Even the very concept of using iodine for health and wellness often takes a back seat to its use for medical considerations. However, using iodine for prevention and good health is essential for the wellness of all animal and human life. In fact, your entire body needs varying amounts of iodine. Still, your thyroid is primarily dependent on this element and needs a steady supply of it to operate correctly. Iodine treatment and iodine supplementation have long been a mainstay of alternative and mainstream medicine for a long time. Unfortunately, in recent decades, much of conventional medicine has developed paranoia and aversion to iodine therapy due to the Wolff-Chaikoff Effect. Before iodine fell out of favor, it was an often-used cure-all for a myriad of health concerns, including being used as a natural antibiotic. Let’s take a look at a bit of the history of iodine as a medicine, and reference some more recent research as well that has brought this old-fashioned remedy again into the spotlight. But first, let’s talk a bit about the most current emergency in conventional medical care.
The wide-spread and indiscriminate use of antibiotics will most likely turn out as one of the worst things ever recommended by conventional science. Antibiotics have made us weaker, especially in the face of ever increasingly potent superbugs that are resistant to most antibiotics doctors currently have at their disposal.
The CDC tells us that “antibiotic-resistant bacteria and fungi cause more than 2.8 million infections and 35,000 deaths in the United States each year. In a nutshell, on average, someone in the USA gets an antibiotic-resistant infection every 11 seconds, and every 15 minutes, someone dies. When Clostridioides difficile, a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause deadly diarrhea and is associated with antibiotic use, is added to these, the U.S. toll of all the threats in the report exceeds 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths.”
The updated Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States (A.R. Threats Report) indicates those numbers go even higher – to 3 million infections and 48,000 deaths – when Clostridioides difficile is factored in. Clostridioides difficile is a bacterium that is not typically resistant but can cause deadly diarrhea and is associated with antibiotic use.
Currently, the CDC is concerned about antibiotic-resistant infections that are on the rise in the community:
- Drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae—More than half a million resistant gonorrhea infections occur each year, twice as many as reported in 2013. Gonorrhea-causing bacteria have developed resistance to all but one class of antibiotics, and half of all infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic. These infections contribute to significant adverse reproductive health outcomes, such as infertility in women and to new HIV infections, especially in men.
- Extended-spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL)-producing Enterobacteriaceae—ESBL-producing Enterobacteriaceae are one of the leading causes of death from resistant germs. They make urinary tract infections harder to treat, especially in women, and could undo the progress made in hospitals if allowed to spread there.
- Erythromycin-resistant group A Streptococcus—Invasive infections from these germs have quadrupled since the 2013 report. If resistance continues to grow, infections and deaths could rise.
Even though iodine kills 90 percent of bacteria on the skin within 90 seconds, its use as an antibiotic has been largely ignored by the conventional medicine community. Iodine exhibits activity against bacteria, molds, yeasts, protozoa, and many viruses. Of all the antiseptic preparations suitable for direct use on humans and animals and upon tissues, only iodine is capable of killing all classes of pathogens: gram-positive and gram-negative bacteria, mycobacteria, fungi, yeasts, viruses, and protozoa. Most bacteria are killed within 15 to 30 seconds of contact.
The way to combat antibiotic resistance is not bigger, better, stronger antibiotics but, rather, no antibiotics at all. Instead, other molecular weapons are available with the ability to disable bad germs without bothering good ones. Iodine is the ideal broad spectrum antibiotic that is not an antibiotic – it is not against life. Not against human life that is but you can hear the little pathogens screaming as high enough levels of iodine fan out through the system. Meaning all the viruses, bacteria, yeasts and molds that are threatening us are threatened with instant death when iodine is used orally to fight infection. It’s hard to make a mistake with iodine but with pharmaceutical antibiotics we are playing at the crap table hoping our choice of which one to use works against the pathogen that is actually threatening a person.
