8 Myths Of Bioidentical Hormones

8 Myths Of Bioidentical Hormones

After years of consistent proof that bioidentical hormones are better and safer than synthetic versions, many doctors are still confused by persistent misconceptions

On the issue of bioidentical hormones, the jury has been out for a while: they really are safer and more effective than the “fake” versions used in conventional hormone replacement therapy (HRT). In the previous edition of Health Intelligence, as well as in several issues before that, this point was made unequivocally. But certain myths about bioidentical hormones persist, which need to be cleared up.


Compounding is the process by which bioidentical hormones are made into a useable cream or oral supplement by a pharmacist. The pharmacist works according to specific instructions from the prescribing doctor regarding a dosage that suits the patient’s needs. In South Africa, compounded hormones are regulated under Section 14(4) of the Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965.1 Also, the Pharmacy Act stipulates that compounding forms an important part of pharmacists’ training – without it, they’re little more than medicine dispensers.2 In terms of the law, bioidentical hormones and the pharmacists who compound them certainly can’t fly under the radar.


Just like the synthetic hormones used in conventional HRT, bioidentical hormones are scheduled medications – most are only available on prescription.


Absorption depends on the delivery system in which the hormones are suspended. For example, the most advanced transdermal delivery system – transdermal meaning “through the skin” – is a substance called pluronic lecithin gel. This is easily absorbed, delivering the required hormones straight into the body and raising hormone levels without interference by the liver or digestive enzymes.


Many studies – too many to list – have proven that the bioidentical hormones estradiol, progesterone, DHEA and testosterone alleviate the symptoms of menopause. They also help relieve chronic fatigue syndrome,3 bone mineral loss4 and sexual dysfunction,5 while reducing the chances of dying from an age-related chronic disease like heart and blood vessel disease,6,7 various forms of cancer,8 metabolic syndrome,9 auto-immune diseases10 and brain dysfunction.11


The purity, potency and efficacy of bioidentical hormones are regularly and carefully monitored through laboratory testing and doctor feedback. This ensures that the medicine is free of contaminants, delivers the dose stipulated on the label and has the desired effect in the patient.

SAFER THAN nonbioidentical

Perhaps motivated by financial self-interests, some claim that bioidentical hormones are dangerous, but studies have proven exactly the opposite.12,13

Non-bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, carry a high health risk. In 2002, the massive Women’s Health Initiative study demonstrated that HRT using non-bioidentical hormones increased the risk of stroke, breast cancer, heart attacks and blood clots.14,15 As a direct result of the study’s findings, Wyeth – the pharmaceutical manufacturer of these non-bioidentical hormones – saw its revenues from these medicines decline dramatically. Sales of Prempro and Premphase, which combine estrogen and progestin, and Premarin, an estrogen-only pill, reportedly fell by more than 57% in just three years.16

As their name states, bioidentical hormones are identical to nature, in other words, they have exactly the same chemical structure as the hormones produced by the body itself. They’re not made from pregnant horse urine – as some non-bioidentical hormones are. The idea with biodentical hormones is to replace the hormones of which the body is producing less, not to substitute them with something foreign.


Customisation of bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (BHRT) is indeed possible through regular lab testing and by carefully monitoring the symptoms of the patient. Lab tests determine the hormone levels in the blood, urine and saliva. In integrative medicine, there’s no such thing as a one-sizefits- all dosage when it comes to hormones, which is why compounding specifically according to the patient’s needs is a cornerstone of the discipline.


Saliva tests are, in some respects, considered more sensitive and accurate than blood tests. They can be used to conveniently monitor hormone levels after using a transdermal cream.17 They’re also particularly useful in measuring the level of the stress hormone cortisol. These levels vary during the day and should therefore be tested at intervals during a 24-hour period. Saliva tests are ideal for this because they’re easier and more convenient than blood tests.

The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in the US makes use of saliva tests to monitor the stress levels of astronauts.18 Hormones delivered through the skin only enter the blood stream very briefly, but show up in the saliva far more measurably. This is because the hormone in the saliva has already been fully processed to its useable form before passing through the soft tissue of the saliva glands.


The question that remains is why synthetic hormones are still prescribed so widely and continue to sell despite their dangers and inferiority? The answer is that synthetic hormones enjoy strong marketing and financial backing from the pharmaceutical companies that manufacture them. Bioidentical hormones cannot be patented and therefore can’t offer the same profit margins to industry players. And for this very reason, myths and misconceptions such as the above persist among health care practitioners and specialists who are not familiar with the facts.


