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    Old 05-19-2006, 01:24 PM   #1
    MCKMN
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    Question Is Armour a better choice

    for treatment, I see Armour mentioned alot, during alot of my searches. Alot of PPL seem to dislike Synthroid, and swear by Armour. So is it a better choice for treatment, and if so, Why are Endo's not so willing too perscribe it * I see this in alot of my reading and searches * about Endo's not all that willing too hand it out?

    Please forgive all my questions over the last couple days

    From what I read, it seems too be pretty good drug of Choice.. Any comments, or thoughts on this?

    Missy
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    Old 05-19-2006, 03:35 PM   #2
    ellie342
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    Long long story, I'll try to give you the cliffs notes version:

    Armour was used successfully for decades. It contains pig thyroid, containing T4, the more active T3, and also T2, T1 (thought to be inactive breakdown products but some research suggests they may be important) and who knows what else.

    in the 70's, Synthroid came out - synthetic pure T4. Judging by what has happened in the pharmaceutical industry in more recent years, I can guess what happened - pharm reps touted it to doctors as the "better, more modern" treatment. They spread misinformation about supposed drawbacks to Armour (mostly false, but still believed by most doctors) - including the accusation that Armour potency varied too much from batch to batch (which, actually, is what the makers of SYNTHROID were recently in trouble with the FDA for - because SYNTHROID varied too much!). They probably paid some nationally known endos quite a bit to lecture and spread the word that Synthroid was the best treatment. (Not saying those docs lied, but that those docs with that opinion were well rewarded and given a lot of opportunity to spread their ideas).

    About the same time, more sensitive tests for TSH came out, and most doctors in practice today have been taught a very simple dogma - treat with T4 to keep the TSH in the normal range (and ignore the patient's symptoms and complaints! If they still feel unwell, it must be "something else"!).

    Now in reality, many people do well on Synthroid alone. Normally your thyroid gland releases mostly T4 with some T3, and most of the T4 is converted to T3 in your peripheral tissues. The prevailing dogma assumes everyone will convert the T4 in Synthroid into T3 as needed.

    However, there is a subset of people who clearly do not do this well. When tested for free T4 and Free T3, they may have low T3 levels. Some of these people may have nutritional deficiencies so the enzymes to convert T4 to T3 aren't working properly. Some may have a genetic variant that they don't convert well. There may be other explanations as well. Possibly those people who don't have an active thyroid (either surgically removed or post-RAI) may have more of a need for T3.

    Many of these people will do better if some T3 (Cytomel) is added to their T4. But there is still a subset of people who seem to do better only when put on Armour. It's not clear why - perhaps the effects of the "inactive" T2 and T1? Some other factor?

    What are drawbacks to Armour? Well, T4 has a long half-life, so achieving a steady level is easy with once-daily dosing. T3 has a much shorter half-life, so T3-containing preparations should be taken twice a day to try to even out levels. Theoretically, some people may be extra sensitive to ups-and-downs of T3 levels on Armour, although most people who take it don't seem bothered if they split the dose. The biggest drawback seems to be the difficulty of finding a doctor to prescribe it!!!!!

    Ellie

     
    Old 05-19-2006, 03:36 PM   #3
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    Hi Missy, As usual, most of this is my opinion.
    Armour was the first thyroid medication used(fact).
    It is natural, and has both T4 and T3 in it(fact).
    My doc called it an "old" drug.(fact-he did)
    When Synthroid came on the market docs started using it - the drug manufacturer at the time went around promoting their stuff. SOME people cannot use Armour - maybe too much T3?
    The makers of Synthroid have a great marketing department. They go around to the docs, give them samples & coupons, tell them it is better than anything else. They tell them the generics are not dependable and may come from some other country - and that the pharmacy pushes generics because they make more money from them than Synthroid.
    SO it is just like advertising on TV. Why is Budwiser #1 - advertising - their marketing department. (I used to work for a major market research co.) Companies acutally buy shelf space & prime display space in stores. Why are the store brands and bagged cereals on the bottom and name brands at eye level? The marketing department of Synthroid have put their brand at eye level to the docs. And I am sure they visit them often, also giving them samples of the other drugs they make. People are loyal to a brand. If it is advertised enough, you tend to think, maybe I should try that. Synthroid advertises it's drug to the doctors.

