Iodine is a trace element that is absolutely essential to health. It is a vital component of the thyroid hormones, which regulate metabolism, and it appears to be helpful in other tissues as well. Iodine is a natural disinfectant and may help the immune system fight infection. There is also evidence that suggests iodine may help to prevent breast cancer.
Getting sufficient iodine for good health was never a problem for people living near the ocean. Farther inland, however, the story was different. At one time there were major inland areas where a large percentage of the population would develop goiters, a swelling of the thyroid gland due to low intake of iodine. These areas were known as goiter belts.
Goiters have long been treated using seaweeds as a food or supplement or by taking liquid iodine. The goiter belt problem was largely eliminated when iodine was added to refined salt and inland drinking water supplies.
This raises the question, if low intake of iodine is the only cause of thyroid problems, why do millions of people suffer from low thyroid when iodine is so readily available in today’s society? Different researchers have different answers to this question.
One is that other halogens like fluoride, bromide and chlorine are acting as iodine disruptors. Another is that chemical iodine, in the absence of other nutrients, is actually contributing to low thyroid by causing an autoimmune thyroid condition called Hashimoto's thyroiditis.
In this Herbal Hour, Steven Horne and Thomas Easley will explore the functions of iodine, discuss iodine disruptors and some of the controversies surrounding iodine supplementation. They'll attempt to answer the question, "How much iodine do we really need and what's the best way to get it?"