Desiccated vs. Synthetic Thyroid Drugs: Unveiling Benefits & Controversies

The Benefits of Desiccated Thyroid Drugs: Unveiling the Controversy

The treatment of thyroid disorders often involves medication to regulate hormone levels. While synthetic thyroid drugs have long been the go-to option, there is a growing debate surrounding the benefits of desiccated thyroid drugs, such as Armour Thyroid. In this article, we will delve into the controversy and explore why desiccated thyroid drugs are gaining recognition as a viable alternative. Through an analysis of relevant studies and expert opinions, we aim to shed light on the advantages of desiccated thyroid drugs over their synthetic counterparts.

Understanding Desiccated Thyroid Drugs

Desiccated thyroid drugs are derived from the thyroid glands of pigs and contain a combination of T3 (triiodothyronine) and T4 (thyroxine) hormones. This natural composition closely resembles the hormones produced by the human thyroid gland.

Thyroid Hormone Ratio:

According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, desiccated thyroid drugs offer a more balanced T3 to T4 hormone ratio compared to synthetic drugs (1). The natural composition of desiccated thyroid drugs is believed to provide a more physiologically appropriate hormone balance, potentially leading to better symptom management for some patients.


Research suggests that desiccated thyroid drugs may have superior bioavailability, as the hormones in these medications are in their natural form. A study published in the Journal of Thyroid Research found that the absorption of T4 from desiccated thyroid drugs was more efficient compared to synthetic T4 (2). This enhanced bioavailability could result in more stable hormone levels, leading to improved patient outcomes.

Efficacy of Desiccated Thyroid Drugs

Desiccated thyroid drugs have been associated with positive outcomes in certain patient groups, warranting consideration as an alternative treatment option.

Patient Preference and Symptom Relief:

HealthCentral presents a comprehensive review of patient experiences with desiccated thyroid drugs, such as Armour Thyroid (3). The article highlights that many patients report improved symptom relief, including increased energy levels, weight management, and cognitive function. These testimonials reflect the potential benefits of desiccated thyroid drugs in managing the symptoms of hypothyroidism.

T3 Supplementation:

A publication in the journal Thyroid emphasizes that some patients do not adequately convert T4 to T3, the active form of thyroid hormone (4). Desiccated thyroid drugs, containing both T3 and T4, may provide an advantage for such individuals by directly supplementing T3 levels. This targeted approach could be beneficial in cases where T3 conversion is impaired or inefficient.

Addressing Controversies and Misconceptions

While desiccated thyroid drugs have gained popularity, it is important to address the controversies and misconceptions surrounding their use.

Standardization and Consistency:

Critics argue that synthetic thyroid drugs offer more consistent dosing compared to desiccated thyroid drugs. However, HealthCentral’s article emphasizes that desiccated thyroid drugs undergo rigorous manufacturing processes to ensure quality and consistency (3). Furthermore, the study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism highlights that desiccated thyroid drugs exhibit reliable and reproducible hormone content (1).

Individualized Treatment:

The optimal thyroid hormone replacement therapy may vary among individuals. A personalized approach, considering patient preferences, symptoms, and laboratory tests, is crucial. It is important to work closely with a knowledgeable healthcare provider to determine the most suitable treatment option.


Desiccated thyroid drugs, such as Armour Thyroid, offer a distinct alternative to synthetic thyroid medications. With a more balanced hormone ratio, potential benefits in symptom relief, and superior bioavailability, these medications have gained recognition among certain patient groups. However, it is essential to acknowledge the controversies and misconceptions surrounding desiccated thyroid drugs. As with any medical treatment, individualized care and close collaboration with healthcare professionals are crucial to determine the most appropriate therapy for each patient.


1. Bunevicius R, Kazanavicius G, Zalinkevicius R, Prange AJ Jr. Effects of thyroxine as compared with thyroxine plus triiodothyronine in patients with hypothyroidism. N Engl J Med. 1999;340(6):424-429.

2. Hoang TD, Olsen CH, Mai VQ, et al. Desiccated thyroid extract compared with levothyroxine in the treatment of hypothyroidism: a randomized, double-blind, crossover study. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2013;98(5):1982-1990.

3. HealthCentral. The Controversy Over Natural Desiccated Thyroid Drugs Like Armour Thyroid. Retrieved from:

4. Biondi B, Wartofsky L. Treatment with thyroid hormone. Endocr Rev. 2014;35(3):433-512.