HALOGENS. WHAT ARE THEY? HOW CAN THEY HARM YOU, OR HELP YOU?
Halogens are a family of non-metal elements on the periodic table that share similar chemical properties. Three of these halogens are toxic to your body. These three toxic elements include Fluorine (think Fluoride), Chlorine, and Bromine. Another halogen is Iodine, which is the only halogen that the human body needs. Fluoride, Chlorine and Bromine are toxic in themselves, but are also highly detrimental because they tend to block your body’s Iodine receptors, and therefore prevent your body from absorbing the Iodine it needs.
ALL HALOGENS AREN’T BAD. BUT THE FIRST ONE (OF THREE) TO AVOID IS FLUORIDE:
If you were to ask anyone what Fluoride is used for, they would probably say it is used to prevent cavities. But there are some other uses of Fluoride that are way more disturbing. Fluoride is sprayed onto food crops as a pesticide. It is also used in home insecticides, and it’s added to municipal water supplies. You can find added Fluoride in some bottled water, in many brands of toothpaste, in baby foods, and in items like imported tomato products, some fruit juices, processed cereals, wine, beer, soda and tea.
The most disturbing fact? Fluoride has been linked to the causes of thyroid cancer. Fluoride functions by blocking Iodine receptors in the thyroid. It influences the feedback mechanism that regulates the thyroid-pituitary axis, and therefore causes increased levels of thyroid-stimulating-hormone (TSH). This can activate cancer cells by activating an enzyme system known as “adenylate cyclase”, which has to do with TSH binding and TSH stimulation. Thyroid cancer cells are not your only cells activated by Fluoride, though. All hormone-related cancers such as breast, ovarian, uterine, prostate, testicular, and thyroid share the fact that cancerous cells are activated by adenylate cyclase, when activated by Fluoride.
In the past, Fluoride was used as a drug for treatment of hyperthyroidism because, according to the National Institute of Health, Fluoride “reduces thyroid activity quite effectively”. Fluoride was replaced in the early 1940s by the anti-thyroid drug Propylthiouracil (PTU), which is now actually considered a carcinogenic. In China, Fluoride is actually openly acknowledged as a cause of thyroid cancer, and many farmers living in Fluoride-contaminated areas have been moved to safer areas, through their government programs.
There are various forms of Fluoride, and two of the most common are Calcium Fluoride and Sodium Fluoride. When taken in excess, either type of Fluoride can be harmful to your health. Calcium Fluoride is considered less toxic and therefore less damaging to your health than Sodium Fluoride, and it is found naturally in underground water sources. (One disturbing fact is that in sufficient concentrations, Calcium Fluoride can actually weaken bones and teeth, rather than protect them). Sodium Fluoride, on the other hand, is even more destructive than Calcium Fluoride, since Sodium Fluoride is added to many public water supplies which are already tainted with Aluminum, Cadmium, and Lead. Sodium Fluoride originated as a synthetic waste by-product from the fertilizer, Aluminum and nuclear industries, and it has the ability to combine with other toxic substances and in turn will increase their potency.
Sodium Fluoride has also been found to weaken the immune system and to damage the kidneys and liver. Notably, some symptoms of Sodium Fluoride toxicity are similar to those of Fibromyalgia, including fatigue, muscle pain, memory loss and insomnia. Sodium Fluoride can also cause nausea, diarrhea, abdominal pain and increased thirst. Another disturbing fact to note is that Sodium Fluoride carries Aluminum across the blood brain barrier, where it can be a factor in the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Once in the brain, Fluoride can calcify your pineal gland, which is responsible for your body’s production of Melatonin. Without sufficient Melatonin, your body is deprived of effective sleep, and then your thyroid will therefore be unable to function correctly.
Did you know that there is Fluoride in medications such as antidepressants, antibiotics, cholesterol lowering drugs, chemotherapy drugs, antihistamines, antifungals, and even anaesthesia?
