Why I Prescribe Iodine for Breast Pain, Ovarian Cysts, and PMDD

iodine for women's health

Iodine can relieve breast pain, ovulation pain, premenstrual mood symptoms and help to prevent ovarian cysts. It works by promoting healthy estrogen metabolism, down-regulating estrogen receptors, and stabilizing estrogen-sensitive tissue in the breasts, uterus, ovaries, and brain.

Iodine’s anti-estrogen effect makes it one of the best treatments for estrogen excess or “estrogen dominance”— although I don’t use that term.

Iodine for women’s health

Milligram-dose iodine can be an effective nutritional strategy for the following women’s health conditions:

👉 Tip: Iodine’s benefits for endometriosis may stem (at least in part) from its antimicrobial and immune-modulating effects.

👉 Tip: Additional treatments for premenstrual mood symptoms include a dairy-free, histamine-reducing diet, magnesium, vitamin B6, and progesterone.

Milligram dose means 1 to 3 mg (1000 to 3000 mcg), preferably as molecular iodine (I2) like the Violet Daily brand, which is better for breasts and safer for the thyroid. A higher dose of iodine is safe only if you test negative for thyroid antibodies (see below).

iodine and women's health

👉 Tip: Taking selenium can help to protect the thyroid gland from iodine.

Be careful if you have thyroid disease

Before taking iodine, it’s crucial to test thyroid antibodies (also called anti-thyroid antibodies or anti-TPO antibodies) because too much iodine, especially potassium iodide, can harm the thyroid or trigger autoimmune thyroid disease (Hashimoto’s thyroid disease). 

If you test positive for thyroid antibodies (or have already been diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease), do not take more than 0.3 mg (300 mcg) of iodine. This may, unfortunately, not be enough to relieve women’s health symptoms. A large dose of iodine is not safe for Hashimoto’s. Furthermore, if you develop abnormal thyroid function while taking iodine, please stop iodine and check with your doctor.

👉Tip: A normal thyroid result means it’s safe to try iodine for its anti-estrogen benefits. An abnormal thyroid result (especially high thyroid antibodies) means it’s not safe to try iodine.

Also, milligram-dose iodine is not safe during pregnancy or breastfeeding.

How to assess iodine deficiency

Breast tenderness is the most reliable symptom of iodine deficiency.

Risk factors for iodine deficiency include perimenopause and a plant-based or vegan diet (because plant foods are low in iodine).

Food sources of iodine

  • Seafood (10 – 190 mcg per 100 grams).
  • Egg yolks (24 mcg per yolk).
  • Grass-fed butter, but only if it’s grown on iodine-rich soil.
  • Iodized salt (400 mcg per teaspoon).
  • Seaweed or kelp (2 – 800 mcg per 100 grams). Unfortunately, kelp also contains bromine, which prevents iodine uptake and may contain toxic metals.
  • Plant foods like mushrooms and leafy greens, but only if grown on iodine-rich soil.
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