Why You Feel Worse When You Take Thyroid Medication

Effects of Thyroid Hormone Medication on Women

Synthroid - synthetic thyroid hormone

Today, I wanted to share with you some information about fillers and binders within your thyroid medication that you should be aware of.

Why is this important? Because not a day goes by where a patient reaches out to my office and says something that sounds like this.

“I’m so glad that I’ve stumbled across your website.  At the moment I feel so awful that I could cry.

My GP diagnosed me as having an under active thyroid last year.  I initially started on 50mcg of Synthroid, and while I did start to feel a little better, things still weren’t quite right.  After more blood tests my GP increased the dosage to 75 mcg.  Again, I felt a bit of an improvement on before but still wasn’t 100%.  More blood tests have since led to further increases and I’m now on 150mcg.  The things is that I feel worse than ever!  At 75mcg I did feel like I was picking up.  But when my Synthroid  was increased to 100mcg and then to 150mcg, I went downhill rapidly.  On my current level of 150mcg I am more tired than ever, have chronically bad constipation, feel bloated all the time and have suddenly (without any change in eating habits) piled on weight.

I can’t understand why this is happening – I would have thought that getting more Synthroid would have decreased the hypo symptoms.  Instead they seem to be getting worse.  My GP seems to think that it’s just a matter of getting the dosage right, but even he seems a bit perplexed as to why I’m getting worse on increasing doses when my TSH level indicates that I need more.  I did mention to him that I had read about adrenal fatigue on the internet and suggested that as a possibility, but he more or less said not to believe everything that I read on the web and seemed to think that I was clutching at straws.

Can anyone offer me any hope or advice on this matter?  It seems that the more Synthroid I’m prescribed the worse I become.  I feel like defying my GP’s prescription and dropping down to 75mcg again but fear that will cause problems in the long-term.  Any recommendations or suggestions would be extremely helpful.

Studies over the last few years are very clear that thyroid disease can be aggravated by some of the ingredients found within the very medication you just took this morning. Not only has gluten come under the gun, but so has corn, dairy, soy and some of the other colors and additives found in these medications.

Since many of the patients I work with around the world are taking thyroid hormone, I thought this would be a good topic to discuss a little further so that you can have this discussion with your prescribing doctor.

The ultimate goal in my office is always first and foremost to restore a person’s thyroid health so that they don’t need to take thyroid hormones. This is not always the case.  So, if this is you, I want you to be aware of these ingredients and how they may be hurting you.

Synthetic Thyroid Hormone. There are numerous brands of synthetic thyroid hormone, but I’m going to focus on a few of the more common brands.

Synthroid. This is synthetic T4, and if you visit www.rxlist.com, it currently states that ” Synthetic T4 is identical to that produced in the human thyroid gland (1).

But right below this the inactive ingredients are listed, which include acacia, confectioner’s sugar (contains corn starch), lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, povidone, and talc. And then below this you’ll see some of the color additives, which include FD&C Yellow No. 6 (in 25 mcg tablets), FD&C Red No. 40 and FD&C Blue No. 2 (in 75mcg strength), etc.

So when you factor in the inactive ingredients it becomes quite obvious that taking synthetic T4 isn’t identical to thyroid hormone which is produced by the thyroid gland. And while it’s true that many people seem to do fine when taking synthetic thyroid hormone and don’t react to these ingredients, others don’t do fine.

When someone experiences an increase in symptoms upon taking thyroid hormone, sometimes this is due to the ingredients. For example, if someone is sensitive to corn, then they very well might react to synthetic thyroid hormone. This is especially the case if someone is sensitive to gluten. Gluten can cross react with Corn and many other grains. I have done several video on this very topic.

  1. Gluten Sensitivity And Yeast Cross Reactivity- Why Yeast Causes Problems
  2. Gluten and Milk Products- Cross Reactivity and Why You Should Avoid
  3. Gluten -Corn Cross Reactivity- Why Going Gluten Free Doesn’t Always Cut It.

Levoxyl. Another brand of synthetic T4. The ingredients include Microcrystalline cellulose,  sodium, magnesium stearate, calcium sulfate dihydrate and sodium bicarbonate, along with color additives depending on the tablet strength (2).

Levothroid. Another brand of synthetic T4. The ingredients include Microcrystalline cellulose, calcium phosphate dibasic, povidone and magnesium stearate, along with color additives depending on the tablet strength (3).

Cytomel (liothyronine sodium). This is a brand of synthetic T3. The inactive ingredients consist of calcium sulfate, gelatin, starch, stearic acid, sucrose and talc (4).

Here are the ingredients of Armour and Nature-Throid, which are two of the most common forms of desiccated thyroid hormone:

Armour. This is a form of natural thyroid hormone that is derived from porcine thyroid glands. It consists of both T3 and T4, and many people do better when taking natural thyroid hormone when compared to synthetic thyroid hormone. However, some people react to the ingredients of Armour. The inactive ingredients include calcium stearate, dextrose, microcrystalline cellulose, sodium starch glycolate and opadry white (5).

Nature-Throid. This is another form of natural thyroid hormone that is derived from porcine thyroid glands, and therefore also consists of both T3 and T4. The inactive ingredients include colloidal silicon dioxide, dicalcium phosphate, lactose monohydrate, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, croscarmellose sodium, stearic acid, Opadry II (6).

Is There Gluten In Your Thyroid Hormone Medication?

Many people with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis attempt to avoid gluten. However, most people don’t consider that their source of thyroid hormone medication might include gluten. Although both Armour and Nature-Throid are gluten free, not all forms of levothyroxine are gluten free.

According to the website www.glutenfreedrugs.com, the only two brands of levothyroxine which are guaranteed to be gluten free include Lannett and Mova. Apparently the manufacturers of Synthroid can’t guarantee that this is gluten free. Both Levothroid and Levoxyl are gluten free. Cytomel is also gluten free.

This is very important considering many people who have thyroid disorders are autoimmune and those who are autoimmune usually have non-celiac gluten sensitivity.

Our Personal Thyroid Treatment Program is a great place to start

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  1. To Schedule a Free 15 minute Phone Consult to see if this program is right for you Fill out our online questionnaire.
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