Alternatives to Synthroid: which other medications can I take?

Synthroid is an FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) approved brand-name medication manufactured by AbbVie, Inc. Synthroid is used to replace the hormone that would normally be produced by your thyroid gland.

Synthroid is a commonly used thyroid medication however, it may not be suitable for everyone or there may be those who want to manage their condition naturally. Here, we will look at what Synthroid is, how it works, and what alternatives are available.

What is Synthroid (levothyroxine)?

Symptoms of low thyroid hormone levels include tiredness, muscle aches, constipation, dry skin, weight gain, slow heartbeat, or sensitivity to cold. Synthroid contains levothyroxine sodium as the active ingredient and is used:

  • As thyroid hormone replacement therapy in primary (thyroidal), secondary (pituitary), and tertiary (hypothalamic) congenital or acquired hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)
  • Alongside surgery and radioiodine therapy in the management of thyrotropin-dependent well-differentiated thyroid cancer
  • For the suppression of thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), this helps with the treatment of certain types of thyroid cancers and goiters

Synthroid is not recommended for the suppression of benign thyroid nodules and nontoxic diffuse goiter in iodine-sufficient patients, or for the treatment of hypothyroidism during the recovery phase of subacute thyroiditis. Synthroid is also not for the treatment of obesity or weight loss.

Synthroid dosage

Synthroid is available in tablet form, in the following doses: 25, 50, 75, 88, 100, 112, 125, 137, 150, 175, 200, and 300 mcg.

Synthroid is taken once daily, on an empty stomach, half to one hour before breakfast. You should take Synthroid at least 4 hours before or after drugs that are known to affect its absorption. Your starting dose will depend on a number of factors, including your age, body weight, cardiovascular status, and other medications you take.

If you forget to take a dose of this medication, take it as soon as you remember. If it is near the time of your next dose, skip the missed dose and take your next dose at the normal time.

You are advised to read the medication guide provided with this medicine for the drug information and patient information, and always speak with your healthcare provider for medical advice about any changes to your dose so they can monitor and evaluate your condition.

Synthroid side effects

The most common side effects of Synthroid include:

  • Irregular heartbeats, palpitations, myocardial infarction
  • Dyspnea
  • Muscle spasms, muscle weakness
  • Headache
  • Anxiety, irritability
  • Trouble sleeping, tiredness
  • Increased appetite, weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Intolerance to heat
  • Menstrual changes
  • Skin rash
  • Chest pain, shortness of breath
  • Partial hair loss

Synthroid can cause more serious side effects. These can include:

  • Cardiac adverse reactions in the elderly and in patients with underlying cardiovascular disease
  • Acute adrenal crisis in patients with concomitant adrenal insufficiency
  • Hyperthyroidism or incomplete treatment of hypothyroidism
  • Worsening of diabetic control
  • Decreased bone mineral density

Your doctor will assess the benefits of using Synthroid against your risk of side effects. Patients are encouraged to report negative side effects or adverse reactions of Synthroid to the FDA. Visit www.fda.gov/medwatch, or call 1-800-FDA-1088.

Synthroid drug interactions

Synthroid can interact with other medications including:

  • Cholestyramine, colestipol, colesevelam
  • Antacids
  • Sucralfate
  • Simethicone, iron, sodium polystyrene sulfonate
  • Calcium supplements
  • Orlistat, lanthanum, sevelamer
  • Certain medicines used to treat high cholesterol

This list is not exhaustive and other prescription drugs may interact with Synthroid. Tell your doctor if you are taking any other drugs, including prescription and over-the-counter products.

What are some other medications that can replace Synthroid?

  • Cytomel contains liothyronine, a synthetic thyroid hormone ingredient. Regular blood tests will need to be done when using Cytomel as liothyronine is absorbed quicker by the body than levothyroxine, causing an increased risk of side effects</li
  • Thyrolar contains liotrix, a combination of synthetic T4 and T3. Thyrolar may be used to help supplement thyroid hormones for the treatment of hypothyroidism
  • Levoxyl, Unithroid, and Tirosint are alternative branded versions of levothyroxine. These are FDA approved for the treatment of hypothyroidism and for the suppression of TSH for thyroid cancers, euthyroid goiters, and other thyroid problems.

What are some natural thyroid alternatives to Synthroid?

  • Armour Thyroid is a dried thyroid extract from animal thyroid glands (porcine/pig). Armour thyroid contains thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3) and is used to treat hypothyroidism and thyroid cancer. Armour Thyroid is not FDA-approved, but may still be recommended as a treatment option. Hypothyroid patients report better results after using Armour Thyroid compared to using levothyroxine, despite an increased risk of side effects
  • Selenium is thought to play an essential part in thyroid functions. Low selenium levels are associated with thyroid diseases, such as hypothyroidism and ensuring levels of selenium are maintained at the correct level may help to reduce thyroid problems. Further clinical trials are required however, to assess how effective selenium is at reducing this risk
  • Low levels of vitamin B12 may be linked to problems with the thyroid gland, including autoimmune thyroid diseases, such as Hashimoto’s disease and hypothyroidism. vitamin B12 may help to maintain thyroid function
  • Vitamin D is taken with calcium, to maintain the proper development of bones. Low Vitamin D levels have also been shown to be linked to thyroid disease and taking vitamin D may help to manage thyroid problems in those taking levothyroxine
  • Essential oils are thought to help manage the symptoms of hypothyroidism. These include lavender, peppermint, rosemary, sandalwood, and lemongrass. Clinical trials are required to confirm this
  • Herbal remedies may be used to maintain healthy thyroid hormone levels. Herbal remedies however are not FDA-approved and have not been tested in the same way as treatments your doctor may prescribe. Examples of herbal remedies include Bladderwrack, a type of seaweed containing iodine, minerals, and dietary fibers, and Ashwagandha root extract which may have some benefits for thyroid hormone levels
  • A healthy, well-balanced diet, containing fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins can help to maintain a healthy endocrine system
  • Weight gain and a slow metabolic rate are common when you have hypothyroidism. Your doctor may recommend an increase in physical activity to help you manage your weight gain or obesity. Exercises such as swimming, walking, or jogging may be useful
  • Managing stress may help to regulate your thyroid hormone levels. Try yoga or meditation, and other relaxation methods to help reduce your stress

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Sources (2)

  1. FDA - highlights of prescribing information for Synthroid

  2. Drugs.com - Synthroid

The content on this website is intended for information purposes only. It does not constitute medical advice. The information on this website should not be relied upon and is not a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always speak to your doctor regarding the risks and benefits of any treatment.
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