Thursday, January 19, 2012

A New Illness Strikes: Media-Iodophobia

Folks, a new illness is rampaging the country. It causes extreme anxiety and fear. What is the name of this illness? Media-iodophobia. Media-iodophobia occurs when the news media erroneously reports the results of a medical article which causes anxiety and fear in the lay public.

I knew when I saw the headline in the Reuters article yesterday that I would be busy answering questions about the study. The headline read, “How much iodine is too much?” Even my publisher (whom I enjoy writing for) reported on the study today with the headline, “Too much iodine hurts thyroid function.” Does too much iodine hurt thyroid function?

To answer the question, I pulled the article and dissected it. The scientists studied 256 normal-thyroid adults in a four week, double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized controlled trial.(1) The patients were randomly assigned to 12 intervention groups with iodine supplemented at doses ranging from 0-2mg/day. The researchers studied the effects of the differing doses of iodine by measuring thyroid function, thyroid size, and urinary iodine.

The authors found that, as compared with the placebo group, all the iodine- supplemented groups responded with significantly increased urinary iodine excretion. Furthermore, the thyroid size decreased in the iodine-supplemented groups. These effects are exactly what you would expect when supplementing with iodine. In fact, a decreased thyroid size is a good sign as iodine helps improve the architecture of the thyroid gland.

The scientists also studied the thyroid function in the different treatment groups. They found that the subjects treated with higher amounts of iodine had slightly elevated TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) levels. They termed the subjects who had increased TSH levels as suffering from subclinical hypothyroidism. They concluded, “This study showed that subclinical hypothyroidism appeared in the participants who {ingested 800ug iodine per day}… Thus we caution against a total daily iodine intake that exceeds 800ug/day…” This conclusion is the genesis of media-iodophobia as most people do not read research articles and just read the summary.

The conclusion of the article makes it clear that the researchers were also suffering from iodophobia—medical iodophobia. Medical iodophobia is a term coined by my mentor, Dr. Guy Abraham. Unfortunately, in this case, medical iodophobia leads to media-iodophobia. How did I come up with these diagnoses?

The authors of the study concluded that the slightly elevated TSH confers a diagnosis of subclinical hypothyroidism. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Does iodine cause the TSH to rise? The answer is “yes”. Does the elevated TSH mean the thyroid gland is failing? The answer to this question is “no”. It is well known, or should be well known, that iodine is transported into the cell by a transport molecule known as sodium-iodide symporter (NIS). NIS is stimulated by TSH.(2) Therefore, when iodine supplementation is begun, one of the first effects seen is a slight elevation of TSH as the body is trying to produce transport molecules (NIS) to move iodine into the cell. After iodine supplementation begins, it is normal and expected for TSH to elevate slightly. I have been lecturing to doctors and lay people alike about this concept for nearly 10 years. In fact, I have written about this important concept in my book, Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It, 4th Edition.

In this study, subclinical hypothyroidism should not be the correct diagnosis if the other thyroid function tests (T3 and T4 levels) remain normal. In a true hypothyroid condition, TSH will increase and T3 and T4 levels will fall below the reference range.

I have been teaching doctors how to properly use and monitor iodine supplementation in their practice. My experience has shown that many patients do experience a transient increase in TSH levels while maintaining normal levels of the other thyroid hormones—T3 and T4. Furthermore, a vast majority of patients feel significantly better with iodine therapy. In this article, the researchers did not report symptomatic changes with iodine therapy.

The proper conclusion of this study should have read, “This study showed, as expected that iodine therapy resulted in a slightly elevated TSH. This would indicate that the subjects were properly producing NIS in order to transport iodine into the cell. Furthermore, as expected, iodine therapy appeared to improve the architecture of the thyroid gland by decreasing the thyroid gland volume as observed by ultrasonography measurement.”

I have been using iodine effectively in my practice for nearly 10 years. More information about iodine can be found in my book and my newsletters. Please go to for more information.

(1) J Bioenerg Biomembr. 1998 Apr;30(2):195-206
(2) AJCN. Published online ahead of print December 28, 2011 as doi: 10.3945/ajcn.111.028001

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Bromine Toxicity Passed from One Generation to the Next

An interesting article reported that fish exposed to low levels of common flame retardants pass the chemicals along to their progeny. Scientists found that while the parents’ health effects were minimal, the exposures reduced hatch rates and altered the thyroid hormonal system in the next generation.