    I have to stop. It makes me sometimes.
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    Old 05-19-2006, 05:16 PM   #4
    Red Maple
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    The answer of whether or not Armour is a better choice depends on the needs of each individual person. We should not have one drug pushed on us by our doctors over another one, but rather have the differences explained and let US take part in the decision of what we want for OUR treatment. Armour is a good thyroid hormone replacement, and so is synthroid or other products that contain T4 only. My endo. will perscribe either, depending on the needs of the patient. I was on synthroid for 3 years and did ok on that, but wanted to try Armour as I had heard so many positive things about it, especially on this board and switched to an equivilant dosage of the synthroid I had been taking.

    It did not work for me, I ended up in the hospital emergency room with a pulse rate of 132 and feeling like my heart pounding so hard I felt like it would jump out of my chest. I was shaking violently and my hands and feet started to go numb. The labs from the hospital emergency room didn't give any specific information that the Armour indeed caused my problems. I will probably never know if the Armour was actually what caused me to be so sick or something else entirely unrelated and just coinsidential with the switch to the Armour. However, after my trip to the ER, my endo switched me to a lower dosage of synthroid and added a small amount of cytomel (a T3 only product) and again I got the heart palps. and very edgy feeling, but not as bad as when I went to the ER. The only way to know for sure if it was the T3 causing me problems, is to take enough of the T3 or Armour to re-create my episode that cause the trip to the ER. Not too willing to do that... For now I'm back on synthroid only and we are trying to tune my dosage to just the right amount to help me feel the best I can.

    Everybody however, should be given a choice in thier treatment, and all treatments and options should be explained to each patient. Then a JOINT decision between patient and doctor should be reached on how to proceed with treatment. What works well for one may not be best for another and we deserve options.

     
    Old 05-19-2006, 09:23 PM   #5
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    man ellie....very good discription... one thing about the short half life of T3. Most people don't even know that. That is why they get afternoon lows. This could easily be overcome by splitting their armour in two.

     
    Old 05-19-2006, 11:11 PM   #6
    ellie342
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    Lisman said:
    "I was on synthroid for 3 years and did ok on that, but wanted to try Armour as I had heard so many positive things about it, especially on this board and switched to an equivilant dosage of the synthroid I had been taking.

    "

    This might have been where your problem arose. Switching directly to an "equivalent dosage" of Armour is not a good idea, I've been told. I've been advised that it is best to start low and work up slowly. It's not clear exactly why this is - in theory, you should be able to calculate an equivalent dose and switch right over, but in practice, that approach often results in problems. I'm guessing here, but maybe the reason is that Armour works so much better for some people, that switching to an equivalent dose results in them being overdosed? And, of course, if you are switching directly from an all-T4 dose, to a T4/T3 combo, there would be a period of a couple of weeks before the T4 drops to the new (lower level), but the T3 is on board right away - that would also result in a temporary overdose.

    Of course, some people just don't tolerate T3 - those are probably people who are doing a fine job on their own of converting T4 to T3.

    Ellie

     
    Old 05-20-2006, 06:23 AM   #7
    daisy01
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    Sorry to hijack but this thread has given me some questions now but they do link to this one.

    I am waiting to start on armour but being in the UK means it takes 4 - 6 weeks for it to be ordered and imported from the USA.
    i usually take 125mcg of levothyroxine but I will have 1grain of armour (60mcg) instead. Does that seem the right amount?

    Should I cease taking my current levo now and wait for the armour?

    lismans post has got me quite worried now

     
    Old 05-20-2006, 09:16 AM   #8
    Red Maple
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    Re: Is Armour a better choice

    Daisy--don't worry about trying Armour. What happens for one person is probably unique to them, and won't be a problem for another. My only point is that we are all different and deserve to have options to our medical concerns; also when switching meds be on the lookout for any reactions to the new meds. It's probably best to follow your doctors instructions as he is the medical professional who knows you best. I did not mean to scare anyone with my experience, rather to just express the need to change meds with caution.

    The Armour does not seem right for me, even splitting the dose with half in the AM and half mid afternoon. Nor did a lower dose of T4 with T3 taken seperately. I am really dissapointed that it was not the right thing for me. Based on my symptoms and my T3 on the low side of the normal range on my labs, I was completely convinced that it would be just what I needed, and searched for quite some time to find a doctor who would prescribe it for me. I am probably one of those people that T3 just isn't right for. The cause of my experience in the ER is still medically unknown, and could have been something totally separate from my thyroid medication. It just seems "curious" that it occured at the same time as my meds change both with Armour and then again with the lowered dose T4 and cytomel.

    But that does not mean that Armour or some other form of T3 is not just the perfect medicine for someone else. It could be the best thing you ever did for yourself, and you won't know until you try it.

    Last edited by Red Maple; 05-20-2006 at 09:30 AM. Reason: clarity

     
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