The most important takeaway here is that Fluoride blocks Iodine receptors in the thyroid gland. For those readers who still have a thyroid, be aware that Fluoride competes with Iodine in the thyroid gland, and the thyroid will almost always absorb Fluoride over Iodine. When this happens, it will block the proper production of thyroid hormone.
The addition of Fluoride to drinking water has been portrayed in the USA as one of the greatest Public Health successes of the 20th Century. The government first began urging municipal water systems to add Fluoride in the early 1950s. Unfortunately, Fluoride is a cumulative substance, and it will continue to increase in your body as you continue to ingest or absorb it. And it has been shown that Fluoride is not really necessary to keep your teeth healthy, contrary to what we have been told by the media and the dental industry for decades.
Even though PubMed states “There is no evidence of any deleterious effect on specific immunity following fluoridation, nor any confirmed reports of allergic reactions”, and Fluoride is considered “safe”, there are many who beg to differ:
According to Dr. Mercola, “Recommended Fluoride levels in the US are twice the level at which thyroid function can be affected, and thyroid dysfunction is rampant in the US, where an estimated 20 million people are affected. Side effects of thyroid dysfunction include weight gain and depression”. He suggests “there are far safer ways to improve dental health.”
Endocrinologist Dr. Terry Davies, professor of medicine at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, agreed, stating: “This dramatic increase in thyroid dysfunction associated with fluoridation of the water supply adds to previous studies indicating that fluoride has an inhibitory effect on the thyroid gland..”
Dr. Robert Barsley, a professor at Louisiana State University’s Health Sciences Center’s School of Dentistry, is quoted as saying:“It is not the water that’s causing this (fluoride toxicity), it’s the extra fluoride products — toothpaste, mouthwash — that people are using. And people want nice white teeth so they brush three times a day.”
The National Academy of Sciences recommended that the EPA lower the maximum allowable level of fluoride in drinking water. Their report warned that “severe fluorosis”, a disorder resulting from the absorption of too much Fluoride, could occur at 2 parts per million. And a majority of the report’s authors said a lifetime of drinking water with Fluoride at 4 parts per million or higher could raise the risk of broken bones.
In January 2011, the EPA announced that it intended to lower the maximum amount of Fluoride allowable in drinking water because of growing evidence of Fluoride’s possible “deleterious effects on children’s health”. This EPA recommendation was made following a revised risk assessment study that found 2 out of every 5 adolescents had tooth streaking or spotting and “some pitting” as a result of excessive fluoride. One study by the EPA found that “prolonged, high intake of Fluoride can increase the risk of brittle bones, fractures and crippling bone abnormalities”.
ANOTHER HALOGEN TO AVOID IS CHLORINE:
Chlorine is often used as a disinfectant in public water supplies, in order to reduce pathogenic bacteria. Of course, the quality of your drinking water is a major factor in your health and well-being. So, you need to consider the reality of pathogens or contaminants in your water, but you also need to consider the degree of need for the addition of chemicals to your water supply that may cause you harm. It’s a controversial topic.
The free radicals in chlorinated water have been linked to liver malfunction and weakening of the immune system. Of utmost importance, there is growing evidence that Chlorine may, unfortunately, have a damaging impact on your gut’s beneficial bacteria. Chlorine is a powerful antimicrobial agent, and is an effective pesticide against many different strains of bacteria (including the good bacteria you need). The compounds in disinfected water may be able to reach your gut, not only through your drinking water, but also by being absorbed through your skin and inhaled whenever you take a bath or shower.
Research has shown that the cancer risk associated with chlorinated water may relate more to showering and bathing. This suggests that the health risks associated with Chlorine may be more related to absorption through the skin and through inhalation. Chlorine vapors from a single 10-minute shower has been shown to be greater than the amount of Chlorine from the average two liters of water you may drink, and has even been seen as a participant in damage to the lining of your gut. The Chlorine vapors you inhale will enter directly into your blood stream. Therefore, even if you filter your drinking water, there’s still the concern regarding the amount of toxins you are exposed to from your daily shower or bath, through inhalation and skin absorption.
