Non-drug treatment for hypothyroidism

Protective Armour

Before she was diagnosed as hypothyroid, Mary probably began to feel chronically fatigued. She may have also frequently caught a chill in warm environments, gained weight and felt depressed. These are all typical symptoms of hypothyroidism, which depletes the energy of cells throughout the body.

An HSI member named Mary writes, “I have hypothyroid. I take Armour. I believe in natural things. Do you have anything on hypothyroid?”

William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., confirms that Armour (which is desiccated thyroid and provides the complete range of thyroid hormones) is an excellent treatment choice for hypothyroidism.

Armour all

In an October 2002 issue of his Daily Dose e-letter, Dr. Douglass explained why Armour is more effective than a hypothyroid drug called Synthroid.

Dr. Douglass: “Research shows that the thyroid hormone T3 is more active than T4 – in fact, it is roughly four times as strong as T4. In the body, all T4 hormones must be converted into T3 in order to control metabolism. Many patients do not have the enzymatic capability to make that conversion. Synthroid is T4. After I discovered this fact, I switched all of my hypothyroid patients to a natural thyroid product (called Armour). Natural thyroid is derived from the thyroid glands of pigs and is a combination of T3 and T4. The majority of these patients experienced an almost immediate improvement.”

Dr. Douglass also cites a study in which subjects taking Armour scored better on six of 17 measures of mood and cognition than subjects who took Synthroid. Mood and physical status results were better in 10 of 15 instances. Biochemical evidence also showed that Armour improved thyroid hormone action more effectively than Synthroid.

Hormone treatments should always be taken under a doctor’s care. Dr. Douglass also cautions that patients who are currently taking synthetic thyroid medication should talk to their doctor before changing their regimen.

Dietary landmines

Beyond treatment, there are a couple of foods that may present pitfalls for patients with hypothyroidism.

An HSI member named Betty writes, “I have seen mentioned that broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower (cruciferous vegetables) should not be eaten more than three days per week if one has hypothyroidism. What exactly goes wrong if this is not adhered to?

According to the Linus Pauling Institute, a high intake of cruciferous vegetables may prompt the development of a compound call goitrin, which has been shown to impede the synthesis of thyroid hormone.

Soy is the other food to be wary of.

In the HSI Healthier Talk community forums, a member named Chefgirl notes that soy products can play havoc with hypothyroid patients because the soy isoflavones limit the cells’ ability to receive thyroid hormones.

Chefgirl writes, “In reality, soy protein is one of the worst things that I could consume, especially on a daily basis. I can’t begin to tell you the difference I felt when I stopped eating soy products, just within 2-3 days.”

What infuriates her is that she consumed soy products for 10 years, “thinking I was eating healthy and being told that was the case.”

Other isoflavone rich foods include legumes, grains and cabbage. Red clover (sometimes used to address menopausal symptoms) is also high in isoflavones. You can find more information about the problems soy causes for hypothyroid patients at the web site for the Weston A. Price foundation (

“Armour Yourself Against Hypothyroidism” William Campbell Douglass II, M.D., Daily Dose, 10/29/02,
“Cruciferous Vegetables” Linus Pauling Institute,