Book Review: Iodine — Dr. David Brownstein

by Joanne

in Supplements

Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It by David Brownstein, MD

Iodine: the little nutrient that works so hard

Iodine is an essential nutrient, meaning it must be consumed in the diet. Iodine is found primarily in seawater and sea organisms, particularly seaweed. Some iodine becomes airborne and is deposited in soil and water but in extremely small quantities. It is estimated that one third of the earth’s soil is deficient in iodine and that people’s iodine levels have fallen 50 percent over the past thirty years.

Iodine was added to table salt in the 1920s due to high incidence of goiter in areas with low soil iodine. But the RDA for iodine is just enough to prevent goiter, not necessarily enough for optimum health. Iodine is used by every cell of the body, the thyroid gland being the heaviest consumer. It’s no wonder we are experiencing so much hypo- and hyperthyroidism.

In the 1960s iodine was used by the commercial baking industry as a dough conditioner, but due to unfounded concerns of toxicity, it was removed twenty years later and replaced with bromine. (The Japanese regularly consume one hundred times the RDA of iodine without ill effect.) The irony is that bromine is a known goitrogen and competes with iodine at receptor sites in the cells. What were they thinking? Other chemicals that compete with iodine are chlorine, fluoride, and perchlorate, all of which can be found in most municipal water supplies.

In this book, Dr. Brownstein discusses:

  • the history of iodine
  • where it’s found
  • insufficiency of iodine in supplemented salt
  • why the RDA for iodine is not enough
  • difference between iodide and iodine and why both are needed
  • testing for iodine levels
  • the problem of halogens competing with iodine and how sufficient iodine can detoxify these chemicals
  • iodine’s role in the cell, thyroid gland, breast, prostate, uterus and ovaries
  • the importance of adequate selenium and vitamins B2 and B3
  • requirements for children
  • iodine’s possible role in the reduction of cancer
  • diseases that can occur because of iodine deficiency
  • a question and answer section
  • scientific references
  • numerous case studies of patients he has successfully treated

I would have liked more information on thyroid function in relation to iodine, but the author has chosen to write a separate book (Overcoming Thyroid Disorders) covering that topic and yet another book on a required component of his treatment protocol: (Salt: Your Way To Health).

I don’t think the author adequately addressed the claim that supplemental iodine should be avoided in those with Hashimoto’s. I’m also not fond of books with large typefaces and double spacing, yet the book still manages to convey a wealth of information that will help anyone understand the importance of iodine’s many roles in the body.

Another point the author makes is that many people prescribed thyroid hormones may be harming themselves down the road if they do not have sufficient dietary iodine. Demanding the thyroid to increase output without providing it with nutrients essential to its function may lead to autoimmune diseases of the thyroid. According to Bernstein, these same people may be able to reduce or eliminate these thyroid hormones by simply raising serum iodine levels. On the other hand, I have read that the Japanese consume a lot of iodine in sea plants and yet have high rates of hypothyroidism. And where do you think Hashimoto’s came from?

Update: 4/15/10: After supplementing with iodine, I began getting hot flashes and night sweats and stopped menstruating. I also had difficult sleeping through the night. Several other women in a Yahoo iodine group had the same complaints. Many people reacted poorly to Brownstein’s protocol, which was laid at the feet of poor adrenal function and/or detoxification. But several very vocal people claimed great success with it. I’ve been researching further into iodine, whose use appears to be very controversial. I am skeptical about Brownstein’s protocol until I can learn more. Proceed with caution.

Update: 7/9/10. It took about three months for the hot flashes and night sweats to stop, I’m sleeping through the night, and I have begun menstruating again. I still supplement occasionally with iodine, but very small amounts.

Dr. Brownstein declined my request for an interview.

Buy Iodine from Amazon.

