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Iodine Research

Resource Network of The Iodine Movement


Orthoiodosupplementation challenges the traditional view on iodine in many fundamental ways, especially (1)
how much iodine is appropriate and necessary, (2) how much is "excess" and potentially toxic, and (3) what
are the criteria to determine what is "excess".

The traditionalists see the RDA of approximately 150 mcg per day as appropriate and necessary.  
Amounts above 1 mg (1000 mcg) would be seen as excessive and potentially toxic.  And the
primary criterion for determining excess would be thyroid function, especially increases in TSH
(Thyroid Stimulating Hormone, a common blood test used to measure thyroid function).  

From this point of view, the traditionalists view most Americans as getting sufficient iodine from their
daily diets, and the primary concern is
Iodine Toxicity, which requires being careful that people do
not consume too much iodine.

In contrast, the Orthoiodosupplementation point of view sees the RDA as too low, with 6.5 - 12.5
mg of iodine seen as necessary for total body health for most people.  Amounts of iodine up to 50
mg (and sometimes more) may be necessary for brief periods of time to restore iodine sufficiency.

Abraham, et al, argue that thyroid measures have been over-emphasized in evaluating what is
"excess", resulting in recommendations that are too low.  They refer to the research by Eskin and
Ghent on the breast, where larger amounts appear to be protective against many breast
problems.  They also refer to the medical history of Lugol's, an iodine supplement used extensively
in the past for many conditions, and to the health history of the Japanese who consume large
amounts of seaweed and enjoy good health.

Abraham, et al, acknowledge that iodine in the amounts they are recommending may result in a
TSH increase.  However, these increases in TSH are often within the "normal" range for TSH and
are not seen as a major concern.

From the point of view of Orthoiodosupplementation, most Americans are not getting enough iodine
from their daily diets, and the primary concern is making sure people get enough.

The primary proponents of Orthoiodosupplementation are Abraham, Brownstein, and Flechas.  
Abraham, an endocrinologist, has challenged the traditional points of view on iodine sufficiency and
conducted an extensive literature review to support the Orthoiodosupplementation perspective.  He
has also developed an iodine/iodide tablet called Iodoral, designed to be similar to the iodine
content of Lugol's.

Brownstein, a clinician, has been applying the ideas in his clinical practice and conducting research
with his patients in partnership with Abraham.  He has lectured on Iodine to thousands of
physicians and has also written a book called Iodine that includes practical advice on how to use
iodine in a clinical setting.

Flechas, another clinician, has also been testing the ideas in his practice.  Together with Abraham,
Flechas was instrumental in the development of the Iodine Loading Test.

Iodine Loading Test
The Iodine Loading Test was developed for measuring whole body sufficiency. It is based on the
assumption that the normally functioning human body has a mechanism to retain ingested iodine
until whole body sufficiency for iodine is achieved.  As body iodine increases, a larger percentage
of the iodine ingested is excreted.  Whole body sufficiency for iodine is arbitrarily defined as 90 per
cent or more of the ingested iodine/iodide load of 50 mg being recovered in a 24-hour urine

Organic and Inorganic Iodine
From the perspective of Orthoiodosupplementation, inorganic iodine (e.g., molecular iodine, I2, and
the iodides, I-) are quite safe.  The organic forms (e.g., drugs like Amiodarone and radioactive
iodine) are not safe.  From this perspective, one of the problems with past research is the
confusion of the inorganic and organic forms of iodine, with the problems caused by the drug forms
of iodine inappropriately blamed on "safe" inorganic iodine.

(Note:  When they talk about "inorganic" and "organic", they are using the chemistry meaning of
organic:  An "organic" molecule has one or more carbon atoms.)

Iodine Debate
There has been a major debate in the Townsend Newsletter between Gaby and
Abraham/Brownstein on the major points of Orthoiodosupplementation.  It is very interesting
reading and will help in understanding some of the major issues involved.

Some Clinicians Using Iodine
Numerous well-known clinicians have used iodine in their practices in a variety of ways;  for
example, Hulda Clark, Edgar Cayce, Max Gerson, James Howenstine, D.C. Jarvis,  Michael
Schachter, Sherri Tenpenny, David Williams, Bruce West, and Jonathan Wright.  

How Much Iodine?
The Orthoiodosupplementation approach advocated by Abraham, et al, has only been active since
the late 1990s.  The ideas are being currently tested in clinical practice, in small scale studies, and
by carefully examining past research and historical uses of iodine. There have not yet been any
large-scale, highly controlled studies specifically designed to test the assumptions of this approach.

At this point, there is significant disagreement on how much iodine is ideal and what the
consequences are of various levels of iodine.
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