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  1. Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965. www.bhfglobal.com/ files/Medicines and Related Substances Control Act 101 of 1965.pdf
  2. Pharmacy Act 53 of 1974. www.saapi.org.za/files/legislation/Pharmacy%20act. pdf
  3. Teitelbaum, J. Effective treatment of chronic fatigue syndrome. Integrative Medicine. 2005;4(4):23-29
  4. Luo XH, Liao EY. Effects of estriol on the proliferation and differentiation of human osteoblastic MG-63 cells. Edocr Res. 2003;29(3):343-51
  5. Hackbert L, Heiman JR, et al. Acute dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) effects on sexual arousal in postmenopausal women. Journal of Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine. 2002;11(2):155-62
  6. Akishita M, Hashimoto M, et al. Association of plasma dehydroepiandrosteronesulfate levels with endothelial function in postmenopausal women with coronary risk factors. Hypertens Res. Jan 2008;31(1):69-74
  7. Lee WS, Harder JA, et al. Progesterone inhibits arterial smooth muscle cell proliferation. Nature Medicine. 1997;3(9):1005-8
  8. Aoki K, Nakajima A, et al. Prevention of diabetes, hepatic injury, and colon cancer with dehydroepiandrosterone. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. 2003;85(2-5):469-72
  9. Rodriguez A, Muller C, et al. Aging, androgens, and the metabolic syndrome in a longitudinal study of aging. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. Sep 2007;92(9):3568-72
  10. Chang DM, Lan JL, et al. Dehydroepiandrosterone treatment of women with mild-to-moderate systemic lupus erythmatosus: A multicentre randomized, double-blind, place-controlled trial. Arthritis Rheum. 2002;46(11):2924-7
  11. Dubal DB, Wilson ME, et al. Estradiol: a protective and trophic factor in the brain. Alzheimer’s Disease Review. 1999;4:1-9
  12. Scarabin PY, Oger E, et al. Estrogen and Thromboembolism Risk Study Group. Differential association of oral and transdermal oestrogen-replacement therapy with venous thromboembolism risk. Lancet. 9 Aug 2003;362(9382):428-32
  13. Campagnoli C. Pregnancy, progesterone and progestins in relation to breast cancer risk. J Steroid Biochem Mol Biol. Dec 2005;97(5):441-50
  14. Rossouw JE, Anderson GL, et al. Risks and benefits of estrogen plus progestin in healthy postmenopausal women: Principal results from the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 17 Jul 2002;288(3):321-33
  15. Anderson GL, Limacher M, et al. Effects of conjugated equine estrogen in postmenopausal women with hysterectomy: the Women’s Health Initiative randomized controlled trial. JAMA. 14 Apr 2004;291(14):1701-12
  16. Bridges A. Firm Seeks Crackdown on Custom Made Drugs. WashingtonPost.com. 21 Apr 2006. www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/04/21/ AR2006042100277_pf.html
  17. Groshl M. Current status of salivary hormone analysis. Clinical Chemistry. 2008;54:1759-69
  18. Dinges DF. Cognitive Performance and Stress in a Simulated Space Environment. Current Projects: NASA and National Space Biomedical Research Institute. www.med.upenn.edu/uep/projects_nasa.html

Resist The Resistance

Resist The Resistance!

When your eating habits create a mutinous revolt in your own body, it’s definitely time to make a change

Your eating habits can cause havoc in the body’s communication system that dictates metabolism and appetite. Consistent overeating confuses the efficient transmission of messages causing a breakdown that leads to weight gain and additional consequences, such as heart disease. Fat used to be viewed only as a storage place in the body for extra calories, however, we now know that it’s actually a hormone-producing endocrine organ.1 The fat that we moan and groan about when it accumulates on our thighs, buttocks and abdomen could ironically keep us lean: this white adipose tissue secretes the hormone leptin, which informs the brain about our levels of fat, telling us when to eat and when to stop eating.


Leptin is normally secreted during our circadian rhythm, with as many as 32 pulses of activity occurring over a 24-hour period.2 The highest levels are found during the first few hours of sleep, decreasing to the lowest in the morning. In obese people, the change in blood leptin levels is less significant than in lean people. One of the reasons for this is that an excess consumption of food has a negative impact on leptin’s ability to communicate adequately with the brain. This results in insulin, thyroid, epinephrine and leptin resistance, and weight gain.3


If there’s leptin resistance, the brain doesn’t register signals to reduce appetite, leaving a person feeling constantly hungry. Normally, when you’ve eaten sufficiently, the brain receives a signal that leptin levels are high, and it increases metabolism and decreases appetite. Conversely, when your body needs food, the brain tells you to eat. When this process is inhibited by bad eating habits, your brain becomes deaf to these signals and therefore doesn’t know to tell you when to stop, and excess calories are sent to storage as fat. Increased levels of triglycerides (fat found in your blood) caused by overeating, have been linked to leptin resistance. This fat decreases the transport of leptin across the blood-brain barrier, preventing leptin from entering the brain.4

Leptin inhibits insulin secretion in the pancreas, and when your body is resistant to leptin, the pancreas isn’t able to sense its presence and keeps making insulin, leading to an excess and the possibility of insulin resistance – another cause of weight gain.5

Yet another cause of leptin-resistant weight gain is tied with epinephrine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that’s a prime factor in the body’s fight or flight response, increasing heart rate, constricting blood vessels and dilating air passages when the body senses danger. Epinephrine has short-term control of leptin and when the body’s sympathetic nervous system is activated in quick bursts during moments of panic, leptin production is depressed. The brain uses epinephrine to stimulate metabolism in fat cells and, if the brain is repeatedly attempting to use this hormone to no effect, unusually high levels can occur and fat cells eventually become immune to it. This resistance leads to weight gain, specifically in the abdominal area, which is most often associated with reproductive organ cancer and heart disease.6 A resistance to leptin produces “false starvation”, slowing thyroid function even in overweight people.7 Leptin and thyroid resistance restricts the natural heat production in the body, so fat and calories aren’t efficiently burned away.


