Both iodine deficiency and high iodine levels can trigger thyroid inflammation and lead to Hashimoto’s disease. If you are subscribed to the Nutritional guide for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism you may already know that excess of iodine is the best established environmental factor which can cause autoimmune thyroiditis which is an inflammation of the thyroid gland.
In the following guest article Dr. A. Haskell describes how low iodine levels can lead to Hashimoto’s and what 6 most important steps are necessary for reducing thyroid inflammation and taking control over this autoimmune condition.
Hashimoto’s and Inflammation of the Thyroid
Everyone I’ve ever consulted with who has Hashimoto’s has loads of questions about their disease. They’ve tried to locate information, they truly desire to take more control of their health and to become educated. They are frustrated with the single-minded approach of their physician which is simply handing over a thyroid hormone prescription.
To understand Hashimoto’s you have to return to the time before the white cells of the immune system got activated. This was the first stage of thyroid inflammation, one step prior to Hashimoto’s. Hashimoto’s is referred to as Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis because this condition is one of thyroid inflammation.
The question that must be answered then is, “What caused the thyroid inflammation in the first place?” If we can find the answer then we can reverse the condition of Hashimotos.
How thyroid hormones are produced by thyroid cells is somewhat like the assembly line of General Motors. One step is followed by another in a sequence. There is one part in the assembly that, if it fails will create thyroid inflammation.
Within thyroid cells a trace mineral known as iodine is attached to a protein to make thyroid hormones. If iodine is missing then the assembly line slows down and the production of thyroid hormones declines. But iodine cannot be absorbed into thyroid cells. Thyroid cells absorb iodide, not iodine. The only difference between iodine and iodide is a single electron but still it is different enough so that iodide cannot be used to make thyroid hormones.
So our thyroid cells absorb iodide which must be changed into iodine. How do thyroid cells do this? Thyroid cells have the ability to produce a chemical that acts as a catalyst to turn iodide into iodine which can then be used to make thyroid hormones.
This catalyst is made from water along with an extra oxygen atom and is called hydrogen peroxide. This step of changing iodide into iodine is a little difficult to imagine but hydrogen peroxide simply takes away an electron from the iodide which forms iodine. Simple yet elegant.
So let’s step back for a moment. What triggers thyroid cells to make hydrogen peroxide? It’s the hormone TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone. So when there’s a lot of TSH this stimulates thyroid cells to make a lot of hydrogen peroxide. And when would TSH be elevated? TSH is high only when thyroid hormones in the blood stream are diminished.
So the crux or cause of thyroid inflammation is low thyroid hormone production which leads to an increase in TSH which stimulates the production of hydrogen peroxide within thyroid cells. So what causes a decline in the production of thyroid hormones?
There are a number of reasons but the primary one is a deficiency of iodide. Obviously if there is a lack of iodide there will be a lack of iodine, and thyroid hormone production will decline. And with this decreased production, TSH will go up leading to increased production of hydrogen peroxide inside the cells of the thyroid.
Even though there may be plenty of hydrogen peroxide, if there’s not enough iodide to form iodine, thyroid hormone production will remain low and TSH will remain high.
Why does elevated hydrogen peroxide inside thyroid cells cause problems? Hydrogen peroxide is an irritant leading to thyroid inflammation and, in general, when tissues are inflamed their life span is shortened.
Eventually, when levels of hydrogen peroxide have been increased over a period of time, maybe many years and even decades, these thyroid cells split apart and release the enzyme Thyroperoxidase and the protein Thyroglobulin. This triggers our immune system and we develop antibodies that are specific to this enzyme and protein. Now a person has gone from simple inflammation of the thyroid to this auto-immune condition of Hashimoto’s.
You might be thinking that the remedy is to use iodide but it is not. Quite the contrary since iodide stimulates TSH production, something we need to avoid since this will also increase hydrogen peroxide production within thyroid cells.
The Danger of Iodine and Iodine
Here’s a story from before I knew better than to use high doses of iodine and iodide. A 53 year old woman had symptoms of Hypothyroidism. She had a TSH of 3.65 (slightly high) and a T4 thyroid hormone level of 6.5 (very much on the low side of the lab’s normal reference range). So I put her on a high dose of iodine and iodide, about 12 mg of each. We repeated her labs after six months to find a TSH of 107. I was shocked to say the least.
For this reason, and because it is vital to get TSH below 1.0 for people with Hashimotos, I avoid using iodine and iodide completely in the first phase of treatment which is to lower thyroid inflammation.
As you can see, a deficiency of iodide is the primary cause of thyroid inflammation. Yet once this inflammation has progressed, causing thyroid cell destruction, the release of Thyroglobulin and Thyroperoxidase and the activation of antibodies, iodide and iodine must be avoided.
6 Steps to Reducing Thyroid Inflammation
Here are the steps in the first phase of reducing thyroid inflammation:
- Avoid supplements with iodine and iodide.
- Reduce TSH by providing thyroid hormones. This is done primarily through a thyroid prescription. There is no other way of increasing thyroid hormone levels in order to reduce TSH to at least 1.0.
- Provide selenium in the methionine form called selenomethionine which has proven to reduce thyroid inflammation.
- Improve glutathione levels to also quench thyroid inflammation. Selenium helps to improve glutathione levels. Glutathione can also be applied topically over the thyroid using pharmaceutical grade DMSO.
- Improve the ecology of the gut. Any gut inflammation for some reason parallels thyroid inflammation. Maybe one reason for this is that both the intestines and the thyroid have the same embryonic origin, the endoderm.
- And just like the drying out of the skin with dermatitis a high quality oil is very helpful. I prefer the oils of hazelnut, sesame and apricot which are found in a great product from Biotics Research called Mixed EFAs.
Dr. Alexander Haskell is a licensed practicing physician in Salt Lake City, Utah, specializing in Hashimoto’s and other thyroid conditions as well as adrenal issues. He is a graduate of The National College of Natural Medicine and has been in practice for 27 years. His recent publication, Hope For Hashimoto’s, reviews the last 50 years of published medical journals from around the world, and explains the origin of Hashimoto’s and proven effective ways to reduce thyroid inflammation and thyroid antibodies.
P.S. In the following video Dr. Alexander Haskell talks how he effectively reduces inflammation of the thyroid gland in his patients and how to choose right supplements
Supplements that reduce inflammation in Hashinoto’s disease
Seleno-Methionine 200 mcg by Douglas Labs.
Glutathione Plus Cream by IP Formulas, 2 oz. Highly bio-available glutathione cream which contains 5mg/pump and 120 pumps per container.
Premium Ultra-Effective Liposomal Glutathione by Lipoceutical.
PB 8 Pro-Biotic Acidophilus by Nutrition Now, 120 Caps, 14 billion good bacteria
Mixed EFAs oil by Biotics, 8 oz. One tablespoon (14 ml) contains on average: 1,282 mg of Alpha Linolenic Acid (ALA) rich in omega-3 and 5,191 mg of linoleic acid rich in omega-6 from Walnut, Hazelnut, Sesame and Apricot Kernel Oils (cold pressed).
Optimal EFAs oil Caps by Biotics, 120 Caps a balanced mix which contains an optimal ratio of the highest quality fish, flaxseed and borage oils and provides omega-3, 6, and 9 essential fatty acids.
Check for other nutrients necessary for patients with Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism listed in the Supplements section.
P.S. If you would like to know more about nutritional approach in treatment of Hashimoto’s disease please subscribe to the FREE Nutritional Guide for Hashimoto’s and hypothyroidism and receive thyroid blog updates.
Hope for Hashimoto’s by Dr. A. Haskell, CreateSpace, 2011