Iodine’s Role in Reproductive, Hormonal, Thyroid & Breast Health with Dr. Jorge Flechas – #16
In this episode I interview one of the leading pioneers in iodine research and application, Dr. Jorge Flechas. Dr. Flechas discusses how iodine deficiency has led to dramatic increases in cancer, thyroid diseases and hormonal imbalances. He highlights that iodine is found and needed by the breast, ovaries, thyroid and muscles. When examining Countries with low incidences of cancer, Dr. Flechas reveals that Japan has the lowest rates of breast and prostate cancer despite being hit with two nuclear bombs.
Iodine plays a dramatic role in balancing hormones and is needed to ensure ovarian health and thyroid health which is essential to fertility. Dr. Flechas details how a majority of the U.S. has become deficient in iodine and what can be done about it. Also iodines crucial role in brain development. Pregnant women consuming adequate levels of iodine have children with much higher than average IQs! Learn how this incredible element can protect you from cancer and keep your thyroid healthy.
About Episode Guest
Jorge D. Flechas, M.D., M.P.H., is the Medical Director of Flechas Family Practice in Hendersonville, N.C. In addition to family practice, Dr. Flechas’ subspecialities include Iodine Therapy for thyroid and breast disorders, bio-identical hormone replacement for both men and women, and diagnosis and treatment of cardiac-related issues such as coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Dr. Flechas was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. He majored in Physics at Southern Missionary College in Tennessee and achieved both his Doctorate in Medicine (1977) and his Masters Degree in Public Health (1979) from Loma Linda University in California.
Dr. Flechas has been in medical practice for 35 years. You can find more about Dr. Jorge Flechas at his website.
His experience and his devotion to the continual study of medicine allow him to diagnose and treat a wide variety of both common and not-so-common medical conditions.
As an internationally sought-after speaker, Dr. Flechas regularly speaks at medical conferences. His lectures have informed many doctors on new and effective treatment protocols for a wide spectrum of medical disorders. He is also the man behind the website HelpMyThyroid.com.
Interview with Jorge Flechas - Episode Highlights
2:08 JF discusses his early work with renowned GYN-endocrinologist Guy Abraham. During this time they looked at research pointing to iodine deficiency being the true cause of fibrocystic breast disease. Also, led to research on iodines role in the ovaries.
11:21 How Japan has the lowest rates of cancer despite two nuclear attacks.
18:41 Iodine deficiency-how it’s occurred and how deficiencies affect brain development.
26:89 Table salt versus sea salt and what essential salt every household should be using.
29:00 What are halogens and how do they lead to iodine deficiency. Plus 2 popular beverages that are filled with a toxic halogen.
39:43 Co-nutrients that are absolutely essential for a healthy thyroid (that most of us are deficient in) including one trace mineral that can decrease rates of cancer by 90%.
48:49 Diet and exercise resistant fat accumulations in hips and thighs-is a lack of iodine the culprit?
51:29 Why iodine is essential to fertility. Regulates hormones and menses and increases fertility.
53:33 What causes iodine detox reactions.
55:47 Different forms of iodine and considerations when consuming.
57:30 JF disputes claims that consuming higher doses of iodine have toxic effects.
59:57 How iodine increases sensitivity of hormone receptors and is essential for hormone balance.
67:14 Iodine taken during pregnancy raises IQ levels significantly.
Selected Links from the Episode
Department of Public Health and Nutrition at Harvard Medical School
0:27 Charlene Lincoln: Today, I am honored to have Dr. Jorge Flechas MD, MPH, Medical Director of Flechas Family Practice in Henderson, North Carolina. In addition to his family practice, Dr. Flechas’ subspecialties include Iodine Therapy for thyroid and breast disorders, bio-identical hormone replacement for both men and women, and diagnosis and treatment of cardiac-related issues such as coronary artery disease, artherosclerosis, and hypertension.
Dr. Flechas was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and is fluent in both English and Spanish. He majored in Physics at Southern Missionary College in Tennessee and achieved both his Doctorate in Medicine (1977) and achieved both his Doctorate in Medicine and his Masters Degree in Public Health from Loma Linda University in California.
Dr. Flechas has been in medical practice for 35 years. His experience and his devotion to the continual study of medicine allow him to diagnose and treat a wide variety of both common and not-so-common medical conditions.
As an internationally sought-after speaker, Dr. Flechas regularly lectures at medical conferences both here and abroad. His lectures have informed many doctors on new and effective treatment protocols for a wide spectrum of medical disorders.
Welcome, Dr. Flechas.
Dr. Jorge Flechas: Thank you very much.
2:05 CL: Like a total nerd, I’m a huge fan of yours and I’m fascinated by the topic of iodine. You are really one of the pioneers of educating the masses about iodine deficiency, especially fellow peers and colleagues. Is that correct?
JF: That’s correct.
2:33 CL: I’m honored to have you on, I’ve been so excited for this interview. There’s so many questions because as I read and I think that you would probably agree, I was interviewing this other doctor and she says there’s a lot of nutrients out there, they’re not sexy, they’re not trending right now and yet they’re so vitally, vitally important, and there’s probably nothing more so than iodine for every organ and cell in the body. So let’s discuss the importance of iodine.
JF: What I did was I did a lot of work early on with Dr. Guy Abraham. Dr. Abraham used to be a GYN-endocrinologist down at UCLA. He was director of the infertility clinics down at UCLA. It’s interesting that he used to talk about the importance of trace minerals in the treatment of illnesses because a lot of the trace minerals were disappearing out of the American dietary systems, and one of these was iodine.