To ensure the body’s optimal functionality, it’s important to listen to the brain’s messages. However, if our bad habits inhibit the brain’s ability to communicate effectively, we can get stuck in a rut of silent rebellion. A lifestyle change, specifically in terms of eating habits, as well as supplementation, will greatly assist in getting your body back in line. While a diet high in carbohydrates and saturated fats is a definite no-no if you’re leptin resistant, a high good fat diet has shown successful results.8 However, nutrition is about balance, so you mustn’t ignore any of the important food groups in order to ensure equilibrium of appetite, food intake and energy.


Irvingia extract (150-300mg twice daily)
Krill oil omega-3s (500mg twice daily)
Chromium (400mcg twice daily)
Green tea extract (150mg twice daily)
Resveratrol (100mg twice daily)
Diet: high in vegetables, low carbohydrates and lean protein.


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  1. Trayburn P, Beattie J. Physiological role of adipose tissue: white adipose tissue as an endocrine and secretory organ. Proc Nutr Soc. 2001;60:329-39
  2. Radić R, Nikolić V, et al. Circadian rhythm of blood leptin level in obese and nonobese people. Coll Antropol. 2003;27:555-61
  3. Kalra S. Central leptin insufficiency syndrome: An interactive etiology for obesity, metabolic and neural diseases and for designing new therapeutic interventions. Peptides. Jan 2008;29(1):127-38
  4. Banks W, Coon A, et al. Triglycerides induce leptin resistance at the blood-brain barrier. Diabetes. 2004;53:1253-60
  5. Seufert J. Leptin effects on pancreatic beta-cell gene expression and function. Diabetes. 2004;53(1):152-8
  6. Zhang C, Rexrode K, et al. Abdominal Obesity and the Risk of All-Cause, Cardiovascular, and Cancer Mortality. Sixteen Years of Follow-Up in US Women. Circulation. 2008;117:1658-67
  7. Huo L, Munzberg H, et al. Role of signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 in regulation of hypothalamic trh gene expression by leptin. Endocrinology. 2004;145:2516-23
  8. Wiegle D, Cummings D, et al. Roles of Leptin and Ghrelin in the Loss of Body Weight Caused by Low Fat, High Carbohydrate Diet. The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. Apr 2003;88(4):1577-86

Treating The Whole Person

Treating The Whole Person

Integrative medicine treats the whole person and the underlying causes of their disease, rather than just administering pharmaceuticals to relieve symptoms

There’s a growing dissatisfaction with the current healthcare system that often leaves doctors feeling rushed and patients feeling as if they’re nothing more than just a number. Integrative medicine (IM) seems to promise more time, attention and a broader healing approach, not the “one-size-fits-all” tactic. However, IM’s not a totally new concept to conventional medicine. For years, doctors have been incorporating some integrative medicine approaches into their practices by prescribing nutrients like vitamin D and iron for optimal thyroid health, and vitamin D for osteoporosis.1

IM, also known as functional medicine, is science-based healthcare that treats illness and promotes wellness by focusing on the unique aspects of each individual and then individually tailoring treatment to restore the whole being, including the physiological, psychological and structural balance.2 It doesn’t concentrate only on the symptoms of chronic diseases, but expands into the underlying causes of the problem, like environmental toxins and genetic makeup, to prevent the disease before it happens.


Autoimmune diseases occur when the body’s immune system sees its own cells as the enemy and starts attacking itself. Conventional treatment uses immune-suppressing medication in an attempt to restore immune health, but the integrative approach, which includes diet, detoxifying the liver, re establishing a balance in the adrenal glands and gut, and restoring vitamin and hormone levels, has been found to be more effective in treating the underlying causes.3 Low-dose naltrexone has also been used successfully.4


Prescribing an antidepressant is the standard conventional procedure, whereas IM looks to restore the balance of brain chemicals. There are five main neurotransmitters or “molecules of behaviour”:

