and Hashimoto's Thyroiditis
Don Bennett, DAS
some perspective. Iodine levels in people have dropped 50% over the last
30 years, and the incidence of thyroid disease has increased at an alarming
rate. More than ever, people are suffering from hypothyroidism and, at
its worst, autoimmune thyroid disease and cancer. It is estimated that
20 million Americans have a form of thyroid disease, and up to 60% of
those with thyroid disease are unaware they have a condition.
let's talk about why some people think that iodine causes Hashimoto's,
when in reality it helps resolve and prevent it.
correcting a low iodine level (a level that never would have gotten that
low had you been living where the human body is designed to live), a "rebalancing"
takes place, and it does so with all the organs, glands, tissues, and
systems that utilize iodine, the thyroid being chief among them. And when
the thyroid heals and rebalances, as it regains normal functionality,
some people may exhibit symptoms of hypothyroidism, but this does not
necessarily mean that they have clinical hypothyroidism. Symptoms associated
with a condition, and actually having that condition are
two different things. But since the medical community doesn't see people
who are normalizing their thyroid with a non-pharmaceutical approach,
because of their training they can only assume that those symptoms are
a sign of clinical hypothyroidism.
is a type of hypothyroidism that is said to be caused by an "autoimmune"
disease where the body attacks the thyroid. I put "autoimmune"
in quotes because this is another totally preventable condition which
the medical and pharma industries want everyone to believe is just another
normal condition of which we have no idea why it occurs. But this is horse-hockey!
Sorry for the colorful language, but it really frosts my cookies when
the cause of autoimmune reactions is known, but it is prevented from being
common knowledge because autoimmune conditions represent so much money
to those industries. But I digress.
amounts of iodine do not cause the body to attack the thyroid and cause
Hashimoto's as some "anti-iodine" information claims. And before
we get into the nuts and bolts of Hashimotos, I think it's important to
understand why there is anti-iodine information on the Internet. In my
opinion, there are three reasons:
1) Because if
large numbers of people were to normalize their iodine levels (and
D levels), this would put a significant hurt on the above named industries,
and that simply cannot be permitted, and whatever needs to be done
to protect their interests, including commissioning "loaded"
studies, and disseminating the resulting false info, will be done.
people who don't want to see anyone injured from following bogus information
will parrot and perpetuate incorrect anti-iodine info without doing
their due diligence and proper fact checking, and they don't realize
they can be doing more harm than good, and that they are playing right
into the hands of those who would keep beneficial health information
from the public (in the name of "protecting" the public).
3) When attempting
to normalize their iodine levels, some people go about it in a Do-It-Yourself
fashion, and end up relying on some incorrect iodine information or
on not enough accurate information, and in so doing, get themselves
into trouble, and then post their negative experiences and erroneous
conclusions which are seen as reasons to not attempt to mess with
iodine, or to take low doses, but doses that are so low that they
aren't helpful in reality. This underscores the importance of dealing
with iodine level normalization with guidance from an iodine literate
follows is a likely mechanism for autoimmune thyroid disorders such as
The NADPH oxydase
system is found in the mitochondria of our cells. The mitochondria
are the energy-producing cells of our body. The mitochondria produce
energy (ATP) through a complex process called oxidative phosphorylation.
All medical students (and most physicians) are familiar with oxidative
phosphorylation because they have to memorize the many steps responsible
for producing ATP. This production of ATP requires many items including:
oxygen, magnesium, ADP, and amino acids.
Many people with
chronic illnesses, such as fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome,
and autoimmune disorders, complain they have no energy. ATP is the
molecule that stores energy for the body. The body is constantly producing
and utilizing ATP, but there are two cofactors, Vitamins B2 (riboflavin)
and B3 (niacin), that are integral to stimulating oxidative phosphorylation
and ATP production.
is a byproduct of oxidative phosphorylation. It is this production
of hydrogen peroxide that is so critical to the oxidation process
of iodine. Hydrogen peroxide and TPO (Thyroid Peroxidase) help to
oxidize iodide to form iodine (some organs/glands concentrate iodine,
and some concentrate iodide).
If there is a
deficiency in iodine which is common when consuming the RDI
for iodine there will not be enough substrate (i.e., iodine)
to produce iodinated lipids. The lack of 5-iodolactone and other iodinated
lipids results in a loss of the brake in the pathway to
oxidize iodide. This may result in a temporary production of too much
hydrogen peroxide. This excess hydrogen peroxide can damage TPO, and
thus cause the body to create antibodies (TPO Ab) to deal with the
damaged TPO, and these antibodies are always found in Hashimoto's
(and are identified with an out-of-range TPO Ab test).
