porcine vs bovine thyroid

I have always believed what I have read so many times; that is, that porcine thyroid tissue more close resembles that of humans', and that is the reason porcine thyroid powder is used in prescription NDT rather than bovine (or ovine, for that matter, if that has ever existed).

However, I find this information (published on Nutri-Med's website) interesting:


Also, OTC product Isocort for adrenal fatigue (still missed by many), contained ovine adrenal cortex, did it not...?

Maybe some people actually do better on bovine thyroid and adrenal than porcine...just a thought.

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One of the significant reasons for the main suppliers choosing porcine rather than bovine or ovine (yes - the very earliest use of thyroid tissue did use sheep) is seaonaolity. Pigs tend to have much more stable and even levels of thyroid hormone through the year, whereas both cattle and sheep tend to a clear annual cycle - as they also tend to only bear young once a year.

Massive changes to how we can assay the potency, and our ability to store, manage and blend the desiccated thyroid might have made this much less an issue. Unfortunately we have very little knowledge or understanding of the company (or is that companies?) that make the basic powdered thyroid.

Do you happen to know when that was written by Nutri-Meds?

Sorry, no, it's not dated.

Interesting what you say about pigs providing more stable levels of thyroid hormone throughout the year; I never knew that but, from what you say, it does make a lot of sense...

If you are interested, there was a thread a couple of years ago - am fairly sure this issue was discussed and there might even be links.


Thanks a lot, yes, I am definitely interested, as I have about had it with the limited availability of NDT drugs in Belgium - currently, only Armour and Erfa, and the former has tripled in price but not in effectiveness, it would seem - and Thyro-Gold is available as an OTC, and seems very strong compared to other brands. Nutri-Meds makes very good products, but I think one capsule of their porcine thyroid equals 1/4 or 15 mg of prescription NDT, which would require me to take a lot...not impossible, but maybe not so practical either in the long run...

I think, too, that some people may have a religious reason for not using porcine NDT. Therefore, thyro-gold would be able to avoid a problem being made with New Zealand grass-fed cows.

Thyro-gold was developed by Dr Lowe before his death so that people could source NDT without a prescription. Yes, I believe it is slightly stronger, so a lesser dose may be required.

I have never really understood how it came to pass that thyroid support products (like Nutri-med) purporting to contain whole desiccated thyroid tissue can be sold over the counter, so to speak, yet NDT needs a subscription. Nutri-med are quite keen to point out that their bovine products are from grass-fed animals containing no antibiotics or growth hormones, which to me is quite an attractive statement. Who knows where the pigs come from in our NDT, how they are fed or treated. Or, am I being naïve?

I have been taking Thiroyd for about 2 years now and its fine, but I am not overly keen on 2 of the fillers, i.e. PVP K30 and PVP K90, which as far as I can ascertain is some sort of polyvinyl filler also used in the cosmetic industry.

That is another reason I have been considering bovine NDT, especially Thyro-Gold. I emailed the Tammy Lowe who makes the product, and she said the main reason they chose bovine thyroid over porcine is because they get their raw material from New Zealand, and therefore can guarantee that it is GMO- and disease-free. Also a very attractive argument, IMHO...!

I have also come to question the fillers in Thai NDT. I currently take Thyroid-S, which contains 18 or 19 fillers...including, but not limited to, aluminium...how healthy can it be in the long run to eat that stuff, day in and day out...?!

I read that Metavive (the product that has replaced Nutri-Meds in Europe) contains thyroid extract from pigs reared in the UK...not sure what kind of standards are applicable in the UK, but I know that most pigs in the US (where Armour and most other brands of prescription NDT are manufactured), are fed corn and soy, both containing GMO, and God knows what else...

Very interesting information, thanks. Thiroyd (according to SSTM) has 9 fillers (including the 2 PVP's) but no aluminium which is why I went for it in the first place. But....I have no idea how up to date that is, not sure manufacturers are necessarily going to inform you if they change anything.

I am not sure about pigs from the UK, they are fed on home grown and imported pellets and the by-products from the food and brewing industry!!

I hadn't considered OTC thyroid meds but I am certainly going to look into it now and may even give it a try.

For the north American products, it is quite clearly stated (though I cannot immediately provide a link) that the pigs come from the ordinary food chain animals. Given that the Armour company was originally a meat-packing organisation and saw thyroid glands as a waste product, that is hardly a surprise. (They also handled vast numbers of cattle. Don't know about sheep.)

I have no idea about Thai products. I do not know where Erfa get theirs from but I am pretty sure it is European sources - maybe Denmark?

Sometimes, it's easy to think that products not manufactured in our part of the world are inferior when it comes to quality and product safety...I have tried to be open-minded about this, but the very long list of fillers in Thyroid-S makes you wonder if they are really all necessary (from STTM website)...the most natural ingredient seems to be the pig itself...!

