Welcome to another edition of the Doctor’s Note, where we talk about what’s on our minds when it comes to your health. This week, I’m going to nerd out a little bit on iodine.
Any type of hormone is really what I do. Hormones like testosterone and estrogen. Also thyroid, adrenals, and insulin.
The interesting thing about iodine is its relationship to the thyroid.
I’ve been reading a few books by Dr. David Brownstein, who is a Family Physician in Michigan. He’s the best of both worlds in that he’s a mix of the best of traditional and alternative medicines. He, much like me, got really frustrated with the way we have to practice medicine nowadays.
A patient comes in with a condition, you label it, and then slap them on a medicine.
I hate that way of doing things.
We like to find out why, which is actually the definition of integrative medicine. Finding the root cause.
So I read a lot of Dr. David Brownstein’s stuff. I highly recommend it.
This book refreshed my memory about iodine.
There’s a lot of controversy about iodine. In medical school we were taught that it causes thyroid cancer, which it doesn’t really. It’s extremely rare. In fact, iodine prevents many types of cancers.
Iodine is #53 on the atomic chart, which is important because of the classification that it’s in. The halogen class. What’s interesting about that is that the surrounding elements can influence iodine. Elements like Fluoride, Chloride, and Bromide, which are toxic elements that can cause havoc with your body.
I can’t think of another molecule that’s more necessary for life than iodine. We couldn’t live without it. Every cell of the body needs it. It’s also antibacterial, antiparasitic, antiviral, and anti cancer.
Old timey doctors like my surgeon dad used it to prep patients for surgery. They also use it on cuts and scrapes all the time.
⅓ of the world’s population lives in iodine deficient areas. It’s basically found in seawater and seaweed, and a few other places. This is a big reason why Japan doesn’t have as much cancer or thyroid problems as other areas of the world.
The WHO (World Health Organization) has come out and said that deficiencies in iodine is the leading cause in mental retardation in the world. Same with infant and child mortality and infertility.
It concentrates in every cell, but highest in the thyroid, breast, and ovaries.
Think about goiters. Kids in the early 1900’s would have these huge masses in their neck. What it was was an enlarged thyroid trying to make more thyroid hormone in order to exist. This was caused by deficiencies in iodine.
Among these kids with goiters, girls had a higher incidence of it because it concentrates more in the breast and ovaries. So during puberty these girls needed more iodine, which is how they would treat it.
They started putting iodine in salt, which basically cured the goiter pandemic and it became very rare.
Iodine and Thyroid
T4 and T3 means 4 and 3 molecules of iodine.
That makes iodine the essential ingredient in thyroid, which is responsible for basic body metabolism.
Iodine is responsible for maintaining the architecture and function of the thyroid, ovaries, uterus and prostate.
Today, there are a lot more thyroid problems in our culture than we used to see. Some of that is because we have cut down on our salt intake.
We’re also more exposed to the Halide family: Fluoride, Bromine and Chloride.
Iodine is a halide that can be displaced by Bromide and Chloride which are toxic.
For example, Bromine replaced iodine in baked goods because it was cheaper. Chlorine is the oxidized form of chloride which is a toxic thing. One of its major byproducts is dioxin which is a major carcinogen.
What it does is displaces iodine and causes all the problems of iodine deficiencies.
Splenda is another one that’s basically chlorinated sugar. Avoid splenda!
Think About Your Iodine Levels
Low iodine levels are also linked to low IQ, higher incidences of ADHD and Autism.
So, think about your iodine levels. Especially if you have a thyroid problem, chronic fatigue or have had cancer.
The best way to check your iodine levels is a 24 hour iodine loading test. You take 50mg of two forms of iodine, and then collect the urine to see how much iodine you’ve excreted. If you have excreted a lot then you don’t have an iodine deficiency.
There’s also a urine dip test from ZRT labs that we do.
A lot of people just don’t think about checking iodine levels.
Iodine is widely available as it’s over the counter. There are some conditions where I wouldn’t put someone on iodine, so don’t take it indiscriminately.
Here are some more ways to increase your iodine levels:
- Eat unrefined salt. I like Himalayan Sea Salt.
- B Vitamins
The vitamins mentioned above are all important in support of iodine.
If you have thyroid problems, have had cancer, or just feel terrible, think about getting your iodine levels checked.
We are looking for the root cause of the problem, and we live in a toxic world. This can affect all of the hormones.