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Audio Embedded Iodine Insufficiency FAQ - Jorge D. Flechas, M.D.
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Iodine Insufficiency FAQ - Jorge D. Flechas, M.D.

Listing of some important benefits of iodine. Probably has been posted before, but not seen by new forum members.


Jorge D. Flechas, M.D.



Iodine Insufficiency FAQ

Flechas JD


"How does iodine deficiency manifest itself?  Research work has shown that iodine deficiency in the thyroid presents as a thyroid goiter (enlargement of the thyroid). In those areas of the world where iodine deficiency is very high, such as in Switzerland and in certain areas of Asia and Africa, there are also higher incidents of thyroid cancer. Iodine is also concentrated by breast tissue, and a lack of iodine in the breasts manifests as fibrocystic breast disease (painful breasts with nodules and cysts and often more symptomatic prior to menstrual periods). 93% of American women have fibrocystic breast disease and the longer this disease exists, the higher the potential risk for development of breast cancer. 20% of all iodine in the human body is stored in the skin, specifically in the sweat glands. Lack of iodine in the sweat glands manifests as dry skin with a decreased ability to sweat. Iodine can also be concentrated in the stomach tissue, and the lack of iodine in the stomach manifests as achlorhydria (lack of digestive acid production). Iodine is used by the stomach cells, also known as parietal cells, to concentrate chloride which is necessary to produce hydrochloric acid (digestive acid). With the prolonged presence of achlorhydria, there is a much higher incidence of stomach cancer. Iodine is concentrated in the lacrymal glands of the eye, and a lack of iodine can cause dry eyes. Iodine can also be concentrated in the parotid and submandibular glands of the mouth, and iodine deficiency here can result in dry mouth. Iodine can be concentrated in the ovaries, and Russian studies done some years ago showed a relationship between iodine deficiency and the presence of cysts in the ovaries. The greater the iodine deficiency, the more ovarian cysts a woman produces. In its extreme form, this condition is known as polycystic ovarian disease."


"What about iodine and aging?  As most of us know, hypertension (high blood pressure) often becomes an issue as we age. Because of this, many are being told that they need to decrease the total amount of salt in their diet. However, we must realize that most people over age 60 are becoming depleted of iodine due to the lack of iodine in the diet and that this particular group of individuals is also the group with the highest occurrence of thyroid nodules and goiters. Also of interest is that 25% of the people in this age category will become senile as a result of low thyroid (hypothyroidism). Iodine supplementation may alleviate these iodine-related maladies, but iodine testing and thyroid studies such as a thyroid ultrasound and thyroid lab tests should be conducted prior to beginning iodine supplementation therapy."


"Can Iodine be used while a woman is pregnant?  In Japan, the average Japanese woman is eating 13.8 mg of iodine per day while the average American woman consumes 100 times less iodine per day (approximately 0.138 mg per day). For iodine supplementation, I have been prescribing Iodoral, a product made by the Optimox Corporation. Iodoral contains a 12.5 mg combination of iodine/iodide per tablet. Iodine is very crucial in the first three years of life from the development of the fetus inside the womb until two years after birth. In the development of a child's IQ, I feel that it would be very advantageous for the mother to supplement her diet during pregnancy and, if she is nursing the child, for the first two years after pregnancy."


"What happens to thyroid hormone production in the presence of iodine supplementation?   Iodine supplementations should be prescribed only when iodine testing indicates iodine deficiency. Iodine testing kits can be ordered from my office (828 684 3233) by individuals or by medical practitioners. Traditional medical literature indicates that patients who have thyroid nodules or thyroid goiter may have the potential to develop hyperthyroidism when supplementing with iodine. Hence, before commencing iodine supplementation, it would be advantageous for a person to have their primary care doctor order a thyroid ultrasound to rule out the possibility of pre-existing goiter or thyroid nodules. The primary care doctor should also order thyroid lab work (to be used as a baseline) before prescribing iodine therapy and this lab work should be repeated and followed at regular intervals during the patient's iodine therapy. For iodine therapy patients not also on thyroid hormone replacement therapy, adjustments to the iodine therapy should be made if signs of hyperthyroidism should occur. Should signs of hyperthyroidism occur in patients who are taking thyroid hormone replacement therapy as well as taking iodine supplementation, the physician should first recommend an adjustment in the thyroid hormone therapy rather than in the iodine supplementation. This adjustment in therapy is recommended because iodine is required not only by the thyroid but is required for the proper functioning of many other tissues. The presence of pre-existing thyroid nodules or goiter does not preclude the patient from iodine supplementation therapy. In fact, in the extensive research with iodine therapy done in my office, I have seen many case of pre-existing thyroid nodules and goiter shrink in the presence of iodine therapy."