This means the filtration of your shower and bath water may be even more important than the water you drink!
THE THIRD HALOGEN TO AVOID IS BROMINE:
Bromine is close in size and weight to Iodine, and will compete for binding of Iodine receptors in the thyroid gland. Bromine is very similar to Chlorine in the way that it kills bacteria and harmful contaminants, but Bromine is most used to sanitize hot tubs and spas, because it is more stable than Chlorine in warmer temperatures.
Hey, here’s a good reason to keep your older car: you know that “new car smell”? New cars have to off-gas all the Bromine and other toxic fumes from the chemicals used to create the car interior. These inhaled fumes are toxic by-products, which will also be competing with Iodine in your thyroid gland. Some car manufacturers are working to reduce the toxic fumes from the interior of new cars, so you can do some research and find out which brands are best for you, if you are in search of a brand new car. Try keeping your windows cracked open when sitting in and driving your new car, until the fumes can dissipate over time.
It’s frustrating that if you live in the United States, you are exposed to hidden Bromine because it is added to baking products in the form of Potassium Bromate (a dough conditioner). Also found in soft drinks like Mountain Dew, Bromide (a compound that includes Bromine and another chemical) contributes to lower thyroid function by displacing necessary Iodine. Bromide can create issues with anxiety, dizziness, vision, heart rhythm, headaches, tremors, nausea, and muscular cramps, among other symptoms. That’s probably not the effect you’re going for when you reach for that Mountain Dew . . . .
TAKE STEPS AGAINST THE THREE “BAD” HALOGENS
There are many things you can do to avoid the toxic halogens in your daily life. You can start by purchasing affordable shower filters and shower heads.
1.Purify Your Shower and Bath Buy and install a Chlorine filter for your shower. Since the Chlorine gas you inhale enters directly into your bloodstream during a shower, using an affordable filter on your shower is a great way to block all that damaging absorption. Chlorine filtration is fairly simple, provided you use some level of technology to remove it from your shower or bath water. Here’s a great shower filter that’s very effective and really easy to install: http://amzn.to/2jNbKXZ
Vitamin C bath powder http://amzn.to/2lD8nBC may be a good choice for those looking for an inexpensive way to reduce the Chlorine in your shower. Vitamin C is an effective de-chlorination agent, removing up to 99% of Chlorine. Other simple methods to reduce exposure to Chlorine include taking shorter or less frequent showers, avoiding excessively hot showers (since high heat increases the amount of steam), and shutting the water off while you’re soaping up.
It’s a good idea to check with your local water supply company to find out what disinfecting agents they use to sanitize your tap water. Then you can use that information to make a decision about which shower filter is most appropriate for you and your family. Until we know more about how chlorinated water affects your health, and especially your beneficial gut flora, it seems smart to keep your exposure to Chlorine to a minimum.
2. Change Your Toothpaste. The FDA requires a poison warning on toothpaste tubes for a reason (take a look at
the tube of toothpaste you are currently using). If you are looking for a Fluoride-free brand of toothpaste, you have more options today than ever before. Here is a great brand of Fluoride-free toothpaste: http://amzn.to/2kGqN6N
3. Purify Your Drinking Water Installing a water purification or Fluoride filtering system to your home is well worth considering. Keep in mind that Brita and Pur water filters unfortunately do not remove Fluoride. You’ll want to look for a filtration system that will remove 100 percent of harmful impurities from your tap water. A great brand that uses a gravity-fed water filtration is Berkey: http://amzn.to/2kNQuPr
4. Consume Only Fluoride-Free Food
Choose organically grown, local produce over commercially grown, sprayed crops. Avoid processed foods such as grape juice products, instant tea and soy milks, since they all contain high levels of Sodium Fluoride. Dried fruit, dried beans, and some cocoa powders contain Fluoride also.
