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June 17, 2023 10 min read

Back in the 1800s, hypothyroidism was an incurable and fatal disease for many people. At that time, there were no medications available to cure or improve symptoms of hypothyroidism. However, times have changed.

Today, people with hypothyroidism are split in choice. Aside from the types of medications, they also need to choose the best brand. Should you choose Levothyroxine as prescribed by your doctor? Or should you try NP Thyroid, a natural desiccated thyroid (NDT)? Which option is best for you?

In this article, we'll talk about NP Thyroid and compare it with levothyroxine therapy. Let's get started!

The thyroid gland and hypothyroidism

Your thyroid is a butterfly-shaped endocrine gland located in your neck, below Adam's apple. Its main role is to control and ensure the smooth conversion of food into energy in your body – metabolism – by releasing two thyroid hormones, thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3).

Your thyroid gland releases more T4 into the bloodstream than T3, but T4 is inactive and doesn't affect metabolism. So if it's inactive, why is it necessary? Because T4 will be converted into T3, which is the active form of thyroid hormone and has an impact on your important bodily functions, such as heart rate, digestion, temperature, fertility, etc.

Since your thyroid has such a vital role in your body, a problem in your thyroid function can throw your health out of whack. One of the most common thyroid diseases is hypothyroidism, a condition in which your thyroid doesn't produce enough of its hormones. Also known as underactive thyroid, this condition slows down your metabolism.

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often not obvious, but if you observe carefully, you'll be able to spot them. Some of the most common symptoms are dry skin, weight gain, hair loss, sensitivity to cold weather, and a slow heart rate. Hypothyroidism can be caused by an autoimmune disease called Hashimoto's disease, iodine deficiency, and previous thyroid treatment like thyroidectomy to treat thyroid cancer.

There is no cure for hypothyroidism. But the good news is that there is a thyroid hormone replacement drug to support you long-term in life. The most popular options today are Levothyroxine and natural desiccated thyroid (also known as desiccated thyroid extract). Some of the most common brands of (Synthroid, Unithroid, Levoxyl) and natural desiccated thyroid or desiccated thyroid extract (Armour Thyroid, NP Thyroid, WP Thyroid, Nature-Throid).

What is NP Thyroid?

NP Thyroid is a prescription hormone replacement medication for hypothyroidism and an enlarged thyroid gland (goiter). It's a brand name natural desiccated thyroid (NDT), meaning it's derived from porcine thyroid glands and contains natural forms of the T4 and T3 hormones.

This medication works by replacing the hormones that are normally produced by your thyroid gland, which helps to balance out levels in the body.

What is Levothyroxine?

Similar to NP Thyroid, Levothyroxine is a medication to treat hypothyroidism. However, Levothyroxine is synthetic, and it only contains one thyroid hormone, T4. It's the standard treatment of hypothyroidism, so when you're diagnosed with the condition, your doctor will likely prescribe you this medication. In the United States, Levothyroxine is known under several brand names, such as Levothroid, Levoxyl, Synthroid, Tirosint, and Unithroid.

What are the possible side effects?

NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine are generally safe to use, even for children and pregnant women. But, like all medications, both of them can cause unwanted side effects. If you have untreated adrenal insufficiency and thyrotoxicosis, you might need to avoid these medications unless your doctor has advised you to do so.

The side effects of NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine are similar, such as:

  • Excessive weight loss

  • Fast heartbeat

  • Difficulty sleeping or insomnia

  • Sweat

  • Tremble

  • Anxiety

  • Irregular menstruation.

These symptoms are similar to symptoms of hyperthyroidism and usually occur because your dose is too high. Talk to your doctor if you experience any of them. Your doctor will likely adjust your dosage.

Both medications can also cause an allergic reaction if you have an allergy to any of their ingredients. The symptoms of drug allergy are as follows:

  • Swelling of the face and tongue

  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing

  • Sensitivity to the sun

  • Intense itching on the skin with raised lumps.

Be sure to talk to your doctor right away if you experience any of the above.

What do NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine contain?

Like other desiccated thyroid extracts, NP Thyroid contains Thyroid (USP), which means it includes T3 and T4 as the active ingredients. The inactive ingredients found in NP Thyroid are calcium stearate, dextrose, and mineral oil. These ingredients are generally safe for human consumption but should be prescribed in appropriate doses.

