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Thursday, May 26, 2011

2: Iodine and Breast Health

Last week I talked about how iodine radically reduced my anxiety. Well, now I became a diehard fan, and I continued to read dozens of articles about this essential nutrient. I came across many things that it affects in the body, and as I did, I thought of friends who might benefit from this supplement.

One dear girlfriend—I’ll call her Sonja—had been diagnosed with a brain tumour a year earlier. She had surgery, which was scary enough, and then just when it seemed she would be okay, she developed blood clots in her left lung, a side-effect from the surgery, and she almost died. And although the surgeon had got most of the tumour, because it was attached to the optic nerve and was already impairing her vision, he’d had to leave a little, and there was concern about it growing back.

I had read that iodine is a natural blood-thinner and also that there is some indication that it can have an anti-tumoral effect. I knew, too, that Sonja had cysts on her thyroid and had been on Synthroid since her surgery. Any issue with the thyroid causes me to think “iodine.” So these 3 concerns together prompted me to tell Sonia of my findings. She was eager to give it a try: bought some Lugol’s Solution and began taking 2 or 3 drops a day.

It wasn’t quite 3 weeks later that she phoned one morning, over the moon with excitement. “I had to call you,” she said. “I was just in the shower and I was doing my monthly BSE [this is a Breast Self-Exam, not to be confused with the phenomenon that almost decimated the Canadian beef industry a few years ago]. You don’t know this about me,” Sonja went on, “but I have one breast that has been fibroid all my adult life [about 30 years]. I always have cysts; I am considered high-risk for breast cancer, and I have to go for an ultra-sound once a year. So I was checking this breast and there are NO CYSTS! And the texture of the whole breast has always been pebbly throughout, but now it’s all smooth.”

“And you think this is from the iodine?” I asked.

“It has to be,” she said firmly. “I haven’t done anything else different. I am now so hopeful that it’s going to help some of my other issues.”

I was thrilled for her but not totally surprised: I had read over and over again that iodine will resolve fibrocystic breast disease. But it should have taken 2 or 3 times as much iodine as she’d been taking, and 3 months, not 3 weeks.

Sufficient iodine is also vital for ovary and prostate health and for reproductive function in general. Iodine deficiency can contribute to infertility. Although the thyroid prefers potassium iodide (KI), the sex organs thrive on elemental iodine (I). Fortunately Lugol’s Solution contains both.

The research of Dr. Jonathan Wright indicates that iodine supplementation can help balance the three estrogens in a woman’s body (estrone, estradiol and estriol). He has discovered also that it helps the body metabolize estrogens to form estriol, the safest estrogen. He explains that iodine resolves fibrocystic breast disease (and ovarian cysts as well) partly because of how iodine interacts with estrogen. (Iodine Remedies: Secrets from the Sea, Dr. Chris Robin, Pages 40, 113, 114.) Awash as our world now is in harmful estrogens, from the growth hormones in our meat and dairy supply to the xenoestrogens (“xeno” meaning “foreign”) that leech from the plastics in which we store our food, it’s tremendously comforting to know that God has provided a nutrient that helps to turn the tide.

Back to my friend: Sonja was on blood thinners for eight months and has now been off them for a year. So far there have been no more problems in this department. The last time she had a mammogram, the technician confirmed that there was a pronounced difference in the texture of the tissue. And the last check-up with the surgeon showed that the remains of the tumour had reduced in size. Mind you, Sonja had some radiation too, so we do not presume what role, if any, the iodine played in this. But she fully credits Lugol’s with her breast health. She still takes 2 drops daily, which costs her just over a penny a day.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

1. Anxiety and the Iodine Intervention

Anxiety has been an acquaintance of mine for longer than I care to remember. Always high-strung, intense, and introverted, I found motherhood a shock to the system. By the time our fourth child was six months old, I had crashed and burned in a nervous breakdown. My local GP prescribed Ativan with the rather insensitive comment, “Come back when you run out. You’re probably going to be on this the rest of your life. You’re just that kind of personality.”

Thanks, buddy.

Not only did his summary dismissal discourage me greatly, condemning me to my neurosis, the drug actually made me feel even more uneasy than I already did. Happily my pastor referred me to a Christian doctor in Edmonton who treated me with the presumption that I was going to get well. It was a long, slow road, but get well I did, improving greatly over the first year. He had me on a different anti-anxiety medication that really helped my symptoms, and an antidepressant as well. Now, please understand: I hate drugs; I don’t even use Tylenol once in an average year, but I had to do what I had to do to survive.

Fast-forward eighteen years to the fall of 2009. Clonzapam is always in my bedside drawer. Sometimes I’ve gone maybe three months without needing any; then life goes crazy for a while; I get over-stimulated and can’t sleep; then I get progressively more strung out. A dose of this anti-anxiety medication will break the vicious cycle; sleep and restoration follow. Sometimes it takes several doses over a couple of days, but it works and I’ve been grateful. What used to be a one-month supply (back when I was very ill) would now last a year and a half or more. I wish that I didn’t need it at all, but I’ve been glad for the relief.

Now for the past six months my new hormone doctor had been telling me that my thyroid is low and that she wants to put me on medication. I’ve been putting her off, stalling, wondering what to do, not wanting to go this route. My anxiety is getting worse and worse. I’m in the middle of a recording project, enjoying it immensely, embracing the challenge, and life is good. But sitting at the computer by the hour, my body is constantly in fight-or-flight mode. My heart races, and I can feel the adrenaline coursing through my veins. I know this state of stress is terrible for my health, but I can’t change it. I’m using my medication way more than usual, yet I feel like I need more.

Sitting there one day audio-editing on my screen, wondering if my thyroid issues are contributing to this distress, I sense the Lord prodding me with a thought: Go to Google and check symptoms of iodine deficiency. (Yes, God knows about Google and sometimes uses it.) I suppose the mental connection came from the knowledge, from back in school years, that iodine is crucial to thyroid health, something that the medical profession seems to overlook today. So the “prod from God” could be broken down into this sequence: Anxiety. Thyroid. Iodine. Deficiency?

Well, Google told me, through various sites, that anxiety was indeed one of many symptoms of lack of this vital trace mineral. Much reading later, I ordered some Lugol’s Solution (invented in 1829) from my local pharmacy and days later began on a stout dose. Sit down before you read this if you have any medical background: I started at 25 mg per day, 160 times the Recommended Daily Allowance.

It took six weeks for the full benefit of the iodine to be felt by my nervous system; now it was the first week of January 2010. In the preceding six months I had consumed 60 doses of Clonzepam. I returned to my doctor that week to refill my prescription; two days later I used a single dose. I have not had one since—have had no need or desire, and that is now over fifteen months ago. I can’t adequately express how grateful I am to be free of this medication and enjoying the benefits of a greatly rejuvenated nervous system.

There are many more benefits to this wonderful element, some of which I’ll address in future articles. There are a few cautions as well, which we’ll look at too. Meanwhile, I invite your questions and comments.