Mark Sircus, AC, OMD, DM (P)
Iodine deficiency is considered by some to be a modern epidemic in the United States today. Insufficient iodine levels can lead to thyroid concerns, lack of energy, obesity, and other serious health issues. A lack of iodine while pregnant can also lead to birth defects. Before iodine fell out of favor, doctors prescribed iodine for many conditions ever since the 1800s. Up until 1960, commercial bakeries added iodine to bread and other baked goods on a regular basis. Around 40 years ago, for reasons of which no one is sure, the food industry decided to replace iodine with a sister element called bromine. Iodine and bromine appear similar to the thyroid gland, and bromine easily bonds to the thyroid’s specialized receptors that are designed to attract iodine. The concern is that bromine cannot supply what the thyroid is seeking and can only receive from iodine. So not only is the bromine not helpful to the thyroid, but it has some significant negative side effects as well. Some of the most common side effects of bromine poisoning include:
- Memory dysfunction
- Unclear, foggy thinking
- Twitching – eyelid or feet with tingling in hands or feet
- Emotions such as gloom, depression, overly emotional, anxiety for no reason, irritability
- Tongue or mouth sores, broken corner of the mouth, odd swallowing sensation, or dry mouth
- Body odor or foul urine smell
- Headache, sinus issues
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Aching hips or legs
- Urethral spasm causing frequent urination not related to an infection, kidney pain
- Changes in vision
- Constipation or diarrhea
Using Iodine for Health
- Using iodine for health concerns has been a favorite home remedy for many years. Many a mother over the years has applied iodine to their children’s boo-boos. Long before antibacterial ointments, iodine was a resident of most of the medicine chests in this country. It is an excellent protector against infection, and it is not subject to bacterial resistance as are antibacterial medicines.
- Iodine has been in the headlines recently as a recommended safeguard against exposure to radioactivity from nuclear power plant accidents or terrorist attacks. Potassium Iodide tablets are being recommended by health and home security officials as a protective measure to keep the thyroid from absorbing radioactivity in the event of such incidences.
- Iodine is also an excellent cleanser to help rid the body of many toxic heavy metals.
- Other uses for iodine include everything from pimple medicine to water purification.
- While iodine does a great job at fighting germs, some very encouraging research in recent decades has pointed to even greater applications for iodine that can fight major health issues like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and hormonal imbalances.
Iodine is by far the best antibiotic, antiviral and antiseptic of all time.
Dr. David Derry
Iodine and Hormone Imbalance
One of the most exciting uses of iodine is to treat and prevent endocrine cancers such as breast, prostate, and ovarian. Researchers began looking at some fascinating data concerning the Japanese people. They consume large amounts of seaweed, which is very high in iodine, regularly. Japanese women ingest more iodine (an average of 13.8 mg./day) than women anywhere on the planet, and they have the lowest incidence of breast cancer in the world. The Japanese people also have a very low rate of thyroid-related conditions such as hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid gland), goiter, and other iodine deficiency illnesses. Corroborating evidence is found in other countries as well. Icelanders, who also consume a lot of iodine in their diet, have a much lower rate of breast cancer as well. On the flip side, two countries that are known to have higher than average breast cancer rates, Thailand and Mexico, also have a very low per capita consumption of iodine.
Another interesting statistic is the amount of breast cancer found in women who take synthetic thyroid hormones prescribed by their physicians. These compounds significantly increase a women’s risk for breast cancer, and the longer they are taken, the higher the risk. Overall, the statistics tell us that if you are using these synthetic thyroid hormone replacement therapies, your risk for breast cancer is double that of a woman who is not taking them! And the risk goes dramatically higher if used for fifteen years or more. This tragic situation is only worsened by the fact that the use of iodine can also significantly reduce the risk of breast cancer, without all the unnecessary risk. Correcting iodine deficiency is a natural and safe way to help manage some aspects of hormone imbalance and prevent related diseases.
