Hi everyone, in the hopes that my story will help someone else, here it is. It's a long one.
A quick description: I'm a woman in my late thirties who unknowingly experienced high chronic fluoride exposure, causing a myriad of health issues: worsening allergies, fibrocystic breast disease, and thyroid issues, silent reflux and swallowing problems. I've thankfully discovered iodine, and slowly I'm getting back on track.
Here's my story:
Three months ago, I decided to stop drinking tea. At the time I'd been researching everything I could find about allergies. I've had year-round airborne allergies for many years, but for the past three years they had continuously gotten worse. I had started wearing a mask and staying indoors all the time. I had always been an outdoorsy person, and athletic, and I didn't recognize this person who I'd become. And I was embarrassed to tell friends why I didn't want to go hiking or sit outside at the cafe. I couldn't believe how bad it had gotten, despite ten years of shots and taking every holistic and allopathic allergy medicine known. It was seriously limiting the joy in my life.
I found a website listing a bunch of food and drink to avoid if you have allergies, and tea was on the list, and I thought - okay, I'll stop drinking tea. Three years before, I changed jobs and had started drinking tea every day instead of coffee, because it was easier. I drank about 1 or 2 cups a day of Tazo chai, or sometimes Stash green tea chai. I usually used two tea bags per cup, because I liked it strong. Sometimes I even let the tea bags sit for extra long.
The change from coffee to tea seemed to fit the pattern of my worsening allergies. I wondered also if the switch could be related to the change in recent years to my periods, which had gotten much closer together. My whole adult life they were always 31 days apart, but had been 26, 25 or even 24 days apart the past two years. (My OB had only shrugged when I mentioned my more frequent periods. She was only concerned about the three sudden new fibroadenomas in my right breast).
So I stopped the tea, not really thinking it would make a difference. Or at least not for a long time. What I didn't know is that tea, the actual plant camellia saneness, contains a lot of fluoride. Much more than is added to drinking water. So much for the health benefits of drinking green tea!!! And the longer you let the tea bag sit, the more fluoride you are getting from the leaves. http://fluoridealert.org/issues/sources/tea/
I had been slowing replacing all of the Iodine
in my body with fluoride, and doing any number of unknown bad things to my body.
About three weeks after stopping the tea cold turkey, I started having moments where my neck felt achey and tight, similar to that feeling you get before a bad sore throat starts. I sometimes felt similar symptoms from allergies so I assumed allergies were causing this, even though it wasn't exactly the same feeling. This new throat feeling was very depressing. It made me think my allergies were continuing to get worse and worse. I started looking for a new allergist, and one of them asked about my thyroid, which had never been tested. He said a thyroid problem can cause congestion. Interesting, but I didn't think I had any of the symptoms of thyroid problems. But I'd get tested and see. My TSH was tested and it was 2.90, and considered normal. My bilirubin and cholesterol were both high.
My husband and I took a short trip to New Orleans in early June. While we were there, we ate almost nothing but oysters. I felt pretty good on that trip, and we joked about how we should move to New Orleans because my allergies seem so much better there. I thought it was the air in New Orleans - much more moist and in June it was already past tree pollen season. What I didn't know was that oysters are very high in zinc, selenium, iron and iodine!
A few days after we came home I felt bad again. My neck felt stiff, my ears hurt, my throat was sore. I was so used to feeling sick all of the time that I didn't question this very much. But I also started experiencing what I now know is "vocal chord disfunction" or VCD. VCD is when your vocal chords close instead of open when you try to breath in, usually during exercise. It's pretty scary when it happens because you literally can't get air into your lungs. I thought I was developing asthma, even though the symptoms of asthma are that you can't get the air OUT of the lungs. Later in June, I also started having a pain in my upper chest, and slightly on the right side. I had constant post nasal drip going on, from allergies, and thought maybe I was getting an infection in my lungs. I saw an internist who gave me an EKG and a chest Xray and sent me home. Both tests were normal.
During all of this time, I was periodically very emotional, crying really easily. It seemed pretty normal considering I felt like my body was falling apart. I never considered that I might be depressed. Despite crying through doctor appointments, and sometimes wishing my breast lumps would lead to a ticket out of my life, permanently.
