Iodine and Apoptosis - Implications For Immunity, Autoimmunity, Leaky Gut, Methylation, Cancer, etc.


I've been doing a good deal of research the past few months on iodine, and feel I've learned much--as well as experiencing various health improvements from iodine supplementation. Though I feel I'm still in the beginning stages of my "iodine experimentation", (and at times feeling a bit overwhelmed by what a broad topic it is), I thought I'd share a few notes that I feel are particularly relevant to people with ME/CFS.

Iodine and Apoptosis: Iodine is needed by every cell in the body, but tends to concentrate in areas where there is frequent cell regeneration (which involves apoptosis). This includes nasal passages and mucus cells of the stomach lining, where cell regeneration takes place very 2-3 days. If there is insufficient iodine in the body to perform this critical function, dysfunction occurs. -- Sounds to me like this could have some pretty significant implications for digestion and gut health, and affect some of the dynamics associated with leaky gut syndrome.

Iodine and Autoimmunity: Here's a couple of quotes from the book, "Breast Cancer and Iodine", by David M. Derry, MD, PhD. -- "Iodine can coat incoming allergic proteins to make them non-allergic...". "Iodine binds softly to the double and triple bond of lipids to protect these bonds while they are being transported to synaptic sites in the brain and blood vessels of the body". -- The author believes this is why iodine deficiency likely has major implications for all sorts of auto-immune conditions.

Iodine and Immunity: The above references to high concentrations of iodine in the nasal passages and stomach can have some pretty significant implications for our overall immunity. I read one testimonial online of a man who experienced exasperating, ongoing sinus infections for years, being unable to shake them. When he finally discovered iodine supplementation, his sinus infections cleared up within days. Reminded me of the many references I've seen of pw/ME/CFS struggling with sinus infections.

Also, as inferred by the title of the book I referenced "Breast Cancer and Iodine", the scientific evidence of the connection between iodine deficiency and cancer is by most accounts, extensive and irrefutable, even though it's doubtful most oncologists ever give it a second thought.

Iodine and Thyroid Health: The thyroid gland captures dietary iodine, and synthesizes thyroid hormones from it (T3 and T4), storing it in the body until needed. -- Interestingly, taking thyroid extract can correspondingly increase the amount of iodine needed by the thyroid gland. Even though the thyroid gland will function better, apparently this can happen at the expense of iodine concentrations in other parts of the body. -- A distinction is made between "Tissue Level" and "Blood Circulating Levels" of iodine.

A couple more points: Hal Huggins (holistic dentist for many decades) has extensive experience and knowledge of mercury toxicity and its many detrimental effects. He believes just one of these effects is mercury's ability to bind with T3 and T4, essentially rendering them unusable by the body. This could possibly explain why a good number of people often get thyroid tests that come back normal, but can improve their thyroid function and health significantly by supplementing with iodine.

Also, different parts of the body need different kinds of iodine. The thyroid gland apparently can only use the "iodide" form (potassium iodide being the most common). Breast tissue however can only use elemental iodine. This is why Lugols solution and other iodine supplements like Iodoral usually come in a ratio of 2 parts potassium iodine to 1 part elemental iodine. Note: There are other kinds of iodine out there, like "nascent iodine", atomidine, and I believe a couple of others. I've not learned enough about them as of yet to make any knowledgeable comments about them.

Iodine and Brain Function: "Lack of iodine during pregnancy is the leading cause of intellectual impairment in the world." -- A severe iodine deficiency that causes profound neurological damage and mental retardation is called cretinism. I've seen several references to a child's IQ being compromised by as much as 10-15 IQ points just from relatively mild iodine insufficiency during pregnancy.

The fetus,--and especially the fetal brain--undergo rapid (and critical) phases of apoptosis during pregnancy. The iodine levels in the fetus during this time can actually be as much as 5x greater than that of the mother during this time. Also, iodine is highly concentrated in breast milk, as high levels of iodine are also required for the fast growing infant.

Iodine and Improved Energy: The thyroid gland is critical for normal metabolism and energy production in the body. It's also critical for mitochondrial health, and as I recall, quite a few other areas of physiology having to do with energy production. A sense of increased energy and vitality is one of the most commonly noted aspects I've seen in the many online testimonials I've read. It's been one area that I've definitely noticed for myself. Though my overall functionality has improved only modestly so far, I do feel a much greater sense of "resiliency" in my system, and feel optimistic I'm building a foundation for myself as I go forward.