Orthoiodosupplementation in a primary care practice

Flechas, J.D.

The Original Internist, 12(2):89-96, 2005.


“My practice is family medicine with an integrative medicine twist. I have been using iodine supplementation in my practice over the last four years in amounts needed for whole body sufficiency (orthoiodosupplementation). Orthoiodosupplementation is the daily amount of iodine required for whole body sufficiency. Whole body sufficiency for iodine is assessed by an iodine/iodide loading test.”


“Following orthoiodosupplementation, serum T4 and TSH levels usually go down and free T3 stays steady. I have seen TSH sometimes go up rather than down while T4 and free T3 did not change or may have gone up some. This does not mean that the patient was developing hypothyroidism but that the brain was stimulating the body to make more sodium iodide symporters (NIS)…. While taking iodide, one may see an elevated TSH but we have to recognize that this is not a bad thing. TSH has many actions outside the thyroid that have been discovered…. Often a check of the patient’s T4, free T3 and TSH shows the T4 to go down, free T3 going down and TSH going up. Iodide is an essential nutrient that is absorbed by all cell lines. Its highest concentration is seen in the thyroid.”


“The nutritional status of the patient will determine its response to orthoiodosupplementation.  It is crucial that the thyroid gland has plenty of antioxidants in its cells and many other nutrients.”


“Breast tissue has an affinity for iodine. Iodine deficiency causes fibrocystic breast disease (FBD) with nodules, cyst enlargement, pain and scar tissue.”


“Once FBD is gone, a patient may opt to drop iodine intake to 12.5 to 25 mg per day. There is a chance that the cysts will return. Optimum amount for most patients for FBD is 50 mg (4 tablets) per day continued indefinitely. Monitoring the patient’s serum TSH, T4 and free T3 is done every three to six months. We did not see any major changes in serum T4, TSH and free T3 in these patients.”


“In the Type 1 diabetics that we have been following we have noted that if C-peptide is measurable, this would suggest that the individual is making their own insulin. I have been able to help this group of patients to get off insulin or to greatly reduce the amount they need for good glucose control with Iodoral at 4 tablets/day (50 mg). If C-peptide is absent then we feel there is no insulin being produced and we have not been able to help this particular group of patients to get off their insulin. We have been able to help these patients lower the total amount of insulin needed to control their glucose.”


“When patients take between 12.5 to 50 mg of iodine per day, it seems that the body becomes increasingly more responsive to thyroid hormones. T3 and steroid hormones show the same family of receptors as hydrophobic small molecules.  Clur has postulated that iodization of tyrosine residues in the hydrophobic portion of these receptors normalize their response to the corresponding hormone. Optimal intake of iodine in amounts two orders of magnitude greater than iodine levels needed for goiter control may be required for iodization of these receptors.”


“Another organ that can concentrate iodine is the liver. An enterohepatic circulation of iodine has been reported recently. I have one patient with liver fatty infiltration who had varicosities of the esophagus with bleeding. Once she started on iodine for FDB we noticed that her GI bleeding stopped and the varicose veins of her stomach and esophagus disappeared.”


“Iodine deficiency may cause the ovaries to develop cysts, nodules and scar tissue. At its worse this ovarian pathology is very similar to that of polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). As of the writing of this article I have five PCOS patients. The patients have successfully been brought under control with the use of 50 mg of iodine per day. Control with these patients meaning cysts are gone, periods every 28 days and type 2 diabetes mellitus under control.”


