What is DTE Therapy?

DTE stands for “desiccated thyroid extract” which is made up of thyroid hormones refined from pig thyroid and used to treat people with hypothyroidism (low thyroid hormone). This is possible because human and pig thyroid are very similar in the types of thyroid hormone they contain.  For over 100 years, DTE had been used successfully to treat hypothyroidism.

T4, also known as levothyroxine, is the most abundant of the 4 thyroid hormones and synthetic levothyroxine has almost completely replaced DTE treatment since the 1980’s.  There is no scientific evidence however, that synthetic T4 is better than DTE for treating hypothyroidism. The almost universal switch to levothyroxine and away from DTE appears to be due to a shrewd worldwide marketing campaign by the makers of brand synthetic T4.

Due to this marketing, Synthroid, the major brand of synthetic T4, became the most widely prescribed medication in the U.S. Only in recent years has the medical community begun to recognize the benefit of using DTE treatment for individuals suffering with persistent symptoms of hypothyroidism, despite what appears to be satisfactory amounts of thyroid hormone replacement with T4. Could this benefit be due to the higher concentration of the active thyroid hormone,  T3 (liothyronine) ,  provided by DTE compared to T4? This is the subject of on-going studies by medical scientists at this time. 

Wall Street Journal Reporter Helps Bring Clarity to Thyroid Treatment Controversy

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On April 11, 2016 an article, Doctors Hear Patients’ Calls for New Approaches to Hypothyroidism, appeared in the Wall Street Journal regarding the growing influence of patient preference on treatment selection for hypothyroidism (sluggish thyroid). The article was written by the WSJ health columnist Melinda Beck. I might have missed it but thanks to a motivated patient I received a copy within a week after its publication.  With a glance I knew this report could be a highly significant addition in the on-going debate between specialists treating hypothyroidism (endocrinologists) and advocates of alternative approaches. (more…)

Public Support and New Research Promote Changes in Thyroid Treatment Guidelines

http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-photo-thumbs-up-down-image17557325In a blog at metabolism.com several months ago, website visitors were asked to join an email campaign addressed to Dr. Mack Harrell, President of the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists (AACE). The purpose was to ask help reversing the existing practice recommendation # 22.4 published by the AACE in 2012, calling for a ban on the use of Armour Thyroid in the treatment of hypothyroidism.  With over 800 individuals participating, the campaign appears to have achieved some success as the latest AACE treatment guidelines  released last month no longer stipulate that desiccated thyroid is unfit for treatment of hypothyroidism. Instead the statement is issued, “ We recommend that levothyroxine be considered as routine care for patients with primary hypothyroidism, in preference to use of thyroid extracts. “,   and…. “ Furthermore, there are potential safety concerns related to the use of thyroid extracts, such as the presence of supraphysiologic (unnaturally elevated, ed.) serum T3 levels and paucity of long-term safety outcome data.” (more…)

Pharmacies Label Armour Thyroid “Illegal” and Issue Therapeutic Warning

 

by Gary Pepper, M.D.http://www.dreamstime.com/royalty-free-stock-images-danger-sign-skull-symbol-image31277139

Early in May 2014 a patient being treated with Armour Thyroid (desiccated thyroid) for hypothyroidism reported that her pharmacy service would not refill her prescription for Armour Thyroid because it was an “illegal” drug. We were both very distressed to learn of this, but for different reasons. My patient was rightfully concerned that she might be receiving a wildly inappropriate medication, while I was concerned that I might not be able to prescribe a medication I knew to be extremely helpful and safe. (more…)

Slow Acceptance by Doctors of Combination Treatment for Hypothyroidism

Mainstream endocrinologists seem to be moving grudgingly toward acceptance of combination T4 plus T3 therapy for hypothyroidism. A great example of the mixed feelings harbored by endocrinologists in this regard is the title of a recent editorial, “ Combo (treatment) a Last Resort for Hypothyroidism” . Although the author, Dr. Bruce Jancin of the University of Colorado, recognized the value of combination T4 plus T3 therapy, he did so with the least possible enthusiasm. In his article the doctor acknowledged the weakness of scientific studies showing negative results with combination therapy and pointed out the findings of the Watts Study which provides a genetic rationale for why some people need to have T3 added to T4 to return to proper thyroid hormone balance. (more…)

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