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The Seaweed Gatherers, Paul Gaugin
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Resource Network of The Iodine Movement
Orthoiodosupplementation in a primary care practice
The Original Internist, 12(2):89-96, 2005.
My practice is family medicine with an integrative medicine twist. I have been using iodine supplementation in my practice over the
last four years in amounts needed for whole body sufficiency (orthoiodosupplementation). Orthoiodosupplementation is the daily
amount of iodine required for whole body sufficiency. Whole body sufficiency for iodine is assessed by an iodine/iodide loading test.
Following orthoiodosupplementation, serum T4 and TSH levels usually go down and free T3 stays steady. I have seen TSH sometimes
go up rather than down while T4 and free T3 did not change or may have gone up some. This does not mean that the patient was
developing hypothyroidism but that the brain was stimulating the body to make more sodium iodide symporters (NIS)…. While taking
iodide, one may see an elevated TSH but we have to recognize that this is not a bad thing. TSH has many actions outside the thyroid
that have been discovered…. Often a check of the patient’s T4, free T3 and TSH shows the T4 to go down, free T3 going down and
TSH going up. Iodide is an essential nutrient that is absorbed by all cell lines. Its highest concentration is seen in the thyroid.
The nutritional status of the patient will determine its response to orthoiodosupplementation. It is crucial that the thyroid gland has
plenty of antioxidants in its cells and many other nutrients.
Breast tissue has an affinity for iodine. Iodine deficiency causes fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) with nodules, cyst enlargement, pain
and scar tissue.
Once FBD is gone, a patient may opt to drop iodine intake to 12.5 to 25 mg per day. There is a chance that the cysts will return.
Optimum amount for most patients for FBD is 50 mg (4 tablets) per day continued indefinitely. Monitoring the patient’s serum TSH, T4
and free T3 is done every three to six months. We did not see any major changes in serum T4, TSH and free T3 in these patients.
In the Type 1 diabetics that we have been following we have noted that if C-peptide is measurable, this would suggest that the
individual is making their own insulin. I have been able to help this group of patients to get off insulin or to greatly reduce the amount
they need for good glucose control with Iodoral at 4 tablets/day (50 mg). If C-peptide is absent then we feel there is no insulin being
produced and we have not been able to help this particular group of patients to get off their insulin. We have been able to help these
patients lower the total amount of insulin needed to control their glucose.
When patients take between 12.5 to 50 mg of iodine per day, it seems that the body becomes increasingly more responsive to thyroid
hormones. T3 and steroid hormones show the same family of receptors as hydrophobic small molecules. Clur has postulated that
iodization of tyrosine residues in the hydrophobic portion of these receptors normalize their response to the corresponding hormone.
Optimal intake of iodine in amounts two orders of magnitude greater than iodine levels needed for goiter control may be required for
iodization of these receptors.
Another organ that can concentrate iodine is the liver. An enterohepatic circulation of iodine has been reported recently. I have one
patient with liver fatty infiltration who had varicosities of the esophagus with bleeding. Once she started on iodine for FDB we noticed
that her GI bleeding stopped and the varicose veins of her stomach and esophagus disappeared.
“Iodine deficiency may cause the ovaries to develop cysts, nodules and scar tissue. At its worse this ovarian pathology is very similar to
that of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As of the writing of this article I have five PCOS patients. The patients have successfully
been brought under control with the use of 50 mg of iodine per day. Control with these patients meaning cysts are gone, periods every
28 days and type 2 diabetes mellitus under control.
Iodine induces apoptosis and inhibits cells from forming cancer. The absence of iodine in the thyroid causes goiter. Goiter is
associated with breast cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. It is felt by many
researchers that the absence of iodine is a promoter of cancer. I feel that those patients with the lowest excretion rates and the
highest absorption of iodine on the iodine-loading test are the ones with the highest risk for development of cancer. From literally
hundreds of phone interviews with patients over the last two years, the levels of iodine excretion that seem to raise the highest alarm
are those in which the excretion is somewhere around 10 mg or less per 24 hours in patients age 35 and up. My observations at this
point show that there is a definite increase in the incidence of breast cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer or thyroid cancer. If a
patient has the iodine loading test and has an iodine excretion of 10 mg or less in a 24-hour period, I initiate a cancer workup.
