The Iodine Protocol, Hashi’s and My Journey with Sub-acute Thyroiditis

Within the group of people using the iodine protocol there are a significant number who have autoimmune Hashimito’s thyroiditis.  (Hashi’s)  The use of Iodine for those with hashi’s has been controversial.  Most Hashis patients have been told to avoid iodine which had a negative impact on their overall health.  Experience of members of the iodine group on yahoo, many participants of the iodine project, and individual patients of the iodine doctors have consistently shown iodine to be a beneficial treatment for hashi’s patients.  Many hashi’s patients have had difficulty when taking small amounts of iodine in the range of 3-12 mg especially.  For some reason these smaller does (in relation to the iodine project not the RDA) seem to aggravate their hashi’s condition and sometimes bring about a full blown hashi’s attack.  Since more conservative patients tend to start any supplementation at small doses and build up to a higher dose this effect has frightened some hashi’s patients away from continuing with the iodine protocol.  The overall consensus of those hashi’s patients who are successfully using the protocol is that 50 mg of Iodoral or Lugol’s solution is the minimum starting dose for a hashi’s patient.

The potential complications of starting the protocol directly with 50mg of iodine are that an individual may have high levels of bromide and fluoride toxicity.  This halide toxicity may bring about detox symptoms at the 50 mg dose instead of hashi’s issues.  It is essential that the companion nutrients of the protocol are used and symptoms that may arise are met with salt loading and increased doses of Vitamin C and Magnesium.  These detox symptoms normally last a week or less at any given dose.  So if choosing to raise the dose from 50 to 62.5 for example you may experience this again.  There are many patients who have found that 50 mg a day for approximately a year has completely resolved their hashi’s condition and they no longer show an issue on the tests for antibodies.  Obviously for many with a family history of hashi’s who have suffered for years the possibility of resolution of this condition is not something to dismiss.  Traditional endocrinologists do in fact dismiss the connection and want not only hashi’s sufferers, but the rest of us to avoid iodine.

My journey was not with hashi’s thyroiditis but a run in with a type of thyroiditis that seems to be talked about very little and is not widely understood.  It is called sub-acute thyroiditis and there are reasons to believe that it is viral in nature, but a bacterial version has been found and there is the possibility of a fungal variety.  Essentially it is an infection of the thyroid that causes the thyroid to form abnormal large cells.  This in turn causes the thyroid to malfunction causing first periods of hyperthyroid activity, where the thyroid is forced in the process to dump large amounts of thyroid hormone into the system causing very uncomfortable conditions, and then eventually the thyroid switches over to a hypothyroid period while the thyroid attempts to recover and creates new normal cells.  There is a huge disparity in the literature about the length and scope of the issue.  The first research I did I found a reference to the condition lasting a few weeks, and then another set of research indicated three to four months.  Eventually after serious digging I found information showing the hyper phase to be three to four months with resolution taking 12-18 months.  This research indicated that 5% of patients never had full recovery of their thyroid activity and were left hypothyroid for life.

For a condition with such a lengthy duration and indications of this condition becoming more common I found the lack of information and research that has been done disturbing to say the least.  It has been 18 months for me now and I am not quite to where I was before it began.  No one wants to tell you that you are going to go through hell, that they have no idea what to do about it, and that it is going to suck up 1 -2 years of your life like fighting many other major debilitating health issues and then may cause permanent damage to one of the body’s most important glands.  The medical establishment is completely ignorant and powerless and likely to take measures to make you worse if they take any measures at all.  There is no indication that they even care whether the condition is bacterial, viral or fungal.  Since with all of the above there are various natural methods of assisting the body to heal, this is frustrating.  There is no getting around the fact that the body will have to create new thyroid cells to replace the ones that are abnormal and this process takes as long as it takes.  What do you need to assure that the new cells your body makes are healthy strong thyroid cells that will not leave you permanently hypothyroid and dependant on replacement thyroid hormones.  That question led me through all kinds of trails all of which seemed to point in one form or another to Iodine and leading me quickly thereafter to the iodine protocol.

