Interview with Lynne Farrow, Author of
The Iodine Crisis
1. How did you get so interested in iodine?
You know how you hear about chance meetings where you bump into someone at an event and they change your life? That’s what happened to me. I attended an integrative medicine conference just like many others and there was a break between presentations. Dr. Sherri Tenpenny saw from my conference ID badge that I represented a breast cancer organization so she asked me if I had ever heard of iodine for breasts.
I told her I’d only heard about for benign breast disease. But at this point I was kind of insulted that she would mention something so simple-minded for breast cancer. Did she really think I hadn’t looked into every single nutritional strategy? I had been running Breast Cancer Choices and researching constantly with the best minds in integrative medicine. Surely, if there was anything to iodine I would have heard about it, right? Wrong! No, seriously. I couldn’t have been more wrong.
2. How were you diagnosed with breast cancer??
First, I need to say by the time I was diagnosed with breast cancer I had been plagued with fatigue, headaches and brain fog for many years. I medicated myself with caffeine and prescription painkillers along with migraine medicine. I had consulted dozens of specialists.
Benign breast disease had dogged me on and off for a long time. FBD (fibrocystic breast disease) is an umbrella term for various breast conditions that cause swelling, cysts or pain. Every time I had a mammogram they said not to worry because FBD was normal. I’d ask, “How can something with benign as its first name and disease as its last name be normal?” They’d shrug and say, “It’s normal because it’s so common.” What?
Then the mammographers started finding cysts which they would stick with a needle to withdraw and examine the fluid. I’m ashamed to say I never questioned this. I assumed they knew what they were doing — a flawed assumption I would make several times on my healing journey.
On one of these fluid aspirations, the needle withdrew tissue that lead to a cancer diagnosis.
3. What did you do after your diagnosis of breast cancer?
The first thing I did was locate a respected surgeon at a NY breast cancer center. She made recommendations of surgery and radiation. She then referred me to an oncologist who recommended chemotherapy because the pathology report showed the cancer was aggressive. But I wasn’t about to rush into anything.
Secondly, since I was trained as an academic, I asked a lot of questions. I wanted to verify the sources of the doctors’ information. I looked every recommendation up in the medical journals.
I was shocked to find the sources were filled with fuzzy math and little info on what benefits treatments provide in terms of survival. Then I discovered the doctors have official treatment guidelines they follow. They put each patient on that treatment treadmill. Legally, that’s their job.
I chose to have surgery but I refused chemotherapy and radiation because there wasn’t enough convincing evidence in the medical literature that either would prolong my life. I realize others would make different decisions.
4. Did you work with an integrative doctor?
Yes, in the midst of the decision making, I worked with an integrative doctor and began several non-standard approaches. Those strategies have evolved over the years. I was also determined to use the same evidence standard with him that I did with the conventional doctors. I looked everything up.
I met a lot of other breast cancer patients online and we exchanged notes about looking things up in the online medical libraries. The main part of my education came down to learning what questions to ask.
5. How did you learn what questions to ask?
Just by reading the medical literature, learning the vocabulary and standards for medical proof. It wasn’t that hard. I bounced my criteria off a few doctors to make sure I was getting the questions right.
Then I and a couple of my online friends realized these essential questions and answers weren’t available to patients anywhere. That’s why we founded Breast Cancer Choices.
Iodine became my “first line” strategy to keep me in remission from cancer. So far, so good. The experience of most of my online iodine-taker friends with a history of breast cancer parallels mine.
Does iodine cure cancer? Even though iodine reports have been encouraging, nothing has been proved to 100% cure cancer. I’m told by reliable sources that formal clinical trials are in the planning stages at research facilities.
6. So how did you start taking iodine?
I took a few Lugol’s Iodine drops once in a while over the years but I never understood it and never noticed any difference. Only when I took the 24 hour Urinary Iodine Loading test to evaluate me for iodine deficiency did I really start taking iodine. The morning of the test, I took 50 mg of Iodoral Iodine tablets and began collecting my urine. Within two hours my mind cleared and I felt a burst of well-being and energy..
7. Did you take the companion nutrients? And why are they important?
No, at that point I didn’t know anything about companion nutrients or the salt loading detox formula. This was early on in the iodine movement. The official Iodine Protocol was only released a year or so later at the two iodine conferences.
Because I didn’t know about the companion nutrients, I took too much iodine too fast and experienced what we now understand to be bromide detoxification. Back then, my response was just to take less Iodoral and build up slowly. That worked. I knew when I took too much because I would get brain fog and fatigue.
8. What are the “companion nutrients” that we should take along with iodine and why are they so important??
The companion nutrients are selenium, Vitamin C, magnesium, Vitamin B2 and B3, and unprocessed salt.
