Natural Desiccated Thyroid 101, aka NDT
Natural Desiccated Thyroid (NDT) is usually by prescription and is real thyroid i.e. it’s made from dried and powdered thyroid from pigs (mixed from several pigs, not one). Pigs are close in compatibility to human cells, thus why it works so well, plus gives you what a healthy human thyroid would be giving as far as all the thyroid hormones. NDT also meets the stringent guidelines of the US Pharmacopeia, i.e it’s made according to certain quality standards, contrary to what some doctors say.
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1) How long has Natural desiccated thyroid been around?
It’s been used successfully by patients since the 1890’s as reported in old medical journals and books. For very interesting information on its history & details on the product itself, see the revised STTM book, Chapter 2. Very worth it. There is also another chapter on NDT in the STTM II book by a doctor.
2) What’s the big deal about natural desiccated thyroid (NDT)?
Natural desiccated thyroid gives you exactly what your own thyroid would be giving you: T4, T3, T2, T1 and calcitonin. Thus, you aren’t totally dependent on conversion as you would be on T4-only–you’re getting some direct T3 in NDT. When optimal, it can remove depression, improve the immune system for Hashi’s patients, prevent us from falling into adrenal fatigue due to being a better treatment, lower high cholesterol, improve bone and heart health, remove T4-only-caused pain, on and on. READ Chapter Two of the revised STTM book for excellent details about NDT, those five hormones, and more. Note that OPTIMAL puts the free T3 towards the top part of the range and the free T3 midrange. Both.
Even using the two synthetics for T4 and T3 has met success if one’s optimal dose is found, say a lot of patients.
3) What are the brands of desiccated natural thyroid? Is one better than the other?
4) If on T4-only, how have patients reported moving over to NDT?
If on T4 like Synthroid or Levothyroxine, a lot of patients have reported taking it a final day…
…then the next day, patients start on natural desiccated thyroid.
A common starting dose is one grain/60 mg.
Patients then raise by 1/2 grain every two weeks or so, as long as their are no negative symptoms.
Negative symptoms while raising usually point to inadequate iron or a cortisol problem
Patients slow down somewhere in the two grain area to do labs, then tweak/raise if needed, many state.
It’s common, say years of patient reports, to end up in the 3-5 grain area when optimal, though some are slightly less, some slightly more.
5) If not on any thyroid meds, what do patients report as a good starting dose on Natural Desiccated Thyroid?
When first starting out, one grain (60/65 mg) has been a safe “starting dose” for most, patients have reported. Then what is in the above graphic. Why just one grain? To allow the body to adjust to getting direct T3 again. Also, no matter what patients start on, they have reported learning the hard way that they have to make sure their iron and cortisol levels are optimal to prevent bad reactions when raising.
6) If on Synthetic T4 and T3, what do patients report as a good starting dose of Natural Desiccated Thyroid?
It depends on how much of the two synthetics one is on. One grain of most prescription NDTs contain approximately 38 mcg of T4 and 9 mcg of T3. Two grains equal approximately 76 mcg T4 and 18 mcg T3. Three grains would be approximately 114 mcg T4 and 27 mcg of T3. Then being optimal.
7) What is an optimal amount of NDT and what are common doses to achieve optimal?
Optimal is the amount of NDT the body needs for its daily needs, and is usually reflected by a free T3 towards the top part of the range, and free T4 midrange. Both, say patients. After raising every few weeks as explained above in search of one’s optimal dose, many end up in the 3-5 grain area, but some are optimal lower, some are optimal higher. It’s individual. Thus why doing the free T3 and free T4 labs are important. What is optimal? The amount of NDT to achieve “optimal” varies between individuals. If we stay lower, hypo symptoms return, sooner or later.
8) But I feel great on non-optimal doses of NDT! Am I an exception to the optimal amounts?
Many people will feel better on the lower doses…at first. But it eventually backfires due to the suppression of the natural feedback loop in your body. Thus, hypothyroidism will return. The individuality is when.
9) Are patients taking NDT once a day?
Most patients have reported finding it beneficial to divide their dose to at least twice a day in order to spread the energy-giving affect of T3 within NDT when it’s most needed. An example is taking 2/3 of your natural desiccated thyroid in the morning, and the other 1/3 in the early afternoon. And the theory was the fact that one’s own thyroid, if healthy, would have given you what you need throughout the day instead of one dump; thus, we replicate that.
10) What do patients notice when optimal on NDT (#6 below is especially important)?
- the near complete removal of hypothyroid symptoms
- a mid-afternoon temp of 98.6F or 37C
- a before-rising morning temperature of 97.8-98.2F (as learned from Dr. Broda Barnes)
- a good heartrate and blood pressure
- improved energy because our metabolism is better
- a free T3 in towards the top part of the range and a free T4 around mid-range. The latter labwork has been noticed frequently over the years when optimal. Yes, optimal seems to push the TSH lab result below range without a hint of hyper! i.e. though Graves disease results in a very low TSH, our low TSH isn’t the same.
11) Why do I not see the TSH mentioned above?
Because patients discovered it’s more about the free T4 and free T3, not the TSH, which is a pituitary hormone. The goal is always about the free’s, NOT the TSH. Also, when the optimal levels of the frees are reached, the TSH will fall below range. Doctors will sometimes overreact to a TSH that low, so read this page.