  • Dopamine is the motivator, giving us purpose, energy, enthusiasm, power, movement, pain, pleasure and implementation of thought.5 An excess of dopamine brings about impulsivity, violence and overdrive, while a deficiency causes fatigue, addictive behaviour, depressive symptoms, attention deficit disorder (ADD), hyperactivity and obesity. Imbalanced levels of dopamine are commonly linked to Parkinson’s. Vitamin C, copper and niacin will assist in balancing dopamine levels, as will D,L-phenylalanine (especially for pain and fatigue),L-tyrosine, methionine, B-complex vitamins, Rhodiola and
    Ginkgo biloba
  • Norepinephrine affects attention and vigilance (the “fight or flight” response), as well as the sympathetic nervous system and blood pressure. An excess causes anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder, while a deficiency will lead to energy loss, dizzy spells and the loss of the ability to sweat. To get back into balance, the supplementation suggestions are similar to dopamine, although folate, SAMe, arginine and the amino acid theanine, contained in green tea, should be taken as well
  • Acetylcholine affects memory, learning, information processing and language. An excess leads to feelings of isolation and paranoia, loss of concentration and burnout. A deficiency causes memory loss, agitation, loss of creativity and learning disorders. Acetylcholine imbalances have been linked to Alzheimer’s, dementia and autism.6 Balance by taking choline/lecithin, phosphatidylcholine, phosphatidylserine, acetyl-Lcarnitine, taurine, alpha lipoic acid, coenzyme Q10, B-complex vitamins, Ginkgo biloba and the hormones DHEA and pregnenolone
  • GABA is a neurotransmitter and functions as a mood regulator. An excess brings about loss of control, while a deficiency causes tremors, anxiety, insomnia, irregular heartbeat and restlessness. Augment with glycine, niacinamide, inositol, L-theanine, vitamin B6, magnesium, valerian root, passion flower, pyridoxine, N-acetyl-cysteine and taurine
  • Serotonin is the feel-good chemical responsible for feelings such as excitement, joy, enthusiasm and the exhilarating rush brought on by a challenge. Too much of it, however, produces anxiety and feelings of inferiority, while a deficiency produces poor sleep, exhaustion, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), sugar and carbohydrate cravings, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Physical activity definitively assists in balancing serotonin levels, as does supplementing with 5-HTP, folic acid, DHEA, vitamin D3 and St John’s wort.


The typical approach to cancer is to cut, burn or poison the disease out of the system. However, this approach doesn’t look at the patient’s individual situation. An integrative plan takes into account the patient’s cancer cell groupings, sensitivity or resistance to chemotherapy, anaemia protection (iron levels in the blood), enzyme inhibitors and bone integrity. Other elements that are factored into tailoring a treatment plan include nutrition and supplementation to fight specific problems. 7


Conventional practice operates within the theory of completely blocking the build-up of cholesterol with medication called statins. But, essentially, it’s not that straightforward. Cholesterol is actually needed by the body for normal functioning and is the precursor of vitamin D, some hormones and the bile acids required for digestion. It’s also needed to form the membrane around cells and for regeneration of damaged cells.

Conversely, too much oxidised cholesterol leads to blood vessel disease. Lipoprotein, a cholesterol molecule attached to a protein, usually functions to repair blood vessel walls, but an excess of it causes blood clotting and plaque build-up which narrows the blood vessels.

Cholesterol, however, isn’t the only cause of heart disease. Other major players in increasing your risk include insulin, free radicals, heavy metals, stress, high blood pressure and genetics. Heart and blood vessel disease can be detected by the degree of inflammation in the body by doing a test called hsCRP (highly sensitive CRP).8 Natural antiinflammatories like omega-3 fatty acids from fish, krill or flaxseed oils, and curcumin, an extract from turmeric, ar ideal supplements to lower your risk of high cholesterol.


It’s becoming progressively more accepted that premature aging is due to a decline in hormone levels, and that restoring these levels helps avoid many diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, dementia, osteoporosis and arthritis. Other consequences of deficiency include visual and hearing loss, fractures, frailty, incontinence, obesity and reduced libido. Additionally, low testosterone or rising estrone levels in men are associated with prostate cancer, while low progesterone or raised estrogen levels in women may result in breast cancer.9

Synthetic hormones are artificial chemicals that attempt to replicate human hormones, but are structurally foreign to the body. It’s been well-documented that the immune system will attack anything it perceives as foreign or toxic to the body. These synthetic hormones are associated with increased side effects, for example, if used at inappropriate doses or for too long, there’s an increased risk of breast cancer or thrombotic disorders like deep vein thrombosis, stroke or heart attack.

Bioidentical hormones, on the other hand, have the identical molecular structure to human hormones, enabling easy metabolism. Synthetic hormones have been around for less than 50 years, whereas bioidentical hormones have existed in our bodies since the birth of the human race. IM isn’t a strange, separate body of knowledge. It’s grounded in scientific principles and information is widely available today, combining research from various disciplines into effective proven management techniques. In other words, it “cherry picks” the very best, scientifically validated therapies. Creating a pathway to wellness is the most intelligent response to disease, as opposed to the conventional methodology of merely relieving symptoms.


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  1. Hanley DA, Cranney A, et al. Vitamin D in adult health and disease: a review and guideline statement from Osteoporosis Canada. Canadian Medical Association Journal. 7 Sep 2010;182(12):E610-8
  2. Maizes V, Rakel D, Niemiec C. Integrative Medicine and Patient-Centered Care. Journal of Science and Healing. Sep 2009;5(5):277-89
  3. Nakazawa C. The autoimmune epidemic. Touchstone, NY, US. 2008. www.donnajacksonnakazawa.com/autoimmune_epidemic.htm
  4. Brown N, Panksepp J. Low-dose naltrexone for disease prevention and quality of life. Med Hypotheses. Mar 2009;72(3):333-7
  5. Schultz W. Behavioural dopamine signals. Trends in Neurosciences. May 2007;30(5);203-10
  6. Wessler I, Kirkpatrick CJ. Acetylcholine beyond neurons: non-neuronal cholinergic system in humans. British Journal of Pharmacology. Aug 2008;154(8):1558-71
  7. Maugeri-Sacca M, Vigneri P, De Maria R. Cancer Stem Cells and Chemosensitivity. American Association for Cancer Research. Apr 2011;1078
  8. Ridker P. Establishing a Clinical Basis for hsCRP in the Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease. Clinical Chemistry. Apr 2010;56:1186-7
  9. Acs G, Wagoner M. Postmenopausal Hormone Replacement Therapy and Breast Cancer – Clinicopathologic Associations and Molecular Mechanisms. Cancer Growth and Progression. 2010;12;187-20

The Toxic Generation

The Toxic Generation!