We read in the late 1990s about iodine deficiency being a source of problems with fibrocystic breast disease. Up until the mid-1990s all over North America, doctors felt that fibrocystic breast was a problem of drinking coffee or caffeine products. There was some research work done up in Calgary, Canada showing that this problem of fibrocystic breast was due to iodine deficiency. So I pointed that out to him and he said, “Well, I think we better start looking to see what else is going on with iodine that we’re missing.”
We’ve known for years in medicine that you need iodine to have normal thyroid function but above and beyond that, what does iodine do? It turns out that the human ovary is very high in natural in iodine and it turns out that the ovary has so much iodine and the ovary has gotten like a microcosm of its own that you can take and give iodine to the ovary and the ovaries can make their own thyroid hormone so that the ovary has the ability to make a lot of different things, and one of them is thyroid hormone. So it’s not unusual for us to find a person who comes in having hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone) and the problem is not the thyroid itself but the problem is an ovary that’s overactive and it’s got a thyroid nodule or cancer inside producing a lot of thyroid hormone. That the ovary can only make thyroid hormone if there is plenty of iodine.
With Dr. Abraham, he started his initial searches with looking at the involvement of iodine in ovarian steroid production and it turns out that the iodine is very, very crucial towards helping the ovaries to make the different steroids that are necessary. In fact, Dr. Abraham, he specialized in PMS and he told me, he said, “You know, if I had to do it all over again, I think I would have concentrated on iodine as the first source of PMS because when you give iodine to teenage girls or women who have severe PMS, that the iodine helps to calm the PMS down very substantially.”
7:18 CL: With everything that I’ve read and what you’re saying right now, why does the knowledge of iodine stay on such the fringes of medicine? You really have to search out. If it wasn’t for doctors like you, other than really going back and digging deep into past medical publications, there’s not that much information. It’s not common knowledge and there’s a lot of misconceptions about iodine. Why is that?
JF: In medicine we have a tendency to specialize in minutia and we forget to specialize in the big stuff. So to give you an illustration, the number one steroid produced by the human adrenal is DHEA. Number two steroid is pregnenolone and number three steroid is cortisone. Yet if you ask most medical doctors about these different steroids of the adrenals, the first thing they think of is cortisone. They never mention DHEA, they never mention pregnenolone and they have no idea what those two steroids are doing. And yet, they know a lot about prednisone and very little about the two major steroids produced by the adrenals. So it’s not unusual. Even in your old vocabulary, look at the concept of “Oh, I’ve got problems with adrenal insufficiency.” It’s always in relationship to the word “cortisone”. You never hear about adrenal insufficiency of DHEA. You never hear about adrenal insufficiency of pregnenolone.
And yet, it turns out that in studies that have been done over and over and over again, that let’s say we look at women in general, if you do a hysterectomy, does a woman lose her sex drive? The answer is no. There’s plenty of women who have had their ovaries removed who have continued to have a sex drive. The answer is, is that the female sex drive is driven by the adrenals and it’s DHEA from the adrenals that controls her sex drive. It has nothing to do with her ovaries. And yet in the male, it’s the gonads, it’s the testicles producing testosterone that control the male sex drive. In the female it’s her adrenals that are controlling the sex drive and yet so many people and when you ask most doctors about do women have a sex drive and what controls their sex drive, they always sit there and say it’s testosterone. It’s based upon this misconception that the gonads are controlling sex drive when it’s DHEA.
Again, we specialize in minutia and we forget to specialize in the big things. And in this case, it’s the lack of iodine to the ovary that’s causing so much consternation and problems, and we tend to just forget that the ovaries are a microcosm of just about all the other hormones in the body.
11:02 CL: Dr. Flechas, when you brought up about treating young women with PMS symptoms, I don’t know if that’s the number one thing but a very common practice is if a woman has chronic PMS issues, she’s put on birth control pills. Older women are put on an IUD and they could be using that type of synthetic hormone for years and years and years which is just with potential problems because they weren’t really designed to be used for a decade or more. Correct? And really, a simple thing like iodine, it’s kind of shameful that that has been so overlooked and even thought of as dangerous, right? If you don’t look into it further, you could read something and go, “Oh, iodine. Hmm, it can cause a lot of side effects. It can possibly cause goiters and other health issues. I’m just going to stay away from it.” There’s a lot of misconception on that.
JF: Right. The problem is, is that we basically have been influenced by the early research that was done. A lot of the research was done at The Mayo Clinic on iodine therapy and they figured out that the human thyroid needs about 150 micrograms of iodine per day so therefore, the RDA for iodine was set at 150 micrograms. The problem is that we were not aware that there are other tissues in the body that need lots of iodine, such as the human breast needs about 5000 micrograms of iodine for it to remain healthy. Lack of iodine, the breast starts developing its own pathology such as fibrocystic breast disease. Ovaries need about 2 milligrams or 2000 micrograms of iodine per day.
So what Dr. Abraham and I did was is that we started and said all right, how much iodine is being eaten by the different populations in the world and if you look at these populations, what diseases show up or what diseases are missing? So we looked at the Japanese and in Japan the average Japanese individual eats around 13.8 milligrams or 13,500 micrograms of iodine per day. What was interesting is that in Japan there is virtually no breast cancer in Japan. The other thing is that whereas here in the United States we have close to 30,000 men that will die from prostate cancer and in Japan the death rate of prostate cancer is about 5 per year. And that is that iodine somehow is very protective against the ability of the prostate to develop cancer and for the cancer to spread. Whereas in Japan, they just don’t see it. So we’ve had to sit there and say there is something going on here that is not accounted for and we’re just not looking at the right spots.
14:52 CL: I learned that from listening to your lectures and so it kind of begs the question, so let’s say in a country like Japan where they’re eating a lot of fish and they’re eating a lot of kelp, and I’m assuming that’s where they’re getting the majority of their iodine. But then people are saying, well, what about the conditions of the ocean and especially with the Fukushima nuclear disaster, they’re eating all this stuff from the sea, but what is the repercussions of the pollutions in the sea and the nuclear radiation that happened after that?
