The “Spot of Gold” or Robbs test that we do on most of our patients gives an indication of Iodine Insufficiency. In the last 20 years, I have never found an individual who was sufficient – the spot lasting 24 hours. Dr. Guy Abraham arrived at his conclusion that we need 12.5 milligrams of iodine a day based not only on his own experience and observation but also with the help of an extensive research review. One study he points out was co-authored in 1954 by Roslyn Yalow (later a Nobel Prize winner). She and her co-worker found that the total amount of iodine in the adult human body ranges from 7 to 13 milligrams. The iodine “pool” is divided into two major compartments, the thyroid gland and the rest of the body.
Other researchers determined that the amount retained by the thyroid gland is 6-7 milligrams, which, according to Dr. Abraham, is the optimal amount to keep the thyroid gland itself operating at peak performance. Keep in mind, though, that’s just for thyroid health.
Another prominent iodine researcher, Dr. Benjamin Eskin, determined that female breasts need about 5 milligrams of iodine per day. Add that to the amount your thyroid gland needs, and you come up with the 12.5 milligrams Dr. Abraham recommends.
Dr. Eskin also established that our thyroids “prefer” to concentrate the iodide form of iodine, while breasts concentrate iodine. Iodine and iodide are not always interchangeable: “Iodine” is the basic element, consisting of two “I” molecules bonded to each other (I-I); an excellent analogy is chlorine, which is two “Cl” molecules bonded to each other (Cl-Cl), while “chloride” is just one Cl molecule. “Iodide” is one of those two iodine molecules, and is almost always found with another molecule, such as potassium (potassium iodide, or K-I). In experimental animals, the thyroid glands and the skin concentrated more iodide than iodine, while the stomach concentrated more iodine. Based on these and other findings, Dr. Abraham recommends that iodine supplementation should include both forms: iodine and iodide.
Also Iodine can flush potentially dangerous elements from your system. Iodine, chlorine, bromine, and fluorine are in the same “family” of elements. Although very tiny quantities of fluoride are likely useful for human health, the amounts poured into most American public water supplies are much too high and have been correlated with higher risk of a rare bone cancer as well as bone fracture in older women. Bromide also carries some risks at high quantities, including impaired thinking and memory, drowsiness, dizziness, and irritability.
But iodine can actually help your body get rid of these potentially harmful elements, as well as others like lead, cadmium, arsenic, aluminum, and mercury.
Following observations by Dr. Abraham, Brownstein conducted a study to test iodine’s ability to help rid our bodies of fluoride and bromide. Eight individuals had “baseline” measurements taken of their urinary output of fluoride and bromide. Each research volunteer took one 50-milligram “loading dose” of iodine and then proceeded to take the 12.5 milligram optimal daily dose from that point on. Only one day after starting iodine, their urinary output of bromide and fluoride increased significantly and continued at this higher rate for all 30 days of the study. Our Dr Robert Doenges, who holds the only patent on a salivary and urinary iodine analyzer, has never seen anyone who was Iodine sufficient.
Working with 10 female volunteers, Dr. Abraham conducted safety studies of the optimal 12.5 milligram iodine/iodide dose. He checked each woman’s blood pressure, weight, muscle mass, and body fat prior to starting iodine treatment, then again three months later. There were no statistically significant changes, although the body fat percentages did go down.
Dr. Abraham also took before-and-after measurements of several different markers of thyroid function, which included thyroid gland volume, TSH, total T4, free T4 (the active form of the thyroid hormone T4), and free T3. Although total T4 for the group declined significantly, both the “before” and “after” values were well within normal ranges, and there were no significant changes in free T4.
The next part of Dr. Abraham’s safety study involved taking glucose, BUN, creatinine, sodium, potassium, chloride, calcium, total protein, albumin, globulin, bilirubin, alkaline phospatase, and ALT and AST (liver-function measurements) before and after three months. Although all values were within normal ranges before and after, there were statistically significant improvements in creatinine, alkaline phosphatase, and AST.
Lastly, Dr. Abraham measured hemoglobin, hematocrit, and red and white blood cells before and after three months. None of them changed significantly.
Despite this apparent safety record, if you decide to adopt “optimal-dose” iodine/iodide supplementation, it’s best to work closely and carefully with a knowledgeable physician to monitor thyroid function and general iodine safety. Dr. Abraham estimates that 14-15 milligrams of iodine/iodide daily is the upper limit for safe intake; that’s not much more than the optimal dose. Japanese researchers have found cases of hypothyroidism caused by excess iodine (20 milligrams daily).
It’s possible to be allergic to iodine, although it’s considerably less common than people usually think. It is the organified Iodine such as is used in radio-contrast that can cause problems. (For more details about iodine safety, see the October 2002 issue of Nutrition & Healing.) I have seen Iodine burns on the skin, but never allergy to inorganic Iodine.
In the 1820s, the French physician Jean Lugol combined iodine (5 percent) and potassium iodide (10 percent) along with 85 percent water. Since iodine kills germs, he used it for nearly any infectious disease, as well as many other problems, frequently with success. The combination quickly became known as “Lugol’s solution” and was adopted by practicing physicians throughout Europe and the Americas. Lugol’s solution was widely used until the 1920s. In fact it was the most commonly prescribed medicine for many hard to categorize and treat diseases in 1930-33. Then research began in earnest and many new drugs were marketed. Many physicians recommended two drops daily for good health and more on occasion to help kill germs. After doing the spot test, I tell folks to take between 2 and 10 drops depending on how fast the spot disappears. Lugols Solution is relatively inexpensive but does take a prescription and is available in some regular pharmacies and in all of the compounding ones.