The Barnes Basal Temperature Test

The Barnes Basal Thyroid Test

Transcript of clip:

Lee Swanson: It’s interesting, most people think to diagnose a certain health condition they need to go to their doctor and have a blood test or some other diagnostic work done. There is a simple home test people can use for diagnosing thyroid problems. Could you talk about the Barnes Basal Test for thyroid function?

Dr. Stephen Langer: Sure. I just want to put this in perspective because I did write about it extensively in the book. It really is not a diagnostic test; it’s a presumptive test. In other words, if you’re suffering with a number of the symptoms which we’ve discussed, particularly chronic fatigue and it can be a whole host of other symptoms and you suspect, or a person thinks that it could be their thyroid or is unsure whether or not it’s their thyroid; the simple test is just to shake a thermometer down. We used to be able to get the mercury thermometers which have been actually banned because of environmental reasons, but if a person uses a basal thermometer and puts it snugly under their arm first thing in the morning the temperature reading, the auxiliary temperature, in other words, the underarm temperature leave it there for 10 minutes it should be between 97.8 and 98.2 on the Fahrenheit scale. If it is below 97.8 and you’re symptomatic, a person should see a holistically oriented doctor to see whether or not their thyroid is involved, and more often than not, it is.

Lee Swanson: I know when I was diagnosed with underactive thyroid in 1984 my body temperature in the morning was about 96 and after being on armor thyroid for about a month my body temperature went up to about 97.9.

Dr. Stephen Langer: There’s no doubt about it because when you’re on thyroid medication it does rev up the metabolism of all your cells. That’s why Barnes was a genius.

Back in the old days when, by the old days I mean before laboratory medicine became more sophisticated the way doctors would tell whether or not a person had a thyroid condition was using a piece of apparatus that did a basal metabolic test where you came into a hospital and they put you on a breathing apparatus to see what your metabolism was like first thing in the morning.

The closest thing that Barnes found that correlated with this clunky, expensive piece of equipment was a basal temperature test first thing in the morning because the sum total of all the metabolic activity that’s going on in your body is reflected in your resting temperature.

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So, your resting temperature does give a good presumption of what your metabolic status is, and to extrapolate from that, what your thyroid status is. So, if your body is freezing and your temperature is subnormal every morning, there is a good chance and you have multiple clinical symptoms, there’s a good chance your thyroid could be involved.

Now, let me just say one thing because I say this to my patients there are other things, certainly, that can cause low body basal temperature that are not thyroid related. People have had viral conditions where they may have elevated antibody titers of certain viruses, like Epstein-Barr virus and anyone who’s ever had mono has Epstein Barr floating around in their bloodstreams, at least antibodies all their lives. I’m using this as a metaphor since Epstein-Barr is a member of the herpes family, when a person’s immune system becomes stressed the virus, which never leaves the body, can become more active.

In certain viral conditions your basal body temperature can actually go down. Frequently we see this in people who have colds; their temperatures go down rather than go up.

Lee Swanson: So, just a simple at-home measurement of the body temperature can go a long way.

Dr. Stephen Langer: All you need is a basal thermometer under your arm. And, if you’ve been sick and suffering you can get a good idea whether or not there’s a probability of your thyroid being involved. Then go see somebody who uses thyroid medication in their practice. If need be, try it, and for the people who need it, very often their lives are turned around pretty rapidly.

Lee Swanson: Well, thank you Dr. Langer. I urge everyone to pick up a copy of Dr. Langer’s fascinating book, Solved: The Riddle of Illness

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