JF: I think what’s happening is that we have had to relook at that whole situation because Fukushima right now, I don’t know if you’ve kept up with it but the nuclear reactor is still active and that reactor, the internal core temperature of that damaged reactor is reaching close to 10,000 degrees on the inside. Every time they send a robot in to take a look and see what’s going on with the reactor, the robots melt because it’s so hot in there. The Fukushima is in touch with ocean water and as a result there is a lot of radioactive water coming out of Fukushima and that water is contaminating the fisheries of the Alaskan Coast and the fisheries of the Alaskan Gulf, and a lot of the fish in the Northern Pacific are becoming contaminated with radioactive iodine or radioactivity. Period.
The only thing that will protect us from the radiation is iodine and the other thing is boron. Boron is a trace mineral like iodine and sometime maybe we need to sit down and talk about boron also.
17:00 CL: Oh, I would love to.
JF: But what’s happening is that iodine protects against radiation. Now look at the Japanese. Their land was hit with two nuclear bombs and yet the Japanese have some of the lowest rates of cancer in the world and it’s because they’re eating 13.8 milligrams of iodine per day and they get it from the fish from the ocean and they get it from the seaweed. The problem is that the iodine is helping to protect them from the effects of radiation. On land and also in the sea the iodine is protecting. If you don’t have enough iodine then the radiation will do damage and so that’s what we’re looking up. It’s an issue of the fact that we don’t study enough about iodine to know how to manipulate the iodine to our best of help. The Japanese have and subsequently they have some of the lowest rates of cancer in the world even though they’ve been exposed to very high levels of radiation.
18:21 CL: That is very interesting. Now I could tell if someone’s listening today, this is definitely going to pique their curiosity and make them go, “Well, obviously I should start taking iodine.” Let’s talk about, one, how did we become so deficient in iodine and, two, if someone is going to start a protocol of iodine, do they just jump in feet first, start heavy dosing with iodine? Let’s kind of break it down a little bit for people so they have an understanding. So, how did we become so deficient in iodine, first of all?
JF: First off, the greatest areas of the United States that have the least amount of iodine is the Great Lakes region. It happens along the areas that had the glaciers that melted and took away the iodine. There’s very little iodine along the northern borders of the United States and along the west coast area. So there’s very little iodine in California, very little in Oregon, very little in Washington state and so on.
The problem is that the iodine has been taken away just because of the large amounts of water that hit these areas. So the areas where there’s lots of water, the water is washing away the iodine that’s in the soil. Now, it turns out that when we looked at the Great Lakes region, let’s say we’re going to go back 100 years ago, in Akron, Ohio 100 years ago in about 1924, in Akron, Ohio something like 56% of all the children, boys and girls, had problems with goiters (enlargement of the thyroid). We’ve since then looked at what other illnesses show up in the presence of goiter and it turns out that the number one illness that shows up in the presence of goiter is breast cancer. So everywhere in those areas of the northeast along the Great Lakes region where there’s the highest rates of goiter and the highest rates of hypothyroidism, these areas also have the highest rates of breast cancer. It turns out that you need iodine to protect you from cancer in certain tissues of the body. A thyroid that doesn’t have enough iodine gets into problems with thyroid cancer. People with goiter have a higher rate of thyroid cancer. People with not enough iodine have a higher rate of breast cancer. They have higher rates of ovarian cancer, uterine cancer, stomach cancer and cancer of the pancreas and cancer of the esophagus. So these cancers show up more frequently in people with goiter than any other disease.
So we have to pay attention to the fact that you need iodine to protect the body from cancer. What’s happening is that these cancers nationwide are going up rather than going down as we deplete the soils and we take away the iodine from the population. It used to be that we would get maybe 300 micrograms of iodine per day just because we were putting iodine as part of the solution about how to make bread. Years ago they took the iodine out of the bread and they substituted bromide. So now then you’ll see brominated bread and the problem is that whereas back in the 1960s we were getting about 300 micrograms of iodine per slice of bread, today we’re getting close to maybe 77 micrograms of iodine per slice of bread and the problem is that we keep subtracting the iodine out of the population.
As we do that then we start seeing increasing amounts of medical illnesses that are showing up. Iodine is crucial towards development of normal brain tissue. The problem is that when you take iodine away from a woman that’s pregnant, the baby will come up with decreased IQ, and one of those illnesses is attention deficit disorder. Italians showed us that about 15 years ago, they did some very elaborate studies in Italy showing that ADD is a disease of iodine deficiency during pregnancy. And you look at the girls in today’s world, they sit there and say, “Oh, I’m pregnant. I need to straighten up my diet. I need to improve here and there.” “Oh, I should do organic.” Then they sit there and say, “Oh, the best salt that I should eat should be sea salt.” So they start eating sea salt. The problem is sea salt contains no iodine, and that’s a very real problem because we go from let’s say 150 micrograms of iodine per day and when you start eating sea salt, you end up in a situation where the iodine intake is down to 30 or 25 micrograms per day and that’s what sets up conditions for attention deficit disorder.
24:42 CL: So that’s really interesting. Then it kind of brings up the question so if someone is listening and going, “Yeah, I was told that I should be replacing and using more high-quality salts, a Himalayan salt or a sea salt versus my iodized table salt.” Because there’s something kind of wrong with using regular table salts, right? Even though they’re iodized, they’re not the best for your health.
