Thyroid lectures me about not writing more about it

Armour Thyroid: A Love/Hate Story

Well, I’ve been taking Armour for a few months now, and it’s been a mixed bag.

I’m trying to sort out the positives and the negatives before I see the doctor this week for new tests.

After the first five or so weeks at 120 mg, the Armour was obviously not working, because my TSH was 13. I know the TSH is not the most important number, but 13? (For non-thyroid patients, the range is .3-3.0, or .5-5.0 if the doctor is old school.) The endocrinologist upped the dose to 150 mg.

At my next appointment, my TSH was 5.83 and my Free T3 and Free T4 were beginning to slowly creep up, so he upped the dose again to 180 mg.

I thought he was raising the dose too infrequently, but then I read this interesting site, ThyroPhoenix, posted by my blog buddy Jenny from The Lyme Road. The site suggests raising doses no more than every four to six weeks to properly gauge the effects, which is what he had been doing.

My endocrinologist is a conventional Western doctor, but he seems to be on all the patients’ preferred thyroid doctor lists, possibly because he is progressive for an endocrinologist. He doesn’t overemphasize the TSH test and he LOVES LOVES Armour. The catch? He does not love the other types of natural dessicated thyroid, such as WP Thyroid and Nature-throid. And I’m wondering if one of those might be better for me. Many patients like them better than Armour. I especially like that WP Thyroid has only two fillers.

I might have to switch doctors to try either of these if I can’t talk him into switching. I’m not good with change. I’ve stayed with practitioners way too long just to avoid starting over with someone new and having to tell my whole sordid illness story yet again.

My LLMD, who is an integrative doctor, suggested a compounded T3/T4 formulation with a probiotic or Vitamin C as the filler. He is also on several preferred doctor lists, but he doesn’t use Nature-throid or WP Thyroid either. I wasn’t sure about taking compounded thyroid, because I had taken compounded T3 with Synthroid in the past and still inexplicably had low T3. Might have been the wrong dose or a problem with the pharmacy, but still … weird. And I’m still not sure what to do. (Hey, after all, confusion is a hypothyroidism symptom.)

So this has been my Armour experience:

Cold Intolerance: Better. In fact, I think I’m starting to get HEAT intolerance, which is usually my first sign that I need to lower the dose. Except I don’t know whether it’s heat intolerance or if it’s that it’s just been really fucking hot this week and I’m responding normally by producing actual sweat. I spent the last few years wearing a jacket when everyone else was wearing a sundress, so my body is … confused.

Weight: I gained four pounds. Bad. But oddly, my face is MUCH less swollen. Seriously, I didn’t realize how swollen it was before. (I was on Synthroid for years.) I just thought my jawline was disappearing. Nope. I even have a slightly pointy chin now.

Hair Loss (and Hair Gain): My hair has definitely gotten thicker, and less is falling out. Oh, and I have actual outer eyebrows again! Yay, because drawing them in with pencil looked really stupid (although, for fellow green beauty product enthusiasts, this great brow pencil by Gabriel Cosmetics has a pretty clean ingredient profile.)

Brain fog: Slightly improved. My brain fog is an odd hypothyroidism/Lyme disease hybrid, but at least now I can finish a whole sentence without losing my train of thought.

Weird Not-Quite-a-Palpitation Feeling: At the beginning of each dosage increase, I would notice a feeling of tightness in my chest soon after I took the pills. I knew that this could be a sign of being overmedicated. I also read it could be a symptom of adrenal issues. After a few weeks at each new dose, the feeling would go away. I decided to ask for the 24-hour saliva cortisol test for my adrenals. And unfortunately, it is still sitting in the box. I had a lot of stressful events in June, including finding out that my stove had been leaking a small amount of natural gas for YEARS, and I couldn’t deal with doing the adrenal test OR my heavy metals test. Is procrastination a hypothyroidism symptom too?

24-hour adrenal saliva cortisol test
The Saliva Cortisol Test: Not Helpful for Diagnosis if You Don’t Take It Out of the Bag

Depression: A little better.

Random Craziness Factor: This is the big problem. During the last few months, I have had more arguments than I have had in the last few YEARS. I mean, I am pissed off. Well, nowadays, first I have a major hissy fit, and then I get this weepy, maudlin, why-can’t-everyone-just-love-one-another feeling. These mood swings also seem to peak at the beginning of each dosage change and then level off. Could it be too much T3, or could it be my adrenals? Right now, things are manageable, but I worry that if he raises the dose again, I might become a sterotypical obnoxious New Yorker, starting fights with people in the grocery store.

