Taking high-dose iodine: What you need to know
To watch my video version of this post, on YouTube, click here.
Many people have reported success following the high-dose iodine protocol to treat thyroid problems, and also to treat other conditions, including breast lumps, prostrate problems, irregular heartbeat and even allergies.
However this is a complex and controversial procedure. Although iodine has been used since the early 1800s to treat a whole range of medical conditions, the high dose iodine protocol was developed just a couple of decades ago and is not widely known or understood.
First of all, it’s essential that you do some background reading BEFORE you embark on this treatment, and/or consult an iodine-literate practitioner. Most conventionally-trained doctors are not aware of the high-dose iodine protocol.
There are no UK practitioners on the list. At the time of writing, I know of only one iodine-literate UK practitioner: Dr Sarah Myhill, who is based in Wales. However her website says she is currently not accepting new patient consultations due to her heavy workload.
If you can’t find an iodine-literate practitioner, be sure to read up on the subject before you start, as if you go about it the wrong way, it probably won’t work for you. This procedure can take a bit of trial and error, as there are so many different types of iodine deficiency problems.
The protocol worked for me, thankfully. I didn’t find an iodine-literate practitioner to consult, but I did a lot of background reading before I started taking high-dose iodine. And even then I faltered at one stage because it was taking longer than I had expected to get results.
I halved the dosage of iodine on advice from an online forum, but instead of improving my symptoms, it set me back considerably.
Having said this, I DO recommend that you join an online forum if you’re embarking on this protocol. Although you may occasionally get advice that doesn’t work for you, you will also get a lot of great advice and you’ll be able to learn from the experiences of others who have been through this treatment.
Find out if you have an iodine deficiency
Ideally, you should try to establish whether you really do have an iodine deficiency. This is not an easy thing to do, and in my own case I had to rely on detective work, taking all the symptoms I had into consideration and doing some skin patch tests, which are generally seen as unreliable.
Some practitioners offer urine tests to test for iodine levels. David Brownstein MD believes this form of testing is unreliable, and along with co-investigators into the high-dose iodine protocol, he developed an iodine loading test that involves measuring the iodine excreted in the urine over 24 hours.
I did several skin patch tests to gauge my iodine levels. This is where you paint a square of tincture of iodine – which must NEVER be ingested – or Lugol’s iodine in liquid form – onto the skin, usually on the arm, belly or inner thigh, and monitor how long the yellow colour remains visible. The theory is that the faster the iodine colour disappears from the skin, the more iodine deficient is the person tested.
In general, if the yellow iodine colour has faded after 8 hours, or when you get up the next morning, you are considered to have an iodine deficiency. If the colour is still there 24 hours later, you probably have nothing to worry about.
Each time I did this test, the yellow colour faded within one hour. However the test is considered to be unreliable due to several factors, including iodine’s tendency to evaporate.
But along with this, I also had several symptoms of hypothyroidism, even though a blood test from my GP suggested that my TSH or thyroid stimulating hormone level was in the normal range.
I’ve read that blood tests to establish TSH levels can also be unreliable, as these levels can fluctuate during the day.
Low physical fitness
My physical fitness had plummeted. I used to run regularly, doing a 5k park run every weekend and also enjoying 10k run events. However I had to it give up when I was running my business, as I was working very long hours and on my feet all day. When I tried to get back to running, I found it impossible to maintain the stamina to do more than 20 minutes at a time. If I pushed myself to do more, I would get a “crash”, where I would be too exhausted to do any exercise for several days.
I got into long-distance walking instead, but my pace was quite slow, and when I tried hillwalking, which I had previously loved doing, I would get very tired and out of breath.
I started to get really exhausted, and I was sleeping nine or 10 hours a night. I really noticed this after I closed my business in 2015. I initially thought this was because I needed a good rest. I had a trip to Costa Rica already booked, and I spent four weeks mostly relaxing, and eating mainly big salads, rice, beans and fruit. Yet when I got back home I was just as tired, and for months afterwards I continued to feel very tired and to need nine or 10 hours’ sleep a night.
My weight increased rapidly, even though I was eating a relatively healthy diet with lots of fruit and vegetables. I put on 28lbs, and every weight loss strategy I tried failed. Before all this started I used to find it quite easy to lose weight.