JF: That’s right. So today, in the United States we make iodized sea salt. You said regular salt that’s got iodine in it or regular sea salt. You forgot the third category and that is sea salt that has added iodine. That’s the type of salt we need to be using. Number two is that if you look, a lot of doctors will sit there and say there’s plenty of iodine in the salt of this nation so we should not have to worry about the iodine. Problem is, is that if you were to go down and look at women shopping at the local grocery store, you’re going to find that over one-half of all women in the United States cook with salt that contains no iodine. They’re selling salt that has no iodine and over 50 percent of women are cooking with that type of salt. That becomes a very real problem right there. We really need to start teaching when you cook, cook with sea salt with added iodine. Not just plain sea salt.
26:40 CL: But then I want to ask, how do you know that you’re getting sufficient iodine from that? It gets confusing about the low sodium diet. That could be a whole interview right there about salt. Because they’ve been sort of demonized, haven’t they, and so people will maybe use a little bit of iodized sea salt but it won’t be a sufficient amount of iodine.
JF: If you look at regular salt and sodium chloride, that’s 100 percent of that salt. What you need is sea salt which contains 16 different types of mineral salts. So it’s not just sodium chloride. There’s 16 different types of salts there. These are trace minerals that the body needs for the advance of health. So you need these trace minerals. The thing is, is let’s say you had hypertension. The doctor is going to say you need to give up cooking with salt and quit using salt. That’s a bad statement because you can use salt but you can use sea salt. If you have high blood pressure you can cook with sea salt and your hypertension will not get worse in the presence of sea salt. Because you’re cooking with the salts of other minerals, not sodium chloride which is the main culprit here for hypertension.
28:20 CL: What’s your thoughts on Himalayan salt? Some people sing its praises.
JF: I think it’s fine but the problem is, is that we need to recognize that we need to start supplementing with iodine if we are going to do anything to help the population. There’s just not enough iodine in salt to take care of the needs of the body.
28:49 CL: I want to obviously discuss that, the supplementing of iodine. But let’s talk more about on the topic of iodine deficiencies. Can you discuss halogens? How are we getting exposed to them and what is their relationship to iodine?
JF: The halogens have a tendency to displace iodine off of the molecules that they’re supposed to go to. So we have halogens like fluoride. The main location where these halogens go to is the thyroid gland. So you are supposed to put iodine on the thyroid to make thyroid hormone. What happens is that when you take fluoride, the fluoride can again displace iodine on there and then you get a thyroid hormone that has fluoride on it instead of iodine and it can cause damage to the thyroid gland and cause problems with potential thyroid cancer.
Another halogen that is used quite frequently in our system is that of bromide. We will see in the soft drink industry the use of bromide which is a definite poison to the thyroid. In fact, the Czechoslovakians, the people over there have been doing research on bromide for years and what they found was when there’s an increased amount of bromide inside the thyroid, there’s an increased risk of development of thyroid cancer. So the other problem is that bromide is notoriously known for causing problems with such things as paranoid schizophrenia. Bromide can also cause problems with bad breath. Bromide is a toxin to the human testicle and is a very common source of hypogonadism or hypofunction of the testicle. It’s been used like that for years and years and years by the British and other companies or other countries to try to control the population as far as the birth rates of the population. They’ve been using bromide for that for years. And bromide is just not a very good product and they use it in the soft drink industry, namely, it’s called brominated vegetable oil.
Go home and pick up a bottle of Mountain Dew and look at the ingredients of Mountain Dew and you will see the word “brominated vegetable oil”. That particular product, Mountain Dew in about 1964, the bromide that was put in there, it was a product that was supposed to be taken out within 10 years of Mountain Dew coming out on the scene. Here it is 60 years later, we still have bromide in Mountain Dew.
32:32 CL: For those that are listening, it really isn’t “dew from a mountain.” It’s quite a toxic beverage, right? The name is very deceiving, as many products are. With soda also and it’s just a totally different subject. All cans unless specified are lined with BPA and that’s the devil we know and we found causes many problems.
JF: So when we did the original studies on iodine, my son was one of these people, one of the research subjects. We gave them about 12.5 milligrams of iodine and asked them to do a 24-hour urine collection. When he brought me back his sample of urine, that urine should have been yellow. In fact half the container of urine looked like it had dark coffee in it as compared to the yellow urine. So as Dr. Abraham checked it out and see what was causing this darkness of the urine, he came back and he sat there and said the urine was loaded with bromide. Now, normal levels of bromide should be between 0 and 5 milligrams per liter. My son’s bromide levels were over 300.
34:11 CL: Wow. From what?
JF: We had one doctor who participated in the research and his bromide level was over 3000. When he brought back his container, his urine looked like he had brought me back a container of coffee. It was that black. I told him, I said, “Look, this bromide is known to cause problems with cancer.” And he said, “Ah! Who cares? This is just research. Nobody can prove anything.” I said, “I’m sorry but the Czechoslovakians have already shown us that bromide can cause problems with potential cancer.” He said, “Well, I’ll watch for it.” And that was the end of the story.
Six years later, he is at home. He has to go to the bathroom and when he does, he pees out pure blood. So that was six years after that event. He immediately had a CT scan and it showed that he had kidney cancer. And also on that gentleman, we gave him iodine 12.5 milligrams per day for a whole month and then did a repeat study of his urine. At the end of 30 days of study, his output of bromide was still greater than 3000 milligrams per day. When you give iodine, iodine displaces bromide out of the body and it forces the body to get rid of the bromide through the urine. He was urinating on average 3000 milligrams of bromide every day while he was taking iodine. Okay? What ended up happening, he ended up coming down with kidney cancer six years later.
So luckily with my son, we caught him early. We were able to get him to come off Mountain Dew.
36:30 CL: Your son, is that what he was drinking?