In a nutshell, the companion nutrients help get iodine into the cells and get the toxins that iodine purges out of the cells.
9. Why have we become iodine deficient in the past few decades?
Three reasons. First, our iodine consumption has dropped since the 1970s because iodine has been removed as a fortifying nutrient from wheat flour and replaced with an anti-iodine chemical in the bromine family, bromate.
Secondly, since the 1970s, bromines, the anti-iodine which purges iodine, has been added to furniture, electronics, cars, baby pajamas and mattresses—to name just a few sources. Bromines are present in foods and drugs also, but the main source is when we breathe in the dust from fire retardants.
Bromines compete with iodine for the same receptors in the body. So, if you’re not getting iodine, bromine will bully its way onto the receptor and you will become what we call, Bromide Dominant.
So even if you eat a clean, whole foods, organic diet, bromine exposure is unavoidable in the 21st century. We can eat like our grandparents but they didn’t have to deal with exposure to environmental toxins so eating clean is not enough. The only defense is to take iodine so that the environmental bromines can’t win.
This battle applies to fluoride also since all the elements in the halide family will jump into the competition for the same receptors.
Third, the unsubstantiatied medical advice to avoid salt keeps people from getting even the most minimal iodine.
10. Besides breast cancer, what other diseases or health problems are caused by iodine deficiency?
There is a long list of generally acknowledged iodine-deficiency health problems. I cover the list in my book, The Iodine Crisis.
But the fascinating thing is that we learn of more iodine deficiency conditions every day because people will take iodine for one thing, and then report a problem they thought was totally unrelated to iodine goes away. Several of these cases are reported in The Iodine Crisis.
Since the book was published, more people have contacted me with reports on conditions nobody thought had any relationship to iodine. In the last week, I’ve had reports on Autism symptoms improving as well as Myasthenia Gravis. Nobody is sure yet how iodine works on most of these conditions.
11. Can’t we get enough iodine from eating seafood and seaweed?
You would have to eat shellfish all day long to get a decent amount of iodine.
Unfortunately, seaweed has been recently contaminated with pesticides, oil dispersants, fertilizers and radiation. But even if perfectly clean seaweed was available, the iodine in seaweed sublimes or “evaporates” quickly into the air. So you can never measure the amount you’re getting from seaweed and there is no way to know if you’re getting enough iodine.
It’s essential to know just how much iodine you’re getting, especially if you are at risk for any iodine related condition. See: www.breastcancerchoices.org/seaweed
12. Or iodized salt?
Again, because iodine wafts into the atmosphere quickly after the iodized salt is opened, there may be little or no iodine in the iodized salt canister at the back of your pantry. Unfortunately, the government RDA for iodine was based on the assumption that iodine doesn’t disperse. Nobody checked!
You can read my article, The Iodine Salt Scam: A Three Part Deception.
13. What are the best forms of iodine to take?
The Iodine Doctors recommend the Lugol’s Solution formula of potassium iodide and potassium iodine first used in 1829. Yes, that’s 184 years ago! I personally recommend the Lugol’s formulation available as Iodoral (Lugol’s tablets) manufactured by Optimox or as Lugol’s Solution from Jcrows. There may be other vendors of the Lugol’s formula but these are the only two I can vouch for firsthand. 14. Why is iodine deficiency so common among women who bear children and breastfeed?
Pregnant women are notoriously iodine deficient. This data was uncovered in the mainstream press recently. The impact on low birth weight and the baby’s IQ is evident in women with even slight iodine deficiencies.
When breastfeeding, evolution has programmed the mother’s dietary iodine to reroute the lion’s share of her iodine toward nourishing the baby. But the baby still may not get enough from breastfeeding if the mother’s intake is low. Unfortunately, moms rely on prenatal vitamins which usually contain inadequate iodine.
15. Why does the thyroid gland swell (goiter, nodules) when we are iodine deficient?
The thyroid usually swells and develops nodules in an attempt to expand the tissue to trap more iodine from the bloodstream. Sometimes the breasts and thyroid temporarily swell after the introduction of iodine supplementation in an attempt to stockpile the available incoming iodine.
16. Why do we develop cysts in the breasts and ovaries when we are iodine deficient?
From my understanding of physiology and from following iodine-taking patients for seven years, breast cysts usually develop as a result of either toxins or inflammation not eliminated by adequate iodine nutrition. When the breast doesn’t have the nutritional resources to clean itself of toxins, the stagnation causes trouble. The cyst seems to be the body’s attempt to wall off a problem area. The breasts, the ovaries and the thyroid all appear to swell and develop nodules or fibrous tissue in a similar way.
