Iodine Side Effects

| Modified on Jul 08, 2024

Iodine, a necessary nutrient, does cause side effects for some people.  Side effects of internal iodine use include: increase in back and leg pain, asthma symptoms, diarrhea, acne, dizziness, vertigo, and red, itchy, swollen eyes. Iodine is commonly used on the skin, which has had side effects for some, including inflammation of the skin and rashes, not to mention the temporary staining.

Donna from Colorado experienced an abnormal increase in her calcium and phosphatate levels when taking an iodine supplement. Her levels became normal again after discontinuing the iodine.

Two Earth Clinic readers used iodine of moles/skin tags and found it cause them to harden.

Possible Causes of Side Effects from Iodine

Earth Clinic readers offer a variety of possible reasons for side effects from iodine use. Many suggest that the side effects are detox reactions. Taking a smaller amount of iodine and slowly increasing the dose will lessen the likelihood and severity of detox reactions. Ted and at least one other reader suggest that if your iodine source is from kelp, it may be improperly processed and may have high levels or heavy metals or other contaminates. Ted also suggests that fillers in supplements could be the source of a reaction as opposed to the iodine itself.

How to Avoid Side Effects when taking Iodine

Bill Thompson discusses the complete iodine protocol which includes many companion nutrients to help the body to use the iodine most efficiently.  Not taking the companion nutrients could be another source of side effects because the body is not able to use the iodine effectively without them.

Since all iodine sources are not created equal, do your research before deciding which iodine source your should use.

Iodine is a critical nutrient in the diet of humans, but many people are quite deficient in iodine. Earth Clinic readers report many cures from the supplementation of iodine, including acne, acid reflux, colds, sore throats, alopecia, goiter, hot flashes, fungal infections, impetigo, heart arrhythmia, skin cancer, ringworm, tumors and menstrual problems.

Earth Clinic has many pages of posts from readers about their experiences with iodine, good and bad. If you experience side effects from using iodine, please send us some feedback!

Additional Pages of Interest:

Lugol's Iodine Supplements

Iodine Cures

3 User Reviews

3 star (1) 

Posted by Eggdropsoup (Virginia Beach, Virginia) on 04/26/2012

Question, but first a bit of info. I began 2 weeks ago. Took kelp drops at approximatelly 500ug then switched to lugol's 5% 1 week ago, starting at 12mg then to 24mg, and now 50mg (8drops in coffee in morning and 8 drops in tall skim milk at night). I FEEL GREAT!!!

The first big notice, brain fog gone, second, energy, third, incredible skin, fourth, brain fog back and skin break out (I truly believe this is the detoxing and am waiting it out), fifth, swollen skin tissue on legs, abdomen, back, upper arms have "gone down"(no weight loss but my clothes fit better), I will keep checking my large painful fibroid in my left breast for reduction, nothing so far, but I am hopeful.

The plan is to stay at 50mg for 3 months then bring it down to maintenance level.

Question: Food is starting to not taste so good. A great deal of food is tasting as if it is too salty or I can begin a good tasting meal then all of a sudden it just tastes bad and I have to stop eating.

Now this is great for I do need to lose 30lbs. But it is very very odd when you have been a "foodie" for years. Has anyone else noticed food tasting less desirable or even salty??? I am worried for I am famous in my family for creating some incredibly yummy dishes that are low in fat but high in taste. I do not wish to lose my ability to use my taste buds to create happy healthy meals for my men. Although I do not feel this loss would make me stop when I am feeling soooo good.

Posted by Ninja (Anonymous, Anonymoous) on 02/23/2012

2 drops of half-strength Lugol's iodine in water is causing palpitations in my sister. Will this go away or should I keep it at one or is she deficient or toxic in something else I need to address so she can take the iodine without symptoms?

The only thing I found online about it is this. How to handle? She does have bad athlete's foot (IDK if it's candida) and she is sensitive to chemicals. Strong smells (like paint, perm solution) give her anxiety. She has no problem putting it on her skin but not much gets into the body that way.

"Heart Palpitations From Iodine: You may get heart palpitations from iodine if you are very sensitive to chemicals, or you have candida albicans, a yeast infection, or you have a weakened immune system. In any of these cases you might experience a slight toxic reaction, with heart palpitations, from using even moderate amounts of iodine on your skin."