As for Levothyroxine, the active ingredient is levothyroxine (T4) sodium (synthetic crystalline L-3,3',5,5' tetraiodothyronine sodium salt). It also contains inactive ingredients, such as corn starch, croscarmellose sodium, magnesium stearate, mannitol, and sodium bicarbonate.

Why aren't NP Thyroid and other NDT drugs the standard treatment for hypothyroidism?

NDT was the first thyroid medication available, and this natural thyroid medication is still the most preferred option for many hypothyroid patients. So, why isn't it the standard treatment for hypothyroidism?

This is not an easy question to answer, but the reason has nothing to do with the effectiveness or the quality of NDT. Rather, it mainly stems from a marketing ploy. The drug companies that made Levothyroxine are the primary funding sources for thyroid and endocrinology associations, and they have distributed millions of dollars in free samples and gifts to promote Levothyroxine. There are also whisper campaigns that seem to discourage doctors from prescribing NDT and patients from taking it.

Of course, pharmaceutical companies can always promote and distribute NDT. But they have no interest in doing so. It's worth noting that the cost of manufacturing Levothyroxine is significantly lower than NDT, as it requires much less active ingredients to produce.

As mentioned before, natural thyroid medication like NDT uses Thyroid (USP) as its Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API). 100 mcg of levothyroxine is equivalent to 60 mg of NP Thyroid, and you need to use 600 times more API for NDT than for 100 mcg of levothyroxine. This means that the cost of manufacturing one levothyroxine tablet is a magnitude cheaper than levothyroxine.

The price of 90 days supply of 25 mcg Synthroid is essentially the same as 300 mcg. The difference in price between the tow doses is approximately 40 cents. This is due to the fact that the API used to manufacture Synthroid, sodium levothyroxine, is very low – close to 0 USD. On the other hand, the price difference between different doses of NP Thyroid can be significant. For example, the cost of a 90-day supple of the lowest does of NP Thyroid (15 mg) is 47.87 USD, while the cost of the highest does (120 mg) is 108 USD. The price difference between different doses of Armour Thyroid is even more extreme since it's available in doses up to 300 mg (5 grains).

Thus, manufacturing and distributing NDT won't be as profitable as its synthetic counterparts.

Many experts are also concerned that the levels of T3 in NDT are too high, so it might not work as well as Levothyroxine. However, numerous studies have found that appropriate doses of NDT can balance thyroid hormone levels and ease hypothyroidism symptoms just as effectively as Levothyroxine, with no adverse side effects.

How do doctors determine your dose?

The dose for both NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine is carefully determined based on your weight, age, and other medical conditions. You'll usually have to start with a low dose, which will be adjusted periodically by your doctor by doing blood testing.

The blood test reveals the amount of thyroid hormone in your bloodstream and thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) released by your pituitary gland, which has an important role in controlling how much thyroid hormone is produced and released by your thyroid.

The human thyroid gland produces and releases T4 and T3 hormones, but the amounts depend on the levels of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) produced by your pituitary gland. If your test results show that you have high TSH levels, it indicates that you have an underactive thyroid and that your dosage needs to be increased. On the other hand, if your TSH levels are too low, your doctor may need to decrease your dosage.

If you've just started taking it, you'll probably need the test after about 6 to 8 weeks. Once your thyroid hormone levels have stabilized within the normal range, follow-up visits may be longer, about every 6 months.

What is the best way to take NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine?

Taking your thyroid medications the right way will help you take advantage of your thyroid hormone. Here are a few notes you should know when taking NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine.

  • Take exactly the same brand of thyroid medication at the same time every day.

  • Take your thyroid medication consistently.

  • Do not take your thyroid dose at the same time as foods, drinks, supplements, or other medications that may react with it. For example, coffee, calcium, and iron supplements or multivitamins contain iron.

  • Do not arbitrarily skip doses, stop your thyroid medication suddenly, change the dose, or change the time of taking medicine.

  • See your doctor immediately if you experience side effects from medication.

  • Inform your doctor about your other medical condition or your pregnancy, if any, for a dose adjustment or a change in medication.

For Levothyroxine, you may need to take medicine on an empty stomach at least 30 minutes before breakfast or at least 3 hours after dinner, depending on your doctor's instructions. NDT, like NP Thyroid, generally isn't affected by food.

Should you take NP Thyroid or Levothyroxine?

Both NP Thyroid and Levothyroxine improve symptoms of hypothyroidism when used in the right dose and consistently.

However, if your doctor prescribed you Levothyroxine and you haven't been feeling any better, you might want to consider trying NDT like NP Thyroid.

