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January 26, 2023 8 min read

If you are both hypothyroid and gluten intolerant or simply want to avoid eating anything with gluten, you've probably already cleared your cupboard.

But having a gluten-free diet can be tricky. Gluten can still sneak its way into your diet in unexpected places, especially if you have a medical condition like hypothyroidism that requires you to take certain medications. If you've been taking Armour Thyroid, have you ever wondered if it's gluten-free? Is any thyroid medication gluten-free?

Well, keep reading because we've got the answer! This article will provide all the information needed to figure out if your medication is gluten-free.

What is gluten?

Gluten is a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and other cereals. It acts like glue that holds food together. It's what makes dough elastic and gives bread its fluffy texture and stretchy consistency. In fact, it's called gluten because of the glue-like property of wet dough.

Although gluten is naturally occurring, it can also be extracted, concentrated, and added to food and other products to add protein, texture, and flavor.

There are two main proteins in gluten: glutenin and gliadin. Glutenin provides structure and elasticity to dough, while gliadin is responsible for most of the adverse health effects associated with gluten consumption.

Although gluten has gotten a lot of bad reps over the years, the truth is that gluten isn't inherently bad for most people. It has been providing people with soluble fiber, protein, and nutrients for a long time.

The problem with gluten

Our bodies have special enzymes that help us break down food. However, the enzyme that helps our body process protein (Protease) can't fully break down gluten. This causes gluten to make its way to the small intestine undigested.

Most people don't have any issues with undigested gluten. They can eat gluten most of their lives without experiencing any adverse effects. However, those who can't tolerate it may experience unpleasant symptoms like bloating, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. In more severe cases, gluten can even trigger autoimmune responses.

Gluten can cause problems in people with the following condition:

Celiac disease

Celiac disease is a serious autoimmune disorder that affects the small intestine. It's triggered by the consumption of gluten. When someone with celiac disease eats gluten, their immune system attacks the small intestine. Over time, this will damage the lining of your small intestine, preventing it from properly absorbing nutrients.

Symptoms of celiac disease can vary greatly but may include abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, weight loss, and fatigue. In some cases, there may be no symptoms at all. Celiac disease can also lead to other health problems, such as anemia, osteoporosis, and even certain types of cancer. The only treatment for celiac disease is a strict gluten-free diet. This means avoiding all foods and products that contain gluten, including medication.

Non-celiac gluten sensitivity

Some people can develop a negative reaction to gluten even when they don't have celiac disease. Known as non-celiac gluten sensitivity, there's actually no clear definition of this condition. In most cases, doctors may diagnose you with the condition if you react negatively to gluten, but you don't test positive for celiac disease and allergies.

Symptoms of gluten sensitivity are similar to celiac disease. These include diarrhea, tiredness, bloating, stomach pain, and depression. However, gluten sensitivity doesn't cause an immune reaction or intestinal damage.

Wheat allergy

This is an allergy to one or more proteins found in wheat that causes digestive issues after consuming gluten. It's most often seen in children, but most find the issue resolves itself as they reach adulthood.

Symptoms of wheat allergy may include cramps, shortness of breath, swelling or itching in the mouth or throat, diarrhea, nausea, itchy eyes, hives, and anaphylaxis.

Gluten ataxia

Gluten ataxia is a rare neurological autoimmune disease that happens when your body's immune system mistakenly attacks parts of the brain in response to the consumption of gluten. When people with this condition consume gluten, their body creates an autoimmune response that can irreversibly destroy the cerebellum, which is the area of the brain that controls coordination and balance.

Symptoms of gluten ataxia may include difficulty walking, balance problems, slurred speech, and difficulty with fine motor skills. Some individuals may also experience symptoms such as fatigue, headaches, and depression. In some cases, gluten ataxia can also lead to other neurological problems, such as seizures and cognitive decline. Like celiac disease, the only treatment for this condition is a strict gluten-free diet.

What is Armour Thyroid?

Armour Thyroid is a prescription medication for hypothyroidism. Also known as underactive thyroid, hypothyroidism is a thyroid disease that occurs when your thyroid gland (located in the neck) isn't producing enough of its hormones, mainly thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). These hormones are responsible for helping regulate your metabolism, energy production, moods, heart rate, growth rate, and more. Without enough of them, you may experience fatigue, weight gain, cold intolerance, depression, brittle nails, and hair loss - all of which can be very frustrating to deal with!

Armour Thyroid is designed to provide the necessary level of thyroid hormone needed for normal metabolism and bodily function. It's a type of natural desiccated thyroid (NDT). Therefore, it contains natural forms of T4 and T3 thyroid hormones derived from dried pig thyroid glands. For many thyroid patients, this combination of thyroid hormones provides more effective relief than the standard synthetic T4-only medication.

What are the common Armour Thyroid side effects?

Like all medications, Armour Thyroid can have side effects. These include:

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Increased sweating

  • Hives

  • Shaking (tremors)

  • Mood changes

  • Swelling of the face, lips, tongue, or throat 

  • Severe dizziness

  • Diarrhea 

  • Sensitivity to heat

  • Nervousness

  • Fatigue

  • Headache

  • Shortness of breath 

  • Chest pain

  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat 

  • Swelling of the hands, ankles, or feet

  • Convulsions (seizures)

It's important to remember that not everyone will experience these side effects. Some people might not experience any at all. However, if you do experience them, you should talk to your doctor. In most cases, these side effects occur because your dose is too high, causing you to experience symptoms of hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid).