In my experience with the condition the hyperthyroid condition did last around four months in duration.  It was not typical of hyperthyroid in that there was not a continuous flow of large amount of thyroid hormone or the accompanying weight loss or some of the other typical hyper symptoms.  I experienced swelling and intense pain of the thyroid and adjoining glands and lymph including the salivary glands.  During this period of peak swelling and pain there would be what I describe as a thyroid dump.  This would cause very uncomfortable symptoms like; heart palpitations, fevers, chills, sweats and hot flashes, nausea, and digestive disturbances, anxiety and extreme tiredness but inability to actually sleep because of the sweats and palpitations.  Those phases would go on for about 4-5 days and then would subside somewhat and the swelling would go down.  Just when the swelling had finally subsided I would maybe get one day where I felt good enough to take care of a few basic tasks.  On the other days I was lucky to be up 4-5 hours a day and was not really able to do much during that time aside from click links looking for answers.  The process would then start all over again.

This phase went on for the first couple months.  During the third and fourth month, the days in between the intense periods gradually lengthened.  My mental and emotional functions were both strongly affected.  It was hard to concentrate and think straight and I really had no coping skills as far as dealing with anything other than taking care of what my body was experiencing in the moment.  If I had a child there is no way I could have been the caretaker for that child. During this acute phase driving was out of the question.  As I transitioned after the four months it was possible sometimes but there were experiences when I would not be able to drive.  In one experience right around the transition to the hypo phase my mom and I took a trip to pick up some puppies.  I thought I could handle this now ,as I would just be sitting in the car, and I love road trips in general.  I drove for part of the first day and then was exhausted.  We had miscalculated the length of the first day which is one example of my less than normal mental capacity at the time.  So we had to continue on as we had scheduled the meeting with the breeder.  It was a long day and then we had two small puppies with us.  We headed farther to pick up a third and I couldn’t drive at all that day.  We kept that day short and tried to get some rest.  The next morning I assumed I would be able to drive again.  What I found was an overwhelming stress that was almost anxiety like at keeping the car in the lane of the road.  I love to drive and in my normal state find it relaxing.  So now being back into a normal mental emotional state it seems almost unfathomable that just keeping a car in its lane was too stressful.  Clearly I was not ready to be taking road trips and my adrenal glands had been overwhelmed by the intensity of this thyroid condition.  Luckily we did not have commitments and we able to take the time we needed to return home with my mom doing all the driving.  It became hard to even be the passenger toward the end of the trip.

After this phase was over there were still occasional thyroid swellings but not as intense or painful and without the thyroid hormone dumps into the system.  At this point it became exhaustion to the extreme.  I was able to return to doing simple chores but just doing a short grocery run was enough to knock me down for a couple days.  Sometimes driving was accompanied by an uncomfortable sensation in the solar plexus area, which in retrospect was the very first symptom I experienced for a couple months before the acute phase hit.  This phase went on for months, I had gained weight in the process and started working with my diet alone and lost some which helped some.  Trying to exercise though only aggravated things and would put me back in bed as I seemed to have no ability to recover from the exercise during this period.

I found the iodine protocol pretty early on and jumped right in as I already had other supplements I was taking.  Dosing myself in the beginning was difficult to say the least because it was hard to gauge whether things I was experiencing were side effects of the iodine in terms of bromide detox, or just part to the next swelling phase, or herxheimer reaction from the iodine killing virus and fungus in my body.  There were though things that rapidly improved and I knew the iodine was something my body desperately needed.  My skin immediately got softer.  Hair loss at the end of my eyebrows that had occurred so gradually grew back.  Some of the smaller under hairs around my forehead came back, and my fingernails started to strengthen.

No one on the iodine list on yahoo seemed to have experienced sub- acute thyroiditis or knew anything about it so I was left to glean what I could from their experiences and experiment on myself.  I began to see consistent patterns in my past in relation not just to iodine itself but the specific companion nutrients in the protocol.  I started to give my body everything it may not have to make thyroid hormone and balance the other hormones.

There are a couple of essential nutrients that were lacking in my life for quite some time that is obvious now, namely iodine, selenium, magnesium & D3 that seem to connect every step along the path, along with a lifelong exposure to the competing halides Chlorine, Fluoride and Bromide.

