I’m switching back to levothyroxine

After two years of taking natural desiccated thyroids (NDTs), I’m switching back to the standard medication for hypothyroidism: levothyroxine. Read on to find out why. (If you want the TL;DR version, then here it is: I’m switching because I think my NDT is giving me tinnitus.)

2014-15: Levothyroxine

In 2013 and 2014, I had this colourful collection of symptoms:

  • Always tired, despite sleeping well
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty concentrating – like being in a mind fog
  • Bags under my eyes
  • Low-level depression
  • I was 27 but I looked 37
  • Always thinking about my health
  • Low libido

I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in June 2014. The doctor prescribed me with levothyroxine, which is the standard treatment for hypothyroid patients. I was fairly happy with this medication even though the doctor seemed slow to increase the dosage.

I began to see some of my health problems disappear. My elbows were no longer dry, red or raw. At a daily dosage of 150 mcg I was able to grow a magnificent beard for the first time in my life:

2015-17: NDTs

During this time I was reading stopthethyroidmadness.com. The gist of this website is that levothyroxine is crap. The website urges patients to take NDTs instead. Apparently NDTs are like ground-up angel wings mixed with fairy dust.

Unsurprisingly, the website made me want to try NDTs. In 2015, I discovered I could buy them on the internet. First I tried Armour, then Thyro-Gold, then Thiroyd, then Thiroyd-S. I was like a kid in a candy shop.

I could raise my dosage at will since a doctor wasn’t controlling me. So I steadily increased my dosage. I did this because I was tired of being hypothyroid. I had been hypothyroid for years and I wanted desperately for it to stop.

I was also swayed by statements such as “[don’t be] afraid to go higher!” (stopthethyroidmadness.com) as well as this sentence from www.naturalthyroidsolutions.com: “customers were satisfied with their use of the product when they took either 6, 7, or 8 capsules each day”.

The highest dosage I reached was ten grains of Thiroyd per day plus 100 mcg of levothyroxine, which is the equivalent of 770 mcg of T4. (That’s over four times the amount of T4 that doctors usually prescribe). Unsurprisingly, I started getting symptoms of overmedication. The first thing I noticed was my heart beating hard and fast. My heart rate was sometimes over 100 beats per minute. My girlfriend said she could even see my heart pounding through my shirt while I was asleep. But I thought my body just needed to adapt to the high dosage. I thought my heart rate would return to normal after a few weeks.

I also started getting dry skin on my face and scalp, and especially on my forehead. I’d had dandruff before, but nothing like this. Whenever I rubbed my moustache, beard or scalp, an excited flurry of dandruff would fall off my head like snow in a snowglobe. Here’s a photo of my t-shirt after I had been rubbing my beard for several minutes:

And here’s a photo of dry skin under my moustache:

But worst of all was the tinnitus. I first noticed it in November 2016. I could hear a ringing in my ears most of the time – even when I was outside on the street. This was a low point in my life. I heard a high-pitched ringing all the time. All the time.

I realised that a high dosage of NDT could be causing the tinnitus, so I reduced my dosage to 2-3 grains per day. But after a month on this lowered dosage, the tinnitus was still there, strong as ever.

The current situation

I still have dry skin and the dreaded tinnitus. The tinnitus hasn’t gotten better but it hasn’t gotten worse either. At the moment it sounds like a high-pitched ringing plus the random screeches of dial-up internet.

And that’s why I’m switching back to levothyroxine: I want the ringing and screeching to stop. And I really hope I haven’t caused permanent damage to my ears because I don’t want tinnitus for the rest of my life.

There’s also the fact that the medical community and most doctors condemn NDTs. So I’ve been going against scientific and medical advice to follow the advice of a website instead. Jesus Christ.

Finally, here’s a cool and terrifying chart showing my dosage over time:

23 thoughts on “I’m switching back to levothyroxine

  • December 17, 2017 at 8:12 am
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    I think your problem is caused by high t4 from ndt and this t4 is converted to reverse t3 and make you hypo. If this is true levo will not help much but t3 only can help. Maybe you cant convert t4 to t3 and you need only t3.

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  • December 9, 2017 at 8:55 pm
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    Wow, you really were taking way too much NDT, much you didn’t have a heart attack!
    OK so GP’s won’t prescribe NDT because it’s not a registered drug in the UK but the main reason is the same old one which is £££, Levo is cheap as chips and they are hand in hand with the big Pharma who produce it. Some GP’s prescribe NDT if you are lucky but mostly not.
    I experienced all your bad symptoms with heart palps with Levo now these have gone since NDT, I only take 1 grain per day and this works for me.
    Tinnitus is not your ears but brain, as you’ll have discovered this has no cure and you do learn to live with it, sad to say it’ll never disappear but fade and get louder according to your triggers i.e.stress etc, it can affect anyone and I have had it since abusing my hearing in the 80’s, I went to a conference recently, you just need to zone out of the noise if you can. Stinks I know but Levo ain’t gonna change it!

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  • November 29, 2017 at 1:08 pm
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    Hi I’m going back to Levo .75 because I’m feeling bloated gained weight feel depressed . I was on NT for 6 months and now I can’t even find it so just going back to Levi ..any advises on switching ?

