Check Thyroid Health with the Basal Thermometer Test

By Ben Fuchs | PharmacistBen

One of the easiest and most effective ways to check for thyroid health is the ‘Basal Thermometer Test’ developed by Dr. Broda Barnes, one of the first physicians to recognize the importance of thyroid health when it comes to overall wellness. He wrote the classic book on hypothyroidism called “Hypothyroidism, The Unsuspected Illness” in the 1970’s, and he was of the opinion that numerous health issues including heart disease, cancer, depression, arthritis, diabetes, frequent colds or infections, tonsillitis, ear infections, PMS and other female health issues as well as skin disorders, were all caused by a poorly functioning thyroid. Barnes thought that hypothyroidism affected more than 40% of the American population, which was much higher than most doctors at the time. However, perspectives are changing as hypothyroidism is becoming more and more recognized as a health problem.

Thyroid Health

By Almonroth (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0]

The test, which is sometimes called the ‘Barnes Basal Thermometer Test’ is done by placing a thermometer in the armpit for 10 minutes, first thing in the morning. This is important. If you move around and start your day before testing, your results won’t be accurate, so you want to do the test as soon as you wake up, while you’re still in bed. Because temperature for women is a bit lower on the first day of menstruation, Barnes advised women on their periods to avoid testing themselves until their second or third day.

Personally, I would suggest women wait until they’re done with their periods entirely just to be sure. You want to test your armpit temperature for three consecutive days and then determine the average. According to Barnes, if you’re below normal body temperature, which is 97.8 degrees, this can be indicative of hypothyroidism, especially if you have other symptoms. On the other hand, a reading over 97.8 degrees, according to Barnes, could indicate hyperthyroidism, again, especially if there are other symptoms present.

If it turns out you’re suffering from hypothyroidism, and nearly 10 percent of Americans are, it’s unlikely that using iodine supplements will make much of a difference. I’m not saying that iodine is not an important mineral; iodine is important, particularly for glandular health and for the production of thyroid hormone. If you are blatantly deficient, you may notice some benefits, but most hypothyroid patients are not suffering from a lack of iodine. The same goes for thyroid hormone drugs (levothyroxine), which may or may not provide the hypothyroid body with a little hormone activity, but will not do anything to correct the condition.

Hypothyroidism is typically the result of digestive health issues, blood sugar problems and chronic stress (adrenal) gland activity. That means the best strategy for dealing with hypothyroidism is the same strategy used when dealing with any other health challenge:

#1 Work on digestive health (using digestive enzymes and apple cider vinegar with meals, eating fermented foods, using probiotics and eliminating problem foods).

#2 Stabilize blood sugar by eating less starchy and processed carbs (like cereal, as well as sweets and desserts), using supplements like selenium, sulfur, chromium, vanadium and the B-vitamins (among many others) and enjoying fiber-rich veggies with all meals.

#3 Focus on adrenal health with relaxation strategies and deep breathing, reduce sugar intake, and use nutritional supplementation including zinc, Vitamin C, the B-complex and magnesium. Progesterone cream may help, likewise pregnenolone and DHEA.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Health

Iodine an Essential Nutrient for the Thyroid

By Ben Fuchs | Pharmacist Ben

Get ready aficionados of iodine! In the same way that vitamin D caught the supplementing world by storm in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the 53rd element is poised to become the latest darling of the world of nutrition.

Although we’ve known about the purple mineral (the term “iodine” is derived from the Greek word for violet)) for over 200 years and iodine’s importance as an essential element has been recognized since the late 19th century, it’s only been in the last few years that the iodine’s astounding versatility and significance has become apparent. Perhaps its because of the crippled Japanese nuclear plant at Fukushima (according to experts using iodine can provide protection from radiation) or maybe it’s the seeming epidemic of hypothyroidism (even the nutritionally ignorant are aware of iodine’s relationship to thyroid health), but for whatever reason more and more people are becoming aware of the significance and health relevance of this important mineral.

Iodine an Essential Nutrient for the ThyroidAlthough full blown deficiencies are rare, iodine, which even lay people recognize as being an essential nutrient for the thyroid, is becoming more and more scarce in the American diet. According to Dr. Laura Pizzorno, writing in the journal Longevity Medicine Review, iodine intake in the United States has been decreasing since the 1970’s and much of the US population may be deficient. Dr. Pizzorno blames changes in American dietary habits and reduced intake of iodized salt, and even mentions discrepancies in label claims on salt containers and the condiment’s actual content.

With the exception of seafood, iodine is not found in great abundance in many foods and many iodine experts believe that we could all use more of the stuff than we’re getting, and that medical professionals recommend. The RDA for iodine is around 150 mcg but according to Doctor David Brownstein, writing in his classic go-to reference source “Iodine, Why You Need It and Why You Can’t Live Without It”, we should probably be getting a 12.5 mg day, nearly 100 times the government recommended dose. And given iodine’s multi-functionality and non-toxicity, it’s hard to argue his point.

In addition to being protective against radiation toxicity such as the kind being spewed out by the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant and its critical importance for thyroid and thyroid hormone effectiveness, iodine plays a key role in the development of the fetal and infant brain. Around the world iodine deficiency is a leading cause of mental retardation in infants. And according to a British study of 1040 pregnant moms, who were iodine deficient, had children with lower IQs and reading levels.

And there’s more—although most folks could tell you that iodine is important for the thyroid gland, it hardly recognizes that other hormone secreting glandular structures need it too. It can be helpful for the adrenals and the pancreas. And, according to Dr. David Howenstine, iodine supplementation “resolves nearly every case of breast cysts”. Dr. Howenstine writes that iodine can heal ovarian and skin cysts too (20 percent of the body’s iodine stores are in the skin and one of the signs of iodine deficiency is dry skin). Muscles may benefit, ie: muscular pain and fibromyalgia are associated with iodine deficiency.

The most commonly used iodine supplement is Lugol’s solution which is a blend of two forms of iodine combined with potassium. This formulation is available in a tablet form as well. Some researchers believe that absorption of the liquid or tablet forms of these blended iodines may not be efficient. They recommend another type of iodine called “Nascent Iodine” which is an electrically active form that has been separated from other elements (e.g. potassium), and from other iodine atoms as well. The net result of this electrification is a little piece of free element that can be called “atomic” iodine. Nascent or “atomic” iodine is more easily recognized and usable by the body than other forms and thus its superior absorption and utilization.

Posted by Ben Fuchs in Nutrition