Are you tired, overweight, anxious and despondent? Do you believe that no one can help you get better? Are you depressed because no one understands your condition? Do you feel as if your thyroid gland is underactive, yet all the tests are normal? Are you always cold? If you answered ‘yes’ to all of these, you may be suffering from Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.
Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome (WTS) is an extremely common condition, yet it is poorly recognised and diagnosed. Many members of the public, and even many doctors, are not aware of its existence.
HOW IS WTS DIAGNOSED?
There is no blood test to diagnose WTS, and in fact thyroid hormone levels are usually normal. It is characterised by a sub-normal average body temperature (normal is 36.8 to 37 oC), together with many of the following symptoms:
- General symptoms: inappropriate weight gain, fluid retention, fatigue, headaches and migraines, insomnia and needing to sleep in the day, allergies, hives, asthma, elevated cholesterol, heat and/or cold intolerance, low blood pressure, frequent colds and sore throat, light-headedness, ringing in the ears, dry eyes and blurred vision, flushing, poor co-ordination, increased nicotine or caffeine use.
- Mental symptoms: anxiety, panic attacks, depression, impaired memory and concentration, lack of motivation, low self-esteem, premenstrual syndrome, irritability.
- Gastro-intestinal symptoms: constipation, irritable bowel syndrome, hypoglycaemia, food cravings, excessive tiredness after eating, abnormal throat or swallowing sensations, stomach ulcers, bad breath, acid indigestion.
- Muscle, joint and skin symptoms: hair loss and dry hair, prematurely grey or white hair, unhealthy nails, dry and itchy skin, arthritis and joint pains, muscular aches, abnormal sweating, slow wound healing, easy bruising, cold hands/feet that turn blue, skin infections/acne, changes in pigmentation, carpal tunnel syndrome.
- Gynaecological symptoms: decreased libido, irregular periods, severe menstrual cramps, frequent urinary or yeast infections, infertility.
Many of these symptoms are characteristic of an under-active thyroid, also called Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, which is an auto-immune disorder. Many patients will be treated with a thyroid hormone supplement, such as Eltroxin, for years. Some will feel better on this medication, whereas others continue to suffer from many of the above symptoms, in spite of being told repeatedly that their blood tests are ‘normal’ and that all is well. Sometimes the dose of thyroid medication is increased in an effort to improve the symptoms. This may provide temporary relief, but actually worsens the situation.
Unfortunately many doctors treat patients’ blood tests and not their symptoms and the underlying cause of their problem, which leaves many patients confused and frustrated when they do not feel well. Dr Denis Wilson has studied and documented WTS for over 20 years in the USA, and has now given his name to it. See his extensive website https://www.wilsonssyndrome.com
HOW DOES WTS ARISE?
WTS is most common in women (80%), and is caused by exposure to one or more acute stresses or prolonged stress over years.
A normal thyroid gland produces a hormone called T4, which itself is inactive and is converted to active T3 in the peripheral cells of the body. Under stress, the T4 is converted into inactive reverse T3 instead of active T3. The reverse T3 blocks the receptors for T3 on the cells. This means that the cells can no longer receive signals from the circulating active T3, resulting in slowing of many metabolic processes. When the metabolism slows down, less energy is produced and the body temperature drops. When it is lower than 37 oC, the enzymes perform more slowly, with further slowing of the metabolism (multiple enzyme dysfunction). As efficient enzyme function is essential for most metabolic processes, this slow-down results in many of the symptoms described above.
HOW IS WTS TREATED?
WTS can be treated with herbal and other combinations to support the thyroid (which may include substances such as iodine, selenium, zinc, bladderwrack, ashwagandha and tyrosine), or with cycles of slow-release T3 hormone under the supervision of a certified WTS medical doctor. The dose starts low and rapidly climbs to a peak, then cycles down again over the space of a month. The daytime temperature and pulse rate are closely monitored. Within one or more cycles the temperature starts to normalise. The aim is to ‘capture’ the temperature at 37 oC, so that the temperature remains normal while the medication is slowly withdrawn and stopped. Patients are usually amazed by the sense of wellbeing they experience when their temperature approaches normal. It is often a feeling that has eluded them for years!
