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Iodine Debate Continues: Rebuttal #2

The Iodine Debate so far. . .

Editorial: Iodine: A Lot to Swallow
by Alan Gaby, MD

(Aug/Sept 2005)

A Rebuttal of Dr. Gaby’s Editorial on Iodine
by Guy E. Abraham, MD and David Brownstein, MD
Online publication only. . .

(October 2005)

Alan R. Gaby, MD’s Response to:
A Rebuttal of Dr. Gaby’s Editorial on Iodine
Online publication only. . .

(November 2005)

Alan R. Gaby’s Response to this Rebuttal (#2)
Online publication only. . .

(April 2006)

We would like to submit a second rebuttal to Gaby’s response to our first rebuttal1 which was in response to Alan Gaby’s editorial on iodine. 2 In his editorial, Gaby questioned the validity of the iodine/iodide loading test we use to assess whole body sufficiency for iodine 3 and the safety of our orthoiodosupplementation program,4 which is currently used safely and effectively by thousands of physicians and other health care professionals nationwide. Our first rebuttal covered the main objections by Gaby and also questioned the scientific validation of the theory of evolution.

On the Townsend Letter web site, (, in December 2005, Alan R. Gaby, MD posted a sequel to his editorial on iodine. This time, Gaby did not defend his belief in evolution and the origin of man from the “iodine-rich” oceans. This time, he did not question the validity of our iodine/iodide loading test. This time, he did not debate the method we used to calculate the average daily intake of iodine by mainland Japanese. This time, Gaby concentrated his attention on the safety of iodine as used in the orthoiodosupplementation program. Running out of scientific arguments, Gaby resorted to personal attacks. We will respond in a scientific manner, point-by-point and with references, including definitions of words from an English dictionary.

“First, it does not seem appropriate to use the term ‘orthoiodosupplementation’ to describe the treatment they are recommending. That term is borrowed from Linus Pauling’s ‘orthomolecular medicine,’ which refers to the concept of creating the optimal molecular environment in the body (‘orthomolecular’ means ‘the right molecules’). Defining the optimal dosage range as an amount that is 40 to 320 times the usual dietary intake obfuscates any debate about whether such a high intake is desirable or safe. Therefore, until iodine doses of 6.25-50 mg per day are proven to be optimal, it would be more logical to refer to these doses as ‘high-dose iodine therapy.'”


The prefix “ortho” is not borrowed from Linus Pauling. The English dictionary contains hundreds of words starting with “ortho.” For Gaby’s erudition, the daily amount of iodine needed for whole body sufficiency was named orthoiodosupplementation3 from ortho = the right amount; iodo = for inorganic non radioactive iodine; and supplementation = for oral intake of this essential nutrient.

To find the definition of “obfuscate,” we consulted the Etymological Dictionary of the English Language by Reverend Walter W. Skeat.5 It derives from two Latin words:
ob (prefix) = over, toward, before, about, near, above
fuscate = to darken
obfuscate = to darken over

The endpoint in optimizing a nutritional program is the clinical response. The optimal amount of a nutrient is reached when it results in optimal mental and physical health. Having a test that confirms the optimal amount of a nutrient that achieves whole bodysufficiency, concomitant with optimal physical and mental health in the absence of significant side effects, is what we strive to do. In fact, it is what all holistic physicians strive to achieve.

Gaby: “Drs. Abraham and Brownstein stated that the thyroid disorders I mentioned that resulted from iodine supplementation occur mainly with ‘organic forms’ of iodine, such as amiodarone and certain iodine-containing dyes used in radiology. However, all but one of the references I cited discussed the adverse effects of inorganic iodine. The other article concerned the use of an iodophore, which is a surfactant molecule that slowly releases inorganic iodine. As surfactants would not by themselves be expected to affect thyroid function, one might presume that the released inorganic iodine was responsible for the reported adverse effects.”