Iodine and Detoxification (incl. Methylation): Iodine supplementation will almost always result in significant halide detoxification (flourines, chloriness, bromine, etc,). These ubiquitous toxins displace iodine in cell receptor sites, and when they in turn are displaced by adequate iodine intake, it can lead to detoxification symptoms. This why it's recommended that iodine supplementation be approached with a degree of caution, especially for people with detoxification problems. Supplemental Vitamin C, salt, and transdermal magnesium chloride are often recommended to greatly support detoxification of these halides.

This comment I found online describes just some of the aspects of detoxification that occur (or can occur) when beginning iodine supplementation:

"Would we like another good reason to have normal iodine levels? How about for proper methylation! In simple terms methylation is a process in which certain chemicals called 'methyl groups' are added to various constituents of proteins, DNA and other molecules. These are needed to keep them in good working condition. And if 'methyl' sounds familiar, it's part of methylcobalamin which is the active form of B12.

So long story short, not enough iodine = underactive thyroid = not enough T4 which is needed to convert vitamin B2 (riboflavin) to its active co-enzyme form "FAD" which is needed for proper methylation. So it doesn't matter how much B2 you have, or how good your B12 level is, without sufficient T4 from a proper functioning thyroid, you won't have normal methylation (even if your MTHFR gene is normal). This will not be on the test."​

Iodine Literate Medical Doctors (ILMDs): There appears to be somewhat of an "iodine revolution" going on these past few years, largely due to the proliferation of knowledge being available and discussed online. This knowledge is stemming from examination of much of the scientific research that's been done, but often misunderstood or downright rejected by mainstream conventional medicine (sound familiar?).

One of the pioneers in this field is Lynne Farrow, who developed breast cancer, researched extensively, and after 8 long years, finally discovered the connection between iodine deficiency and breast cancer. Here's a link to her website: "Breast Cancer Choices". She credits iodine supplementation as being indispensable to her recovery.

She wrote about her experiences in the book, "The Iodine Crisis: What You Don't Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life". I think it's an excellent book, with a comprehensive history on how iodine was tragically shoved out of mainstream medicine, and how things are at long last starting to change with long-standing scientific evidence being correctly interpreted by some intrepid health care practitioners. -- Dr. Brownstein and Dr. Sircus are a couple of other pioneers, and have also written extensively on iodine supplementation.

I'll finish by mentioning that what I've written is only a short, broad outline of the whole topic of iodine, its history, and its many critical functions in the body. I tried to focus in on those areas that I feel are most relevant to pw/ME/CFS, but there are even more than I've listed. I thought I'd wait on posting about what I've learned until I could be more comprehensive. But what I'm learning just seems to be never-ending, so decided it's better to get started than to be too obsessive about being comprehensive. :)

From all the research I've done so far, I've learned that most (if not all) ILMDs believe over 90% of the population is iodine deficient, many of them severely so. Given that iodine is critical for areas of health that so many people with ME/CFS struggle with, I've come to believe that any progress we may be able to make by incorporating various health measures will most likely always be limited unless we address any iodine deficiencies we may be dealing with.

All the Best, Wayne

More Discussion HERE


As always Wayne, I enjoyed reading your informative post. I hope iodine ends up helping you, so you can let us know more. One (unsolicited) editorial comment: "Apoptosis" is programmed cell death, not frequent cell regeneration.
Hi Aaron,

Good to hear from you, and thanks for the kind words. Re: "Apoptosis" is programmed cell death, not frequent cell regeneration." That does sound more accurate than what I wrote. I just edited what I had written earlier--would this be more accurate? -- Thanks.

"Iodine and Apoptosis: Iodine is needed by every cell in the body, but tends to concentrate in areas where there is frequent cell regeneration (which involves apoptosis). "
I can't begin to express how Iodine has helped me. I use potassium iodine, the liquid form. For some reason I get these vomiting attacks. After years of intense suffering because of this and many different Rx meds I found potassium Iodine stop such attack totally without any side affects. I think this is happening to me because of toxins build up. Well I went through this at least 2 times a month.

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