Once the temperature has been successfully ‘captured’, and the T3 capsules withdrawn, the thyroid resumes production of its own T3, which can now effectively regulate the metabolism. Most patients successfully complete the treatment in 3 months, but a few may need 6 months or more. Often no further treatment is necessary, but occasionally T3, or even a small dose of T4, will need to be taken on a maintenance basis.
The schedule requires diligence and attention, as the T3 capsules must be taken on time and exactly 12 hours apart, to prevent instability in the blood T3 levels. Instability can arise from missing a dose or taking a dose late, and can cause mild but uncomfortable side effects such as headaches, irritability, tiredness, fluid retention or body aches. Palpitations can also arise from T3 therapy; these may be uncomfortable but are not dangerous. Herbal antidotes (which may include substances such as magnesium, convalleria, crataegus and melissa) are usually taken to counteract the palpitations.
T3 therapy according to the WTS protocol may provide the missing link that has eluded so many, for so many years. Finally there is light at the end of the tunnel for those who feel that their thyroid gland is not working optimally, yet for whom no one has been able to provide relief.
Martine’s story (not her real name)
I would love to share my story with you. For most of my life I suffered from cold hands and feet. This was probably my earliest and most prominent symptom, and I thought it was normal!
Other symptoms gradually started creeping up. Next was very dry and thin hair, and my skin was becoming extremely dry, no matter how much cream and/or oil I used.
The next symptom, which was totally debilitating, was my poor memory and constant brain fog. Some days I could not remember what I had said literally seconds ago. I was writing the finals for my honours degree in Industrial Psychology and was under immense stress – I couldn’t remember what I’d studied from one hour to the next. This symptom became even worse just before my menstrual period. I’m over 40, and thought this might be the start of old age.
About 18 months ago things really started getting out of hand. I struggled to get out of bed in the morning; I had the most incredible muscle and joint aches. My entire body was inflamed. Walking up a flight of stairs was exhausting. I’m a qualified aerobics instructor and have always been active – now I couldn’t manage 10 minutes on the bicycle or the treadmill. I stopped exercising because it was too painful and I had no energy.
Gradually I started feeling ‘blue’ – I suppose we can call this depression, although that’s a strong word and is sometimes used inaccurately. I felt as if I was in a very dark place, and not able to get out of it. I started losing my self-confidence.
I’ve always had very healthy eating habits as well as a healthy exercise routine, so I couldn’t understand what was happening to my body. I was bloated and needed a range of three dress sizes in my wardrobe, because my body would blow up so much from one day to the next.
I thought my problem might be food intolerance, so I cut out wheat, gluten, sugar and coffee, sticking to fresh fruit and vegetables with chicken and or fish. Over a 3-month period I only lost 200 grams, even though I also forced myself to go to gym. I would exercise through the pain and the tiredness, only to be so drained the next day that I could not get up to go to work.
Some days it felt as if somebody was pressing their fingers on my oesophagus. I had problems focusing my eyes on waking in the morning, and sometimes would pray to have enough energy just to get out of bed – the list of symptoms was endless.
I eventually realised that something was definitely wrong. My endocrine system was all over the place. There was a sense that my body was at war with itself. I would be constipated one day and have a runny tummy the next, with no change whatsoever in my diet. My periods were occurring every second week. In the middle of summer I needed to wear a jersey. I could not stay up beyond 9 in the evening, slept until 7 in the morning, and was still tired, still not able to get out of bed. This immense tiredness made me extremely agitated and irritable.
Today I am the most blessed person on this planet. I was referred to a doctor who is familiar with and diagnosed Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome.
The T3 medication I was prescribed has changed my life. Three months later I have never ever felt better. As I mentioned earlier, I probably had some of these symptoms for a large part of my life. My menstrual cycle is now normal, I have incredible energy, and my muscle and joint aches disappeared with the second tablet I took. My brain fog disappeared with the very first tablet. I am in total awe about the treatment, and to date I have not experienced any side-effects. Feeling ‘blue’ is something of the past, my hair is in beautiful condition, and for the first time in my life I have warm hands and feet – this year I am actually embracing the winter. I am back on my full exercise routine, and at long last I can wear one dress size! Fabulous!
If this is you, don’t delay. Don’t look for excuses for unexplained symptoms – it’s so important to have quality of life, and that is possible with the right medication, which will treat the cause and not just the symptoms. This is definitely what treatment for WTS did for me. I am SO incredibly thankful to have my life back!