NDT Before and After Photos

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Before and after photos of switching thyroid medication are powerful and scream volumes. 

The most common ‘before and after photos’ we see in the thyroid community tend to involve a ‘before’ on Levothyroxine and an ‘after’ on Natural Desiccated Thyroid.

In my Facebook support group, members have told me they find them really helpful and motivating to look at. So, I committed to taking photos of myself throughout my thyroid journey, to show the difference NDT has had on me, too. You can see these below. 

March 2015

This picture makes me feel sad whenever I look at it.

A selfie of Rachel looking very ill before NDT
Taken in March 2015.

I was at my worst, symptoms-wise, when I took this photo. I felt like no one believed how awful I really felt. I was lost, confused and pretty darn scared. I was overwhelmingly exhausted, my body ached like the worst flu I’d ever had, and so I KNEW something wasn’t right. I’d been feeling this way since September 2014 and it was only getting worse.

Doctors eventually ran a load of tests in April 2015, after I hadn’t gotten any better 7 months later, and it came back with my TSH being too high, around a 6, when the range used was about 1-5, and I was also anaemic. I was put on iron tablets for the anaemia but thyroid medication was withheld. I was told to wait another two months and see if the iron tablets ‘fix it’. Then we’d look at thyroid medication.

Of course, I felt nothing but worse, two months later. At that point, my TSH was even higher, and I was put on Levothyroxine for my hypothyroidism (July 2015).

The most noticeable differences in how I looked here, compared to when I was a healthy twenty year old, include the huge bags under my eyes, uneven skin tone, pinky-purple lash lines, thinned eyebrows, and a gaunt look to my face. I generally look very sick.

October 2015

I’d been on Levothyroxine for nearly 4 months when this photo was taken. My face

A photo of Rachel looking tired whilst on Levothyroxine
Taken in October 2015

had started getting puffier and my symptoms only got worse. You can see I still had the big bags under my eyes but my eyebrows were growing back a little. My skin was looking somewhat better. I was gaining weight, too.

I had over 20 total symptoms by this point, meaning I had gained more than when I was just tired back in March before being put on Levothyroxine.

I was gaining more and more symptoms on Levothyroxine.

These include, but are not limited to: Tiredness, fatigue, muscle aches and pains, brain fog, confusion, long recovery period, brittle hair and nails, sensitivity to cold (cold hands and feet), poor appetite, inability to lose weight,  slow in movement, thoughts and speech, hoarse voice, thinned eyebrows, constipation, acid reflux, hormonal migraines, anxiety, dry and tight skin, heavy periods, joint Stiffness and pain, hot flushes, depression, numbness in limbs, weight gain (two stone in under six months), inability to lose weight, very emotional all the time, wind, restless legs, constantly itchy and sore scalp and worsening fatigue.

Doctors carried on telling me that my TSH was ‘in range’ so I was being ‘optimally treated’. They told me all these symptoms were all in my head and that I had to ‘let them go’. I read online and in books about why I could still be feeling unwell with a ‘fine’ TSH, and I started to realise that going by TSH alone wasn’t the correct way to measure how I was doing on my thyroid meds. You can read more on that here. I started looking at NDT medication too, and began hearing that it had a higher success rate than Levothyroxine.

January 2016

By November, I decided that I wanted to try a medicine that made a lot more sense to me than Levothyroxine; NDT. However, after asking many doctors, none would prescribe it so I decided to self-source it. I must stress here though that I never recommend this lightly and always suggest obtaining it from a doctor wherever possible. Buying your own medication online is incredibly risky and can be dangerous. 

A selfie of Rachel looking healthier just after starting NDT
Taken in January 2016

I started it mid-December, and I was seeing results within a couple of weeks. By January, I was feeling significantly better, and all but one symptom had gone; my fatigue. I was so pleased that I was able to exercise and workout again, that I took this photo.

All of those symptoms mentioned above, besides the fatigue, had gone.

I also found out in January that I had adrenal fatigue (though it is more accurately referred to as hypothalamic-pituitary axis dysfunction), likely the culprit for my ongoing fatigue, so I started working on fixing this by trying a few supplements. Needless to say though, I was feeling loads better just by switching to NDT. I hope to get it prescribed one day so I no longer have to buy it myself.

You can see in the photo that my skin is more even and healthy looking, the puffiness in my face has gone, the bags under my eyes are a lot better and I generally look a lot healthier than before.

July 2016

I was still on NDT and doing well, although still had adrenal fatigue but quality of life was good and I was generally doing well day -to-day. My GP was happy with my progress on the medication and continued to monitor me closely, adjusting my dosage if he saw fit.

A selfie of Rachel looking healthier and happier
Taken in July 2016

I was able to live without my hypothyroidism being a  conscious thought or problem.

This is how I’ve looked since, and I don’t think there is any improvement to be had in terms of looking any healthier. You can see it in my skin, eyes, face shape etc. that I was much healthier on the NDT compared to nothing at all a year earlier, or Levothyroxine just eight months prior. I’d been on NDT for 8 months and I was already lots better in how I looked and felt.

You can click on the hyperlinks in the above post to learn more and see references to information given.

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Written by Rachel, The Invisible Hypothyroidism

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3 thoughts on “NDT Before and After Photos

  1. Wow, your improvement on NDT is amazing!
    I am also on NDT (self-sourced) but am having trouble fine-tuning the dosage….I spent 16 years on T4 only and felt terrible (plus put on almost 30 kilograms of excess weight), and I have managed to lose most of it while on NDT, but I have started developing some unpleasant symptoms lately. They are symptomatic of both hypo- and hyperthyroidism which may be considered normal since I have Hashimoto’s disease where you supposedly swing from hypo to hyper back to hypo, but I have had Hashi’s for over 20 years and these symptoms have developed recently which makes me think I’m doing something wrong…either getting too much T3 from the NDT, or not enough T4, meaning the T3:T4 ratio in NDT is wrong for me and it would be wise to add some synthetic T4 to the mix…however, I’ve also wondered if the brand I’m using (Thai brand Thyroid-S) is the problem as it contains over 20 fillers and binders. I have been considering trying another brand of NDT with fewer fillers to see if it makes a difference. Can I ask you which brand of NDT you’re on, and how much you’re taking? Also, do you have any idea what your free Ts should ideally look like when optimally dosed on NDT (midrange, close to upper or lower normal limit), just to give me a general idea? I understand the TSH is unimportant as it will be below range when you take T3, and mine has been undetectable ever since I went on NDT.
    Thank you.
    Kind regards,

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