Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Swiss to recognize homeopathy as legitimate medicine

Mar 29, 2016

The interior ministry has announced its intention to elevate five complementary therapies including homeopathy to the same level as conventional medicine. 

Homeopathy, holistic medicine, herbal medicine, acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine will acquire the same status as conventional medicine by May 2017.

After being rejected in 2005 by the authorities for lack of scientific proof of their efficacy, complementary and alternative medicines made a comeback in 2009 when two-thirds of Swiss backed their inclusion on the constitutional list of paid health services.

As a result of the vote, these treatments are covered by basic compulsory insurance as part of six-year trial period from 2012-2017, during which their efficacy would be examined.

The ministry has come to the conclusion that it is impossible to verify the efficacy of these therapies in their entirety. It has therefore opted to accept them on par with other medical disciplines. It plans to continue allowing reimbursements of treatment costs by compulsory health insurance, provided they are administered by certified medical professionals. 

However, as is the practice for conventional medicine, certain controversial practices under these complementary therapies will be subjected to further scrutiny. The ministry has initiated a consultation process - open until June 30, 2016 - on the proposed modification of the regulations.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Iodine Deficiency - An Old Epidemic Is Back

Iodine Deficiency - An Old Epidemic Is Back

One of the main roles for the mineral iodine is to help manufacture thyroid hormones. And once upon a time in America - especially in the Great Lakes region - there were many cases of goiter, an enlarged thyroid gland caused by iodine deficiency. The iodine/goiter story had a happy ending, however, when manufacturers began adding iodine to salt ("iodized salt"). After that, goiters in the U.S. mostly disappeared.

But the iodine story turns out to have an epilogue. A new epidemic of iodine deficiency has occurred. And it's bringing a lot more than goiters with it.

Fatigue? Pain? Weight gain? Breast cysts or tenderness? In this article I'll tell you why you might be at risk for an iodine deficiency, what it might be doing to your health - and an easy way to protect yourself.

Bromide and Bad Medical Advice

There are two main reasons why iodine deficiency may be making a comeback.

Until recently, about 25% of the iodine in the diet was from wheat, because iodine was used in the processing of flour. Now, however, a lot of flour in the U.S. is processed with a chemical cousin of iodine, bromide (potassium bromate), which helps makes flour doughier, rise higher, and gives the loaf a better appearance. But bromide is a double-edged sword: not only has it replaced iodine, it may block the activity of iodine. That's also true for two more of iodine's chemical cousins - chlorine and fluoride, both of which are common in drinking water.

There's another problem with bromide. The International Agency for Research on cancer classified potassium bromate as a Class 2B carcinogen, and it was banned in the U.K. in 1990 and in Canada in 1994. It's still legal in the U.S., although in 1999 The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) petitioned the FDA to ban it, saying the agency "has known for years that bromate causes cancer in laboratory animals."

Iodine deficiency isn't only about our daily bread - it's also about our daily salt. Most of the salt used in food processing isn't iodized. And people are using less and less iodized table salt at home, because of the misguided medical advice (except in those with heart failure) to avoid salt. (People who eat more salt live longer: see Eat Less Salt - and Die? (link is external))

The end result is Americans who dine on less iodine. From 1971 to 2001 iodine intakes in the U.S. dropped by 50% (estimated by urine output). Though it fortunately is not continuing to drop, we still have lost half our iodine.

So Why Is This a Big Problem?

Iodine is one of the most important minerals - your body requires it for healthy cellular and metabolic functioning. The book by Dr. David Brownstein, Iodine: Why You Need It and Why You Can't Live Without It, sums up its importance:

"Iodine is the most misunderstood nutrient. After 12 years of practicing medicine, I can say that it is impossible to achieve your optimal health if you do not have adequate iodine levels. I have yet to see any item that is more important for promoting health than iodine."

If Dr. Brownstein is right, and I agree that iodine deficiency is a major problem - our drop in iodine intakes might be contributing to many major health problems.

