Iodine: Can’t Live Without It; Can’t Live With It Now Either

I felt like my body and cells desperately needed and wanted iodine, but couldn’t get it or utilize appropriately.  Homeostasis of iodine seemed to be disrupted both at the thyroid gland level, and the peripheral target cellular levels as well.

On the one hand, my thyroid gland itself didn’t seem to be functioning very well when it came to iodine.  Instead of taking up iodine to make, store, and then distribute thyroid hormones in a controlled manner, it seemed like iodine would “shut down” production of thyroid hormones with the slightest bit of iodine ingestion.  Worse yet, when my thyroid gland did finally try to start production again, it felt like it would spit out thyroid hormones in “fits and starts” via flares.  There was no longer a tightly controlled and systematic mechanism for producing thyroid hormones and secreting them into my bloodstream appropriately.

On the other hand, it seemed like all the other cells of my body weren’t handling iodine or thyroid hormone appropriately either.  When I would ingest either iodine or T3, it felt like it would simply “rush” into my cells, as if the “gates” to my cells were broken (as described in It Felt Like a Homeostasis Problem).  It didn’t take much at all to give me some pretty horrific symptoms of “hyperthyroidism”.   And just as quickly, the effects would wear off or end right about at that first half life time frame of 4-6 hours later, leaving me with some equally horrific symptoms of “hypothyroidism” during “withdrawal”.  So homeostasis at a cellular and intracellular level appeared to be messed up also when it came to iodine and T3.

It also felt like these non-thyroidal cells would “preferentially” take up and metabolize free iodine over both T4 and T3.  I didn’t feel like these cells were able to utilize thyroid hormone itself very well anymore.  I always had “normal” levels of T4 and T3 in my blood work, no matter how badly I was feeling.  But this thyroid hormone didn’t seem to be doing much for me; either it wasn’t getting into my cells the way it was supposed to, or, once there, not much was happening.

There was no doubt I had some major problems going on with iodine after taking the Cipro.  When I was NOT on thyroid hormone medication, I felt like I was starving for iodine – but couldn’t get it in the right amounts anymore.  Eventually, what I learned to do, was walk that fine tightrope of supplying all the cells of my body with just the right amount of iodine without making things worse for my thyroid gland.  It was a long, slow learning process, with plenty of mistakes made along the way.  But doing this did manage to keep me functional and self sufficient despite the fact that this monumentally important endocrine axis was no longer working the way it was supposed to in me.

 

The following write up was taken from another earlier writing that I did.  I used it as a template to write up this current version, so it has a lot of the same stuff in it.  I didn’t think it was written very clearly, which is why I re-wrote this information.  But I’m including it just to give another perspective to the problem – and the solution – of iodine for me.  Sometimes seeing the information over and over again written in different formats can help.

 

“I was exquisitely sensitive to both T3 and Iodine.  This sensitivity was the reason I could not tolerate the “natural TH meds”, with their much higher ratio of T3:T4.  This sensitivity was also the reason I often could not tolerate more than a few micrograms (MICRO grams) of iodine at any one time since being floxed (in particular, when I was NOT on TH meds).  I was well aware of the various protocols using the naturals and iodine, and had utilized them in my experimentations with both.  But I found out about this sensitivity the hard way – with catastrophic results.  I learned to respect the power of both T3 and Iodine when it came to my body with my particular problems.  I did NOT have this iodine sensitivity prior to being floxed.  In fact, I had grown up on, and flourished on, a rather high iodine diet.  But all that changed with the Cipro.

Iodine was the solution for me, because when I could get this iodine directly into my cells, in just the right amounts at the right times, not too much or too little, it could give me energy, alleviate my symptoms, and allow me to function and even feel normal at times.  For example, when I was going through my severe CNS vertigo, nausea, cardiac arrhythmias, migraine-like phase in Year 4 post Cipro  (I was OFF all TH meds then), taking just a few micrograms (that’s MICRO grams) of iodine in diluted Lugol’s or KI could get rid of these symptoms within an hour.  I might wake up completely unable to function, unable to stand, walk, or eat, etc.   But I could take a few micrograms of iodine and literally feel the symptoms fade away with every minute as the iodine flooded my cells.  I then might have a couple hours available to me while in “the sweet spot” to run to the store, maybe mow the lawn if I was lucky.  Once the iodine felt like it “left my cells”, my “sweet spot” was over, and I would start dealing with the next phase of having taken iodine.

The big difference between T3 and Iodine was, not only was iodine entering all my non-thyroid cells, but it was of course attempting to enter my “thyroid cells” as well (via the same iodine receptors).  A healthy fully functioning thyroid gland will capture, store, and then distribute iodine to all the cells of the body via thyroid hormones it produces.  T3 doesn’t stimulate the thyroid gland to make more thyroid hormone.  But iodine does, especially in small or tiny amounts.   With Hashi’s, iodine, even in tiny amounts, can cause flaring or conversely, shut off the hormone production all together.  With Grave’s, or those with autonomously functioning nodules, a little iodine can over stimulate the thyroid gland and make too much TH or cause flaring.  It all depends on how well, or poorly, the thyroid axis and gland is functioning, and what specific pathology it’s experiencing, when it comes to what will happen when iodine is ingested.