12) My free T3 is optimal and at the top of the range, yet I feel horrible. Why?
13) Can patients go by those Synthroid-to-NDT equivalency charts?
Not unless you want to stay hypothyroid, patients have reported over the years. You can’t compare the two at ALL.
14) Are there any non-prescription desiccated thyroid products?
Yes. They are usually bovine and some are mentioned on this page.
15) Do patients swallow, chew it up first, or do NDT sublingually?
All work. But many have found that putting it under the tongue (sublingual method) seems to give a better punch, in spite of empty strong opinions that it can’t due to the molecules being too big. But any way is fine. If you do swallow it, you’ll need to not also swallow iron, estrogen, calcium or high fiber as any of the latter can “partially” bind the thyroid hormones. If the tablet is quite hard due to excess cellulose, chewing it up can give better results, say some patients.
16) Why is the T3 in desiccated thyroid so important?
From a defunct biology website, but still good information: In your cells, T3 is essential to reconverting ADP (the ‘flat battery’) into ATP (the ‘charged battery’). A shortage of T3 leads to a poor ratio between ATP and ADP. That would seem to explain why a long recovery period is needed after exertion; it takes a long time, at this deficient rate, to get back to a decent level of ATP so you’re ready for more activity.
And here is a study which underscores the above: http://ajpendo.physiology.org/content/280/5/E761
17) How do I find a doctor who understands desiccated thyroid?
Many doctors are very ignorant about the efficacy and safety of natural desiccated thyroid. Others will prescribe it, but hold you hostage to the TSH, or are afraid to go high enough to get your levels optimal. So be prepared to teach any doctor what you have learned from this page and CHAPTER 2 in the revised STTM book. Learn!! Study!!
18) I’ve read bad reviews with NDT. What are they talking about?
Problems are not from the NDT itself, but what it reveals, and most reviewers don’t get that fact. i.e. there will be bad reactions if one stays on too low a dose, has inadequate iron, and/or has a cortisol problem. Study this page.
SUMMARY OF GRAPHIC: 3 main reasons for problems when raising Natural Desiccated Thyroid:
- They didn’t raise it high enough, thus a return of hypothyroid symptoms and even too much adrenaline
- They have either too high or too low levels of cortisol. Saliva testing, not blood, is the way to find out accurately
- They have inadequate levels of serum iron, and the latter can push RT3 too high
OTHER LESS COMMON REASONS: allergy to fillers, allergy to porcine (they might also note that when eating bacon or ham), rare genetic conversion issue with T4.
19) Do I have to treat my adrenals before getting on or using NDT?
Most with a cortisol problem, as revealed by a saliva test and not about guessing, can tolerate small amounts of NDT, such as less than 1 1/2 grains. If even small amounts cause problems, they move to small amounts of T3. Some add T3 to their small amount of NDT.
20) Can I get on NDT if I already know I have a high Reverse T3 (RT3)
Because NDT is 80% T4, and because RT3 comes from T4 in the presence of low iron, inflammation and more, might be wiser, patients have noted, to move over to straight T3 instead of NDT. As one gets the RT3 down, and has treated the cause, then they could look into moving over to NDT. Read all about RT3 here.
21) Why do some patients take T3-only instead of desiccated thyroid?
If reverse T3 (RT3) is going up when raising NDT, patients lower NDT and add in T3 to help lower RT3 while treating the cause. See the RT3 page for reasons RT3 can go up. If RT3 is way high, going on T3-only awhile may be the best decision.
22) If one is retirement age or older, are they supposed to lower NDT a great deal? Or not use it?
That idea of lowering comes from a study done with those on T4-only and who appeared to be overdosing themselves and had more bone fractures. But with NDT, the direct T3 has helped our bone strength, not make it worse. It’s possible if your activity level dropped, you might need slightly less NDT than one does at age 30. There is also a ridiculous idea by insurance companies that NDT is harmful for older folks. That has not proven to be true.
23) Why does my doctor say NDT is “unstable”?
Because they don’t know what they are talking about. T4-only had been recalled MANY times due to this issue.
24) What fillers, etc, are in Natural Desiccated Thyroid?
25) Any other tips?
Many patients are keen to having an emergency backup of desiccated natural thyroid just for that–emergencies! Desiccated thyroid has a long shelf life, but you can also wrap it securely to avoid damaging moisture and place it in the refrigerator door.
WANT EVEN MORE INFORMATION ON DESICCATED THYROID? This is where you should be reading Chapter 2 in the revised STTM book!! The more informed you are, the more you can counter bad information/bad ideas from your doctor. Read. Study!! Underline. Highlight. Bookmark.
- Read Things We Have Learned if you are new to this website, or need help understanding it all.
- To talk to others about desiccated thyroid, go to our Talk to Others page.
Want to order your own labwork?? STTM has created the right ones just for you to discuss with your doctor. Go here: https://sttm.mymedlab.com/
Need help interpreting your lab results? Go here: www.stopthethyroidmadness.com/lab-values/ Because patients have learned that lab results have nothing to do with just “falling in the normal range”.