Have you visited your GP because your symptoms suggested poor thyroid function but the tests results were ‘normal’?

The standard screening test for thyroid function is to look at the levels of thyroid stimulating hormone (TSH) in the blood. This seems to be a poor indicator of thyroid status. Measuring other thyroid hormones like T3 and T4 give a better indication but still this doesn’t give us information on thyroid antibodies or reverse T3, which we can create when adrenal function is compromised.

Most of all, measuring TSH doesn’t detect sub-clinical cases of hypothyroid. Where the patient is symptomatic but the tests say all is well.

I find the best way to detect abnormal thyroid function is to test your resting metabolic rate and look at the clinical signs that a patient is presenting with.

Signs of low thyroid function that I regularly see include:

  • Sensitivity to cold
  • Weight gain
  • Lack of energy
  • Mentally sluggish
  • Seasonal sadness
  • Constipation
  • Morning headaches

Testing your thyroid function.

If you find you have three or four of these symptoms then find a thermometer and use it to test your metabolic rate. Your metabolism is mostly determined by your thyroid hormones and your temperature will reflect your general metabolic rate. This test was designed by Dr Broda Barnes.

The Basal Body Temperature Test

To do a basal temperature test, it should be done as soon as you wake up and before you get out of bed. In women who are menstruating, their body temperature varies with the cycle; creating errors which can be avoided if the basal temperature is taken on days 2, 3, 4 and 5 of the cycle. Men and non-menstruating women may take their temperature on any day.

Use a digital thermometer; Place it under your tongue until the thermometer beeps or buzzes, or for the length of time suggested in the instructions.

Note the reading, and do it for several mornings so the results can be averaged out, since they may vary slightly day by day.

A normal oral temperature would be 37 degrees. If your temperature is consistently below this then further investigation is required. Consult a nutritionist to evaluate your symptoms and to get information on supporting thyroid function through diet and lifestyle.


Author: Sarah Hanratty

Sarah is a specialist practitioner at the Brain Food Clinic. She has a degree in Nutritional Medicine and is a certified Gut and Psychology Syndrome Practitioner. Sarah helps people to overcome physical and mental health issues using bespoke nutritional protocols.

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