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Why I NEVER recommend anyone use POTASSIUM iodide, a known anti-thyroid compound

[cross-posted to both the Detox and Toxin/Poison Avoidance and Miscellaneous health topics forums]

Lugol's, Iodoral, SSKI, and under many other names...high-dose POTASSIUM IODIDE ruins thyroids, and this is well documented in the literature.

I am NOT saying iodINE is bad, I am saying that POTASSIUM IODIDE IS BAD.  See for yourself below.  This is not some crazy conspiracy, it's in the literature.  Just because something may be helpful during nuclear fallout (ie. not dying from radiation toxicity damage to the thyroid), DOES NOT mean that it is something that is healthy to take in high doses on a daily basis!
"1. The treatment of Graves' Disease by Potassium Iodide (like thyroidectomy, radioiodine, and antithyroid drugs) is followed by rate failure of thyroid function. [...] 4. In certain patients, Potassium Iodide appears to be an effective means of controlling the hyperthyroidism of Graves' Disease."

Translation:  Potassium iodide directly ruins (chemically damages) the thyroid.

Feel free to look at the documented toxicity of potassium iodide here (see link for references):


  • /SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS/ In a small proportion of individuals given large doses of iodide for long periods ... thyroid gland shows hyperplasia & is depleted of stores of iodine. Thyroid hormone corrects hypothyroidism and causes goiter to subside ... /Iodide preparation/ [Note above that iodIDE depleted the thyroid's iodINE stores]
  • /SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS/ Sudden withdrawal may precipitate thyroid storm.
  • Since some individuals are markedly sensitive to iodides, potassium iodide should be used with caution when initially administered. Patients at risk for iodine-induced adverse effects include those with hypocomplementemic vasculitis and those with goiter or autoimmune thyroid disease.
  • Potassium iodide may cause skin rash and thyroid suppression in infants.
  • Potassium iodide is distributed into breast milk; use by nursing mothers may cause skin rash and thyroid suppression in the infant.
  • Prolonged use may result in hypothyroidism, parotitis, iodism, and, particularly in postpubescent patients, acneiform skin lesions.
  • Iodides readily cross the placenta [fetus] and may result in abnormal thyroid function and/or goiter in the neonate. [newborn]
  • ...repeat administration of potassium iodide should be avoided in neonates (birth to 1 month of age) to minimize the risk of hypothyroidism during a period of critical brain development...
  • USES: Iodides have been utilized to treat iodine disorders, hyperthyroidism, bacterial, fungal or protozoal infections, and also were traditionally as expectorants because of their stimulatory effects on bronchial secretions. Potassium iodide is indicated for use as a thyroid blocking agent following exposure to radioisotopes of iodine from a nuclear reactor accident. [does it not make sense that something used to suppress hyperthyroidism is also a thyroid "blocking" agent, and long-term use would cause HYPOthyroidism?]
    COMMON: POTASSIUM IODIDE can cause stomach upset, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach pain, skin rash and salivary gland swelling or tenderness.
    LESS COMMON: POTASSIUM IODIDE can cause gastrointestinal bleeding, confusion, dysrhythmias, numbness, pain or weakness in hands or feet, unusual fatigue, weakness or heaviness of legs, fever, and edema of neck or throat. Thyroid adenoma, goiter, and myxedema are also possible side effects.
    RARE: Iodism is a rare occurrence with iodides; however, it may develop during prolonged treatment or with the use of high doses. Symptoms include burning of mouth, severe headache, metallic taste, soreness of teeth and gums, symptoms of head cold, irritation of the eyes with swelling of the eyelids, unusual increase in salivation, acneform skin lesions in the seborrheic areas, and rarely, severe skin eruptions.
  • Chronic iodide therapy has produced goiters, hypothyroidism, and rarely hyperthyroidism.
  • Monitor thyroid function in cases of severe overdose for decreased serum T4 levels and increased serum TSH levels.
  • Discontinuation of the iodide source will usually result in restoration of normal thyroid function within several weeks.
  • Mechanism of Action:  In hyperthyroid patients, potassium iodide produces rapid remission of symptoms by inhibiting the release of thyroid hormone into the circulation. The effects of potassium iodide on the thyroid gland include reduction of vascularity, a firming of the glandular tissue, shrinkage of the size of individual cells, reaccumulation of colloid in the follicles, and increases in bound iodine.
  • When administered prior to and following administration of radioactive isotopes and in radiation emergencies involving the release of radioactive iodine, potassium iodide protects the thyroid gland by blocking the thyroidal uptake of radioactive isotopes of iodine.[KEY CONCEPT already noted above...potassium iodide BLOCKS normal thyroid uptake of ALL iodINE, not just the radioactive stuff!!!]
  • Potassium iodide is indicated in the treatment of hyperthyroidism.
  • Potassium iodide is used concurrently with an antithyroid agent to induce thyroid involution prior to thyroidectomy. [involution means degeneration]
  • Interactions: Potassium iodide increased the toxic effect in selenium poisoning. [whoa...if you are doing high-dose potassium iodide AND selenium supplementation for your thyroid, you might want to reconsider]
  • In treatment of hyperthyroidism /Lugol's solution/

When there is iodINE easily available, and the toxicity research seems quite overwhelmingly BAD on potassium iodIDE, why would anyone continue taking this stuff?  Saying "somebody wrote a book on it" is not an acceptable answer to defend poisoning yourself or others.  I do have specific iodine recommendations for my Nutritional Restoration clients, and due to the massive misinformation about all types of iodine on the internet, combined with people's tendency to overdo things, my recommendations will not be presented here.  See my signature below if you are interested in working with me.

Hanging on to potassium iodIDE because "that's what they did in the past" is a pure example of the "Appeal to Tradition" fallacy.
"Tradition, once established, becomes a cultural thing, where people do it without thinking and defend it simply because it now is a part of the woodwork. Familiarity breeds both ignorance of the true value of something and a reluctance to give up the 'tried and true'."

It's time to stop poisoning your thyroid, folks.  Simple changes can have amazing results.

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle, The Boscombe Valley Mystery

Dr. Garrett Smith, the "Nutrition Detective"
Licensed Naturopathic Physician (NMD) in Arizona, home of the Love Your Liver program
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