Q: Are there any natural treatments for hypothyroidism?

I would like to know a natural hormonal/thyroid drug to use. Are you familiar with a product called Armour? I would appreciate your knowledge on this topic.

A: Hypothyroidism is a major illness in the U.S., affecting an estimated 13 million people. For the past 40 years, most mainstream physicians have been treating their hypothyroid patients with a synthetic prescription drug called Synthroid. Unfortunately, this protocol has one major flaw: Synthroid doesn't work!

There was a study that specifically compared the synthetic thyroid treatment (Synthroid) to the natural thyroid treatment (Armour). The results showed that the patients scored better after receiving the natural thyroid Armour on 6 of 17 measures of mood and cognition than those on the synthetic drug Synthroid. Results of mood and physical status tests were better in 10 of 15 instances. There was also biochemical evidence that thyroid hormone action was greater after treatment with natural thyroid rather than the synthetic.

Can there really be that big of a difference between natural and synthetic? You bet. I learned the crucial difference when I opened my practice in Sarasota, Florida in 1962. I put all hypothyroid patients I treated on Synthroid. The results were disappointing to say the least. Many patients did not respond.

I did a little additional research, and I found 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. Problem is, many patients don't have the enzymatic capability to make that conversion. Synthroid is T4.

After I discovered this fact, I switched all of my hypothyroid patients to the natural thyroid product, Armour, which is a combination of T3 and T4. The majority of these patients experienced an almost immediate improvement.

If you are currently taking synthetic thyroid medication, don't do anything drastic. Consult your physician before making any changes to your regimen. And if you want to locate a physician in your area who will be able to assist you with natural thyroid treatments, contact the American College for Advancement in Medicine ( www.acam.org ) or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (www.naturopathic.org ).