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  • switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

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    Old 02-28-2014, 05:33 AM   #1
    sewfine406
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    switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    I'm posting for my husband who started taking Levothyroxine last year for newly diagnosed hypothyroid.
    His TSH was greater than 150 (!)
    T3 20
    T4 .3
    (Primary care doc was trying to treat his high cholesterol, over 500, but ignoring his other symptoms. Another Doc suggested a thyroid test and voilla, here we are.)

    Anyway, started on 50 mcg Levothyroxine, after 6 weeks upped to 100 mcg.
    He initially felt really bad on the 50 mcg with feelings of great fatigue and low mood, but that soon leveled off and he felt better than he had in years, and at 6 week check-up started 100mcg.

    Latest TSH level was 26 (but for some reason they didn't check T3 or T4 again)

    BUT as soon as he started on the 100mcg he developed a very stiff neck on one side, and as the weeks progressed other muscles and joints became stiff and painful (wrists, elbows, hips and neck mostly) to the point he feels all crippled up and has difficult standing up out of bed or a chair.

    Voluntarily cutting back to 50 mcg since the Doc could not see him right away, and these pains improved (but did not go away)

    Many of the thyroid symptoms have improved greatly though, thinning hair is growing back, cholesterol has dropped, skin much improved, not cold all the time now, no fatigue or lethargy, weight gain has stopped (although no weight loss.)

    Other than the symptoms of hypothyroidism, he is a healthy 59yr, and right now needs no other meds at all, and we eat a healthy (low fat, "real food") diet.

    Now he's seen the Doc who agreed to try him on Armour, and I now have a few questions about the transition.

    1) Our health plan does not cover the Armour brand, it will be "NP Thyroid." So does any one have any thoughts about this versus the Armour brand? Generally speaking, my husband does much better on brand name prescriptions over generics.

    2) Doc figured the initial dose at 60MG, feeling that was comparable to 100 mcg of the Levo, does anyone see a problem with starting on a higher dose than one would ordinarily?

    3)Do you feel Arnour is similar to Levothyroxine in that one can feel worse at first before one feels better? Or will he notice an improvement right away if it was the Levo causing the bad effects?

    Anything else we should be aware of going forward?

    Thanks so much

    sewfine406

     
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    Old 03-06-2014, 04:53 AM   #2
    sewfine406
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    I'm going to update this because although I haven't gotten any response (disappointed) I see many people have read it, so some may have the same questions. So I'll let you know how he has been doing since the switch.

    No bloodwork yet since the switch, has been on the NP thyroid for 1 week. Since then there has been improvement in the stiff and sore muscles and joints. There is no longer a problem with his hips or his shoulders. His wrists and elbows are improved but still achy. His neck is still quite stiff but a little more range of motion.

    His actual hypothyroid symptoms have close to disappeared.
    His skin had been tearing and bruising easily so he always had awful red marks on his arms and they have all cleared up.
    He used to itch a LOT especially at night, and now rarely has that.
    His energy was low and his mood was foul. He now has much better energy, in fact the second day on the NP he was outside with the chainsaw trimming trees. And his mood is good, upbeat.
    He was overly cold ALL the time, he would have a jacket on even in the house, now he seems to have a good tolerance for cold, wearing short sleeves (we are in Florida so you can wear short sleeves this time of year.)

    He hasn't done anything about switching to the brand name Armour. I really would like to know more about the NP as a generic. We have become leery of generics, fearing that quality control might be less, lower quality ingredients may be used, formulas might be changed to different fillers without warning.
    I had read that with the natural thyroid pills the actual level of hormone could vary from batch to batch, and that Armour tests each level stringently. But I don't actually KNOW that, nor do I know if NP also checks.

    I also have read in many places that people who have taken Armour for a long time were not happy several years back when the formula changed to a different filler (now using cellulose instead of dextrose). Interestingly, the NP has the old formula, using dextrose and no cellulose.

