Like any good all you can eat buffet, you have a number of choices when treating hypothyroid disease. Besides trying to reverse the cause of the weakening thyroid, functional MD’s work with a number of therapy choices rather than just the T4 that conventional medicine utilizes. Conventional medicine prescribes T4 or levothyroxine from a few different companies and only rarely prescribes straight T3 or liothyronine.
Functional medicine and other integrative medicine types don’t throw away these pharmaceutical versions, but add a natural thyroid option called ‘desiccated thyroid’. This usually comes from pork thyroid although there is one cow-based option as well. A few different brands of pork thyroid are available, but they are all basically the same, containing both T4 and T3, since they come from real thyroids. This pork thyroid hormone is exactly like ours and so provides the exact same effects.
The different brands tout either being an older company or having the fewest additional ingredients like fillers making them possibly hypoallergenic. Regardless, they all provide both T4 and T3, thus keeping the longer acting T4 present while supplying some short acting T3 to those who cannot convert T4 to T4 as well.
Many patients come looking for not only good lab results for thyroid, but also relief of fatigue or other symptoms that never completely resolved on T4 pharmaceuticals alone. Some of these do find that the natural pork options provide better symptom recovery. In our clinic we switch many over from T4 alone to T4 plus T3 with success.
However, the natural option is not the option for everyone. Some end up deciding that they feel better on the T4 alone. Others find that the natural option requires a little more T3 to hit the optimal symptom control.
Regardless of which combination of therapies work for a given patient, we also aim for optimal TSH levels. While conventional medicine is happy with TSH below 4.5, we aim for at least below 2.0 as more patients feel at their best with that target range.
Functional Medicine works to optimize patient’s thyroid function rather than just aiming at good enough. This requires looking for causes of they hypothyroid as mentioned in a prior article and using the options available rather than restricting ourselves to pharmaceuticals alone. Helping patients restore healthier more abundant lives requires this level of care. Our patients deserve this.
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.