Iodine was a big problem for me, because my thyroid gland had some kind of problem with the normal uptake, storage, or metabolism of iodine since being floxed.  I suppose this is no surprise, given that Hashi’s is supposed to be some kind of “iodine organification” problem according to many research studies.  So I wasn’t unusual in that way.  What had changed, was that all the cells of my body felt pretty sensitive to iodine.  Remember, when I was NOT on TH and I took iodine to help clear up my symptoms, I had to take just the right amounts, at the right times, to provide the “manual homeostasis” of just the right amount of iodine in my cells.  Anything more, and I could be in real trouble symptom wise.  I’m not sure exactly what was going on, but I called it an “Iodine toxicosis”.  And I felt this was potentially an “iodine receptor” (and/or cell signaling/signal transduction/enzymatic) problem as a result.  Those same types of “iodine receptors” exist on the thyroid gland.  Now, it felt like all of those receptors were “broken” – whether they were located on my thyroid gland or on any other cell of my body.  So it also makes sense in that way that perhaps my “iodine organification problem in the thyroid gland” may have been an “iodine receptor problem” all around.

But it was more than that.  It also felt like all the other cells of my body could no longer utilize the iodine in the form of thyroid hormone very well since being floxed either.  In other words, there was also a “peripheral problem” with the cellular uptake or metabolism of TH – or iodine attached to tyrosines.  The closest and newest current diagnosis available for this would be “thyroid hormone resistance”, although for myself, I don’t think of my problems being this particular diagnosis.   However, this “double whammy” at both ends with iodine (the thyroid gland and the peripheral target cells for TH) made my life miserable, to put it mildly.

The trick with iodine seemed to be supplying just the right amount at the right times to 1) supply enough to my non-thyroid cells to provide me with hopefully enough energy that I could function, and 2) limit the iodine enough that I wouldn’t “tick off” my thyroid gland or experience iodine toxicosis symptoms in general.  When I was NOT on thyroid hormone, and in particular when I was severely flaring, this balancing act was exhaustive, and I experienced plenty of setbacks and basically felt pretty horrible overall.

When I was ON thyroid hormone meds, it was somewhat of a different story.  As long as I was on a fully suppressive replacement dose of TH, my thyroid gland remained “shut off”.  At the time I was on the meds, I don’t think I had any autonomously functioning nodules coming into play, and there was no major flaring symptomatically, as serial serum labs (full panels with all antibodies) confirmed.  So I could essentially get rid of that variable.  At the time I was on TH medication, I knew that iodine was playing a big role in my issues, but it wasn’t clear how.  What I did know, was that even while on the TH meds, I didn’t feel regulated symptomatically, even while serum lab values remained remarkably stable.  For starters, I had the daily “dosage cycles” going on that I’ve already described when taking T3 and T4.  But there was more than that, and it was only later on that I realized there was also an “iodine dosage cycle” going on within me.  It was the iodine I was ingesting that was contributing to the physical fluctuations I was feeling.  I was still eating eggs and some dairy on occasion, which contributed to my iodine intake at the time.  But I didn’t have a “timed and controlled” dose of iodine going on daily, simply because I wasn’t aware of this cycle yet.  Despite being on TH, both T3 and T4, it felt like at least some of my cells “preferentially” utilized iodine directly over both for energy.  So I also had an “iodine dosage cycle” going on, although I wasn’t aware of it at the time.    When I was ON thyroid hormone meds, I could tolerate more iodine; ie, I wasn’t so sensitive to a few micrograms of iodine here or there.  My “tightrope” for iodine, turned into a “sidewalk”.  But when I was NOT ON thyroid hormone meds, I became extremely sensitive to iodine, and a few micrograms either way was all it took to bring on some fairly drastic symptoms.

After taking iodine, I could gain some remarkably quick relief for several hours.  However, this was only the “first phase” of taking iodine.  The “next phase” of iodine involved the thyroid gland problems.  The tiny amounts of Iodine I took caused a “bi-phasic” response in me.  Getting iodine directly into my body’s non-thyroid cells, in just the right amounts, helped tremendously.  But my thyroid gland cells were also heavily affected by this iodine – even by the tiny microgram amounts I was taking.  I have to admit, I wasn’t exactly sure what was happening with my thyroid gland with the iodine.  For a long time, I felt like a little iodine would stimulate it to spit out more TH, upsetting that “tightrope” I’m on and making me feel “hyperT”.  More recently, I’m feeling like the gland is shutting down production totally and possibly permanently, even with tiny amounts of iodine, making me feel “hypoT”.   Overall, it wouldn’t surprise me if both of these scenarios are occurring when I take iodine, with some of the gland shutting down, and other parts of the gland, such as nodules, spitting out hormones via flares.  In Year 5 post Cipro, when I was NOT on TH, I developed an Iodine-induced Subacute Painful Auotimmune Thyroiditis, and my thyroid gland literally swelled up due to inflammation and became quite painful with the tiniest amounts of iodine.  I continued to take 5-8 micrograms of Lugol’s daily, because that provided the rest of my cells with enough iodine to keep me going and it prevented major flares.  But my thyroid gland was really “pissed off” by this iodine every time I took it, and I had to put up with this very uncomfortable and painful swelling in the back of my throat for several hours every day as a result, making swallowing, talking, and eating difficult.  Another thing that became painfully clear during this phase of Subacute Painful Autoimmune Thyroiditis was how connected to virtually all my other symptoms the thyroid swelling and pain was.  When my thyroid gland was swollen and painful, it was a full body systemic experience with many other symptoms as well, once again confirming to me the large role my thyroid gland was playing when it came to all my systemic symptoms”.

 

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