Category Archives: Iodine

Iodine Therapy


The Iodine Protocol – Why It’s Important

The Supplementing with iodine and the fear that accompanies it is due to poor execution and not the nutrient itself.

The preferred form of iodine is Lugol’s formula.  This is because Lugol’s contains both Iodine and Potassium Iodide.  Various organs and tissues in the body prefer one form over the other.  The breast, prostate and stomach prefer to utilize Iodine while the thyroid, salivary gland and skin prefer to use iodide.  When you supplement with one form, most often iodide, you rob the body of functioning at optimum levels.  This is why products like SSKI, Nascent and other forms of iodine don’t offer the same benefits as Lugols.

Another common issue with iodine supplementing is detoxification.  We live in such a toxic world that it is hard not to be toxic on some level.  As it relates to iodine the key toxins are bromide, fluoride and to a smaller degree mercury.  We need to support the body when supplementing to help it push what iodine releases, out of the body through the kidneys and out in the urine.  This detoxification can also cause stress to the adrenal glands so supporting them is important to your success.

If you are dealing with Hashimotos it is critical to ensure that there is a sufficient level of selenium either already “on board” in your body or that you are taking it along with your iodine.  Because selenium can reach toxic build up levels in the body it is important that you monitor your levels through a RBC (Red Blood Cell) Se lab test.  Please work with your doctor / healthcare professional to determine your specific needs.

Vitamin C (Ascorbic Acid) 3,000 + mgs  – This vitamin is critical for combating oxidation due to toxin release.  The adrenals also thrive in a vitamin C rich environment.  The adrenal glands are the largest storage site of  Vitamin C in the body.  The NIS symporters (where iodine is pulled into the cells) are supported and in some cases healed when higher doses of Vitamin C are provided.

Selenium  100-200 mcg  – Selenium is needed by the thyroid hormone creation process by working in conjunction with glutathione peroxidase as a protective mechanism to reduce and neutralize excess hydrogen peroxide.  Without this building block the risk of autoimmune thyroid condition flare ups increases due to the oxidative damage of TPO.  Selenium is also a critical nutrient in the creation of glutathione in the liver where detoxification occurs.

Magnesium  200-400 mgs – This nutrient is important in over 300 enzyme reactions in the body.  During the organification of iodine, intracellular calcium stimulates the NADPH-Oxidase System.  When this becomes over active as it can with autoimmune thyroid conditions, magnesium works as a natural “balancer”.  The production of ATP also requires magnesium along with other nutrients.

Unrefined Salt  1/2-1 tsp  – The symporters that pull iodine into the cells are known as NIS or sodium iodine symporters.  Adequate levels of sodium are needed to ensure proper function.  Salt is also used by the body to pull out the bromide being released from the receptors and tissues by the iodine supplementation and carry it from the blood through to the kidneys where it is filtered out into the urine.  Unrefined salt is also rich in minerals that help to support the adrenals.

B2/B3 (aka ATP CoFactors) 100 mgs B2 / 500 mgs  B3  – Vitamin B2 (riboflavin) and Vitamin B3 (Niacin) are cofactors to the NADPH oxidase pathway.  They work at the mitochondrial level to provide more energy.  Many with Hashimotos will comment on an increased level of energy when they add these two nutrients to their protocol.  They are both also key in providing sufficient hydrogen peroxide to efficiently oxidize iodide.  This is an optional supplement but can be added for the above reasons.

Other nutrients that have helped – but are not part of the core protocol …….

Boron  – This nutrient has proven to be beneficial in the removal of fluoride from the body.  It has also shown a positive impact on the NADPH Oxidase and ATPase processes within the cells.

Beta Carotene  25,000 iU  – For some individuals who supplement in iodine, their menstrual cycles or hormones may become imbalanced.  Supplementing with higher doses of Beta Carotene can assist in maintaining proper balance.  Research has also shown that it may help to upregulate NIS gene expression to increase iodine uptake.  While research has been done on radioactive forms of iodine, it may also equate to the non-radioactive forms as well since the radioactivity is not a key element in its benefits.

Over the last 9 years of supporting both the Yahoo Iodine group and the Facebook Iodine group with thousands of members, I have seen that when the full protocol is implemented amazing benefits are realized.  It also helps to mitigate the issues seen by many practitioners that causes them to sound the alarm bells.   When iodine is supplied in isolation it can be problematic.

