1. Health

Discuss in my forum

Mary Shomon

Supplement Helps Reduce Levothyroxine Side Effects in Thyroid Patients

By February 21, 2012

Follow me on:

Italian researchers studied hypothyroidism treatment with levothyroxine (synthetic T4, like Synthroid, Levoxyl) in three groups of patients -- patients taking additional bioflavonoids; patients taking supplements that include oligomeric proanthocynidins (OPA), and group taking a placebo supplement. The TSH, T4, T3, hydroperoxides -- a marker of oxidative stress -- and c-reactive protein -- a measure of inflammation -- were evaluated before and after 30 days of treatment. Throughout the treatment, symptoms -- including anxiety/agitation, sweating, palpitations, headache and daily discomfort -- were recorded through a daily questionnaire.

What the researchers found was that the hypdroperoxides, c-reactive protein, and the symptomatic markers were all significantly lower in the group that was taking the supplement formula containing OPA. The researchers concluded that use of OPA supplements may reduce the incidence of the side effects that occur during the initial phase of levothyroxine treatment in hypothyroidism.

Note: OPAs are found in supplements that are high in pine bark, in particular, the patented high-OPA formula known as pycnogenol.

Source: Cornelli, U. "Activity of Some Physiological Modulators in Reducing the Side Effects of Levothyroxine in Patients Suffering from Primary Hypothyroidism" Abstracts of the American Thyroid Association Annual Meeting, 2011

About Mary Shomon | Thyroid Forum | Twitter | Facebook

Photo: clipart.com

February 21, 2012 at 8:33 am
(1) Marie says:

Patients that take Armour thyroid do they have an herb that helps the anxiety etc.?

February 21, 2012 at 10:00 am
(2) texasthyroid1 says:

@Marie-Your dose may be too high or too low, or else you may have adrenal issues. Ask your doc to test 8 am blood cortisol or four saliva tests.

February 21, 2012 at 10:49 am
(3) Melody says:

I feel worse since I started Armour than when I was taking Tirosint. It’s been 4.5 weeks, but I’m starting to lose hope that this is the answer. I still have bad depression and anxiety. Where can we find this supplement?

February 21, 2012 at 10:49 am
(4) Lori says:

I am leary of taking anything else for my thyroid. I had read where levothyroxine can cause other issues, like sinus problems, breathing issues, and so on. I have asked my family physicians PA to change my levothyroxine to something else, but she tells me there is nothing else to change me to, but I see on sites like this and others for the thyroid that other people are on other medications, so I do not understand why she says there are no others. I don’t feel much better on the dose I am on and still have problems even taking medication. My endo doctor said that Armour was not for me and this was what I needed. I am really doubting them and wondering if they are missing something. I haven’t felt like me in so long I am not sure if I would know the real me if I started feeling good again! I wish there was someone to talk to about this who was neutral.

February 21, 2012 at 11:25 am
(5) Terry says:

This looks like a very good supplement. I found a caution related to auto-immune disorders. If a person’s hypothyroid is caused by Hashimotos, which is an auto-immune disorder, I wonder if a supplement that make the immune system stronger would make the Hashimotos worse. Can you please address that? Here is the statement that I read and the website:

“Auto-immune diseases” such as multiple sclerosis (MS), lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus, SLE), rheumatoid arthritis (RA), or other conditions: Pycnogenol might cause the immune system to become more active, and this could increase the symptoms of auto-immune diseases. If you have one of these conditions, it’s best to avoid using pycnogenol.


February 21, 2012 at 11:36 am
(6) Carla says:

I’ve taken all the different varieties of thyroid replacements except Tirosint and the only one left that works for me is Nature-Throid. I also take MSM to keep my immune system healthy and d-Ribose for all the aches and pains. So far so good and it’s been over a year.

February 21, 2012 at 11:43 am
(7) ramie says:

I understand your concerns Terry. From what I remember , and I welcome correction, Hashimotos is the most common cause of hypothyroidism by far. I have barely any thyroid left from having my poor gland attacked over 40 plus years so I am leery of supplements now that reeve the immune system.

February 21, 2012 at 12:42 pm
(8) sue says:


You may have to push your doctor to prescribe the Armour or Naturethroid. Armour and Naturethroid have T3 and T4, both necessary for thyroid function.

Naturethroid is hypoallergenic.

My doctor also originally tried to talk me out of using Armour or Naturethroid but I persisted.

The pharmaceutical industry lobbies doctors offices (and they benefit) so they are aligned with the major synthetic drug companies and want to only prescribe their drugs.

February 21, 2012 at 1:21 pm
(9) Linda Skipper says:

Please be specific and tell us what the supplement is and where to get it.
I have terrible side effects from any thyroid medicine and do not find it helpful without the specifics. Thank you.

February 21, 2012 at 2:37 pm
(10) LaRae says:

I have hypothyroidism and just found out that im pregnant and scared out of my mind because I feel worse than ever now and don’t know what to do or how to deal with this. The doctors seem to not to listen to you when you say the symptons are worst than what they were before. Do anyone have any advise on situation.