By July, I had completely lost my voice. I also had jaw pain, and ear pain so bad I put hot packs on the sides of my head. I couldn't pop my ears because the swelling in my throat was blocking my eustation tubes. I went to my ENT, a new doctor I had started seeing in May about my constant daily headache I'd had for years. Since I couldn't speak, I wrote a three page description of what was going on with me, which seemed to change by the hour. He checked me out and sent me home saying I just had a cold, (and to come back when I was ready to discuss surgery for my deviated septum.) I nodded, because that was all I could do.
I did, in fact, have a cold. But the cold went away and the ear pain, jaw pain and throat swollen feeling did not. After a week of sipping honey water and eating very watered down oatmeal, my voice was still only marginally back. Now I knew this was NOT related to allergies. I have lost my voice many times but never felt like this. I never had a weak voice, or this strange throat feeling, and nagging upper chest pain. I couldn't talk in a way that I've never not been able to talk before. I wasn't strong enough to push the air out.
In late July, it became harder and harder to swallow food. It felt like something was in the way. There was a definite "click" when I swallowed that hadn't been there before. A quick google search suggested a thyroid nodule. But also, silent reflux (reflux without heartburn). The symptoms of silent reflux fit well, and I had been eating a lot of chocolate (loosens the esophageal sphincters) and I did drink sparkling water sometimes. Even the post-nasal drip I'd assumed was my allergies fit this new self-diagonosis. This is normally controlled with serious stomach acid reducers, proton pump inhibitors and the like. But I felt my stomach was fine if I could keep the doors to it shut. The other drugs were leading to more problems for people, from what I read online. So I never took my self-diagnosis to a doctor, who would prescribe PPIs, and instead I was determined to save myself. I changed my diet, and it did help.
More research about silent reflux, or LPR, turned up causes for this like a hiatal hernia, or a weak diaphragm. I did feel like my diaphram was weak. I noticed I was using my upper chest to breath. Could that be the cause of the chest pain? I stopped eating chocolate and drank only flat water. I sipped water with honey constantly already because my mouth and throat were so incredibly dry.
By this time, it was nearly three months since stopping the tea. Among all of the bad stuff going on, there were some positive changes. My periods had gone back to how they used to be. It took a few months to see the pattern, but it was undeniable. After two years of 25 day cycles, my periods were lengthening to 28, 29 and then 30 days apart. It had to be from stopping the tea, but how? That's when I started searching online about tea and found out it contains large amounts of fluoride. I read about the impact on the thyroid, and knew that was my issue. I considered that even the silent reflux symptoms, the weak diaphragm, and swelling problems could all be related. I guessed I probably needed some iodine. At the first opportunity I went out for sushi and ordered a seaweed salad and one of those "cones" which is essentially an entire sheet of nori seaweed with a tiny piece of fish inside. That night I could hardly sleep. Not from excitement, but literally, I could NOT fall asleep. I'm sure I did, eventually. But it seemed like I was awake all night.
In the morning, I woke up three hours earlier than is usual, and nearly leapt out of bed feeling like a super hero. It was so incredible that I can't even describe it. I had no idea how tired I'd been until that moment. Or how cold I'd been, how colorless my world was, or how little appetite I'd had. Only after I felt THAT amazing did I realize how bad I'd really been. I threw on some clothes and went outside, in the air, and in the sun, and I swear the sky has never looked so blue.
I now know I had my symptoms of hypothyroid that I didn't know I had. Photophobia. Fatigue. Lack of motivation. Dry mouth - fat tongue - impressions of your teeth in your tongue and cheeks - cold feet - impressions on your face from the sheets in the morning. All of them are going away.
I thought I was depressed from my horrible allergies and the limits it was putting on my life. I still have allergies but it doesn't get me down like before. And also my allergies have improved significantly. OR, the headache and throat symptoms were not even allergy symptoms at all.
