I'm a bit confused. If desiccated thyroid doesn't not contain any active T4, what is the benefit of taking it?
This is the definition of desiccated thyroid according to wikpedia:
Desiccated thyroid or thyroid extract, refers to porcine (or mixed beef and pork) thyroid glands, dried and powdered for therapeutic use. Pork, or mixed beef and pork, thyroid preparations were developed in the late 1800s, and are still used today to treat hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland). This product is sometimes referred to as "natural thyroid", "natural thyroid hormones", "pork thyroid", thyroid USP, thyroid BP, or by the name of the best-known brand, "Armour Thyroid".
Desiccated thyroid has been described in the United States Pharmacopoeia for nearly a century as: the cleaned, dried, and powdered thyroid gland previously deprived of connective tissue and fat... obtained from domesticated animals that are used for food by man (USP XVI). In the last few decades, pork alone is the usual source. Typically the potency has been specified only by iodine content ("not less than 0.17% and not more than 0.23%") rather than hormonal content or activity. The specifications of the British Pharmacopoeia (BP) are similar.
The best known American brand is Armour. Others include Forest Labs' Naturethroid, Westhroid by Western Research Labs/Time Caps, and Qualitest by Time Caps Labs. Canada's desiccated thyroid is made by Erfa and called simply Thyroid. All consist of desiccated porcine thyroid powder, differing only in the binders and fillers.
All brands contain a mixture of thyroid hormones: T4 (thyroxine), T3 (triiodothyronine) in the proportions usually present in pig thyroids (approximately 80% T4 and 20% T3). Armour is made in the following strengths: 1/8, 1/4, 1/2, 1, 2, and 3 grain as well as 4 and 5 grain tablets. One grain (about 60 mg) of desiccated thyroid contains about 38 mcg of T4 and 9 mcg of T3. Because the preparation is whole thyroid gland, each 60 mg tablet also contains over 59 mg of all of the other constituents of pork thyroid glands.
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