Hashimoto's thyroiditis: It's about balance

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Dear Pharmacist: I have Hashimoto's thyroiditis. Can I take thyroid supplements that contain iodine? — K.S., Seattle

Dear K.S.: Hashimoto's is an autoimmune condition that affects the thyroid gland, causing clinical symptoms of hypothyroidism. I know there's controversy regarding iodine supplementation. I am aware that a sudden increase in iodine can cause a bad reaction, but I don't think Hashimoto's sufferers should avoid iodine altogether. Iodine levels have fallen more than 50 percent in the past 40 years. During that same timeframe, Hashimoto's has increased at epidemic rates. Common sense will tell you iodine is not the cause for this rise in Hashimoto's.

This next statement is huge: Hashimoto's disease is far more affected by your selenium status, than iodine. If you take iodine in the presence of selenium deficiency, it's bad news (and the same can be said for excessive selenium). That's the key: Selenium deficiency causes an intolerance of iodine, especially high dose iodine. When I hear of a Hashimoto's sufferer having a bad experience with iodine, all that says to me is that they were selenium deficient, or they took a bad form of iodine, or too high of a dose.

You can't give iodine to a selenium-deficient person. You have to "prime the pump" by giving selenium beforehand, or right along with it. The opposite is true, too. Giving selenium to Hashimoto's patients without some iodine will cause huge problems. Like everything else in life, it is about balance.

I don't recommend high dose iodine (6 milligrams or more) unless your overnight urinalysis proves you are deficient. You only need a few milligrams or less. But to avoid it at all costs makes me worry about your reproductive organs.

You see, natural iodine supports breast health, as well as prostate, testicular, endometrial, ovarian and cervical health. It's extremely protective.

Drug mugging is huge in the Hashimoto's community. May folks take fluorinated drugs, causing more depletions of iodine because fluorine is a drug mugger of iodine. Here are a few: Flurazepam (Dalmane), atorvastatin (Lipitor), celecoxib (Celebrex), levofloxacin (Levaquin) and lansoprazole (Prevacid).

I'm not bent on high dose iodine, but low doses may be necessary to getting well, and it needs to be in combination with selenium. Generally speaking, I disagree with supplements that make more thyroid hormone. Most of you cannot even use what you have! I think we need to focus on two other more important things: getting thyroid hormone activated to T3, and getting the T3 into the cell. Only then do you see symptoms clear up, such as cold sensitivity, hair loss, fatigue and slow metabolism.

This is not intended to treat, cure or diagnose your condition. Go to DearPharmacist.com.

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