porcine vs bovine thyroid?

Has porcine thyroid been proven to be superior to bovine thyroid for the treatment of hypothyroidism in humans?

I am asking because I am about to give up. Last year, I spent around 800€ (ca 600 GBP) on prescription NDT (Erfa), and before that about the same amount on Armour...and I am not getting the results I expected.

I know there is Thai NDT, but I would hate to depend on deliveries from an Asian country and always worry about customs.

Unfortunately, only Armour and Erfa are available in Belgium.

I am seriously considering switching to bovine thyroid...just curious if there is any reason prescription NDT only uses porcine thyroid? Is it somehow closer to human thyroid?

34 Replies

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  • Pigs are biologically most similar to humans. That is why diabetics used to be treated with pig insulin, and replacement heart valves come from pigs, and some skin grafts.

    That's not to say you won't get on with bovine, but that's why pigs are used mainly for human treatment.

  • I see. What you say makes a lot of sense; otherwise, I guess cows would have been used instead...

  • theCat346, there is no 'best' medication for everyone. People respond differently so what is best for you may not be any good for me. Does the bovine NDT you are considering declare how much T4 and T3 is in it?

  • No, as it is sold a supplement.

  • thecat346, you might need so much of the supplement that it will be cheaper to buy Erfa or Armour.

  • True...:-(

  • I contacted a NZ company yesterday, who would/could not tell me how much T3 & T4 is in their supplement.

    I've only taken two NDTs, & found WP fantastic, but Thyro-Gold made me feel really ill. Then there's the fillers to consider, as well as the origin, if people have allergies.

    M

  • When on either did you follow the procedure of taking a dose equivalent to your previous levo, then increasing the dose every 2 weeks till you felt much better. Some increase by 1/2 grain and others 1/4 - then if you get unpleasant symptoms you drop back to the previous dose.

  • Yes, more or less. I was on 200 mcg of T4 daily when I was put on NDT in late 2011. I decreased levo by 25 mcg every week, and added 30 mg of NDT at the same time, until I had found the right dosage for me and weaned off T4 completely. Back then, I was on Armour, and did fine on it (I ended up on 5 grains daily) for six months. Then, I started going downhill. I switched to Erfa (the only other NDT available in Belgium) and did OK on it, but not as great as many others. The fact is that I did better on Armour for the first six months than I have done on Erfa since...but I have been unable to repeat that success with Armour since. Plus, it is now terribly expensive, and I am not willing to pay that much for something that is not working properly.

    My labs on the bad Armour showed FT3 levels identical to those I had on T4 only (2.9; ref 2.7-4.2) 24 hours after taking meds. On Erfa, at least, FT3 levels have been close to the upper normal range, even 24 hours after taking it.

    I find Erfa very inconsistent, though; 125 mg pills seem to work less well than (most) 30 and 60 mg pills.

    When it comes to Thai NDT, I have found one intra-community supplier of Thyroid-S. Unfortunately, I do much better on Thiroyd, but it seems impossible to order it from any other country than Thailand...I have already had one shipment confiscated by customs, and could not live like that; that is, depending on a drug that I may or may not receive...

    That is why I have been looking into bovine NDT as an alternative...

  • I will try to see if I can find any info that helps.

  • Erfa changed their mfg facilities to Spain last year and complaints about the 'new' Erfa have come rolling in. The appearance and the coating of the tabs is different. That being said, some report doing just fine on the 'new' Erfa and the Canadian Ministry says nothing has changed. Here is a link to the posts of some users regarding their experiences with Erfa now. One interesting post is by Mike... scroll to the bottom of the page.

    stopthethyroidmadness.com/2...

    He says he went hypo on the new tabs but tried crushing his Erfa dosage into a fine, fine powder and then putting that powder into an empty gelatin capsule and taking that. He said that this resolved his hypo symptoms. Maybe you can try Mike's system before you give up on Erfa all together?

  • Interesting! That reminds me of how STTM recommended reformulated Armour be crushed/chewed before swallowing. But is it necessary to put the powder into a gelatin capsule, or is it the crushing itself that resolves the problem (for instance hard coating)?

    Where would one find empty gelatin capsules...?

