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Thursday, March 29, 2012

So You Think You Need Iodine — Part III

We continue here with questions from readers along with my responses:

Q: What would you take iodine with? I read somewhere that tap water should be avoided because the chlorine in the water would replace the iodine.

A: Yes, absolutely avoid chlorinated water, along with ingestion of and exposure to bromine and fluoride (see previous article). Two of my kids just take their Lugol’s in our reverse osmosis water and don’t mind the taste, but I hate the taste and therefore take it in diluted juice. Just don’t take it undiluted, as it’s too strong for the tender mucous membranes of the mouth.

Along with iodine, you must supplement with 200 mcg of selenium daily. It’s vital for keeping thyroid balance. It’s very new knowledge that the thyroid cannot convert T4 to T3 without sufficient selenium, so suddenly getting more iodine without the other can make things worse. You should be able to find selenium at any health food store. I buy NOW brand because it’s not derived from yeast (which I avoid). Also helpful is extra Vitamin C (1000-3000 mg daily), magnesium citrate (400 mg), and lots of water.

It’s wise to start with a small dose of iodine. Whatever you start at, give it 2 or 3 weeks, then increase gradually. Make note of any strange symptoms, rashes, acne (anywhere), frontal headache, sinus stuffiness, metallic taste, excess salivation, sneezing. These do not mean you have a problem with iodine (in spite of what most doctors presume). Drs. Brownstein, Abraham, and Fletchas believe these symptoms can result when increased iodine dosage starts displacing bromine stores and the kidneys are struggling to expel these toxins. They recommend the following cleanse (which I have done three times with prompt success in relieving my symptoms): First thing in the morning, drink a solution of ¼ teaspoon unrefined (i.e. Celtic) sea salt in ½ cup warm water. Chase with 16 ounces pure water. Repeat these 2 steps after half an hour and again in another half hour.

Q: I stopped taking Synthroid in October. Now (January), last couple of weeks, my hypo-t is beginning to act up. My father had the same hypo-thyroid and he died of cirrhosis of liver though he was a teetotaller. I always wonder if it had something to do with the thyroid medicine he was taking (harming the liver) though he was always under excellent conventional medical treatment.
I have to go to a doc, get the current TSH level tested, and then I am starting on iodine (whether the doc agrees or not).

Same fellow in a later email:
I got the iodine and was searching the web for the right dosage. But I came across contradictory statements—saying iodine is good for [both] hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Now I am totally confused. Wondering if I should (be a good boy and) go back to Synthyroid?

A: I think you’ll have to decide if you’re going to take the plunge, and be prepared to weather the storm a little, although I recall you said earlier that you’d quit your meds in the fall. That may make the transition easier.

You know I have no credentials – just an inquisitive mind, some health challenges, a distrust of pharmaceuticals and what drives them ($$), as well as a sometimes-reckless courage! Just remember that even if you should throw something out of whack by trying this, things will go back to the status quo once you quit. But I really hope it works for you.

Q: I am reading with interest your blog on iodine. I was wondering how it would interact with the thyroid meds that I have been on for over 30 years.

A: Regarding your thyroid meds, it will probably mess them up, because likely, as your body starts to get the iodine it’s undoubtedly been lacking all these years, the response of the body is to say, “I’m getting too much Synthroid!” I think a response like this from your body would be a good thing, but if you tell your doctor you’re taking (or planning to take) iodine, he’ll probably try to dissuade you. It comes down to taking responsibility for our own health and being prepared to buck the mainstream once in a while.

Q: Hey, I made a bit of a mistake today: in my zeal, I thought I read one teaspoon [Lugol’s] in juice. Luckily that’s all I took, but I have been burping like crazy tonight, so I’m drinking lots of water ... oops!

A: Holy crow, girl! One teaspoon equals 5 mls equals 100 drops, which is 625 mg of iodine. Yes, you’d better drink lots of water. That’s way over (more than 6 times over) any maximum therapeutic dose I’ve ever read about. Excess is supposed to flush out in the urine, so flush away. But monitor how you feel. May God bless and keep you!

Monday, March 19, 2012

20: So You Think You Need Iodine – Part II

In my last article, I left off talking about factors in our lives today that have increased our need of iodine. Most prominent is our exposure to and ingestion of three halogens other than iodine: bromine, fluorine, and chlorine. These other three are all toxic to the human body, and they displace what little iodine we do manage to take in from our diets.

Bromine: Dr. Michael Brownstein, a well-known name in iodine research today in the U.S., now routinely tests every new patient for iodine deficiency and bromine toxicity. In 4000 tests, the results flag a staggering 96.5%.

Want to avoid bromine? Avoid citrus-flavoured soft drinks, pesticides—especially those on Californian strawberries, and enriched flour. Bromine is banned in bakery products in Canada and the U.K. now, but not in the U.S. Some asthma inhalers contain bromine, which is pretty scary when you consider that bromine also aggravates asthma.

Fire-retardants containing bromine are used in children’s clothing (how sad!), upholstered furniture, carpet and underlay, bedding, and vehicles. Fortunately, since 2005 there have been stricter guidelines regarding fire-retardants.
The plastics used in electronics of all kinds contain bromine. Some companies are now pledging to move away from using this toxic substance, at least in some of their products. Ask questions!

Bromine is also found in toys, cosmetics, swimming pool and hot tub chemicals, and hair permanents and colouring.

Fluorine: Exposure to fluorine is something else to avoid in the interest of thyroid health and well-being in general. I now make sure the toothpaste I buy is fluoride-free and I forego fluoride treatments when I have my teeth cleaned.

I’ve got rid of all non-stick cookware. Teflon is made from a fluorine compound. “In two to five minutes on a conventional stovetop, cookware coated with Teflon and other non-stick surfaces can exceed temperatures at which the coating breaks apart and emits toxic particles and gases linked to hundreds, perhaps thousands, of pet bird deaths and an unknown number of human illnesses each year.” ( Do you remember hearing stories of how they used to keep canaries in the mines as a kind of toxic-gas early-warning? If a canary died, the men would run for their lives. Well, there have been multitudes of pet birds die from haemorrhaged lungs in the heartland of our homes. Heed the warning!

The full-scale fluoridation of municipal water supplies, not to mention chlorination, is scandalous. If you have no alternative but to drink town water, at least spend $20 on a Brita filter. Stop and think about beverages that you reconstitute with tap water: frozen juices, powdered juices (don’t even go there!), infant formula, tea and coffee. Iced tea mixes are already really high in fluoride; mixing them with tap water gives you a double whammy. Many soda pops, ready-to-drink juices, wines, commercial soups, and baby cereals come high in this toxic, iodine-banishing substance.

Chlorine: Three major sources of chlorine exposure are municipal water supplies, cleaning products (avoid anything with the syllable “chlor” in the ingredients), and swimming pools. Inhalation of the fumes from pools is bad enough; the amount absorbed directly through the skin is worse. Competitive swimmers can take on toxic amounts of chlorine in just one training session. My naturopath tells me that he commonly finds thyroid dysfunction in people who have swum a lot in chlorinated pools. For a bit of insight into how bad chlorine really is, check out

These three toxic halogens will take up receptor sites in the body intended for iodine, and they alone are reason enough to consider a hefty iodine supplement. Over time, sufficient iodine will help to bump these three foreign elements from our bodies and allow both subtle and profound healing.

Q. I am moved to follow up on your suggestion that an iodine supplement can be helpful ... and I am wondering what product you actually use, or would recommend. I surfed about a bit on the web and see that there are some choices, different types of iodine, and the drops you mention would not be normally taken internally. Can you advise further? Thank you for your blog.