Iodine therapy is clinically proven to be effective against fibrocystic breast cysts. These benign but painful lumps in the breast are thought to be caused by hormonal changes due to menstrual cycles. Women with fibrocystic breast disease obtain substantial relief from oral administration of iodine at doses of 3,000-6,000 mcg, with 65% achieving improvements according to their own and their physicians’ assessments. In those studies, only 33% of placebo recipients reported any benefit. No side effects were detected at any of the doses used. Again, a very safe and effective way to manage many hormonal issues without the use of artificial and dangerous hormone replacement therapy. There are also studies indicating the same results from ovarian cysts through the use of iodine supplementation.
Iodine also decreases estrogen-responsive genes, which may also be a factor in creating estrogen dominance. Low iodine intensifies circulating estrogen levels, and given that estrogen inhibits iodine absorption, this is a significant concern. Iodine deficiency also makes breasts more vulnerable to carcinogenic action, promoting the growth of tumors.
Iodine may be needed in individualized doses to improve thyroid function, immune function, and the optimal functioning of all the cells in the body; several associated nutrients need to be given including vitamin C, selenium, magnesium, unrefined salt, and sufficient water; these help to prevent strong detoxification reactions as a result of the release of bromine from the tissues when iodine is given in milligram quantities. These higher milligram doses rather than microgram doses help to enhance anti-cancer functions in most if not all cancers, but certainly in cancers of the thyroid, breast, ovary, and prostate.” Michael B. Schachter, MD
According to Dr. George Flechas, “Iodine is utilized by every hormone receptor in the body. The absence of iodine causes a hormonal dysfunction that can be seen with practically every hormone inside the body.” It’s also important to note that selenium acts synergistically with iodine. Thus, selenium may affect hormone homeostasis and iodine availability. When taking iodine as a supplement, a quality selenium supplement should always be included.
Iodine Protects Against Stomach Cancer
Similarities shared by the thyroid gland, breast tissue, and portions of the digestive tract is that all of them contain a rich concentration of iodine. Stomach lining cells concentrate iodine, capitalizing on its antioxidant effects, which has led medical researchers to investigate whether iodine deficiency plays a role in cancers of the digestive tract. The researchers found that people living in iodine-deficient areas of the world are not only prone to iodine-deficiency goiters but also have higher rates of stomach cancers. Stomach cancer patients in a landlocked area of Iran were 2.5 times as likely to have severe iodine deficiency than control patients. Gastric cancer is the most common cancer in parts of northeastern Turkey, where iodine deficiency is common, and iodine levels in gastric cancer tissue were markedly lower than those in surrounding healthy tissue. Increased iodine intake correlates with a reduction in stomach cancer rates in recent years.
Iodine and Cardiovascular Disease
How about cardiovascular disease? Do you think we could use some help in fighting this killer? Well, once again, iodine has shown some great promise at preventing and eliminating clogged arteries and the resulting condition called atherosclerosis. Lipoprotein (cholesterol), a key component of plaque that is responsible for much of the vascular disease in this country, has been very positively impacted by iodine in clinical tests. Restoring normal thyroid function helps reverse multiple cardiovascular risk factors, most notably adverse lipid profiles. Yet conventional medicine has traditionally used thyroid hormone treatment, which may be dangerous if it over-drives an already weakened heart. Not surprisingly, data such as these are not commonly taught in medical schools. One Harvard chemistry professor makes a point of teaching and demonstrating to his pre-med students that iodine makes many fats, including cholesterol, more soluble in water. He tells them to remember this when they become doctors because they won’t be taught about it in the medical school curriculum. And he’s right; they aren’t.
How Much Iodine Do We Need Each Day?
The benefits of iodine are many and very significant. But just how much of this wonderful element do we need to be consuming? This has been a very controversial subject over the years. Much of the anti-iodine thought of today has been a backlash against what some people believe to be an irresponsible push for the use of iodine that has caused conditions such as hyperthyroidism (an overactive thyroid) supposedly due to excessive amounts of iodine. But, we must be careful not to “throw out the baby with the bathwater.” There has to be a balance, and it is essential to note that iodine is a major contributor to the function of your thyroid gland, especially in the creation of T3 and T4 hormones, which are crucial for regulating your body’s metabolism. So, iodine deficiency is a severe health concern. The best thinking seems to indicate a target of about 12.5 mg. of iodine per day. However, many practitioners are now recommending a starting dose of between 25 to 50 mg, especially for those that are fighting disease.
