How to make iodine

iodineVersatile remedy

On the coast of Brittany you can sometimes still see large algae piled up in pyres, which are then burned to produce a valuable substance: iodine. The trace element was washed into the sea during the Ice Age and is almost only found there. In the meantime, it is mainly extracted from saltpetre production.

Algae were used to treat wounds several thousand years ago. In principle, the healing properties of iodine are still used today, says dermatologist Professor Beate Tebbe:

"Iodine is a disinfectant. Iodine is effective against all the important germs that can cause inflammation on the skin."

According to reports, 1,500 BC people were treated with ashes from sea sponges or seaweed. But it wasn't until the end of the 19th century that scientists were able to prove that it is really iodine that the thyroid urgently needs. She "tinkers" it with her hormone thyroxine. The endocrinologist Professor Sven Diederich:

"As a trace element, iodine is a very essential requirement for the thyroid gland. If you have very little iodine, the thyroid gland also works poorly, it also grows more, and thyroid hormone deficiency - that is, the thyroid gland is important for all functions in the body - does Fatigue and all sorts of things. "

Iodine is essential for growth, bone formation and development of the brain, especially in the prenatal phase and in infants and children.

"During pregnancy two people have to be cared for, and a good iodine supply is very important because then the thyroid gland naturally also grows, for the neurological development of the child, normally you need over 100 micrograms per day, a pregnant woman needs then 250 micrograms, so it is really very important that iodine is also taken during pregnancy. "

Germany is naturally an iodine deficiency region

Iodine in tablet form for pregnant women and nursing mothers or as a dietary supplement for vegans, for example, should be taken under medical supervision in order to avoid excess.

Basically, the vital trace element is not produced by the body itself, but has to be supplied through food. Germany is naturally an iodine deficiency region - even more so in the south than in the north. It does not occur in the ground, but mainly in mussels and sea fish.

"But fish is definitely not enough of the daily food intake, and we are very happy that a good iodine supply has now been achieved in Germany, so that Germany no longer counts as an iodine deficiency area according to the World Health Organization."

Until the 1990s, 30 percent of adults in this country suffered from an enlarged thyroid gland due to iodine deficiency, the goiter, recalls Professor Sven Diederich, Vice President of the German Society for Endocrinology:

"From those times we still have these hundred thousand thyroid operations a year, and it cannot be refuted that thyroid goiter and nodules, which are extremely harmful to the economy and health, can be reduced by good iodine . "

Since an ordinance of 1989, salt can be fortified with iodine. It can also be found in bread and ready-to-eat meals and, via iodized feed, in dairy products, for example. Nevertheless, the iodine ingested with food does not reach a harmful level: the dose remains well below the established and controlled maximum levels.

"No German citizen needs to worry about it."

There are exceptions, however. A so-called "iodine excess" can occur when high doses of iodine in capsules or drinking solutions are used in radioiodine therapy against thyroid tumors. Iodine may also be used in X-ray contrast media: However, rarely higher iodine intake is not a problem if the kidneys are otherwise functioning properly.

Too much iodine can lead to Graves' disease, for example. People who suffer from chronic thyroid inflammation, or "Hashimoto" for short, should also be more cautious about additional iodine preparations. However, this autoimmune disease is not triggered by iodized foods in the daily diet, emphasizes thyroid specialist Professor Sven Diederich:

"There is definitely no evidence that iodination increases the incidence of Hashimoto, and secondly, if you have Hashimoto, iodine is actually not harmful either. And that is even fatal if, for example, you now live in a family with children have, no Hashimoto, the mother has it, if the mother then says that you are all not allowed to eat iodine, then one would say to the mother: You are driving your children into the goiter. So the benefit of a good iodine for our population is far, far , well above the supposed risks, which have not been proven. "

Rare side effects

Nevertheless, such dangers are invoked time and again by patient groups. The Federal Institute for Risk Research denies it, and the German Society for Endocrinology literally declares that such "misinformation endangers health".

Otherwise, iodine as a brownish tincture or ointment is a good disinfectant, for example for operations. The Berlin skin specialist and lecturer, Professor Beate Tebbe:

"In wound care, however, the use of iodine is gradually declining. This has to do with the fact that iodine can occasionally cause side effects on the skin, and that we have disinfectants available, such as octenidine, which is a very important factor has a good spectrum of activity and has no side effects when compared to iodine. "

These undesirable effects only exist when used externally. There is no evidence of any skin irritation caused by iodine uptake from food. Iodine tincture or ointment are also not harmful to the organism - with one exception:

"Iodine is relatively contraindicated in infants because the skin of a child under 12 months is very permeable to substances of any kind, certainly not in adults. Iodine was used extensively as a disinfectant in operations for decades, so you would have to have seen many more patients who have developed side effects, the limited use, for example, on a finger or hand over three weeks is certainly justifiable, since iodine does not get into the body in the quantities that negative effects are to be expected. "

It is understandable that you want to get rid of the ugly brown color of the iodine treatment as quickly as possible. But it actually has the advantage that it shows exactly whether the wound area is completely disinfected. That's why you shouldn't tamper with it, advises the dermatologist:

"The skin renews itself from below and ultimately sheds the iodine, which is stored in the top layers of the skin, spontaneously after two or three weeks. Of course you can try to use alcohol, for example, to replace iodine, but I advise against that . You just break the skin barrier, you damage the skin. So give it time, and then the brown iodine stains will disappear by themselves. "