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IODINE: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It

Crusador Interviews Dr. David Brownstein

David Brownstein, M.D. has become internationally known and respected for his excellent research and work on iodine therapy.  He became immersed in the study of iodine as an essential nutrient for health after reading a letter from Dr. Guy Abraham published in the May, 2003 “The Townsend Letter For Doctors and Patients.”  Since that time he has tested and treated well over 3,000 patients with iodine and says the results still amaze him. In his practice he has found that over 95% of those tested have demonstrated low iodine levels. 

Dr. Brownstein says, “In all my years of practicing medicine, I have yet to see one item provide such miraculous effects on the body as iodine does.”

In the Foreward to the 2nd Edition of his book, “IODINE, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It,” he states why iodine deficiency is a far bigger problem than most people realize:

“The reason there is so much iodine deficiency present is not only due to inadequate iodine intake, it is also due to the toxicities we are exposed to on a daily basis. These toxicities include the toxic halides bromine, fluoride and the chlorine derivatives.”

In the years to come it is certain that more and more doctors will be incorporating iodine therapy into their treatment protocols largely because of the efforts of Dr. Brownstein and what he has done to educate the public about its importance.  In the following interview, Crusador editor Greg Ciola had the opportunity to hear Dr. Brownstein’s thoughts first hand about this essential nutrient that can make a profound impact on your health.

Crusador:  David, it’s a pleasure to finally interview you. You’ve become quite an acclaimed author with the incredible books you’ve written on a number of different health topics, including the one you’ve written on iodine.  I have been hearing all sorts of amazing reports that iodine supplementation can make a dramatic difference in a person’s health.  Tell our readers a little bit about iodine and why you feel this essential trace element is so very important to restore or maintain optimum health?
Greg, it is a pleasure to be interviewed by you.   I have been practicing holistic medicine for over 16 years.  I have never seen a single substance make such a dramatic improvement in such a wide range of patients like iodine.

I refer to iodine as the most misunderstood nutrient.   I was taught in medical school that you get enough iodine from salt and that nobody needs supplemental iodine.   Furthermore, we were taught that if you give thyroid patients iodine, you make the thyroid disease worse.  This includes not only hypothyroidism, but autoimmune thyroid illnesses such as Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease.  Greg, what I can tell you is that nearly all of what I learned about iodine in medical school was wrong.   

The thyroid gland requires an adequate intake of iodine in order to ensure optimal functioning.    All of the thyroid hormones require iodine.  But, iodine is required by much more than just the thyroid gland.  Every cell in the body requires and utilizes iodine.  All the glandular tissue, including the ovaries, uterus, prostate, and the breasts, need adequate amounts of iodine to optimally function.  Even the white blood cells utilize iodine to function normally.

My clinical experience has clearly shown that it is impossible to reach your optimal health if you are iodine deficient.   I believe iodine levels need to be investigated by anyone suffering from a chronic illness.  

Crusador:  Why are iodine levels so low?

Over the last 30 years, iodine levels have fallen over 50% in the U.S.  These numbers come from the U.S. government.  Iodine levels have fallen due to a number of factors.  The main reason the levels have declined is that people are avoiding iodized salt.  The mainstream media, governmental agencies and most conventional medical organizations have convinced us that salt is bad for us.  I would agree that refined salt should be avoided by all.  It is a toxic, devitalized substance.  But, unrefined salt, with its full complement of minerals can enhance the diet of everyone.  However, unrefined salt has little iodine in it and you may have to supplement with iodine if you use it.

The next reason iodine levels have fallen is because people and doctors are afraid of iodine.  Most believe the myths that iodine must be avoided or you will cause a thyroid problem.  However, as iodine levels have fallen over the last 30 years, what has happened to all the thyroid illnesses?  Have they gone down?  No.  All of the thyroid illnesses are increasing, including hypothyroidism, Hashimoto’s disease, and Graves’ disease, as well as thyroid cancer. As I describe in my book, these illnesses are caused, in part, from iodine deficiency and iodine needs to be the treatment-of-choice.

Crusador:  Why hasn’t the medical community recognized that iodine deficiency is a major problem?

This goes back to all of our training in medical schools.  If you repeat a falsehood over and over, eventually most people believe it must be true.  When I started looking at the medical research about iodine, I realized nearly all of the negative things written about iodine just weren’t true.    When I started checking my patients for iodine deficiency I was stunned; over 95 % have tested low (with many significantly low).  Doctors say iodine deficiency is a thing of the past.  I say, how many people have they tested for iodine deficiency?  It can’t be many.  I have spoken all over the country and outside of the country about this and heard other holistic doctors finding similar results as I have.  

Crusador:  Where is iodine found in the body?

Iodine is found in every cell of the body. It is concentrated in the glandular tissue which includes the thyroid, ovaries, uterus, breasts, and probably the prostate.  Guess which glandular tissues we are having all our problems with?  I just listed them.  We are having epidemic problems with the thyroid, ovaries, uterus, breasts and the prostate gland.  All of these tissues require and utilize iodine for proper functioning.

Crusador:  Tell us about the different forms of iodine available and which version we need?

There are two major kinds of iodine; iodine and iodide.  Different tissue in the body utilize different kinds of iodine.  The thyroid gland utilizes iodide and the breasts prefer iodine.  My clinical experience has clearly shown that if you want the best whole body response to iodine, you should use a product that is a combination of iodine and iodide.

Crusador:   What are some of the symptoms to look for that may indicate iodine deficiency?

