Eugene Hertoghe was a Belgian physician became vice-president of the Belgian Medical Society and one the world’s foremost thyroid experts. In 1914 he was invited to speak before the International Surgical Congress at what is now Columbia/NY Presbyterian Hospital to share his knowledge with American doctors. Hertoghe taught of the importance of diagnosing and treating the milder forms of low thyroid. He gave remarkably detailed descriptions of the many problems that could be caused by low thyroid function. Before any thyroid tests became available, Hertoghe taught doctors how to diagnose and treat all forms of this condition. He explained what to look for and what listen for in order to identify this illness.
Eugene Hertoghe also offered remarkable examples of how patients could improve with treatment. He reported that problems as diverse as hair loss, mental illness, dry skin, and digestive problems could all be caused by hypothyroidism and could be reversed with proper treatment. Hertoghe also noted that low temperature was the most consistent finding of hypothyroidism (see Barnes). Eugene Hertoghe taught that hypothyroidism could be effectively treated simply by giving enough natural thyroid extract to reverse the patient’s hypothyroid symptoms. This speech was considered so important at the time that it has been credited with inspiring the founding of the specialty of endocrinology in the United States as well as the start of the first endocrinology journals in the US.
Eugene Hertoghe’s advice for physicians: “The slighter forms of thyroid inadequacy are almost invariably missed; yet, owing to there extreme prevalence, the recognition of these is particularly important”.