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Thyroid Glandulars

What are thyroid glandulars?

Thyroid glandulars are made from tissue, taken from either pigs or cows.  They are a supplement and not prescribed medicine, and therefore they are not supposed to contain ‘hormones’.

What are thyroid glandulars used for?

Thyroid glandulars are essentially supplements often targeted at those with thyroid imbalances.  They are sold offering improvements with fatigue, weight gain and other hypothyroidism-associated symptoms.1

Do thyroid glandulars contain hormones?

Thyroid glandulars are not supposed to contain hormones, but it has been found that many of these over the counter supplements do in fact contain hormones and/or steroids.2

A study carried out by The Mayo Clinic in 2018 concluded that all of the 12 dietary supplements they tested, contained a small amount of thyroid hormone and at least 1 steroid hormone.3 A previous survey carried out in 2013, published in the journal Thyroid, found that 9 out of 10 supplements marketed for thyroid health and support contained real hormones.1

Labelling is confusing and unclear, resulting in people ingesting hormones without realising.1

Many of the thyroid glandular supplements tested also contained levels of iodine.4 Whilst we need 150mcg of iodine a day in our diet to enable our bodies to create the right levels of thyroid hormones, an excessive amount of iodine can cause thyroid hormone production to slow down to cease altogether.5

Therefore, the unknown ingredients and quantities of specific ingredients in these supplements could be harmful to health rather than beneficial.

Are thyroid glandulars good for treating hypothyroidism?

Anyone being treated for hypothyroidism and taking thyroid glandulars may find their monitoring test results invalid. This could lead to other health complications or medication being prescribed incorrectly or unnecessarily.1

Symptoms of hypothyroidism are often non-specific and could be attributable to something other than thyroid issues i.e. vitamin B12 deficiency.  Taking thyroid glandulars without checking for other reasons for your symptoms may cloud the issue.

However, we know that some people use thyroid glandulars and find them useful in relieving their symptoms. You need to be aware that some thyroid glandulars may contain thyroid hormones and iodine and it’s best to discuss with your doctor whether you should take these. If you are being treated by a specialist for hypothyroidism or any other medical condition, it is important to take their advice when it comes to the correct supplements to support your health.

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  1. Cooper L. 5 reasons you should never take thyroid supplements. Consumer Reports. Published March 25, 2016.
  2. Kang GY, Parks JR, Fileta B, et al. Thyroxine and Triiodothyronine Content in Commercially Available Thyroid Health Supplements. Thyroid. Published online October 2013:1233-1237. doi:10.1089/thy.2013.0101
  3. Akturk HK, Chindris AM, Hines JM, Singh RJ, Bernet VJ. Over-the-Counter “Adrenal Support” Supplements Contain Thyroid and Steroid-Based Adrenal Hormones. Mayo Clinic Proceedings. Published online March 2018:284-290. doi:10.1016/j.mayocp.2017.10.019
  4. Childs W. Are Thyroid Glandular Supplements Safe? Dr Westin Childs. Published February 18, 2020.
  5. Leung AM, Braverman LE. Consequences of excess iodine. Nat Rev Endocrinol. Published online December 17, 2013:136-142. doi:10.1038/nrendo.2013.251


Date updated: 23.05.21 (V1.3)
Review date: 01.04.22

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