The most common symptoms of iodine deficiency include fatigue, a feeling of coldness, weight gain, muscle aches and pains, hair loss, edema, constipation and brain fog.  Most of these symptoms are found in patients with thyroid disorders.

Crusador:  How common are thyroid problems?

Estimates are that from 10-50% of the population may be suffering from thyroid problems.  I feel the vast majority of these patients are probably suffering from iodine deficiency and if you correct the iodine deficiency you may cure, or at least significantly improve, the thyroid problem.

Crusador:  What’s the relationship between breast cancer and hypothyroidism?

The relationship between breast cancer and hypothyroidism has been written about for over 100 years.   There are many studies that point out that hypothyroidism predisposes one to develop breast cancer. However, there are other studies that show that the treatment of hypothyroidism increases the risk of breast cancer. How can that be? My research has clearly shown that it is iodine deficiency that relates the two observations.  In an iodine deficient state, the thyroid gland will not have enough iodine to produce thyroid hormone, which can cause hypothyroidism.  However, the treatment of hypothyroidism with thyroid hormone, without correcting an underlying iodine deficiency problem, can increase the body’s metabolic needs for iodine.  This can actually make an iodine deficient problem worse.   In other words, the underlying cause of many cases of hypothyroidism is actually iodine deficiency.  

Crusador:  Are there items in our environment that adversely affect iodine in our body?

Absolutely.  The two most common items we are exposed to that can deplete iodine from our bodies are fluoride and bromide.  Both are from the same chemical family as iodine is.  We all know where we get fluoride from (the water supply) and toothpaste.  Bromide is more insidious.  We are exposed to massive amounts of bromide in our food supply—from refined flour products such as breads, pasta, and cereals.

Furthermore, there are many soft drinks that contain bromide such as some Mountain Dew and AMP energy drink.  Bromide is also used as a fire retardant in furniture, automobiles, carpet, draperies, mattresses and electronic equipment such as computers.    My testing has shown that every single patient that I have tested for bromine toxicity has exhibited some degree of bromine toxicity.  Generally, those with more serious illnesses have higher bromide levels as compared to those without a serious medical illness.

We need to avoid fluoride and bromide in our diet and our environment.  Unfortunately, in our toxic, Western world, it is nearly impossible to avoid being exposed to significant amounts of bromine.  I describe this in more detail in my book.

Crusador:  Can you elaborate on the clinical success you’ve had in removing heavy metals by supplementing iodine with your patients?

Iodine has been shown to be a detoxifying agent for bromine, fluoride as well as mercury, aluminum, arsenic and cadmium.  It is a powerful detoxifying agent for a variety of substances.

Crusador:  How do you measure iodine levels?

The most common way to measure iodine levels is a urinary iodine test.

Crusador:  Why has iodine been removed from most salt?

Many chefs do not like the consistency of iodized salt and they prefer the use of non-iodized salt.  Furthermore, we are back to the myths of iodine; most people feel it is healthier to limit the iodine intake and use non-iodized salt.

Crusador:  What do you think about the iodine that is added to salt and is this sufficient enough to meet the body’s iodine needs?

There is only one form of iodine added to salt; iodide.  There is not the second form (iodine) that I mentioned previously.  Research has shown that only 10% of iodine added to salt is bioavailable.    Iodized salt is a lousy source of iodine and salt for the body.  I say use a product that contains both forms of iodine, iodine and iodide, and use unrefined salt.

Crusador:  What is the best way to get iodine back in the body?

 Iodine is not found in many food sources. It is found in sea vegetables such as sea weed and fish.  Little iodine is found in other food products.  Therefore, if you don’t ingest a large amount of sea vegetables or ocean fish, it is best to supplement with iodine.   I recommend using either Lugol’s iodine or Iodoral (which is the tableted form of iodine).  Both of these substances contain iodine and iodide.  Lugol’s iodine has been used for nearly 200 years in our country.

Crusador:  Do children need iodine and if so, what do you recommend for supplementation?

Of course children need iodine.  I supplement children with the same form of iodine that I use for adults.  Because their bodies are smaller, they may need lesser amounts of iodine.

Crusador:  Are there side effects with iodine supplementation?

There can be side effects with anything, iodine included.  If you have a hyper functioning thyroid nodule, there is a chance that iodine can cause hyperthyroid symptoms.  I have seen this rarely occur.   Iodine can also cause a detox reaction as I previously stated.  Therefore, people can get detox symptoms which can include headaches, and acne.  Those symptoms are rare if iodine is used appropriately and used as part of a holistic treatment regimen.

Crusador:  Our company has done a lot of work with Christopher Barr regarding the importance of selenium. What is the relationship between selenium and iodine?

Selenium, like iodine is concentrated in the thyroid gland.  We need adequate amounts of selenium to help the thyroid gland utilize iodine.   If selenium levels are inadequate, the thyroid gland cannot utilize iodine correctly.  

Crusador:  What types of successes have you seen with your patients who follow your advice on iodine supplementation?

I have yet to see another nutritional supplement perform as well as iodine.  It is the most important nutritional item that we use in our practice.

Anyone with thyroid, ovarian, prostate, uterine, or breast problems should have their iodine levels checked.  Iodine deficiency in these tissues can first occur as an enlargement or swelling.  Next, you can get cysts and nodules.  Then comes fibrosis. Finally, cancer can develop.  All of these changes can be related to iodine deficiency.

Crusador:  Is the supplemental iodine something people should take every day for the rest of their life?

In our toxic world, the answer is unequivocally yes.  If you stop ingesting iodine, your body will become iodine deficient.  We need a daily amount of iodine coming in to prevent that.


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