{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Kara Larocco

I am hypothyroid and on Armour. I do take kelp too. I got my thyroid levels correct first and then I did a few iodine patch tests to see if it picked up a deficiency. It showed I was deficient, so I started the kelp. Many people do fine with a little bit of iodine, then there are others that don’t. I started out by taking powdered kelp, but the problem with powdered kelp is that there are no dosages. Plus, iodine deficiency is a symptom, not a cause. There are other, more pressing headaches associated with hypothyroidism. Metabolism, for starters, which can play hell with your immune system, and also your mental health. If you look at a nurses’ guide, you’ll see that thyroid issues can lead to some chemical difficulties in brain/body day-to-day functioning.


I am suffering from the night sweats too. I took 50mg of Iodoral/day for a few years because it seemed to help my hypothyroid symptoms (and I could not tolerate thyroid hormones)… Eventually, however, I began to lose a lot of weight in the wrong places (breasts and hips), my period became irregular, and the night sweats became a huge problem (I was only 33 when this started)… I read in one place that iodine clears estrogen from the body (but it’s difficult to find much info about this), so I believe this is what happened with me, because my thyroid was still hypo (though less so on the iodine). I have been off Iodoral for at least 2 months now and off all iodine (was taking a small amount in seaweed for my thyroid) for one month — but I am still suffering from severe night sweats. Luckily my normal body weight came back and my last cycle was normal… I am praying that the night sweats clear soon too because I can’t function this way!! And too bad my body can’t handle the iodine! Thanks for sharing your experience, so that I know I’m not alone. It seems to be a more uncommon reaction.


I took Iodoral again several months ago. Just one pill and then another a couple weeks later and then another a couple weeks later. The hot flashes and night sweats came back, and I’m still having them two months later. Seems it took three to four months for them to stop last time. But this could just be my body responding to dietary changes. I don’t know.

I have read that if you take iodine you should ramp up very slowly. But I’m very cautious about this high dose protocol. Don’t know enough about it yet to make a decision on its efficacy. For now I think I’ll stick with sardines and seaweed.


Hi, Joanne! I began supplementing about 3 weeks ago with Lugol’s Iodine, transdermally, and it improved many of my subclinical hypothyroid symptoms (like dry/itchy eyes, constipation, fatigue, depression, headaches, and insomnia). However, 10 days in, I started detoxing bromine (according to Dr. Brownstein), and took a break for 8 days. I started back 3 days ago, but now I started spotting on day 8 of my cycle and I am usually done with that by day 5. So, I’m pretty sure it is the Iodine. Are you taking any now? I know Iodine was helping a lot of my symptoms, but I’m not sure if I should keep painting with it or not…


I went a long time without taking any. I’m now taking only a drop of Lugol’s once a week or every other week when I think of it. I was having a lot of hot flashes and found out a couple months ago that my vitamin D was down to 33. So I supplemented with high doses of vitamin D, got rid of the hot flashes in under two weeks, and menstruated for the first time in many months! I thought I was all done with that :( How is your serum vitamin D?

virginia guevara

Dear Dr D Brownstein, does Prostate revive help men only? I have urinary problem. I told my doctors and he/she said I need muscloe exercise but it doent help. I use daily pads to protect my underwear for leak if I sneeze and when I run to catch the bus/train. I also sleep 4 to 5 hrs only because my bursting feeling to go to the bathroomwakes me up. I am age 61 yrs 5 months old weighing 8 and half stones. I dont smoke or drink alcohol and eat a lot of veg, rice, fish, some days meat without skin or fat and fruits. I dont drink fizzys but tea nad elderflower diluted in mineral water. I have backpain from work lifting heavy boxes of wet uniforms plus i used to lift my mother out of bed every morning to the bathroom. I have had only two children plus one miscarrage so i used to lift them until such age. My MRI report says the sort of fillings in between the boneson lower vertebra are bulging which really hurts when I carry my shopping or do my housework especially when bending to pick up or lift something. What would be the medicine for women’s urinal problem? thank you.


Hello, Virginia. This isn’t Dr. Brownstein’s website, so he won’t be responding to your question.

I will, however, tell you that urinary incontinence is a common symptom of low vitamin B12 (it’s a neurological issue). If I were you, I would try supplementing with B12 vitamins.


