As someone begins to research iodine supplementation, they will most likely notice that there are about 2 main approaches. The “main protocol” is usually referring to Dr. Brownstein’s protocol that he uses with his patients, his protocol can he seen here. And a term “low and slow” is usually referring to the idea of starting at very low doses and slowly working up to high doses. After years of watching people in a handful of groups and researching health from many vantage points, I personally prefer the idea of low and slow for several reasons, which I will go over as I debate the two main approaches to iodine.
High Dose – starting at 50mg+
Most people that go with high dose, start at 50mg, most likely due to Dr. Brownstein mentioning he starts most of his patients at this amount. Some people start at numbers much higher. Some people take over 1000mg per day in attempts to heal crazy stuff. I look at high dose as a specific drug treatment.
Low and Slow – starting at 1mg and increasing slowly
The idea is to start at a low enough dose so it will only cause minor detox symptoms. Then the dose is increased slowly, allowing the body to keep up with detox and healing without contributing to adrenal fatigue. I look at low dose as a detox and healing agent, just like many other nutrients our body desperately needs. Some people start at even less than 1mg and have reactions, which can be a sign that they are severely iodine/nutritionally deficient.
My view of High Doses
High Dose seems to provide people with some amazing healing results. While working with some type of doctor or coach, some people are using specific high doses to improve all types of cancers and other conditions. But, I’ve only noticed people having great success on high doses when they work with a doctor or good coach though, people doing it themselves say one or two ailments have improved but they still have a laundry list of minor issues most of the time. I believe this is because they are not getting their detox paths open and are just recycling toxins and never actually loading up with iodine.
And then on top of this, high doses of iodine are causing the body to do some kinda awesome, pretty much unknown, healing process that is producing bio-waste that ends up in a busted gut that cannot detox at the moment. Our liver just started getting iodine, which it desperately needs. So, it’s going to need time to rebuild itself, clean up shop and rearrange some enzymes and what not, now that iodine is around, it’s gonna be a minute before it’s back online and up to speed.
Now we’ve got toxins getting knocked loose and stored in water and fat in the form of weight gain, and bio-waste heading down to a digestive system that can only continue recycling most of this toxic waste. If someone has MHTFR or other mutations that inhibit their detox even further or someone is highly toxic in a dangerous toxin, like mercury for example, high doses of iodine could potentially unleash a slurry of toxic waste into the blood and cause any degree of discomfort.
Depending on a person’s current condition, if someone were to start iodine at a high dose, the body may not be able to unleash this large amount of toxins. But, if someone has been hydrating properly with Celtic salt, using small amounts of iodine and it’s supporting nutrients to rebuild cellular health, and then they start taking high doses of iodine, their body might be more able to knock a large amount of toxins loose. But, even if the digestive system is doing well, this could be way more toxins than our body can process.
So, high doses may be great for advanced healing under the wing of a knowledgeable person(possibly ourselves), but otherwise, I see varied results in the community and a potential for issues that I will go over in my conclusion below.
I almost hurt myself with high-dose iodine
I don’t share my story in an attempt to add fear to the iodine community, I share it because I think it’s important, so people can hopefully get a better idea how this stuff might work for some of us. Although this experience was rather unpleasant, I learned a tremendous amount about detox, myself, and how to move forward with my entire healing process. I now understand how to remove my mercury toxicity that has been holding me back in life for almost 40 years and potentially may have severally shortened my enjoyable lifespan. Although still very subtle, I’ve had just about every early symptom of Multiple Sclerosis, and there is a lot of science connecting mercury to MS-like symptoms.
I started iodine at 12.5 mg(with all supporting nutrients) and added 2.5mg per week. Once I got up to around 40mg, I couldn’t figure out how to get around the extra fog in my brain, reduced energy, minor body pain, etc, which eventually led me to attempt high doses of iodine. I figured maybe I should try high doses of iodine before continuing to disagree with the idea. Over the course of about a week or two, I upped my dose in about 25-50mg increments each day and I estimate that I took about 1500mg over the course of about a week. I stopped because I didn’t feel anything positive, and wasn’t a fan of taking a lot of iodine.
About 3 days later, I woke up one morning feeling like I was hit by a bus. I could barely form words or sentences, I couldn’t focus on anything and my anxiety was through the roof. I spent most of the day laying on the couch trying to convince myself that I wasn’t dying. My chest hurt and I was getting a lot of palpitations and minor to moderate chest pains. Sound, light and temperature differences affected me emotionally and usually made me feel depressed or angry as they changed. I was freezing one minute and burning up the next while wondering if I should run to the bathroom cause I’d feel like I was going to puke. This went on for days and very slowly got better.
