by Cynthia Perkins, M.Ed.©
Hypothyroidism (under active thyroid) often goes unsuspected and untreated. As much as 40% of the population may be suffering from hypothyroidism because it is frequently undetected by conventional blood tests, which is the most common medical procedure used. The late Dr. Broda Barnes of Connecticut spent 44 years in both University Labs and private practice studying hypothyroidism and published more than 100 scientific papers on this subject. He wrote a comprehensive book entitled: Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness about his discoveries.
In his studies he found patients that even though their thyroid blood test and physical examination of the thyroid was within normal limits, still exhibited clear-cut hypothyroid symptoms. He concluded that the most accurate assessment of thyroid function is obtained by evaluating ones metabolic rate, as exhibited in the basal temperature and pulse. A temperature and pulse that consistently runs low, may suggest that there is a need to place the patient on thyroid therapy. Generally a pulse running 65 or below may suggest lower thyroid function. The normal basal temperature runs between 97.8F and 98.2 F. A temperature running below 97.6 indicates the possibility of low thyroid function. The most accurate way of checking the body’s metabolic rate is with the axillary (meaning under the arm) temperature.
The most common complaint found in someone with hypothyroidism is fatigue, which is unbearable and no amount of sleep can eliminate it. Weight gain, depression and myalgias/arthralgias are three more very commonly found complaints. Other common symptoms which are seen may include the following: cold intolerance, feeling cold, forgetfulness/short term memory loss, constipation, heart palpitations, loss of sexual desire, nervousness, slow pulse and reflexes, flaky, dry rough skin, coarse and lifeless hair that falls out easily, irregular menses, listless, irritability, prematurely gray hair, accentuation of allergies, unsuccessful dieting, vascular headaches, premenstrual syndrome, infertility, muscle and join aches and weakness, and puffiness of face and eyes.
Of course these symptoms overlap with many other conditions so it is important to work with a health care provider who is knowledgeable in this area and familiar with Dr. Barnes techniques.
The Barnes Basal temperature test is a simple, do it yourself test, that you can do at home. It is accurate and requires nothing more than an oral thermometer. Here’s what you do. At bedtime shake down a mercury thermometer to 94F and place on the nightstand, within easy reach. DO NOT USE a DIGITAL thermometer for taking the axillary temperature because they are not as accurate. When you wake up in the morning, make sure you stay in bed quietly and take the thermometer and place it securely under your arm in your armpit. Hold it in place for ten minutes and then write down what the thermometer reads. During the ten minutes you’re waiting, take your pulse for one full minute and record what this result is also.
Do this exact procedure each morning for several weeks. Make sure you do not get up to go to the bathroom or anything else. It must be done before you have any activity. You must be in bed for a minimum of two hours before reading your temperature and the reading will not be accurate if you move around or get up. Do not use an electric blanket or other electrical devices in your bed. Do not sleep on a waterbed to perform this test. A waterbed will elevate your temperature artificially. It has also been found that a woman’s body temperature varies with the different phases of her menstrual cycle. The second and third days of your menstrual cycle are when the most accurate/reliable temperature can be found. Therefore, it is recommended that you make note on your records with red pen on the days you were menstruating and make sure you perform your test during this week.
If you’re basal temperature consistently runs below 97.8 or your pulse runs below 65 you may benefit from a trial period of thyroid medication. Treatment with a natural desiccated thyroid preparation available only from your physician rather than synthetic is the best treatment for most people with hypothyroidism. Take your results to a competent health care provider who is knowledgeable with this technique and discuss your findings and treatment options with them.
1. Stephen E. Langer, M.D. Lets Live, December 1989 Do You Have Hypothyroidism?
2. Barnes Broda, M.D. Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness
3. Kerry R. M.D. Comprehensive Thyroid Therapy Program (1996)