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June 17, 2023 7 min read

Armour Thyroid is a popular medication prescribed for the treatment of hypothyroidism, but have you ever stopped to think about what is actually in it? With all the possible sensitivity and allergies sufferers may experience, understanding the ingredients of Armour Thyroid is important.

So if you've been wondering what's inside Armour Thyroid and the potential allergens in it, here's what you need to know.

First thing first: Hypothyroidism and its medications

Your thyroid is an endocrine gland located in your neck. When your thyroid gland is working properly, it releases two hormones, triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine (T4) – collectively known as thyroid hormones. These hormones control your metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. T4 is the inactive thyroid hormone, while T3 is active. Thus, your body needs to convert T4 to T3 to use it.

If you, unfortunately, have a thyroid disease called underactive thyroid gland (hypothyroidism), you won't have enough thyroid hormones to support normal bodily function. That's why you need thyroid hormone replacement products like Armour Thyroid to get your hormone back on track and help you maintain optimal health.

What is Armour Thyroid?

Armour Thyroid is a brand name for natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), a natural thyroid hormone preparation. It contains natural forms of the T4 and T3 thyroid hormones. In addition, it also contains other hormones that are naturally present in the thyroid, such as T2, T1, and Calcitonin. Therefore, Armour Thyroid and other NDT products are often considered to closely resemble the human thyroid.

Aside from treating hypothyroidism, Armour Thyroid is sometimes used in the treatment of goiter (enlarged thyroid) and thyroid cancer since exogenous thyroid hormone can shrink tumors in the thyroid gland caused by a type of cancer called follicular and papillary carcinoma. It can also be used for certain thyroid function tests like the thyroid suppression test, which is a test to help doctors diagnose patients with signs of mild hyperthyroidism or to demonstrate thyroid gland autonomy in patients with Grave's ophthalmopathy.

What are the ingredients of Armour Thyroid?

The main active ingredient of Armour Thyroid is Thyroid USP or thyroid desiccated, which is made from drying and crushing the thyroid glands of porcine (pig). The ground-up porcine thyroid glands are processed and then carefully tested for safety before being included in the formula.

But it's not just the active ingredient that makes up this thyroid replacement therapy. Armour Thyroid also contains inactive ingredients that act as fillers to keep the shape of the tablet. Below are the inactive ingredients of the medication:

  • Calcium stearate

  • Dextrose

  • Microcrystalline cellulose

  • Sodium starch glycolate

  • Opadry white

Is Armour Thyroid gluten-free?

For some people, gluten can trigger adverse reactions that can cause uncomfortable symptoms like bloating, abdominal pain, brain fog, constipation, and headaches.

Armour Thyroid is gluten-free. However, it's not gluten-free certified because it contains sodium starch glycate, which may contain small amounts of gluten. Though this small amount is probably nothing to worry about, some people with extreme allergies may want to opt for something else.

Is there any potential allergen in Armour Thyroid's ingredients?

Microcrystalline cellulose is one of the most common fillers in medications, and it can cause an allergic reaction in some patients. If you've had allergic reactions to other medications that contain microcrystalline cellulose in the past, it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor about it. Moreover, the main ingredient in Armour Thyroid is pig thyroid glands, so if you have a pork allergy, you might want to stay away from this thyroid hormone replacement therapy.

However, it's worth noting that allergic reaction to this ingredient and Armour Thyroid as a whole is very rare.

Still, you may want to pay attention to the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • Chest pain or tightness

  • Severe rash

  • Itching or swelling, especially in the tongue, throat, or face

  • Abdominal pain

  • Severe dizziness

  • Wheezing or trouble breathing

  • Seizure

  • Fast, pounding, or irregular heartbeat

  • Extreme anxiety.

These symptoms may indicate an allergic reaction and need immediate medical attention. If you do have an allergic reaction to Armour Thyroid, you might need to switch your medication to other thyroid hormone replacement, such as other brands of NDT that don't contain as many inactive ingredients as Armour Thyroid.

Who should not take Armour Thyroid?

Every medication has contraindications. Thyroid hormone preparations like Armour Thyroid are not an exception. Aside for people who might have an allergy to the ingredients in this thyroid hormone therapy, those who have the following conditions should also use it with caution:

  • Thyrotoxicosis 

  • Pituitary hormone deficiency

  • Adrenal insufficiency

  • Osteoporosis, weak bones

  • Irregular heartbeat

  • High blood pressure.

If you have any of the conditions above, you should let your doctor know about it so they can prescribe you the appropriate dosage that won't harm your health. Furthermore, if you've been diagnosed with adrenal cortical insufficiency, you might need to treat it first before managing your hypothyroidism using thyroid therapy like Armour Thyroid.

Sometimes, people use this medication to help them lose weight and enhance fertility. While it's true that Armour Thyroid can lead to weight loss and enhance fertility, it's only because it balances the levels of thyroid hormones in people with hypothyroidism. This means that taking this medication in hopes of weight loss or help you conceive when you don't have hypothyroidism is not recommended. In fact, taking it when you already have enough thyroid hormone can lead to a condition called hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid). And excessive use of thyroid medication in the absence of hypothyroidism can be dangerous and life-threatening.

