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Are You the Victim of an Iodine Deficiency?

By Edited May 9, 2014 1 2

Cancer can be caused by an iodine deficiency so why don't people attend to their iodine intake?

According to new research - Iodine can be used to cure cancer

Why do we suppress symptoms of iodine deficiencies?

In theory we accept that if there is a deficiency of certain nutrients in the body it increases our susceptibility to many diseases. We are familiar with the need for adequate vitamin C to prevent scurvy, for instance. But do we know what happens when we lack iodine? Most doctors are not aware of how our iodine status affects ou r hormones, digestion, metabolism and the immune system. If the iodine status is not known then the patient receives treatment that will only serve to suppress the symptoms of the underlying iodine deficiency. It is not a matter of choosing between orthodox medicine and gentler alternatives if the root of the cause has not been addressed.

Iodine sources

Testing your iodine levels

Some people suggest painting a patch of iodine on your skin. This is not an accurate test because iodine is pH sensitive. The more acidic the skin, the quicker the stain disappears. The common blood test is also not an accurate indicator of your iodine status.  Iodine that circulates in the bloodstream shows us as being adequate according to the standard test but it does not show how well iodine interacts at a cellular level or how well it engages on hormonal receptor sites. 

A 24 hour iodine loading test is one of the more traditional methods. First a urine sample is taken and then a 50 mg dose of iodine is given. After 24 hours another urine sample is measured to see how much iodine was taken up by the body. This process also shows us that iodine supplementation is safe enough because excessive amounts will be removed by the kidneys and excreted in the urine. Dry urine testing kits are a newer and more convenient way to check iodine levels.

What are the most outstanding examples of iodine deficiencies?

Mental alertness, ADD/ADHD, energy levels and co-ordination

An iodine deficiency affects motor skills, decreases reaction time, manual dexterity, muscle strength and co-ordination. Lower IQ readings are more common to people who are iodine deficient. Depression, fatigue, apathy, slower thinking and reaction times, headaches and migraines, visual disturbances, brain fog, mood swings and loss of memory are good indicators of an iodine deficiency.

Pregnant women who lack iodine run a greater risk of having children severely affected by ADD/ADHD, cretinism or mental retardation. As an alternative to dosing young children with drugs such as Ritalin an expert on naturedoc.com explains: "It is possible to repeatedly change an irritable, impatient, and restless child under ten years of age into a calm, patient person within two hours by giving one drop of Lugol's solution of iodine by mouth in a vegetable or fruit juice. "                                                                                                                             

Respiratory, sleep and sinus problems

Low energy and fatigue or tiredness, especially in the morning and sleep disturbances, including the desire for 12 or more hours of sleep at a time are typical examples of iodine related issues as is persistent low blood pressure. In all these cases symptoms may overlap with other problems including wheat or gluten intolerance, chemical sensitivity and parasitic infestations. All these factors need to be considered but it is easy enough to first correct the iodine deficiency with supplementation your doctor can recommend.

Iodine eradicates most of our common germs, especially bacteria, moulds and fungi because it circulates in the bloodstream and kills them– unless the patient has an iodine deficiency. So - sinus infections, post-nasal drip, allergies, frequent bladder infections, constant colds, flu, sore throat, fever and other symptoms of microbial or parasitic infestations show a need for more iodine. People complain of shortness of breath on exertion, heart palpitations, stiff joints and muscular cramps. Excessive facial and all-over perspiration and often asthma also have an iodine deficiency as a common cause.

Being iodine deficient makes one more vulnerable to cancer

 Yeast, fungal and mould infections known as mycotoxins will increase, especially in areas that are more vulnerable to cancer. Breast cancer patients usually have high readings of mycotoxins that have migrated to this area via the bloodstream. Other forms of bacteria have also been associated with some forms of cancer. Heart disease, cancer of the thyroid, ovaries, breasts and prostate are also examples of severe iodine deficiencies. How many cancer patients know this?

Thyroid cancer is high in areas where the iodine intake is too low. Breast cancer can occur when the ratio of estrone and estradiol is higher than estriol (the good oestrogen). In one study the total count of oestrogen metabolites when measured within a 24 hour urine test. 6 – 8 drops of Lugol’s iodine was given daily to patients with an unfavourable oestrogen ratio. After a few days when the results of the urine tests showed that the estriol balance was restored, the dose was tapered off. This helped to lower  the cancer risk by as much as 58%. Some forms of hormone replacement therapy upset this oestrogen ratio and expose women to the threat of cancer and heart problems. Remember that an extreme iodine deficiency manifests as:  heart disease, cancer of the thyroid, ovaries, breasts and prostate.