That was a lot of
explanation to get to the main point: When iodine no longer binds to thyroid
cell membranes, enzymes called peroxidases are able to damage these membranes
and produce autoimmune diseases such as Hashimotos thyroiditis and
Hyperthyroidism (Graves Disease). And, assuming you're getting enough
iodine, the two main reasons for iodine not binding to thyroid cell membranes
are discussed in this article
by yours truly (it's a long one, but a very important one).
It should also be
noted that many people with Hashimoto's find that low doses of iodine
make their symptoms worse and only find relief when they get to higher
doses (25-50 mg). But some people with Hashi's stay at or under the 1
mg dose (and have problems) because they read something like this on the
Internet, "The Tolerable Upper Intake Level for iodine for adults
is 1 mg/day" but they don't see, "Iodine supplementation
over this limit has been shown to potentially contribute to an underlying
thyroid pathology in those with Hashimotos thyroiditis, Graves
disease, or exacerbation of nodularities in euthyroid individuals if intake
exceeds 20 mg iodine or iodide" [emphasis mine] and keep
in mind this is a mainstream medical warning, and most medical professionals
do not test for iodine sufficiency when doing TFTs (Thyroid Function Tests)
so we should take their iodine info with a grain of salt. But even so,
20 mg is not the same as 1 mg. And when you consider that people take
100 mg a day of iodine to help deal with breast cancer and other breast
and ovary issues, with no detrimental effects from doing
this (only positive ones), this should make you think, "Hmmm."
important note about Organification
is when there is a binding to an organic molecule. Iodine organification
is where iodine becomes a part of lipids, proteins, and cholesterol.
In the case of iodine, it is bound to thyroglobulin to make thyroid
hormones. A critical thing can occur at this point when enough iodine
is supplied, and it is often overlooked when discussing iodine.
When iodine is available in amounts of at least 100 times the RDI
(15 mg) iodo-lipids like delta-iodolactone are created. This is
the process of iodine being organified to lipids. Without high enough
levels of iodine available, insignificant amounts of iodo-lipids
are created. The RDI for iodine (150 mcg) was chosen as the amount
that would create enough thyroid hormones to prevent goiter. At
that time no consideration was given for these iodo-lipids and their
thyroid cell regulatory effect. So while the RDI was enough to prevent
the worst case scenario caused by a severe iodine insufficiency
(deficiency), it turns out it is not enough to provide for iodine
sufficiency (i.e. whole body tissue sufficiency).
Work in Isolation
iodine is all well and good, but if you don't have enough of iodine's
co-factor nutrients, the body can have problems with properly utilizing
iodine. I don't like to play favorites, but when it comes to iodine, sufficient
selenium is of critical importance because it is a key nutrient in two
of the enzymes involved in thyroid function, and if there isn't enough
of it, the symptoms of Hashi's can result. If I had to pick a number two,
it would be magnesium, but then there are the B vitamins, and C... as
you can see, it takes a village to properly utilize iodine (and all nutrients
for that matter). A reading of the two nutrition articles that appear
at the bottom of this page would be informative.
Empirical evidence often trumps studies, especially when study results
are misinterpreted or when the study was a "loaded" study (the
study was designed to produce specific results). And the empirical evidence
shows that normalizing iodine levels helps resolve sub-par thyroid functioning.
And considering the 3 and 4 in T3 and T4 (thyroid hormones) are atoms
of iodine, evidently iodine is a key player in normal thyroid function.
This was understood by the medical community 100 years ago, but obviously
not today since iodine testing is not part of TFT's, and maybe because
the standard-of-care treatment for an under-functioning thyroid are very
profitable thyroid hormones... iodine is a natural (and essential) nutrient,
and therefore it can't be patented, so big money can't be made from it.
Hashimoto's, I'm 44, and I've been on Armor [prescription
thyroid hormone] for 16 years. I wanted to share results. I've
been on the iodine protocol for 2 months. The first month at 12 mg/day,
the second month at 50 mg/day. I felt awful the first month on iodine.
I was depressed and I had other bromide detox issues. But when I increased
my dose to 50 mg/day it was SO much better. I'd heard this is common
in people with Hashimoto's, and I wish I had tried the big dose earlier!
Instead of depression, I got the "boing" that is described
in the book, The Iodine Crisis, I felt really good, and I've
been feeling mentally clear and energized ever since a month
so far. I still have some [bromine] detox symptoms, but those are
Also, medical doctors
will say that there isn't any more iodine deficiency in the U.S., and
while it's true that there are few cases of severe iodine deficiency
the kind that led to goiter and cretinism there are still plenty
of cases of iodine insufficiency, a level of iodine deficiency
that lead to other conditions like the ones listed here.
And if you're thinking
of treating the iodine issue as you would the B12 or D issue, here is
a list of reasons
why people can get into trouble when they try doing iodine therapy on
their own, without proper guidance.
