Potassium Iodide

Potassium iodide has received much attention since the Japan earthquake and the ensuing threat of a nuclear disaster. Over-the-counter potassium iodide tablets practically flew off the store shelves as panicked Americans were trying to stock pile this potential life saver. Then came the warning issued by the medical authority that the use of this medicine could cause serious harm to the thyroid if used when not needed. See the fact sheet on potassium iodide for more information.

I would like to take this opportunity to put the spot light on thyroid health, and how potassium iodide, in exceedingly small doses, actually helps the thyroid to do its job.

The thyroid gland has two lobes connected by a band of tissue, called isthmus, and is located below the larynx, one lobe on either side of the trachea. The thyroid’s main function is to produce thyroid hormone (T3, and T4), for which it needs iodine. Without thyroid hormone, the body’s metabolism would essentially come to a halt since this hormone stimulates every cell of the body to do its work. Hypothyroidism (too little thyroid hormone in your blood) leads to a slowdown in the rate of work done by these cells. Conversely, hyperthyroidism (too much thyroid hormone in your blood) speeds it up. There are other causes of hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, such as dysfunction of the pituitary gland, or even the hypothalamus, as well as autoimmune disease.

Thus, it is important to have a doctor evaluate your symptoms and track down the true cause of potential thyroid dysfunction.

Some of the symptoms of iodine deficiency (one cause of hypothyroidism) are low body temperature (basal temperature), fatigue, lack of energy, mental slowness or difficulty concentrating, depression, dry skin, weight gain, rise in serum cholesterol and LDL, constipation, muscle pain,  joint pain and stiffness, as well as a goiter (swelling of the thyroid) as the thyroid goes into overdrive, trying to make more thyroid hormone.

The daily requirement of this micronutrient is between 150-290 micrograms/day. Good sources of iodine are kelp, sea salt, iodized salt (potassium iodide, or sodium iodide), sea food, as well as fresh water fish such as tuna, herring, mackerel, and halibut.

Potassium iodide, as used to protect the thyroid from the devastating effects of nuclear radiation, comes in the form of 130 mg tablets, containing 100 mg of iodine, which under normal circumstances is an exceedingly large overdose. Remember, the daily requirements are between 150 and 290 micrograms. That is only 0.15 – 0.29 mg!

Potassium iodide tablets are potential poison in the hands of medically untrained people.

Until the next natural healing perspectives blog…

To Your Health