Breast tissue, thyroid problems and the reproductive system

Lumps in breast tissue, fibrocystic tissue, cysts and oestrogen dominance get the upper hand when there is a lack of iodine in the body. This is because iodine is essential for balancing out the different types of oestrogen. PMS and menstrual irregularities including heavy periods and fertility problems often respond well to iodine supplementation as a result. An iodine deficiency is also directly proportionate to the presence and amount of cysts in the ovaries. In its extreme form, this condition is known as polycystic ovarian disease.

Fibrocystic breast disease (painful breasts with nodules and cysts) is another iodine deficiency that responds very well to iodine treatment. Doctor Jonathan Wright saw a colleague of his using iodine to treat women who were suffering from fibrocystic breast disease at a medical conference. The iodine was applied to their vaginal mucosa. Within 30 minutes they were free from most of the pain and swelling. A few weeks later their breasts became normal after daily iodine supplementation.

Patients with a chronically under active thyroid have dry yellowish skin, dark skin on the eyelids, acne, thinning hair, weak fingernails, spreading waistlines, poor concentration, exercise resistance and a flagging libido. Common complaints when the thyroid is affected by an iodine deficiency are a low basal body temperature, intolerance to cold and/or heat with cold hands and feet and poor circulation. Reynaud's Syndrome is a more extreme condition whereby hands and feet turn white in response to the cold. If potassium iodide levels are too low the thyroid gland swells up in trying to absorb more of it from the bloodstream so the neck swells up to form a goitre.

Most of today’s patients are given thyroid hormone supplements in preference to first correcting the iodine deficiency. Some cases of hyperthyroidism such as Hashimoto’s disease or Grave’s disease are also linked to a compromised iodine status. A lack of iodine is associated with autoimmune inflammation or thyroiditis to a large degree. When deficient in iodine, the thyroid readily absorbs radioactive iodine, which is very harmful, as we know.

During the 1880s to early 1900s Lugol’s iodine was used to successfully treat Grave’s disease (90% hyperthyroidism) with complete remission. Seek medical help if you have autoimmune-related antibodies as determined by a blood test. Gluten intolerance and heavy metal toxicity aggravate this condition.    

Digestive and metabolic problems that link to iodine deficiencies

Patients with an iodine deficiency usually have difficulty in losing weight accompanied by swelling of the face and general fluid retention with high LDL cholesterol and increased blood fats. They can have difficulty in swallowing, indigestion, flatulence, constipation and irregular bowel movements. A poor balance of gut flora in the large and small intestines results in increased pathogenic bacteria such as E-coli like 0157:H7 and yeast infections such as Candida albicans. (Iodine promotes the growth of beneficial bacteria and kills off harmful microbes as well as yeast infections like Candida.)

Why are we so suspicious of iodine? Are most people really allergic to it?

When a diverse array of health conditions that are directly related to an iodine deficiency are treated with adequate iodine supplementation the symptom picture will improve. This shows us how medicine works. If something is missing we need to replace it and not kid ourselves that we are treating a new disease. When the iodine is adequate the symptoms abate. When we treat the symptoms with other modalities they will keep on returning.

 We try to ignore the importance of iodine in our lives because of a number of incorrect assumptions. First of all there is a big mix up between what we call organic and inorganic iodine. The fact is that inorganic iodine is the safest and most accurate iodine supplement to take. After all, iodine is a mineral! Most people who say they are allergic to iodine react to kelp, seaweed and shellfish. These are organic sources of iodine and are prone to contamination due to the microbes that are present in the ocean at the time of harvesting.

Iodine is also an essential ingredient of stomach acid. Sodium chloride (table salt) + iodine = good strong hydrochloric acid. Heartburn is due to too much stomach acid that is too weak to kill microbes, let alone help to digest and assimilate your food or absorb any calcium out of it. Antacids do not treat the underlying iodine deficiency. We need more iodine if we suffer from symptoms of poor food assimilation such as weak fingernails, brittle bones, dry skin and thinning hair.

Iodine kills microbes in the bloodstream and it is one of our primary infection fighters. Every 17 minutes our blood flows over the iodine that is stored in the thyroid gland. Iodine kills off E coli and Helicobacter pylori as well as yeast, viral or mould-based infections. Iodine is also present in the mucous linings of our nasal and respiratory passages for the same reason. Constant respiratory (colds and flu) or gut infections (vomiting, nausea or diarrhoea) show low iodine reserves in these areas. Iodine is a primary infection fighter.

