Category Archives: Iodine

Iodine Therapy

05Jan/16

Hypothyroidism, Hashi’s and Iodine

It has been known for many years that a lack of iodine can create a goiter.  What is a goiter you ask?  A goiter is the swelling of the thyroid gland in an attempt to capture more iodine from the blood stream in a deficient state.  Goiter is more common in 3rd world countries where overall nutrition  is lacking.  We saw it in the United States prior to the addition of iodized salt into the American diet.  The image below represents a goiter in a child.  The next image is a severe case.  The fear of iodine has instituted the reemergence of goiter in our modern society.  Look around you.  You will begin to see it especially in women.

Goiter large

The picture below is me in 1999 when my son (my first) was born.  No one noticed the nodule on my neck combined with the goiter.    It turned into thyroid cancer.  I believe it could have been avoided.

Dawson birth

Supplementation with iodine will work to eliminate goiters.  But what about other thyroid conditions?  In this blog we will consider hypothyroidism, hashimotos, and thyroid cancer.  Hyperthyroidism and graves will be covered in a future blog. These diseases all share a common issue – Iodine deficiency – while the symptoms manifest in different ways.

Hypothyroidism is defined as the body’s inability to produce sufficient thyroid hormones.  The hypothalamus creates thyrotropin releasing hormone (TRH) which acts upon the pituitary gland to regulate the release of TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone).   Thyroid hormone creation is stimulated by the TSH action on the thyroid gland.   The pituitary gland bombards the thyroid with this hormone when it gets behind telling it to make more.  The higher the TSH lab number the more there is an indication that it is screaming at the gland “I NEED HORMONES NOW”.   The TSH hormone also stimulates the Sodium Iodine Symporters (NIS) to take in iodine when the follicular cells “see” it pass by in the blood.  Once inside the thyroid cell, the iodine is acted upon by several chemical processes and is bound to tyrosine and thyroglobulin to form Thyroxine (T4) and Tri-iodothyronine (T3).  The thyroid gland creates 20% of the T3 directly in the thyroid gland.  The remaining 80% is converted from T4 in the liver and kidneys.  T3 is the active metabolic hormone.  If iodine is not supplied in sufficient amounts, then hormone levels fall and the entire body spirals into illness.

Another complication to hypothyroidism is an autoimmune form called Hashimotos which was named for Dr Hashimoto in Japan, who discovered the disease.  Hashimotos is diagnosed by lab tests measuring thyroid peroxidase antibodies (TPO Ab) and thyroglobulin antibodies (Tg Ab).  The first antibody, TPO, is an attack against the oxidation process where iodine is converted to iodide and bound to the proteins for hormone creation.  The Tg Ab is an attack on the thyroglobulin protein.  Both hormone synthesis processes can be seen in the diagram below.

synthesis

Why does the body create antibodies?  For more information on why the body attacks itself in an autoimmune disease please visit this page from the NIH.  Basically it is a sign that something has gone wrong and is out of balance.  Many things can contribute to autoimmune thyroid disease (AIT).  One of the key elements is a lack of iodine.

When the oxidation process occurs in the follicle colloid, hydrogen peroxide acts upon iodine to change it to iodide which is when it iodinates the proteins.  When iodine is missing the body attempts to make thyroid hormones but the main component is missing.  It is believed that in a deficient state the oxidation continues out of control which causes inflammation and damage to the cells.  The body views the cells as an invader because they are not normal and creates antibodies to attack it.  The key to combating this is in iodine supplementation.  When supplied in amounts 100x the RDA (.150 mgs) or more, iodolipids are created which is the control mechanism on the oxidation process in the cells.  The increase iodine level not only allows for hormone creation but also iodolipid creation.  What the exact value in milligrams is to create this “brake” reaction is not definable.  There are too many variables for each individual to predict.  At this point it is a matter of trial followed by laboratory testing to determine the appropriate amount.  The diagram below shows iodine entering the cell and then combining with Tg and being acted upon by TPO.

Tg TPO

Now lets assume that hashimotos goes undetected or untreated and no iodine is supplied.  The thyroid struggles and struggles to keep up.  The person must keep moving so the body now draws off of the adrenals to pick up the slack.  But the adrenals are the sprinters and not the marathon runners and they will eventually crash and burn resulting in complete adrenal fatigue.  These glands also need iodine and since the thyroid is grabbing all it can they are left deficient too.

Inside the thyroid gland, the TPO, Tg or both types of antibodies are attacking the gland.  This results in more and more damage that can develop into nodules on the gland.  At first they can be benign in nature but eventually they run the risk of becoming malignant in the form of thyroid cancer.  There are several forms of thyroid cancer;  Papillary, Follicular, and Medullary being the most common.  Papillary and Follicular are treated using radioactive iodine (RAI) because the cancer cells will take up the iodine and be killed.  Medullary thyroid cancer originates in the “C” cells of the thyroid which is where calcitonin is created.  This form of thyroid cancer seems to be unrelated to iodine status although the maintenance of normal cell structure is part of iodine’s “job” in the body so it may play a role.

