Hillary Clinton uses unconventional thyroid treatment

Thyroid Health

By pH health care professionals

In September, Hillary Clinton’s doctor issued a report outlining the presidential candidate’s health, including her treatment for pneumonia, sinusitis, an ear infection and a fever. It also included scores on blood tests as well as a list of her medications. Many news organizations took the report and ran with it, with an emphasis on Clinton’s pneumonia as an explanation for her near collapse after a 9/11 ceremony. However, there was another interesting tidbit in the report that was largely overlooked -- Hillary Clinton’s hypothyroidism and the unique treatment she uses.

So what is hypothyroidism?

According to the American Thyroid Association, hypothyroidism is “a condition where the thyroid gland does not produce enough thyroid hormone. Symptoms include extreme fatigue, depression, forgetfulness and some weight gain.”

The thyroid produces two important hormones called T4 and T3, which affect metabolism, your energy and even how fast you can think. T4 converts to T3, the more active hormone of the two, when it interacts with other cells in your bloodstream.

So in a nutshell, you need to have adequate levels of both T4 and T3, and your T4 needs to be able to convert to T3.

The standard treatment for hypothyroidism is a synthetic T4 thyroid hormone medication called levothyroxine (Synthroid). The goal is to replace the T4 your thyroid is not producing, and for your body to convert the T4 to T3. However, some people have raised the question, what if your body does not convert T4 to T3 the way it should? Hence, some people turn to a T4/T3 combination treatment.

What does Clinton take?

Hillary Clinton uses a T4/T3 combination medication called Armour Thyroid. According to her doctor, she has “remained stable for many years” taking it for her low T3 levels.

Armour is a brand of natural desiccated thyroid (dried and powdered thyroid extract from pigs) that contains both T4 and T3. It may sound odd, but it’s certainly not new! The use of animal thyroid extract dates back to the 19th century, as it was once the only treatment option. Now, it’s no longer the standard, but still, there are people who report feeling better on Armour -- especially if they could not convert T4 to T3.

However, the American Thyroid Association and the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists have raised some concerns. For one, the balance of T4 and T3 in animals is not the same as in humans, so hormones from animal thyroid pills may not be as “natural” to your body as people hope. In addition, the amount of T4 and T3 in the desiccated thyroid may vary from batch to batch, so keeping your thyroid hormone levels steady can be an issue (make sure to test often!). Additionally, research hasn’t shown desiccated thyroid hormones to be any more effective than levothyroxine.

Be proactive

If you need help deciphering between treatment options and getting to the root of your health issues, contact a patient advocate. Also, be sure you are getting a comprehensive thyroid blood test on a regular basis.

Enjoy Your Healthy Life!

The pH professional health care team includes recognized experts from a variety of health care and related disciplines, including physicians, health care attorneys, nutritionists, nurses and certified fitness instructors. To learn more about the pH Health Care Team, click here. 

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