How much iodine do we need to restore levels throughout the body?

The minimal iodine RDA of 200 mcg is only enough to prevent a condition as extreme as goitre. We need at least 20 – 40 times more because we no longer receive adequate amounts from salt, bread and other foods. According Dr Brownstein who is an expert on iodine, the thyroid gland needs 6 mg a day. The breasts need 5 mg for protection from breast cancer and fibrocystic breast disease. Sufficient iodine improves PMS and menstrual irregularities including heavy periods, fertility problems and reduced libido. The polycystic ovarian syndrome, sebaceous cysts and oestrogen imbalances are also indicators of iodine deficiencies.

Another 2 mg is needed in other areas such as the skin and the stomach's parietal cells where hydrochloric acid is made. For fighting infections, alkalizing or warding off cancer and correcting hormone ratios, a lot more iodine is required from time to time. To the degree that iodine is not available to undertake such critical tasks, we are more vulnerable to disease and infection.

When the iodine status is adequate the extra amounts can reach breast tissue, fat cells and striated muscle tissue. Iodine binds to fat and produces anti-proliferative lipids from fatty acids that are present in breast tissue. With the help of a healthy immune system iodine helps to destroy cancerous cells, yet leaves the normal cells intact. It also helps to alkalize the blood and eliminate microbes associated with many forms of cancer.

20% of the iodine we need is used in skin cells. A lack of iodine in the sweat glands manifests as dry skin with a decreased ability to sweat. Chlorine from bathroom water removes the iodine in sweat glands so it can no longer control odour formed by bacteria. If we inhibit perspiration the toxins that should be excreted accumulate in lymph tissue under the arms and in the breast tissue instead. They begin to swell up and harden as a result of an iodine deficiency in the sweat glands. Deodorant creams that contain iodine when applied to the armpits as well as breast tissues to help restore the pH and iodine imbalances.

You can make a simple topical iodine supplement by mixing 5 ml Lugol's iodine to 50 ml of vanishing cream or aqueous cream. This would suffice for 2 - 3 weeks. The colour may still be present but it fades after a few hours. White iodine can also be used for underarm applications because elemental iodine is more suitable for breast problems.

5ml Lugol's in vanishing cream

What is the best way to supplement with iodine? Is it safe?

Lugol's iodine was formulated over 150 years ago. It is made out of two types of iodine: 10% potassium iodide (ideal for making thyroid hormones) and 5% elemental iodine (best suited to the breast, ovary and prostate tissue) in 85% water. Iodine is needed by pregnant women; they do not have to avoid it. Do not ingest any other form of iodine tincture, especially those used in first aid kits! If you can find iodine tablets in your country with a similar formulation you can take them instead. It is best to work with your doctor who can test your iodine status and monitor the effects.

How to take your daily dose of Lugol’s iodine

The average recommended daily dose of 12.5mg of Lugol’s iodine is equal to 2 drops. This should be taken in a little water every day. This amount is recommended for most conditions based on statistics from iodine uptake studies. Excess iodine is excreted in the urine and does not have any toxic repercussions. If you don’t like the taste, add it to milk.

Higher doses of Lugol’s iodine: 6 drops in ½ glass water up to 4 times a day treats food poisoning, or other serious infections in an emergency, especially if no medical help is available. As soon as you can, it is then best to see a doctor.

You can make your own iodine enriched tablets

Dot Lugol's onto Brewer's yeast tablets

Buy some brewer’s yeast tablets. They are inexpensive and absorb a few drops of Lugol’s iodine readily. Your dose becomes a handy tablet and you can make them in bulk. Using a skewer dipped in Lugol’s iodine, dot 2 drops of brewer’s yeast onto each tablet. When dry, return them to the container. This works well and adds the much-needed selenium and some B vitamins to improve your iodine levels. My cat goes crazy for these and will not shut up until he gets one every time I take out my box of supplements. Cats are not stupid and mine certainly does not lack iodine!

Using Lugol’s iodine in the kitchen is beneficial in many ways

Add Lugol's to sprouts

 Add a few drops of Lugol's into water when you soak seeds like lentils before sprouting them. The iodine keeps the sprouts free of slime and helps extend their shelf life as well as helping you to ingest more iodine. Tip the water out into the garden. Iodine is good to use for soaking lettuce leaves, strawberries and other fresh produce. It kills off parasites, microbes and bugs.

