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Bladderwrack and hypothyroid.

Botanical name: 

You'll find that hypothyroidism is very very rarely caused by too little iodine.

Bladderwrack is suggested all too often on the various herbal mailing lists. It's pulled out whenever anybody at all posts about his or her problems due to low thyroid function.

That's wrong.

Bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is of use if the hypothyroidism is due to iodine deficiency, because it (and other seaweeds) contain lots of iodine (and of course, a host of other minerals).

If low iodine intake is not the problem, bladderwrack is a nice mineral herb which can be a problem if the low thyroid function is due to too much iodine.

Used to be, all hypothyroidism was due to lack of iodine. You'd get a nice goiter, and inland places with no access whatsoever to sea salt or salt sea fish (and seaweeds, but seaweeds weren't generally considered as food, back then) would consider goiters to be so normal that they'd decorate them. Great big chunks of finely worked precious metals, hanging over bulging throats ...

So you'll find bladderwrack (and other seaweeds) suggested as a major cure for goiter (and thus, low thyroid function), in all the old books.

... these days, if you're eating a Western diet, you get more than enough iodine in your iodized salt, in your processed foods (which contain iodized salt), and in your saltwater seafood.

Hypothyroid due to iodine deficiency is now a thing of the past, except for a few food fanatics who avoid sea salt (and iodized salt) at all cost, who don't eat any processed food (iodized salt in that) and who don't eat seafood.

The main cause for hypothyroid, now, is a lack of growth hormone because of too much insulin. Read more about that in my Syndrome X series.


I'm still puzzling on this question. The folks who do best are the ones using Morton iodized salt at the table every day. But I think I _am_ seeing hypothyroid from lack of iodine, despite iodized salt. Folks who eat processed foods a lot are not getting much iodine (food processors do not use iodized salt because it is more expensive and to avoid risk of allergic reactions). And the natural foods crowd is not getting much in their sea salt, which is actually very _low_ in iodine. Not sure how tamari rates.

BUT I'm not seeing any goiters in these folks. So what gives here? I think maybe people are getting enough poor quality iodine to keep the glands small, but not enough good quality stuff (as in seaweeds, seafoods) to keep them healthy? Is there a difference in the quality of different iodine sources? This is just my vague theory. Ryan Drum thinks the epidemic of hypothyroidism can be more likely attributed to radioactive iodine, and I think he may be on to something there. But in that case, we need _more_ iodine to protect our glands, eh? Either way, I'm recommending people get more, not less.

That makes allot of sense, though what should people take for low thyroid if it's a low hormone thing and not an iodine problem?

... do the syndrome x dance.