Iodine Insufficiency FAQ
How does iodine deficiency manifest itself? Research work has shown that iodine deficiency in the thyroid presents as a thyroid goiter
(enlargement of the thyroid). In those areas of the world where iodine deficiency is very high, such as in Switzerland and in certain
areas of Asia and Africa, there are also higher incidents of thyroid cancer. Iodine is also concentrated by breast tissue, and a lack of
iodine in the breasts manifests as fibrocystic breast disease (painful breasts with nodules and cysts and often more symptomatic prior
to menstrual periods). 93% of American women have fibrocystic breast disease and the longer this disease exists, the higher the
potential risk for development of breast cancer. 20% of all iodine in the human body is stored in the skin, specifically in the sweat
glands. Lack of iodine in the sweat glands manifests as dry skin with a decreased ability to sweat. Iodine can also be concentrated in
the stomach tissue, and the lack of iodine in the stomach manifests as achlorhydria (lack of digestive acid production). Iodine is used
by the stomach cells, also known as parietal cells, to concentrate chloride which is necessary to produce hydrochloric acid (digestive
acid). With the prolonged presence of achlorhydria, there is a much higher incidence of stomach cancer. Iodine is concentrated in
the lacrymal glands of the eye, and a lack of iodine can cause dry eyes. Iodine can also be concentrated in the parotid and
submandibular glands of the mouth, and iodine deficiency here can result in dry mouth. Iodine can be concentrated in the ovaries,
and Russian studies done some years ago showed a relationship between iodine deficiency and the presence of cysts in the ovaries.
The greater the iodine deficiency, the more ovarian cysts a woman produces. In its extreme form, this condition is known as polycystic
What about iodine and aging? As most of us know, hypertension (high blood pressure) often becomes an issue as we age. Because of
this, many are being told that they need to decrease the total amount of salt in their diet. However, we must realize that most people
over age 60 are becoming depleted of iodine due to the lack of iodine in the diet and that this particular group of individuals is also
the group with the highest occurrence of thyroid nodules and goiters. Also of interest is that 25% of the people in this age category
will become senile as a result of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). Iodine supplementation may alleviate these iodine-related maladies,
but iodine testing and thyroid studies such as a thyroid ultrasound and thyroid lab tests should be conducted prior to beginning iodine
Can Iodine be used while a woman is pregnant? In Japan, the average Japanese woman is eating 13.8 mg of iodine per day while
the average American woman consumes 100 times less iodine per day (approximately 0.138 mg per day). For iodine
supplementation, I have been prescribing Iodoral, a product made by the Optimox Corporation. Iodoral contains a 12.5 mg
combination of iodine/iodide per tablet. Iodine is very crucial in the first three years of life from the development of the fetus inside
the womb until two years after birth. In the development of a child's IQ, I feel that it would be very advantageous for the mother to
supplement her diet during pregnancy and, if she is nursing the child, for the first two years after pregnancy.
What happens to thyroid hormone production in the presence of iodine supplementation? Iodine supplementations should be
prescribed only when iodine testing indicates iodine deficiency. Iodine testing kits can be ordered from my office (828 684 3233) by
individuals or by medical practitioners. Traditional medical literature indicates that patients who have thyroid nodules or thyroid
goiter may have the potential to develop hyperthyroidism when supplementing with iodine. Hence, before commencing iodine
supplementation, it would be advantageous for a person to have their primary care doctor order a thyroid ultrasound to rule out the
possibility of pre-existing goiter or thyroid nodules. The primary care doctor should also order thyroid lab work (to be used as a
baseline) before prescribing iodine therapy and this lab work should be repeated and followed at regular intervals during the patient's
iodine therapy. For iodine therapy patients not also on thyroid hormone replacement therapy, adjustments to the iodine therapy
should be made if signs of hyperthyroidism should occur. Should signs of hyperthyroidism occur in patients who are taking thyroid
hormone replacement therapy as well as taking iodine supplementation, the physician should first recommend an adjustment in the
thyroid hormone therapy rather than in the iodine supplementation. This adjustment in therapy is recommended because iodine is
required not only by the thyroid but is required for the proper functioning of many other tissues. The presence of pre-existing thyroid
nodules or goiter does not preclude the patient from iodine supplementation therapy. In fact, in the extensive research with iodine
therapy done in my office, I have seen many case of pre-existing thyroid nodules and goiter shrink in the presence of iodine therapy.
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