By Dr Mercola
Hypothyroidism, or underactive thyroid, is a very common problem, and there are many reasons for this, including drinking chlorinated and fluoridated water, and eating brominated flour.
Chlorine, fluoride, and bromine are all in the same family as iodine, and can displace iodine in your thyroid gland.
Secondly, many people simply aren’t getting enough iodine in their diet to begin with. The amount you get from iodized salt is just barely enough to prevent you from getting a goiter.
A third principal cause of hypothyroidism is related to elevated reverse T3 levels. Interestingly, 95 percent of the time, those with elevated reverse T3 levels will see their levels revert back to normal after undergoing chelation with EDTA and DMPS, which draw out cadmium, lead, mercury, and other toxic metals. In essence, heavy metal toxicity can cause a functional form of hypothyroidism.
“It’s very well-known that lead and cadmium interfere with testosterone production,” Dr. Wright says. “What’s not so well-known is that reverse T3 is stimulated by toxic metals, so up it goes.
In effect, we can have levels that are so high, they way outnumber the regular T3. You’re functionally hypothyroid even if your TSHs and free T3s happen to be normal.”
How Much Iodine Do You Need for Thyroid Health?
In Japan, the daily dose of iodine obtained from the diet averages around 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) or 2-3 milligrams (mg), and there’s reason to believe this may be a far more adequate amount than the US recommended daily allowance (RDA) of 150 mcg.
Some argue for even higher amounts than that, such as Dr. Brownstein, who recommends 12.5 milligrams (mg) on a regular basis. Another proponent of higher iodine amounts is Guy Abraham, an ob-gyn and endocrinologist at the University of Southern California.
“Oddly enough, he didn’t publicize [his publications] much until he retired from the University of Southern California. But after that, he came out with a wonderful website, optimox.com, where you can read a lot of stuff for free,” Dr. Wright says.
“There’s a fairly careful study showing that the thyroid gland does not start to downregulate until we get to 14 or 14.5 milligrams of total iodine and iodide. This is probably why Dr. Abraham first, and then others, have designed both liquids and tablets that come out with 12 or 12.5 mg.
Oddly enough, in 1829, Dr. Lugol put together a combination of iodine and iodide. Two drops of that stuff equals exactly to 12.5 milligrams. How did Dr. Lugol know? We don’t know. But it works so well for people ever since 1829 that it’s still available (with a prescription) as Lugol’s iodine…
Usually, in my practice, I’ll say, ‘One drop of Lugol’s, which is six milligrams; six and a quarter.’ Or for the guys, who don’t have as much massive breast tissue, let’s stay with three milligrams. [To] prevent cancer, I want more than three milligrams for the ladies.”
Iodine Helps Protect Breast Health Too…
From Dr. Wright’s experience, there are no adverse effects from taking upwards of 12.5 mg of iodine per day, and in some cases higher amounts may benefit more than your thyroid. There’s compelling research suggesting that iodine is equally important for breast health, and that iodine – not iodide – combines with a lipid to form molecules that actually kill breast cancer cells.
“Breasts are big sponges for iodine,” Dr. Wright notes. “Not iodide so much; that’s the thyroid gland. But if you have enough iodine, why, those molecules are just sitting there ready waiting to kill new breast cancer cells!”
According to Dr. Wright, iodine is also crucial for other breast-related problems, such as fibrocystic breast disease, for which iodine works nearly every time. Interestingly, for severe cases, it’s recommended to swab the entire cervix with iodine.
“For bad cases, you got to work with your doctor. Get the iodine swab done,” Dr. Wright says. “The worse the fibrocystic breast disease is, the more treatment it takes. But that one, I can almost give a money-back guarantee… because I never would have to give you your money back.”
That said, it would seem prudent for most to avoid taking such high doses unless they were using it therapeutically, for a short period of time. I personally feel that supplementation at a dose 10 times lower, or a few mg, might be best for most.
Good Sources of Iodine
Besides Lugol’s, seaweed or kelp is a great source of iodine. One that is oftentimes recommended by herbalists for thyroid health is a seaweed called bladderwrack (Latin name: Fucus vesiculosus). You can find it in either powdered form or in capsules. If you want, you can use it to spice up your meals, as it has a mild salty flavor. The downside is that to reach three milligram dose, you’ll need to take at least a couple of teaspoons per day.
Another concern is the potential radiation issue from the Fukushima reactor, which has contaminated much of the Japanese seaweed. So make sure you look at the source of your seaweed. Try to get it from the Norwegian Coast or as far away from Japan as you can get. While manufacturers have not started labeling their products as “radiation-free,” you could simply check the bottle with a Geiger counter before taking it.
Dr. Wright’s Thyroid Program
Dr. Wright always begins with a physical exam, where he looks for signs of thyroid dysfunction. This includes symptoms such as dry skin, thinning of the outer margins of your eyebrows, subtle accumulation of fluid in your ankles, constipation, lack of sweating, weight gain, and high cholesterol. An older yet helpful test is to take your temperature every morning and observing if your temperature registers close to 98.6.
This test stems from the work of Dr. Broda Barnes back in the ’30s and ’40s. Dr. Barnes found that if the temperature was low, it was a reliable indication of an underactive thyroid (hypothyroid). “These days, with all the other things going on, I find that sign useful in some people but not in others,” Dr. Wright says. “But I do want it for everybody.”
As for laboratory tests, the complete thyroid panel includes thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), total T4, free T4, total T3, free T3, and the reverse T3. He cautions against trusting the TSH test as a primary diagnostic tool, despite that being the conventional norm. He bases his recommendation on research by Dr. St. John O’Reilly, an expert on thyroid health at the University of Scotland, who has shown that the TSH test virtually never correlates with the clinical condition of the patient.
According to Dr. Wright, the TSH level doesn’t really become a valuable indicator of hypothyroidism unless it’s high, say around 5 or 10. Thyroid therapy has been around since the 1890s, and until the TSH test became the norm, the average dose of thyroid given was almost exactly twice what the average dose became when everybody started paying attention to the lab test rather than the clinical signs. Dr. St. John O’Reilly recommends basing the diagnosis on the physical exam and the Free T3 level instead, which is the protocol Dr. Wright follows in his clinic.
“The Free T3 is, of course, the free hormone, not the one bound up on the thyroid globulin, where it’s temporarily inactive,” Dr. Wright explains. “The Free T3 is the one that helps us to burn energy; it’s the active hormone. The Free T4 is waiting to become active, but it’s not active yet. It signals back to the TSH. But the Free T3 doesn’t signal back to the TSH as much as the Free T4 does.”
Meanwhile, the T4 is the type of thyroid replacement that is typically and traditionally given by almost every conventional physician. In my experience, it’s one of the primary ways you can differentiate between a natural medicine physician and a traditional conventional physician: the type of thyroid replacement they prescribe.
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Read more of this article at Dr Mercola’s website.