Then finally one night, I happened to eat about 12 hard-boiled deviled eggs(6 eggs total). The next morning, I woke up and felt like 80% of the fog had been lifted, I could think and speak and all that fun stuff again. After some research, I realized that the sulfur in the eggs was most likely able to bind with the mercury floating through my blood, and the zinc was able to take up the spot mercury was knocked from. Acute mercury poisoning is dangerous af, I’m lucky and glad I found sulfur by mistake and started realizing what was going on.
Over the next few weeks-months, this led me to realize that I’ve been mercury toxic my whole life via my mother’s mercury fillings. I ended up having a memory flash back of her laughing and saw the mercury fillings in her mouth. Once I read about mercury toxicity and what it does to us, all the sudden, my childhood finally started making sense. I was an annoying, spastic kid that lied, cheated and stole a lot. I got sick multiple times a year and was just a negative person. Thinking about the way I handled myself and a lot of social situations, I could almost consider myself borderline autistic.
Why I think Low and Slow is the right way to go
Low and slow is just the idea of taking small amounts of iodine and slowly increasing the dose. In my opinion, this seems a lot more in-line with how our body heals naturally. It took years and generations to get our bodies into the condition they are in, now that we are finding the nutrients our body needs in order to repair itself, it will take time for all of these processes to move forward and clean up the mess. Luckily we can heal faster than it took us to hurt ourselves, but it’s still going to take months, even years to correct some of our imbalances. Sometimes it takes a minute to figure out which mineral is holding us back or which toxicity is still offsetting our body. Some of us can clean up quicker but it depends on generations of nutrition and current lifestyle, so it might be best to plan for the best but prep for the worst. And by worst I just mean not assuming that we are free of toxicity.
The whole basis behind iodine and it’s protocol, is that we’re giving the body an essential nutrient that almost all of us desperately need. But iodine is just one nutrient, one element, and we are missing so many more. We have to give our body all the other building blocks it’s missing, in order to rebuild our cellular health, then iodine can get in there and clean up shop properly. It’s almost like iodine has two functions, sometimes it acts like a vitamin or mineral that we can use to re-balance our body, and other times, it’s like a miracle drug that pushes our body to do things we don’t fully understand. Iodine also chelates a lot of things that other substances are not able to, allowing us to remove a lot of nasty substances.
I think High Dose works kind of like a medication and might be able to attack & heal certain conditions, but it does not seem to detox people well. It may aggravate adrenal fatigue, which most people have, and it might knock loose a ton of mercury etc. It could also be mostly wasted due to our cells not being able to utilize it, because they aren’t hydrated and opened up with unrefined salt, lots and lots of veggies and magnesium etc. And, taking it in pill form with a broken digestive system might reduce our ability to use it even further.
Low and Slow allows the body to heal itself and helps us heal our adrenals instead of push them harder. The detox we feel most likely means we need more vitamin c, other nutrient or a Salt Load to help clear some bromine. These detox symptoms can be used to figure out what we are full of and experiencing a hard time removing, then we can learn how to support our body to remove that funk and move forward successfully. Going slow allows us to make the most use of the Celtic salt and all other nutrients we are taking in and most likely paying good money for.
Either path benefits from a clean diet with organic veggies and properly raised animal products. There are a few supporting nutrients we need to make sure we get enough of, but we should try to get almost all of our nutrition from our food. Going as far as growing food properly in our backyard only helps our recovery.
The protocol I use for myself
I’ve got a really thick head and it took me a long time to understand the importance of this one. Water makes up about 61-65% of our body mass. That means we’re gonna need a ton of it to keep us fresh as we continually make new cells. The premise behind re-hydrating is easy but it takes getting into a few new habits for most people.
Our body needs enough sodium to hold on to enough water so it can try to get all the potassium we get from our 9 cups of steamed veggies per day, into our cells. This takes a long time of getting enough potassium from food, and sodium from adding celtic salt to our meals. I sip on small amounts of water very often and get as much salt as my body lets me. My mouth or stomach start to tell me when I am getting too much salt, this usually means I need more water or potassium. I wrote about unrefined salt here.
I start a good diet.
I eat a lot of cauliflower, red cabbage, Brussels sprouts, leeks, onions, carrots, green beans and garlic. I throw in other veggies at times but stick with mainly just these. Cauliflower is an amazing veggie and is extremely versatile. If you don’t like it yet, you will if you give it a chance and find something that matches your stlye. I also avoid all nightshades most of the time like tomatoes(except for from my organic garden), potatoes, eggplants and peppers. These can inhibit kidney function and contribute to joint pain for most people. I try to include small amounts of animal protein in each meal but tend to skip it a lot of the time and only eat animal a few times a week. I snack on organic blue corn tortilla chips and eat small amounts of only high quality dairy. I make sure to continue hydrating properly and get lots of salt.