Low resting pulse rate
My resting pulse rate was very low, generally 50 beats per minute. Twenty years earlier I’d had it tested when I was enrolling in a gym, and at that time it was found to be 78 beats a minute. A low resting pulse rate can be an indicator of high physical fitness – but that was certainly not the case with me!
Low basal body temperature
My body temperature was very low – sometimes it fell to around 35 degrees celsius, or 95 degrees fahrenheit!
Trial and error
When I first started to suspect that I might have an iodine deficiency (after I’d tried several other treatments, including adaptogenic herbs, to no avail whatsoever), I tried taking moderate doses of iodine in the form of kelp tablets, 150 micrograms a day. I did this for about 6 weeks – with no benefits whatsoever.
I was also doing a lot of online research into my symptoms, and that’s how I came across the high-dose iodine protocol. I did a lot more online research and I read Lynne Farrow’s book The Iodine Crisis and Dr David Brownstein’s book, Iodine – Why You Need It BEFORE I embarked on the treatment.
When I started the treatment, I closely followed their advice, which is:
• I started on a dose of 12.5mg of iodine each day for the first week, doubling the dose each week, for four weeks. At that time I was taking Iodorx, which is similar to Iodoral. This is basically Lugol’s iodine in tablet form.
• In Week Two I took 25mg of iodine; in Week Three I took 37.5mg and in Week Four I took 50mg. After that I did not increase the dosage, and I continued to take 50mg of Iodoral each day for a year.
It is strongly recommended to take regular doses of nutrients while on a course of high-dose iodine. These nutrients, known as “companion nutrients”, are believed to help alleviate the detox symptoms that are common in the early stages of taking high-dose iodine, when toxic halogens are dislodged and released into the bloodstream.
• 3000mg Vitamin C
• 300-600mg magnesium oxide
• 200 mcg selenium
• 100-500mg niacin or B3 twice a day – make sure this is NOT niacinamide.
• 100mg vitamin B2 three times a day.
• half a teaspoon of unrefined sea salt added to the diet every day.
• a quarter teaspoon of unrefined sea salt dissolved in 8oz water twice a day as needed (this is for the salt loading procedure, to flush toxic halogens out of the system).
• lots of fresh water.
• a comprehensive vitamin and nutrition programme.
When I developed my symptoms of subclinical hypothyroidism I was eating a diet very high in fruit and vegetables, and because of this I was already getting high doses of magnesium from my diet, so I decided not to take extra magnesium. I did not notice any negative effects from doing this.
You can get an idea of how much of each nutrient you’re consuming every day by inputting details of the food you consume into a diet analyser like cron-o-meter.
I did take the 3000mg vitamin C, even though I was already getting at least the recommended daily amount of 210.4mg of vitamin C, as clearly a very high level of vitamin C was recommended. But after a while I reduced the dose and eventually stopped taking it altogether, because it was upsetting my stomach. I didn’t suffer any ill effects from doing this.
However, I do recommend taking high doses of vitamin C when you’re doing the high-dose iodine protocol, at least in the early stages.
I had a VERY bad reaction to the B3. The type I used was described not as niacinamide, but as “nicotinic acid”. The first time I took it, I took about 200mg and I got a VERY strong reaction which I wouldn’t describe as a hot flush – it was more of a stinging, burning itchy rash. It came on so suddenly, about 20 minutes after I took the dose, that I really panicked and posted on an online forum for help. Luckily the rash disappeared just as quickly as it had appeared.
After that I took much lower doses of vitamin B3, but every time I tried to gradually build up the dose, as recommended, even slightly, I got the same kind of burning sensation, so I soon stopped taking it altogether.
After a few months I had stopped taking all the companion nutrients except for the selenium, which I understand is ESSENTIAL to take if you’re taking high doses of iodine. So I still take 200 micrograms of selenium every morning.
Find out what works for you
I have often found that when I post on online forums about the companion nutrients or the salt loading procedure, people will reply saying, “No – I found it impossible to take that. You should do it this way”, or “Take this brand – never that one”.
In my opinion this is just proof that what works for one person will not necessarily work for another, especially where the high-dose iodine protocol is concerned – because iodine is needed by so many organs in the body, which means that iodine deficiency can manifest in many different ways for different people.
