The Importantance of Body Temperature

The Importantance of Body Temperature

Many doctors use body temperature to help assess thyroid function. Many doctors also disregard low body temperature. It’s important to educate yourself on the importance of body temperature. Patients can learn much about their well being simply from track body temperature correctly and regularly. For me, tracking body temp is the cheapest, easiest way to know that my thyroid medicine is working.

According to Dr. Broda Barnes (1), measuring basal body temperature is the most accurate testing method. He explains that a temperature below 97.8 indicates Hypothyroidism, a temperature above 98.2 indicates hyperthyroidism. In addition, when treatment is given for hypothyroidism the body temperature test can be used to monitor the treatment. As low temperatures rise to 98.2, hypothyroid symptoms will disappear.

Dr. Barnes also said “more information can often be brought to the physician with an ordinary thermometer than with all other thyroid test combined”.

Body temperature is such a simple idea. Before getting thyroid treatment my body temperature was very low. At its worst, my temperature was 95.5 degrees. And no this is not normal! Over the years I asked doctors about my low body temperature but was told it was fine. Little did they I was not fine. I felt awful and low body temperature was part of the reason.

How Temperature Effects the Body

What happens when body temperature goes above 98.4-98.6 degrees? We have a fever and typically feel awful. The higher the temperature, the worse we feel. If high temperature doesn’t feel good, consider what happens when body temperature is below normal? It seems logical that we would also feel bad with low body temperature. Patients report feeling tired, sluggish, foggy, cold, and all the other hypothyroid symptoms.

Many patients, myself included, have been told by doctors that low body temperature is fine. But this is not true. Low body temperature can be a very clear sign of hypothyroidism and is the first step in diagnosis.

How to Track Body Temperature

Here are  simple instructions from Broda Barnes…. Men, children, and woman (who are past menopause) can take this test anytime. Women who are still in child-bearing years should track temperature on the second or third day of their period. 

  • Preferably use a glass thermometer orally, under the tongue. These are most accurate.
  • Shake down the thermometer the night before, and place on your night table. Take temperature first thing in the morning before getting out of bed
  • Record your temperature (use this nice PDF chart from the Wolfe Clinic).
  • Repeat for several days to see if the temperature changes. Keep in mind, a big fluctuation is common and could be a sign of adrenal fatigue! One day the temperature might be 97.8 and then next 97.0, this is important information.
  • According to Dr. Barnes the morning (basal) temperature should average 97.8 to 98.2 to indicate normal thyroid function.
  • Taking afternoon temperature is also important. Take temperature again at 2-3pm and track results.
  • A normal afternoon temperature range is 98.4-98.6.

Understanding Body Temperature

Dr. Broda Barnes and Dr. James Wilson explain how to test thyroid and adrenals through body temperature precisely. Checking your body temp at 3pm when the body is at it’s warmest will give you quick insight. Here is a chart explaining what body temperatures could mean:

Body temperature is important for diagnosing and treating hypothyroidism.

If you have low body temperature take these results to your doctor! If your doctor doesn’t believe in the body temperature thyroid connection find another doctor.


Miss LizzyThe Importantance of Body Temperature
The Importance of Sleep for Adrenal Health

The Importance of Sleep for Adrenal Health

If you have adrenal fatigue like me, or know someone who does, getting up before 9 a.m. can often be painful. As far back as high school I joked about not being “a morning person”. Staying up late at night was easy for me, but mornings were so bad that in college I scheduled all classes after 2 p.m. Seriously, I did.  I would be a zombie until around noon. People thought I was lazy, I thought I was lazy. But my brain just didn’t function in the morning, so I did what my body was telling. And you know, my body was pretty darn smart, thank you.

Even as a adult it was painful to wake up before 9 AM. I admired early-risers and longed to be one, having a strange idea that morning people are good people. Only the lure of coffee would pull me from the comatose state of sleep.  The idea of waking up at 6 a.m. actually made me panic. If I woke up before 9 a.m., I could easily drink two cups of coffee and go right back to sleep for hours.  Curiously though, if I slept until about 9 a.m. I could pop right out of bed awake and alert.  This always seemed odd, but apparently, there are lots of people out there like me!

