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Category Archives: Blog

Iodine and the Thyroid – An Ever Delicate Balance

Iodine and the Thyroid – An Ever Delicate Balance

Our clinic sees many different thyroid disorders and one of the main questions that we get from patients is about whether supplemental iodine will be helpful for their thyroid.  While we wish that the answer to this question were simple, the role of iodine in the thyroid is a complicated one.  We will outline the basics of iodine’s function in the thyroid here for those who want a little more information on the subject.

In short, iodine is essential for production of thyroid hormone within the thyroid gland.  In order for the thyroid gland to make enough thyroid hormone, it needs the right amount of iodine; between 100 and 300 micrograms per day of iodine intake is generally recommended for the average person.  Iodine is also a powerful antioxidant in many other organs in the body besides the thyroid and can be very beneficial to tissue healing and decreasing inflammation.

Although this nutrient can be very beneficial in the right amount, it can also be harmful if there is too much in the system.  Because our bodies are so good at regulating themselves, too much iodine in the bloodstream doesn’t automatically create more thyroid hormone.  When iodide (the form of iodine in our blood) is in the thyroid gland cells, it is converted to iodine by an enzyme known as thyroid peroxidase (or TPO) to be used to make thyroid hormone.  This process is called oxidation, and produces what most people know as free oxygen radicals, which can damage nearby cells and cause inflammation in an area.  Normally these radicals are reduced by other antioxidants in the body; however, if there are not enough antioxidants to help offset the oxidation of iodine in the thyroid tissue, it produces a lot of inflammation and damage to the nearby thyroid cells.  This condition, where free radicals damage the tissue in response to things like higher iodine blood levels have been linked to autoimmune diseases such as Hashimoto’s thyroiditis.  In Hashimoto’s,  antibodies attach to cells in the thyroid gland and damage the cells and surrounding tissues.

But here is where the major complication arises – we need iodine to make thyroid hormone, and without it we can’t make enough thyroid hormone and therefore become hypothyroid.

So if too little iodine can make you hypothyroid and too much iodine can make hypothyroidism worse in autoimmune conditions, how can we find a balance?  It is always important to make sure to identify the underlying cause of what is causing your thyroid to malfunction (if possible) if it is not working correctly.  If there is an iodine deficiency present (which is possible even in the United States), then iodine may help to improve symptoms and increase production of thyroid hormone.  In relation to Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, and other chronic autoimmune thyroid diseases, it is often better to decrease the amount of iodine until antibody levels can be reduced, so that you are not aggravating the inflammation already present in the thyroid gland with additional iodine.

If you are looking to check your iodine intake in relation to your thyroid, generally 100 – 300 micrograms per day is the standard intake.  If you have Hashimoto’s thyroiditis, it is ideal to keep your iodine intake below 600 micrograms per day to avoid causing complications with your condition.  Pregnant women need to be additionally careful and should consult with their physician on what an appropriate intake of iodine should be.

Of course, if you have any type of thyroid condition, it is important to work with your doctor to improve your thyroid function on all levels.  Free-radical oxidation can happen due to a number of triggers including environmental toxicity, food allergies, or other inflammatory triggers.  It is important to figure out which triggers are specifically affecting your thyroid and treating it at the root cause.  If you have questions about how you can treat your thyroid disease and reduce thyroid antibodies, call our clinic today to speak with one of our physicians.

Natural Treatments for Diabetes

Natural Treatments for Diabetes

Approximately 8% of the population in the United States suffers from Diabetes.  This includes almost 26 million children and adults that are affected by this condition, which limits the body’s ability to regulate blood sugar.  Diabetes is generally classified into 2 categories, known as type 1 and type 2.  Type 1 diabetes is an autoimmuneContinue Reading

Type 1 Diabetes and Gluten – the Autoimmune Connection

Type 1 Diabetes and Gluten – the Autoimmune Connection

Type 1 diabetes is an increasingly common childhood condition.  It is caused by an autoimmune reaction against beta cells, which make insulin in the pancreas.  This cell destruction leads to the inability of the pancreas to make insulin, which is responsible for controlling blood sugar levels in our body.  While little is known about whatContinue Reading

Spring is Here – And So are Seasonal Allergies!

Spring is Here – And So are Seasonal Allergies!

Ahhh… spring. Here in the Pacific Northwest it can be a wonderful time.  Spring brings longer, warmer days, a little extra sun, and of course the beautifully blooming flowers and trees.  Who wouldn’t love the cherry blossoms in bloom, or the alders with their clumps of fluffy pollen floating through the air like snow?  Well….Continue Reading

Autoimmune Diseases – What Are They?

Autoimmune Diseases – What Are They?

Autoimmune diseases are quite common in our community, but the terminology “autoimmune” is still unrecognizable by many people.  Why is that?  In general, most people who suffer from symptoms of an autoimmune disease have never actually received a specific diagnosis.  Also, many of these types of diseases were discovered before modern medicine determined that theyContinue Reading

Zinc Supplementation Can Help Support Your Immune System (in more ways than you may realize)

Zinc Supplementation Can Help Support Your Immune System (in more ways than you may realize)

Would you like to decrease your chances of catching a cold this season or developing an autoimmune condition?  Perhaps appropriate zinc supplementation can help.  As naturopathic physicians and acupuncturists, we get fantastic questions from our patients about supplements on a regular basis.  We’d like to explain some of the ins and outs of zinc whichContinue Reading

Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Natural Treatments for Rheumatoid Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a debilitating disease that has become much more common in our society than previously recognized, especially in women.  While it is not understood exactly why rheumatoid arthritis occurs, it is currently categorized as an autoimmune disease.  This means that the immune system in those with RA somehow begins to recognize theContinue Reading

Depression and Autoimmunity – Surviving the Winter

Depression and Autoimmunity – Surviving the Winter

The winter months can be a difficult time to maintain an optimistic attitude in life, despite the challenges that we may or may not have to face.  This is definitely true during a Pacific NW winter where 90% of our waking hours are spent clouded over; when the sun does shine through, it only hasContinue Reading

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Frequently Asked Questions

Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine – Frequently Asked Questions

Acupuncture is a medical treatment that still holds a lot of mystery for many Americans.  Some of the important questions we frequently are asked regarding acupuncture and Chinese Medicine (cumulatively called Traditional Chinese Medicine, or TCM) are: What does it treat?  How many treatments will it take to improve my condition?  Do the needles hurt? Continue Reading

Does Your Joint Pain Get Worse In Winter Weather?

Does Your Joint Pain Get Worse In Winter Weather?

Not all joint pain is created equal.  Rheumatoid arthritis is a disease characterized by inflammation caused by the immune system attacking specific tissues leading to potentially excruciating joint pain in many joints in the body. For sufferers of rheumatoid arthritis (frequently called RA), symptoms often flare up in cold, damp winter weather, especially in theContinue Reading