There seems to be a crisis of iodine deficiency all over the world, but it is now prominent in developed countries where bromine is used in everything from clothing and bread to carbonated beverages. Bromine is dangerous to the function of your thyroid. When you supplement with iodine, it pushes the bromine out, which causes numerous side effects, including the hair loss I suffered when I was taking supplemental iodine for a goiter.
Where Does Bromine Come From?
Before the 1980's, iodine was used in the production of many foods. During that time, iodine was replaced with bromine, mostly in the form of bromates. It is especially used in bread and pastry products, to make the dough tougher. Bromine is also used in soft drinks, particularly citrus flavored soft drinks, to keep the citrus flavor dispersed in the solution. It is also used in clothing such as sleepwear, mattresses, carpets and furniture upholstery as a flame retardant. Bromine is also used in pesticides and to replace chlorine in pool treatments. You can see that bromine is everywhere, and you cannot avoid exposure at some point.
What Does Bromine Do To The Thyroid?
Bromine belongs to the same elemental group as chlorine and iodine, the halogen group. Since two halogens can't occupy the same space, and bromine is taken up by your thyroid, it blocks the absorption of iodine. Iodine is essential to proper thyroid function and in maintaining proper T3 and T4 levels. Since bromine has been used to prominently in our food and other items, the incidence of hypothyroidism and goiter has increased exponentially. Goiter is caused when your thyroid cannot absorb enough iodine, and in an attempt to absorb as much as possible, it enlarges and sometimes forms nodules.
How Does Bromide Detox Cause Hair Loss?
There are many theories to this, but I could find no definitive proof of any of them. The most prominent theory is that bromine is stored in the hair follicles, and when the iodine pushes the bromide out, it also pushes the hairs out. All I know is that when I supplement with 1 drop or more of 5% Lugol's iodine, my hair starts to fall out. When I stop supplementing, it eventually stops falling out. Those who are studied in iodine supplementation say this is a sign of bromine detox, and advocates list hair loss as one of the side effects of iodine-related bromide detox symptoms. Some people have hair loss with supplementation, but many don't. The experts on iodine supplementation say that those who do are more bromine toxic than those who don't.
How Can You Mitigate Bromine Detox Hair Loss?
There is a list of recommended ways to stop bromine detox symptoms, but I did not find any of them stopped the hair loss. Only by discontinuing the iodine supplementation did the hair loss end, and when I started supplementing again, the hair loss returned. The higher the dosage, the more hair loss.
The most depressing thing about this side effect is that the iodine really helps me. It shrinks my goiter, gives me energy and basically makes me feel better. None of this is worth going bald for, though. I also don't know if there is something in the iodine that triggers the lupus, thus causing the hair loss, which is also a symptom of lupus. Iodine supplementation hasn't been studied long enough to have definitive proof one way or the other.
For the meantime, I'm taking only double the recommended daily iodine amount of 150mcg as opposed to the 13mg I was taking before. My hair has stopped falling out, and with using the castor oil treatment I wrote about earlier, it is beginning to grow back in. If you want to use iodine supplements, watch out for side effects and consider pulse-dosing, which is stopping and starting iodine therapy.
For more on this subject, read Metabolism of Bromide and Its Interference with the Metabolism of Iodine.