The thyroid is a small gland at the base of your neck that produces hormones to regulate your body's energy use. Hypothyroidism is the condition of your thyroid gland not being able to produce enough thyroid hormones. It is treatable in most people with thyroid hormone replacement medication and lifestyle modifications.
Read on to learn more about Armour, how it works, and how to get an Armour prescription online.
What is Armour® Thyroid?
The thyroid gland produces two hormones: thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). In a healthy thyroid gland, the inactive T4 hormone is released into circulation and then converted by the body into the active T3 hormone. Your thyroid gland produces up to 15 times more T4 than T3, and cells throughout your body then converts T4 to T3 for use. Traditionally, the treatment for hypothyroidism is to replace T4 alone. However, some people have difficulty converting T4 to T3.
Armour® Thyroid is the most common T4/T3 combination treatment. It is a brand-name of natural desiccated thyroid. Natural desiccated thyroid (NDT) is a natural preparation derived from the dried (desiccated) thyroid glands of pigs. Armour® Thyroid contains both T4 and T3. Pigs produce T4 to T3 at a 4:1 ratio, which is higher than the human proportion of 14:1. The hormones contained in this natural preparation are absorbed similarly to synthetic hormones.
Desiccated animal thyroid was the most common form of thyroid therapy before discovering the individual active thyroid hormones. This medication is not currently FDA-approved because there is no evidence that NDT has an advantage over synthetic T4. Some patients love Armour® Thyroid, while others feel better with an alternate option. As always, it's essential to work with your doctor to find the right treatment for you.
Fillers in Armour® include cornstarch.
Armour® Thyroid dosage and treatment
The tablets of Armour® Thyroid are round and light tan and come in eight different doses to fit each person's individual needs. Doses range from 1/4 grain to 5 grains, and each grain of Armour® Thyroid contains 38 mcg T4 and 9 mcg T3.
For Armour® Thyroid to work most effectively, you should take it exactly as prescribed by your doctor. It's best to store your Armour® tablets in a air-tight container at a temperature between 59°F and 86°F.
Does Armour® Thyroid work immediately?
Armour can take 2 to 3 weeks before you feel the full benefit. We recommend re-testing your thyroid levels after eight weeks if you start a new prescription or if you have a change in dose or medication.
Side effects of Armour® Thyroid
If you take Armour® Thyroid, see your doctor if you experience any of the following symptoms:
- Lack of or increased appetite
- Hot flashes
- Trouble sleeping
- Shallow breathing
- Rapid weight loss
- Cramps in your legs
- Rapid mood changes
- Muscle weakness
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
The side effects listed here are uncommon and may mean that your dose is too high. Talk to your doctor about adjusting your dosage.
Seek immediate medical attention if you take Armour® Thyroid and experience any of the following symptoms:
- Severe rash
- Chest pain or tightness
- Fast heartbeat
- Extreme anxiety
- Swelling of the limbs
You can also report side effects to the FDA at 1-800-FDA-1088.
Interactions with other medications
Armour® Thyroid medication may have adverse reactions with certain other medicines. If you and your doctor are considering r doctor is considering Armour® to treat your hypothyroidism, let them know about any prescription or nonprescription drugs or supplements that you take regularly.
Anticoagulants are medicines that help prevent blood clots. Taking thyroid hormones may impact vitamin K-dependent clotting factors. If you start on Armour® Thyroid, you may want to talk to your doctor about reducing your anticoagulant dosage.
Insulin or oral hypoglycemics
Insulin is a protein hormone used to treat high blood glucose found in certain types of diabetes. Similarly, oral hypoglycemic drugs help treat type 2 diabetes. Starting thyroid hormone replacement therapy may require adjustments in insulin or oral hypoglycemic requirements.
Cholestyramine or colestipol
Cholestyramine and Colestipol are medications used to lower high cholesterol levels in the blood that may bind to T4 and T3 in the intestine, which may impair these hormones' absorption. You should wait four to five hours between taking cholestyramine or colestipol and your thyroid hormone medication.
Estrogen or oral contraceptives
Estrogens may increase thyroxine-binding globulin (TBg), one of three transport proteins responsible for carrying the thyroid hormones in the bloodstream. Your doctor may need to adjust your thyroid dosage if you also take estrogens or estrogen-containing oral contraceptives.
Alternatives to Armour Thyroid
Natural desiccated thyroid has been available for more than a century as a treatment for hypothyroidism. Other natural desiccated thyroid drug brand names include:
- WP Thyroid
- NP Thyroid
There are also synthetic formulations of each thyroid hormone - known as levothyroxine (synthetic T4) and liothyronine (synthetic T3).
Can you get a prescription for Armour® online?
To legally get a prescription for medication, you first need to consult with a doctor. Then, your doctor can send the prescription to a pharmacy to fill.
Paloma Health offers virtual consultations with thyroid doctors. You meet with a doctor from your computer or smartphone to get a comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis, and prescription for medications like Armour®, if appropriate.