    Reply
  • November 29, 2017 at 7:12 am
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    Tinnitus. In my case appears to go if I don’t eat starch. At all. Including starch in tablets/ medicines. (Look up leaky gut, Carol Sinclair, Alan Ebringer, klebsiella, proteus, gluten, nsd, etc etc.) I also get a tinnitus reaction if I eat too much of some sugars. I have my suspicions about cane sugar (which I believe is sprayed with glyphosate?), but not done any proper experiments yet. In the meantime I’m only using coconut or beet-based sugar, or organic if I can find it. And not eating too much anyway.

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  • October 23, 2017 at 9:09 pm
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    Hi 👋
    I have switched from levothyroxine 50 MCG to Thyroid-s 30 mg. My heart ❤️ is beating harder and I am having problems sleeping. Is this normal. This is the third week and I was wondering if the side effects will get better? How long does it take to kick in? I guess everyone is different just wanted some feed back.
    Thank you.
    Vikki Rainbows 🌈

    Reply
  • October 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm
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    how are you feeling on T4 now? after 4 years trying NDT i am going to try 125mcg of Synthroid

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  • October 17, 2017 at 6:51 pm
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    I hope you’re doing well! I am one of the rare people who took NDT before ever taking a T4 med. My hypothyroidism is more subclinical and I don’t test positive for antibodies. Anyway, I couldn’t tolerate NDT…. I guess I’m just too sensitive to the T3. It makes me feel manic and weird in the heart and all of that. I’ve tried the tiniest doses. So I just went to an endocrinologist and he said stop immediately and he put me on levothyroxine 25mcg. I feel like death now. I’m wondering what your experience has been and if it just takes a while to build up and get used to it. Maybe stopping the T3 containing med so fast made me crash? Trying to be patient!

    Reply
    • October 17, 2017 at 11:46 pm
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      Hi Lauren,
      25 mcg is a tiny dose so perhaps you’d benefit from more.
      Also, I’ve read that levothyroxine has a half-life of a week, which apparently means it takes a month for patients to feel the full effect of a new dose. So in theory, you should feel a gradual increase in your wellbeing over the next month while the levothyroxine builds up in your blood.
      Paul

      Reply
  • October 17, 2017 at 4:55 am
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    Hi paul i am a hypothyroid patient in Korea. I am just curious as to why you increased the NDT dosage so high initially. Was it because you didnt feel good on somewhat lower dosage? I have just started taking thailand thiroyd and it does feel somewhat weaker than the synthroid and cytomel combo i was on before even tho i am taking the same dosage.

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    • October 17, 2017 at 11:28 pm
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      I guess I had unrealistic expectations about hypothyroidism medication. I thought if I could reach the right dosage, then I’d become a new person, a confident extroverted person with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. I thought all my life’s problems would be solved and I’d bound out of bed every day with boundless enthusiam. That’s why I kept increasing my dosage – I kept thinking that a new happy life was just one dosage increase away. Turns out that wasn’t true. I found out that hypothyroidism medication increases your overall happiness just a little, at least for me.

      Reply
  • September 12, 2017 at 8:11 pm
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    Been there, done that. Magnesium for tinnitus. Try various types of mag to find which works best for you. That is the key, because many mag’s cannot be absorbed. I learned this after finding many hypo are mag deficient. Mag Glycenate works pretty good for me. Tip: mag and calcium in balance.

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  • September 5, 2017 at 2:04 am
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    Hey man. i wanted to ask you, did your tinnitus get any better after going back to levo ? and why are you going to experiment with NDT´s again ? also i wanted to ask, did you have any brainfog before going on any of the meds, and if yes, did the medication help with it ?

    i have brainfog / concentration problems and loud tinnitus.

    thank you

    Reply
    • September 5, 2017 at 9:45 am
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      I’m still taking levothyroxine and I’m not going to return to NDTs, at least not in the near future. I need to do more research first. I also think there may be good reasons for why nearly every doctor recommends levothyroxine over NDTs.

      I still have tinnitus. It hasn’t worsened over the last few months and in fact, it may even have improved. Either that or my brain is getting better at ignoring it. By the way, I’m not sure if NDTs did cause my tinnitus. The cause could have easily been something else. In many cases, tinnitus doesn’t even have an obvious cause.

      Before I was diagnosed with hypothyroidism in 2014, I definitely had brain fog and difficulty concentrating. Then when I started taking levothyroxine, both symptoms began to go away. Then I started increasing my dosage, convinced that it would reduce my brain fog further. I reached a dose of 250 mcg of levothyroxine. After that I discovered I could buy NDTs online, so I switched to high doses of those. But I didn’t get many, if any, improvements from NDTs, nor from the higher dose of levothyroxine. Though saying that, it’s also hard to tell. Symptoms are subjective and all this happened over a year ago.

      I’m now taking 150 mcg of levothyroxine, which I think is the ideal dose. If I go lower, I get depressed, and if I go higher, it feels like my heart is beating too hard.