“Iodine induces apoptosis and inhibits cells from forming cancer. The absence of iodine in the thyroid causes goiter. Goiter is associated with breast cancer, stomach cancer, esophageal cancer, ovarian cancer and endometrial cancer. It is felt by many researchers that the absence of iodine is a promoter of cancer. I feel that those patients with the lowest excretion rates and the highest absorption of iodine on the iodine-loading test are the ones with the highest risk for development of cancer. From literally hundreds of phone interviews with patients over the last two years, the levels of iodine excretion that seem to raise the highest alarm are those in which the excretion is somewhere around 10 mg or less per 24 hours in patients age 35 and up. My observations at this point show that there is a definite increase in the incidence of breast cancer, stomach cancer, ovarian cancer or thyroid cancer. If a patient has the iodine loading test and has an iodine excretion of 10 mg or less in a 24-hour period, I initiate a cancer workup.”




Flechas -- Audio-Visual



Flechas JD

MP3 audio -- 50 minutes  (takes a while to download)  January 26, 2007.


In this 50-minute radio presentation (mp3 audio), Flechas covers roughly the same issues as in the earlier 2-hour presentation (see below).  There are a few additional ideas, however, that I would like to mention.


Sweating and Breast Cancer. In the earlier tape, he mentions that iodine is necessary to sweat.  Here he mentions that lack of sweating may precede breast cancer.


Bromide and Cancer.  Increased levels of bromide contribute to cancer.


Cancer and Iodine.  The following cancers are associated with goiter and iodine deficiency:  breast, thyroid, endometrium, esophageal, ovarian, stomach.


Hormone Receptors.  The receptors for almost every major hormone and neurotransmitter need iodine in order to function efficiently -- thyroid hormones, testosterone, cortisol, insulin, and more.  The single iodide that is removed in transforming T4 to T3 can join receptors and increase their sensitivity.


Thyroid Hormones and Breast Cancer.  Supplemental Thyroid Hormones are not benign.  They double the risk of breast cancer, and that risk increases over time.


Thyroid Hormones and Iodine Absorption.  Supplemental Thyroid Hormones inhibit the ability of the body to absorb iodine, thus increasing breast cancer risk.


Iodine and Lipids.  Iodine keeps the fats and lipids in the body from getting oxidized.  This is one of Iodine's most important functions.  70% of the body iodine is found in muscles and fat (vs. 3% in the thyroid).



Iodine Deficiency

Flechas JD

MP3 audio -- 2 hours (takes a while to download)  January 5, 2007.


In this two-hour radio presentation (mp3 audio), Flechas considers a range of iodine related issues:  fibrocystic breasts, hypothyroidism, ovarian cysts, attention-deficit disorder, pregnancy, IQ, senility, iodine history, bromide, fluoride, obesity, depression, constipation, detoxing (from bromide, fluoride, arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum), cancer (prostate, thyroid, breast), diabetes (blood sugar control), receptors (hormones, neurotransmitters), testosterone, itching, sweating, histidine and histamine, functions of iodine, heart disease (especially arrhythmias, abnormal heart beats), iodine doses.


I will mention here just a few of the ideas he presents.


Recommended Iodine Protocol.  50 mg/day of iodine in the form of Lugol’s or Iodoral.  Plus 1500 mg, twice a day, of Vitamin C (ester C or buffered C).  If high bromide, add one teaspoon per day of Celtic sea salt or Potassium chloride (KCl).


Getting Off Thyroid Hormones.  First, start the iodine supplementation.  Then, if there are symptoms of HYPERthyroidism (nervousness, insomnia, sweating in palms, oily skin), you can reduce the thyroid hormones in half.  Do not reduce the thyroid hormones until symptoms of hyperthyroidism occur.  They may occur 3 or 4 weeks after starting iodine supplementation, or 3 or 4 months later, or a year later.  Or it may not occur at all. 