Thyroid extract USP

Lactose (a milk sugar and is a filler)

PVP K90 (Polyvinylpyrolidone; water soluble coating/binder; no known hazard)

Avicel (microcrystalline cellulose; holds product together)

Aerosil (silicic acid powder; help disperse the ingredients)

Sodium starch glycolate (helps dissolute/disintegrate the pill)

Magnesium stearate (filling agent)

Eudragit (a common sustain-released coating)

Methocel (a water soluble cellulose — helps bind pill)

Talcum (a filler)

Ponceau 4r lake (red additive-aluminum)

Tartrazine lake (yellow additive-aluminum)

Brilliant blue FCF lake (blue additive-aluminum)

Sunset yellow FCF (yellow additive)

Titanium dioxide (white)

PEG 6000 (water soluble polymer; binder)

Dimethicone solution (Thanks to Ruth-Ann for obtaining the ingredients list above; descriptions added)

On 8-2009, received an email from a US Doctor who received the following list after emailing Sriprasit:

Fillers used: Corn starch, actose, Avicel (microcrystalline cellulose; MCC); Binders used: PVP K-90 (Polyvinylpyrrolidone); Preservatives used: Methyl paraben, Propyl paraben; Content in one tablet (60 mg thyroid extract): approximately 38 mcg Levothyroxine (T4) and 9 mcg Liothyronine (T3); Source of extract: Porcine

Oh my goodness, that's a long list! No idea why they find it necessary to add colours, what's wrong with the natural colour of the product. You seem to have some of the PVP's in there as well. Thiroyd are not coated, so perhaps these extra fillers are for the coating?

We also have little idea of the accuracy of these lists. Only when the manufacturers publish this information themselves (or, perhaps, via the proxy of the Thai equivalent of the Electronic Medicines Compendium) will be ever have a definitive ingredient list.

Good point Helvella, most products will have ingredients on the container/packet. I had a look on the Thiroyd packet and there is absolutely nothing on there. Are the ingredients listed on other NDT products (Thiroyd is the only one I have taken)?

Erfa, Nature-Throid, WP Thyroid, NP Acella Thyroid - all do and they are readily available on-line. (Have I missed any?)

It is the three Thai products which do not.

Very likely it is the culture and legal framework of the country but it is deeply unsatisfactory.

Amen to that helvella, unsatisfactory and worrying. Me thinks I should be looking elsewhere but the thought of trying to get a prescription from my doctor fills me with horror!!

I couldn't agree more! I think that these products are sold OTC in Thailand as well, but find it hard to understand why people seem to accept that the ingredients are not listed...but, as you say, it's most likely due to different cultures. Plus, it does not seem the STTM has found anything to be particularly critical about, which they should have by now if anything was seriously wrong, as these products have been discussed in various European and US forums for the past four or five years...

Good morning helvella, when you said the above were readily available on-line, is that with, or without, a prescription? I rather like the sound of the WP Thyroid and wondered if there was any chance of getting hold of it without a prescription.



I don't buy any desiccated thyroid at all so am very much not the best person to answer! Having said that, WP Thyroid can be obtained without prescription - and I hope anyone reading this will let you know, by private message, of any good sources.

Many thanks helvella


If anyone answers you can you please share with me where to buy???

Hello deceived, no-one picked up on the comment so I didn't get any replies. However, I was just about to post a request for information about WP Throid as the Thai supplier I currently have for Thiroyd seems like they may run into future problems with their postal system.

I will certainly share any information I receive.

if Jewish, you can't take porcine; if Hindu, you can't take bovine. So perhaps we should try sheep.

From what I have read, the issues surrounding Jewishness and Armour Thyroid (or the other desiccated thyroid products) are somewhat more nuanced than "can't take".

My take from reading is:

Reform doesn't keep Kosher so it is a non-issue;

At least some Orthodox put the test as "If this is the only thing that is keeping someone alive or their mind working, then it can be OK". Even then, sub-lingual would not be allowed - it would be necessary to swallow whole;

Ironically, injections of pork insulin are acceptable because they are not eaten and there is no prohibition on things that are injected.

The Jewish religion seems remarkably adept at coming to pragmatic answers to many issues.

If anyone is unsure, consult your rabbi seems the sensible approach.

If I have stepped on the toes of anyone in posting this summary, accept my apologies. Post your corrections in response.

I know nothing about the views of Hindus with respect to bovine-sourced thyroid medicines.

For the Islamic view, you might find this of interest:

Salam everyone. My mother has to take a thyroid pill and today she found it contained desiccated thyroid (porcine) which is basically pig. The funny thing is that her doctor is a muslim and he prescribed this to her. Would be halal for her to continue to take it?


There are many other, often conflicting, views.

Not all of us are Reform, and many Reform households observer kashrut. And NDT is sort of edible, but generally we have fewer problems with animal derived drugs than Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus do (although most of them allow the use if there is no alternative).

That may be but there is still a risk with bovine thyroxine that is just not there with porcine thyroxine.

Sorry, what risk are you referring to...?

Bovine is still thought of as a risk such as soft bits are still avoided, offal and thyroids are soft bits.

Interesting, I had no idea...

Isn't that only where cows were forced be to cannibals (or at least carnivorous) and therefore subject to BSE?

To be honest, I always believed (and still believe, until proven otherwise) that is the reason you should choose bovine thyroid, adrenal etc from grass-fed cows in New Zealand and Argentina, where no pesticides and antibiotics are used, and they can guarantee that the products are BSE- and disease-free. I personally find it hard to believe that Dr. Lowe would have chosen to formulate a bovine thyroid product if it was not known to work optimally...he seemed very knowledgeable about these things.

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