February 21, 2012 at 2:43 pm
(11) Elizabeth says:

Mary, thanks for this article which is very interesting. You refer to oligomeric proanthocynidins as “OPA” but I believe the acronym is “OPC”, at least from what I can see online.

February 21, 2012 at 3:26 pm
(12) ibivi says:

Generally, supplements are not covered by insurance or government drug plans so that is a concern for anyone minding their finances. Secondly, you should never self-medicate without consulting your doctor (ask your doctor if they are accepting any remuneration from the makers of thyroid medications if you have concerns about the medications they prescribe). Thirdly, manufacturers of supplements are currently fighting government regulation of their industry. Next, the operate word is “may”-many clinical trials in the last few years have shown that certain popular supplements (echinacea, st john’s wort, etc) have no effect/benefit despite the claims attributed to them (and some are actually dangerous depending on your medical status or if you are allergic to an additive). So worrying about big pharma gifting or paying off your doctor to push their meds may be for naught if you are taking supplements which do nothing other than take your money. Remember, the supplement industry makes billions on unregulated products!

February 21, 2012 at 5:28 pm
(13) SunnyWhite says:

I am on Naturethroid, happily so, except for mild night sweats and I would like to try the pycnogenol, but the article didn’t mention the dosage. If possible I would like to learn what dose they used in their study.

February 21, 2012 at 6:49 pm
(14) Julie says:

” …The researchers concluded that use of OPA supplements may reduce the incidence of the side effects that occur during the initial phase of levothyroxine treatment in hypothyroidism .”

Note the word “initial” !! This is for people just beginning treatment.

It makes much more sense to me to just start a lower dosages and then gradually increase.

That being said, I do know that some ignorant docs do start their patients on the “recommended doseage” and then get excited when their patients have the above mentioned side effects, and then too often counter with, “See, I told you that you don’t need thyroid meds.” or the patient is frightened by the side effects and stops taking the medication they so desperately need.

February 21, 2012 at 7:27 pm
(15) Victoria says:

I wish I had known about this initially. I noticed it said “initially.” After my first 6 weeks on levothyroxine I complained to my doctor that I was very moody and crying over every little thing – it just wasn’t like me. His only suggestion was to raise my anti-depressant dose, which worked, and the crying spells stopped pretty much overnight. Eventually I was able to taper down my AD dose after my body had adjusted to the medication.

February 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm
(16) Christie says:

Carla, I am very interested in the medications you are taking. Would you please tell me the brands and strengths of MSM and d-Ribose you take?
they sound like they could be the answer to my prayers! I am in Australia, so I am unsure if I will be able to purchase Nature-Throid here, but in the US you need a prescription don’t you?

February 21, 2012 at 9:11 pm
(17) annie says:

the levothyroxine not only made me EXTREMELY agitated all the time — 24/7, but i had severe hair loss, loss of appetite, and horrible insomnia. plus i now have heart problems that i didn’t have before taking it. i am NOT amused.

when i see the endocrinologist next month, i am open to taking tirosint — the lowest dosage — to see if that one will work for me.

blessings to all who have thyroid disease.

February 21, 2012 at 10:28 pm
(18) Rose says:

I have been on tirosint for about a year. I had my thyroid removed, so I am stuck on thyroid meds forever now. While tirosint has been better for me than synthroid and levoxyl, I have terrible insomnia, IBS and feel lousy most of the time. I’d like to see issues like insomnia, IBS, energy levels, and mood swings addressed on thyroid.about.com

February 21, 2012 at 11:34 pm
(19) Jeff says:

I finally found a nurse practitioner who prescribed dessicated thyroid from a great, local compounding pharmacist. He tests his batches on a regular basis. The results show he is far more consistent than the generic T4 drugs test out to be. She also put me on compounded testosterone from the same pharmacist. I am slowly feeling much better. My insurance dropped my coverage for it (citing “bulk powders, which is a lie) and I was pretty upset until I asked my pharmacist how much it would cost retail. It is only around $35.00 per month. Screw the insurance company!

Also, as an important side note, be sure to have your health care provider check your calcium levels. (That test is part of an overall metabolic panel.) Your numbers if you are over 40 and don’t have severe kidney disease or cancer should be in the 9′s. Don’t let them tell you numbers in the 10′s or above are normal.

If they are not, then head over to http://www.parathyroid.com and read up on parathyroid disease. That web site is THE best source of information on hyperparathyroidism. It belongs to the good surgeons at the Norman Clinic in Tampa.

While the thyroid and the parathyroids are close together anatomically, they are separate in function. I mention it because the symptoms of problems with either gland(s) can overlap. High calcium is never normal. This is a pretty rare condition, but like hypothyroidism, often goes undiagnosed, leaving the patient miserable. Outpatient parathyroid surgery is a complete cure! God bless you in your struggle to feel better.

February 22, 2012 at 12:02 pm
(20) Carla says:

CHRISTIE– Hi. In answer to your questions, I get my Nature-Throid online from Drugstore.com Pharmacy. Limited dosages but with a pill cutter you can manage. Check them out. I believe they ship overseas. I order a year’s supply (out of pocket of course) during the winter for cooler transportation. Best medical help for getting what you need may be a Physician’s Assistant–better than most doctors who have been trained by the book to believe that it is a “symptom not a disease”. My family is cursed with Hashimoto’s so I know this to be true. Some of us live in areas with very narrow minded medical professionals.

