplements possibly have on the cytochrome P450 system.
Thyroid extract may also interact with Achyranthes aspera, Aloe vera, antacids, antidepressants (such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs)), antioxidants, ashwagandha (Withania somnifera), Bacopa monnieri, bael fruit (Aegle marmelos), Bauhinia purpurea, betel leaf extract, bugleweed (Lycopus europaeus), calcium supplements, canola oil (rapeseed oil), cardiac glycosides (agents that affect the heart), Convolvulus pluricaulis, fenugreek seed extract (Trigonella foenum-graecum), flavonoids, garlic (Allium sativum), green tea, guggul (Commiphora mukul), herbs and supplements that affect the immune system, holy basil (Ocimum sanctum leaf extract), iodine, iron salts, Kalanchoe brasiliensis, Lithospermum officinale, magnesium supplements, Moringa oleifera, neem (Azadirachta indica), olive leaf (Olea europaea), phytoestrogens, rapeseed, seaweed (or kelp or bladderwrack), soy, steroids, thyroid agents, and weight loss agents.
This information is based on a systematic review of scientific literature edited and peer-reviewed by contributors to the Natural Standard Research Collaboration (www.naturalstandard.com).
Natural Standard developed the above evidence-based information based on a thorough systematic review of the available scientific articles. For comprehensive information about alternative and complementary therapies on the professional level, go to www.naturalstandard.com. Selected references are listed below.
Baillet J, Paillard J, Behar A, et al. [Effectiveness of various hormonal preparations in adults with hypothyroidism (author's transl)]. Nouv Presse Med 1981;10(4):235-237. View Abstract
Benvenga S, Trimarchi F, Barbera C, et al. Circulating immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies to L-thyroxine in a euthyroid patient with multinodular goiter and allergic rhinitis. J Endocrinol Invest 1984;7(1):47-50. View Abstract
Clarke N, Kabadi UM. Optimizing treatment of hypothyroidism. Treat Endocrinol 2004;3(4):217-221. View Abstract
Costigan DC, Freedman MH, Ehrlich RM. Potentiation of oral anticoagulant effect by L-thyroxine. Clin Pediatr (Phila) 1984;23(3):172-174. View Abstract
Davis LG, Sass NL, Manna B, et al. Gas-liquid chromatographic determination of mono- and diiodotyrosines in serum. Clin Chem 1979;25(2):218-220. View Abstract
Fallucca F, Tamburrano G, Javicoli M, et al. [Infleence of thyroid extract therapy on blood glucose and insulin levels in myxedema]. Folia Endocrinol 1970;23(3):252-263. View Abstract
Fulop M, Premachandra BN. Unusual calcified goiter associated with increased iodoprotein in serum. South Med J 1993;86(4):457-460. View Abstract
Ikekubo K. [Clinical studies on autoimmune mechanisms of the thyroid Part II. Leucocyte migration inhibiton studies in Hashimoto's thyroiditis and in Graves' disease (author's transol)]. Nippon Naibunpi Gakkai Zasshi 1975;51(10):840-855. View Abstract
Mazer NA. Interaction of estrogen therapy and thyroid hormone replacement in postmenopausal women. Thyroid 2004;14 Suppl 1:S27-S34. View Abstract
Mortelmans LJ, Biesemans L, Van Rossom P. Homeopathic products, not as innocent and safe as they seem? A case report. Eur J Emerg Med 2004;11(4):242-243. View Abstract
Plouin P, Monod N, Chabrolle JP, et al. [Post-natal respiratory disorders and hypothyroidism. Polygraphic study of a case]. Rev Electroencephalogr Neurophysiol Clin 1978;8(3):321-325. View Abstract
Roberts CG, Ladenson PW. Hypothyroidism. Lancet 2004;363(9411):793-803. View Abstract
Uzzan B, Campos J, Cuchera M, et al. Effects on bone mass of long term treatment with thyroid hormones: a meta-analysis. J Clin Endocrinol Metab 1996;81(12):4278-4289. View Abstract
Ward JP. The medical treatment of large group 3 goitres with thyroid extract. Br J Surg 1970;57(8):587-588. View Abstract
Weill J, Debruxelles P, Fulla Y, et al. [Management of primary hypothyroidism in childhood treated with thyroid extract (author's transl)]. Arch Fr Pediatr 1980;37(1):29-34. View Abstract
Copyright © 2013 Natural Standard (www.naturalstandard.com)
The information in this monograph is intended for informational purposes only, and is meant to help users better understand health concerns. Information is based on review of scientific research data, historical practice patterns, and clinical experience. This information should not be interpreted as specific medical advice. Users should consult with a qualified healthcare provider for specific questions regarding therapies, diagnosis and/or health conditions, prior to making therapeutic decisions.
March 22, 2017