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Armour® Thyroid is the registered trademark and brand name of a medication that replaces thyroid functions when the thyroid is unable to produce its own essential hormones for regulating body activities. This medication is described as being a natural preparation that is a pure form of thyroid hormones. The medication is used as hormone replacement therapy for persons who have lost their thyroid function for different reasons, which can include natural causes, surgery, or radiation treatment.
From its introduction until the late 1950s, Armour® Thyroid was the only prescribed medication available for treating hypothyroidism. At that time, synthetic drugs came onto the market with the introduction of levothyroxine, which was based upon the natural thyroid hormone, thyroxine.
Levothyroxine, as a synthetic chemical compound, began to be widely marketed under various brand names, such as Synthroid®. These drugs competed with Armour® Thyroid in the prescription drug market, and it began to be recognized that they could mimic the essential hormones created by a normally functioning thyroid gland about as well as the thyroid supplementation provided by the natural supplements. Medical practitioners began to prescribe the synthetics in large numbers.
Armour® Thyroid is developed from “desiccated thyroid,” which consists of dried and pulverized thyroid glands obtained from pigs, sometimes with an admixture of beef glands. Until the development of this medication, thyroid extracts were used to treat conditions of hypothyroidism, an underproduction of thyroid hormones.
The metabolism of the body is regulated by two essential hormones produced by the thyroid: thyroxine, or T4, working in tandem with triiodothyronine, or T3. The thyroid gland needs iodine to produce these hormones. Armour® Thyroid — as well as similar natural thyroid medications — uses thyroid powder to address these issues, since it contains the same basic T4 and T3 ratios, as well as the necessary iodine. The synthetics, however, such as Thyrolar®, achieve these ratios by using chemical formulas to produce pseudo-hormones, which the manufacturers say is equivalent to the body’s natural ratio of 4:1 for T4 and T3, respectively.
Synthetics tend to have an edge in the pharmaceutical market over Armour® Thyroid and other natural thyroid medications. Although it has been reported by various patients that they “feel better” when taking Armour® Thyroid, clinical trials have not shown significant differences between natural thyroid supplements and the synthetic preparations in regard to using either type of thyroid medication. Additionally, vegetarians have preferred the use of synthetic derivatives over natural medications, such as Armour® Thyroid, due to the use of animal products in their manufacturing process.
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