thermometerWhen you hear the phrase “Take your temperature”, you usually associate it with being sick and looking for a fever.

But your temperature can also be one of many clues of your metabolic health!

As a hypothyroid patient, taking your temperature can be an important aspect in three ways:

1) it can help you diagnose your hypothyroidism
2) it can help you find the right dose of natural desiccated thyroid or T3-only
3) it can help you assess your adrenal status as well as finding the right amount of HC or Adrenal Cortex

HOW DOES MY TEMPERATURE DIAGNOSE HYPOTHYROIDISM? Generally, the average temperature of an adult with a healthy thyroid and a healthy metabolism is 98.6 degrees Fahrenheit or 37.0 degrees Celsius, and that occurs around mid-afternoon or 3 pm. So if you take your mid-afternoon temp and find it in low 98’s or even in the 97’s, you have been given a strong clue that you may be hypothyroid and/or undertreated (or your low cortisol is keeping you hypothyroid). And a few report their mid-afternoon temp being in the 96’s. BRRRR.

Another temperature clue occurs first thing in the morning before you raise from your bed. Dr. Broda Barnes, a doctor who paid attention to clinical presentation and prescribed the pre-reformulated Armour, found that a healthy before-rising morning basal temp should be between 97.8 – 98.2 (he used a mercury thermometer under the arm for ten minutes). If it’s higher, you may be hyperthyroid, and if it’s lower, you are most likely hypothyroid. If using an oral thermometer in the mouth and want to compare it to the way Broda Barnes did the underarm, leave in your mouth for five minutes, then subtract 1/2 degree from your result to make it closer to underarm temp taking — the latter which is usually lower.

HOW DOES MY TEMPERATURE HELP ME WITH RAISING MY THYROID MEDS? Once you are on natural desiccated thyroid or T3-only, and are consistently raising your doses, you will see your temps climb to healthy levels with increasing feel-good symptoms to match. We’re noted that In many patients, reaching the average temp around 98.6F/37C can happen before you are even on your optimal amount of desiccated thyroid or T3.

HOW DOES MY TEMPERATURE TELL ME ABOUT MY ADRENALS?? There is a fairly accurate way to tell if you have an adrenal problem with your temperature. You take it three times a day–first, 3 hours after you wake up, then 3 hours after that, then 3 hours after that. Add them, divide by 3, and you get your first of five days of a Daily Average Temp (see the adrenal info page, Discovery Step Two, Test Four).  If one or more of those five daily averaged temps is more than .2F off from another (or .1C), that could be a sign that you have adrenal dysfunction, a common condition with hypothyroid patients. (Dr. Rind mentions .2 to .3F, but a lean towards .2 seems better)

Having an adrenal dysfunction means you aren’t producing enough cortisol for your needs.  And for some folks, it takes doing the T3CM, or supplementing with low-dose Hydrocortisone or other adrenal support products to bring that stability in the temperature back. You will also want to use this method once on HC or Adrenal Cortex to find the right amount of cortisol supplementation. (Chapter 6 of the revised STTM book explains this in detail). 

Dr. Rind has an excellent temperature graph you can use to understand temps:

WHAT KIND OF THERMOMETER SHOULD I USE? Though Dr. Rind above doesn’t recommend the old-fashion oral mercury thermometers, we as thyroid patients have found them quite useful and more accurate as compared to most digital thermometers, which tend to be off up to a degree one direction or the other. Yes, some digitals are definitely better than others. But when in doubt, use your Mercury thermometer.

It’s also important to leave it under your tongue long enough, i.e. five minutes minimum. Where to find a Mercury thermometer? Ebay, or an antique store. A second alternative: a Geratherm, which is a liquid non-mercury thermometer. May be more accurate than other digitals. Bulky.

P.S. Since the bulk of what’s related to STTM pertains to patient experience rather than “opinion”, we did some tests with both digitals and mercury, putting them in the same mouth at the same time, and repeated measurements. The mercury was consistent; the digital would frequently change. 

WHAT IF MY TEMPERATURE IS HIGH, YET I HAVE HYPOTHYROID SYMPTOMS? This is a clue that you may have an antibodies attack on your thyroid, called Hashimotos Disease, making it wise to do the two antibodies tests to confirm or rule out Hashi’s. Don’t let your doc just test one! Do both! Or order you own here. P.S. You don’t necessarily have Hashi’s if the result is low.

High temperatures can also be the result of low iron, low aldosterone, and/or low estrogen. Your temp can also go up if you are producing excess adrenaline (which you might be able to notice by having palps, anxiety, shakiness, etc)

WHAT ABOUT MENSTRUATING OR OVULATING WOMEN? Your internal body temperature can be very reactive to your female hormonal state, making it lower or higher than normal. So knowing what it going on within is important to evaluating a temperature. Check your temps before days 19 – 22 of your cycle, with the first counted day being the day you started your period.

DO TEMPS CHANGE AS ONE AGES? Yes. They seem to lower. But that could be related to the slowing down of the thyroid in aging, and a potential need for thyroid treatment like desiccated thyroid.

WHAT DOES HAVING A LOW TEMPERATURE DO TO YOU? Low body temp may create a ripe and friendly environment for pathogens like bacteria and viruses to grow. It can also make your enzymes less effective, since enzymes need the right temperature to do their job. The result is poorer detoxification via your liver.