The type of iodine used is important too. A formula known as “Lugol’s Solution,” which has been in use for almost two hundred years, provides both of the major types of iodine (iodine and iodide) in the following proportions: 5 mg. of iodine along with 7.5 mg. of iodide, for a dosage of 12.5 mg. Nascent iodine is a consumable form of iodine that holds an electromagnetic charge. It allows for a larger release of energy once consumed and is very similar to bio-available forms of iodine that are produced naturally in the thyroid gland. Because of this, your body can recognize and assimilate it very quickly. Potassium Iodide is a closely-bound inorganic form of iodine that has been shown only to offer 20% assimilation to bodily tissues. Studies show that potassium iodide blocks the uptake of radio-iodine in the thyroid gland, thus lowering the chances of developing thyroid cancer. Potassium iodide has also been used in emergency treatments for hyperthyroidism. Iodine can be gotten in smaller amounts through many food sources. Still, the vast majority of us, especially in the United States, will find it necessary to use a high-quality supplement to receive enough of the right kind of iodine. This is especially true for vegetarians since it is challenging to get enough iodine when consuming a vegetarian diet.
DID YOU KNOW? Iodine is related to the ability of the body to resist disease. Iodine is necessary for your thyroid gland to perform its work correctly. The human thyroid gland is located in the front of the lower part of the neck, and all the blood in the body passes through the thyroid gland every 17 minutes. Because the cells making up this gland have an affinity for iodine, during this 17-minute passage, the gland’s secretion of iodine kills weak germs that may have gained entry into the blood through an injury to the skin, the lining of the nose or throat, or through absorption of food from the digestive tract. Strong, virulent germs are rendered weaker during their passage through the thyroid gland. Every 17 minutes, they are made still weaker until finally they are killed if the gland has its normal supply of iodine. If it does not, it cannot kill harmful germs circulating in the blood as Nature intended it should.
What Foods Will Give Me Enough Iodine?
If you choose to get your iodine needs primarily met through your diet, here are a few tips. However, if you are iodine deficient, you may not be able to get enough iodine from food. Foods that are high in iodine include:
- Many species of fish have a high iodine content, but you have to be really careful about the amount of mercury you are ingesting as well. One of the best mercury-free fish to load up on are sardines. Sardines are small, and their life span is very short. Thus, they do not generally expose you to mercury. When you do choose fish sources, be sure the fish is not farmed. Coldwater fish seem to be the safest.
- Seaweeds, especially red and brown varieties, are one of the best sources of iodine in the world. High consumption of these is the reason the Japanese get so much more iodine than most of us in the rest of the world. Ample amounts can be difficult for us to get our hands on here in the West, though. It is also important to note that many sources of iodine from the sea are contaminated.
- The amount of iodine in dairy products also fluctuates greatly depending on the amount of iodine in what is being fed to the animals.
- One note about iodized salt: Despite what many people think, it is not a good source for iodine. First of all, the type of iodine found in salt is not very absorbable by the body. Secondly, you would have to consume a lot more salt than is healthy for you or that you would probably want in order to get sufficient amounts.
- The bottom line is that most people need to take a supplemental form of iodine. A combination of dietary sources and supplementation is the best and most balanced alternative.
If you aren’t getting enough iodine from your food and/or exhibiting symptoms of iodine deficiency, I recommend taking a nascent iodine supplement.
And, as always, please consult with a qualified and knowledgeable health practitioner who can guide you in finding a suitable dosage for your particular health situation.
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†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Oasis Advanced Wellness/OAWHealth are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician of choice.