Dr. David Clark, DC - Center for Low Thyroid Solutions Durham, NC- educates women with low thyroid on the potential dangers of iodine supplements.
Are iodine supplements safe for low thyroid? Listen very closely to what I'm about to tell you.
Iodine is important for thyroid hormone metabolism. You must have iodine to make T4 and T3. T4 (inactive) is converted into T3, the active form of thyroid hormone.
There is one....ONE kind of hypothyroidism in which iodine works very well...
...and that's called Primary Hypothyroidism. (There are about 24 different ways that thyroid hormone chemistry can go wrong).
In Primary Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is not excreting and not manufacturing sufficient T4. This is the type of hypothyroidism that responds very well to drugs such as Synthroid®, Levothyroxine®, and Armour®.
But---Primary Hypothyroidism not the most common cause of hypothyroid. The most common cause of hypothyroid in America (and the world), is called Hashimoto's Autoimmune Thyroiditis.
In Hashimoto's, your immune system is attacking and trying to kill your thyroid gland. Specifically, your immune system targets:
1. Thyroid Peroxidase (TPO) -an enzyme used to make T4 and T3.
2. Thyroglobulin (TGB) -a protein used to make T4 and T3.
Here's where we talk about two issues with Iodine...
Issue #1 with Iodine:
Iodine stimulates the manufacture of TPO inside the thyroid gland.If you are already attacking TPO (have Hashimoto's) then increasing levels of TPO is like throwing wood on the fire.
Issue #2 with Iodine:
If you don't have Hashimoto's, taking Iodine can cause Hashimoto's autoimmune thyroiditis. Iodine triggers Hashimoto's. This is without a doubt, there's no question. There's a ton of research studies on this topic that prove that iodine is a trigger for Hashimoto's.
How do they know? In many countries around the world they've given people prophylactic iodine, meaning, "Hey, we think our citizens in this area don't have enough iodine in their blood. Their TSH levels look weird, they have goiters. Let's give them all iodine and correct that."
In almost 100% of the cases, when they give iodine, they also give all of those people Hashimoto's.
That is a horrible thing to do to someone because once you have one autoimmune attack, the chances are you're going get another one. In Hashimoto's, the autoimmune attack can move very quickly into the parietal cells of the stomach, casing pernicious anemia....into the pancreas causing blood sugar problem...and intp the cerebellum, causing dizziness, vertigo, balance problems.
So please read this next part very closely...
There's thousands of people on Yahoo! Groups and chat groups saying, "I've treated my hypothyroidism with iodine, therefore iodine is good for low thyroid symptoms."
No, Iodine is not. You must to get tested first to make sure you do not have Hashimoto's. A very simple test to do. You get what's called a TPO antibody test and you get a TGB antibody test.
If either one or both of those antibody tests come back positive, DO NOT TAKE IODINE. It's very simple.
When a person has Hashimoto's and they take iodine, their symptoms get worse. I've lost count how many times I've read this in a patient's history.
I get called a murderer and all kinds of whacko things when I talk about iodine, but it's true.
I'm not telling you that iodine doesn't work on some people because clearly, it does. It works on those people that have Primary Hypothyroidism, but that's not the most common kind of Hypothyroidism.
Do yourself a favor and be safe. If you've got classic low thyroid symptoms like
- unexplained weight gain
- dry skin, brittle nails
- sluggish mental speed
- brain fog
Don't try to supplement yourself, which is the same as medicating yourself. Find someone that understands these things I'm talking about. Find someone who understands a functional perspective, a functional way of looking at hypothyroidism. Hopefully will be a good detective and will find out what is actually causing those low thyroid symptoms (because maybe they're not even low thyroid symptoms. They might be adrenal gland symptoms or brain symptoms.)
That person is going to have to do some tests. There's over 24 different ways your thyroid hormones can go wrong and iodine only really helps one of those Yes, probably 20 of those are fairly rare, but the most common is Hashimoto's.
In the scientific journals Iodine + Hashimoto's has been called "an explosive mix".
I've seen too many people get into trouble over the last four years trying to self supplement and using iodine. Women come in and I find out they've taken iodine and felt awfula and smartly stopped it. Or, worse they've never really recovered from it.
This is serious business were talking about here. You can make yourself worse.
Iodine is not safe for low thyroid symptoms until you find out if you've got Hashimoto's or not...and it might not even be safe then because iodine can trigger Hashimoto's.
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© 2012 David Clark. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. David Clark, DC
Diplomate College of Clinical Nutrition
Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist
Vestibular Rehab Specialist