Finally! Prescriptions for Thyroid Hormone Supplements are Changing
The world of conventional medicine is finally waking up to what patients have long been asking. In the last four years, there has been a shift towards a more open-minded attitude prescribing "combination therapy" for better thyroid care.
Now, according to a 2018 survey published in the Thyroid journal, one-third of US doctors have taken the significant step forward in prescribing combination thyroid therapy.
While combination therapy, in general, has been standard medical practice for most conditions over the last 30 or 40 years, until recently, thyroid treatment resisted a more modern approach. Previously, less than 1% of physicians were willing to consider natural desiccated thyroid, either in addition to or instead of the synthetic thyroid medicines.
In truth, a great number of low-thyroid patients do much better using the natural hormone supplement compared to the synthetic.
Physicians with more years of practice and experience treating low-thyroid patients are more likely to prescribe combination therapy. Why has low thyroid treatment been so behind the times? Basically, it was due to aggressive marketing by the makers of Synthroid. Since it first came out a half-century ago, this drug maintained the lion’s share of the market, even when research showed it was undeserving. More recently, this same drug company has given tens of millions of dollars yearly to an influential private medical group called the American Thyroid Association, whose prescribing guidelines insist that (surprise!) the best low-thyroid treatment is a Synthroid-like medicine alone.
After decades of insisting that thyroid patients suffer from often incomplete treatment, doctors are now beginning to write prescriptions for T3 (Cytomel) added to the usual T4 (Synthroid) for treatment of thyroid disorders.
Why is combination therapy a good step forward? We see the benefits of combination therapy in several other well-known conditions. Asthma patients often have more than one type of inhaler. Blood pressure patients often have more than one type of medicine. Psychiatric patients frequently utilize two or three different prescriptions for best results. Research studies have shown that thyroid patients who receive combination therapy often feel better and do better than those taking Synthroid (T4) alone.
This step towards the 'natural' direction has come largely through people advocating for themselves by asking their doctors for better results. Patient activism was the key for these forward steps when they didn't get the desired results from what the doctor first prescribed.
At long last, doctors are listening to their patients and patient advocates who have been on a many years' quest for better thyroid care.
You can determine when the addition of a T3 supplement of Cytomel will be helpful.
Order a Basic Thyroid Test Panel, which will test your "Free T3" along with your TSH and T4. When your TSH and T4 are normal with a low "Free T3," then you should insist on adding some T3 supplements to your regimen. It could help bring your thyroid into balance while alleviating many of the symptoms.
Though it is a step in the right direction, it is still a small step. We still need to bring the remaining two-thirds of physicians on board.
Keep speaking out. Keep advocating for yourself. You are changing the medical culture.
by Richard Shames, MD, practicing physician
Author of Thyroid Mind Power
Basic Thyroid Test Panel: fT3, fT4, TPO & TSH blood spot test from ZRT Lab.
Comprehensive Elements/Thyroid Test: Basic thyroid test panel, plus toxic heavy metals and essential nutrients to see if external factors may be a cause of thyroid imbalance.