Examples?  Iodine deficiency might be contributing to the large increase in thyroid problems being seen clinically. Low iodine can contribute to an increased risk of both underactive and overactive thyroid. And iodine-blocking bromides are implicated in many thyroid disorders - one study showed bromides were 50 times higher in the thyroid tissue of people with thyroid cancer.

Breast cysts and breast cancer. Iodine plays a key role in breast tissue, and women with breast cancer have lower iodine levels in their breast tissue than women without the disease. Women in Japan get much more iodine in their diets - and have a 65% lower risk of breast cancer than U.S. women. The effect of iodine on breast tissue is so marked, that hypothyroid women (who can't process the mineral well in the thyroid, thereby freeing up more iodine for use in breast tissue) actually have lower levels of breast cancer. Six-12 mg a day in women with breast tenderness, cysts, or cancer can produce striking benefits.

Lower levels of iodine may increase the risk of heart disease. For a review of this issue, see Hypothesis: Dietary Iodine Intake in the Etiology of Cardiovascular Disease (link is external) in the Journal of the American College of Nutrition

Connection to Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Low iodine might also contribute to fatigue and CFS. A study showed that people with low body temperature and fatigue felt better and had more energy when they took a daily supplement of 1,500 micrograms (mcg) of iodine (the RDA is 150), though their temperature didn't rise. It's reasonable for those with unexplained fatigue, CFS or fibromyalgia (link is external) to add an iodine supplement (6-12 mg) daily for three months to see if it helps. You'll often see a marked increase in energy within the first month.

Low iodine has also been associated with weight gain (see Less Iodine, More Likely To Gain Weight (link is external)).

How Do You Know Your Iodine Levels Are Low?

Iodine testing isn't always the best way.

The accuracy of iodine testing hasn't been confirmed to my satisfaction. Much as we like to have a piece of paper that gives definitive test results, sadly these results are often not reliable. I find it  works best to treat a person's symptoms, and see if that helps. I would treat for an iodine deficiency in people who have:

  1. Breast cysts or tenderness, or breast cancer. I consider these markers for iodine deficiency.
  2. CFS, fibromyalgia or unexplained fatigue.
  3. Thyroid disease or thyroid cancer.
  4. Low body temperature of under 98 degrees Fahrenheit.

Although testing is a reasonable option, I'm not anxious to order a test that doesn't affect how I treat a person - and I think a good case can be made for treating everyone for three months who falls into one or more of the above four categories.

Supplementing with Iodine

Doctors used to use Lugol's solution, a mix of iodine and iodide. But it's messy, irritates the stomach, and can mildly stain teeth. Some doctors recommend relatively high doses of iodine supplements each day - greater than 12 mg. But it's best if you take these higher doses only under the supervision of a holistic physician, because doses over 13,000 mcg a day may suppress thyroid function. There are two other cautions:

  1. A small percent of those with Hashimoto's Thyroiditis will occasionally flare when taking an iodine supplement (even in a multivitamin). This usually goes away over time, and the iodine is actually helpful for the condition. And many doctors who use high-dose iodine report they see less sensitivity in folks with Hashimoto's who start with a high, rather than a low, dose.
  2. If you have a known iodine allergy (usually an allergic reaction to the iodine used in x-ray dyes), you shouldn't take iodine. Having said that, I've never seen anyone who had this type of allergic reaction also react to an iodine supplement - but better safe than sorry.
  3. If it causes acne (this is rare), lower the dose. Also, if it flares severe indigestion (pain in the solar plexus), lower the dose or stop it (also uncommon).