5. Use Supplements To Help Reduce Fluoride Build-up In Your Body
Magnesium inhibits the absorption of fluoride into the cells. Here’s a great brand of magnesium that can help you prevent unnecessary Fluoride absorption: http://amzn.to/2kIuRTc
Epsom salt soaks can be very effective in the effort to detox yourself from the daily onslaught of the three bad halogens. Just add about 2 cups to your bathwater and soak for 15 minutes. Add some baking soda and some lavender or peppermint essential oils and relax. Here’s a great brand of Epsom Salts: http://amzn.to/2kFmvfg
6. Detox Through Sweating
Exercise helps the body to eliminate all types of toxins from your body, including Fluoride, through the process of sweating. An alternative way to sweat is to use a sauna, specifically a far infrared sauna, which benefits your body by heating it, which causes a rise in core temperature. This results in a deep detoxifying sweat at the cellular level. It’s healthy and safe, using a process that is similar to the warming of newborns in hospitals. Treatment with infrared light therapy has been proven to help reduce your chances of getting cancer by removing toxin buildup. If you’re interested in seeing what these saunas look like, check out this link: http://amzn.to/2kFpS63
NOW CONSIDER IODINE — THE ONE “GOOD” HALOGEN. . . HOW IMPORTANT IS IT? HOW MUCH IS THE RIGHT AMOUNT?
Iodine is needed for the creation of thyroid hormones. Just like with thyroid hormone, every cell in your body also has an Iodine receptor. Iodine is a critical nutrient for thyroid health. It is responsible for regulating thyroid function, and for supporting a healthy metabolism. Iodine helps prevent further cancer by improving immunity, and by helping to induce “apoptosis” (self-destruction) of cancerous cells, while not destroying your healthy cells.
So, we can agree that Iodine is one of your body’s vital nutrients. Unfortunately, many adults don’t consume enough Iodine-rich foods and are therefore deficient in Iodine.
Problems With Too Little Iodine:
Do you have dry, rough, and flaky skin? This is actually a common sign of Iodine deficiency. Iodine also helps regulate perspiration, so you might experience changes in how much you sweat if your Iodine levels become imbalanced. Since sweating is an important detoxification method your body uses to eliminate toxins (and even excess calories). Iodine deficiency can disturb the natural way that you flush waste from your body.
Do you have dry mouth? Similar to an inability to produce enough sweat, a lack of Iodine also can cause dry mouth, due to an abnormally low production of saliva. Then this can actually begin to impair your digestion.
A diet too low in Iodine-rich foods can create unpleasant symptoms like fatigue, undesired weight gain or weight loss, hormone imbalances, and mood changes. (Do any of these symptoms sound familiar?)
Common signs that you have an Iodine deficiency can include trouble producing saliva, and difficulty digesting your food properly. Your symptoms of swollen salivary glands and dry mouth, skin problems, poor concentration and memory retention, muscle pains and weakness, can all be related to Iodine deficiency. These are very common symptoms you can experience after having your thyroid removed, or even if you still have a thyroid, but it has been compromised or is under-performing.
People are generally eating less of naturally Iodine-rich foods such as wild-caught fish, green vegetables and sea vegetables. And remember Bromine? One of the “bad” Halogens? Since Bromine is found in many industrial-produced packaged baked goods, breads and other food products, eating these products can block any Iodine-rich foods you are eating and therefore can prevent the Iodine from being absorbed. Due to the unfortunate low-nutrient status of the soil on our farms where your food is produced, you now have Iodine-deficient soil, so most food today in general is lower in Iodine than it used to be.
Your body needs Iodine to create thyroxine (T4) and triiodothyronine (T3), two of the main hormones produced by your thyroid. In addition to your thyroid, Iodine is also absorbed and stored in the tissues of your stomach, brain, spine and skin. So, it’s very important to understand that even if you have had your thyroid removed, your body still absorbs and stores Iodine, and Iodine is essential to your good health.