Argument in fancy grocery store

Seriously, I have a friend who almost was run over by a shopping cart in our local food coop … the culprit was a woman making a mad dash for the last box of quinoa elbow macaroni.

When I first started Armour and had that scary TSH of 13, I read that fillers, specifically cellulose in Armour, can interfere with absorption. I read that even though Armour is not meant to be taken sublingually, some patients reported feeling better doing so … one woman on a forum said she put the pill under her tongue an hour before she fully woke up and then let it dissolve. So I decided to see if that would work.

Armour Thyroid creates blob on teeth

Oops. Chewing it and using a pill crusher didn’t help either.

On the plus side, during this process, I learned some useful techniques for dealing with doctors. Specifically, my few remaining Western doctors, such as the endo. The first is from my blog buddy Chronic Rants. You start by asking for the least controversial test first and then ask for the most alternative-ish test last. It definitely helps.

The second is the symptoms-first approach, which I got from this Mary Shomon article. For example, instead of saying “I think I might have hypothyroidism,” you would say something like, “My hair is falling out, I’ve gained a bunch of weight, and my skin is dry—do YOU think it could be related to my thyroid?” This way, you look like the patient who defers to the doctor’s godlike medical expertise rather than the Patient Who Googles Every Single Damned Thing. Even if you are the latter, which I am, which we all probably are, I think it helps to pretend to be the former. Even some alternative docs seem to be threatened by patients who are frequent medical Googlers.

I actually took the symptoms-first approach one step further and did the whole thing on the computer. I handed the endo a typed sheet with the questions listed after the symptom lists (as in “I have a, b, and c … is it possible it could be d”?). I barely said anything—just handed him the piece of paper like it was a high-school book report. I figured that in medical school he must have learned by memorizing lists of symptoms, so why not? It worked! He bent over his desk and started madly circling tests to run.

Now I type out all my questions before all my appointments. (Well, I can’t type because of the RSI, but I use dictation software.) Doctors seem to take typed lists of questions more seriously than written lists. (Possibly the high-school book report idea again? )

I used to be that thyroid patient who took Synthroid and believed it was working because the blood tests were in range, even though I had carpal tunnel, depression, dry skin, and inattentive-type ADD, plus it took me forever to lose weight and I was always freezing.

Anyway, now I am making up for lost time, because I have more than 30 new thyroid-related videos, five thyroid books, three Lyme books, one anatomy book, one cell biology book, a basic chemistry book, and several books about the Paleo diet to read. Well, except for the brain fog, memory problems, and that procrastination issue. I should be done with all the viewing/reading by … 2016?

More thyroidic updates to come (and perhaps a book review). If anyone has experience switching from Armour to Nature-throid or WP Thyroid or from Armour to compounded thyroid, please share!

Published by

Miss Diagnoses

Hi! I'm Vicki. My blog is called "Miss Diagnoses" because I have too many diagnoses and because my Lyme disease was misdiagnosed for many years. In addition to being a professional patient, I'm a compulsive reader and doodler. Sadly, my writing and drawing are limited by repetitive strain injury and neuropathy. I use assistive technology, but I can't post as often as I'd like. You can also find me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. Twitter and Instagram: @miss_diagnoses Facebook and Pinterest: @MissDiagnoses

30 thoughts on “Armour Thyroid: A Love/Hate Story

  1. Love this!!! (but sorry it’s necessary):
    “…I barely said anything—just handed him the piece of paper like it was a high-school book report. I figured that in medical school he must have learned by memorizing lists of symptoms, so why not? It worked! He bent over his desk and started madly circling tests to run.”

    I hope it all gets sorted out soon and you find the perfect healing doses of the prefect healing remedies for you ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. PS… I don’t think it’s crazy to have “why-can’t-everyone-just-love-one-another feeling”s…
    How to make that happen starts within ourselves (like learning to love ourselves and each other the way we are)… and that seems to be as challenging as some of our health problems :/ but in the end, might be easier!
    I wish us all more than luck in finding the answers and solutions we need…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. No, that feeling alone is good! It’s just that the mood swings between extreme anger and “OK, everybody, group hug” are getting a little out of hand. A few weeks ago I was much, much angrier (alternating with the why-can’t-we-all-love-one-another feeling), and now I seem to be a bit more even-keeled, so that side effect keeps changing. When the Synthroid stopped working I appeared half-dead … I had a very flat affect, and that sucked too. Thanks for the good wishes … finding the right med at the right dosage is getting more difficult as I get older. I’m sure the Lyme is messing things up too.

