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Iodine—Are High Doses Beneficial or Detrimental to Thyroid Patients?
Some say iodine in high doses cures cancer and improves general health, but others say they became hyperthyroid, hypothyroid, or suffered from toxic reactions like boils and nasal discharge while following the protocol. Is iodine really safe?
By: Grain of Salt Publications LLC
The U.S. Government’s daily Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA) for iodine is 150 micrograms (mcg). This amount is sufficient to create thyroid hormone. Lugol’s and Iodoral, which are high dose iodine preparations, contain milligram (mg) amounts of iodine, which is 1,000 times more than a microgram. Iodoral is available in 12.5, 25, and 50 mg tablets. A 50 mg tablet contains 50,000 mcg of iodine. That is 333 times more than the RDA.
How does the body handle excess iodine? It excretes it through body fluids like urine and sweat. Interestingly, many on the high dose iodine protocol complain of a runny nose, and that may simply be another route for iodine elimination. Iodine excretion continues for approximately three days after ingestion. One study showed that urinary iodine excreted (a 7-day moving average) amounted to 74% of iodine intake. Some subjects approached 90% excretion if iodine from sweat was counted. Another study showed an average 70% iodine excretion rate during the first 24 hours, followed by an additional 16% excreted on days two and three combined. If it takes three days for the body to eliminate all iodine ingested, then the validity of a 24-hour urinary iodine-loading test (which does not measure iodine in sweat) is highly questionable.
What happens when iodine consumption is excessive? Three responses are possible. An iodine deficient person could absorb the iodine they need and excrete the rest. Their health would improve if they were suffering from hypothyroidism due to an iodine deficiency. A second scenario is that the iodine induces something called the Wolff-Chaikoff effect, where thyroid hormone synthesis and release stops because of the high iodine intake. It’s the body’s protective mechanism to prevent the person from becoming hyperthyroid. Unfortunately, this effect is permanent in some people, and they become victims of iodine-induced hypothyroidism. A third scenario is that the iodine induces hyperthyroidism in those with pre-existing nodules or any type of thyroid gland abnormality, including Graves’ disease. Iodine is the raw material used to produce thyroid hormone, so giving a hyperthyroid Graves’ patient any iodine is potentially dangerous. Decades ago, Graves’ patients received high doses of iodine to induce the Wolff-Chaikoff effect, which would halt excessive thyroid hormone production. However, doctors knew this was only a temporary condition and surgically removed the thyroid gland within three weeks.
Iodism or iodine poisoning occurs in some individuals who take high doses of iodine. They experience cold symptoms like an inflamed runny nose, coughing, sneezing, eyelid swelling, and an increase in salivation. Some experience skin lesions that look like boils on their face and neck. These are signs of iodine poisoning, though high dose iodine proponents mistakenly call it “bromide detox.” A similar condition called bromism exists, and it happens after ingestion of high doses of bromine. Symptoms like weight gain, hair loss, and fatigue are signs of hypothyroidism, not bromide detox. People with these symptoms are suffering from iodine-induced hypothyroidism.
Does iodine have any benefits? Studies confirm the protective effects against cancer, and iodine therapy has normalized fibrocystic breasts, and had positive effects against breast, colon, and prostate cancer. Some studies show that at least 3 mg/day of iodine is beneficial in the presence of cancer because of a suppressive effect on tumors.
“Iodine—Cure or Curse” is a 30-page chapter with over 140 references in the new book Tired Thyroid: From Hyper to Hypo to Healing—Breaking the TSH Rule by Barbara Lougheed. This chapter examines the iodine protocol in detail and covers iodine’s role in the body, its effect on cancer, hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism, Japanese iodine intake, the role of bromine and other halides in the body, the validity of the urinary iodine loading test, iodine toxicity, and iodine sensitivity. It is available on amazon. http://www.amazon.com/