How Do I Know if I Need Thyroid? The importance of thyroid metabolism

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The thyroid gland is one of a group of "ductless glands" (hormones) in the human body. These glands secrete powerful chemicals directly into the bloodstream without going through the digestive tract or other "ducts". The thyroid gland secretes thyroxin that helps to regulate metabolism, body temperature (therefore fever), and the immune system. It also interacts with the other body hormones and controls growth and fat metabolism.

In order for the thyroid gland to produce thyroxin, it requires the input of iodine, which is the catalyst for that hormone. However, the modern diet in industrialized countries consists of many depleted, refined, and processed foods. Unfortunately, there are many areas of the world where the soil is deficient in iodine, therefore the plants are also lacking in that element. In the U.S., the population is medicated by the addition of iodine to all manufactured salt. Since salt is added to virtually every food product, iodine is sometimes oversupplied and the onset of 'hyper-thyroidism' among humans is not unusual.

However, there are two chemicals in our environment, Fluorine and Chlorine, which are able to displace the Iodine from the body, or the thyroid gland, and cause a thyroid deficiency. Fluorides (the combination of fluorine with sodium) is added to the municipal water supply of more than 50% of the people in the US, while chlorine is added to virtually every facility that produces and distributes water to the public. These chemicals interfere strongly with iodine and thyroid production and are the reason for widespread low-thyroid conditions or hypo-thyroidism.

Hypo-thyroidism causes excess fat accumulation, lack of energy because the body is unable to burn calories, and low immune response including allergies. Plus, it causes low body temperature, poor circulation to the extremities, including cold hands and feet. Dr. Gerson found that a high percentage of his cancer patients were low in thyroid function. Dr. Broda Barnes writes in his book, Hypothyroidism - The Unsuspected Illness, that this problem underlies many health problems, including hypoglycemia, tuberculosis, mental diseases, heart disease and many more.

During the years of Dr. Gerson's practice, there was a method available to measure the metabolism: it was called "the Basal Metabolism Test" and simply measured the amount of oxygen a person used at complete rest, without having eaten prior to the test. This amount was then compared to "normal" individuals of the same age and sex and gave a rather accurate reading. These tests are no longer used. Instead, protein-bound iodine is tested chemically in blood samples - and again, according to Broda Barnes, that test is virtually invalid. While it tests iodine in the blood, that is not where the hormone is needed for effectiveness; it must go into the tissues, into the cell, and do its job there -- that of burning sugars to produce energy. The protein-bound iodine in the blood does not show anything. Dr. Barnes urged the following test and used it in his practice for his patients to obtain a reliable reading:

Use a regular underarm thermometer, beat the mercury down to read below 97[degree sign]F, and place it on your night table. At total rest, upon waking in the morning and before getting up, place it under your arm, lie still and read it some six minutes later. Note the result, replace it once more under the arm and read it again. If it has gone up some more, replace it a second time. Then record the reading. Repeat this procedure three mornings in a row. Add the temperatures obtained, and divide by three to get your result. A normal reading should be at 98[degree sign]F, [plus or minus]0.2 degrees (in other words, between 97.8[degree sign]F and 98.2[degree sign]F). For a woman in her reproductive years, take the body temperature only on the second, third and fourth morning of the menstrual period since her body temperature varies depending on the ovulation cycle in which she finds herself.

If the result is below (or above) the normal, thyroid function is abnormal. We have seen it very low, as low as 96.3[degree sign]F, in a number of patients. Dr. Barnes further directed that a person should start to take 1 [&frac12] grains of thyroid if their reading is low for at least 4-6 weeks. Then repeat the test. The temperature does not respond rapidly; one has to wait. If the result is still low, add [&frac12] grain every 5-6 weeks until it reaches normal - but don't exceed 5 grains.

The above directions do not apply in the practice of the Gerson Therapy for specific groups of patients, especially immune-damaged patients and cancer patients. Those patients were given thyroid (up to 5 grains a day, for 2-4 weeks together with iodine) even if their regular temperature was close to normal, in order to stimulate the metabolism. Thyroid is also essential to activate the immune system and to clear the arteries of plaque. If it is being given to patients with heart problems or high blood pressure, however, obvious care has to be taken not to overstress the heart, so the medication varies in such cases and is adjusted to each particular patient's needs. During the two year course of the Gerson Therapy, the thyroid medication dosage is slowly reduced. If or when, at the end of the Gerson Therapy, the patient's hormone system is restored and balanced, he/she may well be able to discontinue thyroid supplementation entirely. However, many people have a genetically caused low thyroid function and may need to take a little thyroid for the rest of their lives.

Dr. Barnes gave one additional warning: while the medical profession likes to use the artificial, synthetic thyroid supplements (e.g. Thyroxin, Cytomel, Synthroid) in his experience these substances are effective only for a period of time, possibly around two years. He therefore urged, as did Dr. Gerson, the use of natural thyroid extracted from animal sources. The reason why doctors prefer the synthetic material is because they are told that it is more precisely standardized. However, over time, if the medication varies a little, that is quite unimportant and evens out. Therefore, the natural thyroid is always preferable.

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By Charlotte Gerson

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