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Are the low levels of iodine in our NZ soils affecting your thyroid function?

What is Lugol's Iodine Solution?

Lugol's Iodine Solution is a safe & effective way to provide adequate amounts of iodine for proper thyroid hormone production, responsible for our metabolic rate, normal growth & development, protein, carbohydrate & fat metabolism amongst other things.

PLEASE NOTE: Unfortunately, Lugol’s Iodine Solution is no longer available in NZ over the counter. It is now a “prescription only” medication.

Healthyonline now offers an alternative product Clinicians Iodine Oral Drops (a dilution of the original Lugol's Iodine solution).

Iodine and Iodine Deficiency...

In 1924, in an effort to decrease the high incidence of iodine deficiency, iodine was added to table salt, a substance that was already in wide use.

The most well known manifestation of chronic long-term iodine deficiency is goitre, an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This condition develops when the thyroid gland does not have enough iodine to manufacture thyroid hormones. As the gland increases its cell size to try and capture more iodine, its overall size increases, creating the characteristic goitre swelling in the neck.

Suboptimal iodine intake is still considered to be a major problem in many parts of New Zealand.

History of Lugol's Iodine...

In 1880 a French physician, named Lugol, originated a solution, which contains 5% of elemental iodine in a 10% solution of potassium iodide. It has been used steadily ever since it was originated. Lugol's iodine is a form of elemental iodine, which may be helpful in hypothyroidism and goitre caused by insufficient iodine intake. It has also been reported to assist with other hypothyroidism symptoms such as:

Weight gain
Coldness of the body's extremities

What is the benefit of using iodine?

Your thyroid (located at the frontal base of the neck) is the key gland that furnishes energy to every cell in your body. Its function is dependent on a balance of nutrients and trace minerals. These include zinc, copper, manganese and especially iodine.

Iodine is an essential nutrient that is needed for the production of the body's thyroid hormones and is therefore required for normal thyroid function. Thyroid hormones are responsible for our basal metabolic rate (BMR), which reflects the body's use of energy.

As well as this, they are needed for:

  • Normal growth and development
  • Protein synthesis
  • Cholesterol synthesis
  • Carbohydrate absorption
  • Energy metabolism
  • Nerve and bone formation
  • Reproduction
  • The condition of the skin, hair, nails and teeth
  • Speech and mental state


Research has also shown that iodine may be effective in the prevention of fibrocystic breast discomfort.

What happens if you do not have enough iodine in your body?

Iodine deficiency is thought to increase the risk of certain cancers, such as those of the breast, ovary and uterus. Iodine levels may also be low in people with fibrocystic breast problems. Iodine supplementation may help prevent oestrogen from binding to breast cell receptors and may reduce symptoms of breast swelling and pain.

The thyroid gland does not function well in the absence of adequate iodine and trace minerals. Applying tincture of iodine to your skin is the most efficient (as well as most economical) method of determining a metabolic deficiency of iodine. It acts as a test, as well as a treatment.

Iodine and breast tissue problems...

The theory is that an absence of iodine renders the tissue more sensitive to oestrogen stimulation. This hypersensitivity can produce excess secretions, over the limit of absorption, thus distending the breast ducts to produce small cysts and later fibrosis (hardening of the tissue due to the deposition of fibrin, similar to the formation of scar tissue).

Assessment of iodine deficiency has shown that 70% of women may experience softening of the breast tissue and reduction in hardened tissue after using iodine appropriately.

To address iodine deficiency...

Dietary sources: Sea vegetables, including seaweeds like kelp and wakame or kombu are nature's richest sources of iodine.

Celtic sea salt contains a balance of a number of minerals, including naturally occurring iodine.

How does Lugol's Iodine work?

You can use this in 2 ways:

(1) As an external application or
(2) In a drink
Do not use both - choose one or the other.

If the brown stain fades in 24 hours (or less), it indicates that iodine is likely to be insufficient to normalize thyroid hormone production. Even if you are taking thyroid hormone orally, lack of iodine can prevent your body functioning properly.

By following these instructions, when the faded brown stain is apparent after 24 hours, your thyroid will be able to function more normally.

If you are taking thyroid hormone orally, you may be able to reduce the dosage immediately or over a period of several months, or eventually stop taking it altogether. Please seek advice to do this.

Methods of application...

Use a brush or the glass dropper to apply the Lugol's Iodine solution to your upper thigh or lower abdomen in a 3" square patch.

Apply as often as you notice that the iodine has absorbed and the skin is clear. For instance, if absorption occurs in 2 hours, reapply then, if it occurs in 4 to 6 or 8 or 12 hours, reapply whenever you notice that the skin is clear.

The objective of the frequent applications is to accomplish the 24-hour slight stain as quickly as possible, rather than to have to continue applying over several months time. When you eventually notice a faded brown stain after 12 hours, check in another 12 hours for the stain. If your skin is clear after 24 hours, continue application once a day until the stain is apparent after 24 hours. When the faded stain is visible after 24 hours, discontinue with the application, as it is an indication that your iodine levels are normal.

You could also take this in a drink form. Do not use both methods - use one or the other. An internal dosage of Lugol's iodine is generally 1 or 2 drops in a glass of fruit juice, sipped throughout the course of a meal. This dosage depends on your body weight. As a guideline, if you weigh 60kg or less, the recommended amount is 1 drop, taken daily in a meal. If you weigh more than 60kg, the recommended dose is 2 drops instead of one.

Re-check iodine absorption once per month. Repeat the process as above, if it fades in 24 hours or less.

Caution: DO NOT use Lugol's Iodine solution if you have an overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidismIodine treatment is for an under active thyroid gland only.

If in doubt, please get your thyroid hormone levels checked before using this.

Please note that there are indications when sufficient iodine has been taken. If the body is saturated with iodine, you will find that within 0.5 to 1.5 hours of taking the iodine containing drink, there will be a release of moisture from the nose. If this occurs, stop dosing for a period of 1 month.

Warning: Ten drops of Lugol's Iodine solution represents more iodine than is contained in body stores. Excessive or continued use of this concentrated form of iodine may cause hyperthyroidism, if appropriate dosing is not undertaken. Take ONLY as directed and dose according to your symptoms.

Alternative products to Lugol's Iodine Solution...

Lugol's Iodine Solution is now a prescription only medicine in NZ. However, Healthyonline offers a alternative product Clinicians Iodine Oral Drops (a dilution of the original Solution).

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The Naturopathic Team
Ideal Health

Disclaimer: The health information presented here has been written for the New Zealand health consumer. It is of a general nature and is only intended to provide a summary of the subjects covered and is intended to be used for educational and general information purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice or as a means to diagnose, treat, cure or prescribe for any particular condition or disease. You assume all responsibility for the treatment which may be undertaken as a result of the information on this site, or treatment recommended by any other party. While all care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information, no responsibility or liability is accepted, and no person should act in reliance on any statement contained in the information provided. All health ailments should be treated by a qualified health professional.

If you need help or advice, please email our naturopathic team with your health question.  Please allow 48 hours for a response.

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