The purpose of this paper is not to repeat what is found in the materia medica but rather to give some clinical applications for the use of this valuable element.
The use of iodine dates back many centuries and the prescribing of burnt sponge, a rich natural source of iodine, for cases of goiter is familiar to every doctor and student of medical history. It is only comparatively recently that the active principle of burnt sponge was isolated. The work of Marine and Plummer in the study of thyroid disease is well known. However, the effects of Iodine were known by Hahnemann who proved it himself and Rademacher mentions it in his Organ Remedies even before Hahnemann.
In the past few years we have all seen the growth of the health food movement. This has undoubtedly been a result of the failure of orthodox medicine to take more interest in diet and partly due to the disappointing results particularly in chronic disease. Recently I saw a lady who was a health food enthusiast who was quite concerned over the sudden appearance of a goiter and was at a loss how to explain it. After close questioning, I found that she had been taking kelp tablets and of course kelp is a rich source of iodine. She was inadvertently “proving” iodine. To my mind this is an excellent example of the fact that there is no sharp dividing line between foods and drugs.
Another feature to remember about iodine is its lack in the diet regardless of whether you live in a goiter belt. I was called to see a woman who had a typical picture of hyperthyroidism. She was extremely nervous and restless, complained of choking and pressure in the throat, rapid pulse and excessive appetite. Her basal metabolism was +16. Close questioning elicited the fact that she had a strong aversion to fish and sea food in any form and was consequently getting insufficient iodine in her diet. The prescribing of cod liver oil, which is rich in iodine, plus a homoeopathic remedy has made a decided change for the better.
Hahnemann said “Tolle causam”–remove the cause.
The general symptoms produced by Iodine are quite striking:.
(1) Glandular enlargement.
(2) Emaciation with ravenous appetite.
(3) Intolerance to heat.
There are other symptoms less marked such as throbbing and pulsations in various parts of the body, tachycardia, palpitation, etc.
The use of iodine in thyroid conditions is so striking that other fields of application are likely to be forgotten.
Iodine is useful in arthritis deformans particularly where there is emaciation and lack of reaction. It is very valuable in lobar pneumonia and is sometimes indicated in tuberculosis.
Iodine effects other glands as well as the thyroid, notably the pancreas, gonads and lymph glands.
One must not forget the skin. Although Iodine is not rich in skin symptoms, I have seen rather striking results in a difficult case of psoriasis. In this connection let me say that Lycopodium is often complementary to Iodine.
There are other remedies which contain Iodine and these should be kept in mind for their close relationship. These are: Calendula, Lycopus and Spongia, as well as the salts of iodine: Arsenicum iodatum, Calcarea iodatum, Kali hydriodicum, Sulphur iodatum, Mercurius iodatus ruber, and Mercurius iodatus flavus.