This relatively rare mineral has the Napoleonic Wars to thank for its discovery.
While making gunpowder for Napoleon’s troops, Frenchman Bernard Courtois isolated this element for the first time. He was extracting sodium and potassium from seaweed ash, and accidentally added too much sulfuric acid. It puffed up in a purple cloud.
While it protects people from radioactive terrorist bombs and nuclear power plant explosions, this mineral is also essential to everyday hormone production and regulation. And it has important cancer benefits too…
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Practically everyone – especially those living in land-locked areas – has dangerously low levels of the mineral Courtois discovered: iodine.
The dose you get from table salt is barely enough to keep your thyroid working smoothly.
Your thyroid is a gland at the base of your neck just below your Adam’s apple. It makes and stores the hormones that help regulate your heart rate, body temperature, blood pressure, and metabolism. And it needs iodine to do its job.
Breast tissue soaks up iodine like a sponge!
When iodine soaks into breast tissue, it kills breast cancer cells without killing healthy cells.
Too little iodine can make your breast cells more susceptible to cancer. Having enough iodine can slow and sometimes even stop both benign and cancerous tumors from growing, says Dr. Benjamin Eskin, a pioneer in iodine research.
In fact, three of the best-known cancer therapies — those of Harry Hoxsey, Dr. Max Gerson, and Dr. Cornelis Moerman — all included some type of iodine in their treatments. Most people don’t know this, but potassium iodine was a key ingredient in Hoxsey’s herbal tea.
Among other things, iodine is PROVEN to thin lymph fluid, which is critical for cancer treatment.
Since iodine actually lives in every organ and tissue, low iodine levels make you vulnerable to numerous diseases, including various types of cancer.
In fact, Dr. Jorge Flechas believes cells become cancerous when they lack iodine. Deficiency increases your risk of cancer – especially cancers of the breast, thyroid, ovaries, prostate, and stomach. Increasing iodine levels helps induce cancer cells to self-destruct.
I don’t know whether iodine deficiency is in the top five or even the top ten causes of cancer, but I do know it’s a vital nutrient, and most people are ingesting very little in their diet.
And besides the cancer link, iodine also helps fight other breast and ovarian diseases, such as fibrocystic breast disease and ovarian cysts, by balancing estrogen levels. It helps your body metabolize estrone (a slightly carcinogenic type of estrogen) into estriol, a non-carcinogenic form of estrogen.
To reduce your overall risk of iodine deficiency, cut your exposure to bromine. This mineral displaces iodine.
You ingest or absorb bromine from baked goods, soft drinks, some medications, pesticides, and drinking fluoridated water (which almost everyone does). All of these are things to avoid anyway, bromine or no bromine.
When you buy flour for home baking, buy non-brominated flour. Opt out of fluoride dental treatments and fluoridated water, if at all possible. You can also eat more iodized salt, eggs, fish, and sea vegetables. Or do what I do and take a kelp supplement.
The miracle antibacterial
Iodine fights infections and kills harmful microorganisms, making it quite a universal healer. From surface-level blemishes to deep-rooted infections, iodine can treat them all… well, most of them anyway.
Cleans cuts and scrapes
Skip the antibacterial cream and use topical iodine. It protects cuts and scrapes from infection without breeding resistant microbes.
Iodine kills microorganisms. Strain debris and sediment from a quart of water (for example, from a stream if you’re camping), then add 5 to 10 drops of 2% tincture of iodine (available in most drug stores). The number of drops is a judgment call – how contaminated do you think the water source is? Wait 2 or 3 minutes before drinking.
Prevents airborne infections
Before boarding your next flight, drink 10 drops of iodine dissolved in water. According to my sources, the iodine gathers in your sinuses and kills bacteria, viruses, or fungi you may breathe from the plane’s recycled air. I haven’t tried this, but it sounds interesting. If you know anything about it, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Heals bladder infections
For a bladder infection, drink 10 to 15 drops of iodine in water every 3 to 4 hours during the day. Continue till your infection is gone. Again, I haven’t tried this. Your move. . .
If you have chronic bronchitis or emphysema, take 3 to 6 drops of iodine in water daily to loosen think, hard-to-cough-up mucus. Also helps prevent further infection.
Heals infected hangnails and toenails
Rub a solution of 50 percent iodine with 50 percent DMSO around infected hangnails or toenails several times a day. Usually heals the infection in a few days. I haven’t tried it. If you have, I’d like to hear your thoughts.
Heals vaginal infections
Got a vaginal infection? Some sources suggest drinking 20 to 30 drops of iodine in water once a day for 5 to 10 days. This kind of heavy self-medicating makes me nervous, so you might want to check out prescription-only iodine solutions created to heal vaginal infections. Keep in mind, though, both treatments will leave an orange-brown stain on your clothing.