To support his contention that iodine supplementation is associated with thyroid disorders, Gaby list five references:

10. Kasagi K, et al. Effect of iodine restriction on thyroid function in patients with primary hypothyroidism. Thyroid 2003;13:561567.
11. Zimmermann MB, et al. High thyroid volume in children with excess dietary iodine intakes. Am J Clin Nutr 2005;81:840844.
12. Schumm-Draeger PM. [Iodine and thyroid autoimmunity] [Article in German]. Z Arztl Fortbild Qualitatssich. 2004;98 Suppl 5:736.
13. Zois C, et al. High prevalence of autoimmune thyroiditis in schoolchildren after elimination of iodine deficiency in northwestern Greece. Thyroid 2003;13:4859.
14. Stewart JC, Vidor GI. Thyrotoxicosis induced by iodine contamination of food: a common unrecognized condition? Br Med J 1976;1:372375.

In reference 10, the authors studied the effect of restricting seaweed on thyroid functions, not iodine. Seaweed contains more that just iodine. In reference 11, the authors of this publication reported that urine iodide concentrations greater than 0.5 mg/L were associated with increased thyroid volume in multiethnic groups of children between six and 12 years old. Analysis of the data in Table I of that publication revealed only children from Hokkaido, Japan showed increased thyroid volumes of significance compared to the other groups: 2.16 to 2.59 ml for all the other groups; and 2.86 and 4.91 ml for the two groups from Hokkaido. This area of Japan is known to have a high incidence of euthyroid goiter. Suzuki et al.,6 who first reported this finding in 1965 did not think that iodine was the cause of this goiter. He commented: “Considering the paucity of reported cases of iodine goiter with the wide spread usage of iodine medication, we cannot exclude factors other than excessive intake of dietary iodine as a cause of the goiter.”

In reference 12 and 13, the authors reported an increased incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis following iodization of salt. This is a common observation worldwide. As we have previously reported, autoimmune thyroiditis cannot be induced in laboratory animals in the absence of a goitrogen. The goitrogen used in these experiments is an anti-thyroid drug. We previously discussed the mechanism involved in the induction of thyroiditis following ingestion of iodized salt containing on a molar basis 30,000 more chloride than iodide.4,7 Magnesium and iodine deficiencies are the causes of autoimmune thyroiditis, not excess iodide.

In reference 14, an organic iodine-containing drug, polyvinylpyrolidone, induced thyrotoxicosis, not inorganic non-radioactive iodine. This drug was shown to interfere with uptake and utilization of iodine, similar to the effect of amiodarone. We discussed this drug in our first rebuttal.

Gaby: “I would also question the statement that our medical predecessors recommended daily iodine intake of 12.5 to 37.5 mg from Lugol’s solution. While Dr. Lugol did use those doses, they were recommended primarily to treat infections (iodine is a broad-spectrum antimicrobial agent) and hyperthyroidism, not as routine nutritional support for the average person.”


Gaby claimed that iodine was used only in infectious diseases and hyperthyroidism. Nobel Laureate Albert Szent Gyrgyi, the physician who discovered Vitamin C in 1928, commented 50 years ago8:

When I was a medical student, iodine in the form of KI was the universal medicine. Nobody knew what it did, but it did something and did something good. We students used to sum up the situation in this little rhyme:

If ye don’t know where, what, and why
Prescribe ye then K and I.

Our medical predecessors, were keen observers and the universal application of iodide might have been not without foundation.
To quote F.C. Kelley9:In the first flush of enthusiasm for the newcomer, physicians and surgeons tested it and tried it for every conceivable pathological condition. The variety of diseases for which iodine was prescribed in the early years in astonishing paralysis, chorea, scrofula, lacrimal fistula, deafness, distortions of the spine, hip-joint disease, syphilis, acute inflammation, gout, gangrene, dropsy, carbuncles, whitlow, chilblains, burns, scalds, lupus, croup, catarrh, asthma, ulcers, and bronchitis to mention only a few.

According to the Encyclopedia Britannica 11th Edition, published in 1910-191110:The following is a list of the principal conditions in which iodides are recognized to be of definite value: metallic poisonings, as by lead and mercury, asthma, aneurism, arteriosclerosis, angina pectoris, gout, goiter, syphilis, haemophilia, Bright’s disease (nephritis), and bronchitis.


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