Is Compounded Thyroid Medication Better than Commercial Brands?

May 6, 2024

Thyroid disorders are quickly becoming one of the most recognized medical conditions in functional medicine. Providers are learning more about thyroid hormones and the effect they have on a person’s quality of life, how they relate to symptoms that used to be correlated with other medical conditions such as depression, chronic fatigue, and obesity.

It is wonderful news that providers are starting to recognize thyroid imbalances as the root cause of a patient’s symptoms, but the treatment for these disorders is still a very confusing process due to the immense variability in individual patient needs and the medications available.

Common commercially available thyroid medications such as Synthroid, generic Levothyroxine (T4), and Liothyronine (T3) are only available in standardized doses, which can be a problem because every patient is different and may not fit the “standard” dose available to see results and changes in their symptoms. But there is a solution to this problem!

Compounded thyroid medication allows for an individualized approach to treating thyroid disorders. Providers and pharmacists work together to create a patient-specific thyroid medication to fit the exact demands for that patient, and have the ability to provide a medication that is the perfect fit for that specific patient.

What is in thyroid medications?

The most common type of commercial thyroid medication prescribed by primary care physicians tends to be name brand Synthroid, or its generic version, Levothyroxine. This medication is made to supplement the T4 hormone. T4 is the precursor hormone that is converted by enzymes in the body to form T3, which is the active thyroid hormone that interacts with cellular functions throughout the body. This may improve patient symptoms but not treat them completely if the patient’s body lacks the ability to convert all of the T4 into T3. 

There are many factors that can impact the body’s ability to convert T4 into T3, including:

  • Nutritional deficiencies of Selenium, Zinc, Iodine, and Vitamin D
  • High Cortisol levels 
  • Alcohol and/or smoking
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Oxidative stress from environmental free radical damage

Depressive mood and fatigue are one of the most common symptoms of thyroid disorders, and unfortunately, they are also one of the biggest factors affecting conversion of T4 to T3. Depression symptoms are linked to low T3 levels in the body due to impaired conversion from T4, the more a person’s T3 levels decline, the greater the depression symptoms, which as a result, further decreases the conversion of T4 to T3. It’s a vicious cycle that many people experience even when prescribed one of these T4 medications.

So why does this matter?

This evidence just goes to show that even when a patient is actively taking their T4 medication, their symptoms may not improve because their body is unable to optimally use the T4 being supplemented. In this case, providers may prescribe another commercially available medication known as Liothyronine, which is T3 only. Improving the body’s T3 levels supplies the body with the active hormone it needs to reduce their symptoms, which in turn, improves their body’s ability to convert the T4 that they are also taking.

This is great, but now you have to remember to take two different prescriptions all the time and hope that your body metabolizes both correctly, which doesn’t always happen in every person. According to Dr. Westin Childs, numerous studies, dating back to 2018, have concluded that some patients experience better results from taking combined T3 and T4 prescriptions when compared to taking both of them separately.

thyroid medication

So is compounded thyroid medication better than commercially available medications?

In short, the answer almost every single time will be yes. There are no health benefits offered a commercial thyroid medication, that a compounded one doesn’t also offer. The treatment options are limitless, offering benefits to patients whose requirements are unachievable using standardized doses of commercial thyroid medications.

  1. Compounded thyroid medication is able to be made specifically for a patient’s body’s requirements. No more hearing “this is the closest dose available to treat your symptoms”.
  2. All prescriptions can have potential side effects and drawbacks – these can be minimized by compounding specific ingredients that patients may be sensitive to, or by adding an ingredients that a patient may be lacking in.
  3. Compounded thyroid medication offers the convenience and metabolic benefits of taking the T3 and T4 as one combined pill, rather than two separate.
  4. Different medications vary in the types and amounts of carriers, binders, fillers, and dyes used in their formulation, which can impact how a patient feels. There have been different medical studies that have shown that patients react differently to different brands of the same medication due to the other ingredients in each formulation. Recharge Rx compounds do not contain dyes or any other filler ingredients that are known to impact the person taking it. Compounded thyroid medication gives the patient the ability to avoid any kind of specific filler or dye that they may have a sensitivity to.
  5. Patients that can’t get the treatment they need because there isn’t a standard dose that fits their needs are able to have a thyroid medication made specifically for their body’s requirements so that they may experience the benefits of optimizing their thyroid gland function.
  6. Retail pharmacies follow pricing guidelines set by pharmaceutical companies, so depending on a person’s insurance coverage, the price of their commercially available thyroid medication can vary greatly and be quite expensive to some. Our compounding pharmacy does not have to follow these pricing guidelines, while still being able to produce safe and effective custom medications for much cheaper by leaving out expensive fillers and dyes or by slapping a popular name brand label on the bottle.

So should I switch to a compounded thyroid medication?

Although insurance won’t cover our compounded thyroid medication, spending an average of $30-$60 out of pocket to finally feel relief from your thyroid disorder’s symptoms and feel your very best is priceless compared to feeling “a little better” or “okay” from commercially available thyroid medications that are covered by insurance. The pros greatly outweigh the cons when comparing the different forms that you can be taking

Recharge RX can fill any prescriptions from your current provider so be sure to talk to them about your current treatment and ways you could benefit from a compounded thyroid dose if you aren’t satisfied with your current results from your standardized dose. Or if you’re not satisfied with your current provider’s treatment plan, or if you’re just interested in getting a second opinion, give us a call at 352-512-9996 to find out more information about our Hormone Replacement Therapy treatments, led by hormone specialist Dr. Steve Tieche, M.D., to see if Recharge Clinic may be a better fit for your health and wellness goals.

We offer free consultations and a different approach to patient treatment, focusing on how you feel and want to feel and not solely on the number of lab results.

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