Once upon a time, a salt shaker fell in love with a girl
Late at night it would sneak into her bedroom along with popcorn, only to be discovered by the family later. Sometimes it would jump off the bedside table and roll under the bed to avoid detection, but they always found it.
Wait, that’s not right. I’m pretty sure it was the other way around, and it was the girl who was in love with salt . . . they used to call her The Salt Bandit or something. Yeah, that’s definitely it. I should know, because that person is me.
My salt cravings are no mystery – they nourish the adrenals, which tend to be weak in my family. As part of the endocrine system, they’re inextricably linked to another organ we all need to be talking about – the thyroid.
Seriously, we do. According to The American Thyroid Association, one in eight women will develop a thyroid disorder in her lifetime, but about 60% of those affected will never know. (source) The numbers for men are better, but not by much.
For those struggling with low energy levels, difficulty focusing, moodiness or an inability to maintain a healthy weight, the identification of a thyroid issue (if present) is obviously very helpful in getting the most out of life that’s possible.
In this post, I’ll share a simple thyroid testing method you can do at home that many practitioners recommend to determine whether there might be a problem. Please note that this post is not intended to diagnose, treat, or cure any disease. I am simply sharing an at-home observation technique that many practitioners recommend to their patients as part of an overall diagnostic process. It’s essential to work with a qualified, knowledgeable practitioner if you suspect you might have a thyroid issue.
How Basal Body Temperature Indicates Thyroid Function
The thyroid is often called the “thermostat” of the body because it produces the hormone we need to keep warm. It does this by converting a hormone made by the pituitary gland, TSH, into T4 and T3. Unfortunately, when the thyroid is struggling it is unable to keep the body at the right temperature setting. Certain enzymes don’t function as well under colder/hotter conditions, which can set a number of disease processes in motion.
According to the Mayo Clinic, low thyroid can lead to heart disease, depression, infertility, birth defects, myxedema, peripheral neuropathy, and goiter. (source)
Why your thyroid might be off even if you your tests come back normal:
Do you have all the symptoms of hypothyroidism, and yet your tests come back normal? According to some experts, the TSH test used to determine thyroid function is not always reliable. Here’s why: The hormone T4 is inactive in the body, so the body converts it to active T3.
Usually, medicine will diagnose thyroid disease by testing for TSH levels, or the amount of T3 and T4 hormone in the blood. Bring back to mind, however, that T3 is the primary hormone which helps regulate body temperature – not T4!
Hence, if – despite adequate secretion of T4 by the thyroid gland – we’re not getting sufficient conversion of T4 to T3, or T3 is unable to activate cellular receptor sites, then the basal body temperature, or BBT will be found to be low – as will thyroid function.
In other words, using your body basal temperature provides us with a more realistic understanding of how efficiently your thyroid gland is actually functioning – compared to thyroid testing, done on a blood sample, which only measures how much hormone is present in that specific amount of blood – not how active it is.
Consequently, measuring your basal body temperature makes it possible to achieve a far more authentic way of testing for true thyroid function. It’s based on the simple, yet scientific premise that in a sense, your thyroid is much like the thermostat in your air-conditioned home.” – Peter De Ruyter, R.N., Medical Herbalist
Easy Thyroid Testing At Home
This test should not be used as a sole diagnostic tool. Rather, it is something you can do at home to identify a possible problem to talk over with your trusted healthcare provider.
What you’ll need to check your thyroid at home:
A good basal body thermometer (not a regular digital one) or an old-fashioned glass thermometer with mercury. These two types of thermometers are calibrated differently and can report slightly different temperatures. The test was developed with a glass thermometer and is therefore the preferred tool for accuracy, but I choose not to keep one in the house. Instead, I used a high-quality digital thermometer that is very sensitive, and I compared my results with overall symptoms. (See thyroid function quiz below)
1. Place thermometer by your bed before you go to sleep. You’ll need to be able to reach it without getting out of bed or exerting much energy. If you’re using a glass thermometer, shake it thoroughly to reset it. The mercury will need to fall beneath 95F.
2. Over a period of three days, take your temperature immediately after waking up. It should be done around the same time each day before getting out of bed. To do this, place your thermometer under your armpit for 10 minutes while you lie down and rest your eyes without moving around a lot. If you’re using a digital thermometer, press the button at the end of 10 minutes to check your temperature.
3. Write down your temperature, the time, and date on a piece of paper.
4. Repeat this process for 3 consecutive days total.
Special note for menstruating women;
Your temperature naturally fluctuates through out your cycle. In order to get accurate reading for this assessment, start taking your temperature the day after you start your period.
What should I be looking for?
According to many experts, “A healthy resting temperature ranges between 97.8 to 98.2 degrees Fahrenheit or 36.6 to 36.8 degrees Celsius.” (source) In other words, “If your temperature is consistently lower than the range indicated above for at least three days, this may be an indication of [possible] hypothyroidism. Conversely, temperatures consistently higher than this may indicate hyperthyroidism but can also suggest a possible infection.” (source)
On the other hand, some doctors consider any temperature below 98 degrees to be suggestive of possible hypothyroidism. (source) Remember, this test is considered to be helpful in identifying possible thyroid dysfunction, but it should not be used as a sole piece of diagnostic criteria.
Factors that can affect your waking temperature
As Michelle points out in the comments, certain conditions unrelated to thyroid function can cause you to have an elevated waking temperature: Drinking alcohol the night before, extreme stress and hormonal birth control could cause elevated temperatures. On the flipside, recently discontinuing birth control could cause lower temperatures.
Do you have symptoms of hypothyroidism? Take the quiz
Some doctors, such as Dr. Brownstein, rely on patient history, clinical symptoms, and blood work to determine how well an individuals thyroid is functioning. Before the TSH test was available, doctors went by a clinical diagnosis alone. The quiz at the bottom of this page may a helpful tool as you talk things through with your practitioner.
Don’t Forget To Register For The Thyroid Sessions
It’s going to be an eye-opening event. If you’re interested in learning how to properly diagnose, treat, and reverse thyroid problems naturally for FREE, you’ll definitely want to check it out. As soon as you register you’ll get immediate access to a 39 minute video interview with Dr. Tom O’Bryan on the gluten-thyroid connection, then when the sessions open you’ll get an invitation via email.
Here are a few things I’m looking forward to learning:
- How to deal with the fatigue, brain fog, and endless juggling act of motherhood
- The gluten-containing medication that can make your thyroid worse!
- What your eyebrows, lashes, and ﬁngernails can tell you about your thyroid
- Why you might have thyroid problems even when your tests come back normal
- How to lose weight when your thyroid is off…or has been removed altogether
- Why thyroid cancer is becoming more common — especially in women
- The “healing” foods might make Hashimoto’s worse
- What to do if your thyroid is OVER active
Update: The Thyroid Sessions are now over, however you can still access them by purchasing them here.
Disclaimer: This post is for educational purposes only. It is not meant to diagnose, treat, or cure any condition. Please see my full disclaimer here.
Additional sources for this article: