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In this episode, Dr. Alan Christianson is back to talk about his new book, The Thyroid Reset Diet. He busts some medical myths about halogens and thyroid diseases. He also shares that it’s not about consuming more or less iodine, but it’s more about how much we need and how much we can tolerate.
Hello, true health seeker, and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. Today we have back on the show Dr. Alan Christianson who was in episode 307 and in episode 324. I highly recommend you go back and check out those episodes. You can learn more about him, his story, and the work that he does as a Naturopathic endocrinologist.
I had him on the show previously talking about thyroid, and that was before he had published his book, which we’re discussing today, The Thyroid Reset Diet. He goes into so much more detail in this episode so I’m really excited. And we also had him on the show in episode 307 talking about The Metabolism Reset Diet.
Since his expertise lies in both holistic medicine and in endocrinology, I think it’s fascinating to learn from him. He really does love to bring in the science, bring in the studies, and the proof, the evidence, and the research to dispel the myths. There are so many myths when it comes to medicine, right? There’s so much dogma and so many beliefs that are not associated with actual science, are not grounded in science. So he likes to dispel that, and instead of following assumptions, beliefs, or hypotheses, he sticks with what is true, what’s proven, and then uses holistic medicine as much as possible to support your body’s ability to heal itself so that you can get so healthy you don’t need to be on medication anymore.
I just want that for you so badly. I want everyone to be able to get so healthy that they can reduce their meds and even get to the point where they can safely and healthily get off of medication because they no longer need it. Of course, there’s always the exception to the rule like a type 1 diabetic, but I have even seen type 1 and type 1 diabetics significantly reduce their amount of insulin needed, which is so exciting because they were able to optimize their body’s ability to use insulin in a healthy way instead of having developed insulin resistance. So, with that, there’s so much you’re going to learn from Dr. Alan Christianson today.
And there’s one thing I wanted to touch on. Since this week, I’m really focusing on how supportive using specific infrared therapy is for your health. I used it to detoxify heavy metals, it had such a powerful impact on my life. But there’s actually a lot of evidence to show that if you have thyroid problems, using regular sauna therapy, what that looks like is spending about 20 to 30 minutes every day or every other day in a sauna and specifically the Sunlighten Sauna because they are extremely low toxic.
Most saunas out there, a lot of toxicity, unfortunately. They’re extremely low EMF, which means that even though there are electronics in them, they’re not emitting an electromagnetic field that is dangerous to you. And the Sunlighten Sauna uses the full spectrum, it’s like sunlight. It uses the full spectrum of mid, near, and far.
And the reason why that is better than any other sauna, and I’ve had entire interviews on this. You can search Sunlighten or search sauna when you go to learntruehealth.com. What’s really interesting about the near and the mid-infrared is that it speeds up wound healing, it decreases chronic pain very quickly, and it decreases inflammation. So someone can come into a sauna with pain and walk out with significantly less pain, sometimes it helps pain go away completely depending on the cause of the pain, and decreases inflammation.
Not only does it help with detoxification, which I’ve talked about before, weight loss, and improvement in metabolism, but it also improves collagen production. So there’s that vein inside of us. We’re like, I’d like to avoid wrinkles or I’d like to have firmer skin, have more tone, have healthier-looking skin, and just healthier skin in general, and healthier tissue. That is something that is achieved with sauna therapy because the near and mid-infrared spectrum helps to improve skin health. And so, some women and some men use their sauna, the Sunlighten System specifically, for vanity sake, and why not? But really, my focus has always been on the health aspect.
And so what we’re getting is we’re seeing that through improving the metabolism, decreasing inflammation, improving cardiovascular function, and improving body temperature, you are also supporting the thyroid function. There are studies out there that show it, which is really exciting.
The general benefits of infrared sauna—relaxation, stress relief, which is great, in and of itself, especially if you’re combating a health issue like thyroid problems. Oftentimes, those with stress and especially medical stress, will go to food like sugar, alcohol, or cigarettes as a form of stress relief. The unfortunate part of that is that’s obviously hurting the body. Where we could use sauna therapy every day to improve stress levels because you can actually decrease stress levels in the body by using sauna therapy.
Detoxification, cellular health, and wound healing is improved. Cardiovascular function is improved. Blood pressure is regulated, so if you have high blood pressure or low-pressure blood pressure it actually helps to balance it. Anti-aging and the cleansing of the skin, weight loss, which we already talked about. You burn about 500 calories per sauna session. Circulation improves greatly, and then the pain relief, which we talked about. But there’s even more, there’s so much, and it’s great.
If you want to just internet search thyroid health and sauna therapy or infrared sauna and thyroid health, you’ll see lots of articles, lots of studies. It’s fun to look at. There’s even a study where it increased the thyroid-stimulating hormone. So if you know you have low thyroid-stimulating hormone, it was for a specific cohort of people that had low thyroid-stimulating hormone. So just very interesting how we can utilize nutrition—which we’re going to talk about today—and we can utilize lifestyle changes such as using the Sunlighten Sauna System in order to support overall health. So the whole body, holistic health, emotional health, as well as physical health, and also thyroid health.
Now, Sunlighten does offer my listeners a great discount, so if you do decide to call them, check them out, and ask them questions because they have systems that are big enough for two or three people, and then they have the personal size ones—much, much smaller, especially if you live in a very small space like I do now, then you would be interested in their Solo System. They even have a small sauna that is a wooden sauna, but it’s kind of like a TARDIS if you know about Doctor Who. It actually fits just into the corner of a room, so it doesn’t take up that much space. Two people can fit in it, or one very comfortably can fit in it. But that used to be in the second bedroom of our house. It would just fit into the corner, kind of the size of two small closets or one large closet basically.
They have many different sizes to fit your needs. And what I do love about their company is they’re so health-focused. Their entire purpose is to support your body’s ability to heal itself, be as healthy, and feel as good as possible. I can’t tell you how amazing I feel when I come out of a Sunlighten Sauna. I absolutely love it. I kind of became addicted to it. I’d rather be addicted to my sauna than addicted to drugs or alcohol for stress relief. So, as addictions go, it’s pretty great when you become addicted to kale and sauna therapy.
Fantastic. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for supporting the show by sharing it with those you care about. If you do decide to get a Sunlighten, you know you will get a great discount. I did interview the founder, Connie Zack. You can listen to that episode, and she promised that she would always give a fantastic discount to all the listeners, so make sure you mention Learn True Health with Ashley James when you call Sunlighten. You can just Google them and give them a call, they’re really great there. They’ll answer all your questions.
Right now I know they’re having a special going on in the first part of August or maybe all of August, I’m not sure. But just give them a call and ask the specialist. It’s something like free shipping and a percentage off or a discount off of their models. Just give them a call and let them know Ashley James sent you and that you get that special discount.
And then if you have any more questions, a lot of our listeners are in the Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group, and they also have gotten a Sunlighten Sauna. They’ve shared their experiences so you can start a conversation there. We can all talk about our experiences with the Sunlighten Sauna.
Excellent. Enjoy today’s interview. Please come join the Facebook group, the Learn True Health Facebook group. And please talk about this episode if you have questions or comments, want to talk about what you learned, or maybe something that came up for you that you want to discuss with other listeners and myself, I would absolutely love that. Just search Learn True Health on Facebook or go to learntruehealth.com/group. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day and enjoy the show.
[00:09:52] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 465. I am so excited for today’s guests. We have back on the show Dr. Alan Christianson. You can go to drchristianson.com to check out his amazing website. Back when we had you on the show in episode 324, you were sharing with us The Metabolism Reset Diet, which was pretty mind-blowing and you dropped these little nuggets which kind of blew my mind.
One of them was about how most people actually are consuming too much iodine instead of too little, which I just did an interview with a doctor who swears we all need to be taking copious amounts of iodine. So this is going to be one of those things wherein the journey to our health, in our own personal health, we will come across contradictions.
Atkins versus plant-based, right? That’s just one of those big ones. Should I eat more meat or no meat? Should I go all meat or no meat? Should I eat more fat or no fat? There are some people who swear by keto and they’re like, oh, I feel amazing, and some people eat zero fat and they eat a whole food plant-based diet with no added fat and they feel amazing. How is it that complete opposites both can lead to health for certain people?
Well, some doctors swear by iodine and say that no one’s getting enough and we need more, and here you are with an amazing book, The Thyroid Reset Diet. One of the things that just blew my mind was that you share and you back it up with a lot of evidence that we are actually getting too much, which I find really interesting. Now, you’ve also written a book The Adrenal Reset Diet. I’m fascinated about that topic. I’d love to have you on the show again at some point to go over that because so many people suffer from adrenal fatigue, whether they know it or not, and reach for more and more caffeine, sugar, and stimulants to cope with adrenal fatigue. So I’d really love to have you back on the show to teach us about that.
But let’s dive into thyroid. Now, for those who’d like to learn more about Dr. Christianson’s background, you can go to episode 324 because we did cover his bio. You’re a holistic doctor, you’re a Naturopathic physician, and you’re very well researched. I really love your book The Thyroid Reset Diet. In fact, I could hardly hold on to it because every time I was reading it—so I would always read when I went on playdates or took my son to the park, and all the moms would see the cover and be like, I have thyroid problems. Then I’d be like, okay, you can borrow this for three days, but then you have to give it back to me on Thursday when I meet you at gymnastics because I haven’t finished reading this book. I kept lending it.
At one point I just would open it up to the graphs and be like okay, it boils down to this look at this graph, look at this graph, see this, and then they’re like, well, how do I eat? And then I’m like, okay, well, you can eat this way. Go to the back of the book and here’s the diet and here’s the questionnaire. So it was a lot of fun sharing your book in the passion, enthusiasm, of all the women. Actually, one man came to me and he does not look like he has any health problems and he’s like, actually I have a really low thyroid. I lent him the book for a week too.
So, everyone thought it was really interesting and several of my friends ended up just buying a copy for themselves. So, this whole concept first of all of too much iodine is radical because we’re all told in the holistic space that we need more iodine. So I definitely want to jump into that and allow you to teach more about how we can reset our thyroid and support our thyroid in going back to healthy levels. So many people out there have thyroid issues it’s becoming just an increasing problem. First of all, you’ve written all these other books. Did you have an aha moment? What had you want to write an entire book on supporting thyroid health?
[00:14:08] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, the research drove me to it. I saw this story clearly represented in the medical literature and no one was talking about it. I’ve known forever that the thyroid needs iodine. I’m an endocrinologist and that stuff that we learned pretty early on. Starting in about 2002, there became a big fad in the natural health space of giving massive amounts of it. Treating thyroid disease, I saw the complications from people who were taking too much and how it was worsening or causing thyroid disease for those that didn’t have it.
So I was well aware of the dangers of excess, but in the last four or five years, there’s been this mounting body about how excess might not be all that much, and how there may be an opportunity to reverse disease by controlling it. So it was really just driven by data that needed to be given a voice.
[00:14:58] Ashley James: And you show pretty clearly that different countries around the world, when they added iodine in the form of adding it to their salt for example and they added iodine into the food supply and how thyroid problems mounted pretty heavily. Well, one thing that’s been explained, and I’m sure you know way more about it than I do, is this idea of halogen poisoning. That fluoride, bromine, chloride has been added to our water and our food for the last 15 years or so.
What is going on? We’re being poisoned with these halogens, to which iodine is one of them. And my understanding is that things like fluoride block iodine. And so, when you looked at this information and saw that people were consuming more iodine and thus having increasing thyroid problems, did you also take into account that other halogens were increasing like countries started to add fluoride to the water, bromine to the flour, chlorine in the water as well. Did that come into account?
[00:16:13] Dr. Alan Christianson: For sure. Let’s back up a few steps too. People do talk about needing more or needing less. More and less in my vocabulary are four-letter words. So if you think it through, more to take into its ultimate extreme is basically infinite because more is more. Whatever you’re consuming today you need more, so you consume an infinite amount, you consume nothing but iodine, it’s silly. And then less is none, taken to its extreme. No matter how much you’re consuming, if you need to consume less, you’ll eventually get to none. Those are words I don’t like to use in terms of nutrients or foods or really much of anything.
There are amounts and we know that the thyroid needs iodine, it’s not the enemy. It’s necessary, but it’s necessary in certain amounts. There are two big considerations. Here’s how much we require, and how much we can tolerate. And now, of course, people are different. What we see is that the requirement differences are quite small. There are not big differences overpopulations in iodine requirements. Past predictable standards like body size, age, gender pregnancy status. So once you know some of those things, you can pretty well peg iodine requirements. Even absorption doesn’t vary too much. But tolerance varies tremendously.
A lot of people can tolerate occasional high doses or persistent moderately high doses with no big consequences. But they’re not the ones who are apt to get thyroid disease. So those who are apt to get it are those who cannot tolerate much extra. And it really comes down to just how iodine works as a nutrient and how it works in the thyroid.
So, big picture, it’s the richest source of free radicals of all known elements in the nutritional profile. There’s no other nutritional element that generates free radicals like iodine. That’s why it’s been used forever as an antiseptic in medicine. It’s highly reactive. Like bleach or hydrogen peroxide, it’s a good antiseptic.
Now, in the thyroid, it’s oxidized to its active state called iodine, normally it’s in the state of iodide, and iodine binds up with a protein and makes the thyroid hormone. This actually goes way back to the earliest forms of single cellular life, iodine was used as a transport mechanism for high-energy molecules.
But the drawback is that if there’s too much of that in the thyroid, it harms things. It’s just from the free radicals. They can’t be managed and it damages the cells. So we’ve got a lot of built-in mechanisms to protect us. The main one is called the Wolff–Chaikoff effect. And basically, the thyroid quits working when it’s given too much iodine. But that can’t go on forever, and it doesn’t work flawlessly. So sometimes, too much still gets in, and that can then add on autoimmunity for those who are prone to it. Should I talk about the halogens, or were there some comments you had on those comments?
[00:19:14] Ashley James: I definitely want to talk about halogens. You brought up the Wolff-Chaikoff effect, which I think for layman’s terms, some people call it a thyroid storm, right? Or is that different?
[00:19:27] Dr. Alan Christianson: No, it’s different. I can expand on that.
[00:19:32] Ashley James: Yeah, I would love that. Just to have a clear understanding. Let’s say I took a bunch of iodine because I thought it was really good for me. It’s too much and then my thyroid can’t absorb that much in order to protect itself from absorbing too much. It would then shut down for a time?
[00:19:56] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, so the protein that forms thyroid hormones is called thyroglobulin. Think about it like a passenger van. This capacity for 13 passengers, right? So there are 13 spots that are available for iodine. But if saturation levels of iodine are too high, it can get in the wrong spot. It can be like passengers can pile on top of each other and that can make just chaos. So rather than allow chaos, the gland just locks the doors. It just stops more from coming in.
This has been well understood since about the ‘50s, and you talk about thyroid storm. So that’s that phenomenon of Graves’ disease or hyperthyroidism. That’s where there’s this vicious cycle of extra thyroid hormone worsening the autoimmunity that releases extra thyroid hormone. And the amounts in circulation can be life-threatening.
So in situations like that, there’s a lot of medicines that are used to slow the thyroid and we can talk about fluoride too. Before we had current medications, fluoride was used for that purpose and very high doses of it. Yes, they can slow the thyroid, but now there are medications that are used more specifically, but they all take six to eight weeks. So if someone’s in a life or death situation where their heart is about to stop from too much thyroid hormone, the only thing that can stop it at the moment is a massive dose of iodine, and that’s via the Wolff-Chaikoff effect. You can also think of it like just blowing a fuse. If there’s too much current in your wires, you blow a fuse in the fuse box so the house won’t burn down.
[00:21:32] Ashley James: Wow. Yes. So the thyroid, does it take about 24 to 48 hours before it starts to back up again because it has to wait for the kidneys to excrete enough iodine for it to be safe to turn back on?
[00:21:48] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, the Wolff-Chaikoff effect, once it’s engaged, there is variation in how it plays out. So, the most typical scenario is about two to three weeks later the thyroid comes back online again. But there are variations. For some people, it doesn’t come back on correctly, and for others, it can lapse into hyperthyroidism. That’s just called iodine-induced hyperthyroidism.
[00:22:10] Ashley James: Could someone out there in one of the countries in which, like for example the United States where iodine is regularly put in salt. Could someone, through their diet alone, accidentally consume enough iodine to have the Wolff-Chaikoff effect occur?
[00:22:32] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. And one more thing that I failed to mention that your question brings up is that I described it as like an on or off. We now understand there’s a little more nuance. It can actually be kind of like a parking brake towards not just totally on or off, but there’s a certain number of clicks. So it can be partially engaged, and yeah, it’s very easy to be above one’s personal tolerance and have that be subtly slowing the thyroid on an ongoing basis.
[00:22:58] Ashley James: This is where it gets interesting because in your book you show that too much iodine can cause almost all the symptoms of too little iodine in the diet.
[00:23:10] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah. And also, just a very high level, a lot of concept—iodine, it’s the most researched nutrient on the planet, bar none. We’ve been studying it for well over 150 years. We understood its role before we knew about the role of vitamin C, and we’ve got more data on it. There are about 30,000 studies relating its function to thyroid disease, and there’s a pretty solid body of knowledge. We’ve also tracked iodine fortification efforts all around the globe. And we’ve seen what levels of iodine intake correlate with the best health thyroid disease, higher or lower. So we’ve got all these data points.
Now, in the late ‘90s Just, just a little time after the internet came on like you were talking about earlier, a gentleman made several hypotheses that he bundled together into a series of articles called the Iodine Project. He hypothesized that we really needed more iodine, not less. He argued that halogen compounds were blocking iodine, and he argued that humans needed 400 to 4000 times what’s been considered as the safe upper limit. These ideas have been passed around verbatim ever since then by many other doctors.
They’re things that if you don’t really understand the ways in which iodine can be counterintuitive like you know more is not more. If you don’t get the nuances of how it works in the body. Those ideas are plausible, and a lot of them are internally consistent. They have a lot of explanations, but there’s a whole pile of ideas that are floating around that are just not in alignment with our body of knowledge from iodine from these last 150 years.
[00:24:56] Ashley James: So it’s a medical myth?
[00:25:00] Dr. Alan Christianson: At best, and it’s also harmful though. There are several papers in PubMed about people who have followed these exact guidelines during pregnancy and giving birth to babies with congenital hypothyroidism. And they’ve named these high-dose iodine products by name. They’ve talked about the exact doses used, and these are things that are still written about in guidelines in functional medicine. So it’s harmful, and I’ve seen scores of people that likely otherwise would not have developed thyroid disease, but it came on days after embarking on some of these protocols.
[00:25:30] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. That’s so scary because too little iodine during conception leads to lower IQ. They show that it’s healthy to have healthy levels of iodine during pregnancy to have a healthy IQ for the baby.
[00:25:53] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, and let’s talk about that. That has happened, and the last time was in rural China in 1991. The time before that was in Papua New Guinea in 1962. Currently, there have been many studies on how much iodine is best for pregnant women, and they do need some, and the requirements are a little higher than they are in the nonpregnant state. But the Cochrane Review did a recent analysis of the effects of iodine supplementation during pregnancy, and they showed that women that do supplement with iodine during pregnancy, even the amount found in prenatals, they’re not less apt to have thyroid disease, they’re not apt to have better health overall. They’re actually more apt to have elevated thyroid antibodies, they’re more apt to have morning sickness, and there’s also no improvement to the baby’s health.
So yeah, in modern populations, we need some, but by and large, people are getting enough. There’s not a benefit to going out of your to add more even during pregnancy.
[00:26:49] Ashley James: And what you’re saying in your book is that many people are getting too much iodine.
[00:26:54] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, not all but many are. And again, the tolerance varies. So, if we went back to, again, not that far back, the early ‘90s, we had 112 nations on the earth that were considered severely iodine deficient. But as of 2014, Thankfully that problem was eradicated. But now, we’ve got 52 nations that are considered at risk for thyroid disease due to iodine excess. So many things that we know about other nutrients just don’t apply to iodine. Like vitamin C, we need it, we can get too little. Optimal amounts are probably higher than the bare-bones amount that offset the deficiency. We’re rarely in danger of getting too much from common sources. Yeah, none of that’s true for iodine. It’s so different. Our tolerance, those who are prone to thyroid disease, their tolerance is just ridiculously narrow.
[00:27:45] Ashley James: So, we talked briefly about the iodine storm, you said that’s Graves’ disease.
[00:27:50] Dr. Alan Christianson: Thyroid storm.
[00:27:51] Ashley James: Right. I want to talk a bit more about iodide versus iodine, but you said iodine is very inflammatory for the body and that it causes free radicals. Is that what you said?
[00:28:06] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, one of the strongest examples of that is if you see old medicine bottles, they had a skull and crossbones on those. One of the more popular means of suicide in the early part of the 1900s was iodine ingestion. So, high enough amounts, it’s fatal. And almost all of what we’re exposed to, to be precise, is in the form of iodide. It’s bound, it’s not in a free radical state. But when the concentrations are high enough, then it does dissociate into iodine.
Now, normally that doesn’t happen in the body with the exception of inside the thyroid follicles. So right there, that’s the job of thyroid peroxidase. It takes iodide and makes it into iodine, but it does it very cautiously, and only in just exacting amounts.
[00:28:52] Ashley James: So iodine is controlled in the body in exacting amounts, but what if someone consumes it in their diet, in the food because it’s added. It’s added to salt and so much salt is in processed food in excess amounts. So we’re getting iodine in processed foods. Is it iodine or iodide?
[00:29:21] Dr. Alan Christianson: It’s iodide.
[00:29:22] Ashley James: Okay. So iodide, which is bound and it’s not considered inflammatory?
[00:29:29] Dr. Alan Christianson: It comes down to quantities. So if iodide is at an excessive level, then it does still end up becoming too much inside the thyroid. So to be really precise, we talk about excessive amounts and then toxicologic amounts. And so the excessive amounts are where there’s too much for the thyroid to function at optimal capacity, and then toxicologic amounts when there’s so much that even outside the thyroid it’s dissociating into iodine, and that’s where you start seeing kidney damage and systemic organ damage from it. That’s not common. That doesn’t really happen from most sources of iodine, with the exception of a few medications or iodine in some contrast media.
[00:30:09] Ashley James: I’m wondering, is it excessive iodide that causes Graves’ disease because iodine is so inflammatory and we know that inflammation of tissue can lead to autoimmune disease?
[00:30:28] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, so there are links between iodine intake and all types of thyroid disease. The links, it’s not as clear of a smoking gun with Graves’ as it is for a causative factor for Hashimoto’s. There is associated data for excess iodine being also a factor for many types of thyroid cancer, but the strongest clear smoking gun link is for Hashimoto’s. In fact, one group of researchers, they concluded that of all the controllable factors that give rise to autoimmune thyroid disease—and they’re referring to Hashimoto’s in this context—they said that iodine is not the only factor, but it’s more relevant than all the other factors combined.
[00:31:06] Ashley James: And so if we’re helping someone to heal from Hashimoto’s and reset their thyroid so that they no longer have Hashimoto’s and they have a healthy thyroid, you have a diet in your book, and it allows people to control the amount of iodine because you said it’s not about the four-letter words more or less. It’s about the balance that that person needs. And so, if someone has Hashimoto’s, how would they know how much they should control in their diet?
[00:31:38] Dr. Alan Christianson: In a perfect world, we would have a simple blood test or some sense of the way of measuring that. And there are scores of iodine tests that exist, and many of them are useful for evaluating a population’s iodine status. But the problem with individuals, there are two problems. One of which is that none of the existing tests that are used for the nutritional status of iodine, none of them have enough intra-subject consistency. What I mean by that is if you did the test more than once you’d get a different answer. So for urine random iodine, if you tested yourself 10 times in a row, you can be within 80% accuracy. If you want to be within 95% accuracy, it takes over 300 tests.
Now, if you do a 24-hour urine test, then you have to do 200 tests to be within 90% accuracy. But the other question is what is the clinical relevance? So, in some of the studies that showed that regulating iodine could reverse thyroid disease, some of them would test people before embarking upon the reduction of iodine. And the question was, were those whose measured iodine levels high or higher, were they the ones most apt to benefit? And what we’ve learned is that the compartment of iodine within the thyroid doesn’t perfectly correlate with measured iodine in the urine or in the blood. And so, in the studies, many people who were not high in iodine still have benefits to thyroid function through iodine regulation.
[00:33:10] Ashley James: That’s fascinating. So what’s in the urine is not really an accurate representation of what’s going on in the thyroid?
[00:33:19] Dr. Alan Christianson: It’s not an accurate representation of what your averages are, and it’s not an accurate representation of what’s going on inside your thyroid.
[00:33:26] Ashley James: Fascinating. Can you explain how the thyroid uses iodine to make T3, T4? These are the things we’ve heard of. We’ve heard of T3, we’ve heard of T4. You mentioned that there’s a protein. But how does our thyroid—if someone doesn’t know, it’s the gland behind the Adam’s apple in the throat, like a butterfly-shaped gland. Now you say in your book that the thyroid is the only place in the body that has receptors for uptaking iodine, which kind of blew my mind because I thought iodine was used by other tissues in the body too.
[00:34:14] Dr. Alan Christianson: If I did word it that way that wouldn’t have been correct wording. So there’s a compound called NIS or the sodium iodide symporter, and that is found in other tissues. We know that it’s relevant to lactating breast tissue. So, iodine needs to be concentrated to be at physiological useful amounts within the thyroid. And so, the Wolff-Chaikoff effect just stops that concentrator. Now, that’s also true for breast milk. So, the amount of ambient iodine in the blood is not enough for the appropriate iodine concentration in human breast milk, and that’s not true for other nutrients. The amount of magnesium in mom’s blood, that’s about the same concentration that it would be in breast milk. But there needs to be a mechanism to concentrate. So there is this concentrator in breast tissue.
Now, when you really get deep into cellular histology, you will find NIS in many other parts of the body, but the thought is, it’s not biologically active, it’s just linked via embryology. We start off as one cell, two cells, a little blastocyst, right? And many cell types have common ancestors. So a lot of cells that go on to become thyroid cells have ancestors they share with other cell types like those that line the gut, those in salivary tissues, those in the prostate, and some of them might actually concentrate iodine for antimicrobial effects. There are theories about that but they’re not definitive. But as far as we know, the biologically active role for iodine is solely for the formation of thyroid hormone or for the presence of that for the baby’s eventual production of thyroid hormone.
[00:35:54] Ashley James: Oh, that’s fascinating. So then there is a link. I keep saying I’m going to ask you a question then I have another question.
[00:36:04] Dr. Alan Christianson: I’m still waiting on the halogens.
[00:36:06] Ashley James: I know. We’re going to get back to that one too. It’s like, I got a notepad here. I’m going to make sure we get all of it done. See, I’m so glad we have 90 minutes with you today because you’re a wealth of knowledge and your books are actually very easy to read. So I definitely recommend listeners get your books because there’s so much science in your books, but the way in which you present it, I found it to be easy to digest. It wasn’t cumbersome to read your book. You are really a great author as well, but I do appreciate the science and you’re not whitewashing the subject. I really like getting down into the nitty-gritty.
I do definitely want to touch on breasts and breast cancer. But let’s go back to my question that I just asked you, which is how does the thyroid use iodine to make thyroid hormone?
[00:37:02] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, here’s the two-minute version of that answer. So basically, we get iodide from our diet, from other sources, it gets in the bloodstream. It’s circulating the bloodstream. So we’ve got this pump that’s looking for iodine and waiting to pull it inside the thyroid. That’s the NIS. So the pump pulls it in. There are little clusters of thyroid cells called follicles, kind of like a circle the wagons thing, and inside the follicles that is where all the magic happens.
So, a few other steps bring iodide into that follicle and then thyroid peroxidase, you may have heard about that. That’s an enzyme that people think about having antibodies for. That’s an enzyme that helps to oxidize iodide into iodine. And when it’s oxidized, it becomes single and ready to mingle. It’s ready to bind up with something. So then you’ve got a protein called thyroglobulin. And this is a long, long complex amino acid chain comprised of tyrosine and other compounds, and it has those 13 spots to hold various iodine atoms. So, the iodine atoms get on there, they make monoiodotyrosine. So one iodine with a tyrosine. And they make diiodotyrosine.
And then this molecule bends so the monos and the dis connect, and the dis and the dis connect. And one and a two connecting makes a three, and that’s T3. And then a two and a two connecting and it makes four, that’s T4. The molecule itself is then pushed out of those follicles and the thyroid pulls off the active hormone and releases those into the bloodstream, per the body’s overall regulation.
[00:38:42] Ashley James: Could someone have an underproduction of thyroid hormone because they’re missing other cofactors like tyrosine?
[00:38:50] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, not really. The reason there is tyrosine is abundant in all dietary sources, and it’s also a non-essential amino acid. So the body can pretty freely convert it out of phenylalanine, which is also readily available. So tyrosine deficiencies have not been documented in humans. There are some very rare genetic tyrosine hydroxylase enzyme genetic defects, but even those don’t impact thyroid function.
[00:39:19] Ashley James: Oh fascinating. So really, at the end of the day, you’re either getting too much or too little iodine for the thyroid?
[00:39:27] Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, other factors can certainly have some relevance, but again, all of the factors we know about combined are less relevant than the ambient iodine exposure.
[00:39:36] Ashley James: And you share this in your book that what we’re seeing is that culturally, we’re not really experiencing iodine deficiency. It’s very uncommon nowadays.
[00:39:53] Dr. Alan Christianson: That’s correct. No nations are considered they are. And I’m not saying it’s not possible. I actually have seen people develop that there if they’re on all raw foods diets and not really using any salt that has appreciable iodine content. That’s rare, but certainly, it can happen. But those who are on a variety of food categories, all foods have some. No foods have none.
[00:40:15] Ashley James: A friend of mine had a baby and he must be in his late 20s or early 30s, so this is close to 30 years ago. And as a small baby, he had a goiter. This is an Alberta in Calgary, and the doctors called in the Canadian version of CPS because they thought the parents had beat the child because the neck looks so odd. They thought that they were abusing the child, oh the poor parents, and they’re so sweet people. And then one of the doctors who is originally from India identified it as goiter and gave the baby appropriate levels of iodine and that went away.
That’s the only case of goiter I have ever heard of in my life to someone that I know, and yet well most of my friends have thyroid problems. So it’s interesting.
[00:41:07] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, the weird thing about all types of thyroid disease is too little or too much iodine can drive them including goiter. In Denmark, the rates of goiter increased after iodine fortification. They found that some other factors can be relevant to goiter that have nothing to do with iodine, but too much can be a driver for it as well.
[00:41:23] Ashley James: Let’s get on the halogen conversation. What’s been proposed—and I’d love for you to do the medical myth-busting here—is that there are these halogens. Fluoride, which is now added to our water so everyone’s getting fluoride, and I really am of the opinion that sodium fluoride is unhealthy for us. There are many reasons why but it’s being added to the water. Finally, some counties are taking it out. Bromine, which is added into flour so people who are eating the standard American diet are getting plenty of that. Chlorine is in the water, chlorine is in your swimming pool. This concept is that fluoride, bromine, and chloride can block iodine receptors and build up toxic levels in breast tissue and other tissues of the body possibly leading to causing breast cancer. I’d love for you to myth bust that concept.
[00:42:23] Dr. Alan Christianson: Sure. Well, so more depth with that story too is also the idea that these things that any sign, if someone ingests a lot of iodine and anything bad happens, this story has a free pass. And the free pass is that that thing that happened wasn’t from too much iodine, it was from iodine pushing out all these nasty halogens and the halogens caused the harm. Within this belief system, that’s one of the exit strategies they have whenever someone seems to be harmed from too much iodine.
As a lot of things, these are not unanswered questions. These are not data points in which we lack knowledge. They’ve been very well studied. Now, the closest kernel of truth to this is that fluoride, like I mentioned, certainly can have hyperthyroid effects. The threshold seems to be somewhere around 5 to 10 milligrams per day, and the further you get above that the more clear it becomes. So, we do have fluoride in the water, and there are times where it’s fortified. There are some pockets of the world where geologically, there’s just a lot of ambient fluoride in the groundwater.
There are a few pockets of China and also rural Tibet in which that’s been the case, and it has been shown that they’d had more hypothyroidism, not lasting. Once they’re really taken away from the high ambient fluoride in the water, they do better. But municipal fluoride has been thoroughly studied as far as its links to thyroid disease. I don’t have data top of mind for all of their concerns about it, but I’m very aware of the studies about its links to thyroid disease.
And in terms of municipal fluoridation added to water supply, it’s not been shown to affect thyroid function in the amounts that are normally used like one part per million or below those thresholds. And that’s fitting what we know about it having a no observable effect limit of somewhere around 5 to 10 milligrams relative to thyroid function. All bad things have that. They have some point at which we cannot detect their effects.
In terms of chlorine, we do have data on how chlorine acts relative to the sodium iodide symporter. It simply has no effects on that. It doesn’t block it, it doesn’t get taken up by it. The symporter is quite specific to iodine, and there’s also been data on chloride exposure and chlorine exposure relative to thyroid function, and there’s just no known link. If someone is exposed to pools that are densely chlorinated and indoors, especially like indoor pools, that can worsen asthmatic states, but that’s the closest thing I found.
Now, bromide is really fascinating. So, there are brominated dough conditioners that are used for commercial baking. Bromide is not added to flour, however, and that’s a little bit different. In the ‘60s, there were questions asked about just that, whether bromide could have some effect upon thyroid function because it’s sharing a column with iodine. It’s a halogen like iodine is. In studies that were done as recently as the last, last decade, humans were given doses of bromide in excess of—it’s actually found in pretty much all foods and varying amounts, and we have some unavoidable exposure to it from natural sources. And so people were supplemented with doses that represented roughly 50 times a range of doses, but the higher ones represented about 50 times the normal ambient exposure. And they were closely tracked for two months for all facets of the thyroid function.
Now, those on the highest doses of bromide had a slight improvement in their T4 output, but there were no other changes anywhere else. And it wasn’t a dose-related response, so it probably wouldn’t be meaningful to say that bromide was helpful. But there was clearly no harm whatsoever to thyroid function, even in all those doses. And a funny thing too that I learned in researching this paper many years ago, bromide is now categorized as an essential element. We know that the body needs it for basement membrane formation in cellular junctions.
[00:46:28] Ashley James: Oh my gosh. I love holistic medicine and I think the biggest frustration for me is how much disinformation there is, but there’s disinformation in every facet of life. Go study theology and you will be absolutely bombarded with contradictions. Go study politics.
[00:46:56] Dr. Alan Christianson: I’ve gone down that same road. I thought I’m just going to throw in the towel. I’m done here. But you’re right, everywhere you look, you just got to do a good look wherever you are.
[00:47:03] Ashley James: Yeah. This is why I also try to focus on mindset when it comes to the idea of holistic health. The reason why I started this podcast five years ago, I was incredibly sick. I share my story in other past episodes. I was incredibly sick for many years. I mean, I never wanted to kill myself because I still find joy in life, but I was miserable. I was suffering. I often just burst into tears from the amount of pain I was in. I really feel like a prisoner of my own body. I really was suffering for so many years, and I’m so grateful that I have my husband who has been my absolute rock and my greatest supporter. We just celebrated our 13th anniversary and he’s phenomenal, such an amazing human being.
So I suffered for so long, and it was actually because of my husband. We found this Naturopath. We found a lecture that he did online and then we started following his work, then we started following one of his mentors’ work, and then he and his mentor became my mentor for 10 years. And I followed this information, cleaned up my diet, took certain supplements, changed parts of my lifestyle, and I no longer have polycystic ovarian syndrome, infertility type 2 diabetes, chronic adrenal fatigue, and chronic monthly infections for which I used to be on antibiotics for constantly. And I also had digestive issues. And all this little stuff I was able to resolve with natural medicine and I became so passionate about it that then I was like I have to share this.
I’ve learned so much from interviewing amazing doctors like yourself, and of course, I feel like I’m on a journey with my listeners. So they’re here having their own issues that they’re suffering with, and I want them to know that they can also heal, even if everyone in their life has told them that they’ll always have it, it’s genetic. I can’t tell you how many doctors told me I’d never have children—I’ve conceived naturally, and told me that I’d always have diabetes—my A1C is 4.7. This idea that doctors tell you you’ll always be sick, I mean, please throw that out the window. Don’t ever limit yourself because there is always a contradiction out there.
The frustrating part about the misinformation, which misinformation is everywhere, not just in the holistic space. The idea of medical myths, they tend to live, we tend to let them have a life of their own. And then if we don’t keep our minds open enough, our mindset needs to be that we don’t grab on to dogma. That we don’t say, well, this diet is the one diet and everyone should be on it. This is not religion, right? Science is never settled, it’s always changing. We’re always learning new things.
So if we can keep our minds open enough and be humble enough to challenge our own belief systems, then we can finally allow to be okay with and hold the paradox of the idea of like the last episode was all about that we need more and more and more iodine, and this episode is like whoa, wait a sec. Let’s look at all the research and see that most people are getting too much. And really, we need to find out what our limit is and what our healthy levels are. And through your book, The Thyroid Reset Diet, we can learn how to adjust our diet to actually create the healthiest levels of iodine for us.
With every interview, we’re learning more, but often interviews will contradict each other because myths are everywhere and we have to be open enough to take in the research and then make our own judgments, and also try it out for yourself. You have used your thyroid reset diet with your patients. I’d love for you to share what you see happen? So when you helped patients eat a healthy diet that limited or controlled the amount of iodine coming into their body, what kind of results did you see?
[00:51:27] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, at the time I was doing a lot of work managing those who were on long-term thyroid medication, and I was seeing more and more people to where they were outgrowing their medicine. It was too much for them and they were getting side effects. So it was a short-term problem, but it was a long-term win. We would keep weaning and adjusting and seeing them need less and less. So that was the main change, and it was a really exciting thing to see happen.
[00:51:53] Ashley James: So through this diet, people have been able to get off of thyroid meds?
[00:51:58] Dr. Alan Christianson: So there’s a pretty big study that was just finished after I completed the manuscript for this book. They took a large group of people, it was about 400, and they gave them very cursory information about avoiding extra iodine like just really, here are some supplements that have it. Here are some foods that are very rich in it, and they then checked the concept of deprescribing. Could they take away their thyroid medications? They were all on third medication.
What they saw is that over 80% of people, it’s actually 84%, who did these most basic things needed less medication. And within that group, 40% needed no medication, and they could retain perfect thyroid function and a symptom-free state without medication. And again, that was really basic one or two steps out of six or seven possible steps.
[00:52:46] Ashley James: I would be so happy if all my listeners, 80% of them could lower their meds and 40% could get off their meds in the next—what did it take? How many months?
[00:52:58] Dr. Alan Christianson: This particular time frame was six months for the study.
[00:53:01] Ashley James: I would love that. I’d love to see all my listeners so healthy that 100% of them didn’t need medication. But realistically, what a win. What a win for all the listeners because I know several women on thyroid meds that are just suffering from the side effects of it. They feel as though it’s a moving target. Oh, my doctor put me on this dose and now I feel miserable. I go back, my doctor does tests, then he puts me on this dose, and then I feel more miserable. It’s like they’re just experimenting on them.
[00:53:36] Dr. Alan Christianson: There’s an untenable belief that thyroid medication levels will stay stable for all people and that they should function as they would if their thyroid was providing those same hormones. And those things we know are just not true.
[00:53:49] Ashley James: That reminds me of a family member who got a pacemaker down in a country in South America. They happened to be traveling there at the time, they didn’t go there for this procedure. They were really miserable for about a year. Their hands and feet were turning blue. They were not looking healthy. We urged them to seek help, but you know with family members, they don’t listen to you, right? They’ll listen to a complete stranger but they won’t listen to you.
One of their caretakers took their blood pressure and took their pulse and said, go to the ER right now, I’m very concerned. What they found out was that in South America, they set pacemakers to 40 beats a minute. Forty beats a minute. Like you mentioned, the way they set a drug, they expect your need for that drug to be constant. Just like they set a pacemaker, your need for heart rate isn’t constant. You walk up a flight of stairs, you want your heart rate to go up to 100 or 120. If your heart rate is always 40, you go up a flight of stairs you’re going to pass out. Your need has increased. Could you explain when someone’s need for thyroid increases? Is it when they’re doing physical activity or when they’re in stress in their life? What happens when we need more thyroid?
[00:55:19] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, our needs for thyroid don’t vary that much and that quickly, but there are other reasons why medications just don’t replace what we have as consistently. Our needs do fluctuate to some extent as the seasons change—hotter or colder ambient temperatures. Also with age, we probably need a bit less. And as our body size changes, we need to balance proportion to our body size.
[00:55:43] Ashley James: So it’s not as severe as the heart rate, but it is fluctuating.
[00:55:52] Dr. Alan Christianson: So there was a big survey done by the American Thyroid Association in 2018. They surveyed over 12,000 people who are active with conventional technologists, and they asked them, how well have your symptoms been managed? And less than 5% consider themselves very satisfied with their symptom management. And in fact, 30% had seen more than six doctors trying to improve their well-being. So yeah, the medications don’t work as well as your own thyroid hormones do. So the more you can make by yourself the better.
[00:56:23] Ashley James: This reminds me of an interview I did at least a year ago, if not more. It was with a man who had a very severe ADHD and when he got on Ritalin—now most people, when they get on Ritalin, are not comfortable with it. When he got on it he said he was the happiest person in the world. For the first time in his life, he could focus. He had extreme ADHD. He didn’t try changing his diet, supplements, or anything. He just went on medication and he said it was a miracle for him.
But then one day, he couldn’t remember his name, he felt as if he had had a stroke. He was very sluggish, he could hardly talk, he had complete amnesia. His wife took him into the ER and what they finally figured out was one of the possible side effects of that medication that he had been on is extreme hypothyroidism, which one of the symptoms is amnesia like the brain is just not functioning. And so he had to get off of the Ritalin, which he was so depressed about because he was actually finally getting a hold of his life. But then, luckily, he was motivated to look holistically, and now he uses supplements and diet to support his brain health and his thyroid health.
But that’s so interesting, this idea that someone could be on a medication that ends up messing with their thyroid. You had mentioned that certain medications have halogens in them. Beyond the fact that we should control our diet to know how much iodine is coming in, are there medications that we should be aware of that can really mess with our thyroid?
[00:58:10] Dr. Alan Christianson: There is a fair number. I do delineate those in the book. Some examples, not the most commonly used, but one of the most severe in its effects is one called amiodarone. And it’s pretty shocking the harm from amiodarone can occur even six or nine months after someone has stopped taking it. It can last in the body for that long. It’s a high concentration of iodine used to regulate the heart rhythm. It can cause blindness, kidney damage, death, thyroid disease, almost everything you can think of. And they’ve even tried to see how much of it is the drug by itself and how much of it is the iodine that’s a problem.
There’s a different version called dronedarone, which is quite similar to the absence of iodine, and it has a completely different, much milder side effect profile. That’s one of the more dramatic culprits, but there are many things. If one’s on prescription medications, it’s good to be aware of possible iodine exposure if they have thyroid disease.
[00:59:08] Ashley James: So there’s been talk of breast cancer being caused by bromine excess, for example, and the use of iodine to detox that from the breast tissue or using iodine as a supplement to support the body in fighting cancer. What are your thoughts or what is the research that you’ve seen in terms of iodine and breast cancer?
[00:59:39] Dr. Alan Christianson: So one thing I’d like to do a quick high-level answer first is that I’d really encourage listeners when they face medical controversies, to evaluate the type of data they’re comparing. A lot of data is hypothesis. Women in Japan have less breast cancer, they consume more iodine, therefore iodine must be helpful. So that’s a hypothesis, and that’s based upon a mechanism. Now the other kind of data is like a real-world outcome. Well, what do we see of women in Japan, how does their iodine intake compare to their breast cancer risk? Or what do we see for breast cancer risk for women when we look at their iodine content?
So when we see outcome data, what actually happens to people in the real world, that always is given more weight than a hypothesis. A hypothesis is plausible and it’s worth looking at more closely, but whenever a hypothesis and an outcome contradict, we ignore the hypothesis because we can make hypotheses about anything we want. That’s like looking at clouds in the sky. We can see patterns. Our minds are very good at that.
So now, to answer your question, that’s how that hypothesis came about was Japanese women. And what we now know is that there’s a spectrum of NIS expression in breast tissue. I mentioned earlier that it’s done for lactation to get some iodine in the breast milk. So lactating breast tissue has a bit of NIS expression. Non-lactating breast tissue, the receptor is present but it’s not active, it’s dormant. So the continuum goes from normal to lactating. Then the next step is fibroadenomatosis. It used to be called fibrocystic breast disease. We now know that’s an overexpression of the sodium iodide symporter. The sodium pulls in more fluid, and there’s fluid retention, there’s pain, there’s engorgement.
The highest expression of NIS shows up in breast cancer. And we know that there’s some correlation between the free radical damage of extra iodine in the tissues and the gene damage that gives rise to cancerous growth. Now, we’ve even seen this in Japanese women.
So when you take Japanese women, and you compare those without breast cancer and those with breast cancer, and you look at their iodine status, it turns out that those with breast cancer are the ones that are exposed to the most iodine. And this has been shown in other cultures as well. Some have even argued that you could use some of the iodine urine tests, they’re not good gauges for the nutritional status of iodine and they’re not good markers of thyroid function, but they may be predictors of breast cancer because it’s been shown in other areas that the more iodine women are excreting in their urine, the more they are at risk for breast cancer.
[01:02:18] Ashley James: Can you explain why? Is it because it’s then showing that they’ve been consuming it? I’m not understanding because if they’re excreting it in their urine then it’s not collecting in the breast.
[01:02:32] Dr. Alan Christianson: There’s some relationship between urinary excretion and what’s present in the breast tissue when that NIS protein is pathologically overexpressed. So it seems that part of the mechanism of some types of breast cancer is that that iodine transporter is overexpressed. It’s pulling in too much iodine, it’s causing free radical damage, and that’s part of the gene changes that can be early along in breast cancer formation.
There’s even been some research as to whether or not iodine can be used to tag radiotherapy. So radioactive iodine is used for thyroid disease, but there’s talk about using that for breast cancer as well because the cancerous breast tissue selectively takes up iodine more so than healthy breast tissue does.
[01:03:15] Ashley James: Oh my. But that wouldn’t help though. I mean, okay, now we know where the cancer is. Would that be feeding or stimulating the cancer to grow?
[01:03:28] Dr. Alan Christianson: That’s the hypothesis. If it were just iodine, but if it were radioactive iodine, then as the cancer takes that up it’s like a trojan—worse.
[01:03:36] Ashley James: Got it. Okay, I’m sorry. I thought you meant radioactive in that we’re using it for an MRI or something. Now I get it. Using it to uptake like they do with insulin and glucose. They’ll inject insulin so that people’s blood sugar drops and then they’ll attach the—
[01:03:58] Dr. Alan Christianson: In this case, radioactive iodine is given for ablating or for destroying unwanted thyroid tissue. So if someone has Graves’ disease and you want to get rid of their thyroid, one method is to give iodine that’s radioactive. And so, a lot of that iodine ends up in the thyroid and that radiation stays localized. I’m not endorsing that as the answer to Graves’ disease, please hear me. So the same process is talked about as being a possible treatment for breast cancer because breast cancer cells also selectively take up iodine.
[01:04:28] Ashley James: You mentioned Graves’ disease and not following the conventional allopathic let’s just burn it out with radiation as a recommended approach. What is your recommended holistic approach to resolving thyroid issues? So we have Graves’ disease, we have Hashimoto’s, but you also talk about in your book hyperthyroid and hypothyroid, both being benefited by the same diet.
[01:05:04] Dr. Alan Christianson: We got good data on that. In one of the more dramatic studies, they took a group of people that were pretty severely hypothyroid. I know you know this, a lot of listeners probably haven’t heard this, but one of the ways we gauge thyroid output is by looking at how much the body is asking the thyroid to work, and that’s the TSH. The higher the TSH is the more the body is asking the thyroid to work. It’s not the only thyroid test that matters. I won’t go into that right now, but proportionately, the further the TSH gets above 2 or 2 1/2, the more the thyroid is slowing. If it’s above 4 1/2, it’s blatantly abnormal.
So in this study, these people had TSH scores that averaged 14.1, they were severely hypothyroid. And they had been pretty steady for about four years in that state, so it wasn’t a recent thing. Many in the group had TSH scores between 100 and 200, so it was a big deal. And there was one sole intervention done. They were not given medication. They were not told to eat a healthy diet or anything else that probably might have been useful as well. They were only counseled to regulate their iodine intake now.
Afterward, they followed up with people to see how well they performed, and a certain number didn’t quite understand the instructions, didn’t comply. We’re people, it happens, we’ll come back to that. But some of them did follow things quite well. And what they saw is that the whole group, for starters, ignoring who did what they’re supposed to and who didn’t. The group as a whole, 78.3% of people were at perfectly normal thyroid function. So TSH average score is under 3 in this context. Within two months, they did nothing else but lower iodine, 70.3%. You know those silly infomercials, but wait, it gets better?
[01:06:58] Ashley James: Yeah.
[01:07:00] Dr. Alan Christianson: But wait, it gets better. The remaining people, the 21.7% if I’m right. The 20-ish% that didn’t get better, so one big chunk of them were the ones that didn’t follow the instructions for whatever reason, no judgment. You got to play to win the lottery, and it’s true for a lot of things. They didn’t play, so we’ll put them aside.
Of the other people who did lower their iodine, there were now two remaining groups, and one group were those whose scores were so insanely high going into it that they were actually improving a lot, but they weren’t yet better. So their scores might have gone from 200 down to 20 or something. So they weren’t normal. They didn’t get in that 78% of those who are totally better, but they were sure heading that way.
And now the final group is those who did do everything just right, but their scores failed to improve at all. That was about 3% of the participants. So, 97% of people, again, some of them didn’t follow along so we don’t know, but of those who did, people got better, they got darn close to it 97% of the time.
[01:08:09] Ashley James: I want to take that 3%, have them work with you and figure out what’s going on. What’s going on? That’d be really interesting.
[01:08:18] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, I’m pretty happy about the 97%
[01:08:20] Ashley James: I’m really happy about the 97%. I mean, ideally that those who get your book have a 97% chance of having a healthy thyroid.
[01:08:31] Dr. Alan Christianson: So those numbers apply to those who are not yet on medication, and the numbers we have for those on medication that were the earlier 84% and 40%. However, those numbers were with very cursory recommendations. I think people could do better with more thorough regulation.
[01:08:47] Ashley James: I’m a health coach. I’m not a Naturopathic physician. I always refer my clients to become patients of good Naturopaths like yourself who are really well researched and in a very caring way help people to balance their diet and supplement intake. But when I work with clients to support them in achieving their health goals, oftentimes they’re on medication because I believe it’s over 70% of the adult population in the United States is on at least one medication, which blows my mind. When you see the world through my eyes and you see what I’ve seen, true health is not having any symptoms. True health is your body being in a beautiful state that you don’t need meds.
There’s always a caveat like someone with type 1 diabetes. My grandmother was one of the first in the world to receive insulin. She was in Toronto, she was dying, she was in the hospital 11 years old or something. She was young and she was one of the first children to receive it, and she lived to be 77 years old, only having amputated a thumb from gangrene. Back then, it was very hard to regulate the body. They had very rudimentary testing for blood sugar, and she showed me how she ate, which is really cool because, to this day, people are finally rediscovering how to eat healthy.
She ate pounds of vegetables and steamed them, and then she would eat the vegetables. She would let the water cool and she’d drink the water because she didn’t want to lose one drop of minerals or nutrients. Anyway, I just watched her and saw how healthy she was in the face of type 1 diabetes.
So, there is always an exception to the rule where we would want someone with type 1 diabetes to be on medication. But for those who are so sick that they get on medication, medication isn’t healing the body. We want to get to the point we’re so healthy we don’t need it for chronic illness. That’s why something like The Thyroid Reset Diet Book is such a good resource because we want to support someone to get off meds.
So when I’m working with a client, let’s say for blood sugar, and I say to them, you’re going to want to go back to your doctor. Go to a doctor, go to a Naturopath, and get tested because if they’re on a bunch of meds like metformin, insulin, and everything, they start eating the way that helps create insulin sensitivity and balances blood sugar. Now all these drugs are going to drive them down too low.
Same with blood pressure. I’ve had clients who stand up and they’re passing out because two weeks into eating a super healthy diet, and now their blood pressure meds are actually pushing them too low. I say you’re going to have to go back to either your prescribing doctor. Go to a doctor that actually believes that you can get so healthy you don’t need meds, let’s start with that. You’re really going to want to make sure that you and them are on top of watching yourself through this diet. You get so healthy that they lower or take you off of meds.
If your doctor is skeptical about taking you off of meds or lowering meds, I really suggest you find one that has the mindset that you can get so healthy, you don’t need medication. Because it’s that kind of doctor that actually looks at research, instead of the medical dogma that they’ve been taught through medical school.
So your book, The Thyroid Reset Diet, and through all of your research, when people who are on medication either for hypothyroidism, hyperthyroidism, Hashimoto’s, or Graves’. Let’s say the first three months of them being on your diet, what steps should they take? Should they go to their doctor right away and say, hey, by the way, I’m doing this diet? What should they do? What tests should they take? What should they be looking for? When should they go to a doctor and say, I need to lower my meds. I’m correcting myself and I’m afraid these medications are going to now push me too far in the wrong direction.
[01:13:11] Dr. Alan Christianson: They’ll need a good relationship with a doctor who supports them in that journey. I see many blogs that talk about all the thyroid tests to ask for and other things to do. But ultimately, someone’s going to have to help interpret those tests and modify the medications. You need a doctor not just as a rubber stamp to provide those things, but to give some guidance and input. So yeah, you need a trusted partner. And in a perfect world, yeah you could let them know before you even start. But at a minimum, at least the first month into it, you should retest.
The doctors will always have their own tests. They’ll run at least a TSH and their free hormones, but you should retest and see if your needs change. Sometimes, you’ll see that obviously by symptoms even sooner, but you won’t always see it by symptoms of too much. In many cases, the blood levels can show up before the symptoms do, and that’s great. Then you can make adjustments that are early and give your thyroid the best chance to recover. The drawback is that if you do need less and you’re not aware of it, the extra is harmful, but also, it makes your thyroid less able to heal and recover.
[01:14:21 ] Ashley James: Can you elaborate on that?
[01:14:23] Dr. Alan Christianson: For sure. The feedback that tells the thyroid to work is that thyroid-stimulating hormone. And if your medications are more than you need, your body doesn’t know where the extra is coming from and it assumes that it’s its own fault, so your body stops stimulating your thyroid and you lower the TSH. Now below some threshold, there may not be enough TSH just to sustain your thyroid. So you need some TSH to keep your thyroid working and give it a chance to grow and recover. So if your thyroid starts to get stronger but your medications are not adjusted, it bumps up against the ceiling to where the TSH goes down. And even though your thyroid could work better, it won’t because your body won’t allow it to.
[01:15:08] Ashley James: It’s so important to work with a doctor that would lower the medication. Now, what is worse, being on slightly too much, or being on slightly too little? Is it safer to be on a lower dose?
[01:15:24] Dr. Alan Christianson: Well, this is one of those things whether it’s worse to get slapped or punched. So, neither one is good. The too much has more short-term medical complications. But it doesn’t always cause symptoms. Some people are more prone to symptoms than others, and some get them at an earlier stage, but the complications are still there. Too little can be rife with symptoms for sure, but there are fewer medical complications in the short term. There are many longer-term medical complications of too little. So yeah, so both are not too good, both may or may not make you feel well. Too much have a greater short-term risk for harm than too little can.
[01:16:09] Ashley James: Are there other minerals that are supportive of the thyroid like selenium that we should make sure that we incorporate in our diet?
[01:16:16] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, and big picture concept, it’s not so much that—back to more again—more is better. It’s more so that none is bound. So your body has a certain amount of buffering that it can do for iodine. We never get the perfect amount of anything. We’ve got all these ways that we buffer our body chemistry from moment to moment. And so too with iodine. Again, our upper limit can vary, so how much we tolerate can be different. Now, if someone’s low in selenium, whatever their iodine ranges will be just incrementally narrower and will have that much harder of a time buffering the fluctuations of iodine.
[01:16:57] Ashley James: Yeah, and that’s something that really fascinated me when we talked about in our last interview that the selenium, making sure that there’s an adequate amount. Selenium is that protector. If you have too much or too little iodine, the thyroid doesn’t overreact. So it does create that buffer, especially while you’re doing something like The Thyroid Reset Diet and really becoming more conscious of how much iodine is in your diet so that you can get to those healthy levels. Again, not saying we’re eating less iodine, but we’re eating the right range, right? So looking at the diet to get ourselves into the right range to support thyroid health.
That something like selenium would then support the thyroid in not fluctuating, jumping too high or too low. That’s something we don’t want. We don’t want the thyroid to get overstimulated or understimulated. We want it to be in a nice healthy range. Are there any other foods or nutrients that are really good specifically for the thyroid? I mean I can think of antioxidants that are super awesome because they decrease inflammation. But is there anything specific to the thyroid that we should definitely make sure we’re consuming?
[01:18:16] Dr. Alan Christianson: You know, really, all nutrients have some play in things, and I think about it more as a matter of not so much that adding above some threshold is helpful, but a lack is bad. So you don’t want to be lacking any key nutrients. Some of the big ones that come up are going to zinc, iron, or vitamin A. But any nutrient you talk about, our body’s chemistry is so connected that it can all come back and have some relevance. So I do encourage iodine-free multivitamins for people at reasonable quantities. I do encourage a broad range of healthy foods from as many food categories as possible.
[01:18:52] Ashley James: You had mentioned TSH, for example, the thyroid-stimulating hormone and just these examples of when it’s too high or too low. What about going back to looking at the hypothalamus or pituitary? Is that ever a concern supporting the hypothalamus and pituitary in terms of thyroid health, or really, the biggest thing we can do is control iodine intake?
[01:19:23] Dr. Alan Christianson: The biggest thing we can do is control iodine. So we talk about three broad categories of thyroid disease: primary, secondary, and tertiary. Primary means the thyroid is not working because it’s not working. Secondary means the thyroid is not working because the pituitary is not telling it to work. And then tertiary means the thyroid is not working because the hypothalamus is not telling the pituitary to tell the thyroid to work. So, secondary disease happens a few times per 100,000. That’s pituitary disease, but it’s not limited to thyroid function, and it’s rarely subtle.
I see many examples where people are told they have pituitary problems, but they really don’t. I’m sorry. They can occur, but it’s a common thing to be told in natural medicine that it’s a problem when it probably isn’t. And then tertiary disease or the hypothalamus is failing, that happens a few times per year across the globe so it’s extremely rare. So by and large, the main thing is primary disease, and the main controllable factor is Iodine intake.
[01:20:23] Ashley James: Very interesting. Now you haven’t mentioned free T3 and free T4, and that’s something that a lot of Naturopathic physicians like to test as well. Could you touch on that?
[01:20:37] Dr. Alan Christianson: I sure can. So, we look at the amount of hormone the thyroid secretes, and that’s the two that are measurable, and they’re essential, the body needs them. They’re a little different and they’re often misinterpreted because they’re regulated after they’re released. So what we see in the bloodstream is not so much with the thyroid made, it’s more so what the body adjusted. So many look at that and think, oh, the person has too much, too little, and they won’t look at the TSH. So the TSH does reflect what the body is asking the thyroid to do.
The T3 and the T4, they only reflect that when you’re at the most extreme highs or deficiencies. In most cases, when you’re reading them, you’re really reading how the body adjusted those after they were already released. So some talk about how they should be on the high side of normal, that’s not what we see in healthy people. There’s actually a lot of data for T3 saying that those who are consistently high normal are more apt to be obese and diabetic. So yeah, they’re relevant, but they take a bit more depth of understanding as well.
[01:21:42] Ashley James: So when someone is going to an endocrinologist or a holistic physician, they want them to test TSH, but also test T3 and T4, especially if they have an understanding of what the body needs versus what it’s using?
[01:22:00] Dr. Alan Christianson: Correct.
[01:22:02] Ashley James: And in terms of the drugs, there’s this idea that there are healthier thyroid drugs and other thyroid drugs that are less healthy or less effective, or that there are these natural versions where you can get basically a thyroid from a pig. What’s your take on that? Is there a thyroid drug that you would say no one should be on because this has the most side effects, that there’s a better version? What’s the best drug to be on if someone had to be on a drug?
[01:22:38] Dr. Alan Christianson: Yeah, real quick. So we’ve got synthetic versions of T3 and T4, we’ve got natural desiccated thyroid, which is the pig thyroid you alluded to, and then there’s nonprescription cow thyroid. Now the last one I don’t recommend for a lot of safety reasons and stability reasons, so just not good across the board. The synthetics T4 only therapy, the synthetic type, it’s actually the same as what the body makes, and a lot of folks do well on that. It does work for many. For many, they don’t respond as well. They don’t get full control of their symptoms. So, that can work, but it often does not.
T3 only is not recommended because the body also needs T4. And then natural thyroid, that big survey that I mentioned, it did show that of those who are taking natural thyroid, a higher percent did experience better management of symptoms than those on just the synthetics. So yeah, natural thyroid can be a viable option.
And there really is a groundswell of support that’s burgeoning in the conventional community to give people more options. It’s starting to happen and there are more doctors being aware of that. But yeah, people should have multiple options, and sometimes, it is just a matter of adjusting the medication to help. But again, I think at the higher level of if the body can work by itself again, that’s the best outcome.
[01:23:58] Ashley James: That’s what we want. We want everyone listening to get so healthy they don’t need medication anymore, and always find a doctor who also wants to support you in that. I really recommend your book, Thyroid Reset Diet for anyone who has thyroid issues, especially those on thyroid medications. Now, obviously, if someone has had their thyroid removed that’s a different conversation. They would need to be on medication, right? And hopefully, they work with a really good endocrinologist or more holistic-minded doctor to balance that.
But those who are having thyroid problems, what I like about your book is you have quizzes in it, you give a diet that’s really very comprehensive, and an easy way for people to figure out exactly what ranges they need to adjust for their diet. Listeners can go to drchristianson.com, and of course, everything that Dr. Christianson does is going to be the show notes for today’s podcast including the link to his book at learntruehealth.com.
It has been such a pleasure having you on the show today. Thank you so much for coming in and diving into this topic, which is riddled with controversy. So many medical myths.
[01:25:10] Dr. Alan Christianson: It’s been a blast, Ashley. I always enjoy talking with you. You’re crazy smart. We get to go into greater detail about things, and you’re doing a huge service for your listeners. So yeah, I’m really honored to spend time with you again.
[01:25:19] Ashley James: Thank you and thank you so much for coming on the show, and please, come back and let’s talk about your Adrenal Reset Diet because that’s another really fascinating book that I’m sure anyone who has had adrenal issues or has energy—if you’re getting up in the morning and you need coffee throughout the day or you need sugar throughout the day, then you probably need The Adrenal Reset Diet. So I’d love to have you back and we could talk about that. Thank you so much for coming on the show.
[01:25:44] Dr. Alan Christianson: That’d be a blast. Thanks again, Ashley.
[01:25:47] Ashley James: Wasn’t that an amazing interview with Dr. Alan Christianson? You know, I could have had him on the show for another hour and we could have dived into even more information about the diet, but unfortunately, he was crammed just back to back with interviews and he had to go. But he was so generous with his time and I really enjoyed having him on the show. I definitely recommend getting the book. Of course, you can go to the show notes of today’s podcast at learntruehealth.com or the show notes within whatever podcast app you’re listening from and click the links there to be able to get to past episodes with Dr. Alan Christianson that I’ve done with him, and also to the book to get The Thyroid Reset Diet.
Just like I shared with my experience with his book, you’ll get one copy and then you’ll start reading it and everyone that sees it—just go read it in public. People will be like, hey, I have thyroid problems, what’s that all about? Tell me about it. Can I borrow your book? It’s really funny. And it’s also a great gift to give to a loved one who you know has been struggling with thyroid issues because the book is so easy to read, so down to earth, and provides just fantastic science in a way that’s easy to comprehend. So I hope you enjoy the book.
And please, join the Facebook group, Learn True Health Facebook group and share your experiences with his diet, with his recommendations. I’d love to start a conversation around that for us to all learn from each other.
Now, if you have been thinking about getting a Sunlighten Sauna, now’s a really great time because they have a fantastic discount going on right now. Make sure you mention the Learn True Health podcast with Ashley James so that you get the discount that they give us. And if you do have a Sunlighten and you have been enjoying it, come to the Facebook group and share your experience. I just absolutely love it and I know that I know that so many of our listeners, and actually several of my clients, share that they absolutely love their sauna.
One of my dear, dear friends has used infrared sauna therapy to heal her. She had Epstein Barr Virus for many, many years. She incorporated so much holistic medicine, but she noticed that was one of the things that really moved the needle for her in terms of boosting her immune system and making it so that she felt amazing throughout the day. Anytime she feels like she’s dragging, she’ll jump in the sauna, and then a half an hour later, she’ll just feel like a million bucks.
That’s been my experience with the sauna is that whenever I feel down or depressed or I feel sluggish, getting in that sauna, half an hour later, I feel absolutely amazing, the endorphins are going. It’s a good addiction. It’s a really good feeling, so trade in the drugs and alcohol for a sauna, that’s all I have to say.
And check out Sunlighten because they are, in my opinion, the best sauna company on the market. They offer the full spectrum, the near and far infrared, very, very, very non-toxic and low EMF, which is ideal for what we want. Plus the company is in the United States, and they have fantastic customer service.
I had an issue with one part. I stepped on the sauna, I broke a piece, and they immediately, without question, they’re like hey what piece broke? Because I stepped on a corner really hard. And they’re like, okay, and then they sent it off right away and they replaced it immediately. I thought that was really cool.
And then another time I had a problem updating that tablet, I called them, and they helped me right away. I’ve been really, really happy with the customer service there. And that’s why I feel comfortable sharing Sunlighten Sauna with you because you are looking to gain the best health possible. You’re learning about how you can achieve true health, and I know that sauna therapy is a proven way that you can add something to your life every day or every other day to see better results. So there are lifestyle things that we can change. There’s diet, there’s supplements, and there’s lifestyle, and this would fall under the lifestyle category. Why not use the latest technology to support your body’s ability to heal itself? It makes so much sense.
You can also listen to my past in interviews with experts. I have cardiologists on the show swearing that Sunlighten is amazing as well as other doctors. So yeah, you can search sauna or you can search Sunlighten by going to learntruehealth.com and listening to those doctors talk about their love of not only sauna therapy but specifically the Sunlighten Company. And make sure you mention Learn True Health with Ashley James so that you get the greatest discount. I want to make sure that you get that special treatment and the discount when they know that I’m the one telling you guys to go check them out because Connie Zack was on the show. She’s the founder, and I really think she’s awesome.
And if any of my listeners have any problems with Sunlighten, please make sure that you give me a message. You can just message me, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, or you can go to the Learn True Health Group and just let me know if you’ve any problems at all. I will personally contact the owner and the managers there and make sure that it’s all smoothed out.
But I’ve had hundreds of listeners buy saunas from them after our interview, and I’ve only had one out of hundreds that had a miscommunication with one of their staff. I jumped in and then it was immediately resolved right away. It was just a misunderstanding, miscommunication. It was totally resolved. So I’m really happy that they have maintained such high standards. That’s how I want it for all of you guys.
Awesome. Well, I’m so glad you enjoyed today’s interview. Please share this with those who care about, especially those you know who have thyroid problems, and have a fantastic rest of your day.
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In this episode, Dr. Brownstein is back on the show to talk about the importance of iodine in the body. He shares some stories of how two of his patients with breast problems got better after taking iodine. Salt goes hand in hand with iodine, so he recommends taking in unrefined salt with iodine.
Hello, true health seeker and welcome to another exciting episode of the Learn True Health podcast. I’m excited for you to learn from today’s guest. He was recently on the show sharing some mind-blowing information, and now he’s back because I wanted to dive deeper and explore thyroid and iodine and how we can use iodine to detox certain chemicals in the body that are wreaking havoc. I’m really looking forward to you listening to this and deepening your knowledge of how you can support your body’s ability to heal itself.
Another way that I support my body’s ability to heal myself, and I would love for you to also do the same, is by using Sunlighten Sauna Technology. I had a heavy metal issue for many years and I didn’t know it. I finally figured out that the cause of a lot of my health issues came from my body not being able to get rid of all the heavy metals that I had accumulated. I was having liver problems. I was having an array of hormonal issues. And as I did the heavy metal detox and this is actually doing the show.
Since I started the show five years ago, I got a Sunlighten Sauna and I used it regularly almost every day, I would say about five times a week. I would sit in that sauna for about half an hour, sometimes 45 minutes. I feel amazing after I get out of a sauna. The Sunlighten Sauna especially because it uses a different kind of technology than the other saunas out there. It uses full-spectrum, and I had a whole episode with a cardiologist on this. Light is a nutrient that our cells have receptors for, which just blows my mind. And when you are in artificial light, you’re not receiving it so we become deplete. We end up missing out on, the cells are lacking this key component.
When we are in a Sunlighten Sauna, we’re getting full-spectrum, it’s actually nutrition, the sunlight nutrition. We’re getting the mid, near, and far-infrared spectrum. So, there are receptors on our cells that receive this information.
What’s great about the Sunlighten is it decreases inflammation, decreases pain, helps the body to lose weight. You burn about 500 calories every time you do sauna therapy. The sweat that comes out of you contains toxins that now your liver doesn’t have to process, your kidneys don’t have to process. There are heavy metals in that sweat, so now you’re removing, you’re eliminating things, not only chemicals but also heavy metals. And it opens up the blood flow in the body, it helps to balance and stabilize blood pressure. People have deeper sleep because they’ve decreased the stress levels in the body, the stress hormones go down. There’s this cascade of events that happen when we use sauna therapy.
I also did an interview with the man who regularly, once a year—and he has a degree in traditional Chinese medicine. Every year he does a 30-day fast and he spent thousands of his own dollars doing lab tests to show that long-term fasting helps the body to eliminate forever chemicals and the chemicals that’s in our food supply now that disrupt hormones. What he noticed is when he did a fast and incorporated sauna therapy as well, he had way greater results than if he just did a fast alone. That’s because sauna therapy allows the body to bypass the liver, bypass the kidneys when it comes to detoxing certain heavy metals and certain toxins, and just everything I explained earlier about all the other things that it can do.
I’ve had several interviews about saunas. If you want to dive into it and learn more about sauna therapy, just go to learntruehealth.com and search sauna. Or you can go to learntruehealth.com and search Sunlighten. I remember five guests off the top of my head that all told me they own a Sunlighten as well and absolutely love it. Now Sunlighten has these big wooden saunas that you can fit into a corner of your room, or if you’re like me and now live in a smaller space, you can get what’s called the Solo System.
The Solo System is something that you lie on, you put on top of you, and then you have a nice good sweat like a cocoon. Then you are able to pack it up and put it away when you are done. The Solo System is so compact because it telescopes into itself that it fits in a closet or under the bed, which is so fantastic. What I also love about it is it’s ultra-low EMF, meaning you won’t have negative reactions like a lot of cheap saunas out there. Unfortunately, if you go to just buy a cheap one, you’re ultimately going to be exposed to high levels of electromagnetic radiation, which is damaging to the body—not good at all.
And then another thing that I love about the Solo System, and all of the Sunlighten products but especially the Solo System, is it is non-toxic. The padding they use for you to lie down on is made of non-toxic bamboo memory foam, which I did not know you could make memory from bamboo, but isn’t that neat? So it’s non-toxic, it’s low EMF. This is what I love about Sunlighten is they truly are thinking about how you can support your body’s ability to heal itself and detoxify.
I know several cancer patients as well who use Sunlighten’s Sauna Technology to support their body’s ability to fight their own cancer and live to tell the tale. So many reasons why I recommend Sunlighten, and I know right now they’re doing a special. They often do specials at least once a quarter for our listeners. So you can give them a call just to ask questions like what size fits in my house, what’s the pricing like, and what’s the payment plan like if you want to do a payment plan? Then be sure to mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast when you do call Sunlighten so that you get the special listener discount. They’re always putting specials on especially for our listeners.
I sat down and had a talk with the founder of Sunlighten and interviewed her, and she gave us a great deal like free shipping, which saves you about $500, as well as $100 off of accessories. My favorite accessory is the bamboo cushion and it has a bamboo cover. The reason you want to use things like bamboo or organic cotton when you’re in a sauna—if you’re not going to be naked, you want to use all-natural fibers because synthetic fibers will block the rays of the frequency of the light. So the mid, near, and far-infrared will be interrupted and you don’t want that.
Excellent. Thank you so much for being a listener. Thank you so much for sharing my podcasts with those that you love and care about. If you’re interested in learning more about detoxifying and using sauna therapy for healthy hormones, for healthy hormone function, for weight loss, for lowering blood pressure, for supporting the body’s ability to fight cancer, and also supporting the body’s immune system, decreasing inflammation, decreasing pain—all these topics are explored in the podcast at learntruehealth.com. Search sauna or search Sunlighten.
I have at least six episodes where we talk about how great it is, and multiple doctors that help their patients detoxify and absolutely love Sunlighten, and I have loved it. It has really, really helped me tremendously and measurably to remove heavy metals from my body.
Thank you so much for you, listeners. Continue to share this podcast with those you care about. If you want to come and discuss what you learn today or if you have more questions, join the Facebook group. Go to learntruehealth.com/group, or you can search Learn True Health on Facebook.
[00:08:33] Ashley James: Welcome to the Learn True Health podcast. I’m your host, Ashley James. This is episode 464. I am so excited to have back on the show Dr. David Brownstein. Man, when we had you on the show that was just a recent episode, 462. You shared with us how you’ve been successfully treating all of your patients who are infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus. You treat it much like all the other upper respiratory infections you’ve treated for decades with amazing success, just outstanding success. Is it the FTC that came after you because you were sharing for free all this information on your website, and they don’t want anything that could possibly be considered a treatment, a cure, or therapy that is effective to be publicly posted, which just blew my mind? So listeners got to go back to episode 462 for that information.
What’s cool though is that you’re able to publish a book and it’s still protected under your freedom of speech rights. We have had several listeners who’ve read your book since having you on the show in episode 462, and they’ve reported in the Learn True Health Facebook group that your book on basically supporting the structure and function of the body’s ability to fight off viruses and respiratory infections with holistic medicine. How your book’s amazing and they loved it. So I definitely recommend listeners check out all of Dr. Brownstein’s books. You can go to drbrownstein.com. He has so many books that’s why I’m really excited to have him back on the show today.
Today we’re going to talk about something I think is really interesting because there’s a lot of doctors that say we have too much iodine. There are doctors who say we have too little iodine. Some doctors say, don’t worry about it, you’re just got to get enough in your food or just eat fortified salt or whatever. Is it the right kind of iodine? Are we getting too much or too little? What parts of the body use it other than for just creating thyroid hormone? So this is very interesting, we’re going to dive into this because you have some information about preventing cancer as well, which I’m really excited about. Welcome back to the show.
[00:11:06] Dr. David Brownstein: Thank you for having me on, Ashley.
[00:11:08] Ashley James: Yeah, absolutely. I hope to have you on again and again because you have so many amazing topics and you’re such a fantastic doctor. You know what really blew my mind—not only blew my mind but many of my listeners also shared with me how you helped your dad reverse his heart issues by looking at his nutritional levels and balancing his hormones, and that was so cool. That was kind of like your wake-up moment, introduction to seeing how much we’re missing in the allopathic world. The world would be a different place if every doctor had the education that you’ve earned through your clinical experience through the years. I really wish that more doctors would read your books, learn from you, and continue the curiosity of what we can do with nutrition to support the body’s ability to fight off disease and maintain optimal health.
Having said that, let’s dive right in. Tell me, what happened along your journey as a doctor that made you interested in wanting to explore the topic of iodine? Do we need more of it, do we need less of it? What’s going on with iodine?
[00:12:27] Dr. David Brownstein: Well, my journey with iodine began when I started holistic medicine. I talked about that story of my father in that previous episode, right?
[00:12:40] Ashley James: Yes, that was mind-blowing.
[00:12:43] Dr. David Brownstein: Let me give the Cliff Notes version of that because that’ll sort of segue into iodine. My dad had his first heart attack at age 40 and his second heart attack at 42, and he suffered from severe coronary artery disease after that. He had continuous angina for 20 years. I was a conventional doctor at that time, I thought he was dying, and I think he was dying. He was on 12 medications to treat hypertension, diabetes, and heart disease. He looked awful and was doing awful.
I was given a book by a chiropractor who told me I should look at this, and it was really my first anything holistic given to me or anything shown to me. It’s called Healing with Nutrition by Jonathan Wright who’s an allopathic physician. I read that chapter on heart disease first and drew a few blood tests on my father and treated him with two natural therapies: natural testosterone and natural thyroid hormone. Within seven days of that, he made a dramatic improvement. His pale and pasty color went pink and healthy-looking. His 20-year history of using nitroglycerin daily for angina for anything he did go away, never to return. His cholesterol in the 300s fell below 200 without changing any of his bad dietary habits, and he looked and acted much better.
When I saw the changes in my father, I knew that’s what I want to do, doing holistic medicine. Because I used two natural hormones in my father—natural thyroid hormone and natural testosterone—every single new patient I’ve seen since then gets a whole hormonal workup. Because part of that hormonal workup is checking thyroid hormones, ovarian hormones, testicular hormones, adrenal hormones, pituitary hormones, and trying to balance the hormonal system and see why the hormonal system is imbalanced if it is.
After I started doing this and using bioidentical natural hormones, I was seeing great results, practice was growing, I was happy. I thought I was doing good in medicine and helping people, which is what I was tasked to do in life. But it was bothering me, why was I having to use so much thyroid hormone? I had the first ten years or so of my holistic practice, I would say I had about 75% of my patients on thyroid hormone, little amounts. They were feeling better, their physiology was better, and their biochemistry looked better on blood testing, and most importantly they felt better, they reported. But it was bothering me, why are there so many people who need to take thyroid hormone? Why is the thyroid gland so screwed up?
I would look at the ins and outs of the thyroid, what makes the thyroid work, what doesn’t make it work well? When you read about the thyroid, you read about iodine. Iodine is an essential element that the thyroid utilizes to make thyroid hormones. Without iodine, the thyroid can’t make thyroid hormone. But it’s not just the thyroid, all the glands in the body need iodine. In fact, every cell in the body needs iodine. But if we’re going to focus on the glands right now, that includes the thyroid, ovaries, uterus, breast, prostate, and pancreas. These glands all make hormones, prostaglandins, and other things. There’s not a hormone in the body that can be produced without iodine.
The highest concentration of iodine in the bodies of the thyroid gland, and the active and inactive thyroid hormones T3 and T4, the four and three refer to how many iodine atoms are attached to the thyroglobulin molecule. The thyroid gland, it’s made of iodine so important that it can concentrate iodine against the gradient, meaning the highest concentration of iodine in the human body is in the thyroid gland. There are very low concentrations in the bloodstream, and the body has developed an intricate mechanism to take iodine from a low concentrated area like the blood and put it into a higher concentrated area of the thyroid.
It’s an ATP-dependent process, so it’s an energy-dependent process. We use up energy to do that. The body doesn’t like the use of energy, it likes to conserve energy, and the reason it utilizes energy is because it’s so important. We can’t live without thyroid hormone. I would look at what makes the thyroid hormone go and think about why this patient needs thyroid hormone, why all these patients need thyroid hormone.
[00:17:30] Ashley James: So many people are on thyroid medication and it’s just amazing. It blows my mind that they’ll be on it for years and years and there’s no question. Okay, well, what’s the root cause, what’s behind it, or why is the body not especially women, and a lot of men don’t go for the tests, or the doctors don’t test men, but men too. Why are they deplete? Why are they having thyroid disruption? And why are there so much Hashimoto’s right now? It’s way more than we had 30, 40 years ago.
[00:18:09] Dr. David Brownstein: Oh, it’s at epidemic rates right now. Hashimoto’s is in epidemic rates. All those conditions I write in my book, and in my newsletters and stuff. I say it’s all related to iodine deficiency. The iodine deficiency causes problems with the thyroid, causes problems with the breast, prostate, pancreas, ovaries, uterus. What do we see in problems of all those tissues? As you mentioned, there’s epidemic rates of thyroid problems from thyroid cancer to autoimmune thyroid disease like Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, as well as hypothyroidism. The fastest-growing cancer in America right now is thyroid cancer, meaning the most diagnosed cancer.
And then we have one in seven women with breast cancer. We have one in three men with prostate. cancer. We have epidemic increases of pancreatic, ovarian, uterine, and it’s cancers and it’s all related to I think the same thing. Iodine deficiency is a big part of that.
You mentioned that so many people are on thyroid hormone. People are on hormones and the other problem with people being on thyroid hormone and so many people on thyroid hormone and they still feel lousy, they still feel tired, they still feel achy. What many of these people need is iodine. If you put someone on thyroid hormone who’s lacking iodine, you make the iodine deficiency worse. When you put someone on thyroid hormone which increases the metabolic needs of the thyroid gland, it increases the body’s needs for iodine. You make iodine deficiency worse if you put them on thyroid hormone and they’re deficient in iodine.
There are studies, there have been three of them over the last 20 years, that show the longer women take thyroid hormone, the increase in risk of breast cancer goes up over time. After ten years, women who take thyroid hormone for ten years have a 50% increased risk of breast cancer compared to women who don’t take thyroid hormone. How can that be? I struggled with that when these articles came out. I didn’t have a great answer, and I think the answer is they’re iodine deficient.
As I wrote in my book, if you put a woman on thyroid hormone who is iodine deficient, you’re going to make the iodine deficiency worse. And you’re going to make it worse in other tissues besides the thyroid like the breast, the ovaries, uterus, and that’s why you’re seeing these cancers go up with that.
[00:20:49] Ashley James: So, are there receptors for iodine in other places in the body other than the thyroid hormone?
[00:20:57] Dr. David Brownstein: Every single cell in the body needs and requires iodine. The white blood cells need iodine to fight infections. Iodine is needed in fat cells, muscle cells, and immune system cells. Everything needs iodine. The problem is iodine levels have fallen over 50% across the United States over the last 40 years. Iodine is part of the halide family in the periodic table of elements. The halides consist of fluoride, bromide, iodine, and chloride.
[00:21:32] Ashley James: This was my next question. I’m so glad you’re segueing into this, please continue.
[00:21:37] Dr. David Brownstein: So, of those halides, two are toxic and two are essential. Iodine and chloride are essential, we can’t live without them. We need lots of it in our bodies. Bromide and fluoride are both toxic items that are non-essential. We can live and we can thrive without them, we don’t need them because they’re both poison enzymes and they’re not good for our body. The problem is, over the last 40 to 50 years we’ve gotten way more fluoride and bromide from fluoridated water to brominated drink in bromine and flour. It’s a fire retardant used in so many consumer items such as phones, computers, mattresses, carpets, curtains, and things that we become over-fluoridated, over-brominated, and at the same time more iodine deficient.
The halides are very interesting to study because they can competitively inhibit one another, which means that if you get too much of the toxic halides—fluoride and bromide—it’ll kick the body out of the essential halides—chloride and particularly iodine. Conversely, if you get enough iodine in and you’re toxic on the other ones, you’ll be able to release those. We’ve had a double whammy going on for the last 40 or 50 years. Iodine levels have fallen over 40% to 50%. At the same time, our exposure to toxic halides has increased.
That is the main reason I think we’re seeing this rapid rise in thyroid disorders such as autoimmune thyroid disease, Hashimoto’s and Graves’ disease, hypothyroidism, and thyroid cancer, as well as all the other iodine deficiency disorders—breast cancer, prostate cancer, pancreatic cancer, ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, and so on and so on.
[00:23:30] Ashley James: So, to put it in a way that we can visualize, the thyroid, like you had mentioned, takes and concentrates iodine tremendously. When we consume fluoride in tap water or bromide in baked goods, for example, that competes with iodine. Is the thyroid, then concentrating the fluoride, does it also then uptake and concentrate that as well?
[00:24:03] Dr. David Brownstein: Well, we know the thyroid can concentrate bromide, and we know if there’s not enough iodine and excess of bromide that the thyroid hormones can be brominated instead of iodinated. We were designed by our maker to have iodinated thyroid hormones, not brominated thyroid hormones. We don’t quite know what the significance of that is because it hasn’t been studied, but I can tell you, I think the significance of that is increased risk of thyroid cancer, Hashimoto’s, Graves’ disease, and hypothyroidism, and that’s exactly what we’re seeing.
As far as fluoride goes, the conventional mantra is that fluoride helps prevent cavities. If it does, it’s a minimal improvement, but almost every Western country except two, us being one of them, have removed fluoride from the water supply because we realized that if it does decrease cavities, it’s minuscule. The only way that fluoride has been shown to decrease cavities is topically applying it like in toothpaste, not by drinking water.
[00:25:11] Ashley James: I do have a question about that. Sodium fluoride, which isn’t that a byproduct of aluminum production and that’s what we’ve been drinking basically in tap water? I’ve read this so I don’t know if this is true or if this is just something that was published online. But didn’t they put sodium fluoride in certain prisons and certain concentration camps in the water in order to sedate the prison population? Fluoride, in certain amounts, kind of makes a more lazy or less aggressive society. Is that true?
[00:25:53] Dr. David Brownstein: The Germans used it in their concentration camps to do exactly that. Fluoride also has been shown to lower the IQ of newborns, mothers who have high fluoride levels. There have been studies that show the IQ declines in newborns in women who drink fluoridated water at levels like what’s fluoridated in the US.
[00:26:17] Ashley James: So we’re creating a population that is less likely to rise up, rebel, and is also stupid. That’s quite fascinating, and this is why I really believe that we should question everything. Don’t ever trust what’s in your food, what’s in your water, what’s in your medicine. Always, always, always do your own research and never trust anyone with your own health. Always filter your water. Don’t just trust that your water is safe, the air is safe to breathe, or the water is safe to eat, to drink, or the food is safe. We have to be more diligent because there are over 80,000 new man made chemicals in the last 40 years that are in the food supply that we’re now seeing are forever chemicals. And that they enter our body and block our receptors from absorbing certain nutrients and from interacting with hormones. It’s quite scary.
Fluoride is an essential nutrient in small amounts in the soil. It’s in the soil along with all other trace elements and minerals. We’re probably getting enough if we eat enough fruits and vegetables and like you said, you could brush your teeth. But then, there are populations that don’t have any fluoride whatsoever added to their water, and that their teeth are wonderful. So when the body concentrates fluoride, do you think that also is a contributor to other hormone dysregulation and cancer creation?
[00:28:12] Dr. David Brownstein: Well, studies have shown increased fluoride content results in certain bone cancers in young boys. We know fluoride poisons hundreds of different enzymes in the body. It’s a known carcinogenic agent. I think it’s ludicrous to put fluoride in the water. If you can’t afford an expensive filtration system, then you don’t have a choice. You’re just getting fluoridated water. Personal choice comes into play here. Remember, the World Health Organization has done studies with cavity rates and fluoridated non-fluoridated countries, there’s no difference at all. It has been shown for over 40 to 50 years.
The decline in cavity rates that have occurred over the last 50, 60 years has occurred in countries that don’t fluoridate their water as well. There’s really no business in fluoridating water. There’s really no business in our health of doing that.
[00:29:16] Ashley James: I can’t remember the exact information, but I read an article years ago. They did this in rural parts of Canada. I’m originally from Canada but I live in the states now. They gave tablets of fluoride to children because everyone was on well water. One of my friends was part of this experiment—governments like to do that thinking that it’s healthy. It actually had the reverse effect and all the children end up with rotten teeth. There was something about too much fluoride or high concentrations of fluoride actually led to the opposite effect, that led to teeth that decayed rapidly. Maybe because it just threw the body so out of balance, I don’t know.
When I was pregnant, I really looked into everything I could do to ensure my baby was healthy and that his or her IQ would be optimal. I did see that iodine was one of the needed essential nutrients along with essential fatty acids. There were studies that showed that mothers that consumed iodine had smarter children. So, that makes sense that fluoride, since it competes with iodine, would dumb down the IQ, so it’s like that’s the opposite. What you’re saying is we need more iodine. Now, you did mention that iodine helps to almost detox fluoride. So can you discuss that, how to use iodine as a detox agent?
[00:30:58] Dr. David Brownstein: Like I said with competitive inhibition, if you get one of the toxic halides that’s a little too much, you’re going to kick out iodine from the body. Conversely, if you get enough iodine, you can kick out those toxic halides and detoxify the body. Now, one of the problems is if you’re full of bromide and fluoride when you take iodine, you can create what’s called a Herxheimer reaction where you get an overload of detoxification and people don’t feel good. Now, if you’re working with a holistic doctor who is knowledgeable about this can help you avoid that. I don’t find that happens very much in my office, but it can happen. It just needs to be done appropriately.
One of the ways to avoid that happen is when you take iodine, take salt with it. Salt is the second major constituent in the body next to water, and we need adequate amounts of salt. We need over 100 grams of sodium and chlorine at any one time in our body, we’re supposed to have that. Most people are deficient in salt. I’ve been checking people for 28 years on salt levels and recommending salt intake go up for many of my patients because you need a lot of cells in the body. And salt can help usher out the bromide that’s in there.
In years past where medicines with bromide such as Bromo-Seltzer were used and people would get bromide toxic. So one of the ways conventional medicine dealt with it when they got bromide toxic, when they get delirious, very tired, and the brain wouldn’t work very well is they would salt the bromide out with a salt solution IV. But you can do that naturally, which is taking more salt in your diet. I wrote a book about this called Salt Your Way to Health, which is one companion book to the iodine book.
[00:32:48] Ashley James: I love that you’re bringing up salt. So many doctors say that salt is the contributor to high blood pressure and that we should reduce salt or eliminate it completely. We do actually consume more calories when something has salt in it, that’s true. So we still have to manage our food intake, but know that when we add salt—think about a bowl of rice. If it’s just a plain bowl of rice and no salt on it you’re going to eat to satiety. But with a bowl that is salted, we can overeat it because it tastes good. So we still need to be more conscious when we salt things that it does taste good and we might eat past satiety.
But what’s interesting about salt is the body uses chloride and sodium chloride to make hydrochloric acid. There’s an epidemic of heartburn out there and indigestion. Of course, if you’re not digesting your food you’re not absorbing your nutrition, and then everything cascades from there. I’m sure you have a book on that.
[00:33:50] Dr. David Brownstein: I talk about that in my salt book.
[00:33:52] Ashley James: There you go. I knew it. I knew you’d have a book on that, but it’s fascinating. You recommend that people use salt along with iodine. Where should they get their salt? I know you’re not going to say basic table salt or are you?
[00:34:09] Dr. David Brownstein: Well, there are two types of salt that are available—refined salt and unrefined salt. Refined salt is made by food companies because they refine food products to take out things that degrade. The reason they do that is the refined food products can stay on the shelf forever. It has a longer shelf life and then they make more money because they don’t have to throw products out. So, just as they refined flour to take out some natural things because the natural things will go bad, they refined salt. Refined salt is that thin white stuff that’s pretty much in every restaurant across the United States. It’s the girl with the umbrella on the side of the salt container, I can’t think of the name of it as an example of refined salt.
[00:35:02] Ashley James: Morton’s?
[00:35:03] Dr. David Brownstein: Yeah. It’s just got sodium and chloride plus some other toxic ingredients that shouldn’t be in salts such as ferrocyanide and aluminum silicate in it. That’s compared to unrefined salt, which has a full complement of minerals in it that come with wherever the salt is mined from. Celtic brand sea salt, Redmond Real Salt, and Himalayan salt all have over 80 minerals in them. Now, the minerals are in small amounts, but the minerals are essential and utilized.
I did a little study with my daughter Jessie when she was in middle school. She did it, and we did a study for her science class where we looked at what’s the difference in pH of refined salt and unrefined salts. Refined salt creates an acidic pH environment, unrefined salt helps alkalize tissues, and the minerals help alkalize it. If you eat a bunch of refined foods, you’re going to be too acidic, and that can lead to degenerative problems in the body. You want to have a neutral pH, which is generally 7.2 or so. Unrefined salt can be part of maintaining that neutral pH because we all tend to be acidic if we eat lousy food, we’re stressed, and we become nutrient deficient. So, salt’s really an important substance that’s why I wrote a whole book on that.
[00:36:35] Ashley James: That is fascinating that refined salt versus unrefined salt acts completely different in the body. One is acidic, one is more supportive and alkalizing. One has toxic ingredients, as far as I’m concerned. I’ve even seen certain refined salts where one of the ingredients was sugar. I kid you not, I just laughed. Because so many people don’t read labels.
When I go to a grocery store, my husband gets so frustrated. He calls me the label reader. I will read all the labels, but when we go to a restaurant, you just trust that they’re going to use good ingredients and they don’t. They use the cheapest ingredients. So we really have to be diligent to eat as much as we can at home and to use the healthy salt at home that has those trace minerals that don’t have all those weird agents in it that are very toxic for the body if eaten over time.
I always think about what our health was like 100 years ago versus now. Heart disease, cancer—these things are so much higher than 100 years ago, and we have to look at what we put in our mouth. What we put in our mouth every day is either hurting us or healing us.
So we’ve got our salt, that’s something that we can easily switch to because you’ve given us some good advice on how to find it. What about iodine, how should we take iodine? And we want to avoid that thyroid storm that might occur by consuming too high of a level of iodine because from my understanding if you consume too much, the thyroid shuts down in a protective manner if you consume too much at once. So, how to know how much iodine our body needs every day?
I’ve heard some Naturopaths like to use the skin test where you put some iodine on the skin and watch if acid absorbs, whereas others say that’s really not an accurate way to measure if you need iodine or not. How do we figure out how much we need to take and in what form?
[00:38:54] Dr. David Brownstein: So, the skin test is not an accurate way. There was a study that showed that 80% or so of the iodine placed on the skin sublimates into a gaseous phase and leaves the skin. So there’s no reason to do that. That’s not an accurate measure. A large percentage of the body’s iodine is in the skin so I don’t know if it’s just you’re measuring that.
The best measure of iodine status is a urinary excretion test. A holistic doctor can help you with that one, but the iodine loading test is by far the best test. I was involved in developing that test and working with my mentor, an iodine doctor, Guy Abraham, who developed a test. But we worked together on it, refining it. I got to help refine it. Urinary testing of iodine is the best way to go by far. The skin test doesn’t show you much. What was the other part of your question, Ashley?
[00:39:56] Ashley James: So, what form of iodine should we take and how do we know how much we should be taking?
[00:40:03] Dr. David Brownstein: We should get your levels checked to work with a doctor who’s literate in iodine, so that’s number one. I wouldn’t suggest doing it alone, but I have 30 years of working with iodine. In my first ten years, I couldn’t get it to work clinically in my practice because I was using the wrong form of iodine. I know now what I did wrong and I don’t make that mistake anymore. But with iodine, I think the best form is using a combination of iodide and iodine. What that means is that it’s a reduced and oxidized form of iodine.
For the chemistry people out there, if all the electrons in the outer shower are paired, that’s a reduced element. And if there’s one electron missing, that’s an oxidized element. It’s looking for an electron. The reduced and oxidized forms of iodine are used in different tissues of the body. The thyroid uses iodide, a reduced form. The breast uses iodine, the oxidized form. So, for a whole-body effect for iodine, it’s best to use a combination of the two. So, I use Lugol’s solution, which was first made in the 1800s. It’s a solution of potassium iodide and iodine in water. There are pills of this Lugol’s solution available too. I find it very effective, and by far it’s the best form of iodine out there.
[00:41:44] Ashley James: Oh, fascinating. Now, of course, listeners can buy your book on iodine to get way more information. This was just the tip of the iceberg. How can we find a holistic doctor that is proficient in iodine? Can listeners work with you? Do you do telemedicine, or is there an organization they can look up where they can find a roster of doctors that are proficient with this?
[00:42:20] Dr. David Brownstein: Well, I don’t have a roster of doctors. My book describes where you can do the testing and all that stuff. The labs know who’s sending in tests, so the best advice I can give people is to call a lab that’s doing an iodine loading test, and there’s a few of them out there, and they’ll tell you who’s sending in tests in your area. That’s one way to look for who’s doing the iodine testing out there.
Unfortunately, there’s still a lot of misinformation about iodine even in the holistic world. I call it medical iota phobia. They’re afraid to use iodine—it’s been successfully used for over four generations of clinicians—for their own unnatural fears and not looking at the science, and not looking at what’s really true with iodine out there.
[00:43:12] Ashley James: Could you share a few stories of success you’ve had with your patients? How has iodine changed their lives?
[00:43:25] Dr. David Brownstein: I’ve had so many patients whose first ten years I have 3/4 of them on iodine, and then now, I have less than 1/4 of my patients on thyroid hormone because they’re all on iodine. When people are diagnosed with a thyroid problem, I also do hormonal nutritional workups at the same time. So if they’re iodine deficient, what I always teach doctors when I want to teach them about iodine is to correct iodine deficiency first or concurrently with thyroid hormone. Don’t put them on thyroid hormone first because you’ll make the iodine deficiency problem worse as I said earlier.
I have a patient who had a bad fibrocystic breast disease who came to me with a bilateral mastectomy scheduled for three weeks after that visit. I was the last resort for her. She’s a nurse at the University of Michigan and she was miserable. She couldn’t wear a bra. She couldn’t not even wear tight clothes but just form-fitting clothes or something like that. She couldn’t stand anything tight. She was wearing this baggy stuff, which was still hurting her. And if anyone rubbed up against her breast, she’d bumped into anything, she’d start crying.
She’d been to the University of Michigan Cystic Breast Clinic and they told her to come off caffeine and chocolate and clean up her diet. She was eating a bad diet and she tried all that. It helped a little bit, but then symptoms got worse over time. Really, they told her, the only thing you can do is have a mastectomy. She sees a lady in her late 30s scheduling a bilateral mastectomy. She had had enough.
So she came to me as a last resort, read my book on iodine, and read about fibrocystic breast disease. I do an iodine loading test on her. The iodine loading test is where you take 50 milligrams of iodine at time zero, collect 24 hours of urine after that, and measure how much iodine comes out in the urine over the 24 hours.
When you take iodine orally, 98% or so is excreted in the urine. You can measure the amount in and the amount out, subtract the numbers, and know how much the body has hung on to. Generally, when the body hangs on to more iodine, it’s more deficient. So once people get iodine sufficient, they have enough iodine in their body and they take 50 milligrams, they’ll pee out about 45 milligrams or 90%. They’ll hang on to 5% of it or so. That’s iodine sufficiency.
So, in her case, this patient peed out 50% of the iodine and held on to 50% because she was very deficient. So I told her to move her surgery back three months. I said, let’s give this a try. I said it won’t be gone in three months, but it should be markedly better. If it’s not better, it’s too late. I didn’t know if it was too late. Tissue sometimes gets so disorganized and such a mess that you can’t get them to come back sometimes in the body.
So, she called me up after two weeks into it and said she’s starting to feel better. And I saw her a month later, she had moved the surgery back two more months. And she said she’s 50% better. When I did an exam on the first visit, her breast felt like the best description I can give you is when I used to take Taekwondo in my younger days, like that punching bag feel. Like a hard-punching bag with bumps on it. It felt like alien tissue on her chest. I could barely even touch it because she was wincing and in pain.
I didn’t do an exam during the one-month visit, but I asked her to come back in another month. She came back another month and said she’s 80% better. I examined her breasts at that point. It felt like she had a breast transplant. The punching bag feeling was gone. She still had lumps but they were much smaller. Now I could do almost a full exam with very minimal discomfort. She canceled her mastectomy surgery. I saw her back three-month visit, almost normal breast tissue, no bumps.
She went back to her fibrocystic breast clinic and had an exam. The doctor said, wow, what are you doing? It’s way better. So she started to tell him and she said he’s just glazed over his eyes. When she stopped talking, he said, all right, I’ll see you in six months. That’s a good story.
Another good story with iodine is a lady, I diagnosed her with inflammatory breast cancer—the worst kind of breast cancer. Usually, you’re dead in three to six months from diagnosis. I was doing a study on iodine at that time with Dr. Abraham, and I put her in the study group of breast cancer diagnoses. She had very low iodine testing. I put her on iodine at 50 milligrams.
She called me up about two weeks into it and said, I’m having a problem with the iodine. I said, what’s the problem? She goes, my nightshirt is yellow over where my breasts are when I wake up in the morning. I’m on the phone with her and I said oh, well, how do you feel? She goes, I never felt better. I’m able to babysit my grandkids now, my energy is coming back. She goes, I don’t know what to do. I said, well, why don’t you come in, bring your nightshirt with you.
So she brings in the nightshirt and you can clearly see this yellow stain on the inside of her nightshirt. I asked her if I could keep the nightshirt and analyze what the yellow stain was. She had yellow nails. There are not many things that cause yellow nails except for maybe if you got jaundice, but it wasn’t a jaundiced yellow, it was a little different yellow.
[00:49:46] Ashley James: And her eyes weren’t yellow?
[00:49:48] Dr. David Brownstein: Her eyes were not yellow. She’s not jaundiced there, but her nails were this particular yellow color to it. It was not a jaundice yellow but a different shade. It’s hard to describe it. So, I said to her, bromide has a yellow color to it, you’re probably detoxing from bromide. She said, what do I do? And I said, well, I’m going to put my head together with a friend of mine and we’re going to analyze this t-shirt. And I said, since you’re feeling good, up your salt intake to another teaspoon a day. I put her in a teaspoon of salt with it, increase your water intake, and start bathing in Epsom salts and we’ll get this bromide out of you.
She kept on the 50 milligrams of iodine. She was part of a study, so when I tested her, we did a bromide check on day one. When she took out 50 milligrams of iodine, her bromide levels were the highest I’ve ever seen. Thirty days later, I checked her iodine and bromide levels again. Her iodine now was coming up and her bromide was starting to come down. Sixty days later, she didn’t have a lot of bromide and her iodine levels were stabilizing at high levels, and she felt much better.
She lived six more years. She died of inflammatory breast cancer and had a good six years. The only thing I would do differently with her now is I would have put her on more iodine from what I know now. I did have the shirt analyzed, it’s a funny story with that. I lost her shirt. We were moving house.
I was consulting with Charles Hakala from Hakala Labs. We were developing a chemistry experiment to take a gram of the shirt from where over her breast where it’s yellow, and a gram of the shirt from the back (not yellow), and analyze the halides—fluoride, chloride, iodine, and bromide. We know how to do that. We were planning it out and then I lose the shirt. I look all over the place, can’t find it. I look at work, I look at home, and I had moved my home. We were packing stuff up and moving.
So we moved to our next home and I can’t find the iodine, it’s done. So I had some shelves in my office that maybe ten years later from this incident. It was just a couple of years ago. I was cleaning out and lo and behold in the back of the shelf is that shirt in a bag. I had sealed the bag. It was sealed. I couldn’t believe it when I found it because I looked for it for years. I opened the bag and it’s still got the yellow color to it. I called Charles, we pulled up our data, we did the experiments on it, her bromide levels were, I don’t remember the numbers, but they were really high. On the back of the shirt, there was no bromide, and so she was excreting bromide. This was the first case that was ever reported of someone detoxifying from bromide in that way.
[00:53:04] Ashley James: From her breasts.
[00:53:06] Dr. David Brownstein: From her breasts.
[00:53:07] Ashley James: Where the cancer was.
[00:53:09] Dr. David Brownstein: And her nails.
[00:53:10] Ashley James: Yeah. Wow. Well, thank you so much, Dr. Brownstein. I know you have to go. Thank you so much for coming here today and sharing this information. I think it’s so vital that we continue to seek out information to add to our nutritional protocol and also the idea that using certain things like iodine for detoxification as well is really critical.
It’s always a pleasure speaking with you. Listeners can go to drbrownstein.com. They can also go to centerforholisticmedicine.com. And please, get Dr. Brownstein’s books, go to his website, lots of great information. Of course, listen to episode 462 where he shares his very fascinating story with very successful treatment of his patients over the last year plus that have had coronavirus infections. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Is there anything you’d like to say to wrap up today’s interview?
[00:54:16] Dr. David Brownstein: No, thanks for having me, Ashley. I would say that if you’re not feeling good out there and you’re sick and you’re not getting answers, really try and find a good holistic doctor who can help work with you and work together with you to find out what’s wrong and what’s imbalanced. The human body is pretty well-designed when we give it what it needs, and we keep away from what it shouldn’t be exposed to. It takes a little bit of work, but the work can be worth it because you should go through life feeling good with enough energy and be happy.
[00:54:50] Ashley James: Absolutely. That is my philosophy as well. Thank you so much and I look forward to having you back on the show.
[00:54:57] Dr. David Brownstein: Thanks, Ashley.
[00:54:57] Ashley James: Have a great day, thank you.
I hope you enjoyed today’s interview with Dr. Brownstein. I just wanted to remind you, if you’re interested in using the Sunlighten Technology to help your body detoxify and achieve your health goals, I highly recommend going to sunlighten.com, checking it out, listening to my interviews about sauna therapy, and specifically using the Sunlighten Technology, which you can find those by going to learntruehealth.com and using the search function there, or just give them a call. Just Google Sunlighten, Sunlighten Sauna, and give them a call.
Make sure you mention my name, Ashley James, and the Learn True Health podcast so that you get this special that they are giving our listeners this month. I want to make sure that you get the best discount and also get the best experience with them. If you have any questions about my experience with Sunlighten, feel free to reach out to me. You can email me, email@example.com, and you can also reach out to me in the Facebook group by going to learntruehealth.com/group to be redirected to the group, or just search Learn True Health on Facebook.
So again, that’s Sunlighten Sauna. Google them, give them a call. They’re all wonderful to talk to, and then make sure you mention Learn True Health the podcast and Ashley James to get your special.
I am just so thrilled with the outpouring of information, the sharing from all the listeners these last five years. So many listeners have gotten a Sunlighten Sauna or done other practices that other guests have recommended and then they come back and they share with me, they email me, or they share in the Facebook group. And so many people have been thrilled with their experience using the Sunlighten Sauna, as have I.
This is one thing for me to say that I’ve had a great experience, I’ve had an amazing experience, and my guests to share that they and their patients have amazing experiences. But then when we see it in the Facebook group and listeners are sharing that they love their Solo System, they love their Sunlighten, and that it’s made such a difference in their life, it’s really cool.
As a community, we can come together in the Learn True Health Facebook group and we can share what’s worked for us so that we can learn from each other. I hope you have a fantastic rest of your day, and I look forward to you coming and joining the group and sharing with us what you’ve learned and loved learning from the Learn True Health podcast. Have yourself a fantastic rest of your day.