Many people with thyroid problems are prescribed Synthroid, a synthetic thyroid hormone that helps balance low hormone levels. Synthroid can be helpful for some, but there’s nothing wrong with looking for more natural options to help balance your thyroid hormones. Luckily, there are several natural treatment options to choose from.
The thyroid, which functions as an endocrine gland, is a small, butterfly-shaped organ located in the neck. It sits just below the larynx and produces thyroid hormones. These hormones regulate important body systems, such as heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and metabolism (the process by which the body converts food into energy).
In addition, the thyroid produces hormones that regulate growth, development, and reproductive health. But that's not all — these hormones also have an influence on the body's ability to produce important proteins, maintain healthy cells and tissue, and build bone density.
Needless to say, the thyroid is pretty important!
The thyroid gland produces two crucial hormones — triiodothyronine (T3) and thyroxine, also called tetraiodothyronine (T4). T3 is the active hormone that directly influences the function of the body's cells.
On the other hand, T4 serves as a reservoir, which the body can convert into T3 as and when required. Both hormones are necessary for proper body functioning. In fact, if the levels of T3 and T4 become unbalanced, it can lead to a range of issues.
These can include:
While not a thyroid hormone, thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH) is another important hormone for thyroid health. This pituitary hormone helps keep the thyroid running and lets it know when the body needs more T3 or T4.
Several things can go wrong with the thyroid gland. The most common issues include hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid), hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid), and goiter (enlarged thyroid). Each of these conditions can cause the levels of T3 and T4 to become imbalanced, leading to a variety of unpleasant symptoms.
Although not as common as hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, other thyroid problems include:
If left untreated, these medical conditions can lead to further health problems, so it's important to see a healthcare provider as soon as possible if you think you may have one of these conditions.
Synthroid (aka levothyroxine) is a synthetic thyroid hormone replacement used to treat low thyroid hormones in hypothyroid patients. It's designed to replace or supplement the hormones that the thyroid gland is unable to produce on its own.
Synthroid is specifically formulated to mimic the effects of thyroxine (T4), one of the two primary thyroid hormones. While this prescription drug may help alleviate some symptoms of hypothyroidism, it does not address the root causes of the condition.
Many patients on Synthroid continue to experience symptoms despite taking their medication consistently. This is often due to the fact that Synthroid only provides T4, and some individuals may have difficulty converting T4 to the active thyroid hormone, triiodothyronine (T3).
Additionally, some patients may experience unpleasant side effects from Synthroid, which can include digestive issues, hair loss, and heart palpitations. As a result, many are exploring natural thyroid medications as an alternative.
Now that you're up to speed, let's look at some of the natural alternatives to Synthroid.
Hormone replacement therapy, or HRT, is one of the best alternatives to Synthroid. HRT involves taking a combination of hormones — including T4 and T3 — to replace the hormones your body is unable to produce on its own. HRT can help improve symptoms of hypothyroidism and has been shown to be an effective treatment in many cases.
A Thrivelab provider can help determine if you have a hormonal imbalance by taking a deep dive into your symptoms, medical history, and more.
Nature-Throid is another option for those looking for a natural thyroid medication alternative. Like Armour Thyroid, Nature-Throid is made from desiccated porcine thyroid glands but only includes T4 hormone.
Some people prefer Nature-Throid because it's gluten-free and contains fewer added ingredients compared to other thyroid medications. Nature-Throid is also an alternative for those who may not tolerate synthetic hormones found in traditional medications.
Selenomethionine is a natural thyroid supplement that contains selenium, an essential mineral that helps to support thyroid function. Studies have shown that individuals with hypothyroidism tend to have lower levels of selenium in their bodies.
By taking selenomethionine, you may be able to support your body's natural thyroid function and alleviate symptoms of hypothyroidism. Talk to your doctor to see if this supplement might be right for you.
Armour Thyroid is a natural desiccated thyroid supplement made from the dried thyroid glands of pigs. It contains both T4 and T3 hormones that are similar to the hormones naturally produced in the human thyroid gland.
There is evidence that Armour Thyroid may help alleviate symptoms of hypothyroidism in some people, but it's important to note that not everyone will respond to Armour Thyroid in the same way. Talk with your doctor about whether this supplement might be a good treatment option for you.
Note: Unlike levothyroxine, desiccated thyroid medications —like Armour Thyroid — aren’t approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This is because desiccated thyroid extracts vary from batch to batch, and it’s difficult to ensure that each dose will contain the same amount of medication.
If you're considering taking Armour Thyroid, work with an endocrinologist who can monitor your thyroid hormone levels and adjust your dosage as needed.
Iodine is an essential trace mineral that your body needs to produce thyroid hormones. Taking iodine supplements can help to restore levels of iodine in the body and promote normal thyroid function.
It's important to note that taking too much iodine can actually be harmful, so it's best to seek medical advice before beginning an iodine supplement. They can help determine the right dosage for you and monitor your progress to ensure that your thyroid hormones remain balanced.
It’s also worth noting that supplementing with iodine alone may not be enough to support your thyroid. If you have a confirmed thyroid condition, talk to your doctor before starting iodine supplements.
If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, it’s important to see your doctor before beginning self-treatment of hypothyroidism. Many supplements and alternative medications are not FDA-approved, so it’s important to consult with a qualified health professional who can help you find a high-quality supplement that will meet your needs.
Maintaining good thyroid health is important, regardless of whether or not you take a supplement. Here are a few tips to help support your thyroid naturally.
Eating a nutrient-rich diet is key to supporting your thyroid health. Foods like seafood, leafy greens, nuts, and seeds are all excellent sources of iodine, calcium, and other essential minerals.
Be aware of goitrogens, such as those found in soy and some cruciferous vegetables (like cauliflower, cabbage, kale, and broccoli), as these can interfere with thyroid function if consumed in excess. If you do eat these foods, cooking them can help destroy the goitrogens and support your thyroid.
Exercise is another important part of supporting your thyroid health naturally. Regular physical activity can help reduce stress and can help support the efficiency of your thyroid hormones. It’s generally recommended to aim for 30 minutes or more of moderate physical activity on most days of the week.
Getting enough quality sleep on a regular basis is essential for supporting thyroid health. Without sufficient rest, your body might not be able to produce the hormones it needs to function at its best.
As a result, your thyroid may become overworked, sluggish, or unresponsive. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine and aim for the generally recommended seven to nine hours of restful sleep every night.
If you're looking for natural thyroid treatment options, there are a number of natural supplements and medications available that may be able to help. Talk to a hormone health expert at Thrivelab about which option is best for you, and make sure to incorporate the tips above into your daily routine.
With the right combination of lifestyle changes, supplements, and medications, you can help restore your thyroid health and get back to feeling your best.
Not sure where to start? Thrivelab offers personalized health plans to help support your individual needs, and our expert team of medical professionals are here to help you every step of the way. Let us help you take back your health.