JF: He was drinking that. I told him, I said, “Show me where you get this Mountain Dew from or where are you getting the bromide from.” He says, “Well, at least once a day I go down to Taco Bell and I eat their Taco Bell food.” So he showed it to me and I scratched my head and I couldn’t figure out which one of those foods that he was eating was loaded with bromide. Then I said, “What do you drink?” He said, “Oh, I get the biggest container they sell at Taco Bell and it’s Mountain Dew.” When I looked at the ingredients of Mountain Dew, it was loaded with bromide. So I said, “Well, there’s where it’s coming from.”
37:17 CL: But what about the other doctor who had the level of 3000, what did you guys determine was his source?
JF: He was also drinking lots of Mountain Dew.
37:25 CL: Wow. That’s a popular drink.
JF: Listen to this. From Nashville, Tennessee to Ashville, North Carolina in that sector right there, the average male between age 8 to 15 drinks an average of 8 Mountain Dews a day.
37:51 CL: Wow!
37:55 CL: That’s where it’s all getting sold. Because I personally don’t even know anyone who drinks it.
JF: There’s another place that we’ve identified now and that’s called Gatorade. If you look at Gatorade.
38:07 CL: The “healthy” electrolyte sports drink.
JF: If you look at Gatorade today, they make a citrus flavored Gatorade, and the citrus flavor is the brominated vegetable oil. That stuff is poisoning the testicles of our American males, especially all of our football jocks and so on. They’re drinking that stuff by the gallon and it’s poisoning their testicles. As a result, look at what’s happening, look at the problem that we’re seeing in the nation, that is, is that the amount of sperm being produced by males today on average is down a few hundred thousand as compared to what they were a few years ago. The sperm count is dropping and it’s all because we’re poisoning the testicles with bromide.
39:07 CL: At an alarming rate. According to the World Health Organization, men today would be deemed infertile compared to a decade earlier.
JF: That’s correct. It’s a very real problem.
39:24 CL: It’s a huge problem especially with all the cases of unexplained infertility where the focus is primarily on the women. Men are sort of excluded from that and a lot of times they’re the culprit. Now, let’s talk about there’s a lot of talk when you start looking into iodine about using Iodoral or Lugol’s iodine and I guess the question is, can you just jump right in and start dosing yourself? Is there anything you should be thinking about? Are there co-nutrients that need to be accompanying the iodine? What about salt flushing protocol, etc.? Can you walk us through that a little?
JF: What we have found is that the thyroid gland uses a multitude of different vitamins and minerals to make thyroid hormone. Number one is obviously iodine. But in order to make thyroid hormone, you also need zinc. In the United States, 60 percent of the population is zinc deficient. We know that in the United States right now, about 93 percent of the population is iodine deficient but in zinc it’s 60 percent of the population is zinc deficient. You need zinc to be able to make thyroid hormone.
The other one is vitamin A, the yellow pigment of pumpkins, squash, cantaloupe. The yellow pigment/beta-carotene is converted into vitamin A and you need vitamin A to be able to make thyroid hormone. You need selenium to make thyroid hormone. Selenium works with the iodine in that regard.
Of interest is Dr. Walter Willet who is chairman of the Department of Public Health and Nutrition at Harvard Medical School, at the School of Public Health. Dr. Willet mentioned that one of the seven ingredients that should be in the diet or supplemented in the American diet nationwide should be selenium. The Chinese researched on selenium and they showed that when you supplement a population with selenium, that you decrease the rate of cancer in the population by 90 percent. Right now in the United States, we are in the midst of an epidemic of cancer. Cancer is today considered the number one source of death in the United States. It used to be heart disease. Cancer is now number one for that and we can reduce the amount of cancer in the population by 90 percent if we ask everybody in the population to take some selenium on a regular basis. We’re talking about 200 to 400 micrograms per day.
42:45 CL: That’s a huge statement to make.
JF: I’m sorry, I’m quoting to you straight from Dr. Walter Willet. He’s the Chairman of School of Public Health at Harvard. He wrote that in a book that he published on that topic. But the rate of cancer in the population will go down 90 percent just by supplementing one trace mineral for the population.
43:16 CL: A couple things come to mind here. It’s like if you remember a statement I made earlier. When I was interviewing another doctor, she goes, “There’s a lot of nutrients. They’re not sexy. They’re not something that’s trending right now like adaptogens or something. But they’re vital, vital nutrients. I think selenium is right up there with them.” I guarantee you and I know this is a smart crowd listening, but probably 80 to 90 percent are going, “I don’t even know what selenium is. I don’t know if I ever had it in my diet.” I’ve been practicing now for 16 years, where there’s an epidemic of thyroid disorders and I’m talking not the ones that just get diagnosed but as you know, there’s so many undiagnosed subclinical thyroid disorders. It blows my mind. There’s no surprise why. Because you’re talking about these nutrients that are so depleted of in our diet. Selenium being one, zinc being another. Iodine being another.
JF: You got it. We need iodine. To give you an illustration, from studies that have been done by the French on iodine in the human body, they figured out that the human body holds an average of 1500 milligrams of iodine. The thyroid gland by itself, maximum that the thyroid gland can hold is 50 milligrams of that iodine. Which is equal up to about 2 percent, maybe 3 percent of all the iodine sits inside the thyroid. What is interesting is lack, well, 20 percent of all the iodine in the body sits inside the skin. You need iodine to be able to sweat and a lot of people who don’t have enough iodine when they get hot, they don’t sweat. Okay? So as a result, I gave a lecture in Southern California about 12 years ago and I was talking to about 1000 people with cancer. And I said, “How many of you have lost the ability to sweat?” And almost 250 people stood up that sat there and said, “We’ve never been able to sweat.” Or “We’ve lost the ability to sweat in the last 5 years that’s when I came down with my cancer.”