What are the ingredients of Armour Thyroid?

The active ingredients of Armour Thyroid are as follows:

  • Triiodothyronine (T3)

  • Thyroxine (T4)

  • Minor amounts of Calcitonin, T1, T2, and proteins.

The inactive ingredients of Armour Thyroid are as follows:

  • Calcium Stearate

  • Dextrose, Unspecified Form

  • Microcrystalline Cellulose

  • Sodium Starch Glycolate Type A

  • Opadry White

While the active ingredients in Armour Thyroid are bio-identical, meaning they appear identical to the same hormones that your thyroid gland naturally produces. However, some of the inactive ingredients, starch, and microcrystalline cellulose, are inert substances that have the potential to induce side effects in the general population.

Is Armour Thyroid gluten-free?

Armour Thyroid doesn't have any gluten-containing ingredients. However, it has not been tested for gluten content and isn't certified gluten-free.

It's also important to note that Armour Thyroid contains sodium starch glycolate, which can be derived from corn or wheat and may contain small amounts of gluten. Therefore, it may still warrant consideration for those with extreme gluten intolerance, especially those with celiac disease or gluten ataxia.

The amount of gluten in Armour Thyroid is not enough to really cause concern, so most should be able to take it without experiencing any negative reactions. However, make sure to talk to your doctor about any medical conditions or diet preferences you have so they can adjust your medication accordingly.


What should I do if I take Armour Thyroid but am gluten intolerant?

If you have a concern about continuing Armour Thyroid because it's not certified gluten-free, you shouldn't stop taking it without first consulting your doctor about other options. This is because it's crucial to maintain a regular dosage to ensure that your thyroid hormone levels remain balanced. Stopping your dose will only cause your hypothyroidism symptoms to be back, so you'll feel less than great.

Should hypothyroid patients go gluten-free even when they aren't gluten intolerant?

You may have heard that going gluten-free can be beneficial for those with hypothyroidism, but you may be wondering why that is. But it actually depends on your specific condition.

Some studies have shown that individuals with autoimmune thyroid disease, such as Hashimoto's disease, may have a higher risk of celiac disease. Many people who have Hashimoto's disease also reported that eating gluten causes them to flare up, which causes their symptoms to worsen. Moreover, a study found that a gluten-free diet lowered TPO antibodies and raised vitamin D levels in women with untreated Hashimoto's disease. Therefore, it might be beneficial for you to try a gluten-free diet.

So, does this mean that all hypothyroid patients should go gluten-free? Not necessarily. But you might still want to give it a try. Following a gluten-free diet may help you eat healthier and reduce your carb intake, so it can help you lose some of the weight you gained due to hypothyroidism. Some hypothyroid patients also claimed to feel better and have improved thyroid health when they eliminate gluten from their life.

It's worth mentioning, however, that a gluten-free diet isn't a magic solution for hypothyroidism. What works for others may not work for you. Therefore, always talk to your doctor first before changing your diet, and don't stop taking your thyroid medication.

Does gluten affect the absorption of Armour Thyroid?

Depending on your health condition, gluten might affect the absorption of Armour Thyroid. It's known that gluten can affect the absorption of nutrients in individuals with celiac disease. So if you have celiac disease, gluten may impair the absorption of Armour Thyroid. Gluten may also impair the absorption of the medication if you have non-celiac gluten sensitivity. However, there is limited research on the specific impact of gluten on the absorption of Armour Thyroid in people who can tolerate gluten.

Is there any gluten-free alternative to Armour Thyroid?

Most prescription medications for hypothyroidism don't contain gluten. However, if you're looking for a medication that clearly doesn't have any gluten in the ingredients, you can consider the following?

  • Nature Throid

  • WP Thyroid

  • Tirosint (levothyroxine - synthetic T4)

  • Levothyroxine by Mylan

  • VitaliThy

If you want to keep taking NDT because you find it more effective than levothyroxine, then your best options are Nature Throid, WP Thyroid, and VitaliThy. The drawback of Nature Throid and WP Thyroid is that they can be hard to find. Plus, many doctors refuse to prescribe them. However, VitaliThy is available to buy online and ship worldwide. Although it's registered as an NDT supplement, it contains Thyroid USP just like Armour Thyroid, WP Thyroid, and Nature Throid.

Besides being gluten-free, VitaliThy is also free from lactose, artificial coloring, artificial flavoring, fish, shellfish, and eggs. This means that it's one of the purest NDT available, and you don't have to worry about potential allergens.

Conclusion: Armour Thyroid is not certified gluten-free

Most thyroid medications don't contain gluten, but not all of them are certified gluten-free.

There is no gluten in Armour Thyroid's ingredient list, but it's not certified gluten-free. Plus, it does contain sodium starch glycolate, which may be derived from corn or wheat and may contain trace amounts of gluten. While it might sound harmless, it's something to watch out for those who have extreme gluten intolerance.

If you're looking for an NDT alternative to Armour Thyroid that is clearly gluten-free, you can consider taking VitaliThy, WP Thyroid, and Nature Throid. VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online, is easy to get no matter where you are in the world. Plus, it's free from gluten, so you don't have to worry about adverse side effects.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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