It became very clear once my mind was back to normal functioning that I was in fact very iodine deficient before the onset of my thyroiditis.  I had low body temperature, cold hands and feet, muscle issues on one side of the body, cystic breasts since my youth, pain that is in alignment with fibromalgia that is now clearly being connected to iodine.   Had intuitively felt the need for iodine and had been supplementing with kelp as most people do who wander into the health food store looking for iodine,  I later found that the problem with kelp is the iodine in it is often offset by the amount of bromide in it.  The more I learned about bromide the more I saw that my toxicity levels must be very high.  I started to have issues upon moving into a brand new house with new carpeting and no doubt full of bromides.

Things I Used and Learned in my Experiment

  • I consistently found I had to increase my daily consumption of unrefined salt for a base level, finding that lower levels were causing my lymph system to clog, unable to make sufficient new lymph fluids to keep moving all the toxins out.  I had some kind of fear that I was going to be taking too much salt.  I currently get about 1 ½ tsp per day and if I eat something I shouldn’t like peanuts or some sugary treats my salivary glands and nodes under the jaw line will swell and I will need more salt and to stop eating the crap. 
  • I found I needed more and more magnesium.  I added transdermal magnesium oil sprayed on after my shower each day to my oral supplementation which is 600 mg and stopped all calcium supplementation.  At one point I decided I was feeling better and decided to put a small amount of calcium back into my supplementation program and felt terrible pretty quickly, wondering if it was the calcium I removed it again and felt better in a few days.  I took baths with an ounce of magnesium oil and about 2 cups of Epsom salts a couple times a week or whenever I was feeling especially tight or stressed.  Sometimes I added some hydrogen peroxide to the bath or sea salts.  Most of us are getting too much calcium and not enough magnesium so ignore the ratios you hear and listen to how you feel.  If your soft tissue crunches and pops when you stretch or exercise you have calcification already and should likely not be taking any calcium and are in desperate need of magnesium to dissolve those calcium deposits. 
  • I was also in the midst of the menopause process and the acute phase left me with hot flashes some days as often as once per hour, after the fever and chill phase had completed.  Increasing mixed tophopheral vitamin E supplementation to 800 IU (which is the level I am still at) and temporarily (about 8 weeks) increasing vitamin A levels to 25,000 IU then dropping back down to 10,000 IU ended the hot flashes and reset my menstrual cycle, so it was not complicating matters.  I had been supplementing with only beta carotene and found out that some with problems similar to my own were having trouble making beta carotene into vitamin A.  I am still in the menopause process and sometimes have periods every month then none for 2-4 months but I have no menopause symptoms. 
  • Knowing that I have had issue with insulin resistance and now an issue with thyroid it was brought to my attention that thryroid issues, diabetes and celiac are all found on the same gene.  I took some good advice and decided to go gluten free which immediately took care of many digestive issues.  I had done low carb previously and knew I felt better but had not considered that the grains as well as the sugars could be causing me problems other than just their carb count.  The problem when I was on the low carb diet in retrospect is that it encouraged products that had both artificial sweeteners as well as high levels of soy which is toxic to the thyroid. 
  • During the acute swelling periods colloidal silver helped to alleviate some discomfort.  
  • I alternated aspirin and Tylenol so as not to take too much tylenol for pain.  Sometimes as the swelling and pain were in the reducing phase I would take one regular Tylenol and one regular aspirin together. 
  • Homeopathic remedies helped considerably with the swelling and other acute symptoms I used belladonna 30x, bryonia alba 200x,  allium cepa 30x, lachesis mutus 200x then 30x, this one did the most for the swelling. 
  • When I got my mind back I realized I had a whole box full of essential oils and many of them may be of assistance in fighting this virus so I pulled it out and made up the custom blends here on the site.  I rubbed them into my feet diluted in extra virgin coconut oil.  Initially it made me very tired which I attributed to herxheimer reaction and I had to start with every 3 days, moving to every other day, then every day.  When I had used up a container I would make the next batch stronger.  These oils helped tremendously I wish I would have been in the proper mental state to think about using them earlier in the process. 
  • I increased my vitamin D3 from 2000 IU to 5000 IU and now am taking 10,000 IU a day 
  • I added chlorella to help my body process and move out toxins 
  • I stayed away from synthetic or natural thyroid hormone replacement.  In all honesty as insane as it all was I cannot imagine attempting to get a balanced hormone level with supplemental replacement hormone.  I was whacked out every which way.  Now that I am stabilized if my thyroid hormone levels don’t seem to return to a healthy level then I would have to consider it, but during this process it would not have been helpful. 
  • After finally stabilizing my iodine dose at 50 mg for quite some time I found myself driving a new car with heavy bromide levels and in a high stress situation so I increased iodine to 75 mg it took a week or so of salt loading to go from 50 to 62.5 mg and then again from 62.5 to 75 so obviously I am still highly bromide / fluoride toxic even after 20 months of iodine supplementation. 
  • During the acute phase of the process I was able to take higher levels of iodine then I started to have more issues.  I think this was a sign that my body was not up-taking the iodine very well and when it finally had all the nutrients it needed to properly use the iodine I started to detox large amounts of bromide and had to reduce dose.  Listening to your body, and at the same time not having knee jerk fear reactions is challenging when you are sick.  I noticed a tendency on the iodine list of very sick people to come on the list and when they didn’t get some immediate reactions within a couple weeks with the iodine they simply decided it didn’t work and quit the protocol.  Many of them never used the protocol correctly to begin with and were not taking companion nutrients.  After 20  months my cystic breasts have not fully resolved, but they are improved, my body had other priorities with the iodine, the cystic condition has been with me since I was very young it only make sense that some issues will take time.  I didn’t get sick overnight. 
  • Make sure you are getting companions to other nutrients –  if you are taking zinc (as some people do if they have experienced a bromide rash) you should make sure you are getting enough copper.  For me when I had a bromide rash at one point the salt loading took care of it.  There are some good sites that have charts of the relationships between different nutrients.  
  • If I was back at the beginning with what I know now I would clean up my diet immediately and stick to it.  Through the whole process I really have not had the energy to deal with the dietary issues and I am sure that would have made things more comfortable.  If you develop this type of thyroiditis and have a loved one who can just only bring in organic unprocessed gluten free foods into your life do it.  Organic fruits and veggies, avoiding any that are goitergens, good oils like olive and coconut, as well as good sources of protein organic meats and grass fed and pastured beef.  No artificial sweeteners, no soy, just avoid anything processed or prepackaged at all.  Be careful if you use whey powder to read the label many have soy as well as whey and most have artificial sweeteners. 
  • Even those of us who have been frequenting health food stores for over 20 years can get too lax in reading labels, the reality is at this point half the stuff in the health food store is made by another division of the toxic big agra companies and is not healthy or has certain toxic ingredients.  The owners of a health food stores stock what is popular and may or may not be educated about what is in the item or in some cases even care.  Many people will still try and convince you soy is healthy and the health food store if full of it as one example.  Unfortunately you have to take to time to do your own research decide what you are willing to put into your body then be very diligent in reading labels.


