How to Use Lugol’s Iodine to Cure Autoimmune Disease At Home
DISCLAIMER: CONSULT WITH A DOCTOR BEFORE DECIDING ON A TREATMENT PLAN FOR ANY DISEASE OR INJURY.
Lugol’s iodine is made up of molecular iodine and potassium iodide, two forms of iodine that make up an essential nutrient combination that can either be taken internally or applied to the skin (where it is then absorbed into the bloodstream) to correct iodine deficiency. Thus, Lugol’s iodine is a nutritional supplement. The more familiar Povidone iodine, which is what’s available at the pharmacy and at grocery stores, and what’s used in doctor’s offices to disinfect skin and surfaces. Though Povidone iodine has some similar properties to Lugol’s iodine and though it does have some medicinal uses, it cannot be used as a supplement in the same way as Lugol’s iodine. Povidone iodine is not well absorbed through the skin, for example, and it is poisonous if taken internally. In contrast, Lugol’s iodine is easily absorbed through the skin and it can safely be added to drinking water.
There are a few other kinds of supplemental iodine, but due to the special chemical makeup of Lugol’s iodine, this is the only kind of iodine supplement that can actually be used to correct an iodine deficiency and/or to treat bromine toxicity (which we’ll talk about later).
So then, that being said, why is iodine so important for autoimmune disease patients?
To start with, iodine deficiency negatively and directly affects the immune and endocrine systems. Iodine deficiency is a problem of epidemic proportions throughout the US and other developed countries. Nearly everyone in the developed world is clinically deficient in iodine. And to worsen the iodine deficiency issue, in countries like the U.S. in particular, toxic halogen elements like bromine and fluorine are ubiquitous (they’re present in everything from the fabric in pajamas to the water you bathe in and even the air you breathe). As halogen elements, bromine and fluorine closely resemble iodine, but they’re actually endocrine disruptors and major contributors to the development of autoimmune disease. Once a person becomes deficient in iodine, the body begins absorbing fluoride and bromide to try to substitute them for iodine in the body. The fluoride and bromide then build up in the body to toxic levels that lead to different manifestations of disease.
Fluoride and bromide take iodine’s rightful place in the body, not only causing symptoms of bromine/fluorine toxicity, but also aggravating the signs of iodine deficiency, since iodine has to “fight” these other elements for its rightful place in the body’s iodine receptors. Exposure to bromine and fluorine, especially in combination with iodine deficiency, has led to a quantifiable increase in obesity and disease throughout the world. As a poignant example of this, the US is one of the only countries in the world that still permits the use of bromide in insecticides and other agricultural chemicals, and that the US population is also widely regarded as being one of the most obese countries in the world. This isn’t a coincidence, but rather evidence of the fact that bromide and fluoride are able to insert themselves into iodine receptors in the thyroid gland that then disrupt normal human metabolism.
The thyroid gland and the reproductive organs both need iodine in order to function properly, and the combination of potassium iodide and molecular iodine found in Lugol’s iodine solution each feed these organs directly. Iodine receptors are also present in other areas of the body, such as in the gallbladder, thymus, spleen, pancreas, and others. Thus, literally the entire body needs iodine, and in this way, iodine deficiency negatively affects nearly every organ system in the body. And, as an essential nutrient for immune function, iodine deficiency has been known to cause the symptoms of autoimmune disease when left untreated.
The prevalence of hypothyroidism is about 8.3% in the general population, but this number is actually much higher if we also count subclinical hypothyroidism in this number. The prevalence of hyperthyroidism is about 1%, but again, this number is likely much higher if we count subclinical hyperthyroidism. So about 10% of the U.S. population is clinically hyperthyroid or hypothyroid, which tells us that thyroid issues are extremely common.
The thyroid gland is connected through a common origin with melanin-producing cells known as melanocytes which, in turn, directly connect the function of this gland and the problem of iodine deficiency with the autonomic nervous system. Autonomic nervous system dysfunction imbalance and dysfunction causes many of the symptoms of autoimmune disease including skin pigmentation changes that are nearly ubiquitous among the various diagnoses that involve autoimmunity. Iodine supplementation helps to regulate autonomic nervous system function through its effects on melanocytes located in the thyroid gland.
Iodine Deficiency Symptoms
Iodine deficiency causes the following effects on the body:
- A deficiency in iodine may cause hypothyroidism (an underactive thyroid). This is because iodine deficiency can also lead to a deficiency in thyroid hormone production.
