If Your Temperature is Below 98.6…

… you will almost certainly feel better by bringing it up to the optimal level for enzyme functioning in humans.

If your temperature is consistently below 98.6 degrees F, and you feel fatigued, fat and chilly, you are probably a good candidate for Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome therapy.

I recently returned from a fascinating endocrinolgy conference (Restorative Medicine Conference Oct 20-25 in Sedona AZ with a focus on new approaches to poor thyroid function.  After 5 intensive days of studying, and taking a comprehensive exam, I became certified in the Wilson Temperature Therapy method, which aims to “re-set” the thyroid system and help the body become re-sensitized to the proper effects of thyroid hormone.

Before briefly introducing you to the therapy, please know that humans (in fact all mammals) were designed to operate best at a body temperature of 98.6′ F.  All of us have heard of this number (some may be more comfortable with the metric 37′ C) but very few of us actually produce this much heat anymore.  In 15 years of clinical practice I have never, not once, seen a patient without a fever produce a temperature of 98.6′ F.  For various reasons, mostly pollution, but also less iodine in our diets,  our thyroid glands just don’t work as well and nor do the receptors for thyroid hormone on all of our cells.  Thus most of us are  running chronically low temperatures and this inhibits optimal enzymatic functioning.  All of the billions of biochemical processes in our body, which facilitate digestion, tissue repair, information transfer, immune response, etc. work through tiny catalysts called enzymes.  Enzymes are bundles of highly metabolically active protein molecules which, when too cold, stay coiled up and less functional.  When too hot, they don’t work well either because they stretch out too much.  We are designed to work best at 98.6′ F.  So, if you don’t run this temperature, many of your enzymatic functions will be impaired.

The classic “constellation” of symptoms indicative of an under-functioning thyroid system is fatigue, constipation, thinning hair, cold intolerance and inability to lose weight.  Sometimes not every symptom is present, but this clinical picture is increasingly common.   One hundred years ago, an under-functioning thyroid system was extremely rare. Today it is very common, particularly in women.  In fact, many of my female patients will come in with this picture and already be medicated for low thyroid.  Typically, if they have seen a conventionally trained doctor, they will be on Synthroid, a synthetic version of the weaker human thyroid hormone, levothyroxin, or T4.

Human thyroid hormone comes in two major configurations: T3 (which is three iodine molecules) and T4 (four iodines).   The active hormone is T3, which is converted by stripping away one iodine molecule from T4, the “storage” form of thyroxin.  This conversion happens mostly in the liver, but also in the peripheral tissues.  One of reasons that we are seeing much more hypothyroidism than previously is because humans are living with polluted air and water and soil, and eat foods impregnated with plastics and pesticides and hormone mimickers.  This is literally jamming up the works.  We are developing thyroid receptor resistance, similar to insulin receptor resistance of Type 2 (or adult onset, or high-fructose-corn-sugar-induced) diabetes.

Additionally, we have less iodine in our diets than before.  We have become salt phobic (and it’s true that too much salt is a bad thing — but too little is also).   Salt has been a major source of iodine for many Americans for decades, particularly those living in the mid-West “goitre belt”.  Iodine was added to table salt right after World War II, and this absolutely helped prevent hypothyroid goitres, which are enlargements of the gland at the base of the neck, due to attempts to generate adequate amounts of hormone.  Salt is not the best way to get your iodine however!  Seafood is a good source of iodine, but many people are more careful about eating fish today because of the spectre of mercury and other heavy metal poisons in seafood.  The single best nutrient source of iodine is kelp.  Sprinkle 1/4 tsp on your food daily.

Here’s another reason that iodine is deficient in most urban dwellers today.  If you look at a chemical periodic table, you will see that iodine is a “halogen” and in the same column as fluoride, bromine and chlorine.  These other halogens, widely used to “treat” our community water systems, displace iodine by blocking the cell receptors for iodine.  The net result of all this pollution is that low thyroid system function has become pandemic.

Many of my patients have been frustrated by going to their medical doctor with this list of symptoms (cold, constipated, can’t lose weight) and told because their lab results are “normal” that there is nothing wrong with their thyroid gland. This is called “euthyroid” which means that even though the labs seem normal, there is still something off with the thyroid system function.  Think of the thyroid gland as the “gas pedal” for the engine of your body.  Just because there’s gas in the tank and you’re pressing the gas pedal, the engine (of your body) is not necessarily going to work right for you.

Many conventionally trained doctors will only check TSH, or thyroid stimulating hormone, a secretion from the pituitary gland in the brain.  TSH is secreted by the brain in response to lower levels of the major thyroid hormones (T3 and T4) in circulation.  As the hormone levels go down, the TSH goes up, in an attempt to force more thyroid hormone production.  Naturopaths prefer to see the TSH between 0.5 and 2 ng/mL.   A “regular” doctor thinks TSH as high as 5.5 is “fine.”  It is not fine.  TSH is an extremely potent hormone and a small rise indicates a significant deficit.  Also, I will always check for the indicator of the most common type of hypothyroidism, the auto-immune disease “Hashimoto’s” thyroiditis, in which antibodies to the thyroid tissue (TPO) can be measured in the blood.  I will also calculate ratios between the T3 and T4 values.  Often, when patients have been medicated with the synthetic T4 for years, but still not feeling great, the T4 levels will be high, but the active T3 is low.  Giving more synthetic T4 (Synthroid) is not the appropriate remedy.

Please find a well-trained naturopathic physician (go to “Find an ND” at www.naturopathic.org) or holistic MD to help you sort out your thyroid issue if you are not satisfied with your current therapy.   And now, what I really wanted to communicate about here is not overt thyroid disease.  I want to alert my readers to the pandemic of low temperature readings that is the hallmark of a more recently elucidated hypothyroid concern, developed by a progressive MD, Dr. Denis Wilson.   Check out his website at www.wilsonssyndrome.com or www.wtsmed.com.  And, check your own temperatures.  Invest in a thermometer and take your temps twice daily for 10 days.

Since most of you will find that indeed your temps do run low, you’ll want to know what to do about it!  You must check Dr. Wilson’s website and, better, find a physician in your area who knows about this concept.   However, you can also start with increasing the thermogenic herbs in your diet.  This means herbs that are warming such as cayenne, ginger and cinnamon.  Use these spices liberally in your cooking. I like to sprinkle cinnamon on thin sliced apples for a snack.  Cinnamon is wonderful in winter stews, as is cayenne.  You can actually sprinkle cayenne pepper into your socks if you’ll be enjoying a prolonged outdoor activity on a cold winter day.   Ginger is lovely in tea, in miso soup, grated onto baked squashes, in flax oil or butter on steamed carrots, and simmered in apple cider.

These warming herbs will help you feel warmer, but may not bring up your temperature.   Because you may well be iodine deficient.  You could safely experiment with taking an iodine supplement (start with about 12.5 mg iodine, or iodine/iodide blend daily).   Optimally, however, I would recommend completing the “iodine loading test” with a holistically trained doctor in your area to find out your current iodine status.  You may need considerably more than 12.5 mg of iodine supplementation.  Finally, you may most need Dr. Wilson’s protocol which involves talking a slow-release T3 (the active form of thyroid hormone) in a specific manner for up to several months to re-set the thyroid system and “capture” your temperature at the optimal 98.6′ F.