We’ve followed women whom we call “Iodine Deficiency Trifectas” because they’ve experienced all three– breast, ovary and thyroid issues — in the course of their lives.
17. What is the biggest problem you hear about with people supplementing iodine?
The biggest problem occurs when people go to a well-meaning practitioner who is uninformed about iodine, iodine testing or the companion nutrients. So he or she doesn’t know how to dose and then misinterprets what happens when the patient gets symptoms.
For example, occasionally a patient may start taking iodine and their thyroid or breasts may swell or get nodular. The practitioner orders a TSH test. When the test falls out of normal range, he or she wrongly interprets the patient’s symptoms as hypothyroid.
The patient feels chastened and will never touch iodine again. In my opinion, as a result of uneducated practitioner misinterpretation, the patient could be put at risk for serious disease.
If the patient had gone to an iodine literate practitioner in the beginning, the scenario would play out differently. First, the interpretation of swelling and nodules would be interpreted as the result of such an extreme iodine deficiency that the tissue expanded to trap the sudden bounty of iodine. The iodine deficient body may hoard iodine because it’s so used to an iodine famine that it wants to stock up.
Dr. Jorge Flechas’ paper explaining how TSH levels can be misleading in iodine takers.
18. Can people with Hashi’s take iodine?
I had slight Hashi’s myself, as did a lot of the iodine takers on the online groups who can vouch for iodine’s success in their healing. After taking iodine for a while, my practitioner reported I had no detectible antibodies.
Most people with Hashi’s don’t get any antibody flare-up from iodine. Those who do need to learn about the necessity of selenium and getting the iodine dose up high enough so that iodine protects the thyroid.
For Hashi’s people, I recommend working closely with an iodine literate practitioner who is familiar with Drs. Abraham and Brownstein on Hashi’s. Also, reading Dr. Jeffrey Dach’s articles on Hashi’s will be helpful.
19. Is there anyone who can’t take iodine (such as people allergic to shellfish)?
The allergens in shellfish and the allergen in a radioactive contrast dyes are completely different than the nutritional iodine in an iodine supplement. Iodine is present in every cell in your body and you can’t live without it. People are commonly asked if they are allergic to iodine before taking a CT scan even though there is no science behind the statement. I’m allergic to the radioactive contrast dye myself (hives) but have been taking substantial doses of iodine with no allergic reaction.
20. Can some people be sensitive to iodine supplementation?
Certain people are sensitive to even the smallest amount of iodine. What often works is diluting one drop of Lugol’s down with ten drops water and applying it to the heel skin, then gradually building up the drops along with taking the companion nutrients.
21. What is the iodine loading test and why is it important?
The Iodine Loading Test helps measure how much iodine is excreted after consuming 50 mg iodine. If your body is deficient, it will absorb much of the 50 mg and so less will come out in the urine. There is an exception when the iodine absorber tissues are missing (due to lack of need) or damaged due to bromines, toxins and oxidation. An iodine literate practitioner should know how to interpret the test.
22. Where is the Iodine Protocol listed and how does a person begin taking iodine?
The complete Iodine Protocol devised by the Iodine Project doctors is listed on pages 201-202 of The Iodine Crisis.
An example of how one experienced iodine doctor starts his patients on iodine is spelled out in the FAQ section on page 24 of The Iodine Crisis.
23. What is the salt loading protocol and why is it so important??
The unprocessed sea salt captures the detoxing bromines and toxins and escorts them out of the body so it doesn’t get stuck in the tissues such as the brain or sinuses. If that doesn’t work, that’s a signal that you are taking too much and need to STOP iodine for 48 hours to let your kidneys and detox pathways flush the bromines and toxins.
24. What are some signs of bromide detox? Are cherry angiomas a sign of bromide detox?
Yes, cherry angiomas are an often fast-appearing sign of bromide detox. Even people taking bromide medications report these skin reactions.
Before iodine, I bought a new mattress (bromide fire retardants) and within a month I noticed cherry angiomas on the trunk of my body.
25. Last question. Did you write The Iodine Crisis because you discovered a hot, new treatment that helped you and others?
No, I wrote the book because I researched iodine-based medicine back 15,000 years to prehistoric times, then up through the Egyptian papyrus records, and then the Golden Age of Iodine in the 1800s. I realized I stumbled on the world’s oldest, most traditional medicine which had been essentially removed from patient use after a wrong-headed research paper from 1948.
Iodine was stolen from us, as I say. Nothing new or high tech or expensive ever helped me, but the long-lost iodine changed my life. I felt I needed to share my research journey and answer the question, Who stole iodine?
Order The Iodine Crisis
Click here to order a copy of The Iodine Crisis by Lynne Farrow.
The Iodine Crisis: What You Don’t Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life
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