Thyroid hormones play a vital role in regulating the body's metabolism, heart rate, and body temperature. When the thyroid gland does not produce enough hormones, a person may experience symptoms such as fatigue, weight gain, and cold intolerance. In such cases, thyroid hormone replacement therapy may be necessary to correct the hormonal imbalance.
There are two main types of thyroid hormone replacement medications: synthetic and natural.
Synthetic Thyroid Medication
Synthetic thyroid medications are made from compounds that are chemically similar to the thyroid hormones produced by the body. These medications are designed to closely mimic the effects of naturally produced hormones in the body. Examples of synthetic thyroid medications include levothyroxine (brand name Synthroid) and liothyronine (brand name Cytomel).
Natural Thyroid Medication
Natural thyroid medications, on the other hand, are derived from animal sources. They contain a mixture of thyroid hormones and other thyroid gland components, such as enzymes and proteins. Natural thyroid medications are sometimes referred to as "whole thyroid" or "desiccated thyroid." Examples of natural thyroid medications include Armour Thyroid and Nature-Throid.
Synthetic vs Natural Thyroid Medication
One main difference between synthetic and natural thyroid medications is the way they are metabolized in the body. Synthetic thyroid medications are absorbed and metabolized more consistently, which makes it easier to predict their effects and adjust the dosage as needed. Natural thyroid medications, on the other hand, may have more variable absorption and metabolism, making it more difficult to predict their effects and adjust the dosage.
Another difference is the availability of different dosages. Synthetic thyroid medications are usually available in a wider range of dosages, allowing for more precise dosing and easier titration (adjustment of dosage). Natural thyroid medications are often only available in a few fixed dosages, which may make it more difficult to achieve the correct dosage for an individual.
It's important to note that both synthetic and natural thyroid medications can be effective in treating thyroid hormone deficiency. The choice of medication will depend on the individual's specific needs and preferences, as well as the recommendation of their healthcare provider.