I'm now taking a multivitamin with selenium, and an Iodine
supplement. It's only been three weeks since that morning after the sushi when I felt like a super hero. I've been slowing increasing my Iodine
from 500mcg a day plus seaweed snacks, to 5000 mcg a day of iodine drops. I had a few days of a mania feeling, which I think was a hyperthyroid reaction, followed by a few days of what felt like hypothyroid again. One night I forgot to take my allergy medicine, which usually would have woken me up at night with symptoms but I felt totally fine the next day, which is a miracle.
The first week, after a few days of iodine supplementation, my mouth completely dried up, interestingly. I theorized it being my thyroid waking up from a deep sleep due to the iodine, and going a little crazy, stealing iodine from everywhere else. You need iodine for your salivary glands, I discovered. I doubled the iodine and increased every day until I could wake up without my lips and cheeks sticking to my teeth. Now my mouth isn't dry at all. For years, having a dry mouth was something I had accepted as a side effect of the antihistamines I was on - could it have been insufficient iodine all along?
In the third week, I was sticking with about 3,000mcg of iodine a day, and slowly started to feel tired again. I started sleeping until 9am. I figured it was okay to have this happen because my body needed time to find it's balance. But instead, I just continued to feel more tired, and even cold again. I had more allergy symptoms too. After a few days of this progressive backslide, my son broke his arm and we spent a long time in urgent care waiting. I forgot to drink enough, and I missed lunch. I also missed all the iodine I would have added to my lunch. By evening, I felt like I couldn't pick my limbs up from the couch. I could feel myself breathing with my upper chest again, and felt like my diaphragm was completely weak. Like I wished I had an iron lung to breathe for me. This setback started to worry me. I wasn't sure which way to go. More iodine? Less iodine? Ugh. I went with more. In fact, I took a LOT of iodine all at once. Which I hadn't been doing. In an hour I felt better. But then I could hardly sleep. So I'm still figuring this thing out.
I sometimes feel nervous because I am completely self-medicating, and I do get scared when I see some of the warnings about iodine online, even though the negative evidence is correlational not causal, and very weak on top of that. Still, the negative thoughts creep in. "I don't really know what I'm doing." "What if I break my thyroid?" Yesterday my stomach was very upset which could have been something from lunch (or was it the iodine???) And last night I had itchy palms which is strange. (OMG, is it the iodine?) I spend way too much time studying what goes into my body (and what comes out!).
I have considered seeing a doctor about it. But after four different doctors recently have failed to help, and knowing what I know about typical care for thyroid issues, seeing a doctor is not a good idea. They are not going to know what fluoride has done to me anymore than I do. We have to wait and see.
Do we really know what it feels like to detox from fluoride? Everything I find from research is about teeth and bones. What I'm experiencing is nothing related to either one. I don't have any white spots on my teeth and i have no arthritis or joint pain. I wish I could find someone who's been through this already.
There is no denying that I need iodine more than ever right now or how much better iodine has made me feel. Logically it makes sense for me to continue supplementing, so I try not to let the setbacks, and fear get to me. I think the selenium supplementation should protect me. I just wish I could fast forward two months and know what will happen.
How much iodine do I need to recover from three years of daily fluoride dosing? My estimate is that I was getting 5-10 mg of fluoride a day. Maybe more, because I was lazy and liked strong tea, so i let those bags sit for sometimes 30 minutes or more! Will my thyroid be permanently damaged from this? Could I have Breast Cancer
from this? I still feel something in the way sometimes when I swallow. It seems to come and go during the day even, possibly in relation to when I take iodine, which I try to spread out through the day.
I have ordered iodoral iodine tablets of 12.5 and hope to build up soon to take them without feeling hyperthyroid. I go for a physical and more blood work next week. I will probably tell my internist about the tea and the fluoride and the iodine, but I'm prepared for any kind of reaction.
I'm not sure what my OB will think about iodine to treat the fibroadenomas in my breasts. I am due for another ultrasound, but every time I go, they want to do a biopsy. I hope after some time on iodine and off the tea, the lumps will shrink on their own. I'm not sure.
All of this started out as a search to save myself from horrible allergies. Allergies that were keeping me indoors, and in pain. My allergies are so much improved that I don't even think about them anymore. I have gone outside during ragweed season no less. I'm excited about my future for the first time in a long time.