    Everyone I have read about who felt suboptimal on "new" Erfa nevertheless reports having "normal" labs. I do too. On reformulated Armour, however, my FT3 levels were suboptimal. That suggests to me that Erfa was not reformulated, but that something in the mfg process changed and this in turn affected the way the body absorbs the new pills. We seem to have normal, even optimal FTs, yet feel more or less hypo...

  • I buy empty capsule from G Baldwin & Son - you can find them on the web - but there is bound to be an EU company who does them

  • OK, thanks. In your (or anyone else's) opinion, is there any advantage to crushing the pills and put in a gelatin capsules, as opposed to simply crushing them with your teeth before swallowing?

  • Here in the US, empty gel caps can be had on Vitacost or Swansons or Amazon websites. Here is an link to Amazon UK for empty gel caps.

    amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss...

    I don't know if the UK has supplement shops/stores like we have The Vitamin Shoppe and GNC but if so, that might be a good place to ck for empty gel caps also.

    Also in the US, many of us take our NDT sublingually (chewed/dissolved in the mouth) and in split doses throughout the day.

    I think it is the crushing itself that breaks down the coating or the tremendous pressure that is apparently used during the new mfg process. I don't know about using the gel caps but it makes sense if you want to duplicate the intent of the mfg for the meds to make it to the stomach and GI tract and be absorbed there rather than partially in the mouth etc.

    Remember, years ago before the invention of the cursed TSH test, doctors treated hypo thyroid by body temps, heart rate and symptoms... how the patient was feeling? So, in spite of good labs, how are users feeling on their thyroid meds? Labs will be sending one message and symptoms another, right?

    I had just stocked up on Erfa when all this mfg mess started and sure enough, I got the 'new' stock. I hate to waste them and can't wait to try this new method to see if I can salvage my Erfa.

    I think your theory is valid and confirms what Canada says about the ingredients of the new Erfa not being different from the 'old' Erfa.

  • OK, thank you! I followed the link to Amazon UK, and those self-fill capsules are very inexpensive (ca 3 GBP for 100 capsules). I saw that not only can you buy empty capsules, but also filling devices (recommended by other users on Amazon). Could anyone please tell me which capsule size you use for NDT? I find it rather confusing, as size 4 seems to be the second smallest capsule...

  • I don't think anyone uses the empty gel caps for NDT except this fellow and his experiment with powdering his Erfa. Here in the US size 00 and 0 are the most popular sizes. They are plenty big in order to be filled by a few Erfa tabs.

    I often buy herbs/supplements in bulk and have to use gel caps with them. The filling devices are a royal pain but if you were filling up a lot of gel caps, I would recommend them.

    All you need do is crush your Erfa tabs, one dose at a time, pour out on a clean square of paper. You can use the large end of the gel cap to scoop up the powder or crease the paper half way and use the crease like a funnel to pour the powder into the large end of the gel cap. That method can get problematic since you have to be careful and keep 'tapping' the paper/powder to keep the powder moving along and filling the cap. This is when a third hand would come in handy. lol

    You might try putting the crushed powder into a small Ziploc sandwich bag. Then use the large end of the gel cap as a scoop inside the bag, again, maneuvering the bag/powder with one hand and scooping with the other. The baggie will at least keep the powder contained.

    If you try powdering your Erfa and it works for you in this form, it wouldn't be too hard to sit down for a few minutes every week or so and work up a week or two's worth of dosages at a time.

  • Thank you! I am still not convinced this method makes the pills absorb better (after all, many take their NDT sublingually and find it works best that way), but it's good to know that it exists. I guess I should try to apply your method before investing in a filling device...'

    I wonder if anyone else has tried to take Erfa like this?

    When the price of Armour literally doubled overnight, a pharmacy in Belgium started offering capsules in various strengths made from 5 grain pills to keep cost down. I don't know if Armour works better that way; some say crushing the pills will break down cellulose and allow for better absorption. However, cellulose is not the problem with Erfa, and it tastes quite sweet and nice actually, so if swallowing the pills works just as well, I would not mind simply crushing them with my teeth before swallowing...to me, the capsule solution would only be a last resort.

  • I totally get where you are coming from and I wish I had some easy answers for you. I got the 'new' Erfa last year or year before last.. don't remember. I have taken my NDT sublingually for years and years in divided doses.