Heavy metal protocol

Iodine also helps to remove heavy metals like lead, cadmium and mercury from the system. The effect is enhanced when a few drops of Lugol’s iodine is added to fresh green coriander leaves (cilantro) when you make a morning shot of green juice. Add apples, parsley and celery to help bind, trap and eliminate the toxic metals.

Cautions, side effects and overdose

Side effects: Are usually temporary: Iodine is mucolytic (breaks down and expels mucous} so you may experience a runny nose, increased salivation or sinus-draining headaches. Iodine is also anti-parasitic and anti-microbial in action and so signs of detoxification or “die-off” may result. If there is a long-standing iodine deficiency, one may experience hyperthyroidism for a while or have a sore throat with a slight thyroid swelling for a day or two.

Overdose: a metallic taste, mouth sores, swollen salivary glands, diarrhoea, vomiting, headache, or a rash. There may be difficulty in breathing. Goitre of a different kind: the thyroid may swell up to remove excess iodine from the blood may be the result.

Fatal iodine dose: 2 – 3 g. Give the patient lots of milk to treat accidental ingestion of any type of iodine. Call a doctor or the poison unit at the nearest hospital.

Other sources of iodine


Seaweed is organic iodine

 Seaweed or seafood, especially shellfish are organic forms of iodine. When eaten every day they can give as much iodine as you need and any excess will be excreted. Most people who say they are allergic to iodine react badly to organic forms of iodine. Lugol's iodine seldom if ever causes allergic reactions even in people who do not tolerate seaweed and shellfish.

Caution: If you know you are allergic to iodine, do not take it. Some people test for sensitivity by painting Lugol’s iodine under the foot with an ear bud. If you have an iodine allergy, the skin will react by itching or forming blisters within an hour. Autoimmune conditions should be monitored by your doctor when you take iodine supplementation.

What are iodine antagonists?

Our increased exposure to fluoride, chlorine and bromine (added to bread and other grains as a pesticide) competes for cell receptors needed for adequate iodine uptake. Iodine is constantly being stripped out of the body when we drink and even bath or swim in chlorinated water or use oral hygiene products containing fluoride. Analgesics and anti-inflammatory drugs also interact with iodine.

Some vegetables are goitrogenic

Eating frequent and large helpings of raw cabbage, broccoli, cassava, kale, peanuts, uncooked and whole soya bean foods, turnips and seeds of mustard and rape (canola oil?) will also rob you of iodine. This helps to explain why foods can cause weight gain regardless of being raw, fat-free and very low in calories. They inhibit iodine and serve to jam up thyroid  activity and hence slow down the metabolism.

Substances that improve iodine metabolism

  • Selenium and Cloeus forskolii: for the conversion of T4 (like Eltroxin) to T3 (tri-iodothyronine).
  • L-tyrosine is essential for adrenal, thyroid and pituitary output. It is found in most meats and wheat.(Wheat is only well tolerated by blood type A and AB secretors. If you are a wheat intolerant vegetarian, take an amino acid supplement or 500 mg of l-tyrosine every day.
  • Tin: take trace minerals or use Himalayan salt to balance the tin : iodine ratio relating to thyroid and adrenal functions.
  • Vitamin A helps the thyroid to absorb iodine.
  • Calcium and Magnesium: Calcium is needed to activate TSH which binds to receptors and with magnesium, helps to induce the conversion of ATP to cyclic AMP to boost fat burning and metabolism.
  • Other key nutrients are: potassium, zinc, manganese, iron, cobalt, nickel, bismuth, lithium, most of the B-vitamins and especially vitamin B6. In many cases the adrenals are also affected by these micronutrients.


If you need to check up on just how well you are ingesting and responding to iodine consider the advice and treatments for which Dr David Brownstein has become so well-known.

Dr Jonathan V. Wright is another very pro-active iodine researcher who recommends not only daily supplementation with iodine but also specific treatment for acute or chronic conditions. 

This 5 minute movie will show how Jonathan Wright treats fibrocystic breast disease with iodine. Iodine deficiencies need to be treated for what they are. Otherwise the symptoms are misleading and you may panic and think you have some fatal disease.

Jonathan Wright iodine for Fibrocystic Breast Disease



Apr 18, 2014 1:48pm
I could not thank you enough for this article. It made me begin an extensive reasearch on the subject. I feel in my heart that I might need it, too (a lot of symptoms) but I will not take it unless my test results will show a lack of it. Also I need to find the answer to weather I can take iodine while breastfeeding...
Apr 24, 2014 2:22am
If you are not sure by now, then be like the Japanese and eat seaweed instead! Their daily intake of iodine is about 12mg from things like kelp and bladderwrack.
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