By Guy E. Abraham, M.D.
In textbooks of medicine, endocrinology and thyroidology, the essential element iodine is mentioned only in connection with the most severe forms of deficiency of this nutrient: cretinism, iodine-deficiency induced goiter and hypothyroidism. Due to thyroid fixation, inhibitors of iodine uptake and utilization by target cells are called goitrogens, that is, substances causing thyroid enlargement, implying that iodine inhibitors only influence thyroid function. Perhaps, there is a restraining order preventing iodine inhibitors from interfering with iodine in extrathyroidal target organs. Many physicians would be surprised to learn that more than a hundred years ago, iodine was called “The Universal Medicine”, and was used in several clinical conditions. Nobel Laureate Albert Szent Györgyi,1 the physician who discovered Vitamin C in 1928, commented:
“When I was a medical student, iodine in the form of KI was the universal medicine. Nobody knew what it did, but it did something and did something good. We students used to sum up the situation in this little rhyme:
If ye don’t know where, what, and why
Prescribe ye then K and I.
Our medical predecessors, …were keen observers and the universal application of iodide might have been not without foundation.”
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