Also, it should be
noted that the consumption of cooked food should be considered as a contributing
factor to autoimmune diseases for the reasons demonstrated in this
And for some technical
info about Hashi's, see this
article by the "father" of modern day iodine research.
in thyroid disease and iodine deficiency. Every one of my patients
with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis takes iodine with selenium daily. Hashimoto's
is the number one cause of hypothyroidism in the U.S. followed by
iodine deficiency." Tara Solomon, MD
And now, an example
of parroting inaccurate information that abounds on the Internet.
Even though empirical evidence clearly shows that iodine deficiency
is a cause of Hashimoto's, and here was a rare medical doctor who
understands this fact, this person (who can't even spell the name
of the condition correctly) read Dr. Solomon's post and replied...
not. Hasimoto's disease is an autoimmune disorder where your body's
own immune system attacks the thyroid. It is not due to iodine deficiency.
Increasing iodine intake increases the attack of your immune system
on the thyroid, making the condition worse. Clinical studies have
shown that restricting iodine intake can improve the symptoms of Hashimoto's
way of looking at it
causes Hashimoto's thyroiditis" issue that some people raise
is an issue where the whole story isn't being represented by the
sources they cite. There are many health practitioners who do not
have the whole story regarding iodine, but it's not their fault.
An analogy would be the health practitioners who are not knowledgeable
of the issues surrounding the eating of an all-raw, fruit-based
diet. Many practitioners obviously don't have the whole story regarding
truly healthy eating. Not their fault; it's due to the education
they received (and didn't receive). The same is true for iodine
and thyroid issues.
I'll make my
case by putting a question to you, the reader: T3 and T4 are two
of the tests normally done in a Thyroid Function Test panel. The
3 and 4 represent atoms of iodine, indicating that iodine is of
critical importance to correct thyroid function. No arguments there.
So why are iodine tests not part of the standard Thyroid
Function Test panels done by medical doctors? Doctors 100 years
ago understood the importance of iodine and used it in their practice
for things like infections and to deal with thyroid issues. This
is why iodine was added to table salt as a way of halting the massive
amounts of severe thyroid problems (goiter). But doctors today state
that there's been no cases of iodine deficiency in the U.S. in 80
years. Although not technically true anymore (with less iodized
table salt being used and more bromine in our environment), even
if it were true, they are referring to iodine deficiency,
the definition of which is "severe insufficiency". What
about all the instances of average iodine insufficiency? It's not
like a light switch that only has two states, either on or off.
Is the medical industry saying that we either don't have enough
iodine as in "deficiency" or we have enough and there
is no in-between? Evidently. But back to my original question: Since
the medical industry must be aware of iodine's role in thyroid health,
and they can't honestly believe that we're either severely deficient
in iodine enough to cause an enlargement of the thyroid (goiter)
or we're fine iodine-wise, then why aren't the iodine tests that
I advocate (for iodine status, not just iodine level) not standard-of-care
regarding Thyroid Function Tests?
should call into question all the "iodine causes Hashimoto's
thyroiditis" info. Meaning, that there's more to the story
than meets the eye. So I maintain that there are a lot of well-meaning
but otherwise miseducated and under-educated health practitioners
out there regarding the iodine issue, and that we need to take this
into consideration before jumping to any conclusions.
your thyroid antibodies are high...
tests show your TPO and TG antibody counts are high, there are some
things you can do about it (and having your thyroid removed or radiated
is not among them IMO).
all inflammatory foods, this includes gluten containing products,
all grain products, processed sugar, eggs, nuts, dairy, legumes,
starchy vegetables, and all processed foods. Also, cooked foods
can cause autoimmune reactions because the cooking process damages
substances which appear to the body as foreign invaders, which can
cause the body to create antibodies that attack these damaged substances
but they can also attack healthy cells, like those in the thyroid.
It is doubtful that any endocrinologist will mention this because
they are not taught this.
* Do iodine
testing (both iodine tests) to make sure you do not have an iodine
deficiency. It is best to not do this as a DIY project.
* Add to your
diet a worthwhile, whole-food, nutritional supplement so that you
get some of iodine's co-factor nutrients. A practitioner may also
have you take some selenium to bring up your selenium levels (the
naturally occurring small amounts of selenium in foods won't resolve
a selenium insufficiency).
* There is
also a protocol for lowering thyroid antibodies. It involves resveratrol,
curcumin, and a few nutrients. This should be done with guidance
from an iodine literate practitioner. Again, conventionally trained
endocrinologists are not taught how to use nutrients and herbs to
aid the body.
We all need to take the iodine issue seriously because
our health depends on it.
Get educated. Food matters... nutrition matters
Do You Define "Enough" When it Comes to Nutrition?
Why We May
Not be Getting Enough of Certain Nutrients from Even the Best Diet
If interested, you can find my iodine counseling info