About Iodine

Note: Information in this article is based from the book, ‘Iodine: Why you need it, why you can’t live without it.’ By Dr. David Brownstein.

History of Iodine

Iodine is a mineral that was discovered in 1811 and was used to treat goitre. Goitre is the name given to a swollen Thyroid gland. The thyroid gland is a butterfly shaped gland at the front of the throat and makes hormones (messengers) that regulate the body’s reactions.
Iodized Salt introduced in New Zealand because of our soil deficiency and to treat goitre in 1939. Today, the soil remains deficient and there have been an increase in conditions related to this including Thyroid illnesses, autoimmune illnesses, cancer – Breast, Prostate, endometrium (lining of uterus), ovaries.
The World Health Organisation says Iodine deficiency is the world’s greatest single cause of preventable mental retardation. Iodine deficiency is known to be responsible for mental impairment, reduced intellectual ability, ADHD.

Around the world

  • One third of the worlds population lives in iodine deficient areas
  • 72% of the world’s population is affected by Iodine deficiency
  • Neonatal mortality reduces 50% when Iodine is restored
  • When ADHD children and adults are treated with Iodine – some of the ADHD symptoms resolve.

Iodine is found in:

  • Seawater - sea organisms
  • Soil near ocean can contain larger amounts of iodine – plants grown on Iodine containing soil will have adequate Iodine levels
  • Iodine when combined with salt becomes iodized salt.

Why is soil deficient in Iodine?

  • More common in inland / mountainous areas
  • Poor farming bleeds minerals from the soil
  • Soil erosion from glaciers, deforestation
  • Pollution – pesticides and insecticides contain bromine, chloride – this
  • Increases our Iodine needs even more.

Why are people Iodine deficient?

  • People believe salt is bad 
  • Radioactive iodine use in medicine worsens an iodine deficient state – started its use in 1970’s – a patient needs to be Iodine deficient for the radioactive iodine to work
  • Chemical exposure to goitrogens (things that slow the thyroid down)- Bromine, chloride, fluoride, and in drugs - they compete with iodine as well as decrease its uptake into cells
  • Declining soil mineral levels
  • Diet – no salt, no ocean fish or sea vegies, especially vegetarians who don’t eat seaweed
  • Bromine in food and drink – brominated vegetable oils, sports drinks
  • Baked products contain bromine – bread, pasta, cereal.

What happened to bakery products?

In 1960’s iodine was added to bakery products as an anti caking agent – so one slice of bread contained the RDA for Iodine of 150µg. In the 1970’s, bromine was substituted for iodine due to misinformation about iodine – unsure what it was – kept us iodine deficient , and allowed the radioactive iodine tests to continue to work. The added bromine made the iodine deficiency worse – so all the conditions related to iodine deficiency worsened.

Beware Bromine

  • Toxic substance with no known value in the body  
  • From the halide family – Iodine fluorine, chlorine, bromine
  • All halides compete with one another for absorption, and receptor binding Bromine interferes with Iodine utilization in the thyroid as well as other areas of body  
  • Found in iphones – half the components. Headphone socket contains 1,000ppm, and circuit board contains 14,000ppm
  • Iphones also contain high concentrations of chlorine in the plastic coating of the headphone cables
  • Bromine also found in computers, TV’s carpet, furniture, baby clothes, cars – in door trim , seats, mattresses. Every pt he has tested in his practice is positive for bromine toxicity
  • Women with Breast cancer have been found to have low Iodine and high bromine
  • Cars have antimony, bromine, chloride Bromine, more than the other halogens tends to substitute itself where Iodinewould be because its MW (80)  is the closest to Iodine (127) as C/W fluorine (19) or chlorine (36)
  • Animal studies show that bromine in the body results in iodine being eliminated from the thyroid – replaced by bromine
  • If measuring T4/3 - how do you know they are iodinated and not brominated – no one knows? 
  • Ingestion of bromine causes goitre and hypothyroid.
  • Bromine / chlorine used as antibacterial for pools and spa pools
  • Bromine if a fumigant for agriculture – sprayed on fruit and vegies
  • Amount of bromine in breast milk has increased 10 fold – babies getting bromide instead of Iodine.

Therapeutic actions of Iodine

  • Best alkilinizing agent as well as salt
  • Antibacterial
  • Anti cancer – causes apoptosis (programmed cell death)
  • Antiparasitic  - no parasites survive it
  • Anti viral – no viruses survive it
  • Detoxifying agent – mercury, lead ,arsenic, bromine , chlorine, perchlorate
  • Excellent mucolytic agent- can nebulize it for emphysema, Asthma patients.

Conditions treated with iodine

  • ADHD
  • Asthma
  • Atherosclerosis
  • Breast Disease
  • Raised cholesterol
  • Cancer – Breast, ovaries, prostate, Thyroid
  • Emphysema  
  • Diabetes
  • Dupuytren’s Contracture –iodine on the skin
  • Excessive mucous production – oral works, or nebulised if severe
  • Goitre
  • Hypertension
  • Infections
  • Keloids - topical
  • Liver diseases – kills viral hepatitis
  • Ovarian cysts
  • Parotid Duct Stones
  • Peryonie’s Disease
  • Sebaceous Cysts – on the skin
  • Thyroid disorders – hypothyroid, autoimmune, cancer
  • Helps the architecture of all the body’s glands.

Different forms of Iodine

Iodine is not very water soluble. Dr Lugol in1829 found that when K I (potassium Iodide) was added to water, the solubility was increased, so he invented Lugols soln – 5% Iodine and 10% potassium.

Iodide in distilled water - 2 drops of Lugols Soln contains 5mg of iodine, and 7.5mg of iodide In 1800’s it was the most used medicine.

All the tissues in the body use and bind different forms of Iodine:

  • Iodine – Breast, prostate, stomach
  • Iodide – Thyroid, Salivary glands, skin.

In relation to the rest of the body, not much is known. It is recommended to use a combination form to reach all tissues, so any preparation of iodine should contain both iodine and iodide. These are available as the traditional Lugols solution and also as tablets.

Where is Iodine found in the body?

  • Every cell in the body contains and utilises it
  • White blood cells can’t effectively guard against infection without adequate amounts concentrated in the glandular system
  • Thyroid gland contains the largest amount (50mg adult saturation)
  • These contain significant amounts also- breasts, salivary glands, parotid glands, pancreas, cerebrospinal fluid, brain, stomach, skin, lacrimal glands, etc.

Iodine Adverse effects

Allergy is rare. An allergy to radioactive iodine is not the same as allergy to inorganic, non-radioactive iodine. An allergy to shellfish is not the same as allergy to Iodine
Iodism – does it exist? You may get a metallic taste in mouth, increased salivation, sneezing, coryza (runny nose), frontal sinus headache, and acne. He thinks its actually Bromism – the iodine is causing the bromine to come out. It is recommended to slow down the iodine dose, and support patient.

Special Precaution

Dr Pitsilis recommends that you do not try to self treat with an iodine supplement as it can cause your thyroid to become over or under active. You should see an experienced doctor who understands how to use iodine as it relates to your health situation.


Brownstein, D. (2008). Iodine: why you need it, why you can’t live without it, 3rd Edition. Medical Alternative Press: Michigan, United States of America.


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