Iodine for Hypothyroidism | A Functional Medicine Perspective

by | Aug 3, 2016 | Articles, Thyroid | 0 comments

Iodine for HypothyroidismIodine for hypothyroidism is a nutrient that can often be a huge help, but in some people it can make the hypothyroidism worse. In this article I will share with you what you need to know about taking iodine for hypothyroidism. Right off the top I want to give Dr. David Brownstein a lot of credit.  The contributions that Dr. Brownstein’s lectures and books have made to my understanding of diagnosing and treating thyroid disorders has been significant. If it wasn’t for smart, courageous docs like this, medicine would still be in the dark ages.

What is Hypothyroidism?

Hypothyroidism is when the thyroid is not making enough thyroid hormones. Signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism include things like brittle nails, cold hands and feet, cold intolerance, constipation, depression, difficulty swallowing, dry skin, elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, eyelid swelling, fatigue, hair loss, hoarseness, hypotension, inability to concentrate, infertility, irritability, menstrual irregularities, muscle cramps, muscle weakness, nervousness, poor memory, puffy eyes, slower heartbeat, throat pain and weight gain.

Why is Iodine for Hypothyroidism SO Important?

The thyroid’s job is to make thyroid hormones, which it does with the aid of iodine. Without sufficient iodine the thyroid cannot make thyroid hormones. The thyroid will swell up (goiter) when it lacks iodine. Pretty simple stuff. Iodine is REALLY important.

How Does a Person Become Deficient in Iodine?

After all, it’s in salt and we eat salt every day, right? In school we were taught that iodine deficiency has been cured with the addition of iodine to salt. Here’s the problem. The iodine in salt is only 10% bioavailable.1 That means 90% of the iodine in iodized salt is not able to be used in the body.

As farming has become more focused on yield over nutrition nutrition has suffered. Foods have less nutrients, including iodine.

The increase in fluoride, bromine and chlorine in today’s diets all compete with iodine and decrease iodine absorption and usage in the body.2

Toxins like perchlorates (solid fuel for rockets and missiles, safety flares, fireworks, pyrotechnics, explosives, common batteries, automobile restraint systems, and often detected in groundwater), thiocyanate (tobacco smoking, industrial pollution) and nitrates all interfere with the absorption of iodine.3 If you don’t think you’ve been exposed to any of these toxins think again.  The Environmental Working Group did a study on 10 babies. Check out the video you will be shocked at what they discovered.

How Does a Person Find Out Whether They Need Iodine?

A person would be foolish to take iodine without knowing whether they needed it, because iodine can CAUSE hypothyroidism, goiter, thyroiditis, and thyroid nodules.4 The right test to determine a person’s need for iodine is called an iodine loading test.5 The test works by having the patient take 50mg of iodine/iodide and then collecting the next 24 hours’ of urine. If a person’s body needs a lot of iodine, it will absorb more of it and less will be in the urine. The reverse is true of there is not a need for iodine. I not only test the urine for iodine, but also bromine and fluoride. If a person has high levels of either bromine or fluoride, they will excrete it in their urine during this test.

What Should a Person With Hypothyroidism Do?

The standard medical approach to hypothyroidism is to wait until the problem is severe, and then kill or remove the thyroid and put the patient on thyroid replacement hormone for the rest of their life. Does that get you excited? Me neither! Iodine for hypothyroidism is just one example of the things that can be needed to fix a sick thyroid. A functional medicine physician has been trained on how to find out what’s gone wrong that caused the thyroid to not work right and how to fix it. Regardless of where you live, if you are wondering whether your thyroid problems can be fixed, schedule a “Get Acquainted” visit today and find out!

Show 5 Footnotes

  1. Abraham, G. The Concept of Orthoiodosupplementation and its Clinical Implications. The Original Internist. June, 2004
  2. Effects of Environmental, Chemicals and Drugs on Thyroid Function, www.thyroidmanager.org David Sarne, MD
  3. Perchlorate, Nitrate, and Iodine Uptake and Distribution in Lettuce and Potential Impact on Background Levels in Humans, J. Agric. Food Chem., 2010, 58 (23), pp12192-12198
  4. Laboratory Evaluations for Integrative and Functional Medicine, 2nd ed., Richard S. Lord, PhD, J. Alexander Bralley, PhD
  5. Abraham, G. Measurement of urinary iodine levels by ion-selective electrode: Improved sensitivity and specificity by chromatography on an ion-exchange resin. Optimox Research Info. IOD-03. 1.6.03

Darrell Kilcup, DC, CFMP


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