Whole Thyroid Extract
Dietary Considerations and Nutritional Support
The approach to help treat hypothyroidism is to replace the hormones (T4 & T3) that the body is not producing itself. T4 is credited with %20 of activity within cells while T3 is credited with %80 of activity within cells. There are synthetic and natural forms of both hormones, with GPs commonly prescribing T4 in its synthetic form.
Once hypothyroidism has been diagnosed, most GP’s will prescribe Thyroxine. Thyroxine is a synthetic brand of the human thyroid hormone, T4. It is a prescription only medication. Dosing for optimal health is a process where several visits and tests are usually required to establish the correct dosage. The process may take up to 8 weeks before the majority of symptoms diminish.
The government funded form of Thyroxine varies from country to country. Currently, the government funded drug for New Zealand is Eltroxin.
In October 2007, the suppliers of Eltroxin (GlaxoSmithKline) made a formulation change and advised Drs & pharmacists. A number of people noticed the difference quickly. A growing number of people complained about side effects on the new medication when previously they had been well. The Centre for Adverse Reactions Monitoring received more than 1300 reports, with more reports being filed. Itching eyes, sensitivity to light and nausea were common reactions.
Patients wanting to change from Eltroxin onto a different medication had to either look overseas or try alternatives such as whole thyroid extract. One pharmacist in Temuka (Alan Campbell) imported a non-funded brand (Goldshield) to try and help sufferers.Medsafe and Pharmac later approved Goldshield brand Thyroxine (available from 1st November 2008) as a Government funded drug.Synthroid is another brand of Thyroxine which has been used successfully, but as yet is unfunded. Availabililty is different from pharmacy to pharmacy although some sufferers (with noted prescriptions) have imported their own Thyroxine from overseas in an effort to find a suitable brand that is effective and without side effects.
Whole Thyroid (or desiccated whole thyroid powder) is obtained from domesticated animals (usually pigs) that are used for food by humans. While thyroxine contains T4, whole thyroid contains T1, T2, T3 and T4. Whole thyroid was once a registered medicine (in New Zealand ) and was widely used to treat hypothyroidism.
Some GPs are comfortable prescribing whole thyroid (a prescription only medication in NZ) while others are not. There have been minimal side effects reported from patients on whole thyroid, although patients allergic to porcine products are likely to have adverse reactions. The same process is followed as on Thyroxine, where patients are tried on a dosing regime and adjustments made as required, patients can monitor their temperature to also gauge their progress. Whole thyroid is available as a compounded medicine and can be provided by a number of pharmacies in New Zealand . Pharmaceutical Compounding NZ (PCNZ) specialises in compounded hormone supplementation and is an informative resource for Doctors and patients who wish to pursue this avenue of treatment. See below for contact details.
Supplementing the diet with vitamins and minerals has been shown to help alleviate symptoms of hypothyroidism in conjunction with prescription medication. Supplementation can also be a good form of preventive medicine for ‘at risk’ age groups (typically middle aged and older women).
Many GPs stipulate that if a patient has a healthy diet then supplementation is unnecessary in the general populace. Whilst theoretically true, the reality for many people in a western society with constant demands on their lifestyle is that their intake is insufficient to match their requirements.
Iodine and Selenium are very important minerals (as discussed in the ‘Thyroid Function’ section on page 1). Iodine makes up the molecular composition of each thyroid hormone – T1, T2, T3,T4 (Iron is also necessary for the bonding process of making these molecules). Selenium is necessary (along with Zinc) for the conversion process of T4 to T3 in the cells. Iodine and Selenium are recognised as being deficient in New Zealand soils, implicating any food grown and rendering them also deficient and unable to provide RDA (recommended daily allowances) for the general populace. Iodine is added commercially to regular table salt to help offset this deficiency (however not everyone buys the iodised brand and there has been discussion to add iodine to bread instead).
Vitamins B2,B3,B6,B12 and Vitamin A are also involved in thyroid function. (however when supplementing with one or more B group vitamins over a length of time, it is more beneficial to supplement the whole group – see below)
The best approach to deciding a supplementation regime is to find a health care practitioner who is familiar with nutritional medicine and is able to give pertinent advice to the respective individual.
A second option is to try the following guide. (Please note again that this is recommended as a guide only and it is difficult to advise an accurate supplementation regime as variables such as sex/age/diet/body mass all influence an individual’s dosing requirements).
Selenium 100-300mcg / day
Iodine 150-300mcg / day
Zinc 10-30mg / day*
Vitamin B1 15-50mg / day
Vitamin B2 10-50mg / day
Vitamin B3 50-200mg / day
Vitamin B5 50-100mg / day
Vitamin B6 25-200mg / day
Vitamin B12 0.5-2mg (500-2000mcg) / day
Vitamin A 1000-5000 iu / day
Vitamin C 500-2000mg / day**
*Zinc – some pharmacies are able to conduct a zinc taste test which can help determine zinc levels.
**Vitamin C is important for adrenal function which in turn supports thyroid function.
There are various products on the market that contain some or most of the above nutrients above, in the recommended doses. Most pharmacies stock appropriate ranges (or are able to order them in) and are able to give advice on choice of supplements. A starting product that may produce benefit is Clinicians Thyroid support.
In addition to supplementation, there are also dietary changes that can benefit the hypothyroid sufferer. Some foods known to suppress thyroid function if eaten frequently in large amounts are: cabbage, (and other brassica family vegetables like cauliflower, broccoli etc) turnips, soy products and walnuts. Vegetables when cooked though are no longer a risk.
Reducing or eliminating these foods from the diet can help support healthy thyroid function.
Many people have embarked on a ‘personal journey’ of investigation after their quality of life slowly diminished to unbearable lows. There are a number of resources available to help sufferers better understand how their thyroid functions, treatment options and dietary considerations that ultimately influence the final outcome. Healthcare is not an exact science as each individual is different. It is important for the individual to be ‘actively’ responsible for their own health through education and care.
Pharmaceutical Compounding have been helping many sufferers with technical advice and guidance in finding health care professionals who can help. Contact Details:
email: firstname.lastname@example.org .
There are a number of books written by professionals who have experience at successfully treating thyroid ‘mis-function’ (particularly hypothyroidism).
*Your Thyroid problem Solved by Dr Sandra Cabot
*Solved -The Riddle of Illness. (How managing your Thyroid can help you fight and control: Arthritis, Cancer, Diabetes, Obesity, Heart Disease, Fibromyalgia, Sexual problems) by Stephen E Langer M.D. and James F Scheer.
Here are the contact details for a Thyroid Advocacy group that emerged during the time many Eltroxin users had adverse reactions.
New Zealand Thyroid Association
or Ph Tracey 03-3820498
Common disorders including Thyroid related conditions are described here: www.healthinfo4you.co.nz