In fact, I’ve got one woman who sat there and said, “I can remember at age 10 running around in my neighborhood and not being able to sweat. I just get hot but not sweat.” She said, “I have since then,” she said, “I’m 45 years old and I’ve developed three strange odd cancers that have shown up in my life. Most likely it’s due to the iodine deficiency that I’ve had.” When she started taking iodine, within six weeks she all of a sudden started sweating.
46:28 CL: When you say sweating, no underarm sweat?
JF: No underarm sweat. Not even sweat on the forehead.
46:37 CL: But I thought a lot of people sweat because antiperspirants are used by the masses of people and I thought it was to block that sweat.
JF: That’s right. But there are people out there and I run into those people almost every day in my medical practice who when they get hot especially here in South Carolina and North Carolina, it’s hot and they don’t sweat. The reason is lack of iodine.
47:02 CL: I read that as well.
JF: The other thing is that 32 percent of all the iodine sits inside the muscles. Lack of iodine to the muscles, you get problems with fibromyalgia, muscle aches and pains. Thirty-five percent of all the iodine sits inside the fat cells of the body. Now I want you to notice the following. If you are missing iodine to the thyroid will develop a goiter, that is, enlargement of the thyroid cells. Lack of iodine to the fat cells of the body, you get big hips, big legs, all the way down to your ankles. You’ll see these women who run around who you’ll see them at the malls and other places, they have these massive hips.
48:08 CL: You’re describing a huge percentage of the population.
JF: Yes. In essence that is goiter of the fat cells.
48:21 CL: I had never even heard of goiter of the fat cells.
JF: Another name for it is called lipedema.
48:30 CL: Right. So that I’ve heard.
JF: Women with lipedema have when you do a biopsy of the fat cells of their body, the biopsy looks like the biopsy of the breast tissue in women with fibrocystic breast disease. They have the exact same pathology except that the pathology rather than being in the breast, it’s inside the fat cells of the hips, the upper thighs and legs and so on. That’s called lipedema. When I was down in the Andes Mountains of South America, I saw this quite frequently. You would see a woman especially among the indigenous people that lived up in the mountains, you would see a woman with goiter and at the same time have these problems with the big hips, big legs and so on. And even images of people, these would-be artisans who existed before Columbus came along, before 1492, the artisans of the Andes Mountains showed pictures. They would make images of women who had goiters and also had the big hips and the big thighs and so on. They described it in detail.
And I’ve gone to the National Museum of Ecuador in Quito and I saw images from the pre-Columbian era showing the exact same medical problem. Today, this problem is still here. When you don’t have enough iodine, your thighs, your hips get pretty big. We sit here and say, “Oh, they just need to exercise.”
50:24 CL: They’re just eating a bunch of junk.
JF: I get these girls and they come in here and they starve themselves, they don’t eat and so on and so on, and the hips and the legs do not shrink. Why? Because you’re dealing with goiter of the fat cells of the thighs and the hips and it’s due to iodine deficiency. In Japan, of interest, you don’t see that problem. It’s not there.
50:52 CL: What about the adipose tissue on the stomach? Is that related or is that more like a cortisol issue?
JF: I think that’s maybe more cortisol but it’s mainly limited to the hips and the thighs and the legs and we call it lipedema.
51:11 CL: Dr. Flechas, our demographic is women who are trying to conceive but they’re also very conscientious of their overall health. But if you are trying to conceive, let’s talk about iodine’s role in it. I hate to be specific to fertility because you should be thinking about it as far as your overall health and not just your reproductive health, but this being the focus, let’s talk a little bit about reproductive health and iodine deficiency.
JF: First off, let’s look at the problem of what happens in the body when you don’t have enough iodine. What happens is that you get increased scar tissue of the body. Women who don’t have enough iodine in the breast, you get fibrocystic breast disease, a problem of increased scar tissue in the breast. Lack of iodine to the ovaries, you get increased scar tissue around the ovary and that’s called PCOS. Now, when you start taking iodine, iodine is toxic to scar tissue. What happens is that the scar tissue around the ovaries starts going down and these girls within a period of six months to a year start having periods almost every 28 days and their fertility comes back.
In my medical practice here, we’ve had probably around over the last 15 years, we’ve had about 33 women with PCOS and we put them on iodine like 25 milligrams per day. What ends up happening is that of the 33 that have started taking iodine, 30 of them have gone on to get pregnant and have beautiful-looking children today.
53:13 CL: Nice. Now, I know that women listening, they’re going to say, “Oh, PCOS, 25 milligrams.” They’re going to run out and purchase some iodine, start dosing at that level. Can you tell us about some things to kind of be cautioned about jumping up to 25 milligrams or is there nothing to be cautioned about? I know there can be some potential detox effects of bromine, for one?
JF: Detox would be is that you start spilling bromide out of the urine. You will see what looks like coffee coming out of your body rather than yellow urine. It will look like coffee coming out. That’s the bromide coming out of your system. You’d take iodine and it helps increase the fertility. So you’ll see your periods start coming in about every 28 days. You know that you’ve got a definite iodine problem if you came in and said, “I can’t sweat. My breasts get real tender just before my menstrual cycles and I have problems with infertility or I have problems with recurrent cyst of the ovaries.” That right there, that’s iodine deficiency until proven otherwise. Because you’re involving a whole group of different systems that are all showing evidence of iodine problems.
How much can you take? The average Japanese woman takes 12.5 milligrams, but that’s women that are on the thin side. The bigger the girls are, the more iodine they need so we’d now talk about 25 milligrams per day. Now, mind you, if a woman has breast cancer or has cancer, with cancer we start talking 100 milligrams a day. Because iodine inhibits cancer and iodine is toxic to cancer cells.
55:26 CL: I have some questions about that but that will go on to a whole different topic because I know when women go through breast cancer therapy, they’re told to not use anything that will stimulate the immune system. But I think that might be for a whole other conversation.