A. Lugol’s Solution, which I use and therefore recommend, has been used safely internally and with great efficacy for over 150 years. In the 1930s the first synthetic thyroxin medication hit the market and started the gradual marginalization of the use of iodine for thyroid issues. Most doctors do not even consider prescribing iodine when they diagnose thyroid problems, but the fact remains: iodine is absolutely vital for thyroid health and, as researchers are seeing now, is actually needed in every cell of the body.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

19: So You Think You Need Iodine — Part I

I have received quite a number of responses to my iodine articles. I try to answer fully, but it’s difficult to address everything that might be pertinent in each individual case. Following is the first of two comprehensive articles combining some of these questions and answers.

Q: What was the reason you started supplementing with iodine? In what form do you take iodine? Thank you for sharing what you have learned.

A: If you read the first blog article, Anxiety and the Iodine Intervention, it will answer your first question. Also read articles 2, 3, & 7 for more on iodine in general. I use Lugol’s Solution, which is water-based and hence safe for oral use. It’s important that one not use an alcohol-based iodine internally. If you think you would benefit from iodine supplementation, phone a pharmacy and ask them to bring in Lugol’s for you, and ask them to find out the exact percentage of potassium iodide and iodine. There are different strengths of “Lugol’s” now (as well as other different kinds of iodine), so we need to know the concentration up front. If you find out the specifics on the strength of a solution, I can help you calculate how much to take to achieve a particular dosage.

Q: When we went to the health food store and asked for Lugol’s, they did not stock it as she said that Naka vegetable iodine drops were much superior. As a result, that is what I bought. According to the bottle, each 20 drops contains 1 mg of potassium iodide and the recommended dosage for adults is 10 drops per day. I don’t know if this helps to convert or not. I have looked on the internet and can’t seem to figure it out.

A: In order to get the same dosage that I am taking (which is equivalent to what the average Japanese gets in his diet daily), you would have to take 250 drops of this product per day! I’m guessing it’s a 30 ml bottle, so it won’t even last 3 days!

Their recommended dose, ten drops daily, would give you 500 mcg, which is a little more than triple what the RDA is for iodine, so to some people that would seem generous. This product is, you say, potassium iodide, which is the form your thyroid wants. However, ovaries, breasts, prostate, and other organs utilize molecular iodine. Lugol’s contains both.

Lugol’s is 125 times the strength of the product you bought. You will pay $11 or $12 for a 100 ml bottle. At 12.5 mg daily, that will last you for a thousand days at just over a penny a day.

While you look for some Lugol’s, I would suggest that you get started with 20 drops daily (1 mg) of what you have. Do that for a couple of weeks and let me know if you feel any different in any way.

Q: Iodine is really important—and salt has it in it.

A: Yes, most table salt is iodized, but there are several problems with assuming you can get enough this way. First problem: Salt hasn’t got nearly enough iodine for our needs (based on current research). A little history: A hundred years ago, the region surrounding the Great Lakes was called “the goitre belt.” Soils in this area are so deficient in iodine that this condition of enlarged thyroid was wide-spread. In the 1920s however, the U.S. government began requiring that iodine be added to salt. It was determined that 150 mcg per day would prevent goitre, and so based on how much salt the average person then consumed daily, they calculated how much iodine to add. This plan almost entirely wiped out iodine deficiency in the U.S. “Deficiency” here might be defined as levels insufficient to prevent goitre. However—there are many functions of iodine within the body beyond the needs of the thyroid.

Second: Even if the amount of iodine added to salt had been truly sufficient 90 years ago, for decades now doctors have been warning people to cut back on salt. Every time someone cuts down their salt intake, they cut into that already-minimal intake of iodine.

Third: Current researchers say and Wikipedia echoes: “Iodide-treated table salt slowly loses its iodine content through the process of oxidation and iodine evaporation.”

Fourth: The kind of salt that is iodized (refined) is not good for us. For more on that subject—and the benefits of unrefined salt, read Blog #6: Salt of the Earth.

Fifth: There are complicating factors that have increased our need for iodine in recent decades. We’ll pick up there next time.