Always Cold

Underactive Thyroid

What and Why?

Your body works best in a narrow band of temperature around 37°C, at which all your chemical apparatus is tuned for optimum performance. Your skin thrives best a little cooler, and your limbs are cooler too except in bed.

Occasionally you may use fever to out-run illness. Otherwise you stay close to normal so long as you eat enough food and your metabolism can burn it fast enough. Only a misguided starvation diet, liver disease, some medicines (beta-blockers used mostly in heart disease), over-exposure to cold weather and thyroid insufficiency are likely to prevent you.

Medical knowledge of thyroid function began to suffer in the middle of this century when chemistry replaced biology as the tool for investigation. Doctors have never since been able to stand back and see metabolism as a whole. Medicine consequently makes two false assumptions:-

Firstly, it associates thyroid function too closely with the levels in your blood of one or two chemical hormones supposed to control it. This is rather like using a fuel gauge and the maker’s performance figures to decide how far your car will run without refuelling: it takes no account of the conditions, or the quirks of your particular car. There is no substitute for a trial run.

In your case that means some measure of the actual rate of your metabolism, based on how fast you produce heat or use up oxygen. These measures are slow and unreliable but it turns out that your body temperature when comfortably at rest gives a pretty reliable idea of your metabolic tick-over rate, which is largely determined by your thyroid gland.

Secondly, one purified hormone is now supposed to represent adequately the output of your thyroid gland, as if its other three hormonally active products only get into your blood by accident.

It is more logical to supplement thyroid function with whole thyroid glandular tissue, which is actually cheaper than the refined hormone. But tablets used not to keep well and their potency varied, so they were discarded. Their properties however, were different and longer lasting, especially in controlling blood cholesterol and preventing premature ageing of arteries — studies exist which show a ten-fold protection against stroke and coronary in especially susceptible people. The modern pure hormone tablets do not do this.

Two other factors can be brought to bear. In women it is common for progesterone not to be produced as it should, and in consequence your temperature does not rise in the second half of the menstrual cycle, when progesterone should be circulating. Replacement of this restores your sensitivity to your own thyroid hormones. If you are less than half a degree C below par, this may be enough to restore you to normal.

The second is a tip that comes from traditional Chinese medicine. Oriental doctors classify diseases in a different way, which includes groups of conditions due to an excess or deficiency of heat. There is a range of medicinal herbs available to treat deficiencies of heat, and these are a possible way forward if you cannot obtain thyroid or are vegetarian (thyroid is obtained from animal sources).

If you feel cold in conditions which toast most people, your doctor can quickly rule out all medically respectable causes. Even if he accepts what we say here, Thyroid BP is not easily available. You are on your own.

What can I do?

Advice to maintain and maximise your health

  • Check your temperature:  If you are unaccountably affected by cold conditions, or close relatives have had tuberculosis, strokes or coronaries quite young, check your basal temperature — that is, your body temperature at tick-over. This is best measured first thing in the morning after a restful night’s sleep, twelve hours or so after your last meal.
  • Have the thermometer ready by your bed, the mercury well shaken down, to minimize the effort of using it. Keep it under your armpit for a full ten minutes by the clock before stirring from your bedding. Repeat it for three consecutive mornings, discounting any that follow a restless night.
  • The result should be consistently above 36.6°C (97.8°F), except for women around ovulation time — you may record about half a degree less before ovulating than after and plummet even further on ovulation day. You should however be able to keep up an adequate basal temperature throughout your monthly cycle. In a borderline situation you may not be ovulating properly and should consider supplementing with progesterone.

2. Check the other members of your family. This will convince you that the thermometer is working and you may discover others with low temperatures — the tendency runs in families.

3. Consult your doctor if your temperature is consistently low.

4. To correct your temperature first try the effect of one Nature’s Own Kelp tablet daily — they remove pollutants properly, and add extra oil of kelp. Children usually recover on this alone. Keep up one kelp tablet daily indefinitely. Water cress is another good iodine source.

5. If your temperature is still subnormal and you are taking no other regular medication, consult a homoeopathic practitioner; if they agree with you, they can prescribe whole thyroid in homoeopathic potency. A yoga teacher can show you how to enhance your thyroid energy and an Acupuncturist can relieve any treatable hindrance to normal thyroid activity.

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