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      1. Stability is nice…
        I dream of some kind of cognitive ability stability…
        And for all these biological processes in our bodies to be able to work as intended (and not as they have become from being environmentally assaulted by so many things).

        Liked by 1 person

  3. This sorta sounds like, from the depths of experience comes the wisdom to develop
    a new skill set for managing doctor-patient relations. It’s like adding a new dimension to bedside manner. In this case, it’s balancing or coordinating the patient’s manner if you will; yours or mine, with the goal of achieving an effective doctor’s response.
    So a handwritten list of questions on the back of a 2-day old McDonald’s french fry container may not work with some doctors?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The back of the French fry container will not work as well as the hamburger bag. Maybe if you type the list and then tape it inside the French fry container? No–it is weird–what I did with endo is an extreme example, but when I talk I tend to ramble, and if I walk in with a typed document they tend to respect me more and I get more questions answered. And I have been treated like crap by too many doctors at this point.

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  4. Great post – very informative and funny! I too have gotten much better results from doctors when I present them with written information. In fact the past few times I saw a new doctor I gave them a single page document with the condensed (just the fun highlights!) version of my medical history and had them read it before we talked. They do seem to input the data quicker that way and then they can ask questions to fill in the blanks they are interested in. Wait – does this make us enablers for those poor simple minded docs?! No matter, if we get better results. BTW, love that your thyroid looks like a pink bow tie, like a loud, quirky accessory.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is a great idea–if I start seeing anyone new I’m going to do the single page thing! (LOL at “fun highlights.”) Doctors always have some sort of inadequate questionnaire, and I always end up requesting another sheet of paper or scribbling all over the margins like an insane person. Ha … and I am very relieved that you like the drawing! Drawing thyroids stresses me out–they are supposed to be shaped like a butterflies, but I can never seem to make them look like the pictures in the anatomy book. Oh well … if only this was my worst problem, right?

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  5. Phew girlfriend! You make me laugh, both because you are a hilarious writer and also because I TOTALLY RELATE! With the juggling and hoops we have to go through to get proper treatment (making sure to ask the right question in the right way so as not to offend, making sure it doesn’t appear we are googling our symptoms too much, trying to defer to the expertise of the doctor, etc.), how are we NOT all circus performers by now? I am really hoping you are able to get this all sorted out. Many people do well on Armour, but not everyone. I am hoping one of your two doctors are open to the possibility of being flexible on what they typically use and are willing to go out on a limb. I mean, c’mon! It’s not like the jump to Nature-Throid is some big leap from Armour really. I do think you are smart to test your adrenals. I have done that saliva test a variety of times and it always comes back low, low, low. This could be a big key for you to be able to tolerate proper thyroid treatment. Good luck and keep us posted. Please don’t let the next post be about you getting hauled off to jail because you got in a fist fight over the last head of organic lettuce in the coop…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Ha! I have been watching “Orange Is the New Black,” and I wonder about being a Lymie in jail. Especially the one episode where the woman asks if the prison food has gluten. Oy! LOL, it isn’t worth it for that last head of organic lettuce. Now, after this whole thing, it turns out that BOTH the endo and the LLMD are willing to prescribe Nature-throid (I asked the endo if he had any patients on it, and he reluctantly told me that he gives it out if people ask but he likes Armour better). I could just get it from the LLMD, but my appointments are not long enough as it is and I would rather focus on Lyme than my thyroid. He still hasn’t conclusively decided my coinfections. I always test negative, although he thinks maybe Bartonella. And now I have to change antibiotics (to azithromycin, because doxy stopped working) and add an herbal (teasel), so I am tempted to put off dealing with changing my thyroid meds until I see how that goes. Aaaaaaargh.