I hope it goes without saying that 2% tincture of iodine is NOT to be taken daily as a food supplement. In some instances like those I’ve described, it’s safe to take a few drops dissolved in water, on a strictly short-term basis.
But taken in the appropriate form, iodine’s health benefits go beyond cancer and infections.
It keeps your thyroid healthy and hormone levels balanced. And in turn builds stronger bones, slows weight gain, balances mood swings, reduces your risk of heart disease, and removes toxins from your body.
Are you low on Iodine? Simple way to find out…
Dr. William Campbell Douglass discusses a simple way to check your iodine levels at home. Dip a Q-tip into a 2% tincture of iodine and paint your skin on your thigh or belly with it, about the size of a silver dollar.
The resulting yellow stain should disappear in about 24 hours – if your levels are normal.
If the stain fades in less than 24 hours, you’re deficient in iodine. Your body has eagerly slurped it all up.
If the test shows you’re deficient, keep painting iodine in different spots every 24 hours, until your stain lasts a full 24 hours. Then you will have both diagnosed and treated the problem.
This is fascinating, to be sure, but I would recommend consulting a doctor (an alternative one) and getting your iodine levels measured by blood test. Then, if they’re too low, work with your doctor to safely raise them.
How much to take – a major controversy…
US officials recommend 150 mcg (micrograms) of iodine daily.
The Japanese have healthier thyroids and less breast cancer than Americans due to their diet of seafood and seaweed. They get 2,000 to 3,000 micrograms (mcg) of iodine a day – more than 1,333 percent above the US RDA.
Some doctors say that’s good. Some think it’s too high. In fact, there’s a battle in alternative health circles between doctors who think king-sized, orthomolecular doses of iodine are a safe way to prevent and treat a wide range of disease (including cancer) and those who are more cautious.
The caution mostly springs from warnings about the risks of too much iodine issued by the American Thyroid Association in 2013. The ATA says not to exceed 500 mcg (micrograms) per day, noting that anything above 1,100 mcg per day can cause thyroid dysfunction.
Taking too much iodine can lead to subclinical hypothyroidism. Which is kind of ironic, given that hypothyroidism is usually linked to iodine deficiency. Clearly, it’s a delicate balancing act. That’s why I recommend seeking a doctor’s help if you possibly can.
Getting enough (but not too much) is especially important for pregnant women.
Women with low iodine boost their risk of miscarriage and stillbirth… and may cause mental retardation in their growing baby. In fact, the New England Journal of Medicine claims iodine deficiency is the most preventable cause of mental handicaps.
The one time you might need a larger dose is in the event of a nuclear accident involving nuclear fallout. You could protect your thyroid by flooding it with iodine so it doesn’t absorb the radioactive iodine. People clamored for iodine supplements after Japan’s 2011 earthquake and Fukushima nuclear disaster.
Given the controversy even among well-educated doctors and scientists, you need to consult your health care provider and study this issue for yourself to find the right balance (and comfort level) for you.
Which form is best?
Research shows you need two kinds of iodine – iodine and iodide. Different tissues absorb different forms.
The iodine now often suggested is a combination of the older Lugol’s iodine solution (a liquid sold over-the-counter) that combines iodine and potassium iodide. Reportedly, Lugol often causes stomach upset, and dosage control is difficult.
Iodoral, a branded iodine supplement, combines the two types in a time-released formula that seems to eliminate the stomach upset and make dosage control easier. The dose Iodoral delivers is much higher than the American Thyroid Association recommends. It’s 12.5 milligrams, or 12,500 micrograms vs. the ATA’s recommended maximum of 1,100 micrograms.
There’s another type of iodine for internal consumption, called SSKI potassium iodide. Potassium iodide protects your thyroid from thyroid cancer that can be caused by radioactive iodine found in the vicinity of a nuclear explosion. It can also be used to purify your drinking water when you travel. You can get it on the internet.
For several years I was swayed by the evidence for iodine as a potent cancer-fighter, and I used to take Iodoral, the orthomolecular mega-dose supplement.
Now, at my doctor’s recommendation – and due to fatigue issues I used to have that might have been thyroid-related – I take Nature’s Way Kelp, which delivers 360 mcg of colloidal iodine in a capsule.
Colloidal iodine is believed by some people to be more effective than other forms, although I don’t know of studies to confirm that. My blood tests indicate I have healthy iodine levels, but not the super-levels called for by the iodine “hawks.”
Even though iodine (in its iodide form) is one of the safest elements, some people react when they take it as a supplement. If you develop an acne-like rash, runny nose, or bad taste in your mouth, stop taking iodine and your reaction will likely go away.
Lee Euler, Publisher