Studies now show that environmental pollutants, such as engine fumes, can damage our genes for generations to come. Even the toxic air your mother breathed may affect your health today.

It’s called epigenetics, and it’s all about the changes in our genes that we inherit from our parents. But not the benign kind that give our eyes a different colour or nose a different shape. We’re talking about the genetic “switches” that turn diseases such as cancer, asthma, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s on or off. And the toxins we breathe may be toying with those very switches.

Bad Chemistry

Chemicals have been in our environment for many generations. Some make us sick straight away. But others go about their destruction in a far more insidious way, by affecting the coding of our genes. This means that they can change the way our genes express themselves in the body, but without causing actual mutations. These epigenetic changes make us more vulnerable to certain diseases, and it’s a vulnerability that we pass along to our children decades later.

Asthma From The Air

A 2009 study of babies in traffic-polluted areas of New York City supports the facts of epigenetics.1 The study found that these infants may be at higher risk of developing asthma, not only because of the fumes they themselves breathe, but also thanks to genetic vulnerabilities acquired when they were still in the womb.

While studying these babies, evidence came to light of a change in a particular gene, associated with pre-birth exposure to a toxin called polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon. This chemical is created as a byproduct of carbon-containing fuels, common to heavy-traffic areas. The study found that a mother’s exposure to this toxin could “reprogramme” her unborn baby’s genes and lead to airway inflammation or asthma during childhood. 2 Since epigenetic re-programming happens as a result of our genes interacting with our immediate world, perhaps it is time for us to take not only our own health, but also the health of the environment into consideration. If not for our sake, then for the sake of our children. The toxic generation

Anti-Toxin Protocol

Resveratrol (100-200mg daily)
Vitamin C (1,000mg daily)
Green tea extract (300mg daily)


  1. Harper A. University of Cincinatti press release. Research suggests pollutionrelated asthma may start in the womb. Public Library of Sciences. Feb. 16, 2009
  2. Burton A. CHILDREN’S HEALTH: Methylation Links Prenatal PAH Exposure to Asthma. Environ Health Perspect. 2009 May; 117(5): A195.

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South Africa’s Missing Mineral

South Africa’s Missing Mineral

Iodine has suffered unfairly from bad press in the past, but the ‘universal nutrient’ is making a healthy comeback.

You probably know it as the dark brown disinfectant used on scrapes and wounds, which gives many hospitals their distinctive smell. But less than a hundred years ago, doctors gave iodine as a cure-all medicine when they didn’t know what was wrong with a patient. The irony is, it usually worked.

Nobel laureate Albert Szent-Györgyi
– incidentally, also the man who discovered vitamin C – wrote, “When I was a medical student, iodine in the form of KI (potassium iodide) 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.”1

Today, we know a lot more about why iodine is so important for us. But South African soil, from which our iodine-containing food should be grown, is particularly poor in iodine. Many South Africans still don’t get enough of it from their diet, despite government interventions in the

Little Butterfly

The thyroid is an inconspicuous butterfly-shaped gland that curves around the bottom of your Adam’s Apple. Its job is to make important hormones that play a part in a whole host of chemical processes in the body. These include everything from how the body uses energy to how sensitive it is to other hormones. But, as inconspicuous as a healthy thyroid may be, if there’s a problem with how it works, it begins to swell noticeably.

A swollen thyroid is called a goitre, from the Greek word for “neck”, and a goitre is usually a sure sign that the thyroid is either not making enough hormones, or making too much. These conditions are respectively called hypothyroidism and hyperthyroidism. Both of these can also be caused by autoimmune conditions, such as Graves’ disease or Hashimoto’s disease, which means the body’s own antibodies are attacking the cells of the thyroid gland for unknown reasons and causing its dysfunction. This is why, if you suspect you have thyroid problems, it’s important to first have your iodine levels checked before taking any measures to supplement with iodine.

Cure-All Solution

The benefits of iodine as medicine for people with goitres have been known for almost two centuries. Only eight years after the discovery of iodine, a Swiss doctor named JF Coindet – who had previously treated goitre patients with sea sponge and seaweed – figured out that the ingredient that made all the difference was iodine. As an experiment, he gave large doses (by today’s standards) of iodine to patients with goitres and had positive results.2 This was back in the 1820s.

The years of refinement and experimentation by the medical world that followed produced a widely used, water-based solution of iodine crystals and potassium iodide – the latter was added to the solution to make the iodine more absorbable in the body. This cure-all medicine was the same “KI” solution that’s praised so highly in the student rhyme quoted by Albert Szent- Györgi. Unfortunately, it’s reputation as a kind of panacea for all ills didn’t last.