    A few days into using my 'new' Erfa (I had no idea anything had changed at the time), I became dizzy and llight-headed... very woozy. Not like me at all. I had some of the original Erfa left over in a few bottles around the house and when I took those instead of the new ones, no more dizziness or light-headedness. That's when I went searching to see if something was going on. So. by all means, try chewing them/letting them dissolve. You may have better luck than I did taking them sublingually.

  • PS. You've probably already answered this...sorry for being forgetful:-( But I wanted to ask you what you are currently taking for your thyroid? Still on Erfa? Or have you found a workable replacement? Once again, sorry if you have already mentioned this...!

  • Well, I tried the Thailand brands but they made me as dizzy as the 'new' Erfa after a few days. So, tried Naturethroid, no dizziness but just didn't quite cut it so tried NP and then WP. Loved them both but the WP was more available so ended up on that brand and have been on it for a year or more now.

  • By the way, if you have some supplements around the house that are in capsules (like some probiotics or herbs) you can dump out the contents of a few and try the powdered Erfa in them. That will be a chance for you to try a few doses maybe before investing in some empty caps that you may never use?

  • Good idea, thanks!:-)

  • There is one thing I have been wondering in this context:

    When Armour was reformulated, many patients started feeling hypothyroid, and that could also been seen in labs. Same for me: my FT3 levels on 5 grains of Armour daily were the same as on T4 drugs only (bottom of range). So my labs matched my symptoms = under-medicated.

    However, on Erfa, many patients say that their labs look fine; yet, they feel sub-optimally treated. Unfortunately, no matter how unconventional your doctor is, it's not likely s/he will agree you are under-medicated if your labs look just fine...

    This is why I'd like to know from as many patients on "new" Erfa as possible: have you felt like you were not doing as well as before, only to have labs indicate you were optimally treated...?

    I guess what I really mean is: how do you know if you are not optimally treated, if you labs look just fine?! To me, having lived through the Armour "débâcle", this is an interesting and relevant question, as FT levels changed drastically on reformulated Armour (as compared to "old" Armour). But if Erfa was not really reformulated, and nothing in my labs suggests that there is a problem, then how do I know there is...?!

    I hope this question is clear enough, although my mind is not:-(

  • Forgive me if I am repeating myself but .. remember years ago before the TSH test, doctors treated hypo patients by their body temp, heart rate, bp and symptoms. Blood tests and labs are good but... so many patients have 'normal' labs but that doesn't mean that they are being treated 'optimally'. The cherry on top or finding one's sweet spot is when body temps, heart rate etc are all normal and NO hypo symptoms regardless of what labs tell us.

    I do agree that it is a strange anomaly that labs aren't reflecting what patients are feeling with the 'new' Erfa unlike users' experience with the reformulated Armour years back. Good observation and I don't know that there are any absolutes here.

    My only suggestion would be for folks to track their dosages, how they are feeling each day and to track body temp and heart rate. Those don't lie. If temp stays down and there are other hypo symptoms, try raising by small amts (1/4 grain maybe) each two weeks or so and see how the raises effect symptoms/heart rate/body temp. It is a shame we have to be our own test subjects. If temps/heart rates creep up and any hyper symptoms manifest, just stop raising and/or drop back to a previous lower dosage where you were doing well.

    Of course, we should always be sure our B 12, iron , D3 etc are within mid-high ranges. They can have profound impacts on how we metabolize thyroid meds. Oh.... and selenium is always a winner since it is so protective of the thyroid gland (no more than 200 - 400 mcgs per day).

  • thecat346 - I have my own theory about this... I feel in my heart that the pills contain synthetic thyroid now. This would explain perfectly what you and I have both noticed. Hypo symptoms with good blood levels. Or in some cases high T3 with low T4. Most people DON'T do well on sythetic thyroid because it just is not what the body can use, but when it is taken it still circulates in the blood and shows up on the blood tests (that ironically were created by the same people who created sythetic thyroid) giving the illusion of normalcy . I really believe they have duped us with their synthetic pathetic poison. Years ago when I was foolish enough to try synthroid I felt the same way I do now on the so called NDT from ERFA, Armour, Naturethroid, WP, and TR man. It seems the obvious giveaway to the sham is the "strong characteristic NDT odor" has mysteriously disappeared from one brand after the other with the onset of the same hypo symptoms most get when they take synthetic hormone. No porcine odor = no porcine hormone in the pills... considering the pig shortages worldwide - makes one wonder??? Who knows where to test the pills?

