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Iodine Research

Resource Network of The Iodine Movement



1.  Iodine: A Lot to Swallow
Alan R. Gaby, MD
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, August/September 2005

Recently, a growing number of doctors have been using iodine supplements in fairly large doses
in their practices. The treatment typically consists of 12 to 50 mg per day of a combination of
iodine and iodide, which is 80 to 333 times the RDA of 150 mcg (0.15 mg) per day. Case reports
suggest that iodine therapy can improve energy levels, overall well-being, sleep, digestive
problems, and headaches. People with hypothyroidism who experienced only partial improvement
with thyroid hormone therapy are said to do better when they start taking iodine. In addition,
fibrocystic breast disease responds well to iodine therapy, an observation that has been
documented previously. The reported beneficial effects of iodine suggest that some people have
a higher-than-normal requirement for this mineral, or that it favorably influences certain types of
metabolic dysfunction.

“While iodine therapy shows promise, I am concerned that two concepts being put forth could lead
to overzealous prescribing of this potentially toxic mineral. First is the notion that the optimal
dietary iodine intake for humans is around 13.8 mg per day, which is about 90 times the RDA and
more than 13 times the "safe upper limit" of 1 mg per day established by the World Health
Organization. Second is the claim that a newly developed iodine-load test can be used as a
reliable tool to identify iodine deficiency.

A Rebuttal of Dr. Gaby's Editorial on Iodine
Guy E. Abraham, MD and David Brownstein, MD
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, October 2005

Our rebuttal will cover four topics:
1. The safe and effective use of iodine by our medical predecessors

2. The computation of the average daily intake of iodide from seaweed by mainland Japanese

3. The validation of the iodine/iodide loading test

4. The effectiveness and safety of orthoiodosupplementation in current medical practice
In the practice of medicine, we have seen very few natural therapies as safe and effective as
orthoiodosupplementation. In the proper forms of iodine (inorganic non-radioactive forms), in daily
amounts of iodine for whole body sufficiency and properly monitored, orthoiodosupplementation is
not only safe, it is an effective tool for the clinician. Prior to the availability of assays for thyroid
hormones and without any test for assessing whole body sufficiency for iodine, our medical
predecessors recommended a range of daily iodine intake from Lugol solution (12.5-37.5 mg)
exactly within the range required for achieving whole body sufficiency for iodine. Relying on clinical
observation of the patient's overall wellbeing, our predecessors have given us useful information,
which we have discarded in favor of preconceived opinions of self-appointed pseudoexperts. This
has resulted in pandemic iodine deprivation. Iodine deficiency is misdiagnosed and treated with
toxic drugs. Orthoiodosupplementation may be the simplest, safest, most effective and least
expensive way to help solve the health care crisis crippling our nation.

3. More on High-dose Iodine
Alan R. Gaby, MD
Townsend Letter for Doctors & Patients, November 2005

Although high-dose iodine therapy has a definite place in clinical medicine, I believe that some of
their remarks warrant comment.

First, it does not seem appropriate to use the term "orthoiodosupplementation" to describe the
treatment they are recommending. That term is borrowed from Linus Pauling's "orthomolecular
medicine," which refers to the concept of creating the optimal molecular environment in the body
("orthomolecular" means "the right molecules"). Defining the optimal dosage range as an amount
that is 40 to 320 times the usual dietary intake obfuscates any debate about whether such a high
intake is desirable or safe. Therefore, until iodine doses of 6.25-50 mg per day are proven to be
optimal, it would be more logical to refer to these doses as "high-dose iodine therapy.

High-dose iodine therapy is of great value in some circumstances. We should not forget, however,
that this treatment was abandoned in the past, because it caused many deaths from heart failure,
as well as a long list of other side effects. The doses used then were higher than those currently
being advocated. However, it is premature to assert that more modest doses do not cause more
modest side effects.

4.  Iodine Debate Continues: Rebuttal #2
Guy E. Abraham, MD and David Brownstein, MD
Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine, April 2006

On the Townsend Letter web site, (, in December 2005, Alan R. Gaby,
MD posted a sequel to his editorial on iodine. This time, Gaby did not defend his belief in evolution
and the origin of man from the "iodine-rich" oceans. This time, he did not question the validity of
our iodine/iodide loading test. This time, he did not debate the method we used to calculate the
average daily intake of iodine by mainland Japanese. This time, Gaby concentrated his attention
on the safety of iodine as used in the orthoiodosupplementation program.