Masking the problem

In the 1930s, thyroid hormones became available for the first time. Doctors started prescribing these to patients who had iodine deficiency and goitres, instead of the previously used iodine-iodide solution. During this time, iodised salt also made its first appearance in the US thanks to widespread propaganda and the public started relying on salt alone to get their necessary supply of iodine.3 Doctors assumed the new measures were fixing the population’s iodine deficiency, because they were seeing fewer goitres. They didn’t realise that iodised salt is actually a poor conveyor of iodine, because the iodine competes with the high levels of chloride in the salt when it comes to being absorbed into the body. In other words, a very small amount – only about 10% – of the iodine in iodised salt ever makes it into a person’s system, even though it’s enough to control a goitre.4,5 But the absence of a goitre doesn’t necessarily mean there is enough iodine in your body. You may have an iodine deficiency without it causing your thyroid to swell. Nevertheless, the same kind of salt iodisation program was implemented locally.

Local Measures

Just like the US government, South Africa introduced a voluntary salt iodisation programme in 1954 in an attempt to control the high number of goitres occurring in the population. But the uptake by salt producers was only about 30% and few people had access to iodised salt.6 Goitres remained a problem in many parts of the country, right up to the 1990s.

Only by 1995, did the government make iodisation compulsory and pushed up the levels of iodine required in salt. This had marginal success, but the positive gains made by this programme are under threat again. Both locally and internationally, more people are beginning to avoid salt altogether for misinformed “health” reasons, or moving to organic sea salt, which contains no iodine. In the US, there are indications of iodine deficiency in a significant proportion of the population, which has been growing steadily, because people use less iodised salt.7 The result is that doctors all over the world are seeing a rising number of iodine deficient patients yet again. In a policy brief to the South African Medical Research Council (MRC), researcher Dr Pieter Jooste writes, “Iodine deficiency in communities not only causes endemic goitre, but results in a host of abnormalities collectively known as iodine-deficiency disorders (IDD)”.8 He adds that with severe iodine deficiency, these disorders may include abortions, pre-birth deaths, severely stunted mental and physical growth and thyroid problems. Even moderate deficiency can lead to problems with brain and mental development in children and adults who have apparently normal thyroid glands.9

Bad press

In addition to iodised salt initiatives of the early 1950s, socalled “iodophobic” articles began showing up in the US more regularly. At the same time, thyroid extracts, thyroid hormones and, for the first time, pharmaceutically patented radioactive iodine as “safe and effective” treatments for thyroid problems took centre stage.

It’s an early example of a familiar scenario: a safe, natural medicine was discredited and shouldered out of the way to make space for pharmaceuticals that carry larger profit margins. But those who suffer most from these strategies are the consumers, who are either misled or kept in the dark about the dangerous side effects of “safe” pharmaceuticals, which often relieve symptoms only, leaving the underlying cause of disease unaddressed. Radioactive iodine is a good example of this.

Radioactive Pills

Today, the conventional way of treating thyroid problems is with thyroid blocking medicine, surgery or radioactive iodine. What all of these have in common is that they aim to reduce the volume or size of the thyroid but, again, this merely addresses a symptom of the problem. The way in which particularly radioactive iodine goes about its work is worrying. Radioactive iodine literally destroys thyroid cells to reduce the size of the gland. But the radioactive iodine can also bind to other places in the body, where it may cause havoc.

Two key studies of the long-term effects of radioactive iodine treatment are particularly worrying. The first found a gasp-inducing 400% increase in the rate at which people died from thyroid cancer if they’ve used radioactive iodine.10 The second, more recent study found the following:11

  • 56% more people died from any cause among radioiodine
  • There was a 40% greater risk of stroke and
  • A 29% greater risk of cancer.

There are studies that have found no increased risk for radioiodine, but if common sense prevails, any medicine that has the word “radioactive” in its name should be treated with a healthy dose of suspicion.

What to do

Ask your doctor for an iodine-loading urine test. After given a loading dose of iodine, you will be asked to give a urine sample, and the more iodine in your urine, the less iodine has been absorbed by your body and the closer to normal would be your body’s iodine levels.

A Home Test
For Iodine

If you doubt whether you have enough iodine in your system, here is an easy home test you could do to give you a rough indication.

  1. Before bedtime, dip a cotton ball into iodine tincture solution, which you can get from a compounding pharmacy
  2. Paint a 10cm circle of iodine on your soft skin, like the inner part of your thigh or upper arm
  3. Wait overnight. If the yellowish stain disappears almost completely, it means your body may be lacking iodine and has soaked it up. If the stain remains, your iodine levels are probably fine.

Other benefits of iodine

  • It’s a potent fighter of free radicals, even more powerful than known antioxidants like vitamins C and E12
  • It helps the body rid itself of toxic fluoride and bromide13
  • It protects against fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue14
  • It protects against fibrocystic disease, breast, prostate, endometrial and ovarian cancer.15,16

How much is enough?