Final thoughts:  When supplementing with the supporting nutrients do not try to cut corners.  Use high quality supplements.  Do not try to obtain then from food alone.  It is critical that you ensure that the right levels are available to your body.  Vitamin C is often criticized because many ascorbic acid products are sourced from corn which is often GMO.  In my store I offer non-GMO and tapioca based options.  For selenium, brazil nuts will not supply the needed dosage of 100-200 mcg / day.  The soil where they are grown is also depleted.

Take care to do it right and you too can reap the benefits that adequate iodine levels in the body can offer.  For additional support with your supplementing journey please join the Iodine Facebook group.


Let’s Talk Iodine & Hashimotos

The topic of iodine and hashimotos disease stirs up something deep in me.  I think it is because of the constant warnings I see from thyroid “specialists” that assert that using iodine with hashimotos is like throwing gas on a fire when it isn’t… well it can be if done incorrectly, but I’ll share that in a few minutes.

Iodine levels have dropped 50% over the last 30 years yet the incidence of thyroid disease has increased at an alarming rate.  Many people are suffering more than ever from hypothyroidism and at its worst autoimmune thyroid disease and cancer.  It is estimated that 20 million Americans have a form of thyroid disease.  Up to 60% of those with the disease are unaware they have a condition.  Women are 5-8 times more likely to have a thyroid problem than men are.  With these numbers how can iodine be to blame when it has been removed from our food supply and is depleted in our soils?  It isn’t – it has been wrongly accused of a crime it did not commit.

So lets talk about what happens in an autoimmune thyroid condition.  Autoimmune conditions in general in the body represent something that is not normal.  The body’s immune system is intelligent in knowing that it doesn’t belong.  With an autoimmune thyroid condition this is often related to the thyroid tissue itself.  The tissue undergoes oxidative stress due to inflammation within the cells.  This can cause mutations of the tissue which results in antibodies coming to the rescue of the body to “attack it” and get it back in order.  However in a thyroid autoimmune condition this state can continue to be an issue despite the best efforts of the antibodies to remove the problem.  One underlying cause of hashimoto’s is an iodine deficiency.

Please excuse the drawings but I wanted to relay specific information and every pre-made drawing did not share the total picture I wanted to convey.

So let’s walk through the process of iodide in the cells.   Please keep in mind that this is not a detailed “walk through” but one to get the general pathway.  The pituitary gland stimulates the TSHR via TSH.  This then acts upon the NIS (Na+I-) symporter to tell the cell to take iodide into the cell.  The NIS is located at the basolateral membrane.  This process of pulling into the cell requires ATPase.   Iodide is pulled into the thyroid follicular cell where thyroglobulin is made in the endoplasmic reticulum (left center of the cell).   Then comes the oxidation of iodide.  Iodide within the follicular cell moves to the apical surface of the plasma membrane before entering into the follicular lumen.  This transport is regulated by a sodium independent iodide/chloride transporter called pendrin.  Iodide is then oxidized to iodine.

Then organification of thyroglobulin occurs where iodination of tyrosine residues within the thyroglobulin (Tg) molecule occurs.

Organification is where iodine becomes a part of lipids, proteins and cholesterol.  Organification signals a binding to an organic molecule.  So in this case iodine is bound to thyroglobulin to make hormones.  Another  critical thing can occur at this point when enough iodine is supplied, and it is the often an excluded topic in this discussion.  When iodine is available in amounts of at least 100x the RDA (15 mgs) iodo-lipids like delta-iodolactone are created.   This is the process of iodine being organified to lipids.  Without higher levels of iodine available, insignificant amounts are created.  The RDA was defined as a method by which the body would create thyroid hormones and prevent goiter.  No consideration was given for these iodolipids and their thyroid cell regulatory effect.

The first iodination that occurs forms monoiodotyrosine or MIT.  The second is diiodityrosine or DIT.  MIT  forms T1, DIT forms T2 and then the MIT and DIT couple together to form thyroid hormones T3 and T4.  One MIT + one DIT form T3.  Two DITs form T4.  This reaction is activated by thyroid peroxidase (TPO).  The H2O2 used in this process is a result of the NADPH Oxydase system.  [1]  This process is inhibited by certain iodolipids.  [2-3]  The same iodolipids appear to control damage from excess iodine.

The indirect action of I2 could be exerted by its formation of covalent bonds to specific lipids such as arachidonic acid (AA) or eicosapentaenoic acid, forming 6-iodo-5-hydroxy-8,11,14-eicosatrienoic acid (also called 6-iodolactone; 6-IL) or alpha-iodohexadecanal, respectively. These iodocompounds have been detected in thyroid tissue of rat, pig, horse, and human origin, and they mimic some of the inhibitory effects of excess I? on several thyroid parameters. [6]

Thyroid hormone creation is the only result of iodide being supplied at the RDA of 150 mcgs.   Thyroid hormones are then stored inside thyroid follicles as colloid.  These hormones can meet the potential thyroid hormone needs for several months.  We’ll stop with the pathway description at this point since we have covered both the areas of concern in hashimotos.  The Tg and TPO processes.  It is TPO Ab and Tg Ab that are measured in Hashimotos conditions.

