Oprah Winfrey has made undiagnosed thyroid dysfunction a popular condition in the media as of late. Her story is similar to that of so many people who suffer symptoms of thyroid disorder because these symptoms tend to be vague and often are mistakenly attributed to a number of different organ weaknesses. So why has hypothyroidism gone unrecognized?
Health care providers typically rely on Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels in the body to determine how well the gland is functioning. TSH causes the thyroid to produce hormones that act on cells in our body to generate energy and heat. Lab tests for TSH have not been entirely reliable indicators of hypothyroidism. The medical community has been shifting the range of lab values for TSH in the last few years to try and reflect what we are noticing clinically in the general population. Albeit a good window into thyroid activity, TSH alone is not as informative as it is when combined with other valuable markers of energy production in the body, principally heat production.
We are now looking at the end products of thyroid hormone metabolism – heat – to help us explore the condition of the thyroid. We are using body temperature as our main investigative tool. If the body is not generating the optimal amount of heat required for the body to be at its optimal then the common symptoms of hypothyroidism manifest readily. A few of these are:
- Unexplained weight gain and inability to lose weight (sluggish metabolism)
- Cold intolerance
- Hair thinning
How to investigate?
Take your oral temperature 3 hours after waking for a full week. If the average reading is more than 1.5 degrees less than 37 Celcius or 98.6 Farenheit then it may be warranted to contact a qualified healthcare provider like a naturopathic physician trained in low body temperature underactive thyroid disease or Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome. A number of treatment methods exist to correct a sluggish thyroid which can be tailored to your own health needs, based on how your body is presenting its dis-ease.
Dr. Bobby Parmar BASc, ND