I fix my gut
Eating mainly cruciferous and root veggies will allow my gut to start repairing itself. Any chemical laden food will harm the healing process. Just eating conventionally grown produce can contain harmful substances, so eating organic as much as possible and avoiding all processed food is an important step if I really want to see what my body is capable of. If I were showing signs of autoimmune conditions, I might check out bone broth but I want to make sure it’s not cooked too long which might lead it to being full of histamines, and I don’t want to overdo the amount of bone broth, it is very, very high in minerals. Otherwise, I just consume a lot of homemade fermented foods. I really enjoy the process of fermenting my own stuff and I’ve noticed I feel a little better when I include them in my diet regularly. Mixing fermeted stuff with cruciferous meals seems to have a magical affect on our gut and tends to produce great poops. It can take our gut a little while to ‘switch over’ once we eat enough ferments, this can cause loose poops for a few days but I felt like my health increased a few notches after this happened the first time. I ate small amounts of ferments daily for about 3-4 weeks when my gut switched over the first time. Hydration is huge for the gut, our stomach is the first place to lose water when we are dehydrated. Poof, there goes digestion, say bye bye to most of those bangin minerals we slaved away for.
Before I get back into iodine, I wanna make sure I have a few other things on hand in my body. If my thyroid has built up with toxins over the years, I wanna get enough selenium to attempt detoxing it a bit, there may be an issue here if I have MTHFR(a common gene mutation that reduces our ability to detox) active or anything like that, but if I eat well enough for long enough, I should be able to turn off my mutations and then get back to detoxing the thyroid with selenium. Then I get a few forms of magnesium. I eat a lot of dark leafy greens with my cruciferous foods and take several forms of magnesium like glycinate, citrate, malate, oxide, and some epsom salt when I’m also looking for some extra sulfur. I use magnesium oil once in a blue moon and do a bath or foot bath with magnesium. There are many forms of magnesium, learning about them and trying them can be very beneficial for mostpeople. I get a lot of vitamin c from food, so whole organic lemons blended with seeds and skin and all are great, and Camu Camu berry powder is a great, easy way to add it to a lot of foods. Getting enough unrefined salt is important here as well, along with that pesky hydration thing. I’ve written some more about Magnesium here.
I start iodine as low as possible
I have a hypothesis that our body only allows iodine to interact with our cells at a certain rate. I think this rate depends on how hydrated and nurtured our cells are. I have no idea how, but I think our body skips iodine when it comes in at a rate that is much higher than what our cells can currently interact with. So if 3mg causes me to feel detox and taking about 50mg or more allows me to ‘not feel detox anymore’ like people claim on high dose, maybe it’s because I’m not detoxing anymore?
I follow Dr. Browstein’s protocol without the 50mg of iodine part. For about a month, I take enough selenium, magnesium, vitamin c, and unrefined salt. Once I no longer feel any detox type effects from starting those, I start iodine. Now I start with lugols iodine at 2.5mg per day and increase slow till I feel detox, then I stay at that amount till the detox symptoms go away, or sometimes I have to figure out what I might be missing that is causing me to get stuck feeling detox at a certain dose of iodine. This is where eating very well comes in and finding special foods that provide whatever nutrient we need in order to offset the toxin taking it’s place.
I recently went from working from home, back to commute and glued to a chair for 8+ hours a day. This caused me to depend more on supplements than real food. But in the process, I stumbled upon a few nutrients that seemed to really help me move forward at different times. I may write more about this someday.
I listen to my body, I listen to everything
I used to assume we just have forgetful days sometimes by chance, but I have a feeling those days are from when we happen to either eat, drink, or inhale some kind of toxin, including mercury from fillings or bromide from soda etc. Or, once we provide our body with foods and minerals needed to unlock some mercury or some other potent toxin, we end up feeling it while it’s flowing through our blood, on it’s way to being removed. When I started taking selenium, I noticed my body and focus perk up in a way, I felt like something inside me stopped attacking itself or was finally able to clean some type of funk out. It turns out that our body uses selenium to interact with mercury and mitigate it’s damage while the mercury is floating through our tissues and brain. When I get a form of magnesium that my body can use, I get a burst of energy and my digestion changes. And when I get the right combo of foods and supplements going, including iodine, my poop burns as the heavy metals are finally heading out. When I started a new job, the water from the filtered water cooler gave me headaches, because it was loaded with fluoride. Our body is trying to tell us all types of things, we’re just bombarded from so many directions, we usually miss its cries for help.