In South Africa, the recommended daily allowance (RDA) of iodine is 150mcg.17 The optimal daily allowance (ODA) of iodine for adults is 225mcg. But research done by a prominent expert on iodine, Dr Guy Abraham, shows that mainland Japanese safely consume a daily average of 13,8mg (13,800mcg) of elemental iodine and they are one of the healthiest nations in the world, based on overall well-being and cancer statistics.18

Iodine content in food 19

Measurement Micrograms (mcg)

  • Iodised salt Half a teaspoon 2g / 152 (mcg)
  • Haddock 84g / 125(mcg)
  • Cod 84g / 87(mcg)
  • Mozzarella cheese 28g / 34(mcg)
  • Shrimps 84g / 29(mcg)
  • Egg, boiled 1 egg / 22(mcg)


  1. Szent-Györgyi A. Bioenergetics. Academic Press, New York. 1957:112
  2. Coindet JF. Discovery of a new remedy against goitre. Ann Clin Phys. 1820;15:49
  3. Hartstock CL. Iodized salt in the prevention of goitre. Jour Amer Med Assoc. 1926;86:1334-8
  4. Abraham GE. The safe and effective implementation of orthoidosupplementation in medical practice. The Original Internist. 2004;11(2):29-38
  5. Abraham GE. The concept of orthoidosupplementation and its clinical implications. The Original Internist. 2004;11:17-36
  6. Jooste PL, Marks AS, et al. Factors influencing the availability of iodised salt in South Africa. S Afr J Food Sci Nutr. 1995; 7:49-52
  7. Hollowell JG, Staehling NW, et al. Iodine nutrition in the United States. Trends and public health implications: iodine excretion data from National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys I and III (1971-1974 and 1988-1994). J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 1998;83:3401-8
  8. www.mrc.ac.za/policybriefs/2polbrief2000.htm
  9. Delange F. The role of iodine in brain development. Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2000;59:75-9
  10. Singer RB. Long-term comparative cancer mortality after use of radio-iodine in the treatment of hyperthyroidism, a fully reported multi-center study. J Insur Med. 2001;33(2):138-42
  11. Metso S, Jaatenen P, et al. Increased cardiovascular and cancer mortality after radioiodine treatment for hyperthyroidism. J Clin Edocrine Metab. 2007;92(6):2190-6
  12. Smyth P. Role of iodine in antioxidant defense in thyroid and breast disease. Biofactors. 2003;19
  13. Abraham, GE Iodine supplementation markedly increases urinary excretion of flouride and bromide. Townsend Letter. 2003;238:108-9
  14. Abraham GE, Flechas J. Evidence of defective cellular oxidisation and organification of iodide in a female with fybromyalgia and chronic fatigue. The Original Internist. 2007;14(2):77-82
  15. See reference 12
  16. Stadel B. Dietary iodine and risk of breast, endometrial and ovarian cancer. The Lancet. 1976;4:24
  17. Government Notice No. R. 908 of 27 May 1977:12
  18. Abraham GE. The historical background of the iodine project. The Original Internist. 2005;12(2):57-66
  19. Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board. Dietary Reference Intakes for Vitamin A, Vitamin K, Arsenic, Boron, Chromium, Copper, Iodine, Iron, Manganese, Molybdenum, Nickel, Silicon, Vanadium, and Zinc. National Academy Press, Washington, DC, 2001

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This information has been made available for informational purposes and educational purposes only. the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have seen in this or any content on drcgolding.co.za

Intravenous Ultraviolet Light Therapy

Effects of UV Light Therapy

Ultraviolet blood irradiation strengthens the immune system and improves overall health. It has the following therapeutic benefits:

  • Increases oxygen absorption in body tissues
  • Destroys fungal, viral, and bacterial growth
  • Improves circulation and decreases platelet aggregation
  • Improves circulation by dilating blood vessels
  • Improves the body’s ability to detoxify and inactivate or remove toxins
  • Activates cortisone-like molecules (sterols) into vitamin D
  • Restores normal size and movement of fat elements

Medical History of UV Blood Irradiation

1903:      Nobel Price: UV Light for the cure of cutaneous tuberculosis
1920s:    Development of a UV therapy device for extracorporeal blood treatment (Emmet Knott)

The technique is known as:
– Ultraviolet Blood Irradiation (UVBI)
– Hematogenous Oxygenation Therapy (HOT) or
– Extracorporeal Photophoresis

Procedure: Withdrawal of 60 cc of blood, brief irradiation with UV light and return into patient’s bloodstream.

1930s to 1950s: UV treatment to combat polio virus and other medical conditions including pneumonia and cancer.

The advent of antibiotics led to a decline in the use of UVBI as a treatment option. Nowadays, with an increasing incidence of antibiotic resistant infections and a desire for more natural therapies, UV light therapy is enjoying rising popularity again.

Pathogen Deactivation
by UV Light

Pathogens have a higher susceptibility to UV irradiation. The antimicrobial effects of UV light result from increased production of toxic reactive oxygen species (ROS) and delayed pathogen replication. UVA exposure primarily promotes sub-lethal effects, which stop replication and increase the pathogens susceptibility to immune degradation. Pathogen damage also permits the release of antigens in which the immune system can build highly-specific antibodies to the pathogen strain. Cell DNA sequence is interrupted and pathogen ability to bind is inhibited.