Iodine Thyroid

When we look at the image below we can see the two areas that experience oxidative stress.  The first is at the follicular cell level with damage to the nucelus / DNA.  This results in nodular goiters and eventually thyroid cancer.  Several things like heavy metals, halide toxicity and low nutrient levels can cause this damage in the cells.  But for the purpose of evaluating TPO and Tg Ab’s we will look to the other area.  The oxidative stress in the thryoid hormone creation is the main area of concern.

Oxidative Stress

So what goes wrong in an autoimmune thyroid condition?

  1.  Oxidative damage – This can result from too much H2O2 that damages TPO.
  2. Selenium deficiency – Selenium is a key nutrient in approximately 11 different enzymes.  There are two selenoenzymes involved in the thyroid process.  Glutathione peroxidase and iodothyronine deiodinase.  The important selenoenzyme in autoimmune conditions is Glutathione peroxidase.  It contains both antioxidant and protective properties from oxidative damage.  Glutathione peroxidase can react with the H202 to reduce it to water.   This is a valuable function in the reduction of the oxidation in the cells which can cause inflammation.  This is why selenium is recommended as part of the iodine supplementing protocol.
  3. Iodine deficiency – remember those iodolipids we discussed earlier?  Here’s why it matters.  If you supplement with iodine in doses less than the 15 mgs (or more – because one size never fits all) you will begin the journey of iodine through the cells to where the oxidation process begins.  But how does the body deal with that oxidation and limiting the damage to the cells?  The first thing thing is the glutathione peroxidase that we just discussed.  The other are iodolipids – specifically delta iodolactone.  When you supply low amounts of iodide you are stoking the fire and it is like putting fuel on the flame because no iodolipids – or too few are created.  But when you give the body more than it needs for thyroid hormone creation you get a bonus – iodolipids that work to  protect the thyroid gland from the damage.  These iodolipids also work at the cellular regulatory level in inducing apoptosis (programmed cell death) of any abnormal cells that may be created.  Thus the body doesn’t need to use antibodies to ‘clean up the mess’.    [5]  The inflammatory process can be reduced and the oxidative damage will also be reduced resulting in relief of the antibody attack.
  4. The other issue – Magnesium.   It is recommended that magnesium is used as part of the full protocol .  Magnesium is also important in numerous enzyme reactions in the body.  If we look at the oxidation process we will see that calcium is part of it.  When the oxidation is too high,  another “antidote” to this is to supply magnesium.

Organification(Thank you to Dr Brownstein who created this format for illustration)

5.  Finally Vitamin C – This is another nutrient that is recommended in the protocol that helps to maintain balance.  Vitamin C offers support against oxidant stress on the thyroid gland.  It also works to heal the symporters that pull iodine into the cells.  Many of the thyroid cells especially in thyroid cancer lose their ability to uptake iodine.

You may also see B2 and B3 mentioned in relation to iodine and hashimotos.  These nutrients can be beneficial in supporting the ATPase process to support the uptake of iodine.  In individuals with hashimotos it may help to increase energy and the feeling of well being.

I realize this is a tough subject to work your way through but I hope that this has helped to start the process of understanding why doctors such as Dr David Brownstein and his partners have had incredible success in supplementing with iodine in their autoimmune thyroid patients.  Other less vocal doctors using iodine in their practices in high doses are seeing benefits as well.  The key is to follow the protocol of support nutrients along with not being timid about the dosing of iodine.  Have no fear.  Iodine has been used safely and effectively for 200 years!

My hope is that all of you find healing and happiness and I believe that iodine can be a big part of that healing.


[1]  Identification of delta-iodolactone in iodide treated human goiter and it inhibitory effect on proliferation of human thyroid follicles.

[2] Thyroid autoregulation: evidence for an action of iodoarachidonates and iodide at the cellular membrane level.

[3] Thyroid autoregulation Inhibition of goiter growth and of cyclic AMP formation in rat thyroid by iodinated derivatives of arachidonic acid.

[4] Evidence that iodolactones are the mediators of inhibition by iodine on thyroid

[5]  The role of iodine and delta-iodolactone in growth and apoptosis of malignant thyroid epithelial cells and breast cancer cells.


