Chapter 4

The Unsuspected Illness

How can the thyroid affect my health?
During nearly 50 years of clinical practice, Dr. Broda Barnes, M.D., Ph.D. has seen thousands of people suffering from undiagnosed cases of low thyroid function (hypothyroidism). His discoveries led him to write a book called "Hypothyroidism: The Unsuspected Illness".

What is the relationship between the thyroid and heart attacks?
Research over the past forty years has clearly shown a direct relationship between heart attacks and thyroid deficiency, according to Dr. Broda Barnes. The true culprit causing the increase in heart attacks is not necessarily how much cholesterol is consumed, but how the cholesterol is assimilated in the body. Studies have shown that low thyroid levels causes a glue-like substance called mucin to accumulate causing a cascade of biochemical changes leading to a degeneration of the arteries. Other studies have shown that the removal of the thyroid gland soon leads to atherosclerosis. [10]

Researchers have discovered that mucin can even develop in children who have insufficient thyroid function. They found out that as long as thyroid is administered, the tissue would be normal. But if thyroid therapy was stopped, mucin rose rapidly. If thyroid therapy was begun again, the mucin content returned to normal. Therefore, one of the many preventive measures that can be done to prevent the possibility of heart attacks is to ensure the proper amount of thyroid is in the body. [11]

Research has shown that thyroid deficiency causes
hardening of the arteries. Thyroid therapy helps
reverse this and also reduces the risk of heart attacks.

In his book, Dr. Barnes states that 40% of Americans suffer from an inadequate supply of thyroid hormone, an ingredient vital to health in the human body.

Since about half of the population suffers from some degree of thyroid deficiency, it would follow that administering proper thyroid dosages could save thousands of lives each year. [12]

It is the opinion of Dr. Barnes and the author that
natural thyroid is the best kind to use because it
contains all the essential thyroid components that
are not found in other thyroid drugs such as

Dr. Barnes noted that hypothyroidism often goes undiagnosed because blood thyroid values are usually inaccurate. He recommends a simple test, called the Basal Temperature test, which the patient can perform at home.

Dr. Barnes has found the basal temperature to be one of the most valid tests to evaluate thyroid function. The temperature test should be done upon awakening in the morning, but before leaving your bed.


1) If you are male or a non-menstruating female, take a digital thermometer or an oral mercury thermometer (which has been shaken down and placed at the bedside the previous evening) and place it in your armpit for 10 minutes immediately upon awakening while lying quietly in bed. Repeat the test three days in a row. Normal temperature is 97.8 degrees to 98.2 degrees. If your temperature is low, your thyroid gland is probably underactive.

DO NOT use an electric blanket for 24
hours prior to taking your temperature.

2)If you are a female who menstruates, do the above test on the second and third day of your period in the same manner.

3) If you have a very young child and you are unable to take his armpit temperature, you can take the rectal temperature for two minutes. Normal would be 1 degree higher than the above, that is 98.8 degrees to 99.2 degrees.

4)Record your results below and bring this record to your physician.


Date:________ Day 1: ___________________
Date:________ Day 2: ___________________
Date:________ Day 3: ___________________
Date:________ Day 4: ___________________
Date:________ Day 5: ___________________

What are the symptoms of low thyroid production?
You can think of the thyroid as the body's "carburetor" that controls the rate at which every cell from hair to toenails burns energy. It is no wonder that a lack of thyroid hormone production can cause a wide range of problems inter-related yet separate from PMS such as those in Table 5.

TABLE 5 Some Possible Common Signs & Symptoms of a Low Functioning Thyroid (Hypothyroid)

Hair Loss
Cold Hands and Feet
Chronic Colds / Flu
Brittle Nails
Memory Loss
Mild Depression
PMS (Pre-Menstrual Syndrome)
Worsening of Hot Flash/Night Sweats in Menopause
Weight Gain
 High Blood Cholesterol

Of all these, fatigue seems to be the most common complaint, which no amount of sleep seems to help. People who suffer from this overall feeling of chronic sluggishness tend to get depressed. They frequently lose hope, resigning themselves to a life of low level functioning. These same people are often very pleased to find that a small dose of thyroid hormone will quickly improve their condition! Many allegedly "depressed" patients resume normal lifestyles enriched with exercise and brighter outlook within weeks after being placed on natural thyroid medication.