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  7. As always, I love every word! The changing docs thing can be so stressful – I hate it too. I feel like we get caught between wanting to find a doc that may actually be able to provide some answers to the why, how and what the questions and settling for a doctor that will give us what we want based on our own research. I settled for a doctor who just gave me what I wanted at the beginning of my thyroid healing adventure which I thought was great but actually was not great at all because it turned out I was wrong and ended up on way too much medication which is about as much fun as a sharp tack in the eye. I’m not saying your endo is anything like that, and it sounds like he may be open to trying new options which is awesome. And thanks, all of your tips on dealing with doctors are great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you as always! That’s interesting about being on too much. I don’t think I’m there yet, because my body seems to have adjusted to the last increase, and now I don’t have the anger so much. But I wonder what will happen if he wants to go up again. I just have to take that adrenal test and see about that. To add to the confusion, my LLMD just switched my antibiotics this week so I have to see how that goes first! Aaargh. I like to change one thing at a time. But tomorrow I should have my thyroid test results.

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  8. Many people who take the natural thyroid find they feel better on two doses per day. For example, I use Armour, 90mg at 9 am and 45mg at 4 pm. Yes, I’m a late riser! For a while I was on a compounded thyroid, which I also had to take twice a day. I switched to Armour as it is less expensive for me with my insurance. FYI: I have Hashimoto’s. Two different doctors told me about the twice a day dosing and neither of them is an endo! Go figure!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nine a.m. is a late riser? LOL. On weekends I sleep a LOT. Yes, I split the dose also, 120 in the morning and 60 in the afternoon. Did you like the compounded better than the Armour or was it the same more or less? I doubt insurance would pay for compounded for me either. I also have Hashimoto’s. Good that those doctors knew about the double dose! Yeah, it doesn’t always have to be an endo … some endos are really up on diabetes and not up on the thyroid. And a lot of them seem to be too into the TSH.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. So many people I know frown at me for sleeping until 9 am! 🙂 Good to know you’re on the split dose; it definitely is better for me. Truthfully, I didn’t work long enough with a split compounded dose because of the cost. A single AM capsule just was not getting it done. I also have Type 1 diabetes and on the edge of Addison’s. Have lots of experience with endos! Too much focus on diabetes, single minded about thyroid (T4 only) and clueless about adrenals! A good MD will run a full thyroid panel with free T’s and reverse T3. TSH is only a small part of the whole picture. I’ve never tried the other natural thyroid brands. You will find what works for you, it just takes time.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ugh, I know, compounded is not cheap! And I wonder if it is better. I keep reading that NDT is better because of the T1, T2, calcitonin, etc. Sorry you have the diabetes and borderline Addison’s as well. Too much! Yeah, the Lyme and other tick-borne diseases can really mess with your hormones! I had thyroid disease first, but the Lyme definitely made it worse.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. Had a few more thoughts:
    One thing to keep in mind about natural thyroid is that it contains all of the hormones, not just T3 and T4. I think this makes a big difference for some people.
    Getting that adrenal test completed is a good idea. I’m on adrenal hormones as well. All of these hormones affect one another. And don’t I know what an impact they have on your blood sugar! What a nightmare! No doubt your tick illness has an influence as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for the mention!

    Everyone responds differently to meds. Brand-name Pepto works miracles for me, but the store brand does nothing. There’s no good reason for this. Thyroid meds are like any other – one brand might work differently than another and there’s no way to know until you try. However, none of them will work if you have low iron or low cortisol. Have you had your iron checked, including your ferritin? As for the adrenal test, I’d say just do it. I hyped it up too much in my mind too, and the truth is, it’s pretty easy, so it’s better to just get it done. Because no amount of raising Armour will work if your adrenals are the problem, and the increased NDT could actually harm you.

    If you need to prioritize Thyroid reading (I don’t know about Lyme books) I suggest starting with Stop The Thyroid Madness. There’s a chapter or two about how to raise doses that you might like.

    Also, check out the FTPO (For Thyroid Patients Only) groups on Facebook. Even if you don’t feel comfortable posting, just linger and read what others write. It can be very educational. Of course, you have to take it with a grain of salt – not everyone knows what they’re talking about – but some people are a lot more helpful than my doctors have been (not that the bar was set very high for that.)

    Keep in mind that it’s normal to have changes in symptoms when you change your NDT dose, but it’s not normal for those changes to last. That’s the part of your story that worries me. If you have increased symptoms for a few days, that’s just your body adjusting to a new normal. If they last a month, that could indicate another problem, like low iron or low cortisol. Try to write down in a journal when the symptoms start, what they are, and when they subside. That way you can keep track.