I have watched the “Overcoming Thyroid Disease” video. I am amazed at the information. It has been very useful in understanding the actual Thyroid and it’s function. As usual most doctors are main stream in their approach and money is a motivating factor, unlike Dr. Max Gersen who outlined the whole procedure for curing yourself, with minimal medical assistance. Yet with that being said the book and the video are worth the money.


Hi Joanne,
Thank you for this information. I have just watched Dr. David Brownstein’s video pertaining to Hypothyroid. I found it to be very useful. I was searching for any and all information on his treatment. I have just been diagnosed with hypothyroidism in January, during an emergency room visit for stroke or Heart Attack symptoms. I have since gone back to school (first time in 20 years) to pursue a BA in Complementary & Alternative Health. I have started traditional meds until I figure out a holistic approach. I am hoping I will be able to cure my hypothyroid with alternative methods. He hasn’t reported what to take, other than his hormone replacement. Do I need to see a specialist or can I do something with vitamins and minerals? Also, do you know much about his other books and Natural Way of Life Newsletter? I don’t have a whole lot of extra money to throw away for nonsense. Any suggestions would be helpful. Thank you


You’re welcome, Michelle. Brownstein’s protocol calls for salt and iodine and I don’t know what else. He’s written two other books that I’m aware of.

I’m no doctor, and I’m sure there could be multiple causes for hypothyroidism. But in my view, curing any disease calls for healing the body through detoxification and nutrition. We live on poor, processed foods devoid of nutrition for years. We live in stressful times and are often in stressful relationships. We are divorced from nature and fear the sun. And we are forced to give most of our energy toward “work” to earn green paper to pay people for the right to shelter, food and fun.

I don’t think of us so much as biological beings as energetic beings. We have a disturbed “soup” swimming around in our bodies that sends confusing signals. The only way to bring ourselves back to harmony is to clean this soup of all the debris we’ve accumulated over the years. Get the right minerals in that conduct electricity properly and eliminate all those elements that interfere.

So in that regard, I’m a big fan of fasting, which relieves the body of the burden of digestion so that energy can be diverted toward housecleaning. Identifying and eliminating food allergies is also extremely important.

And too little is said about how our emotions and beliefs affect our health. Our bodies take their cues from our minds, which are the master builders of matter.


Dear Joanne,
You mentioned earlier that you were unsure about Dr. Brownstein’s stance on supplementing with iodine if one has been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis. My thyroid went hyper (Graves disease) after delivery of my first and only child. Just about when we were going to do the “swallow” to kill it off because it had “my foot on the gas and my head on the steering wheel” with so much exhaustion due to insomnia, when the thyroid just burned itself out and and I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s. My thyroid took about 9 months to burn out and then it hasn’t worked sense. I was told that I was “hypersensitive” to iodine and to avoid it after some food allergy testing. But I’m wondering if I should be using a little bit of iodinated salt or some form of it occasionally. What are your thoughts after your research in the area of iodine and hypothyroidism, i.e. hashimoto’s disease? Thanks!


I’m sorry, Tracy, I can’t advise you other than to suggest you listen to my interview with Elaine Moore who has written a book on Graves Disease. Maybe you can ask that question on her site.

There are sources of iodine other than salt, such as fish and seaweed. I just know so little about it.


I am 36 years old. I stopped menstruating three months ago. I was checked for hypothyroidism Dr says my levels are fine(1.46). I weigh 110 pounds( I gained 10 pretty fast since I was trying to conceive). I am due to see a fertility specialist tomorrow. would you tell me more about detox and nutrition to get this “soup” operating properly. Thank You


Hi, Jody. Doctors now rely on blood tests for diagnosing hypothyroidism instead of clinical symptoms. Sometimes blood tests don’t tell the whole story, or allopathic medicine has such low thresholds as to be useless. What a quandary.

We live in a chemical-dependent society, from the spray we use to clean our bathroom to the gas we pump into our cars. The air is polluted, our water is treated, and our food is genetically modified or tainted with toxic chemicals.

