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A few people have asked me before:
I’d like to try NDT but I’m vegetarian, what are my options?
I’d like to try NDT but don’t eat pork, what can I do?
Many of us have read about how well people do on a type of thyroid medication called Natural Desiccated Thyroid. For those who don’t consume pork though, this medication made from dried porcine gland can pose a lot of questions.
Whilst NDT tends to work well because it’s so similar to your own thyroid, containing what your own thyroid would be giving you; T1, T2, T3, T4 and Calcitonin, for those who don’t consume pork, it’s not as simple.
For some, avoiding pork, being vegetarian or vegan is a lifestyle choice, cultural or religious instruction.
So What Can You Do?
One alternative is the combination of synthetic T4 (such as Levothyroxine and Synthroid) and synthetic T3 (Cytomel) medication, but it’s worth being aware that Tirosint (a T4 Levothyroxine medicine) can contain gelatine, so always check what you’re given. Synthetic T3 medication can be prescribed alongside your T4, though is harder to get than regular T4-only medication. Many people see an endocrinologist or private practitioner for this medication. Much like NDT.
The T3 and T4 combination is often reported to be more successful at treating hypothyroidism and the associated symptoms than T4 alone, since you are not relying on your body to convert the T4 in to T3 (T3 being the most active thyroid hormone and one we also need to feel well).
Compounded biodentical T3 and T4 could also be an option. A reader contacted me to suggest this as she is vegan and prefers this preparation to actual NDT medication, as it lets her sleep better.
Another option, if you can’t have pork but can consume other meat, is a bovine NDT (made from cows). There are ‘over the counter’ bovine NDT products called Thyrogold and Thyrovanz, referred to as a ‘dietary supplement’. However, I always recommend that people use great caution when ordering thyroid medication or glandular containing supplements online. The best option is always to have a doctor prescribe this medication for you.
Another alternative is to consider looking at NDT in a different way. Thyroid hormone is needed in order for you to live and function. Does this take precedence over your what your religion/culture/morals dictate?
Well, that’s for you to decide.
You could speak to a religious figure at your church, temple, mosque etc. and discuss this subject with them if you’re unsure about what to do.
One thing is certain, though. It’s completely your decision and only you know what you feel comfortable with.
You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.
If you do not consume pork but have wanted to try NDT medication, what did you do? Share in the comments below.
Rachel Hill is the highly ranked and multi-award winning thyroid patient advocate, writer, blogger, speaker and author behind The Invisible Hypothyroidism. She has two books: ‘Be Your Own Thyroid Advocate‘ and ‘You, Me and Hypothyroidism‘. Her thyroid advocacy work includes authoring books, writing articles, blogging and speaking on podcasts, as well as being a board member for The American College of Thyroidology. Rachel has worked with The National Academy of Hypothyroidism, BBC, The Mighty, Yahoo, MSN, ThyroidChange and more. She is well-recognised as a useful contributor to the thyroid community and has received multiple awards and recognitions for her work and dedication. Rachel is British, but advocates for thyroid patients on a global scale.