By David Brownstein, MD
Thyroid disease is increasing at epidemic rates. There are estimates that at least 10% of Americans are suffering from an undiagnosed, abnormal thyroid
condition. However, that number is only accurate when looking at common thyroid function laboratory tests.
My experience clearly shows the number of people who are suffering from thyroid problems is much greater than 10%. I would estimate that 40% of Americans are suffering from an undiagnosed, abnormal thyroid condition
. I arrived at this number after seeing thousands of patients over the last 20 years and evaluating them for thyroid function.
There is no question that we are facing an epidemic of thyroid disorders including hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroid disease (Graves’ and Hashimoto’s disease), and thyroid cancer. Could there be a common link between these thyroid disorders? My clinical and research experience says “yes”.
I believe there are two common factors
causing this rapid rise in thyroid problems. Iodine deficiency
is the first issue that is related to the epidemic rise in thyroid disorders. Iodine is a trace element that is essential for life; we cannot live without it.
Iodine must be obtained from our diet since we cannot manufacture it in our bodies. Unfortunately, dietary sources of iodine have been declining over the last 30 years. The United States National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) reported that iodine levels have fallen more than 50%
in the last 30 years. During this time, we have witnessed the epidemic increase in thyroid disorders that I mentioned above. During this same time period, we have experienced an epidemic of cancer and disorders of the breast, ovaries, uterus, and prostate. All of these conditions can be caused by iodine deficiency.
Iodine concentrates in the glandular tissue. The thyroid gland, as well as the breast, ovaries, uterus, and prostate are all part of the glandular tissue of the body. The thyroid gland depends on adequate iodine to make thyroid hormone. When there is insufficient iodine, it causes problems with the architecture of the thyroid. Furthermore, iodine deficiency leads to a disruption in thyroid hormone production.
Iodine deficiency can lead to hypothyroidism, autoimmune thyroid disorders, and thyroid cancer
. It is no wonder that all of these conditions have been increasing over the last 30 years as iodine levels have been falling
There are some who feel that iodine causes or worsens autoimmune thyroid disorders. That has not been my clinical experience. If iodine were the causative agent for autoimmune thyroid disorders then why have autoimmune thyroid disorders increased at epidemic rates just as iodine levels have been falling?
I have found that the use of iodine, in conjunction with a holistic treatment plan, is very effective for treating autoimmune thyroid disorders. What do I mean by a holistic treatment plan? I believe the underlying cause of autoimmune thyroid disorders is due to an oxidative problem in the thyroid gland, which
occurs when there is not enough iodine in the thyroid gland. So, how do you treat this oxidative issue?
Antioxidants have been very effective at managing this problem. Iodine is one of the most powerful antioxidants known
. I have found that most patients require 25-50mg/day of a combination of iodine and iodide. Along with iodine, vitamin C and selenium
are important antioxidants that also help to reverse autoimmune thyroid disease. Finally, adding in vitamin B2
(300mg/day) and B3
(500mg/day) along with magnesium
(200mg/day) is a must. This treatment regimen has proven effective for many patients suffering from both autoimmune thyroid disorders and hypothyroidism.
Improving the diet is also essential to optimal thyroid function. Furthermore, eating a healthy diet
is essential to helping the body overcome thyroid disease. Bromine, commonly found in soda (brominated vegetable oil) and bakery products (brominated flour) is a halogen that can competitively inhibit iodine in the body. In other words, bromine can cause the body to release iodine
. In testing over 600 patients, I have found high bromine levels in every one of them.
Bromine is also found in many consumer products such as computers, clothing, and furniture
. Over the last 50 years, as our exposure to bromine has increased, it has caused our bodies to become more iodine deficient. In other words, the continual exposure to environmental and food sources of bromine has increase the body’s need for iodine
The last major item that I have found which helps my patients overcome a thyroid disorder is to remove gluten from the diet
. Gluten is a protein found in grains such as wheat, rye, and barley. Severe gluten insensitivity is known as celiac disease. However, there are many more patients who suffer from gluten intolerance.
Unfortunately, conventional medical doctors generally do not recognize gluten intolerance as a problem. They could not be more wrong.
Researchers have found a significant number of patients with thyroid disorders (especially autoimmune thyroid disease) also have celiac disease. Studies have shown that people with autoimmune thyroid disease had a 1,300% increase in celiac disease
compared to individuals without autoimmune thyroid disorders.
Other studies have shown improvement in thyroid function — both with hypothyroidism and autoimmune thyroid disorders — when a gluten-free diet is followed.
My daughter Hailey
is a perfect example. I diagnosed her with Hashimoto’s disease five years ago. She went on a gluten-free diet shortly thereafter. Over the next four years, her thyroid antibody titers gradually declined to normal levels. Now, she no longer tests positive for Hashimoto’s disease
. I have many case studies similar to Hailey’s in my practice.
Having a healthy thyroid gland is important in order to help you achieve your optimal health. Eating a healthy diet, gluten- and bromine-free, correcting iodine deficiency, and taking the right supplements can make the difference between feeling ill and enjoying optimal health. You don’t have to suffer with thyroid problems
; you can use the holistic principles I have outlined here to overcome a thyroid disorder.
Dr. David Brownstein is a Board-Certified family physician and is one of the foremost practitioners of holistic medicine. He is the Medical Director of the Center for Holistic Medicine in West Bloomfield, Michigan and was a guest speaker at Hallelujah Acres’ 2012 Health Minister Reunion. He has written 11 books, two specifically on the topic of thyroid health: “Overcoming Thyroid Disorders” and “Iodine: Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It”, the second of which is available from Hallelujah Acres.
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