      Reply
      • November 15, 2017 at 2:08 am
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        Tinnitus is a common symptom in adrenal dysfunction. B vitamins, magnesium and zinc are also possibilities too but it really sounds to me like you were stressing your adrenals with the high doses of NDT. You were taking way more than an average healthy thyroid produces in a day.
        I’m all for self treating if you have the knowledge and do the research and don’t have a good Dr but you should always start low and slowly titrate up about every 2 weeks and that should also include ordering labs for yourself to help guide you. People self treating and bodybuilders that take it for weight loss and energy that don’t know what they are doing and who end up taking too much and start having problems, including possible serious problems like heart attacks, death, adrenal dysfunction or even failure, sex hormone imbalance, hypogonadism, permanent damage to their own thyroid and in the case of bodybuilders permanent damage when they had a healthy thyroid to begin with. This is why NDT and T3 gets the bad rap it does because of people who abuse it when they don’t really need it and those who try to self treat when they don’t know what they’re doing. Many Bodybuilders try to get Drs to prescribe them T3 and they dr shop until they find one who’ll give them what they want or they order online, then some have complications or worse and it’s the med that gets blamed. This is why so many thyroid patients then get refused and shut down when they ask for T3 to be added in with their T4 med or ask to switch to NDT. We aren’t looking to abuse it, we just want to replace what a healthy thyroid used to give us but too many Drs are scared to.

        Reply
      • November 15, 2017 at 2:11 am
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        Also, I just noticed you said your sense of smell isn’t good. That is a common symptom of low zinc, loss of taste is too. I would get RBC zinc and RBC copper tested….they need to be in balance with each other so both should be tested.

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  • September 2, 2017 at 5:39 am
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    Thanks so much Paul for documenting all of your Thyroid experiences in detail. I’ve been on Thyro-Gold for about 3 years. Before that, I was on Levothyroxine since 2000. I was also thinking of going back to Levothyroxine. I always felt good on Levothyroxine but figured the Thyro-Gold would be better form me since it was natural and contained T1, T2, T3 and T4 and have all the great stories about NDT. I also have had tinnitus in the last few years and what you said really made me think that the cause may be NDT. Plus, Levothyroxine is a LOT cheaper.

    So please, let us know your detailed experience on going back to Levothyroxine and if you felt better, how so. I would greatly appreciate it. Thanks so much.

    Reply
  • July 22, 2017 at 12:04 pm
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    don’t start experimenting with NDTs again Paul!!. I’m switching to thyroxine too. Ended up in hospital with a pulse of 160 on only 2 1/2 grains of NDTs. I have reduced to 2 grains and am still getting an irregular pulse and thumping heart. I think it has built up in my body. ALL the doctors in the NHS can’t bewrong!!! you seem to be doing better on thyroxine so why roch=k the boat?. Good luck.

    Reply
  • June 14, 2017 at 5:16 am
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    Paul make sure your Selenium levels are good same as Vitamin D and the B Vitamins.
    I also get this often, have your iron levrks checked also.
    I loved Armour for some reason it did not me.
    I take T4 only. Since having low Adrenals fearful for taking a T3. Although a small amount might be ok.
    Take care
    Bunny

    Reply
    • June 14, 2017 at 5:20 am
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      Sorry meant to add the Selenuim helps to convert some of the T4 to T3.
      You appear to have Psoriasis or Exzema. Have you tried taking Zinc? Colostrum might help, Skin conditions sadly are part of Thyroid issues.

      Reply
    • June 15, 2017 at 11:36 pm
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      Thanks for the advice. When I get back to the UK I’ll do some blood tests through a private company called Medichecks. I’ll get them to check my Vitamin D, B, iron, zinc and selenium levels, etc. Easier than going to the doctor.

      Reply
  • May 3, 2017 at 7:48 pm
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    Really fun and interesting blog. Thanks Paul. I’m about to embark on NDT after being on T3/T4 combo for 7 years then denied T3 2 years ago due to stupid NHS/pharma cost issues… grrr. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know that I’ve now got tinnitis on levo only… so not sure its NDT related! Its a standard hypo symptom, which I found T3 helped with. I’ll be following to see how yours goes. Good luck!

    Reply
  • April 22, 2017 at 8:15 pm
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    Hey, just stumbled upon your blog, it’s fucking hilarious.

    Interested to know how you’re getting on since returning to levothyroxine. Any improvements? Also, have you looked into mixing levothyroxine with liothyronine? Sucks that NDT didn’t work for you. Looking forward to most of your posts. All the best.

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    • April 23, 2017 at 8:47 pm
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      Thanks for the kind words, random stranger. I’ve been back on levothyroxine for a month now. I haven’t seen a return of any hypo symptoms; at least, none that I can tell. More good news is that the dry skin on my face has improved a lot. My tinnitus has improved a little too. I’m going to wait for the tinnitus to fuck off completely before I start experimenting with NDTs again.
       
      Unfortunately though, my sense of smell is terrible these days. I couldn’t smell a dog shit unless you smeared it into my nostrils. It might be unrelated to the levothyroxine though because my sense of smell has always been capricious. Hypothyroidism is a strange beast.

      Reply

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