Why may the iodine enable you to reduce your thyroid hormones?  Iodine will increase the sensitivity of the thyroid RECEPTORS to the hormone.  Thus, less thyroid hormone is needed.


Hormone Receptors and Iodine.  All hormone receptors are dependent on iodine, which increases the sensitivity of the receptor to the hormone it is designed for.  For example, it can increase the sensitivity of insulin receptors and thus help with diabetes.  Similarly, it can increase the sensitivity of the receptors for neurotransmitters (e.g., serotonin, dopamine, GABA) in the brain.  Thus, depression may lift after taking iodine.  It can also increase the sensitivity of receptors for testosterone and FSH/LH.


Thyroid Hormones and Iodine.  If you take supplemental thyroid hormones, you inhibit the ability of the body to absorb iodine.  That is why they recommend to patients about to received radioactive-iodine scans that they go off all thyroid hormones for two to three weeks prior to the scan.  Women who take thyroid hormones have a much higher risk of breast cancer than other women.


Histidine and Histamine.  Histidine is the precursor for histamine.  Anti-histamines are used to control runny noses, hives, and itching.  Iodine inhibits the conversion of histidine to histamine, thus reducing itching, hives, etc.


Iodine and Heavy Metals.  When taking iodine, there is GREATLY increased excretion in the urine of arsenic, mercury, lead, aluminum, and other toxic metals.  Iodine is selective in that it leaves the essential metals (e.g., iron) and removes the toxic ones.


Iodine and Cancer.  In many cancers, the mechanism for getting iodine into the cells (the NIS symporter) is not working.  The cells can’t absorb Iodine.  Absence of iodine is a promoter of thyroid cancer, breast cancer, and ovarian cancer.


Bromide.  Bromide builds up in the Central Nervous System and results in many problems.  In the 1920s Bromo-Seltzer was a bromide-based medicine that used to be used for hangovers, calming the stomach, and headaches.  It often resulted in acute paranoid psychosis with large doses.  Today, beverages (Mountain Dew, Fresca, and citric Gatorade) contain bromide in the form of “brominated vegetable oil”.  It is used as an emulsifier in citrus-flavored soft drinks.  The bromide functions as a CNS depressant and triggers a number of symptoms like paranoia.  Bromide is also found in flour and bread.  Brazil recently outlawed bromide in flour products.


When iodine gets into the cells, it kicks the bromide out. Bromide then increases in the blood stream and goes to the kidneys.  Chloride pushes bromide into the urine, thus getting rid of it.  That’s why taking salt is helpful in moving bromide out of the body


Iodine in the Skin.  20% of the body iodine is in the skin.  Iodine in the skin helps your body be able to sweat.


Iodine and Pregnancy.  IQ is mostly set by the age of two.  Adequate iodine during pregnancy and the first two years of life can increase IQ by 15 points.  If there is low iodine but high fluoride, it can result in cretinism (severe mental retardation).


Iodine and Salt.  50% of American households are now using salt without iodine.  Moreover, the AMA is going to recommend reducing salt consumption by 50% over the next 10 years.  Iodine has been removed from bread and greatly reduced in milk.  Fewer and fewer Americans are getting sufficient iodine.  25-30% of people over 60 who become senile are hypothyroid due to low iodine, often because of low salt prescribed for hypertension.


Iodine and the Breast.  Iodine is very important to the breast.  Iodine deficiency results in fibrocystic breasts, which can be cured with adequate iodine.  If left without iodine, the fibrocystic breasts can develop breast cancer.


Iodine Sensitivity.  If you can take iodized salt, you can take Lugol's or Iodoral.  If iodized salt gives you hives, avoid iodine.  Less than 1/2% of the population is iodine sensitive.


Iodine Loading Test.  It is a good idea to take the Iodine Loading Test before supplementing with iodine.  Then, repeat the test in about 3 or 4 months to be sure your body is absorbing the iodine appropriately.  If it is not, your practitioner can help you make changes so that your body will absorb it. 





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