Iodine: How much should I take?
This post is a summary to introduce you to the key concepts about supplementing with Lugol’s. Before supplementing you must read ‘Iodine Why You Need It’ by Dr David Brownstein to get a full picture of the protocol. You must start the supporting nutrients before embarking upon taking Lugol’s.
Drs Abraham, Fletchas, and Brownstein who worked on the Iodine Project recommend the use of Lugol’s, which has a long history of use, and is available in liquid or tablet form. The solution was invented in 1829 by the French doctor Jean Lugol who discovered that bonding Iodine to potassium made it water soluble. The solution contains Iodine (I), potassium iodide (KI), and distilled water (H2O). Being water soluble makes it much safer than previous recipes because the kidneys can easily process it and excrete the excess through the urine.
Buying Lugol’s in England
- Lugol’s solution is available on eBay in liquid form at different strengths.
- J Crow is the recommended brand of Lugol’s liquid which is available in the UK on Amazon and eBay.
- The Heath Leads brand is NOT recommended.
- Use this tool to calculate how much is in each drop at each strength: dose in a drop calculator by Micah Coffey http://dropulator.com
- You can buy it in tablet form called Iodoral or LugoTabs from Hakala in the USA.
- Hakala LugoTabs are available in 3mg, 6mg, 12.5mg, 25mg, and 50mg. Formulated by J. Charles Hakala – a member of the original “Iodine Project” team.
- After six months at 50mg take a 24 Hour Iodine Loading Test to check your levels of Iodine, Bromine, Chlorine, and Fluoride: https://www.hakalalabs.com/24-Hour-Urine-Iodine-Loading-Test-Kit_p_45.html
How to Take Lugol’s
- Put your Lugol’s drops in a glass of water and drink it – don’t take it neat as it is caustic.
- Swallow tablets with water.
- Take it in the morning as it can be stimulating so avoid it at night.
- Best taken away from Vitamin C as it can block it – ie not at the same time.
The 2007 Iodine Conference established that for men and non-pregnant, non-breastfeeding women a minimum of 50 mg Lugol’s iodine is required for a minimum of six months in order to fully detox halides and replenish iodine levels in the thyroid.
‘Inorganic non-radioactive iodine/iodide is an essential nutrient, not a drug. Therefore, the body has the metabolic mechanism for using inorganic iodine beneficially, effectively and safely. Iodine is as safe as magnesium chloride with a track record of 180 years of use in medicine. Published data confirms its safety even when used in pulmonary patients in amounts four orders of magnitude greater than the US RDA. When patients take between 12.5 to 50 mg of iodine per day, it seems that the body becomes increasingly more responsive to thyroid hormones. Optimal intake of iodine in amounts two orders of magnitude greater than iodine levels needed for goiter control may be required for iodization of hormone receptors.’ Mark Sircus OMD
It is only by taking 50mg plus of iodine for at least six months that one is able to push the halides off the iodine receptors to achieve saturation. Guy Abraham MD, FACN comments that ‘…bromide interferes with cellular uptake of iodide. Iodine intake in daily amounts from 50 to 75mg iodine in the form of Lugols’ tablet (Iodoral) had a positive effect on the saliva/serum iodide ratio and decreased serum bromide.’ [Iodine: Why You Need It, 5th Edition, David Brownstein MD, P11]
Commenting on the research of Dr Abraham, Dr Brownstein, and Dr Jorge D Flechas in the Iodine project Dr Donald Miller says: ‘More than 4,000 patients in this project take iodine in daily doses ranging from 12.5 to 50 mg, and in those with diabetes, up to 100 mg a day. These investigators have found that iodine does indeed reverse fibrocystic disease; their diabetic patients require less insulin; hypothyroid patients less thyroid medication; symptoms of fibromyalgia resolve, and patients with migraine headaches stop having them. To paraphrase Dr. Szent-Györgi, these investigators aren’t sure how iodine does it, but it does something good.’ http://www.doctorsaredangerous.com/articles/iodineforhealth.htm
Dr. David Brownstein said, “After testing individuals and finding low iodine levels, I began to use smaller milligram amounts of iodine/iodide (6.25 mg/day). Upon retesting these individuals 1-2 months later, little progress was made. I therefore began using higher milligram doses (6.25-50 mg) to increase the serum levels of iodine. It was only with these higher doses that I began to see clinical improvement as well as positive changes in the laboratory tests.” Brownstein has sometimes used between 200 and 300 milligrams of iodine daily, with higher doses for more serious and difficult diseases. http://drsircus.com/iodine/iodine-supplements-and-dosages/
Dr Gabriel Cousens says: “At 6 grams daily (which is 6 million micrograms/day or 6,000 milligrams/day!), a much higher dose, iodine has been used to cure syphilis, skin lesions, and chronic lung disease,” says Cousens. “From a larger physiological perspective, it is important to realize that the thyroid is only one gland of many glands and tissues that needs iodine. Other glands/organs/systems with high iodine uptake are the breasts, ovaries, cervix, blood, lymph, bones, gastric mucosal, salivary, adrenal, prostate, colon, thymus, lungs, bladder, kidney, and skin. Iodine is found and used in every hormonal receptor in the body.”