- Iodine deficiency / bromine/fluorine toxicity may cause cystitis or recurrent UTIs
- Low adrenal function
- Thyroid cancer
- Iodine deficiency can cause men’s health issues:
- Prostate cancer
- Prostate swelling
- Low libido
- Erectile dysfunction
- Frequent respiratory infections and respiratory problems:
- Asthma (we talk about iodine as an asthma cure in this article)
- Sinus infection
- Chronic post-nasal drip
- Iodine deficiency can cause a variety of women’s health issues including:
- Benign and malignant tumors in the reproductive organs:
- cervix, etc.
- Menstrual problems
- Menstrual irregularities
- Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS)
- Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS)
- Uterine fibroids
- Heavy menstruation
- Low libido
- Fibrocystic breast disease
- Fibrocystic ovaries
- Difficulty swallowing
- Throat swelling
- Throat tenderness
- Skin problems:
- Dry, coarse skin with a yellowish tinge
- Darkening of the eyelids
- Brittle fingernails
- Brittle hair
- Hair loss
- Mental Health Issues:
- Mental fatigue
- Foggy Thinking
- Mood swings
- Memory loss (Alzheimer’s, Lewy Body Dementia, Parkinson’s Disease, etc.)
- Visual disturbances
- Eye protrusion
- Cardiovascular effects:
- Intolerance to heat and cold (cold hands and feet)
- Poor circulation (which can lead to health problems such as Erectile Dysfunction or low libido, noted above)
- Raynaud’s Syndrome
- Heart Disease
- Digestive problems
- Gas / flatulence
- Constipation and irregular bowel movements
- Obesity and difficulty losing weight
- Swelling of the face (Myxoedema)
- Fluid retention
- High LDL cholesterol
- Increased triglyceride levels
- Shortness of breath on exertion and poor exercise tolerance which includes:
- Fast pulse
- Heart palpitations
- Chest pain
- Stiff joints
- Muscle cramps
- Excessive perspiration regardless of heat or exertion
- Fatigue, low energy, exhaustion, especially in the morning.
- Low blood pressure
- Sleep problems including the need for 12 or more hours of sleep
- Iodine deficiency can cause hyperthyroidism (over active thyroid). Many of these hyperthyroid conditions respond well to iodine supplementation without surgery or the use of radioactive iodine. These diseases include:
- Hashimoto’s Disease
- Grave’s Disease
- Toxic Thyroid
- Iodine deficiency affects motor skills in a negative way
- Iodine deficiency causes reaction time to get longer.
- Iodine deficiency reduces manual dexterity, muscle strength, and overall coordination.
- Iodine deficiency leads to lower IQ scores.
- Iodine deficiency during pregnancy can cause ADD, ADHD, or developmental delays known as cretinism.
Bromine and Fluorine: The Basics
Any discussion about iodine requires a discussion of bromine and fluorine. These three elements are all halogen elements, meaning that they all live in the same column in the periodic table of the elements. Because of this, bromine and fluorine have some similarities with iodine, and can mimic iodine in the body’s iodine receptors. But… they aren’t iodine. So, in effect, bromine and fluorine end up blocking the iodine receptors (and causing negative effects as a consequence). When the body is finally exposed to iodine in food, water, or in supplement form, bromine / bromide and fluorine / fluoride are removed from the body. The body recognizes iodine as The Real Thing! But the body must still get rid of bromide and fluoride which means the detoxification symptoms can develop. In the initial stages of iodine supplementation, people often experience negative health effects as the body works to remove toxic fluoride and bromide from the body.
