There is probably no greater general interest subject than thyroid function. Conversely, there is also an astoundingly vast amount of misinformation that occurs with physicians and lay people alike. Low functioning thyroids are common in both male and female, although females are far more apt to have hypothyroidism than males.
Iodine deficiency is widespread. It is estimated that 95% our population is deficient in iodine. Conventional medicine has failed to understand this fact. However, with increased research, the truth will come out. It has to. There is no alternative physiology or alternative biochemistry. Science does not lie. Iodine deficiency does occur in today’s world and it is occurring at very high levels.
Thyroid issues have accelerated at epidemic rates over the past 30 years. Hypothyroidism affects from 13 million to 45 million Americans. Another 10-15 million Americans are affected with an autoimmune thyroid disorder.
Higher intake of Iodine in Japan and Iceland have been positively correlated with dramatically reduced incidences of breast cancer. Conversely, the Great Lakes Basin in the U.S. has the lowest Iodine levels and one of the highest breast cancer rates.
Here are just 12 signs of iodine deficiency / hypothyroidism:
- Continuous feeling of fatigue
- Aching muscles
- Cold hands and feet
- Swelling in the neck
- Weight gain without eating more
- Coarse, dry, thinning hair
- Dry skin
- Heavy menstrual periods
- Loss of libido
- Slow heartbeat
- Mental sluggishness
The Function of our Thyroid
Let’s start with what the thyroid is and what are its functions. The thyroid is a butterfly shaped gland which lies at the base of the throat. Thyroxine (T-4) is the hormone secreted by the thyroid and it converts into triiodothyronine (T-3) as needed to control the body’s metabolic rate. If the body produces too little thyroxine, many of its normal chemical processes slow down, a condition known as hypothyroidism.
It has long been known that in the absence of iodine, the thyroid will begin to swell, producing what is called a goiter. In certain areas of the U.S. where there is no iodine in the soil and therefore none in the food consumed, we had what was called the goiter belt, because so many of the residents developed goiters. This led to the iodization of salt, which did reduce the number of goiters.
However, frank goiter is a sign of advanced hypothyroidism and what can be called sub-clinical hypothyroidism is still quite prevalent. I became quite enamored with the work of a physician (Dr. Broda Barnes) who was considered an expert on the thyroid and who criticized the criteria for diagnosing hypothyroidism. His contention was that it actually was quite prevalent even in the presence of “normal” T-4 levels. Thus doctors testing for blood levels of T-4 found adequate levels of this hormone so ruled out hypothyroidism.
Dr. Barnes claimed that adequate iodine was not only necessary for the production of T-4 but also for the conversion of T-4 to T-3 the active hormone. Adequate iodine might be present to produce some T-4 hormone but if this could not be converted to T-3 then the functions governed by T-3 stimulus would suffer.
His test was much more physiological in nature – the patient painted iodine on their abdomen and counted the hours before it disappeared. If it was still visible 24 hours later, you had adequate iodine and were not hypothyroid. If it disappeared in less time – such as 6 or 8 hours, then you were probably very hypothyroid and Dr. Barnes would recommend Armours Thyroid, a natural form of thyroxine.
It is our opinion that Dr. Barnes overlooked a very fundamental fact – it is the lack of adequate iodine and an amino acid (tyrosine) that are at the root of the problem. Just supplementing the diet with natural thyroid will help symptoms but does not solve the underlying problem.
Now we can get into the controversial part of iodine therapy. 50 years ago iodine was literally a magic medicine. It was always used for infections, for pneumonia and bronchitis, lack of it considered to be the cause of mental slowness and even today, iodine deficiency is considered to be the most common cause of preventable brain damage in the world. But a single paper written by two researchers changed iodine use completely. This poorly documented paper gave the impression that iodine use was not only archaic but not necessary and could even be dangerous, citing hyperthyroidism as a side effect. Almost overnight the use of iodine in medicine was stopped and in its place we have a fear of one of the most critical nutrients in our diet.
Iodine is grossly deficient in our soil, the ocean being the only real source; but another mineral, selenium, works hand in glove with iodine and is necessary for proper iodine function. Selenium is another trace mineral almost totally absent from our food supply. This is another wake-up call for the use of broad spectrum vitamin and mineral supplementation for all of us!
To move forward, iodine is also the missing link in fibrocystic breast disease! Several studies found that adequate iodine supplementation reversed this condition within a few months. It is interesting to note that Japanese women living the traditional lifestyle and eating traditional foods will often consume from 50 to 80 mg of iodine daily and a low intake would be in the 15 mg range. These women have the lowest rate of breast cancer in the world!
And that is where the controversy really comes — although iodine is “grand-fathered” as a supplement, the suggested daily intake is only 150 mcg – with apparently no reason for such a low dosage. It is universally accepted that several grams (1 gram is 1,000,000 mcg) of iodine is needed to reach a toxic level and then the symptoms would recede as the dosage is reduced. We often used from 50 to 100 mg of iodine in respiratory conditions and I never saw or heard of side effects.
The Importance of Tyrosine
Not only do we need adequate levels of iodine far greater than scientists previously thought, but without the important amino acid, tyrosine, there would be no hormone function and the adrenals would also be severely affected. To produce the hormone, thyroxine, iodine and tyrosine must be present either through the diet or dietary supplements. Low thyroidism is the result of the lack of adequate iodine and an amino acid, tyrosine, which are at the root of the problem.
This is an amino acid that is absolutely necessary for the body to produce thyroid (as well as noradrenaline and dopamine) hormones. It is impossible to have a well functioning thyroid without sufficient quantities of tyrosine either in the diet or through supplementation. Tyrosine also is an excellent stress reliever and an excel- lent natural treatment for depression.
This is a brief summary of the excellent benefits of iodine and tyrosine to reverse hypothyroidism and its associated disorders. However, it is a subject in which a book should be written as to how a simple and effective means of literally self treating a common condition so often overlooked as a cause of many and varied symptoms. When you are using Armour Thyroid and/ or iodine you will experience wonderful benefits.
Many holistic physicians are recommending an iodine formulation containing 30 mgs of iodine per 2 capsules with 400 mgs of L-Tyrosine. I truly believe everyone can benefit significantly from using the iodine – tyrosine complex from Let’s Talk Health.
Dr. David Brownstein explains in his book, Iodine, Why You Need it and Why You Can’t Live Without it, not only do we need iodine for the thyroid but iodine is found in every cell of the body. From the research of the medical experts in complementary medicine, their consensus is that we can maintain normal healthy cell function throughout our body but particularly in the breast, prostate, ovaries and heart.
Dr. Brownstein recommends a supplement of 25-50 mg daily. Our organic iodine provides 30 mg in one serving and we also add an additional 400 mg of L-Tyrosine, which is a building block for the thyroid hormone controlling our metabolic rate and energy level.
Your whole life and personality will change once you begin iodine therapy. You will see changes within several weeks, but be patient; to fully restore the thyroid and its metabolic function may take 3-6 months for many people. Remember, you may have been low thyroid all your life. If your mom had low thyroid, more than likely you have had low thyroid since birth, so be patient. Rome was not built in a day.