Not too long ago, I told you about a study on rabbits. This study showed that taking iodine protected 92% of the rabbits from getting hardened arteries. What I didn't tell you, in the words of Paul Harvey, was "the rest of the story." And it's a fun, enlightening story.
Before I tell you the story, remember that this study was on rabbits, not on humans. So the conclusions can go only so far. But I'll address that more in Saturday's alert.
For today, let's have some fun with the rabbits. The story starts in 1933 when a Harvard Medical School researcher decided to look at thyroid issues and heart disease. Dr. Kenneth Turner wanted to see if having low thyroid would cause atherosclerosis. As I said in my first article, Dr. Turner fed the rabbits a terrible diet. He gave them unhealthy fats known to harden and narrow the arteries.
I've already told you about the 12 rabbits that took only iodine. Only one of them developed atherosclerosis. That's impressive. But there were more rabbits in this study.
Dr. Turner didn't give 21 of the rabbits anything but the terrible diet. Not only did these rabbits develop atherosclerosis, but their total blood cholesterol went through the roof. The average was 520 mg/dl. If you had cholesterol this high, your doctor would insist on you taking statins.
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There's more. Dr. Turner gave 17 rabbits the thyroid hormone T4. This is what most doctors give their thyroid patients. You probably know it as levothyroxine or Synthroid. This group is interesting and confirms what I've seen in humans who take these drugs. The rabbits taking just T4 had about half as much atherosclerosis as the 21 rabbits who didn't take anything. And their total blood cholesterol was lower as well. It averaged 399 mg/dl.
When I hear that someone has a thyroid condition, I always ask what medication they're taking. If they're taking Synthroid or levothyroxine, I ask them how well it's working. If they're taking something else, I ask if they've ever taken one of the drugs. Many of them have, and they tell me it didn't work for them. I've not kept exact statistics, but the drugs do help many of them. But there are just about as many, if not a few more, that they haven't helped. Why? If it works, all they needed was T4. If they don't work, the last group of rabbits may help.
The last group of rabbits had 30 rabbits in it. Dr. Turner gave them desiccated thyroid. This is similar to Armour, Nature-Throid, and Thyrovanz. But he also gave them iodine. So this group was taking T4, T3, and iodine. Only two rabbits in this group showed atherosclerosis. This is just 6.67% of the rabbits. In other words, over 93% avoided the disease. That's slightly better than just iodine alone. And their total blood cholesterol averaged 178 mg/dl. If you're counting, that's 66% lower than the control rabbits.
Since this study is on rabbits, we have to be careful about being too dogmatic about our conclusions. But let's take two lessons from these results. First, if your cholesterol is high, diet might be contributing to it, but it's just as likely (if not more so) that your thyroid function is low. In fact, high cholesterol used to be the #1 way to determine if thyroid function is waning. Then medicine shifted to blood tests.
Second, if you have high cholesterol or other symptoms of low thyroid function, consider taking an iodine supplement like Iodoral. There's a good chance that's all you need. But if that doesn't work or if it doesn't work well enough, then consider taking a desiccated thyroid supplement like Thyrovanz along with it. The combination could lower your cholesterol, relieve your other symptoms, and help you avoid heart disease.
Now, how sure am I that these will help humans? After all, this is just a fun story, right? Well, check in on Saturday to find out.
Your insider for better health,
Steve Kroening, ND.