  • Interesting theory...I have to admit not one single brand of NDT I have tried has had that characteristic smell the STTM talks about...you are even supposed to cringe when you open the bottle and it feels like you are entering a pigsty...I have never been even close to experiencing that.

    Most brands (Thai NDT excluded) are outrageously expensive, though...

    Lately, I have been seriously considering going back on synthetic T3 + T4, and maybe add some thyroid glandular supplement such as Nutri-Meds. I could easily get my doctor to prescribe T4, and then buy T3 online myself, but my doctor would object to my suppressed TSH and claim I was overmedicated on T4, possibly even tell me to go off it. So, I'd prefer to order T4 online as well. I contacted a well-known source of synthetic T3 and asked them if they sell T4 as well, and they said they can easily order that for me. They said the reason they don't carry T4 is because it's available in 13 different strengths, and it would be impossible to carry them all.

    Unlike many others, I seem to require T4 as well, even though I don't seem to convert it very well...doesn't make sense to me, but I tried T3 only once, and felt horrible within a week or so. Some thrive on T3 only, I don't. But I need T3 along with T4, as I don't convert enough T4 to T3.

    I have all but given up on NDT...even if Thyroid-S is by far the best brand of NDT I've tried so far, I still need 8 grains daily...and another raise cannot be excluded. I took Thiroyd for a few months back in 2012 and did great on 5 grains daily (confirmed by labs which showed mid-range T4 and FT3 close to the upper normal range), so I naturally chose Thiroyd the next time I wanted Thai NDT...only, this time, it did not work nearly as well. This time, on 5 grains daily, both my FTs were at the very bottom of range, which explained why I still felt hypo on a dose which I previously thrived on...to me, the labs don't lie. Every time I feel crappy, my FTs are below mid-range. Every time I feel great, my FT3 levels are close to the upper normal range, and my FT4 levels mid-range or slightly higher.

  • I was going to go on bovine NDT but my family said not to because of BST so to keep them quiet I chose to go on Porcine. That's all I know about it!

  • Which brand? The only porcine adrenal products I know of are Adrenotrophic and Nutrimeds. Are there others; there seems to be hundreds of products using bovine adrenal, but very few using porcine adrenal...

  • Most if not all brands containing bovine thyroid or adrenal glandular (all available OTC as far as I know) use thyroid from New Zealand livestock. NZ has never had a single case of BSE, as their laws are among the strictest in the worlds in this area and all cows are grass-fed, not fed bone meal and whatever else they were giving cows here in Europe back in the 80s and 90s...cows are herbivore and should not eat meat, that goes without saying. Now, there is an EU-wide ban on bone meal (thank God), and BSE is all but eradicated in Europe, but products containing thyroid or adrenal glandular from NZ cows have always been safe.

  • Some mention Argentina as well, as a bovine source.

  • In the 1890s when desiccated thyroid was first being prepared one of the issues (and I posted elsewhere about this very recently) was that bovine and ovine thyroid hormone levels vary very much more through the seasons than do porcine.

    That was one of the reasons for standardisation on porcine.

    If the company measures thyroid hormone levels and blends/dilutes to achieve consistency, then fine. But if they don't properly measure thyroid hormone levels, who knows how they will vary? Trouble is, if they won't tell us how much is present, we cannot be sure what they are doing. Mind, I get the distinct impression that Thyro-Gold is carefully controlled.

  • I just found this interesting article:

    csrf.net/doctors-answers/st...

    It recommends taking long-acting steroid drugs at night, so that you have optimal cortisone levels in the morning. During all the time I have been on Medrol (a little more than four years...probably too long as I don't have Addison's, "only" adrenal fatigue...), I have taken it in the morning...maybe it would have worked much better if I had taken it at night...?!

  • Hi I had a TT last year and had never before had any thyroid problems. I live in France and was given synthetic medications which after 6 months was making me ill. Pains everywhere weight gains etc. etc. I decided to order Thyroid S from Thailand. It took 2 weeks to arrive and cost £75 for 1000 pills. So far I have been taking it for 2 months. Already I have lost 7lbs in weight have no pain but still feel fatigued. I have yet to tweek the dosage at this time I am on 3 grains per day and will increase by half and wait to see the results. I am 70 years old and have always been fit and healthy. I hope this helps.

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