What, iodine? Well, why not. You probably remember when Mom used to spread it on a skin wound (you might have thought she did it to hurt you on purpose!)
Sure, it stings. But it’s also very effective. Maybe you don’t know but surgeons (at least in my day) swabbed the patient’s skin with iodine, before throwing the sterile drapes over the patient, leaving just a teeny window in the fabric to work through.
Truth is, iodine is a very good antiseptic (kills germs dead on contact).
It is also a very good antibiotic. Its use as an antibiotic/antiviral/anti-fungal has been completely ignored by modern medicine. But iodine works against microbes in two ways:
- 1. It kills germs, as I said, though when taken internally, you have to adjust the dose, of course, to avoid hurting the patient.
2. It also boosts the immune system and makes it much more dynamic at removing predatory pathogens.
I’ll explain these two aspects as we go along.
Meantime, don’t forget that iodine has other very important roles to play…
Take fertility, for example. In the old days, in some inland areas such as the high Andes, seafood, fish eggs and seaweed were highly valued, because the iodine content of these foods kept women fertile.
Without that supplemental iodine, women experienced many stillbirths and miscarriages. Infant mortality is highest in areas known for iodine deficiency.
Generally speaking, the further inland (further from the ocean), a person is living, the lower the iodine content of food and crops grown there. Iodine is certainly the “ocean nutrient”!
Iodine is food for the thyroid gland, which simply can’t function without it present in adequate amounts. Iodine deficiency can lead to swelling of the thyroid gland (goiter), as it tries to cope.
Ultimately, lack of iodine can lead to hypothyroid states and all that that entails: low energy, weight gain, poor hair and nails, heavy periods (women), loss of libido (back to babies again!) and slowed, thickened speech.
This is textbook stuff, I don’t need to give you references.
I came across the power of the thyroid to support, or damage, immune function when I started using electronic acupuncture diagnostic machines in the 1980s.
Time and again, thyroid would be the underlying cause (ie. further upstream) than cancer or infectious diseases.
That again makes iodine very important to immunity and this goes far beyond the mere antiseptic effect. This is via immune modulation.
Iodine is quite crucial to proper brain and neurological growth. Children from very low iodine regions were historically likely to be severely mentally retarded; a condition we used to call cretinism. Nowadays we don’t use the term since it has insulting overtones. But remember the word: it will help you understand the sad plight of iodine deficiency in growing infants.
Today we call it untreated congenital hypothyroidism (with or without a goiter). But its very existence shows you the power and important of this not-so-humble nutrient.
Brain development is absolutely dependent on normal thyroid hormone levels. A progressive intellectual deterioration occurs with each passing week in the absence of appropriate thyroxine replacement.
Severe developmental and physical delays occur by six months of age.
Treatment in infancy will reverse the physical changes, but sadly not the neurological damage.1
All this was thought to be fixed by the supplemental addition of iodine to our diets. That was done in a cute way (too cute, because it backfired): iodine was added to table salt.
Spot the problem? Right, the medical profession has been advocating low-salt diets for nearly 50 years, without even considering it as a “low iodine diet”.
Plus, modern food industry practices of adding bromine to bread and fluoride to our water (both of which compete with iodine), we are suddenly back to the iodine deficiency of old.
It’s a problem. You definitely need to supplement iodine. I’ll tell you what and how much shortly.
Back to where we started: iodine as an antibiotic.
As early as June 1, 1905 an article was printed in the New York Times about the successful use of iodine for consumption/tuberculosis.
In 1945 J.D. Stone and Sir McFarland Burnet (who later went on to win a Nobel Prize for his Clonal Selection Theory) exposed mice to lethal effects of influenza viral mists. But deaths were prevented by first putting iodine solution in mice snouts just prior to placing them in chambers containing influenza viruses.
Iodine exhibits activity against bacteria, molds, yeasts, protozoa, and many viruses. Most bacteria are killed within 15 to 30 seconds of contact. It’s probably superior and way less toxic than the chlorine dioxide protocol (MMS of Jim Humble).
Please note that iodine and chlorine are both similar, elements called halogens.
Iodine penetrates bacterial cell walls, and although its precise killing mechanism is uncertain, it’s likely related to retardation of bacterial protein synthesis, disruption of electron transport, DNA denaturation and/or membrane destabilization.
Are There Any Dangers?
What is being missed by armchair proponents of iodine is the possibility that iodine, too, may have dangerous side effects (nutty holistic “health researchers” seem to believe everything orthodox is toxic at any dilution and that “natural” substances can do no harm at any concentration).
