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Dr. David
Dr. David, Doctor (MD)
Category: Oncology
Satisfied Customers: 48711
Experience:  Board Certified Oncologist
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I am 65. After a routine blood test a couple of years ago

Customer Question

I am 65. After a routine blood test a couple of years ago was informed that I had an underactive thyroid. Was initially prescribed 25 micrograms levothyroxine then later 50 mgs.
I did not have ANY symptoms when first told I had this condition!
I now have hair loss and all my nails are split.
In "What the doctors dont tell you" I read that a lady had the same side effects from taking thyroxine. A hormone specialist explained to her that levothyroxine was delivering inactive thyroxine (T4) which the body has to convert into active T3. However her body was unable to do this so the standard therapy was useless. She was prescribed 60 mg of natural thyroid extract, Armour Thyroid USP which contains active ingredients of all forms of thyroxine the body needs After only nine days she noticed the improvement.
Now I dont have all her symptoms but would like your comment on hair loss and damaged nails.
Apparently endocrinologists seem to be unaware of any alternative to drugs. 50 yrs ago natural thyroid extract had been the only way to to treat this condition then in the mid-1970's the dreaded drugs industry developed their synthetic version which became standard therapy.
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: Oncology
Expert:  Dr. David replied 4 years ago.
This is Dr. David

I am sorry you are having these symptoms.

when taking any dose of levothyroxine, you need to have your thyroid levels monitored.

have you had your TSH levels checked recently? it very well be that you could be taking too high of a dose of levothyroxine and that your TSH levels would be very low, and that you migth need to change your dose.

hair loss can come from too high or too low thyroid hormone levels but it can also come from low B12 levels, low iron levels, low magnesium levels. these all need to be checked to be sure.

splittin of your nails can come from lack of protein in your diet. are you eating protein regularly? sometimes taking in extra collagen protein in jello and eating more egg whites can help strengthen your nails as well.

the old natural dessicated Armour thyroid extract does contain T4 and T3, but the amount of thyroid hormone per dose is quite variable. and so that is why most doctors today don't use armour for their patients.

you can read more about dessicated thyroid hormone here

"So why do I and most other endocrinologists refuse to use desiccated thyroid? There are a number of reasons. First and foremost, desiccated thyroid preparations have an unacceptable level of variability batch to batch, often resulting in unacceptable variation in thyroid-stimulating hormone. The current USP standards specify that the amounts of levothyroxine and liothyronine in each 65 mg of desiccated thyroid should be 38 mcg and 9 mcg; however, the actual amounts vary considerably."

let me know if you have questions.
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Thank you for your response. I have a good diet and take supplements. The hair loss and nail weakness started after taking thyroxine which I didnt even know I needed until I had a blood test. Had a blood test in hospital recently (attending for something else) and the consultant said levels were fine. I read that "Armour's contents are standardised and tested by four US labs whuch found that it was well within the safety specs laid down by the US Pharacopeia. In a TPA survey 1,500 hypothyroid patients, 78 per cent said they were not being helped by levothyroxine, which suggests the drug is not effective for the majority of the 250,000 Britons annual diagnosed with the condition."

Expert:  Dr. David replied 4 years ago.
I would be very skeptical of those statistics. it sounds like the writers of that are trying to sell armour.

I am on thyroxine myself for my hypothyroidism. 112mcg of it every day and am very happy with the drug.

you need to find the actual TSH level which was found on your test. many laboratories say normal TSH is between 0.5 and 5.0. there are new guidelines out by the american association of clinical endocrinologist here in the USA that suggest that TSH levels really should be between 0.3 and 3.0 and that anything above 3.0 could mean you are still hypothyroid. and so your doctors might be seeing a TSH level of say 4.6 and say you are fine where in fact, you actually are hypothyroid and need higher doses of thyroxine.

does this make sense?