What are the side effects of Armour Thyroid besides allergic reaction?

If you don't have any allergy to the ingredients in Armour Thyroid, you don't have to worry about serious adverse reactions. But just like any other medications out there, Armour Thyroid can have other side effects that are unrelated to allergy. These include:

  • Increased or lack of appetite

  • Hot flashes

  • Shallow breathing

  • Trouble sleeping

  • Rapid weight loss

  • Leg cramps

  • Anxiety

  • Vomiting

  • Muscle weakness.

These side effects often occur because your dose is too high, leading to thyroid hormone toxicity (hyperthyroidism).

But don't let these side effects scare you. Armour Thyroid and other NDTs are safe if used correctly.

What should you do if Armour Thyroid doesn't work for you?

If you've been taking Armour Thyroid and it doesn't seem to improve your symptoms, you might want to consider doing the following:

Take your medication consistently

Always take your medication regularly every day at the same time every day. Doing this will help ensure that you have consistent thyroid hormone levels throughout the day. Ideally, you might want to take it in the morning as soon as you wake up in the morning or before you go to bed.

Some alternative practitioners also recommend taking your Armour Thyroid several times a day instead of once. You can do this by splitting your total daily dose. It's believed that splitting your dose can make your thyroid hormone levels, especially T3, more stable throughout the day.

Don't take your Armour Thyroid with other medications

Understanding drug interactions is important to keep you safe and get the most out of Armour Thyroid. Drug interactions can alter the way the medication work or increase the risk of serious side effects. The best thing to do if you need to take other medications is to separate the timing, usually around 3 to 4 hours apart.

Some drugs that interact with Armour Thyroid are listed below. Please note that this is not an exhaustive list. Always use caution when taking any medicine at the same time as Armour Thyroid or other thyroid medications.

  • Oral Anticoagulants, such as coumadin (warfarin) and heparin, are medications to treat blood clotting and heart disease. You may need to decrease the dosage of this medication and separate the timing.

  • Insulin or Oral Hypoglycemics are treatments for diabetes, but when taken together with Armour Thyroid, your blood sugar will be affected. Therefore, you may need to adjust your insulin and thyroid hormone dosage.

  • Cholestyramine or Colestipol binds to the thyroid hormones T4 and T3 in your intestines, significantly reducing the absorption of the two thyroid hormones. To avoid interaction, your thyroid hormones should be administered at least 4 hours before or after you take cholestyramine.

Be patient

It's important to note that it can take 4 to 8 weeks for symptoms of hypothyroidism to improve with Armour Thyroid, so if you've only been taking your medication for a few days, it's best to wait before you make any conclusions.

Adjust your dose

If you're still feeling tired or experiencing other hypothyroidism symptoms, your dose is probably too low. Talk to your doctor about it. They'll likely do thyroid function tests to see if you're already on your optimal dose.

Switch medications

If you're already on your optimal dose but you're still not feeling good, or you're allergic to one of the ingredients in Armour Thyroid, you might want to consider other thyroid replacement therapy. You can consider synthetic medications like levothyroxine (T4 synthetic medication) or liothyronine (T3 synthetic medication) if you're allergic to pork. But if you want to take natural medications that already contain T4 and T3 hormones, you may take other NDT brands that are purer and more natural. Some NDT brands, such as WP Thyroid and VitaliThy, consist of fewer inactive ingredients.

What are the alternatives to Armour Thyroid?

If you're an Armour Thyroid user who needs to find a different natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) because you're allergic to the inactive ingredient or just can't seem to find it on the market anymore, there are plenty of other options. One of the purest NDT in the US is WP Thyroid, but like Armour Thyroid, it can be hard to find, and some doctors refuse to prescribe it. But don't worry, there is another option available for anyone who's looking to get their hands on Armour Thyroid: VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online.

VitaliThy contains the same active ingredient as Armour Thyroid, so it's packed with T4, T3, T2, T1, and Calcitonin. However, it's gluten and lactose-free. Plus, it doesn't contain eggs, shellfish, and fish. This means that it's free from common allergens. It's just as effective and can be delivered right to your doorstep in no time – how convenient is that?

Final thoughts on Armour Thyroid and its ingredients

Armour Thyroid is generally considered safe for most people. However, some individuals may experience allergies due to certain ingredients present in the product. Signs and symptoms of a potential allergic reaction include itching or rashes after taking the medication. If you do experience these symptoms, this could be a sign that it's time to look at alternative solutions.

There are plenty of options out there to suit your specific needs. One great alternative is VitaliThy, which is an NDT supplement made of dried porcine thyroid glands. Like Armour Thyroid, it contains T4 and T3 hormones. However, it's gluten and lactose-free. It's also free from other common potential allergens like eggs, fish, and shellfish.

VitaliThy is effective and works fast to get your body back on track. Best of all, it's available online for easy ordering - so no more running from store to store looking for this medication. All you have to do is order it from the comfort of your own home!

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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