Problems With Too Much Iodine:
There have been studies that resulted in patients developing hypothyroidism by taking over-the-counter (OTC) Iodine supplements. Additionally, Iodine supplementation was shown to increase hypothyroidism in patients with underlying Hashimoto’s disease following ingestion of large amounts of Iodine through supplements. Their thyroid dysfunction was resolved after proper management and discontinuation of the OTC supplements.
This demonstrates the significant risks associated with OTC preparations containing Iodine in patients predisposed to thyroid dysfunction, especially those with thyroid autoimmunity. Studies have shown “there is no valid reason for taking high-dose OTC iodine supplements, which have been shown to cause harm and have no known benefit”. But that doesn’t mean Iodine is not necessary. The devil is in the details, as they say!
Iodine may influence thyroid hormone status, and perhaps antibody production, in those with autoimmune thyroid disease. Some small amounts of supplementary Iodine (250 micrograms) can cause “slight but significant changes in thyroid hormone function in predisposed individuals”. So it depends on each individual person and their circumstances. That is the key to proper Iodine supplementation: using an individualized approach.
Be aware that overly high doses of Iodine can lead to an increase in TSH levels, which can be mistakenly interpreted as a sign of hypothyroidism. Most importantly, it’s wise to be cautious with Iodine if you have any signs of autoimmune thyroid disease. The best way to find out if you have an issue with autoimmune thyroid is to get testing done with a practitioner. This would mean getting a complete Thyroid panel. But that doesn’t mean you should avoid Iodine supplementation altogether. That brings us to the importance of Selenium:
Selenium: The Key Partner for Proper Iodine Supplementation:
Selenium has been shown to have a crucial role in Iodine supplementation. This is evident from research stating that Iodine may possibly only pose a problem for people with Hashimoto’s and other autoimmune thyroid diseases in the presence of Selenium deﬁciency. Studies have shown that Selenium protects against the eﬀects of Iodine toxicity, and prevents the triggering and the ﬂaring of autoimmune disease that excess Iodine (without Selenium) can create.
So, the takeaway here is to remember to TAKE IODINE AND SELENIUM TOGETHER. Please, work with your practitioner to get your Iodine, Selenium and thyroid hormone levels balanced. In most cases, you can see a signiﬁcant improvement by using these supplements together. Selenium can be considered the missing link to optimizing your Iodine levels, and in turn optimizing your overall thyroid hormone balance. Ask your doctor about this.
Be Like Goldilocks — Get Your Iodine “Just Right” :
As explained by Chris Kresser, M.S., L.Ac, when used alone, “thyroid hormone replacement often fails. One of the reasons can be due to less than optimal Iodine intake, as both too little and too much iodine can be harmful”. Research suggests that consuming more than the suggested amount per day of Iodine is associated with an increased risk for thyroid disorders, as opposed to preventing them. This happens because increased Iodine intake, especially in supplement form, can increase the autoimmune attack on the thyroid. Iodine reduces the activity of an enzyme called thyroid peroxidase (TPO). TPO is required for proper thyroid hormone production.
Chris Kresser goes on to explain: “One protocol you can research is starting with a low dose kelp tablets that contain 325 mcg of Iodine per tablet) and increasing VERY SLOWLY over time, remembering that it’s crucial that you also take 200 mcg of Selenium per day to protect against the potentially adverse effects of Iodine supplementation, especially if you have autoimmune thyroid disease. Discuss this and other protocols with your doctor. Another important thing to be aware of is if you take Iodine in a therapeutic dose, this can displace the toxic halogens (Fluorine, Chlorine, Bromine) that are already present in your cells. That’s a good thing, but it can cause unpleasant detox symptoms.“
Well renowned Iodine expert Dr.David Brownstein at the Center for Holistic Medicine says: “My clinical experience has shown that in an Iodine deficient state, higher doses of Iodine are an effective and safe way to treat autoimmune thyroid illness without appreciable side effects. Remember, the best results are achieved as part of a comprehensive holistic treatment plan.”