Anyone who has chronic illness will understand you lead a secret life, arranging your business hours around rest opportunities and finding excuses for missing social events – Lynne Farrow, author The Iodine Crisis

Then I started learning about Adrenal Fatigue and how cortisol runs our body clock. So my sleep pattern wasn’t a matter of choice after all. What a revelation! According to James L. Wilson, Ph.D, Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome, though most people’s schedules do not allow it, it helps to sleep until 8:30 or 9 in the morning.

Wilson also writes, for people with normal functioning adrenals, cortisol rises rapidly between 6-8 am, which helps them to pop out of bed.  (And explains why some people can’t sleep past a certain time.)  Further, there is something magical about the restorative power of sleep between 7-9 a.m. for people with Adrenal Fatigue. Partly, he says, because cortisol levels rise slower in people with adrenal fatigue, and when cortisol levels are lower it takes longer to feel fully awake. Wilson also explains that with adrenal fatigue, when you sleep may be more important than how much you sleep.

Finally something that made sense after all these years!  After getting treatment for Adrenal Fatigue, my Cortisol levels have become more normal, so waking up is much easier. In fact, I can get up at 7:45 a.m and actually function these days. But given the chance, I sleep late without guilt, knowing it will help me tackle the day with energy. Brilliant.


Miss LizzyThe Importance of Sleep for Adrenal Health
Health Tracking is Vital for Treating Hypothyroidism

Health Tracking is Vital for Treating Hypothyroidism

I’ve accepted the fact that either I am health obsessed or a hypochondriac. That said, if I’ve learned anything trying to heal from hypothyroidism and adrenal fatigue, its that good health is a practice which takes effort, research and intention. In doing so I have become a bit of a health detective.

For example, I use a spreadsheet to track every day of my life; charting my medicine, mood, weight, body temp, cycle, PMS, energy, hair loss, even sex drive (yep, I track it!). I start on Day 1 of my cycle and track every day until the next Day 1. It’s amazingly informative!

Otherwise life just blends together and its sometimes hard to see progress or setbacks. Like tracking point on Weight Watcher’s, writing it down helps me see what’s happening. It’s not about judgement either, tracking is about awareness and observation.

By tracking I discovered a big mood shift in my cycle, but didn’t see the monthly pattern. When I started tracking I realized this mood swing happened like clockwork on Day 19. On Day 18 every month, I felt great. And then suddenly on Day 19, I would feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I would feel sad and have difficulty coping even with everyday chores. Sometimes I could actually feel my mood slipping as the day progressed on Day 19. Then as quickly as it started, the mood would lift around Day 24. I never connected it with PMS because it came so much earlier in my cycle.

When I showed this pattern to my doctor he suggested we run hormone lab tests. Sure enough, he learned my estrogen and progesterone levels dramatically flip on Day 19, which created the mood swing. He prescribed bioidentical estrogen creme for days 16-24 of my cycle, and sure enough, no more mood swings. Also I learned if I start the estrogen creme to late (like Day 18) or end too early (like Day 22) the mood swing hits me hard. Incredible isn’t it?!

Tracking also helped me realize when I overstimulated my adrenals by increasing my thyroid medicine too much.

But I know, we are all so tired already, how will manage to do this too? My advice is just do your best and forgive yourself what you cannot do. I am reading the The Four Agreements, A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, by Don Miguel Ruiz. It’s a great book and I especially like what Ruiz writes about crime and punishment. When there is a crime it is punished once, but in our minds we punish ourselves over and over for years. He explains happiness is directly related to quieting the inner judge, and then attempting to do our best. If you track a little and that’s your best, then great. If you are too tired to track today, maybe you will tomorrow. Whatever it is, do your best.

In case you are curious, here is a section of my tracker from 2009 (done in Pages, but will open in Excel). The notes can be as loose or detailed as you like. Download a copy and take a look.


Miss LizzyHealth Tracking is Vital for Treating Hypothyroidism