The effects were worse if the offspring were exposed to the same low chemical levels as their parents. What were the chemicals? Polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE’s) were the chemicals studied. PBDE’s are used widely in our environment as a flame retardant. They are found in many consumer products such as clothing, furniture, mattresses, curtains, foam, and electronics. PBDE’s are found in large amounts in automobile seats and many children’s products. (Environmental Science and Technology. 2011.

PBDE’s contain bromine as part of their molecular structure. Bromine is a toxic substance that is a known goitrogen. It has no known therapeutic value in the body. To date, I have tested over 500 patients for bromine levels. Unfortunately, I have found bromine toxicity occurring in a surprisingly large amount of my patients—nearly 100% of those that I have tested.

If this study is replicated in humans, this could explain, in part, why we are seeing such a rapid rise in chronic health problems. Perhaps this rise in health issues is due to our increasing exposure to toxic agents such as bromine. In our modern society it is hard to avoid some sources of bromine. However, food sources of bromine can easily be avoided. Bromine is commonly found in food and drink. Food made with brominated flour or drinks with brominated vegetable oil can be avoided. Avoid baked products that contain brominated flour. Mountain Dew and AMP energy drink are examples of two sodas with bromine. Some Gatorade products also contain bromine.

Supplementing with iodine can help the body release bromine. On the other hand, bromine exposure can cause the body to excrete iodine. It is important to ensure that your iodine levels are adequate so that your body can keep bromine levels to a minimum.

Ingesting adequate amounts of unrefined salt is also helpful. Salt helps the body excrete bromine.

More information about these therapies can be found in my books—Iodine : Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It and Salt Your Way To Health.

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Time to Detoxify

Researchers have found that adults over the age of 40 who have higher levels of bisphenol A (BPA) in their urine tend to be obese, have more abdominal fat, and are insulin resistant. Studies have shown these metabolic disorders can lead to serious health problems such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.(1) (2)

BPA is classified as an endocrine disrupter. Its chemical structure is similar to thyroid and estrogen molecules. This similarity can result in BPA binding to estrogen and/or thyroid hormone receptors. The result of a foreign substance binding to our hormone receptors is that the receptor can be either stimulated or inhibited. Either way, these endocrine disrupting substances wreak havoc with our hormonal system.

BPA is used in the manufacturing of plastics, in epoxy resin linings of food cans and in thermal receipt paper. Furthermore, it has been found in baby bottles and used as part of dental sealant. It can contaminate food and enters the body easily through skin or by ingestion.
Research has shown that BPA in rats can inhibit activation of thyroid hormone. In humans, this problem is known as T3 resistance syndrome. T3 resistance syndrome can lead to all of the signs of hypothyroidism such as weight gain, fatigue, diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

The study I cited above was done in China. BPA levels were measured in 3,390 adults over the age of 40. BPA was measured in urine samples. The researchers reported the highest BPA levels were associated with obesity and elevated concentrations of insulin. In fact, the scientists reported those in the highest quartile of BPA had a 50% increased risk in generalized obesity, 28% increased risk of abdominal obesity and 37% increased risk of insulin resistance.

We presently have an epidemic of thyroid problems, diabetes, and obesity. I have no doubt that much of our health problems are due to the increasing toxic load we are exposed to. What can you do?

First, it is important to exercise and sweat. This helps the lymph system drain into the liver. This drainage pathway facilitates toxin removal from the body. Second, drink adequate amounts of clean water. Avoid drinking water out of plastic water bottles. If you carry water, use a glass container. Keeping the body hydrated is a must for ensuring the body’s ability to detoxify.

Next, it is vitally important to eat healthy food. Organic food, free of toxic pesticides and synthetic hormones, is a must. Try not to buy food wrapped in plastic. Finally, do not wrap your own food in plastic. Wrap food first in parchment paper, then place the plastic wrap around it.

Finally, an occasional liver detoxification program can help. My partners and I have developed a product, Total Liver Care (TLC ) that is designed to ramp-up the detox pathways of the liver. We spent nearly 20 years trying different combinations of items until we came up with the formula for TLC. Take 1 scoop of TLC twice per day along with alpha lipoic acid 300mg twice per day. I suggest doing a liver detox protocol three or four times per year. Both TLC and alpha lipoic acid can be obtained from my office—

Helping the body detoxify is a good thing. Detoxification can improve your metabolism, give you more energy, and help you lose weight. I highly recommend doing a detox program a few times a year.
(1) Journal of Clin. Endocrin. And Metab. Jc.2011. p. 1989
(2) Environmental Health News. Jan 4, 2012