In years past, you could ask any pharmacist or chemist to mix up some Lugol’s Iodine for your home medicine chest. He would know exactly what you meant, as it was a common household remedy.

Monsieur Lugol

Most people are familiar with iodine, but as to Lugol’s Iodine, I can hear you saying, “Who is Lugol anyway, and why is it his iodine?”

Lugol’s iodine is named for its developer, the French physician J.G.A. Lugol. When he first made the compound in 1829, he was looking for a treatment for tuberculosis, but it did not prove to be effective for TB. So the creator of Lugol’s iodine ended up not being able to use it for his own patients!

Later on, however, Henry Stanley Plummer, M.D., one of the founders of the famous Mayo Clinic, did find a use for the iodine mixture. With it, he successfully treated hyperthyroidism, the condition of an over-active thyroid gland.

What is Lugol’s Iodine Solution?

This solution, available over-the-counter in many countries, is a combination of two types of iodine: elemental iodine plus potassium iodide.

Since it is a potent solution, it is generally used by the drop (not by the dropperful), and it comes either in a glass bottle with a dropper or in a HDPE plastic squeeze bottle.

What is it For?

Uses of Lugol’s Iodine include:

  • Emergency purification of water
  • Killing Salmonella bacteria (of food-poisoning fame) in the stomach 
  • Supplementation for conditions of iodine deficiency, including thyroid-related complaints
  • Vegetable wash, both for travel and home use

Do We Need Iodine?

Iodine is one of the minerals used by all of our cells. We need it for life itself, but it is getting to be rare in our food. It is present in seawater, fish, seaweed, and plants grown in iodine-rich soils (such as are still found in some coastal lands and some areas of ancient inland seas). Dairy foods are said to contain iodine, but that is only if iodine is added to the feed or the cows have eaten plants rich in the mineral. (And that’s a big IF.)

To alleviate this situation, iodine has been added to table salt for many years, and this has prevented many people from developing deficiency diseases like goiter. However, so many contaminants are now found in table salt that many people have turned to unprocessed salt, with no added iodine. In recent years, it has also been added to some bread.

Alternative to Lugol’s Iodine

 A note about the availability of granular iodine from the Dr. Clark Research Association:

In recent years, the DEA has become more strict on incoming shipments of granular iodine because of its use in the making of illegal methamphetamine (crystal meth). In the United States, it is currently impossible to buy the raw material needed to bring you an iodine formula that is identical to the original Lugol’s Iodine. Instead, we offer a solution with only potassium iodide, resulting in a yellow color instead of the orange/brown color of Lugol’s Iodine. However, the iodine concentration per drop is the same as in the original formula.

How to Use Iodine

Iodine has the quality of attaching itself to things, such as your skin, your new dress, or your stomach lining. This is helpful for a stomach ache, but not so beneficial for the skin or new dress. (If you do have an unfortunate spill, try cleaning up the stains with some vitamin C (ascorbic acid) mixed in water.)

  • On experiencing an “uh-oh” sensation in the stomach after some bad restaurant food, many have obtained relief by mixing up to 12 drops of 2% Lugol’s solution in a half glass of water and drinking it down, then repeating this an hour later, if needed. The iodine sticks to the stomach walls and Salmonella bacteria are killed by it.
  • To use it as a produce wash: Soak fruits and vegetables for one minute or more in a mixture of two quarts (2L) water with 1-2 droppers of Lugol’s Iodine (or 4-6 drops of Iodine Solution) . Rinsing is optional. You can re-use the water for a limited time, as long as it still has good iodine color, but add more iodine if it fades.
  • When traveling, a small bottle of iodine may be used both for washing food and for sanitizing water.  (You will taste the iodine, but very diluted.)
  • For use as a supplement, consult with your health care practitioner. Caution: Do not use if you are allergic to iodine or to seafood. 


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