Your thyroid is the master metabolism gland in your body. It keeps you energized, happy, warm, allows you to concentrate and focus, had a role in heart rate and blood pressure, sexual health, weight gain/weight loss, skin health, digestion, and many others. Thyroid problems double in women after menopause, 30% of women with PMS have some sort of thyroid problem, and in men thyroid dysfunction climbs after age 60.
The Thyroid & Halogens
Increasingly people seem to be having issues with their thyroid. In the past, before iodized salt (added iodine to table salt), there was the “goiter belt” in the Midwest, where there was a high incidence of disfiguring neck swelling (enlarged thyroid glands) caused by an iodine deficiency in the local soil. Now a new epidemic of thyroid issues and iodine deficiency is occurring.
Your thyroid needs tyrosine and iodine to make its hormones: T4 (passive, storage hormone) and T3 (active hormone). Iodine, chemically is a halogen, found in the 17th group of the periodic table as are: Fluorine, Chlorine, and Bromine. Bromine, Chlorine, and Fluorine compete and block iodine in the thyroid leading to low thyroid symptoms.
Bromide has recently been added more and more to our food supply; it can be found in commercial breads/bakery products, Gatorade, Mountain Dew, and some pharmaceuticals (Atrovent inhaler, etc). Until recently, 25% of iodine in the diet was from wheat, because of the processing of flour – it acts a a dough softener; it was replace in the 1970’s with bromide (potassium bromide), which blocks the activity of iodine.
Bromine is also found in our environment as a pesticide and a fire retardant (polybrominated diphenyl ether, PBDE). This fire retardant is found in many household items including: computers, televisions, radios, electronics, clothing, draperies, carpeting, and furniture foams (e.g. mattresses). The small bodies of children concentrate PBDE’s much more than an adult body. Babies can be exposed to PBDE’s in the womb. PBDE’s are linked to changes in learning, memory, behavior, including hyperactivity.
Fluorine and chlorine also compete with iodine and are found in our drinking water supply. This is a good reason to filter water. Chlorine is important in sanitizing water from disease causing parasites and bacteria (giardia, cholera, etc.) but that doesn’t mean we should be drinking it and bathing in it. Fluoride is found naturally and as an additive in drinking water. As well as interfering with thyroid function, high levels of Fluoride discolors tooth enamel and is linked to compromised bone and may increase fracture risk in adults (http://articles.latimes.com/2006/mar/23/nation/na-fluoride23).
Thyroid Symptoms & Testing
Simple lab tests can help determine your thyroid function. Conventionally, Doctors order a TSH (Thyroid stimulating hormone) and a free T4. But these two markers only pain a partial picture. Naturopathic Doctors usually initially order a TSH, free T4 and free T3 which gives a more complete picture.
Today’s testing does not differentiate between these halogens. Animal studies show that ingestion of bromine in any form leads to hypothyroidism.
Steps to Take to help Detox from Bromine
Avoid bromine in food, drink and medicine (read labels)
Maintain adequate iodine levels.
See a naturopathic physician knowledgeable about iodine & thyroid health.
Use unrefined (himalayan sea salt/Real Salt) as part of your healthy diet.
Exercise with sweating helps your body release bromine.