    He sees the Doc on March 21st, we hope she will keep him on this dose for a little longer though. She has not asked for a T3 or T4 test, just TSH so we will be asking for that.

    I'll update this at that time.
    In the meantime, anyone who has already made a switch to Armour, or who has used NP thyroid, I'd love to hear from you!

     
    Old 03-06-2014, 09:39 AM   #3
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    I'm sorry you got no response the first time around. Having been frequenting various forums for 14 years, I always find that the concisest questions get the most response. And the number of views isn't completely related to the times the post gets read by actual people; search engine hits are factored in somehow, although I'm not tech-savvy enough to know how. Anyway, a "read" doesn't mean the person who's reading knows the answer.

    NP isn't actually "generic". It's a brand, just like Armour. Think "Pepsi vs. Coke". I have taken many brands of desiccated thyroid over the years. Armour worked great for me before the reformulation. At the present time, two 60-mg Armour tablets work for me, but one 120 mg doesn't seem to. (Figure that one out!) NP, however, worked very well for me until they encountered supply problems and was unavailable. In short... Any brand might work as well as the next or not work at all for any particular patient. All you can do is experiment to find the best one. And if you find one that works well, try not to switch between brands for any reason, insurance included.

    All thyroid meds are hormones, not "drugs" per se. The only differences among them are synthetic hormones vs. animal-derived ("natural") and the inert ingredients that comprise the rest of the tablet. So, some patients' physiologies are completely compatible with the generic levothyroxine while not responding to a labeled brand like Synthroid or Armour, or vice versa. The thing that matters is how their body breaks down the tablet to release the active hormone.

    Desiccated thyroid products, by and large, are cheap. My insurance copays have always been larger than the cash price of my desiccateds. It rather galls me that they've never picked up any of the cost while they pay uber-Big Pharma prices for unnecessary designer drugs-of-the-moment for other people.

    You must make sure his doctor understands that TSH is totally unreliable for patients taking desiccated thyroid. Optimal doses of it will suppress TSH to well below zero. My own hasn't been higher than .02 in 11 years. The dosage must be determined by the free levels of T4 and T3. It's the only way. There are some desiccated-ignorant prescribers who don't get that. Their patients remain underdosed and sick. Beware of that.

    I'm glad your DH is a happier guy now and hope that he only gets better from here on.
    I hope that answered some of your questions. Sorry again for the delayed response.
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    Last edited by midwest1; 03-06-2014 at 09:42 AM.

     
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    Old 03-06-2014, 03:45 PM   #4
    sewfine406
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Thanks so much for the response.

    I had suspected myself that NP was not strictly speaking a "generic." Glad to have that confirmed by you.
    The NP is actually free on our plan, the Armour would run us about $30 a month.

    I don't know how open our Doc will be to the idea of the T3 and T4 readings over the TSH readings, but I'm sure going to suggest it. I had read that already other places, I'm glad you confirmed that as well.
    She has already said she is not well versed in thyroid issues (oh great).
    I'll try to find other places on the net to print out and quote from as well.

    We have a Doc right now that is really dismissive of our own research, and I am dedicated to researching all our medical complaints and meds.
    Since we go to a State Health Dept, we cannot pick and choose our doctors, and often see a nurse practitioner. Sometimes the Nurse seems more savvy than the Doctor, but sometimes they just don't know.

    Thanks again.

     
    Old 03-06-2014, 09:58 PM   #5
    Rabidcamel
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    At any point was his vitamin D, b12, or iron checked?

     
    Old 03-07-2014, 10:48 AM   #6
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Hope you're still watching this thread, sewfine.

    I was just filling my pill reminder box when it hit me like a rock ... That you said Armour would cost you $30 a month. That doesn't sound right, not at all. My 120 mg of Armour cost is about $25 for 90 days - 3 months. You should consider shopping around for a better price. They can vary widely, but none should be as much as $1 a day.
    My husband was just prescribed a new (to him) beta blocker, which are usually inexpensive out-of-patent meds. One large national chain pharmacy seems to be price-gouging on it... They priced it at more than $90 a month. A local grocery pharmacy prices it around $25. So... Make sure the quote you got isn't just so much shenanigans.
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    Last edited by midwest1; 03-07-2014 at 10:50 AM.