Our medical paradigm is pharmaceutical instead of holistic. How many of us have taken OTC drugs most of our lives, starting with “cold remedies” as children, the common aspirin, vaccines, and drugs for degenerative illnesses. All these chemicals enter our bodies and many of them never leave. They get stored in our tissues.

So the basic idea behind fasting is that digestion takes a lot of energy. When you fast, that energy is diverted into housecleaning. The body dumps toxic material that has been stored. Go a couple days without food, and note how sick you become. You’re not sick because you are starving for energy but because these chemicals are being dumped into the bloodstream for excretion from the body. A couple times I have fasted I’ve tasted drugs I took decades ago.

We’re not machines; our bodies are self-healing. If you cut your hand, the cells will grow anew and repair it. Broken bones knit together. A fever speeds metabolism and kills bacteria, but we fear it and suppress is. A cold is the body’s way of throwing off poisons, but we suppress the “symptoms” with drugs, which halt the cleansing process. When we are sick, we should fast as do the animals, but doctors push us to eat to “keep up our strength.” It’s completely ass backwards.

Pasteur’s theories form the backbone of medical science today. Pasteur taught that foreign bacteria enter our bodies and create sickness. Antibiotics catapulted medical science into its dominant position today. A contemporary of Pasteur, Claude Bernard, taught that “The terrain is everything; the germ is nothing.” In other words, a healthy body (terrain) gives no ground to bacteria to proliferate. There is no food for them. Just as a dirty garbage can attracts flies because they find a food supply, a dirty body attracts bacteria. Pasteur on his deathbed is quoted as saying, “Bernard was right; the pathogen is nothing; the terrain is everything.”

Minerals in our body act to channel communication amongst the cells. If your mineral balance is off, your body’s health will be compromised. Here’s a fascinating article that explains much of this: Minerals by Tuberose. The article also explains how calcium to potassium ratio can affect thyroid function.

If you avoid the sun and don’t produce enough vitamin D, then you won’t absorb enough calcium. If you have enough vitamin D and calcium but not enough K2, then the calcium may not be stored properly in the body.

People starting on a quest for health clean up their diet and begin to eat natural foods, which is great. But a body that is burdened with toxins may not assimilate the food properly. Communication amongst the cells may still be hindered. If you are low in a mineral or vitamin, will just eating your daily requirement make up the shortfall?

If you had a home that you wanted to redo, if you wanted to buy new furniture, put up some drapes and paint, wouldn’t you first get rid of the old furniture? Clean the windows and walls? Tear down the old drapes? If you bring in new furniture to a home that is full, where does the new furniture go? Does it get piled in the hallway making movement through the house difficult?

If your body is incapable of producing offspring, I believe the reason is that the body is not healthy enough to grow and sustain new life. Would you want someone to manipulate your hormones to force a pregnancy in a body that is not prepared? I’ve read of some tribes that prepare mothers-to-be six months before conception by cleansing and nutrition.

And ultimately, our thoughts and feelings affect our bodies. Stress will kill us just as surely as poor nutrition will. Worry, fear, anger, hate, all these emotions suppress our immune system and tell our bodies that we hate being alive. Use the Hermetic Principle of Polarity:

Everything is Dual; everything has poles; everything has its pair of opposites; like and unlike are the same; opposites are identical in nature, but different in degree; extremes meet; all truths are but half-truths; all paradoxes may be reconciled. — The Kybalion.

Worry is on the same continuum as faith or confidence or assurance. When you worry, transmute that worry into confidence. Change your vibrational state. Hate is on the same continuum as love. When you find yourself hating, raise the vibration to love. A body that vibrates at a higher level will be healthier than one vibrating at a low level.

I hope this was helpful.


I’m not sure how you missed the crucial information about Selenium being the thing that protects against hashimotos? This explains the Japanese you were wondering about. High dose Iodine supplementation is safe if the protocol is followed. Also, Iodine has been shown to reduce Vitamin D levels, everyone should be getting more sunlight.



Hey, NiGMa, thanks for the tip.


Joanne, your response is so full and with insightful. I appreciate you for taking the time to answer my question.

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