Book Review: Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome

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I was supposed to have my appointment with my naturopathic doctor this past Wednesday, but the results of one of my tests were not back, so Dr. E asked if I would consider rescheduling so that everything would be back. During my initial consultation, she asked me if there were others in my family with thyroid problems, and she made a comment that I thought was odd: she muttered something about Wilson's and that maybe there was nothing wrong with my thyroid.

While there I didn't think much about it, and immediately assumed she was talking about James Wilson's Adrenal Fatigue: The 21st Century Stress Syndrome. But then I ended up coming across this book: Wilson's Temperature Syndrome: A Reversible Low Temperature Problem by E. Denis Wilson, MD. I decided to order it and it outlines a very interesting theory. Dr. Wilson says:

If a very high temperature can be very bad [high fever] and very low temperature [hypothermia] can be very bad, and a pretty high temperature [fever] can be pretty bad, then a pretty low temperature can be – _______________ you fill in the blank. If you answered pretty bad, you get an A+. Unfortunately, medical schools have taught doctors not to pay any attention to a relatively low body temperature; perhaps because it is not immediately life threatening, or because the associated symptoms have been mistakenly considered psychological or attributed to other causes.

A few things that remained in my thoughts as I've been reading through the book:

  • Dr. Wilson finds that some people are more prone to developing Wilson's Thyroid Syndrome than others and it seems their ancestors are those who survived famine, such as Irish, Scot, Welsh, American Indian, Russian, etc.
  • He finds that about 80% of women are sufferers of this syndrome
  • Thyroid tests typically come back “normal”
  • Average daily temperatures tend to be 97.8°F

I am supposed to be taking my temperature three times a day to get an average to see if my adrenals are being supported appropriately. But I have been lax at doing this, because it's one more thing to remember. How in the world do people remember to take medications throughout the day?

The method for getting an average temperature is you take your temperature using a Geratherm mercury-free thermometer three hours after waking, three times, every three hours. For example, if you wake at 6am, you will take your temperature first at 9am, then noon and finally at 3pm. Add all three temperatures together and then divide by three for the average.

It's like magic. My temperature is either 97.8°F or 97.9°F each day so far, whether I start taking my temperature at 7am or noon (on the days I go in to work I'm up at 4am so my first temperature is taken at 7am, one day last weekend I slept in until 9am and so my first temperature was taken at noon).

My ancestors include some of the ones mentioned above. My thyroid tests come back normal.

Dr. Denis Wilson believes this condition is reversible. He says that the body has entered conservation mode:

It is easier to survive famine if your body is not using as much energy (conservation mode). On the other hand, the more energy you spend (productivity mode) the easier it is to get things done. If you didn't have a conservation mode, then when food was scarce you'd be more likely to starve. And if you didn't have a productivity mode, then when resources were plentiful you'd have a hard time getting as much done. People who are in the conservation mode frequently tell me: “I don't have any interest in anything anymore, and I just don't feel like doing anything.” What a way to conserve energy!

It is normal for the thyroid system to enter into and out of the conservation and productivity modes at the appropriate times and under the appropriate conditions. This helps the body to cope with the changes and challenges of life. The body enters into the conservation mode under conditions that threaten the survival and/or physical, mental, emotional resources of the body, such as childbirth, divorce, death of a loved one, job or family stress, surgery or accidents, etc., and starvation (not very common in the United States except for severe dieting). It seems that stress is not always measured by the challenge itself, but by the relationship of the presenting challenge to the available resources. When the brain determines that there is a threat, or that there may be insufficient resources available to easily meet a presenting challenge, a signal is sent to the body to begin entering into the conservation mode to conserve energy. When the stressful conditions have passed, the body is supposed to return to the productivity mode; but in Wilson's Temperature Syndrome it doesn't, leaving people to suffer with frustrating and often debilitating complaints long after the stress has passed. So essentially, Wilson's Temperature Syndrome is a natural and normal starvation/stress coping mechanism gone amuck.

He has a website and he offers both his regular book and his doctor's manual at his website. He also has doctors who are certified by him to know how to treat this condition.

I am not getting my hopes up, but it would be pretty awesome if my thyroid could be healed and I would not need to be on medication forever. Of course since I haven't gotten my test results back I don't know what they will indicate.

I thought this was a pretty great resource and wanted to share with my readers.

Have you ever heard of this syndrome?




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6 thoughts on “Book Review: Wilson’s Temperature Syndrome

  1. Wow, Starlene! This is GREAT stuff! I plan to get this book and give it a read. I know I’ve improved so much with GAPS, and my temps have come up, but yeah–if they go over 98.0 it’s a red letter day! :p

    And my tests have come back “normal” before, too…..although I’m pushing to get a full panel thyroid done after the first of the year.

    Thanks for sharing about this!


  2. Thank you, Starlene! I think I had read that list at one time–will print that out so I make sure I’m getting the right stuff!

    When I looked up drs in my state on Dr. Wilson’s site, I found the only one is just 1 1/2 hours from me! I’m going to ask some questions of some friends who live in the same city who may know of him and pray about going over there.

    HUGS and thanks again!


  3. @Trisch, also I wanted to tell you I am looking into a similar but different protocol. Supposedly this other protocol is “… a more gentle approach that protects the adrenals and is safe and effective.” This is all so confusing trying to figure out what to do! Have you seen my posts about the leptin reset? Getting our bodies leptin sensitive again is supposed to heal a multitude of problems. There is a Wilson Protocol doctor in my area too and I was thinking of going to one and see if they would allow me to use this other protocol but at least they would be on board with using the necessary medication.

  4. I just discovered I have Reverse T3 hypothyroid, my thyroid appears to be perfectly fine but my body is in famine mode. I have been trying to do as much reading as I can on the topic because I do not want to take synthetic T3 if I can avoid it. Since dieting or even restricting a macronutrient can trigger this in some people, I am trying to easy more intuitively and not restrict fruit or other carbs. I am drinking 2 chips of raw milk every morning (not GAPS legal but I am doing GAPS primarily for other family members, not myself) and my energy levels are so much better!!! I’m also taking humic and fulvic minerals.

  5. I know this is an old post – but that fits me when I was younger. My temperature used to always be about 97.6 unless I was sick. No one noticed or cared.

    I seem to have managed to heal myself of it accidentally because my temperature is now almost always above 98 and usually closer to average. It’ll definitely be something to keep an eye on if I go into conservation mode again.

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