Anti-microbial Photodynamic Therapy (PDT) with Riboflavin

Intravenous UV light can be applied in combination with Riboflavin as photosensitizer. Photosensitizers such as Riboflavin are binding to pathogens with high specificity and are then irradiated with intravenous lasers to deactivate pathogens within the blood.

The efficacy of photodynamic therapy with Riboflavin and UV light against bacterial, parasitic and viral diseases has been proven in various in-vitro studies.

UV Light in Photodynamic Cancer Therapy

Several chemo drugs are light-sensitive. Among these are well-known drugs such as Paclitaxel, Cisplatin or 5-FU. Intravenous UV light can enhance their efficacy significantly. This even allows to lower the dose of chemotherapy.

Weberneedle® Y-Canula (3-way canula)
facilitates simultaneous infusion
and UV light irradiation.


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Integrative & Personalized Medicine

Integrative and Functional Medicine

Integrative and Functional Medicine determines how and why illness occurs and restores health by addressing the root causes of disease for each individual.   The Functional Medicine model is an individualized, patient-centered, science-based approach that empowers patients and practitioners to work together to address the underlying causes of disease and promote optimal wellness. It requires a detailed understanding of each patient’s genetic, biochemical individuality, and lifestyle factors, and directs personalized treatment plans that lead to improved patient outcomes.       Taking into account toxicologies from the environment and detoxification of the human organism is critical in our approach.       It might sound like an over-simplification but most chronic disease states such as obesity, diabetes, cancer, arthritis, autoimmunity, Alzheimer dementia and other dementia states have an underlying deficiency (such as a mineral, vitamin, hormone, fatty acid or amino acid) or an underlying toxicity state.  In integrative medicine we are also focused on achieving vitality as well as organ reserve.

Traditional Western Medicine

Whilst offering life-saving options with medicines and surgery in acute conditions often does not offer enough solutions for chronic aislments in today’s world.        Medicines used these days are often alleviating symptoms without actually addressing the cause of disease states.        Addressing the cause, and allowing the BODY to do the healing with a more holistic approach including assistance with life-style change, exercise, dietary measures, stress management and improved sleep results in much better outcomes with regard to reversal and management of chronic disease states.  By addressing root cause, rather than symptoms, practitioners become oriented to identifying the complexity of disease. They may find one condition has many different causes and, likewise, one cause may result in many different conditions. As a result, Functional Medicine treatment targets the specific manifestations of disease in each individual.

Correcting micronutrient depletions caused by drug prescriptions is also addressed in Integrative medicine and can often correct or reduce side effects of drugs.

Integrative medicine also recognizes the economic and social imperative we face as senior citizens become the largest sector in our society.      We must find a way to remain healthy, vital and productive as we enjoy the longer lifespan that modern day life has made possible.

Precision Testing

With precision testing being more required with functional lab testing in the Integrative medicine model a much more personalized approach is available today when approaching a patient. Diagnosis of causes and biochemical reasons, toxicities and genetic individualities involved in the process of the development of a disease state underlines the importance of personalization in treatment and diagnostic options in any specific disease state.

Dale Bredesen’s work at the moment is a good example of where approximately 36 mechanisms/causes of Alzheimer dementia are addressed to suitably treat and reverse many cases of Alzheimers, where before we thought of this disease as being an incurable disease. Factors addressed for Alzheimers for example range from infective causes to chronic inflammatory states, to loss of trophic support in the brain, neurohormone decline and toxicity states such as metal toxicities (particularly aluminium and mercury in Alzheimers) and mold toxicity. New ideas, backed by scientific research and laboratory testing,  calls for a change of thinking to consider even an inhalational form of Alzheimer dementia caused by mold and toxin inhalation.

Customized bioidentical/equivalent hormone replenishment therapies also address a person’s hormone requirements as an individualized requirement and can be optimized in dosage and formulation and delivery method.

Nutraceutical and vitamin supplementation can be personalized to an individual’s requirement after nutritional and functional lab testing.         Nutrigenomics is a very useful tool as well in Integrative medicine allowing for gene testing of SNPS or polymorphisms allowing then for lifestyle and nutraceutical interventions to change the expression of the genes that we are born with as individuals.   In reality then it is more of what we expose our genes to than what we are born with that affects their expression (the field of epigenetics this is referred to).

Better & Better
Formulations of Nutraceuticals

With better and better formulations of nutraceuticals and vitamin supplements there is a trend now to more liposomal delivery methods for individualized therapies.      Advantages of liposomal delivery include :

  1. Higher bioavailability and absorption
  2. Micronized encapsulation protects against the harsh environment of the gastrointestinal tract and increases transmucosal (oral) uptake and absorption
  3. Increases intracellular delivery
  4. Can hold both hydrophilic and hydrophobic compounds
  5. Ideal for those for whom swallowing a tablet is not possible
  6. Phospholipids delivered to cell membranes support cellular communication and function
  7. Noninvasive, avoids pain and discomfort associated with injections, and decreases the contamination risk
  8. Allows for adjustable and incremental dosing for children and adults.
  9. Cost effective by being able to take a lower dose for the same effect.

Book Your Appointment Today
011 718 3004 / 011 483 1080

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This information has been made available for informational purposes and educational purposes only. the content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health care provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or treatment and never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have seen in this or any content on drcgolding.co.za