Thyroid deficiency is one of the most common
illnesses entering the physician's office today
and it is a diagnosis often missed!

How does low thyroid affect susceptibility to infections?
Dr. Broda Barnes has shown that many infections, (especially those of the respiratory tract such as pneumonia, tonsillitis, sore throats, middle ear infections and sinusitis) can be reduced when the body has proper amounts of thyroid. He has also shown that cold hands and feet of the hypothyroid patient signifies poor circulation to the skin which results in a susceptibility to skin infections. There are very few people with skin diseases of any kind who would not be benefited by thyroid.[13]

In severe thyroid deficiencies, the resistance to respiratory infections may be so low that the antibiotics are relatively ineffective. [14]

Can a standard blood test indicate a thyroid problem?
Dr. Broda Barnes has stated that, on the whole, blood tests are not sensitive enough to show a moderate thyroid deficiency and usually only indicate when thyroid levels are extremely low. A person can suffer from hypothyroidism and at the same time be within "normal" limits on thyroid blood level tests. An easier (and we might add more accurate) way to identify low levels of thyroid, is to take a simple basal (resting) body temperature reading with a standard oral thermometer, a technique developed by Dr. Broda Barnes.

Instructions on how to take this test are found above.

Researchers at the Vascular Research Foundation have observed that laboratory tests failed to uncover even a minute fraction of hypothyroids. Although standard tests indicated that 85% of patients had normal thyroid function, all of them showed marked and consistent benefits from thyroid supplementation.[15]

Dr. Mark Gold, M.D. at Fair Oaks Hospital in New Jersey found a significant incidence of low-level hypothyroidism among psychiatric patients. This convinced him that depression is often the first sign of low-level thyroid failure which is not detected by the usual blood thyroid function tests. [16]

What are the relationships between thyroid and reproductive organs?
The reproductive organs need a normal supply of thyroid hormone to function properly. Any abnormality in the menstrual cycle should be an indicator to have a Basal Temperature check as well as other tests. If there are abnormalities in the menstrual cycle, the proper dosage of thyroid will usually correct or improve the condition. More than 90% of the menstrual disorders are improved with adequate thyroid therapy. [17]

Low thyroid can also be a possible cause or infertility by contributing to ovulation problems in females and low sperm counts in men.

What are some effects of hypothyroidism in children?
Although some preschool children suffering from hypothyroidism may have a somewhat dull and apathetic appearance and be less active than normal youngsters, a few may be very nervous, hyperactive and unusually aggressive. Emotional problems and learning disabilities are frequent and a low thyroid child may cry for no apparent reason and object vigorously to any restrictions. Temper tantrums are common and are probably related to undue fatigue. These children may sleep longer than other youngsters of their age, be a slow starter in the morning, have a short attention span, and compulsively go from one activity to another. Infections are common. Since some of these problems often have multiple causes, children frequently require treatment for allergies, environmental sensitivities, candidiasis, nutritional deficiencies, parasites, ingestion of lead and other toxins as well as thyroid therapy.

What are some of the other benefits of proper thyroid amounts?
Thyroid hormone also stimulates protein synthesis, that is, the buildup of protein from amino acids. Protein is necessary for replacing worn-out cells and for the manufacture of enzymes. A proper functioning thyroid also allows for the secretion of the sex-activating hormones, controls the rate of absorption of nutrients from the gastrointestinal tract, and is responsible for production of a compound known as retinene which is essential for visual acuity at night.

Hypothyroidism should always be considered in the differential
diagnosis of children who are hyperactive. [18]

How does estrogen affect hypothyroidism?
Pharmacologic doses of estrogen depress the secretion of thyroid hormone by suppressing TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone). This is especially important if a woman is taking oral contraceptive pills. [19]

Next Chapter 5 : MENOPAUSE