I mentioned in passing that RAI was used for the treatment of papillary and follicular thyroid cancer.  It is used because the goal of the treatment is to kill off any remaining thyroid and cancer cells after a total thyroidectomy.  They then use the Tg levels to monitor if there is cancer or not (assuming that RAI killed all the cells off) because only these cells create the Tg protein.  This is great in concept if the cells do, in fact, take up the radioactive iodine.  In my case they did not.  I had 0.2 and 0.3% uptake in my scans.  My doctors reaction each time was to get a bigger stick.  I went from 100 mCi’s to 150 mCi’s and then finally 250 mCi’s in an attempt to beat the cells into submission (aka death) after 3 recurrences.  It did not work.  Endocrinologists call this “iodine resistance”.  I believed my case was hopeless…… but then I met Dr David Brownstein.

The testing Dr Brownstein did on me may have revealed the reason for this resistance.  It was a component that the majority of thyroid disease sufferers are also afflicted with.  It’s bromide poisoning.  When the body is deficient in iodine it attempts to find the next closest halide to replace it.  Most of us are toxic in this halide so our receptors are being blocked by bromide which stops what little iodine that enters the blood stream from being taken into the cells until very large amounts of iodine are supplied.  In my case it took 125 mgs which resulted in 66 mgs / L (toxic = >5 mgs / L) of bromide being release during my 24 hour Iodine Loading test.  We’ll talk about testing in a future post so don’t panic.  I believe that my high toxicity stopped all RAI treatments from working to kill the cells.  Now combine that with the low iodine diets I was forced to do for 6 weeks prior to treatment and then never supplementing to put it back in and you have a recipe for disaster.  The reason I say this is because iodine is needed for the P53 gene.  This gene is called the Keeper of the Genetic Code.  It is needed in the process known as apoptosis (programmed cell death) that occurs when a cell becomes abnormal.  So I was toxic, radiating my body and depleting it of a much needed whole body nutrient.   I believe this was why my cancer kept returning – each time stronger.  It was non-radioactive iodine that was a key component in eliminating my thyroid cancer in 3 years.

Hopefully you can now see why iodine is important in managing thyroid disease.

Next blog:  Bromide toxicity

 

 

 

04Jan/16

The Power of Iodine

 

iodine-bottles

Few people know about the amazing element iodine and the importance it holds in maintaining good health.  My goal over the next few weeks is to offer a multi-part blog series on the topic of iodine so that you can “digest” the information slowly.  It can get confusing and to those who are new to the topic can feel overwhelming.  So let’s start with the basics.

If you bring up the topic of iodine to a medical professional he or she will undoubtedly link it to the function of the thyroid gland and they would be partially correct.  The thyroid is the primary consumer of iodine within the body.  When fully saturated it can hold 50 mgs of iodine.

The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland that sits in the neck just above the collar bone and wraps around the windpipe.  It is responsible for controlling the bodies metabolic rate.  You cannot live without this gland.  If it is removed you will be forced to take a thyroid hormone replacement medication for life.  Before I forget….. Just to dispel a common belief about iodine for the thyroidless – yes you still need it.  But that’s for a future blog post.

Iodine is used within the thyroid follicular cells.  It enters into the cell through the Na/I Symporter (NIS) or sodium iodine symporter located on the basolateral membrane.  Iodine enters from the blood stream through the NIS which acts as a pump to pull it into the cell.  Once iodine passes through the NIS, it enters into the follicular cell.  It then moves to the follicle colloid where a hydrogen peroxide reaction occurs on it converting it to iodide.  This is then used in the thyroid hormone creation process.  When you see the hormones T4 or T3, the number represents the number of iodide molecules in that hormone.  The process is  a little more complex than what I have described here but this gives you the basic concept.  You can look at the diagram below for more detail.

iodine path

Iodine levels in the soils have become depleted over the years and in some areas, like the goiter belt, they have historically been low.  The area depicted in pink in the image below has been described as the deficient area.   Currently it expands to pretty much all of the states in the union.  It was in the 1930’s that the government decided to try adding iodine to the salt in order to eliminate goiters in school children and it worked.  This is how we obtained iodized salt.

Goiter Belt

After the release of a research paper in 1948 which described a phenomenon called the “Wolff-Chaikoff effect”, iododphobia (as Dr Guy Abraham describes it) became rampant.  In this paper, they described how ingesting “too much” iodine would shut down the thyroid hormone creation process causing hypothyroidism.  The problem was that it was a transient event and the levels eventually normalized.  An update to this research was posted at a later date but the damage had already been done.   Even today this study is used as defense against milligram supplementation of iodine.  You can read more about this in Dr Guy Abraham’s article, The Wolff-Chaikoff Effect:  Crying Wolf.  Because of the W-C effect fear, the usage of iodine in foods became less and less and with its restriction came an increase in thyroid disease.