Fluoride and bromide are both present in a long list of pharmaceutical medications, many of which are common household drugs, like dextromethorphan, for example. Additionally, fluoride is added to the water supply in many places, due to the false assumption that fluoride benefits our teeth (it doesn’t; in fact, it causes more problems than it resolves for dental health). Bromide is present in our environment as well, and can be found in:
- Swimming pools (bromine is used as a toxic alternative to chlorine)
- Certain water supplies
- Insecticides (in the US, India, and some other countries, bromine is sprayed on fields as methyl-bromide)
- Children’s pajamas (bromine in this context is a fire deterrent)
- Bread products (as brominated vegetable oils / BVOs)
- Soda and bottled drinks (again, also as brominated vegetable oils / BVOs)
Bromine Toxicity Symptoms
After a person is exposed to bromide from any source, the body requires at least 9-12 days to get rid of it. Long term exposure, even at low doses of only 0.5mg/day, can lead to bromine accumulation and bromine toxicity (otherwise known as bromism). Below is a list of the symptoms of bromide toxicity (note that many of these closely resemble a variety of different serious health conditions, including autoimmune diseases):
- Neurologic Symptoms / Psychiatric Symptoms
- Psychosis (mimicking schizophrenia or dementia)
- Lack of muscle coordination (mimicking Parkinson’s Disease)
- Dermatological Symptoms
- Cherry angiomas
- Severe acne
- Pustular or erythematous rashes
- Gastrointestinal Symptoms
- Lack of appetite / anorexia
Bromine Detoxification Symptoms:
When you begin taking Lugol’s iodine, your body will have to get rid of the bromide that’s likely taken up residence in the iodine receptors throughout your tissues and organs. During this process, you may experience any one of these bromide detoxification symptoms:
- Neurological impairment
- Auditory hallucinations
- Visual hallucinations
- Loss of control of body movements
- Short-term memory loss
- Brain Fog
- Gastrointestinal impairment
- Drooping eyelids (ptosis)
- Eyelid twitching
- Disturbance of color perception
- Foot twitching
- Dark thoughts (e.g. “there is no reason to live”)
- Depression (e.g. “there is no reason to get out of bed”)
- Tingling in the extremities
- Mood issues such as anxiety or mood swings
- Dry mouth
- Metallic taste in the mouth
- Mouth and tongue sores and cuts, a sore mouth
- Odd swallowing sensation (also known as “swollen glottis” in the old medical literature)
- Body odor
- Bromide acne which is coniform (the use of zinc can help counteract bromide acne)
- Hair loss
- Brain fog
- Leg and hip ache that resembles arthritis
- Skin “cuts”
- Rash (bromoderma)
- Sinus pain
- Runny nose
- Cherry angiomas
- Unusual urine odor or color
- Urethral spasm and frequent urination (may be mistaken for a urinary tract infection)
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Vision changes
- Increased salivation
- Dream changes
- Impaired memory/concentration
- Hormone changes
- Kidney pain
- Breast tenderness (this transient symptom typically resolves quickly)
How Iodine Supports the Immune System
People with iodine deficiency nearly always struggle with immune system problems in some way or another. For example, getting frequent infections of any kind, or regularly having difficulties recovering from said infections, is a common sign of iodine deficiency. Indeed, iodine does actually play a crucial role in immunity in a few different ways. As mentioned above, some iodine receptors are present in the spleen and thymus, both organs involved intimately in the immune system. Additionally, iodine is secreted through our mucus, sweat glands, and the oil glands of our skin, effectively creating a kind of protective, anti-pathogen barrier throughout all of the areas of the body that are most likely to be exposed to pathogens (since mucus membranes exist in various areas of the body, including in the stomach, vagina, nose, lungs, and beyond).
Povidone iodine offers an excellent and familiar example of iodine’s anti-germ abilities. While you can’t take povidone iodine as a supplement because it’s not safe to consume and you can’t absorb it through the skin (also, it doesn’t provide the specific forms of iodine that the body needs), it still has powerful antimicrobial properties. For example, in hospital settings, doctors use povidone iodine to wash their hands before performing surgery, and they apply it to patients’ skin before beginning a surgery to kill any and all pathogens that may be present around or near to the incision area. Povidone iodine can also disinfect existing skin wounds.
Indeed, Lugol’s iodine shares these same antimicrobial powers, and can be used in a similar way externally as Povidone iodine. But, since Lugol’s can also be taken internally, it can also help kill and fight off pathogens from the inside out.
Lugol’s iodine can safely be taken internally in drinking water, and it can be absorbed through the skin directly into the bloodstream. People who are iodine deficient who take Lugol’s, may have previously struggled with regular infections or autoimmune disease, but Lugol’s provides a natural form of defense against pathogens. And, in addition, any pathogens already present in their bodies can be targeted by the immune system, which is also supported by Lugol’s iodine supplementation. As an essential nutrient, Lugol’s iodine forms part of a set of vitamins and minerals that all work together to maintain effective immune function.
Although modern conventional medicine doesn’t acknowledge the value of supplemental iodine anymore, this wasn’t always the case. In the early 1900s, iodine was one of the most commonly prescribed medicines by conventional medicine doctors, since even then, before Big Food and Big Pharma, iodine deficiency was relatively common. Even still, iodine has a broad spectrum of medicinal action in the body, acting as a veritable cure for all kinds of cancer (though especially for breast cancer, reproductive organ cancers, thyroid cancer, and metastatic cancers), as well as for all kinds of pathogenic infections. As a mucus-thinning medicine, iodine can help prevent pathogens from getting “stuck” in sticky mucus and setting up residence in different areas of the body, and it can also help flush out any pathogens that are already there. Conditions like the common cold, influenza, constipation, and food poisoning all can ultimately be the result of nothing more than sticky mucus. Doctors from over 100 years ago knew this, and started by prescribing iodine as a front-line treatment. And yes, then as well as today, iodine supplementation can often get rid of these problems.
