Bovine Thyroid Supplements

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Tess Thompson

Hypothyroidism is a thyroid problem in which the thyroid gland does not produce and secrete enough hormones to sustain the normal metabolic rate of the body. Even when the thyroid gland is overactive and is producing more than required levels of hormones, the metabolic rate speeds up. Most of the other symptoms of thyroid problems are caused by improper metabolism in the body. These symptoms can surface in any part of the body, as the thyroid hormones are used by almost every cell and organ in the body.

Lack of thyroid hormones in the body must be supplemented. However, the debate exists with regards to which specific thyroid supplement to use. Basically, there are three main types of thyroid supplements:

  • Those that actually contain thyroid hormones.
  • Those that contain animal thyroid glands, but from which the thyroxine (a thyroid hormone) has been removed.
  • Those supplements that improve thyroid function naturally, but do not contain any glandular substances.

Supplements containing thyroid hormones are further classified as synthetic and natural. Natural thyroid supplements that contain thyroid hormones are mostly of animal origin, mainly porcine or bovine.

Porcine and bovine thyroid supplements often contain ground and desiccated parts of the glands of the animal, which are said to imitate human glandular functions. It is suggested that taking supplemental hormones restores the hormonal balance in the body. However, these supplements may have to be taken throughout one’s life.

The release of thyroid hormones involves the thyroid as well as the pituitary gland. While the hormones T3 and T4 are produced and secreted by the thyroid, it is the pituitary gland that releases a thyroid-stimulating hormone to stimulate the thyroid to actually perform this production. The decision on whether the patient should be administered a thyroid supplement with thyroid hormones or those that contain pituitary hormones depend on the specific case.

Bovine thyroid supplements have been involved in a fair amount of controversy over the years. The parts used for preparing supplements of animal origin are the same that are most likely to be infected by agents that cause bovine spongiform encephalopathy or the mad cow disease. It is for this reason that the brain and spinal materials are discarded at the slaughter house, as these are deemed to be unfit for human consumption. To top it all, the recommendation is that these supplements should be sucked rather than swallowed so that the active components are absorbed by the tongue for rapid action with the brain.

Supplements that provide active thyroid support do not contain thyroid hormones nor any glandular substance sourced from animals. These are meant to assist thyroid functioning and strengthen the immune system, and usually contain herbs and natural products advocated by ancient therapies and used in folk medicine.

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