Night Sweats – Hot Flashes

At the beginning of my thyroiditis I had horrible sweats I had been having typical peri-menopause type night sweats lightly for years not bad enough to even really wake me up but enough to be aware they were happening.  During the first few weeks of the thyroiditis they were 24 hours a day and at one point about every 20 minutes.  I know there was a viral aspect as I was so sick, but when that aspect subsided the hot flashes continued.  I assumed they were menopause related since my cycle had been erratic and I had missed a few periods on more than one occasion.  Someone on the yahoo list suggested I take 800 IU of vitamin E.  I had been on 400 IU mixed E.  So I upped the dose and in about a week the hot flashes were gone.

Fast forward several months and I started to have mild night sweats again but not enough to interfere with sleep.  Then the last couple weeks they have ramped up and they are waking me up 3 or 4 times a night to throw off the covers until it passes, and now they are hitting in the day time too.  My E is still at 800 IU so I really can’t raise that.  I hope it is just a hormonal adjustment as the Candida is dying off, since Candida is well know for mimicking hormones.  It could also be the end cycle of the thyroiditis though as so little seems to be known about the process.  I am at a year now and they say it typically take a year to 18 months to resolve.  I did have some really mild swelling of the throat  yesterday.   Yet it could just be a new round of the menopause process.  LOL  it is annoying especially when it wakes me up though.