Is it permissible to use porcine derived natural thyroid hormone to treat hypothyroidism in children?
I am not a scholar and nothing I write should be considered a fatwa on the subject. Anything good I say is from Allah and anything bad I say is form myself and shaitan. Bismillahi Rahmani Rahim.
This question is always foremost in my mind as not only do I use Naturethroid for my family I also recommend it for other parents to use with their children. I am always teetering on the edge of comfort with this subject.
I also encourage every parent for whom this is a concern to find a knowledgeable shaykh who can answer this question for them. I do highly recommend you find someone with some knowledge in medicine as well as Islam whenever possible.
Below you will find some considerations regard my choice to use and recommend porcine derived natural hormone. (the same can be applied to adrenal cortex from animal sources, although this is generally bovine derived we do not know the method of slaughter).
We did go to a knowledgeable shaykh to get a fatwa for my family and we were told it is permissible for us. (Shaykh Waleed Idris Al Manesy)
Opinion of notable 13th century scholar Al-‘Izz Ibn Abdus-Salaam which applies to this situation:
“It is permissible to seek treatment with impurities if a person does not find something pure instead of it, because the benefit of being in good health and safe is more important than the benefit of avoiding an impurity.”
Opinion of current day scholar Dr. Hatem Al-Hajj (Phd in comparative fiqh, masters in Islamic law, and a board certified pediatrician currently practicing at the Albert Lea Medical Center) :
Salam ALikom, Is it OK to take off the shelf midencin (it contains pork in its ingredients) which i use to help against hair loss and dry skin. Is this haram? What if the medicine was prescribed by my doctor for something I had to use for an illness I am experiencing. Your fatwah is greatly appreciated! It is an honor to communicate with you guys. Barak Allah Feekum.
Answer from Dr. Hatem Al Hajj
All praise be to Allah and may His blessings and peace be on His last messenger, Muhammad, For medicine that has non-permissible ingredients, you should seek alternatives. If there is no alternative, then you may use the medicine if there is a real need for it. As for the use of pork-containing medicine for dry skin and hair loss, this is not a legitimate need, and pork byproducts are not the only remedy of these conditions. Allah knows best.
It appears from the above that we need to answer two questions.
1. Is treating hypothyroidism a medical necessity?
Hypothyroidism in infants and children
Although rare, hypothyroidism can occur in infants and children. If hypothyroidism is treated within the first month of life, a child will grow and develop normally. Untreated hypothyroidism in infants can cause brain damage, leading to intellectual disability and developmental delays.
Intellectual disability Untreated childhood hypothyroidism typically delays physical growth and sexual development, including the onset of puberty. Children may gain weight yet have a slowed growth rate.
Hypothyroidism in adults
Hypothyroidism caused by Hashimoto’s thyroiditis occasionally will disappear on its own. More often, the disorder causes a gradual loss of thyroid function, so your symptoms may develop slowly and be so mild that you do not notice them for years. But symptoms usually grow worse, and health problems may develop as the disease continues.
If untreated, hypothyroidism may lead to:
- Myxedema, a condition that causes swelling of tissues, increased fluid around the heartand lungs, slowed muscle reflexes, and a slowed ability to think.
- Myxedema coma is a life-threatening condition. This can occur if you have had hypothyroidism for many years that becomes markedly worse. It usually occurs when older adults who have severe hypothyroidism become ill with another condition, suffer from cold exposure, or take painkillers or sleeping pills. Symptoms include mental deterioration, such as apathy, confusion, andpsychosis. You may lose consciousness (coma) and may have an extremely low body temperature (hypothermia), slow heartbeat (fewer than 60 beats per minute), heart failure, and trouble breathing.
- Complications, such as:
Hypothyroidism during and after pregnancy
Women who have hypothyroidism or mild hypothyroidism before they becomepregnant may develop more severe hypothyroidism during their pregnancy. If not treated, pregnant women with hypothyroidism can develop preeclampsia and have a premature delivery. Children born to women with untreated hypothyroidism during pregnancy are at risk for having hypothyroidism at birth and low birth weight and may score lower on intelligence tests than children of healthy mothers.7
2. Is there another suitable treatment available?
Most doctors prescribe T4 only treatments
T4, also called thyroxine, is the thyroid storage hormone. Its main function is to convert to the active thyroid hormone–T3, which gives you good overall health, energy and stamina. T3 affects every single cell in your body!!
The theory was that T4 would convert to the T3 needed for the body. But in a large body of patients (especially children) the T4 does NOT convert into an adequate amount of T3, leaving them with symptoms that are related to inadequate treatment—
- may not grow or have slow growth
- delayed puberty
- may be tired, sometimes still requiring naps beyond the expected age
- dry skin, dry hair, hair loss
- cold hands and feet
- permanent loss of IQ points in children
- constipation and/or colitis
- thin brittle hair that does not grow well
- delay loosing baby teeth
- short attention span
- difficulty falling asleep
- low body temperatures
- bone or joint pain, weakness
- low mood
- poor handwriting
… the list is long and pathetic. In other words, healthy thyroids are NOT meant to rely soley on T4-to-T3 conversion!
There are also synthetic T3 medicines available. When used alone they will prevent the body from producing T4 drastically increasing the risk of myxedema coma. Using these in combination with T4 is a better option than using either alone, however, you are still missing T1 and T2 as well as the calcitonin. If they weren’t important, why would the human body make them? Did you know it’s calcitonin that keeps calcium from leaching out of your bones?
Unfortunately we do not have a suitable alternative available today to treat hypothyroidism. When you couple that with the fact that under-treated hypoT in children can have permanent effects on growing bodies it becomes very risky to take chances with their futures.
I would like to see Muslim run laboratories do a hormone profile on Lamb, beef, or camel thyroid to determine if the ratios are similar to what we get from porcine thyroid. There may be a simple solution. It may be possible to produce an alternative treatment which is both halal and effective so that parents of hypoT children do not have to choose between using a pork based product and risking their children’s future with inadequate treatments.
I would like to mention here, as a side note, an oxymoron I have observed. Many Muslim parents and governments around the world do not have any concerns with regards to vaccinating their children. They do not consider it haram even though the list of ingredients in these vaccine is teaming with haram substances. They include things sourced from animals as well as poisons and other toxins. Vaccines have shown to have a negative impact on health and even have the risk of causing death (this is a rare occurrence). We submit ourselves and our children to vaccines regularly in the name of preventing a disease we have no assurance we will even contract based solely on probability. Yet we scream haram for the use of a similar substance to treat a disease which is already present. I beg anyone to consider these issues pray hard about them, and find a knowledgeable scholar to comment on the subject.
Fi Amaan Illah