While using caution is a must, I don’t care who flaps their knowledge about supplements because they’ve saved my life, and I’ve taken a bunch over the years. I’ve taken MSM (by now you’ve researched it I hope) for more than 20 years. Started it when I lost so much hair. My hair grew back–wow. And it falls out again when I cut out the MSM. Explain that please! Worked my way up from 1000mg to 4000mg daily and then found out it made me itchy so back down to 1000mg. But I stay well when others call in sick! The d-Ribose is awesome, I take about 5mg a day or more, and like I said, I’ve been taking it for about a year. Your body manufactures it naturally but it takes 3-6 days to replenish it after physical work, and maybe thyroid affects it, so why wait ? Made from fermented corn. It’s sweet, unlike the MSM–very bitter– so I mix them both in my coffee. NutraBio.com from eBay is the best place to order these Pharmaceutical Grade powders. DON’T take these if you’re pregnant or nursing.
I’ve had 45 years of a tortured ‘Life with Hashimoto’s’ and while I am not an expert like Mary, I have survived a long time. Could it have been all those ‘supplements?!’

February 23, 2012 at 6:20 am
(21) Christie says:

Thanks so much Carla, all the best!

February 23, 2012 at 5:21 pm
(22) Carla says:

You’re welcome Christie. If you get them I hope they help you too. Stay well hydrated when using them, as with any supplements.
Best wishes.

February 28, 2012 at 1:11 pm
(23) Joan Lulich says:

There is a wonderful self-healing method that instructs the hormones in the body to balance themselves. It is one of the nine steps. We look outside of ourselves to find healing, forgetting that the body heals itself. It is a state of confusion because of modern times but all it needs to get back in sync is personal instruction. The Dutch woman found the key to open the door so the subconscious can do its work. This is free and you have nothing to lose. It doesn’t matter if it makes no sense to you. http://www.mirmethod.com

February 29, 2012 at 7:18 am
(24) CW says:

Lori, I was on Synthroid for two years for Hashimoto’s, I felt terrible. Heart palpitations, nausea, face swelling, eyes puffy, I was either freezing or hot, terrible night sweats, I was dizzy, I couldn’t sleep, the fatigue was overwhelming and I was still losing my eye lashes, eyebrows and hair. At the time I was seeing an endocrinologist and he refused to change my Synthroid and I was miserable. So I went to a holistic doctor. She wouldn’t change me either. She said Synthroid was the best to be on. I waited another year and managed to get an appointment with Richard Shames MD, author of THYROID POWER and the best-selling book FEELING FAT, FUZZY, OR FRAZZLED?. At the end of my appointment he told me he wouldn’t change a thing. That Synthroid WAS the correct medication to be on if you had Hashimoto’s and a high ANA. It took about four years but it turned out, they were right. At least in my case. It was hell getting to where I am, they had to tweak the dose several times, but I finally got regulated on 112mg and that’s where I’ve been for six years now. One thing I learned though is that there are fillers and coloring added that I found I was allergic to at some of the higher doses. 112mg tablet has three coloring additives, 125 mg six. I was highly allergic to the coloring they used in the 125mg tablet. It was actually the Pharmacist that figured it out as some of my “hypo” symptoms got worse. They wound up having to put me on a mixture of the lower doses to get me to the higher doses. Allergies to binders, fillers and colorings are something we never think about. Hope this info helps and you find relief soon!

February 29, 2012 at 8:17 pm
(25) Sherri says:

I was told by a manufacturer of this supplement that it would not be suitable for anyone with an immune disorder.

March 9, 2012 at 2:27 am
(26) Carla says:

RE: Joan Lulich #23 MIR therapy–Thanks for the info. I checked it out because I am aware of the benefits of affirmations and Reiki having learned both and do well with them. Yes, the mind affects the body. I have to say your info got me back on that track. I noticed its effects almost immediately and am ongoing with it at this time. I still have to feed the body so the supplements will remain in my diet!

January 16, 2013 at 1:15 pm
(27) ej smith says:

after havind radio active iodine i am now on thyroxin medication. also i have been suffering for about four years with chronic chest infections and have now been told its c.o.p.d are these problems related

February 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm
(28) Nancy says:

can i take pycnogenol if i have hypothyroidism? i do not have hashimoto’s disease. i do have autoimmune “disorders” like lupus, but not the full blown type. i took pycnogenol 20 yrs ago before i was diagnosed with lupus disorder. neuropathy and of late, headaches, dizziness, vision problems and balance issues. i have neuropathy in my feet and am currently on methadone (20 mg a day). one dr thinks all my side effects are from the methadone. i stopped taking it 6 months ago and went through the ceiling with pain in my feet
can you give me some input? thank you,.Nancy

Leave a Comment

Line and paragraph breaks are automatic. Some HTML allowed: <a href="" title="">, <b>, <i>, <strike>

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.

We comply with the HONcode standard
for trustworthy health
information: verify here.