JF: Yes, that’s a different conversation. We do have iodine in a liquid that’s called Lugol’s solution. It turns out that Lugol’s causes problems with gastritis in about 20 percent of people. So, Lugol’s is irritating to the human stomach. Which is why we invented the iodine pills and we now have Lugol tabs and we have Iodoral and there’s all sorts of iodine pills out there. The issue is that we’re trying to get away from the gastric irritation from the iodine.
Now it’s interesting too that iodine is a stimulant to the stomach to make more acid. Lack of iodine, you get into problems with what’s called achlorhydria which explains the problem of iodine deficiency associated with stomach cancer. If you don’t make acid in the stomach, then the stomach will become cancerous. You need iodine to be able to make acid inside the stomach.
57:09 CL: There are far-reaching therapeutic benefits of iodine as I’m learning more and more. Probably yet to be discovered as well, right? You’re constantly meeting up with patients and I’m sure their experiences are kind of feeding into your knowledge and experience with iodine as well.
JF: You know what’s interesting is lack of historical knowledge because when I was going through my residency training and my medical school training in Southern California, what is interesting is that patients would come in with emphysema, asthma, diseases like that. We used to give a product called SSKI which is super saturated potassium iodide. Iodide is what they call luteolytic or mucolytic which is basically saying that iodide is toxic to mucus cells and iodide helps to liquefy mucus plugs. People with asthma, emphysema and diseases of that nature, you suffer with plugs of mucus in their lungs and they can’t cough up these plugs of mucus. When you take iodide, iodide liquefies mucus.
So how much were we giving? Listen to this. We were giving 400 milligrams of iodide 4 times a day to get rid of the problems of asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis, etc. So then you have these people that say, “Oh, if I take 12.5 milligrams of iodide, I’m going to get toxic.” I’m sorry, if you paid attention to history, you would know that 35 years ago, we were giving 400 milligrams of iodide 4 times a day to get rid of these medical problems that we were being dealt with. To think that 12.5 is toxic, that’s a bunch of nonsense.
59:38 CL: I have been reading some books and one book in particular has a lot of testimonials and a lot of people put that though they started off gradually and did salt flushing and prepared their body, once they got to 50 milligrams, it was the “sweet spot” for them where brain fog, feelings of exhaustion etc. seemed to really remedy itself.
JF: One thing that we found is that there is on the receptors to all hormones, there is a tyrosine molecule. When you take iodide, iodide attaches to tyrosine on these receptors. When you do that, it increases the sensitivity of the receptor for the hormone that attaches to it. So I had a patient who came in and she was taking testosterone. Her doctor told her, he said, “You take as much testosterone as you need in order to bring back your sex drive.” Well, normally women take about 2 milligrams of testosterone per day. In this particular case, this lady went to 25, 50, 100 milligrams of testosterone per day. I said, “You know, you can’t continue on that dosage.” And she said, “Take a look at my face. You don’t see any hair.” She said, “You can check any place on my body, you’ll find out that I’m not hairy.” She said, “I’m still a soprano, my voice hasn’t gotten deeper. And I’m taking 100 milligrams of testosterone a day.” I sat there and said, “You’re right. I can’t find any evidence of testosterone in your body.” And she said, “But, at 100 milligrams a day, I definitely got a sex drive.” She said, “At 50, 25 too, I don’t have any drive at all. No desire.”
So, she stayed like that for about 2 to 3 years and then we discovered that she had fibrocystic breast disease and so we put her on some iodine. Within a few weeks, she came back in and she said, “You know, I’m starting to have increased facial hair. I’m starting to have increased hair on my arms, my legs.” She said, “I think the testosterone is kicking in in high gear.” We checked her out and sure enough, the tissues were all starting to show the evidence of testosterone.
I spoke to a gynecologist about this and they sat there and said, “It looks like her testosterone receptors are all of a sudden activating. What have you done different?” I said we just started her on iodine. It turns out that iodine increases the sensitivity of the human body to testosterone especially in women. So she became more sensitive to the testosterone. Today, she takes 2 milligrams of testosterone every other day and that’s enough to take care of her sex drive.
63:22 CL: So the receptors weren’t even able to receive the testosterone she’s taking. So she could just take high, high levels.
JF: That’s right. We saw the same thing with the receptors to insulin. One of my patients came in with a blood sugar of over 600 and we put her on insulin and so on and so on. But when we were doing the physical, we discovered she had fibrocystic breast disease and put her on iodine. She came back in a few weeks later and we checked her blood sugar, and her blood sugar was normal. I sat there and said, “That is wonderful, a normal blood sugar. How much insulin are you now taking to control your sugars with?” She said, “I’m not taking any insulin. Ever since you put me on iodine, I have not had to take any insulin for control of sugar and my sugars have all been normal.” The insulin receptors became normal in the presence of taking iodine.
64:27 CL: That’s amazing. I read many stories of people sharing that same experience.
JF: Yes. This happens to just about all the different hormones in the body. Every hormone receptor has got tyrosine on the receptor and when you add iodine to that receptor or to tyrosine, the receptors become more sensitive to the hormones that attach there. That’s why people will sit there and say, “I take a little bit of iodine, I don’t feel anything.” But when you get them up to 50 milligrams, all of a sudden they say, “Everything seems to be clicking and I’m doing so much better.” What they’re telling you is that “all of my hormones are starting to work like they’re supposed to.”
65:19 CL: I know we’ve piqued curiosity and I was talking to a good friend last night and I was telling her that I was going to interview you. We were talking a little bit about iodine and she said, “I kind of played with it a little bit and then I got some detox symptoms and I backed away.” Iodine deficiency is at an epidemic level. I want people to be educated about it. Number one, how do they find out more about you? Can you give your website of where they can find out information about you?