It really is a case of trial and error, and you need to find out what works best for you. It’s best not to do this process totally alone – talk to other people in the online forums, do research, and if you can find a good iodine-literate practitioner, go and consult them.
In general, you should have a highly nutritious, balanced diet for the high dose iodine protocol to work well, and even if you don’t take any of the other vitamins or nutrients, it is essential to take the selenium, as selenium is a vital part of the process that converts iodine for its use by the thyroid. Selenium also protects the thyroid gland from damage by excessive amounts of iodine.¹ Some people take higher doses of selenium than 200mcg.
The salt-loading procedure is said to help clear toxic halogens from the bloodstream. To do this, you dissolve a quarter of a teaspoon of unprocessed, unrefined salt in about 8oz or 250ml water, and then immediately drink 12 to 16 oz or 350 to 500 millilitres pure water.
Repeat the process in 30 to 45 minutes if needed. You may want to repeat it again until copious urination begins.
I found the salt loading procedure to be extremely helpful. Many people who are proactive about their health are inclined to reduce their intake of salt. But salt is essential to our health, and increasing your salt intake for a limited period is unlikely to endanger your health, unless you have other health conditions where a high intake of salt could be dangerous.
In my own case, I found the salt loading procedure invaluable, and I was able to stop it completely after a couple of months – because it had worked.
There is a lot of scepticism around detoxing and flushing toxins out of the bloodstream. I can’t give a verdict on the scientific accuracy of all this. All I can say is that the salt loading process clearly worked for me. After I started taking high doses of iodine I did indeed get very tangible symptoms which some people believe are side-effects from the iodine. I don’t believe they are side-effects, because they completely disappeared after a while, despite the fact that I was still taking high doses of iodine.
The symptoms included dizziness, a kind of fuzzy brain feeling, trembling, even depression and anxiety – some of which I’ve described earlier in my YouTube series.
I found that these symptoms were alleviated by doing the salt loading procedure. When the symptoms were very strong, I had to repeat the salt loading several times, but it did seem to work. In the early days of taking high doses of iodine, I did the salt loading twice a day – and when I forgot to do it, those detox symptoms would come back strongly as a reminder!
After two months of taking high doses of iodine, I wrote in my diary “Have not done the salt loading for four days now”. I never needed to do it again after that, and I have continued to take high doses of iodine for more than a year since then.
So it does seem to me that toxins have been cleared from my system.
What are halogens?
The halogenic elements are five chemically-related elements in the periodic table: fluorine, chlorine, bromine, iodine and astatine. “Halogen” means “salt-producing” and when halogens react with other metals, they produce salts, like sodium chloride, or table salt.
Apart from astatine, which is radioactive, these halogens are not necessarily toxic in low amounts and concentrations, but halogens like bromide, chloride and fluoride can inhibit iodine-binding in the body, according to Dr David Brownstein.
Bromine intoxication, or bromism, Brownstein says in his book on iodine, has been linked to delirium, psychomotor retardation, schizophrenia and hallucination. Bromide ingestion has been linked to feelings of apathy and poor concentration, as well as depression, headaches and irritability. When there is insufficient iodine in the body, the toxicity of bromine is accelerated.²
I now filter my bathwater and drinking water to avoid chlorine building up in my system. I’ve been doing this ever since I started doing the high-dose iodine protocol. To be honest, I have no idea whether this is achieving anything, but it’s something that costs very little, and my health and fitness have improved markedly since I started doing all of these things, so I feel that I might as well continue.
To sum up…
If you think you have iodine deficiency and/or thyroid problems, and are interested in taking high-doses of iodine:
• Check your symptoms, to satisfy yourself that iodine deficiency is the problem first. Taking high doses of iodine can be risky, as too much iodine can be harmful.
• Get a blood test done to evaluate your TSH and T4 levels.
• Order an iodine loading test.
• Check your resting pulse rate and basal body temperature. You should do this three times a day.
• If you can, consult an iodine-literate practitioner.
• Join online forums about the high-dose iodine protocol, and ask other people who have done this or who are doing it about their experiences.
It worked for me!
My energy and fitness levels have soared since I beat my subclinical hypothyroidism by doing the high-dose iodine protocol, and I’ve lost 25lbs in weight. I am now starting to reduce my daily intake of iodine.
² D Brownstein, MD: Iodine – Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It