According to National Institutes of Health, the last half-century has seen a 50 percent drop in the average person’s iodine intake, due in large part to bakers switching from iodized flour to bromated flour.
This has resulted in a double whammy: Not just has our diet become iodine-deficient, but because bromide is a halide, a chemical cousin to iodine, it actually blocks iodine function.
So why is getting enough iodine important to you as a massage therapist?
A Nation in Pain
A third of Americans suffer from chronic pain, and in most cases, this has a component of muscle and myofascial pain. Unfortunately, most physicians are clueless about diagnosing and treating this type of pain and may give it other labels, including arthritis, and prescribe painkillers to ease the symptoms.
Natural alternatives—including massage therapy, which is probably already part of your self-care plan—can be far more effective.
But what do you do when, after your tight muscles are released, they repeatedly go back into the shortened position? When this happens, consider several causes, including ergonomics, which may come from one of your hips being lower than the other; or poor support for your elbows, wrists and forearms while working at the computer.
Human Energy Crisis
An even more important cause to investigate is chronic muscle shortening, from what I call the human energy crisis.
When your muscles don’t have enough energy, they get locked in the shortened position rather than going loose and limp. In this way, muscles are like springs; it takes more energy to stretch them than to relax them. Think about how you feel after a hard workout or a long day with back-to-back massage clients; You don’t come home talking about how loose and limp your muscles are—you talk about how tight they are.
Research cited by Janet Travell, M.D., in her landmark book The Trigger Point Manual, as well as my published double-blind study looking at optimizing energy production in fibromyalgia, has shown the importance of increasing muscle energy production for the treatment of fibromyalgia and myofascial pain.
Our research looked at optimizing the factors represented in the acronym SHINE:
- Exercise as able
After optimizing these five factors, we found that 91 percent of people with fibromyalgia saw an improvement in their symptoms, with an average 90 percent increase in quality of life after two years and 50 percent decrease in pain. These same principles apply to myofascial pain, and why your muscles may repeatedly tighten after they are released.
A helpful tool called the free Energy Analysis Program can analyze your symptoms, and even pertinent lab tests, to determine what you need to optimize energy production. Many, if not most of these suggested treatments can be used without a prescription.
How Getting Enough Iodine May Help
Iodine is critical for many functions, including thyroid function. When thyroid function is diminished, you will have both fatigue and tight muscles, as well as sometimes brain fog, constipation, cold intolerance, unexplained weight gain and even unexplained infertility.
Taking 6.25 milligrams of iodine daily may help restore optimized iodine levels, while also flushing out the fluoride and bromide that can block iodine function. I give this dose for three to six months—stopping it in the rare cases in which it aggravates people’s indigestion and solar plexus pain—and then continue the dose long-term if the person would like. I also make sure the person’s daily multivitamin has at least 200 micrograms of iodine.
Iodine deficiency commonly leads to breast tenderness and fibrocystic breast disease. Getting enough Iodine is critical for breast health, and using the iodine treatment above can eliminate breast tenderness and cysts after three months. Research has also shown that breast tissue iodine levels are lower in women with breast cancer, suggesting that iodine deficiency may also be a significant risk factor for breast cancer.
If you have unexplained fatigue or muscle pain, especially if you also experience cold intolerance, breast tenderness or cysts, weight gain, or constipation, iodine supplementation can provide helpful, low-cost, safe pain relief.
About the Author
Jacob Teitelbaum, M.D., of Kona, Hawaii, is the author of the iPhone app “Cures A-Z,” and the best-selling books From Fatigued to Fantastic!, The Fatigue and Fibromyalgia Solution, and Pain Free 1-2-3. He is the lead author on four studies of treatment for fibromyalgia and chronic fatigue syndrome.