Well, aren’t opium and hemlock natural? Too much of them and your heart will stop beating permanently!*
Anything which impairs electron transport in the cell or has the potential to denature DNA should be viewed with caution.
Plus, I found a 1926 correspondence series in the JAMA, raising the very real possibility that ingested iodine in therapeutic quantities could cause the break down and release of old tuberculosis.
Tests on guinea pigs certainly give pause for thought: the iodine-treated guinea pigs died rapidly, with rampant and widely disseminated TB at autopsy.2
I am compelled therefore to suggest that iodine is far from the “best antibiotic” we have, as Dr. David Derry believes, and I advise caution, certainly where there is a history or possibility of TB (that would include me, since all my farming uncles and aunts and other relatives were at very high risk of TB and we drank plenty of raw milk).
Remember TB never really goes away or gets cured; it simply goes into deep hibernation, waiting for the immune system to take a week off work!
Homeopaths have even suggested the emergence of a TB miasm!
Administration and Doses
So if you want to take iodine, what should you do? First, let me state that you have to have it. Even with a history of TB, you need to supplement iodine. Thyroid, remember is your master metabolism gland (see my own newsletter “Engine Speed” here).
Forget the iodized table salt. It’s not enough. Seafood of all kinds is better.
But you should take, at least from time to time, full-on supplements of iodine, whether you are hypo-, hyper- or normal thyroid. It is especially important for the next few years to take sufficient iodine to lock out the bad stuff: radio-active iodine 131, stemming from Fukushima and still, don’t forget, Chernobyl. The 1986 disaster was worse than Fukushima and we’re still here!3
Once ingested, radioactive iodine concentrates almost exclusively in the thyroid gland, where the radiation can cause either destruction of the gland, or lead to the development of thyroid cancer.
Individuals who experienced Fukushima radiation were found to quickly develop unnatural thyroid nodules.
Young children and fetuses, who have fast-growing thyroid glands, are the most susceptible to exposure to radioactive iodine, and the effects of exposure also tend to show up more quickly in children compared to adults.
Note that milk is a potent source of contamination: when cows eat radioactive iodine contaminated grass, the iodine concentrates heavily in milk (another very good reason not to eat milk, raw or pasteurized).
The best way to take it, in my view, is Lugol’s iodine (5% organic iodine, 10% potassium iodide and 85% water).
You can also get tincture of iodine. As I have said elsewhere try to get your supply from old stocks and old shelves, to avoid contamination with radioactive iodine. The only way to do that is to ask your supplier.
The best dose is 10 mg – 12 mg daily. You can go up to 50 mg daily for loading purposes but not for long.
But rather than act in a hurry, recognize that it will take more than half a year to correct a major iodine deficiency.
Be patient! I’m giving doses in milligrams, because there are many different strengths of iodine preparations; classical Lugol’s, for example, comes in 1%, 2% and 5%, as well as the original 10% strength.
For those who object to the alcohol content of tinctures on religious grounds, you can get iodine Kosher certified alcohol-free from Cedar Bear Naturales.
You can also get Iodoral Tablets and Iodizyme-HP tablets, available at 12.5mg strength.
Meanwhile, don’t be daft and make sure to avoid goitrogens in your diet for a while, as they hinder iodine utilization. Such foods included kale, cabbage, peanuts, soy, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, broccoli, kohlrabi and turnips.
If you are confident your iodine levels are adequate, you could turn this around and say eat them, to prevent the ingress of radioactive iodine (not really recommended)!
Don’t forget selenium. That’s another very cancer-protective element and probably vital in the post-Fukushima era.
Selenium works intimately with iodine as precursors to thyroid hormones. The selenium content of the thyroid is higher than that of any other body part. It’s crucial to the conversion of T4 hormone to the more active form T3.
During times of selenium deficiency, the body will use any available selenium for the thyroid. Even the brain and neurotransmitters “take a back seat” to the functioning of the thyroid in regards to selenium status within the body.
So don’t just supplement with iodine but be sure to add in 100 mcg or better still 200 mcg of selenium. The higher dose is highly cancer protective (and also, incidentally, locks out toxic mercury).4
1. Paediatrics Child Health. 2003 February; 8(2): 105-106. PMCID: PMC2791432 Cretinism: The past, present and future of diagnosis and cure.
2. Scott R. Edwards, M.D., Iodine In Tuberculosis, JAMA. 1926;87(7):509-510. doi:10.1001/jama.1926.02680070055027
4. Naithani R. Organoselenium compounds in cancer chemoprevention. Mini Rev Med Chem. 2008 Jun;8(7):657-68.