Diet and Lifestyle

There are a higher percentage of centenarians on the island of Okinawa than there are anywhere else in the world - and it's reported that they ingest between 80 and 200 mcg of iodine daily. I think it's a good idea for everyone to get at least 150-200 mcg. And there are several ways to make sure you do just that:

  1. Seafood tends to be high in iodine. An especially rich source is seaweed, such as kelp. This is why the average Japanese women who eats a lot of seaweed gets 12,500 mcg of iodine in her daily diet - and maybe why she's a lot healthier than the average American woman, who is lucky if she gets 150 mcg daily. It also may be why breast cancer is much less common in Japan than in the U.S., where the breast cancer rate is three times higher than Japan's!
  2. If you eat a lot of soy products, cut back - especially unfermented soy (e.g., soy milk, soy cheese, and soy protein added to food). Large amounts of soy can block thyroid function, though this is less of a problem with fermented soy products, like tempeh and tofu.
  3. If your local water contains fluoride, consider a filter that eliminates it. Avoid bromide, too, when you can. (One unusual source: chemicals added to hot tubs to stop the growth of unwanted bacteria. There are other options available.)

Bottom Line?

For those with CFS/FMS, unexplained fatigue, a low body temperature, difficulty losing weight or breast disease, it's reasonable to take an iodine supplement. Take one tablet a day for 90 days (6-12 mg a day is fine). After three months, if you feel much better you can stay on the supplement. Or you can stop it and see if your problems worsen, a sign that you still need it. (You may find that one bottle is enough to "fill your tank" and correct your deficiency.)

For those with breast cancer, I would suggest adding a somewhat higher dose supplement (12-13 mg) a day to your long-term daily regimen. You might also want to work with a holistic physician, taking even higher doses - but these higher doses require monitoring of thyroid function.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

10 Nutrient Deficiencies Every Thyroid Patient Should Have Checked

10 Nutrient Deficiencies Every Thyroid Patient Should Have Checked

June 12, 2015

Nutrient deficiency is a part of the thyroid puzzle that has been particularly fascinating to me. There are certain nutrients essential for thyroid health yet often times doctors are not checking to see if they are a root cause of a person’s thyroid issues. Of the ten nutrients Dr. Osborne mentions in this guest article, I have personally had deficiencies in of them. How about you, could nutrient deficiencies be a part of your thyroid problem?

Written by Dr. Peter Osborne, Author of No Grain, No Pain

Hypothyroidism is one of the most commonly diagnosed conditions in the United States today but very few doctors actually pay attention to the nutritional relationships between your thyroid and vitamins and minerals. I want to talk today about what you can do to ensure that the reason your thyroid isn’t working properly isn’t just something to do with nutritional deficiency.

The first thing that we want to understand is that there is a hormone your doctor typically measures TSH (Thyroid Stimulating Hormone) that comes from your brain and it travels to your thyroid gland and tells your thyroid gland to produce T4. That T4 is what we call inactive thyroid hormone. The T4 travels through the blood stream and when it gets to the peripheral tissues it is converted into T3, what we would call the active form of thyroid hormone. T3 then has to get inside of your cells. DNA is in the center of the cell inside the nucleus. On the surface of the cell nucleus we have this little tiny key hole called the nuclear receptor and, in the case of thyroid hormone, that little nuclear receptor is where thyroid hormone binds. We get the binding of T3 onto that nuclear receptor and that my friends is what increases your metabolism.


What are the symptoms of low thyroid? With low thyroid most people will experience energy loss, weight gain, hair loss, dry skin, elevated cholesterol, constipation. These are all common symptoms of low levels of T3 or low levels of thyroid hormone overall.

Now I hope you have a general understanding of the way these hormones work. Now let’s insert the nutritional parameters so that you have a better understanding nutritionally of what needs to happen.

The very first thing is that this TSH doesn’t just magically appear. In order to properly make TSH you have to maintain adequate protein in your diet. Magnesium, vitamin B-12, and zinc are also required to make this particular hormone. These three micronutrients (magnesium, B-12, zinc) and this major macronutrient (protein) are all responsible for helping us to properly produce TSH.

