Iodine For Thyroid Treatment – Myth Busted?

Straight out of the gate, let me say that iodine is essential for your thyroid
to function properly.  In fact, many of us (if not most of us) are deficient in
iodine and should consider an iodine supplement for thyroid treatment.  I’ll
get into that in a minute.

The need for iodine is not what I’m challenging in this article.  I’m also not
challenging the use of iodine specifically as a thyroid treatment.  I’m
challenging a popular test used to determine if you are iodine deficient.

The Iodine Test
A popular test for iodine sufficiency involves painting some iodine on your
abdomen and then observing how long it takes for the orange/yellow stain
to disappear.  The theory is that if it disappears quickly, you are iodine
deficient.  If it remains for 24 hours, you are iodine sufficient.

I’ve read about this test many times over the years and I’ve done the test
about a half-dozen times over the past couple of years.  The test always
shows that I’m iodine deficient as the stain disappears in just a few hours.  

I’ve never been surprised at the outcome because I know that I’m
borderline hypo-thyroid.  In other words, when my doctor has tested my
thyroid function in the past, I’m consistently at the low end of the normal

However, I’m naturally suspicious until I see proof.  I wanted proof that
this test was really giving me the true status of my iodine levels.  I guess I
should have been born in Missouri – the “Show Me” state.

Show Me The Proof
I know that having sufficient iodine is important to my health so I decided
to do an experiment to see if the “paint your belly with iodine” test was

I have some 130 mg potassium iodide tablets and I used them to saturate
my thyroid with iodine.  I took one tablet daily for two weeks to makeup
any iodine deficiency that I might have.  After 2 weeks, I felt certain that
my thyroid was saturated with iodine.

I then performed the “paint your belly” test 2 days in a row while still taking
the 130 mg tablets.  What happened?  The stain disappeared in just a few
hours.  Myth Busted!

That pretty much proved to me that the “paint your belly” test was an
urban legend and was not an accurate indicator of anyone’s iodine status
or the need for thyroid treatment with iodine.

More Research Needed
The results of my not-so-scientific experiment made me even more curious
so I did a lot more iodine treatment research.

I found that idea of iodine being toxic at moderate to high levels is likely
not true.  The idea that iodine can be toxic came from an experiment on
rabbits and guinea pigs performed in the 1940’s.  

The results were mistakenly applied to humans who metabolize iodine
differently.  More modern research shows that our kidneys efficiently
remove any excess iodine in our bodies in just a few hours with zero
toxicity from iodine treatment.  Also, our grandparents took large doses of
iodine as medication for multiple illnesses and they suffered no ill-effects.

I also learned that in the past few decades, the amount of iodine in our diet
had been drastically reduced.  Iodine has been added to salt for a long time
to insure that the population received enough to prevent goiters.  
However, since low sodium diets are being recommended by doctors to
reduce heart disease, many people have reduced their salt intake.  The
results are that many of us do not get enough iodine.

Also, there is a lot of competition for access to our thyroid glands.  
Chlorine in our tap water, fluoride in our toothpaste, plus the bromide in
commercially baked breads all compete with iodine in the thyroid.  If we are
getting a lot of chlorine, fluoride, and bromide, we are probably not
efficiently absorbing the iodine that we receive.

My conclusion is that I need to be receiving supplemental iodine in my diet.  
I can’t make any recommendations for you since the official party line is
that excess iodine is toxic.  So, do a little reading and decide for yourself
what is best for you.

The Last Thing I Learned
The one last thing that I learned in my research is that an iodine deficiency
can take a couple of months to correct.  Therefore, even thought I believe
that the “paint your belly” iodine test is not valid, I’m going to reserve my
final judgment for a while.

For now, I think it’s an urban myth.  But, after I continue taking regular
iodine supplements for several months, I’ll repeat the test and report my

Stop by every once in a while and see how my little experiment turns out.  
Or, if you like, just subscribe to my RSS feed and receive an update
whenever I post something new.

Best wishes for living life without an orange belly and keeping enough
iodine in your thyroid - Cheers!

PS – Iodine does a lot more for your body than just make your thyroid
work right.  Every cell in your body has iodine receptors.  God did not put
them there just for fun.  But, that’s a topic for another time.

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