    Best of luck!!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. OK, this is embarrassing. I have read a few chapters of “Stop the Thyroid Madness” (revised edition), but I have already forgotten what I read. I have so much trouble retaining information. I definitely have to review the chapters on the adrenals! Thanks for reminding me about the Facebook groups! I did join them but was taking a Facebook vacation for a while. I was just reading one and it is very helpful. My iron was good on my last test, so maybe the cortisol. I have to calculate my Reverse T3 ratio also, and I am looking into buying a thermometer!

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      1. Ah, the joy of brain fog. We steadfastly do the research, then can’t remember any of it! After a while I started taking notes, and that really helps – it’s much faster and easier to just go back to the notes when I forget things.

        I’m glad the groups are helping. I find them so useful. Good luck with that cortisol test!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I use Dragon to write, but you have to wear a headset and make corrections. It never quite hears you perfectly. It’s a pain. But you gave me an idea for ebooks, which is that I can use the voice software in my tablet to take notes. I just realized it had that feature. Do you take a lot of notes for all the books you read and just put them in a notebook? That seems like a good way to deal with brain fog.

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      3. That’s a good idea! I hope it works! As for me, I don’t take a lot of notes. I just write down the most relevant things. A lot of the basics are repeated over and over in different books, so I only write them down once. And I make notes of urls that link to useful web pages, so I don’t have to copy everything down from them. In hindsight, maybe I should have written down a bit more, but mostly it’s working for me at this point.

        Liked by 1 person

  11. I love YOUR posts for the same reasons! 😀 I have to figure out how to make my posts shorter. It’s embarrassing because I used to be a copy editor, so I should know how to make things more concise! I can’t seem to edit myself. 😛

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  12. Hey. I’ve recently switched from Armour (120 mcg) to Nature-Throid. After one month of 1 3/4 grain (113 mcg) my TSH went up from ~2 to ~25. Yikes! We upped my dose to 2 grains (130 mcg) but my TSH still went up to ~28. I am so confused! I’m calling the doctor later this morning but she’ll probably just want to go back to Armour. I was still having fatigue and brain fog with Armour so I though Nature-Throid would maybe help with those.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So crazy that your TSH went up after you increased the dose! There is also compounded thyroid and WP Thyroid, which is made by the same lab as Nature-throid. Are you eating anything that would interfere with absorbing thyroid meds? Are you having anything with calcium or fiber close to the time when you take the meds? I was using a protein powder with fiber about an hour after taking my thyroid pills and the fiber vacuumed everything up!

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  13. I know this is from 2015, but I am curious. Did you ever switch to WP Thyroid? I am contemplating the same thing. I have been trying for the last year to find the right dose of Naturethroid with all kinds of symptoms. I have had a very trying time with the T3. In June of this year I gave up and decided to go mostly levo and try to keep some of the Naturethroid for just a little T3. Very long story and lots of weird symptoms mostly heart/chest related. I am currently taking a combination of 75 Levo and what had been 2 grains of Naturethroid but I have had to back off on that and am down to 1 3/4 grains Naturethroid in the last week here. I stupidly thought it may be a good idea to try to switch to WP Thyroid a few weeks ago thinking maybe all of my problems are absorption related so I had my pharmacy fill a refill of Naturethroid with WP Thyroid instead. And oh my goodness for the first 2 days I felt like I was in heaven!! But from that 3rd day on I felt like all of a sudden it was way too much again. I tried reducing the WP way down for a couple of days but I just couldn’t regulate my self again so I decided to go back to Naturethroid and during this whole time I caught a whopper of a cold and bronchitis/sinus problems which are still slightly lingering. So all in all after all of this i felt hyper (just had labs and they didn’t show hyper). My T4 was at 1.27 but my T3 was at the bottom of the range at 2.19. I have never been able to get my T3 up high without feeling hyper. I would still like to try to go to WP someday because it just seemed like it really got into me i felt wonderful for the first couple days But I think if I do that I need some major dose switching. I hope you see this, I am curious what kind of experience you had with it.

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    1. Sadly, I never ended up trying it. I’m on Armour combined with extra compounded T3. I’m waiting for the results of some new tests. It sounds like you had a strange experience with it, what with the feeling great and then feeling hyper. Maybe the dose as you suggested. Ha, don’t worry that this is from 2014–I’m amazed someone saw it.

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