There are certain nutrients required to make T4. One of them is iodine. That 4 in T4 refers to 4 molecules of iodine, so to make T4 you have to have 4 molecules of iodine. If you ever see iodized salt, salt in the United States is iodized as a result of widespread goiter epidemic. Goiter is when the thyroid enlarges because of in this case iodine deficiency. This is why table salt is iodized however I don’t recommend trying to get your iodine from that particular source because there are other negative consequences to over-consumption of standard table salt. You can get iodine from eating fresh vegetables, seafood, kelp, and seaweed.

Iodine is not the only nutrient required to make T4. There’s a mechanism inside your thyroid gland that helps to draw iodine into the thyroid gland. That mechanism is a little kind of doorway called a symporter and it requires Vitamin B2 and Vitamin C. That symporter won’t work to bring iodine into the thyroid gland unless you have these two nutrients in place to run that symporter pump.

So far we have talked about 7 different nutrients associated with getting from TSH down to T4. Now we have to get from T4 to T3. This process right here also requires nutrition. There is an enzyme that does this conversion for us and that enzyme is driven by the nutrient or mineral selenium. Without selenium we won’t convert T4 to T3. What we’ll actually do without selenium is make another compound called Reverse T3 (RT3). Reverse T3 is also inactive. The problem is if your doctor doesn’t run a Reverse T3 lab test. Many doctors don’t run Reverse T3. Most doctors from my experience look at TSH only and they skip all these other components. If your doctor isn’t looking at Reverse T3, and maybe they did measure T3, you can’t differentiate Reverse T3 and T3 from each other without actually teasing them out. The way you do that is have your doctor measure Reverse T3 as well as T3.

Now when we come over from T3 and it has to activate the nuclear receptor on the surface of the nucleus of the cell. That requires Vitamin D and Vitamin A. So Vitamin D deficiency and Vitamin A deficiency can also stop T3 from activating your cell to increase your metabolic rate and increase your energy.

So there are ten nutrients required for your thyroid to get from your brain creating TSH and stimulating your thyroid gland to produce T4 to T3 and then to activate your cellular metabolic rate. The ten nutrients are:






B2 (Riboflavin)

Vitamin C


Vitamin D

Vitamin A

If you have a diagnosis of hypothyroidism, your doctor says, “Hey, you’ve got hypothyroidism. We’re going to put you on Synthroid or one of these thyroid medications.” You need to have a conversation with your doctor about this component because if your doctor is not measuring these ten nutrients what’s going to end up happening is they are going to medicate you and the medication may help initially but over time as you maintain micronutrient deficiencies your thyroid is not truly going to improve. You’re not going to be treating the origin of why the thyroid is low in the first place. You’re just going to be masking it by putting artificial hormones in.

Some people will say but I’m taking bioidentical thyroid hormone like Armour and that’s okay too. Armour is more like your natural thyroid hormone than something like Synthroid, however I don’t recommend using any kind of thyroid medication, bioidentical or not, UNTIL you’ve had a conversation with your doctor to evaluate these nutritional parameters. It’s very common that I see patients once they come to see me they are already on a medication and once we start correcting these deficiencies, what ends up happening is their medication becomes too strong and they actually become hyperthyroid (symptoms like excessive sweating, anxiety, night sweats, inability to sleep, hot flashes). So when you start getting your nutrition corrected if you are on a thyroid hormone medication remember you may develop these symptoms of too much thyroid and may need adjustment in your dosage.

The bottom line is if you’ve been diagnosed with hypothyroidism have your doctor check these nutrient levels so that you can ascertain the nutritional potentials for why your thyroid is low in the first place.

About Dr. Peter Osborne

Dr. Peter Osborne is the clinical director of Town Center Wellness in Sugar Land, Texas. He is a doctor of chiropractic and a Board Certified Clinical Nutritionist. His clinical focus is the holistic natural treatment of chronic degenerative musculoskeletal diseases. He is an expert in the relationship that gluten sensitivity and food allergies play in chronic inflammation. He has helped thousands of patients recover from chronic painful conditions. Dr. Osborne is the author of the book No Grain, No Pain: A 30-Day Diet for Eliminating the Root Cause of Chronic Pain.