     
    Old 03-10-2014, 06:30 AM   #7
    sewfine406
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by Rabidcamel View Post
    At any point was his vitamin D, b12, or iron checked?
    none of this was checked.

    And now after the initial few days of improvement, his stiffness and joint pain are back. not everywhere like before, but troublesome. a heating pad helps. moving around a lot helps to an extent. Getting blood work this week, but T3 and T4 not on the RX, just TSH.
    The way our health dept works, very difficult to get that changed between appointments. At his March 21 appointment I'll certainly ask about checking for those and for the 3 and 4.

    Thanks for that suggestion.

     
    Old 03-10-2014, 06:41 AM   #8
    sewfine406
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    Smile Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Quote:
    Originally Posted by midwest1 View Post
    Hope you're still watching this thread, sewfine.

    ... That you said Armour would cost you $30 a month. That doesn't sound right, not at all. My 120 mg of Armour cost is about $25 for 90 days - 3 months. You should consider shopping around for a better price. They can vary widely, but none should be as much as $1 a day.
    Thanks, that is good advice, which I am sure to follow. At this point we've decided not to try the Armour over the NP, not to give his body another thing to get accustomed to. But if we find a need to switch, if the NP isn't available or something, we would definitely check around. The $30 came from the pharmacy that gives us the NP, that was the only quote I had gotten at that point.

    Thanks though!

     
    Old 03-18-2014, 04:38 PM   #9
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Hello!

    I thought I would chime in here. I've had great success taking NP Thyroid. I used Armour for years, but the formulation stopped working for me. I heard about NP on this board and asked my pharmacist to carry it, if possible.

    Very happy with the product. It works as well (or better) for me than the "old" Armour. A big shout-out to this board for giving me the idea!

    FWIW

    Thanks.

     
    Old 04-04-2014, 05:27 AM   #10
    sewfine406
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    Thumbs up Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    @cobalt5

    Thanks for chiming in. After 6 or so weeks on the NP, hubby is also very happy with the NP.

    Here is an update for anyone who also is considering the switch or considering natural thyroid meds:

    After about 3 weeks on the initial dosage, he began to feel very good. Much of the muscle stiffness went away and his energy level was much improved. At about 5 weeks he had his follow up with the Doctor and she increased the dose from 60 to 90 MG. This was about 2 weeks ago and he is feeling actually great!

    Almost all of the symptoms we had been attributing to the thyroid problem are better. Including:
    super high cholesterol (it was over 500, now under 200)
    Liver enzymes out of whack...now good readings
    Electrolytes out of whack...now good readings
    extremely itchy skin now normal
    thin skin (very easy to tear/bruise skin especially arms) now normal
    sensitivity to cold (now not wearing a jacket inside)
    hair loss (had lost most body hair, now all growing back)
    thinning hair (head hair, now thickening back up)
    constipation not a problem now
    Extreme fatigue now gone
    Muscle aches and now much improved and pain gone
    Moodiness now much under control


    Doc agreed to put the T3 and T4 tests on the next lab work, also is going to test for several vitamin levels including D. The most recent blood work for TSH was done only 2 weeks into the NP, and showed no better than the last test on the Levo. The next testing will be done in 6 weeks and we'll have a much better feel for where his dosage should be I would think, but if going by symptom relief, he's good :-)

    So bottom line, at least for us, the natural hormone was superior to the synthetic, and the NP brand is good, no worries.

    Thanks to everyone who responded, I am glad I found this forum :-)

     
    Old 04-05-2014, 09:54 AM   #11
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    Re: switching from Levothyroxine to Armour

    Oh, I love success stories! I'm happy for him. Sounds like he has a very good thyroid doctor, so he should continue to do well.
    Thanks so much for the update.
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