When the thyroid gland has too little iodine, the result can be goiter, nodules, cysts, hypothryoidism, hyperthryoidism, autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimotos and Graves) and at its worst, thyroid cancer.

Iodine is antimicrobial, antibacterial, anticancer, antiparasitical, and antiviral.  It’s a powerhouse in an element.

Today, there are a few doctors who are returning to the old methods of supplementation and discovering the amazing benefits.  Many patients are going it alone because finding support in the medical arena can prove to be challenging.  That is why I created the Facebook Iodine group in 2009.  It now has almost 13,000 members.  It exists to teach individuals about the benefits of iodine supplementation and how to put it into practice safely and effectively.

You can join us by going to the IODINE Facebook group.

If you want to get a head start on reading about iodine, you can download the guide to supplementing that I share on my group.  It is located in the resources of this site.

Next blog post:  Thyroid Disease and Iodine

23May/14

Thyroid Cancer 9 Years Have Passed

 

Today marks 9 years since I had my last radioactive iodine (RAI) treatment. I use that term loosely because the definition of treatment is medical care given to a patient for illness or injury. Radioactive iodine is not caring. It is destructive. I was diagnosed with papillary thyroid cancer in March 2000.  After that time I was submitted to 2 partial thryoidectomies (March & April 2000) because my doctor didn’t know what he was doing.  He neglected to do a frozen section to check for malignancy before closing me back up so I had to go back in and have the rest of my thyroid removed in order to have the RAI treatment.

On May 26th, 2000 I received 100 mCis of RAI that I was assured would take care of the cancer and allow me to continue my life with the addition of a little pill (Synthroid).  I was so naive.  I had no idea that radioactive iodine is the cause of cancer.  When there are nuclear reactors that leak or meltdown it is I-131 (the same isotope I was given) that is released and the reason why the government will hand out potassium iodide to protect the thyroid gland from radiation damage.

I was sent home after taking the I-131 capsule.  It was so toxic that the technician didnt even handle the prescription bottle.  It arrived in a lead cylinder with a screw on top.  She removed the bottle with tongs and handed it to me.  I was forced to take it with water and then show that it was no longer in my mouth like a child.  I would remain in isolation in my home for 10 days due to being radioactive.  My son was 6 mos old at the time.   Here is a link to a detailed post on my first RAI.

In years past, patients were required to stay in the hospital in isolation.  All items that entered into the hospital room were not allowed to leave.  All food scraps were placed in a special garbage can and disposed of separately.   No one entered the room for up to 5 days.  Then someone would come into the room with a Geiger counter to check for radiation levels before the patient could be discharged.  Now the NRC believes it is safe to be sent home to radiate your family and pets.

In January 2001, my new doctor declared that I still had cancer because my first doctor treated me incorrectly.  So I returned for another round of RAI.  This time 150 mCis.  My  son was  now 15 mos old.  I once again went into isolation at my home.  The treatment was rougher than the last one.  You can read the full experience on my blog post.

Things seemed to go well for the next few years.  I had my second baby in June 2002.  I did OK but was always fatigued and dealing with anxiety.  I thought that I had put the cancer behind me.  But then in 2005 it happened again.  I heard the words Your cancer is back and you need more RAI.  This time I would receive 250 mCis of RAI and would be sent home again to my almost 3 yr old and 5  yr old.  They did not understand why mom could not be with them for 10 days.  I purchased 10 dollar store toys for each to open one per day so that they could count the remaining gifts to know how long before mom could be with them again.  It seems like yesterday, yet it seems like a dream.  This treatment was the the last RAI I could receive because it put me at the maximum lifetime dose.  I never want to go through that form of treatment again.  It was truly hell on earth.  That part of my story can be read here.    I thought I had finally conquered it.. or so I hoped.

Then in January 2006, I heard the words I didnt want to hear.  Your markers are up again and we need to consider external beam radiation.  I had a ThyCa friend who had traveled the same path I had traveled.  Three RAIs (failed) and then external beam.  Except he died after the external beam.  I could not bear to leave my 3 & 5 year old w/o a mother.  As I wept in the parking lot after my endocrinologist appointment I heard a gentle voice tell me  I have given  you all you need to heal.  You just need to find someone to help you.   The next day I made an appointment with Dr Brownstein and by August of 2009 I was cancer free no external beam radiation.

Today I celebrate the 9 years since my last radiation treatment.  I praise God for healing me with his perfect provision.

Psalm 118:17 (KJV)

17 I shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord.