Thyroid Medication: Why Less Really is MoreApr 03, 2023 03:30PM ● By Dr. Raquel Espinol
The thyroid gland regulates metabolism by releasing hormones called thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). When the thyroid underperforms, it causes everything in your body to work less efficiently. This is known as hypothyroidism. Hypothyroidism affects more than 30 million American adults and is five to eight times more common in females.1 By conservative estimates, one in eight women will develop hypothyroidism.1
The most common cause of hypothyroidism is an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. This makes up 75-85% of hypothyroid cases. Oftentimes, people with Hashimoto’s struggle to find a medication or treatment plan that works for them and continue to suffer through symptoms like:
• Feeling cold
• Losing hair
• Gaining weight
While there are many treatment options for hypothyroidism, not all are created equal. Selecting the most appropriate one is vital to managing this disease.
Thyroid hormones: T3 and T4
The two hormones to remember are T4 (thyroxine) and T3 (triiodothyronine). T4 circulates throughout your bloodstream and is stored in your tissues until needed. Once your body finds a need, it converts T4 into T3. Establishing the exact levels of T4 and T3, and determining if the conversion process is working normally, are critical to designing the best treatment approach.
While most healthcare providers understand the critical nature of T4 to T3 conversion, many fail to recognize the factors that affect this process. These include:
• Nutritional deficiencies/excesses
• Autoimmune diseases
• Gastrointestinal diseases such as celiac disease, acid reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome
• Use of interfering medications like proton pump inhibitors (Nexium® and Prevacid®, for example) or H2 blockers (Tagamet®, for example), which inhibit the dissolution and absorption of thyroid hormone tablets
• The body’s own obstacles to converting T4 to T3
Some people continue to suffer from hypothyroid symptoms despite being on medication for years. But with some effort, patients can work with their doctor to find an approach that works for them.
Common choices for treating hypothyroidism
The most common treatments for hypothyroidism include T4 monotherapy with levothyroxine, natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) aka “glandular thyroid,” and a regimen of T4 and T3 medications taken together. Figuring out the best option for you may take some time. See the accompanying chart for pros/cons of commonly used hypothyroidism therapies.
Malabsorption and drug underperformance
Most thyroid hormone therapies come in tablet form. These contain inactive ingredients such as wheat starch (gluten), talc, lactose, sugars, and dyes that help hold the tablet together, but also can impede the absorption of their active ingredient, which results in suboptimal or inconsistent levels of thyroid hormones. When this happens, many patients often believe they need to change medication rather than address the factors that contribute to their therapy’s poor performance. They turn to their physician for new therapies in the hope that these can provide long hoped-for relief from their symptoms.
Nutrition can play a role in managing hypothyroidism. However, few patients can treat hypothyroidism with nutritional supplements alone. Some examples of helpful nutritional supplements include inositol, nigella, B vitamins, and selenium. However, excess amounts of certain nutritional supplements can also lead to hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Always tell your physician about all drugs and supplements that you are currently taking as well as your soy, fiber, and non-animal product intake.
Thyroid treatment: sometimes less is more
Less is often more when it comes to hypothyroid treatment. Tirosint®-SOL (levothyroxine sodium) oral solution is a unique liquid hypothyroid medication made with only three ingredients. It contains no fillers or other ingredients that can irritate your stomach or lead to poor drug absorption. Because it’s a liquid, it doesn’t need to dissolve in your stomach like a tablet or capsule before your body starts to absorb it. It’s not made with any ingredients sourced from animals, and it’s easy to swallow and comes in precise monodose ampules that can be conveniently stored for travel. You can pour it into a glass of water and drink it, or you can squeeze the contents of the ampule directly into your mouth.
Since Tirosint-SOL consists of just water, glycerol, and levothyroxine, it’s a very simple yet effective solution for treating hypothyroidism. This is important to me. Additionally, I want to ensure my patients have consistent access to the thyroid medication that works best for them. That being said, Tirosint-SOL has a generous coupon program and low-cost mail-order option to help patients without insurance or with high insurance copays/deductibles. These can be found on the product’s website.
So, which treatment is right for you?
Share your answers to the following with your physicians so they can work with you to pick the right option for you:
• Have you been treated for hypothyroidism and are dissatisfied with the results?
• Do you want a simpler approach?
• Do you need a drug that is free of excipients like gluten, dyes, lactose, and preservatives?
• Do you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) or another GI condition?
• Problems swallowing
Dr. Raquel Espinol graduated with honors and received her doctorate in naturopathic medicine from Sonoran University of Health Sciences (formerly Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine). She struggled with her own thyroid condition, which was not successfully managed until she discovered naturopathic medicine and worked with a naturopathic doctor to control her condition. This firsthand success inspired her to pursue a career in naturopathic medicine specializing in thyroid diseases.
Dr. Espinol works with men and women addressing thyroid conditions, hormone imbalances,and weight loss. She is licensed to practice in Arizona, California, Oregon, Washington, Utah, and Montana.
Please see Important Safety Information below, and Full Prescribing Information at TirosintSOL.com.
*Important Safety Information*
Warning: Not for the Treatment of Obesity or for Weight Loss
• Thyroid hormones, including TIROSINT-SOL, either alone or with other therapeutic agents, should not be used for the treatment of obesity or for weight loss.
• In euthyroid patients, doses within the range of daily hormonal requirements are ineffective for weight reduction.
• Larger doses may produce serious or even life-threatening manifestations of toxicity, particularly when given in association with sympathomimetic amines such as those used for their anorectic effects.
• Hypersensitivity to glycerol
• Uncorrected adrenal insufficiency
Warnings and Precautions
• Cardiac adverse reactions in the elderly and in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease: Initiate TIROSINT-SOL at less than the full replacement dose because of the increased risk of cardiac adverse reactions, including atrial fibrillation
• Myxedema coma: Do not use oral thyroid hormone drug products to treat myxedema coma
• Acute adrenal crisis in patients with concomitant adrenal insufficiency: Treat with replacement glucocorticoids prior to initiation of TIROSINT-SOL treatment
• Prevention of hyperthyroidism or incomplete treatment of hypothyroidism: Proper dose titration and careful monitoring is critical to prevent the persistence of hypothyroidism or the development of hyperthyroidism
• Worsening of diabetic control: Therapy in patients with diabetes mellitus may worsen glycemic control and result in increased antidiabetic agent or insulin requirements. Carefully monitor glycemic control after starting, changing, or discontinuing thyroid hormone therapy
• Decreased bone mineral density associated with thyroid hormone over-replacement: Over-replacement can increase bone reabsorption and decrease bone mineral density. Give the lowest effective dose
Limitations of Use
• Not indicated for suppression of benign thyroid nodules and nontoxic diffuse goiter in iodine-sufficient patients
• Not indicated for treatment of transient hypothyroidism during the recovery phase of subacute thyroiditis
Adverse reactions associated with TIROSINT-SOL are primarily those of hyperthyroidism due to therapeutic overdosage including: arrhythmias, myocardial infarction, dyspnea, muscle spasm, headache, nervousness, irritability, insomnia, tremors, muscle weakness, increased appetite, weight loss, diarrhea, heat intolerance, menstrual irregularities, and skin rash
For Full Prescribing Information, including Boxed Warning, visit www.TirosintSOL.com