Pregnancy & Lactation
The 207 Iodine Conference doctors concluded that 12.5 mg per day should be the maximum for those women who have not taken iodine before getting pregnant. This avoids detoxing into the breast milk. This is 2 drops of 5% Lugol’s Solution. http://steppingstonesliving.com/theguide/
Dr Brownstein recommends a daily dose of 0.25 mg per kg in his book ‘Iodine Why You Need It’.
Children with ADHD
The naturopath Stephanie Buist ND (a survivor of thyroid cancer which Dr Brownstein successfully treated with iodine) successfully treated her children’s ADHD with iodine at slightly higher doses which were within safe limits.
- Up to 3 years: 3 drops of Detoxified Iodine (www.iodinesource.com) per day.
- 3 to 5 years: 6.25 mg = 1 drop 5% Lugols Solution
- 5 to 9 years: 12.5 mg = 2 drops 5% Lugols Solution or 1 Iodoral 12.5 mg tablet
- 9 to 16 years: 25 mg = 4 drops 5% Lugols Solution or 2 Iodoral 12.5 mg tablets
- 16 years and over: depending on health issues and weight doses follow the adult range from 12.5 to 300 mg.
Benefits of Higher Doses
Donald W Millar Jr MD says: ‘The vast majority of people, 98 to 99 percent, can take iodine in doses ranging from 10 to 200 mg a day without any clinically adverse affects on thyroid function’. He confirms that diabetics have seen good results at doses of up to 100 mg per day.
Stephanie Buist ND, who was a patient of Dr Brownstein, took 100mg to cure her thyroid cancer. And some breast cancer survivors have reported taking up to 300mg daily to push out high levels of bromine and cure their breast cancer.
It is thought that the antioxidant effect of iodine at higher doses may help to overcome the issues with adrenal function and by-pass the crash effect. Mercury is known to be able to block cortisol synthesis by acting as an oxidant and therefore exerts stress on the antioxidant system, causing low cortisol levels. Because iodine opposes mercury at high levels it should support the antioxidant system. This means that by expelling mercury from the body adrenal function can be restored, thus improving cortisol levels through better cortisol synthesis.
Patients taking iodine have said that bromine detox symptoms only occur at low doses and not at high doses over 100 mg, which could be due to the antioxidant effect of iodine. Iodine only acts as an antioxidant at high doses when there is enough excess to produce an antioxidant lipid called delta-iodolactone, which is 300 times more powerful than Vitamin C. The body does not make it when there is insufficient iodine available so it is thought that a dose of over 100 mg would be required.
At high doses the antioxidant effect starts enabling iodine to support the adrenals and reduce cortisol levels by opposing the strong toxic effects of mercury. High doses also tighten up the mitochondrial membrane preventing leakage of cytochrome C from the mitochondria across the mitochondrial membrane into the cytosol (cytoplasm). This diminishes the oxidative processes in the cytosol and reduces the negative effects of oxidative stress by restoring enzymes which were once suppressed. This assists the recovery of 17-Hydroxylase, 5′ Deiodinase, and Methionine Synthase, thereby contributing to the recovery of adrenal, thyroid, and methylation function respectively. This may explain why some people who take 25 mg and feel dreadful can take 100 to 150 mg without a problem.
Dr Maclean says that once your iodine dosage has restored adrenal function by opposing the effects of mercury, any further increase may start to be counter-productive, causing iodine overdose. However, I would take this hypothesis with caution; one needs to bear in mind that the purpose of taking iodine at high doses is also to push out the toxic halides from the thyroid, particularly bromine, so it is important to continue on a high dose until the bromine has been expelled. It is therefore prudent to test iodine and bromine levels regularly so that one is aware when 90 to 95% saturation has been achieved.