Iodine’s role in thyroid and reproductive health shouldn’t be underestimated either. The hormones produced by the thyroid gland and reproductive organs have a surprisingly broad physiological action in the body, many of which extend beyond what most people are aware of. In fact, in many ways, the broadness of action of reproductive hormones is so broad that the term “reproductive” hormones is somewhat misleading, since these hormones do so much more than just managing reproductive health (this topic alone deserves its own book).
Thyroid dysfunction is a part of the symptom picture for a large number of autoimmune diseases and many people who are diagnosed with either hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism are also diagnosed with the following diseases:
- Other bullous diseases
- Systemic Lupus Erythematosus
- Kaposi’s Sarcoma
- Erythema Centrifugum
- Generalized Granuloma Annulare
- Elastic Pseudoxanthoma
- Multicentric Reticulohistiocytosis
- Herpes Gestationis
- Cownden Syndrome
- ANOTHER Syndrome
- Sjogren’s Syndrome
- Endocrine Disease
- Sweet’s Syndrome
- McCune-Albright Syndrome
- Multiple Endocrine Neoplasia
- Acanthosis Nigricans
- CREST Syndrome
- Red Blood Cell Aplasia
- Pernicious Anemia
Unfortunately, the already-common problem of iodine deficiency was made worse in the 1970s when bread producers in the U.S. (and other countries) started adding bromine to their bread products instead of iodine (previously, breads had been fortified with iodine to prevent iodine deficiency). Then, Big Food added iodine to salt instead. However, because of the chemical nature of salt, salt is a terrible carrier for iodine. Nearly all of the iodine in salt evaporates within a short period of time after opening the salt box. In contrast, bread was an excellent carrier for iodine. This effectively meant that the general population, overnight, was consuming significantly less iodine, and significantly more bromine. When this switchover happened, the obesity epidemic officially began in the U.S. And, other major health problems, including autoimmune disease diagnoses, also started to increase around this time.
Iodine as a Natural Treatment for Autoimmune Disease
Iodine is one of the main treatments for autoimmune disease because of its ability to boost liver/gallbladder health, thyroid health, and reproductive system health. In fact, iodine plays an intimate role in gallbladder health, which we discuss in more detail here. Since most autoimmune disease originates in either the liver or gallbladder, either as a pathogenic infection or due to toxic overload, or both, this means that iodine can help repair some of the root causes of autoimmune disease, right at the source.
These autoimmunity-causing infections “hide out” in the liver or gallbladder, which can easily host bacteria, viruses, parasites, fungi, or other types of pathogens, since these two organs are difficult for antibiotics or other medicines to reach (with the exception of those such as oxidant medicines like MMS/CDS). While different pathogens have been linked to different autoimmune diseases, streptococcal bacteria, Epstein-Barr virus, Helicobacter pylori, and different hepatitis virus strains are common pathogens that are linked to autoimmunity.
Though all patients with autoimmune disease should take iodine supplements, some of the autoimmune diseases with clear and/or documented links to iodine deficiency or bromine toxicity include:
- Myasthenia gravis
- Sjörgen’s syndrome
- Hashimoto’s thyroiditis
- Grave’s disease
- Autoimmune oophoritis
- Testicular autoimmunity
- Paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration (PCD)
- Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS)
- Multiple sclerosis
- POEMS syndrome
- And more…
Autoimmune disease patients who are iodine deficient will not be able to successfully heal from their autoimmune disease. After all, not only is iodine a crucial part of immune system function, but it also has some key connections with other essential nutrients related to autoimmune disease. Patients with autoimmune disease will need to start slowly when they begin taking iodine to avoid a major detox reaction. Follow the instructions below to understand how to correctly take Lugol’s iodine, especially during the beginning stages of supplementation.
How to Take Lugol’s Iodine to Treat Autoimmune Disease
Lugol’s iodine is an essential supplement for autoimmune disease patients not only because most autoimmune patients are deficient in this vital mineral, but also because iodine supplementation has the unique ability to protect the body from heavy metals, pathogens, and environmental toxins. So, this one nutritional supplement not only gets rid of a serious deficiency, it also helps protect autoimmune patients from some of the primary causes of autoimmune disease. Autoimmune disease patients may also be interested to know that Lugol’s iodine will help to generally improve immune system function, as well as to fortify tissues throughout the body and to relieve brain fog and mood issues.
Autoimmune disease patients should start with a low dose of Lugol’s iodine 2%. Past (or current) exposure to bromine or fluorine can cause a person to go through a detoxification period, so be prepared to break out in a rash as your body takes in the iodine and gets rid of the bromine. This specific kind of rash is known as bromoderma, and is a normal response for people who are bromine toxic/iodine deficient, but doctors do not recognize this rash as being what it is (a bromine detox reaction). Be aware that if you go to the doctor for this rash, they will tell you that you’re allergic to iodine. But, you’re not. In fact, no one is allergic to iodine; we literally all need this mineral in order to survive.
Follow the instructions below to start taking Lugol’s iodine for autoimmune disease:
- For 2 weeks before taking the iodine, take the supportive nutrients below (you will continue taking these indefinitely with the iodine supplements as well). These nutrients will help your body more effectively absorb and utilize the iodine:
- Vitamin B2 (Riboflavin) – 400mg/day
- Vitamin B3 (Niacin) – 500mg/day
- Selenium – 200mcg/day (selenium works together with iodine, but also helps to suppress viral replication in cells and to deactivate “bioavailable” mercury and other heavy metals)
- Magnesium – 300-1200mg/day
- Zinc + Copper – 15mg+2mg/day (zinc and copper should always be taken together when zinc will be taken over the long term; this is because long-term zinc supplementation can lead to copper depletion, unless a person takes copper with the zinc)
- Vitamin C – 3000-6000mg/day (take this in divided doses according to your preference)
- Vitamin K2 – 180 mcg per day
- Sea Water Supplement – Add 1 teaspoon to every 8 ounces of water that you drink during the day.
- To start, apply 1 drop of Lugol’s iodine 2% directly to your skin, or add it to a glass of drinking water. Take this in the morning upon waking (some people find that iodine taken after 2pm can cause problems sleeping).
- Increase your dose of Lugol’s iodine 2% by 1 drop every 3 days. If you start to experience detox symptoms, stop at whatever dose you’re at until they pass. Then you can continue increasing your dose again. Keep increasing your dosage accordingly until you reach 20 drops per day of Lugol’s 2% (this dose is equivalent to 50mg per day).
- If you experience a detoxification reaction, add 1 teaspoon of Himalayan sea salt to an 8 ounce glass of water and “chug” the glass of water. Wait for 30-45 minutes. If the symptoms haven’t passed, drink another dose of salt water. Continue this until you urinate, at which point the symptoms are likely to ease up (at this point, stop taking the salt water).
Enemas can also be used to ease the symptoms of detoxification. Read more about different types of enemas here.
What to Expect When You Begin Supplementing with Iodine
When you first begin using Lugol’s iodine, there are a few helpful points to be aware of so that you can use the medicine confidently and correctly:
- Iodine breaks down mucus in a similar way that N-acetylcysteine (NAC) breaks down mucus. This action can aid detoxification and also help purge pathogens from the body.
- Lugol’s iodine acts as an antioxidant when administered at a dose higher than 3mg daily.
- When given at a dose of 3mg or more per day, Lugol’s iodine encourages the death of sick human cells. So, when a person takes iodine, cancerous cells, cells that have been taken over by a virus, parasite, or another pathogen, or other unhealthy cells will die instead of reproducing. This cell death can sometimes cause a detoxification reaction.
- When the body is given enough iodine (in doses of 3mg+ per day), iodine will be appropriately distributed to different tissues in the body, and will also be found in the body’s fluids, such as sweat or mucus.
- In the mucus, iodine has disinfectant properties and can prevent pathogenic infection from occurring (NOTE: mucus is found not only in the nose, but also in the vagina, the digestive tract, the lungs, and the urinary tract).
- In the sweat, iodine is also a disinfectant, and helps defend the body from infection with pathogens that may infect us through skin contact.
- Lugol’s iodine supplementation may initially cause or aggravate hyperthyroidism. This is especially true if the person has been deficient in iodine for a prolonged period of time. In order to prevent this from happening (or minimize these initial supplementation symptoms), make sure to take the appropriate supportive nutrients at least 2 weeks before starting iodine supplementation, and also concurrently with iodine supplementation.
- A sore throat or swelling of the thyroid gland is also common in patients who have just started taking iodine. An iodine-deficient thyroid gland may initially swell in an attempt to absorb more iodine from the bloodstream. After the deficiency is corrected though, and the thyroid knows that it will have regular, reliable access to iodine, these symptoms will go away.
- Lugol’s iodine has potent activity against pathogens, including as a:
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