The prefix "ortho" is not borrowed from Linus Pauling. The English dictionary contains hundreds of
words starting with "ortho." For Gaby's erudition, the daily amount of iodine needed for whole body
sufficiency was named orthoiodosupplementation from ortho = the right amount; iodo = for
inorganic non radioactive iodine; and supplementation = for oral intake of this essential nutrient.

The endpoint in optimizing a nutritional program is the clinical response. The optimal amount of a
nutrient is reached when it results in optimal mental and physical health. Having a test that
confirms the optimal amount of a nutrient that achieves whole body sufficiency, concomitant with
optimal physical and mental health in the absence of significant side effects, is what we strive to
do. In fact, it is what all holistic physicians strive to achieve.

Iodine Debate Continues: Gaby's Reply to Abraham & Brownstein's Rebuttal #2
Alan R. Gaby, MD
Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine, April 2006

Drs. Abraham and Brownstein argue that it is seaweed, not the iodine in it, that causes thyroid
disorders. However, a main aspect of their iodine hypothesis is that Japanese people are healthy
because they eat a lot of iodine, which in the Japanese diet comes mainly from seaweed. This
seems like a contradiction.

What I said was, "Before one could confidently conclude that high-dose iodine is safe for 99% of
the population (as stated by Abraham and Brownstein), it seems that a systematic toxicity study
would be necessary." I suggested that such a study should include serial testing of all patients to
identify the appearance of thyroid antibodies during treatment with iodine, since iodine
supplementation has been reported to increase the incidence of thyroiditis. Thyroid-antibody
measurements may not be necessary as a component of routine medical care, but they would
seem to be necessary before one could confidently claim that high-dose iodine supplementation
does not increase the incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis. I asked in my rebuttal how many of the
iodine-treated patients had had thyroid-antibody tests, but Drs. Abraham and Brownstein did not
answer my question.

 Iodine Debate Continues: Rebuttal #3
Guy E. Abraham, MD and David Brownstein, MD
Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine, July 2006

Gaby created a contradiction where there was none by misquoting what we previously wrote:

1) For those who use the RDA for iodine (0.15 mg/day) as their gold standard, the average daily
intake of iodine by mainland Japanese (100-fold higher than the RDA) would be considered
excessive and toxic. But statistics show that these mainland Japanese represent one of the
healthiest nations on earth.

2) There is no contradiction. A high incidence of euthyroid goiter was observed in an area of
Japan, Hokaido. Suzuki et al who first reported the high incidence of goiter with normal thyroid
function in the area of Hokaido, did not think that iodine in seaweed was the cause because
subjects in Tokyo excreted similar levels of iodine in their urine (20-30 mg/day) but did not
experience goiter. Also, Suzuki reasoned that the widespread use of iodine in large amounts has
not resulted in an increased incidence of goiter. Suzuki proposed that something else in the
seaweed of Hokaido was the cause. To quote Suzuki et al: "Considering the paucity of reported
cases of iodine goiter with the wide spread usage of iodine medication, we cannot exclude factors
other than excessive intake of dietary iodine as a cause of the goiter.

There are many kinds of seaweeds that evolved over billions of years into different types. Some
are more selective in concentrating iodide than others. For example, the oceans contain 1400
times more bromide than iodide. To keep toxic goitrogenic bromide out of seaweed, the iodide
uptake mechanism must be very selective. The levels of heavy metals in seaweed vary,
depending on the kind of seaweeds and on industrial dumping of toxic waste in the areas where
seaweeds are harvested.

We proposed that, based on the concept of orthoiodosupplementation, only mainland Japanese
consume adequate amounts of iodine and that 99% of the world population are deficient in
inorganic, non-radioactive iodine; that is, they have not reached whole-body sufficiency for that
essential element.

Stable iodide content of the thyroid gland measured by X-ray fluorescence scanning revealed that
autoimmune thyroiditis is associated with low stable iodide levels in the thyroid....In Dr.
Brownstein's practice, every patient placed on iodine therapy had thyroid antibody levels tested
before and after beginning iodine therapy. Dr. Brownstein's experience has been consistent: the
use of inorganic nonradioactive iodine has not resulted in a higher incidence of autoimmune
thyroid disorders.

 Iodine Debate Continues: Gaby's Response to Rebuttal #3
Alan R. Gaby, MD
Townsend Letter, the Examiner of Alternative Medicine, July 2006

If Dr. Brownstein has done before-and-after thyroid antibody tests on all his patients, then his data
might resolve the question of whether short-term treatment with high-dose iodine increases the
incidence of thyroiditis. I urge him to publish his results. His data would not appear, however, to
answer the question of whether long-term iodine therapy increases the incidence of thyroiditis,
particularly since Dr. Brownstein only started using high-dose iodine routinely about three years


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