According to one study, 48.6% of people with hypothyroidism preferred NDT, while only 18.6% preferred Levothyroxine because NDT significantly improved subjective symptoms and is associated with more weight loss than Levothyroxine.

One reason why NDT is much more effective for some people is that it contains the complete hormone naturally produced by your thyroid gland, including T4 and T3, as well as T2, T1, and Calcitonin.

As explained before, T4 is inactive and needs to be converted to T3 in order for your body to use it. However, some people have problems converting T4 to T3, which means that adding more T4 to their bodies won't do any good. Since NDT already contains T3, your body can skip the conversion process and can use it immediately. Plus, it's an amazing option for those looking for a natural alternative to the synthetic form of T4.

How would you know if you'll feel better on NP Thyroid?

So you don't feel your best with Levothyroxine, but you're also feeling apprehensive about NP Thyroid? Well, here are some indicators that might help you predict if you'll feel better on NP Thyroid:

  • You've been taking Levothyroxine for a while, but you still haven't experienced any improvements in symptoms.

  • Your thyroid levels are optimal with Levothyroxine, yet you still experience symptoms of hypothyroidism.

  • You have optimal thyroid levels on combined Levothyroxine and liothyronine (the synthetic form of T3), but you're still not feeling good.

  • You've tried NDT before, and it eased your symptoms, but your symptoms returned after you switched to Levothyroxine.

  • You don't have a thyroid gland due to radioactive iodine, thyroidectomy (surgical removal of the thyroid gland), or congenital hypothyroidism.

  • Your body can't convert T4 to T3 efficiently. When this happens, T4 will convert to RT3 instead of FT3. RT3 is another form of T3, but it doesn't work and can even block your FT3 activity, leading to more severe hypothyroidism. You can find out about this by getting a thyroid function test. If you have low FT3 but high RT3 levels, then your body might not do the conversion properly.

  • You prefer natural products.

Which medication is better for weight loss?

NP Thyroid is believed to help you lose weight better than Levothyroxine. However, if you are taking NP Thyroid to treat hypothyroidism, you should not try to increase your dose just because you think it'll help you lose more weight.

Remember that the main function of NP Thyroid is to supplement your body with thyroid hormone. So what happens if you have an excess of thyroid hormone in your body? Yes, you will have symptoms of hyperthyroidism.

Moreover, it should be noted that you shouldn't use NP Thyroid to treat infertility or lose weight if your thyroid gland still provides the normal amount of hormones.

Although NP Thyroid has been used to treat obesity in combination with other therapeutic agents, this approach is not recommended because it can cause life-threatening side effects.

What is a good replacement for NP Thyroid?

In 2021, several batches of thyroid NP were voluntarily recalled by Acella Pharmaceuticals because they were found to contain less drug than was indicated on the label by the FDA.

Although now Acella is back and making sure the drug is manufactured to the exact specifications on the label and in compliance with the FDA's strict regulations for quality, safe, and clean manufacturing processes, NP Thyroid is hard to find in the market. Plus, some doctors still refuse to prescribe this medication.

In this case, you can consider other alternatives. One such option is VitaliThy, a natural desiccated thyroid you can buy online. Like NP Thyroid, it's made of Thyroid (USP), which means it contains all the hormones that the thyroid normally produces, including the hormones T4, T3, even T2, T1, and Calcitonin. It can effectively improve symptoms of hypothyroidism, including weight problems.

Moreover, VitaliThy is very safe to use because it's free from common allergens like lactose and gluten.

Conclusion: Is NP Thyroid better than Levothyroxine?

There is no single correct answer to this question. The debate over which thyroid hormone replacement is better, NP Thyroid or Levothyroxine, is an ongoing one. In the end, it's important to choose what works best for you and your body. Some people prefer NDT for its natural ingredients and complex composition, while others prefer Levothyroxine for its easier to find.

Both have their pros and cons that should be weighed out before making a decision. It's clear that NDT is preferred by many patients because it can ease hypothyroid symptoms effectively and offer more weight loss benefits. But ultimately, choosing the right medication comes down to individual preferences and needs.

If you're interested in NDT but can't find NP Thyroid in the market or your doctor won't prescribe it to you, you can buy desiccated thyroid online: VitaliThy. Thus, it's very easy to obtain. You no longer have to worry about going out of your way to finding it. All you have to do is log onto the internet and order it from the comfort of your own home. No hustle, no bustle - just sit back, relax, and get the medication you need.

Wojciech Majda
Wojciech Majda

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