Kelp Is Not a Good Way to Get Iodine


kelp powder

After constantly being asked about kelp and other sea vegetables in the context of iodine supplementation, I decided that it was time to address the elephant in the room.  The constant push to take Kelp and other Sea Vegetables to supply iodine in the diet has been concerning to me.  While sea vegetables may offer iodine and other nutrients, they also risk a high exposure to toxins.

Natural News Labs published this article on the testing they performed that showed high levels of cadmium, arsenic, lead, mercury and copper.

A UC Davis study finds high arsenic levels in kelp supplements.  

A recently published study of herbal kelp products by UC Davis public health expert Marc Schenker concludes that some kelp supplements may cause inadvertent arsenic poisoning and health dangers for consumers, especially when overused. Schenker and two researchers evaluated nine typical herbal kelp products and found higher than acceptable arsenic levels in eight of them.

Dr Alexander Haskell states in one of his youtube videos on iodine that he attempted to obtain a 3 mg capsule of kelp from Gaia Herbs to use in his practice.  After much investigation, Gaia returned to him and stated that attempting to put this amount of kelp in a capsule would put them over the legally allowed limit for arsenic.

Our seas are becoming so polluted with chemicals, heavy metals and pesticides.  The organization Sea Web offers some troubling information about what we are facing with anything that comes from the sea – be it sea veggies or seafood products.

From an old blog from Dr Brownstein in 2007 that is no longer online:

Caution With Kelp Supplements

My research has shown that after testing over 4,000 patients for their Iodine levels, over 96% of those tested are significantly low in iodine. Many patients ask me if they can take kelp instead of iodine. The amount of iodine in kelp can be variable. Furthermore, I was always concerned that kelp supplements may contain toxic amounts of arsenic or halides. I have tested 2 kelp supplements and found very elevated arsenic levels in both items. Both of these products were marketed heavily and sales in the millions of dollars were reported. When I contacted he manufactures of these products, neither returned my phone calls. Remember, if kelp is grown in a polluted area of the ocean, it may contain elevated amounts of these pollutants. New research has validated my findings.

Researchers at the University of California/Davis found that eight out of nine kelp supplements contained abnormal levels of arsenic (Env. Health Perspectives, April, 2007). The researchers began to look at kelp supplements after a patient presented to the UC Davis clinic with a myriad of complaints including memory loss, hair loss and fatigue. She was found to have very high arsenic levels which was traced to a kelp supplement she was taking. After stopping the kelp supplement, her arsenic levels gradually declined and her symptoms improved.

So, what can you do? IF you are low in iodine, take a pure iodine product that is not contaminated. Lugol’s solution or tableted Lugol’s solution (Iodoral®) have both proven safe and effective in my practice. Kelp can be an appropriate iodine source if the kelp has been tested and found free of toxic elements. I would be very cautious about taking a kelp supplement unless the manufacture is consistently testing the kelp for purity and consistency.

 Another research article on the Safe Use of Kelp Supplements shares that arsenic is indeed found in these supplements.  While they are not totally negative on the issue it does reinforce that arsenic is an issue.

Fukushima continues to be an issue especially for those on the west coast.   The nuclear reactors continue to leak toxic radioactive materials and have been since 2011.  Even in March of 2016 we see news reports of its toxic waste dump into the ocean.

While health food enthusiasts continue to support the use of kelp for iodine let’s put this into perspective – toxins aside.  Sea vegetables on average have 500% of the RDI of iodine for a daily diet.  That may sound like alot, but the RDI is 0.150 mcg of iodine.  500% of that would be 0.750 mcg of iodine.  This is far from a high amount when considering that the iodine doctors (Dr Abraham, Brownstein and Flechas) have been using amounts from 12.5 mgs up to 300 mgs (for cancer patients) in their practice for years as a daily supplementing dosage.  The average member of my Facebook Iodine group is reporting daily supplementing of 50-150 mgs + per day.  You would have to eat a lot of sea veggies to match this level.

Final Thoughts:  If you are determined to consume these products, then I would suggest that you do a few things.  Contact the manufacturer and ask them what testing is done.  Ask them to see the reports outlining the levels of halides and other nutrients.  Also ask them if they test for radiation exposure.  If they cannot provide these things then I would pass on purchasing and consuming their products.

If you are looking to supplement with iodine the best way to do this is through an Iodine supplement like the ones I offer in my store.    Make sure your supplement is Lugol’s formula for both iodine and iodide because the body needs both forms.  (See my previous blogs on iodine for more information on supplementing).