Doses for Hyperthyroidism
The Research Chemist, Biochemist and Toxicologist turned Nutritionist and writer on natural health Walter Last says ‘Iodine supplements tend to normalize over-active thyroid conditions, including autoimmune conditions and thyroid cancer. However, if the size of the thyroid is increased as with goiter, then additional iodine will initially cause an overstimulation. To normalize thyroid size and functions the iodine dose needs to be increased only very slowly and temporarily decreased when overstimulation occurs, and after a while slowly increased again.’ http://www.health-science-spirit.com/iodine.html
Doses for Cancer
Stephanie Buist ND says that cancer patients have taken between 50 to 300 mg per day successfully. http://steppingstonesliving.com/theguide/
Low & Slow
Mark Sircus says ‘Many people will find that it is important to build up gradually in order to experience the least amount of detoxification reaction from taking iodine.’ http://drsircus.com/iodine/iodine-supplements-and-dosages/
The Hakala Labs 24 Hour Loading test with Bromine is required after six months to determine if 95% saturation has been achieved so that the daily amount can be lowered to an appropriate maintenance dose. If bromine levels are still high you could consider increasing the dose to 100 mg and testing again after three months.
Once 95% saturation has been achieved Dr Brownstein recommends a maintenance dose of 12 to 50 mg Lugol’s iodine depending on individual health concerns. Although with the number of toxic halides in our environment I hear that he is leaning towards 50 mg now.
Dr Brownstein’s comments: ‘It is of interest that the recommended daily amount of iodine for supplementation by clinicians of previous generations, that is 12.5-37.5mg in the form of Lugol’s solution, turns out to be the exact range of intake for sufficiency of the whole human body, based on a recently developed loading test. Iodine/iodide in the proper amounts resulted in increased urinary excretion of heavy metals such as lead and mercury; and had a detoxifying effect by increasing excretion of the toxic halides fluoride and bromide.’ [Iodine: Why You Need It, 5th Edition, David Brownstein MD, P8]
Since writing his book Dr Brownstein has commented that in our increasingly toxic world we may require a higher maintenance dose to combat the environmental toxins.
Stephanie Buist, who runs the Facebook group Iodine reports that: ‘it was once believed that a good maintenance dose is 25 mgs per day. But with more information being gained about the exposures to halides bombarding our systems (bromides, fluorides, chlorine) as well as mercury, etc, maintenance of health may require higher doses of iodine. The iodine doctors are now beginning to believe that 50 mgs may be the minimum required dose. Many iodine group members are finding that dosages of 100 mgs cause them to feel the best. While this is anecdotal information it is interesting to note. steppingstonesliving.com/theguide/
After recovering from thyroid cancer ten years ago Stephanie Buist has said that she still takes 75 to 100 mg daily and is no longer concerned with testing.
Mark Sircus OMD, says: ‘For those who are interested in maintained dosages after disease and deficiencies have been dealt with understand that your thyroid gland alone needs about 6 mg of iodine per day for optimal function; the breasts of a woman will need approximately 5 mg/day (women with larger breasts need more); and other body tissues such as your adrenal glands, thymus, ovaries, hypothalamus, and pituitary gland need about 2 mg/day. Thus for optimal wellness adults should consider approximately 10 to 12 mg/day.’
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should supplement at a low dose of 12.5mg Iodoral to avoid detox symptoms and still benefit from the nutrient.
Dr Brownstein recommends children supplement with: 0.25 mg of Lugol’s per kg per day. One drop of 5% Lugol’s solution (0.1ml) is 6.25mg.
Lugol’s Liquid Calculator
Micah Coffey developed this tool for calculating how many mg each drop of liquid Lugol’s Iodine is worth: http://dropulator.com/
Dr Malcolm Maclean’s article can be read at: https://stopthethyroidmadness.com/2016/01/14/iodine-effects-at-different-doses/
Levels of Iodine for Greatest Mental and Physical Health by Guy E Abraham MD, Jorge D Flechas MD and John C Hakala R.Ph: https://www.hakalalabs.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf_resources/Flechas_OI_Jun05.pdf
Validation of the orthoiodo supplementation program by Guy E Abraham MD and David Brownstein MD https://www.hakalalabs.com/media/wysiwyg/pdf_resources/Abraham_OI_Winter05.pdf
The full list of Dr Brownstein’s research papers can be found here: https://www.hakalalabs.com/resources
This article was written in 2017.