So, we have established that there is evidence that SOME Iodine (the proper amount) is good, but TOO MUCH Iodine can be detrimental, in some cases. Obviously, it’s important to proceed with caution, especially when choosing your Iodine supplementation, as well as your Iodine-rich food sources.
The key is to avoid too much Iodine for your individual needs, especially if you have Hashimoto’s or other autoimmune diseases. (And remember if you have been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis, removing your thyroid does not cure your Hashimoto’s. You will still have the inflammatory response, and all the symptoms that go with that. But you can work to put it into remission through diet and lifestyle changes).
The Best Way To Balance Iodine Is With Food, and Occasional Testing:
Eat more Iodine-rich foods, especially the kind that naturally contain Iodine, rather than those that are Iodine-fortified. Good Iodine-rich foods include seafood, raw/unpasteurized dairy products, and cage-free eggs. Other food sources of Iodine are cranberries, navy beans, strawberries, potatoes, turkey breast, and tuna. Wild-caught seafood and cage-free, organic eggs are more likely to contain a higher level of nutrients than farm-raised fish or conventionally raised eggs. Keep in mind that Iodine levels vary greatly depending on the conditions in which it was grown. For example, crops grown in depleted soils have lower levels of Iodine than organically grown crops or crops that are properly rotated to different soil areas each season.
Including sea vegetables like kelp in your diet can be another way to naturally increase your Iodine, considering that seaweed concentrates Iodine, along with other important minerals and antioxidants. However, seaweed has been shown to also contain arsenic and other toxic substances, too. So, with all the pollution of our oceans in the past century, unless you can test each batch of seaweed for toxins, there is a lot of controversy around consuming large amounts of seaweed. Even the Iodine content of high-quality meat and dairy products, from animals raised on grass and given healthy diets, varies depending on the quality of their diet and where they were free to graze. The best suggestion is to get to know where all of your food is coming from.
Try consuming real salt, either Himalayan salt or Celtic sea salt, as opposed to Iodized table salt. Sea salt contains more than 60 trace minerals and doesn’t pose a risk of over-consuming Iodine like table salt does, and it’s much more beneficial. (and it tastes better!) Keep in mind that the majority of salt intake in the United States comes from processed foods, unfortunately.
Food manufacturers almost always use non-Iodized salt in processed foods and if they use Iodized salt, they must list the salt as being Iodized. This is to prevent very high intakes of Iodine. Many supplements also contain Iodine in the forms of Potassium iodide or Sodium Iodide. These may not be necessary when you eat enough Iodine-rich foods and, as we have established, may even be dangerous if taken in high doses. Taking supplements within the recommended daily amount can be helpful and is considered safe, but it’s also best to follow dosages carefully and aim to get nutrients from food whenever possible.
“TEST, DON’T GUESS!”
One of the best things you can do in order to get a true picture of your Iodine level is to get tested occasionally. The best way to do this is with a 24-hour “urine loading” test, where you ingest a capsule of Iodine, collect your urine for 24 hours, and if you are Iodine deﬁcient, you’ll find less of the Iodine than you should in your urine, since your body will have absorbed it because it was deficient and needed it.
If you’re interested in discussing this Iodine testing, other Halogen testing, autoimmune thyroid testing, or any other health questions you have, schedule a free 20 – 30 minute consultation with me by clicking the link below:
As a Functional Diagnostic Nutrition Practitioner, I have the skills and the access to the labs you need to determine your levels of Iodine, Fluorine, Chlorine and Bromine, and I can help you create a plan of action to address any insufficiency or excess of these Halogens. We will use a highly individualized approach, and you will be able to improve your overall health.