JF: We published a lot of papers on this and there is a website from a company that does iodine testing. They’ve got all my research papers available on their website and it’s called www.hakalalabs.com. If you go there you can look at the research articles that have been published on iodine and we’ve published probably a total of about 25 papers now and you can download those papers and look at them, read them more carefully. But it’s HakalaLabs.com.
66:43 CL: Then I know you have your own personal family practice website.
JF: Right. You can just call my office and my secretary can give you that information.
66:56 CL: And we’re going to put that in the podcast notes as well. Because definitely, please, let this pique your interest and then start reading everything you can. Dr. Flechas is a pioneer in iodine research. You read his publications, become educated. It could really, really change your health. I know I’m kind of guilty of it. I’ve done little minute amounts of iodine supplementation and then after getting introduced to you and your work, I’ve started having it really as part of my daily life and the one thing that’s showing up for me, which was sort of unexpected, is there’s a sort of peace of mind and an elevated mood that I’m really enjoying.
JF: That’s right. A lot of women like yourself in my medical practice have been taking iodine and then they got pregnant during the taking of iodine. We suggested to them that during pregnancy you take the same amount of iodine as if you were a Japanese individual. They’re taking 13.8 milligrams of iodine per day. We recommend that they take 12.5 milligrams per day. That’s the dosing of the iodine pills that are on the market. And Hakala Labs makes an iodine pill.
What is interesting is that you need iodine to stimulate development of a high IQ baby. We have got in this practice over 55 children that have now been born where their mothers took iodine through the pregnancies and all these children are all high IQ babies. In fact, we just had a set of triplets that were born in Wyoming and among those children, they were identical 3 little girls (one placenta, three separate cords coming off the placenta), all 3 girls were identical. What’s interesting is that these little girls are now six months old and the middle one can point a finger at her father and say “dada” and she takes her little finger and points at her mother and says “mama” and she’s only six months old.
Our oldest one in the practice is 17 years old. She’s 17 years old, she’s a senior in high school and she’s already finished two years of college and she’s making straight A’s.
69:58 CL: There you go. Everyone wants a smart kid.
JF: We are talking about the ability to have a smart child. We’ve kind of looked at it as an accident of nature. What we have now discovered is that if you take iodine through a pregnancy, that you can almost guarantee that you will end up with a baby that’s a high IQ baby. If normal IQ is between 130 and 90, these children have IQs of about 150, so they’re on the genius side. They’re genius and they’re turning out to be normal children that love to go out and play and so on and so on, but don’t go up against them for anything that’s mental or will pound the daylights out of you. They’re just that intelligent.
70:56 CL: That’s awesome.
JF: They’re all turning into bookworms and so on and so on.
71:03 CL: Gosh. That’s enough to get the iodine flying off the shelf. Just the possibility of being able to influence the intelligence of your child instead of it just being a genetic crapshoot as we often think of it as.
JF: That’s right. It’s no longer a crapshoot. We can do it at will. In fact, I just got back from down in Ecuador and I met a German lady down there and her little boy in Hamburg, Germany. The German government is making sure that all women who are pregnant are getting a prenatal vitamin that’s high in iodine. They’re doing all sorts of measurements on these children and these kids are all turning out to be the high IQ type children. The German government is actively being involved in trying to develop a whole next generation of children as high IQ children. She said she called her doctor back in Hamburg when she found out the information I gave her. She called her doctor back in Hamburg and said, “By the way, was there any iodine in my prenatal vitamin?” He said, “Yes, your prenatal vitamins were loaded with iodine because we’re trying to influence the next generation of German children.”
72:40 CL: I already remember the foreign exchange German students. They were pretty smart anyway. They would definitely kick our butt in math and science. All right, so we’ll have to look out for that and be competitive in that way of helping our children not just for intelligence but for so many things. So many cancers and different things that we could protect ourselves from. I know people are saying, once again, why aren’t there more research studies, why aren’t there this. I’m just going to simplify it: there is no money in iodine. Right, Dr. Flechas? There’s just no money in it.
JF: That’s right. And yet it’s very inexpensive and the average individual can get involved with taking iodine. And iodine, as you age helps to protect you from cancer and heart disease. Iodine during pregnancy helps to generate a child that comes out as a high IQ child. The things that iodine can do, and iodine can help make your life go a lot easier especially when you become a teenage female and your hormones and your ovaries are just driving nuts. You start taking iodine and your hormones all of a sudden calm down and the ovaries start behaving like they’re supposed to. So you can literally knock out PMS very quickly with the use of iodine during the teenage years.
74:17 CL: I think that’s wonderful because I know so many teens, it’s already just a really hard transitional phase for the teens and their families that if something healthy can be done, instead of putting your teenage daughter on birth control pills and then having her have hormonal imbalances later in life.
JF: You got it.
74:40 CL: Dr. Flechas, thank you so much. I’m just going to ask you now, can we have a part 2 of this conversation at a later date? You’re so knowledgeable and you have so much wisdom to share. I’d love to pick your brain a little bit more.
JF: Yeah, we can do that. Also, we can maybe talk about boron because you need boron to stop you from developing arthritis and also you need boron to stop you from getting osteoporosis. You need boron to help you make the steroids that are necessary for the adrenals and the ovaries.
75:18 CL: It sounds unsexy, boron, but it actually is very sexy and very exciting once you know more about it. So let’s please have that as a part 2. Thank you so much. I appreciate your time. And please look at our podcast notes to learn more about Dr. Flechas and his practice and the lab that he mentioned, it will all be in there. Okay, thank you, Dr. Flechas. Have a wonderful rest of your day!
JF: Thank you. Bye-bye now.