Posted by Elizabeth (Byhalia, Ms, Usa) on 01/01/2012

Why is Lugol's causing me to have horrible pain and nausea in stomach? Should I be using Lugol's transdermally? When first discovering the benefits of iodine, I started with an over the counter iodine tincture. It really gave me better results. Is using this safe or perhaps another brand such as Provodine used transdermally? thanks alot

Replied by Francisca
(Zug, Switzerland)

Elizabeth, I have never found Lugol's in Europe (although it was developed by a French doctor, Dr. Jean Lugol). We do travel to several countries but no one seems to know it so I have resorted to Kelp and never had a problem. Maybe worth trying.... I have no idea what the differences between both are! I intend to read a book on Iodine soon!

Posted by Cecile (Cape Town, South Africa) on 11/24/2011

Firstly, my sincere thank you to all at EC for providing this great platform for discussion and advice.

I have started supplementing with Lugols iodine, the prescribed dose of 50mg or 8dr a day the prophylactic dosage for fibrocystic disease... Been doing this for 3 weeks... I have experienced normal detox reactions... BUT to my absolute horror, my weight is increasing at an alarming rate... 5kg in 3 weeks! WHA! Anybody else with this experience? Will the situation remedy itself with time? I urgently need advice...

Replied by Mmsg
(Somewhere, Europe)

Cecile, you started off with too much. Read the posts here and start VERY slowly, as in ONE drop for a while, then TWO etc.

Replied by Cecile
(Cape Town, South Africa)

Thank you so much for your feedback and support.. 'somewhere in europe'... I have cut back a few days ago and my weight has stabilised... Hope so.. I believe iodine is the answer to the myriad of problems I have, and refuse to give up... The web filled with standard anti-iodine propagada, iodonophobia, scared the living daylights out of me... I was led to believe I have caused damage to my already weary body... But I kept searching... I found peace. The MOST important thing with iodine supplementation is to remember salt loading and selenium... I have neglected those...

HERE is to all you 'iodine fans' out there... to health and hope! Keep spreading the good news, but most of all, tell us 'rookies' about your great successes...

THANK YOU EC community, especially Ted and Bill... I appreciate you patience and all the time you spend at your computers typing up advice... I salute you!


You mentioned salt loading, I haven't heard this before, can you explain and where the info came from? Thanks, Diane

Posted by Yasmin (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) on 09/22/2011

Hi, I have just made a big mistake. I have hyopthyroidism and melasma, and somehow got it into my head that I desperately needed iodine. So I went to the health food store and bought a bottle of iodine with dropper. Not sure what kind. It just says iodine on it. I started with one drop, then took more, up to eight drops, over the course of four days.

On the fifth day I woke up to an absolute nightmare on my face, that is continuing. I have pimples EVERYWHERE. I am terrified, disgusted, and afraid to be seen. I have been wiping my face with ACV, drinking it, drinking grapefruit seed extract, and slathered on Burt's Bees anti-blemish spot treatment but they just keep appearing. My face is now full of melasma and acne. It's a nightmare.

Can anyone please tell me what is going on with me? I had a full hormonal panel done and it's all normal. My liver seems to be normal. I wash my face twice a day. I try to use only organic/natural products. I am a vegetarian who eats pretty well most of the time. I exercise three times a week. I believe the iodine, which I stopped immediately, is causing this. But when will it end? And why on earth did it do this. Does anyone know?

Replied by Lisa
(Rabat, Morocco)

Hi Yasmin, are you using Lugol's iodine? If it is a tincture of iodine that should not be taken orally. The acne could be caused from detoxing bromide, which we are exposed to everyday. If you take extra unrefined salt (celtic or himalayan) that can help push out the bromides, but because of the nature of acne it will not disappear overnight. I take a lot of iodine and did have this problem initially, but it did go away.

Replied by Gavin
(Manganui, Northland, New Zealand)

Some areas on the globe are deficient in iodine. (hence high goiter incidence therefore governments idodising salt. ) But if Iodine is deficient it figures all the other trace elements are low or missing as well.. Which if this is the case, all the essential trace elements work in unison, and favoring one won't do much. A daily intake of Salmon or Tuna fix this in about three months. Remember for years they thought Boron wasnt necessary! Failing this, get some supplements organised.

Posted by Leslie (Dallas, Texas) on 07/29/2011


My husband has been directed by our holistic physician to treat 2 small basal cell carcinomas (one on forehead, one on arm) with doses of strong iodine. While it seems to be working, we have discovered and remembered that he is allergic to iodine, and is experiencing a severe acne breakout. tough for a 56 yr old executive to deal with. any other suggestions?

Thank you

Replied by Lisa
(Rabat, Morocco)

Hi Leslie,

A very small percentage of people are actually allergic to iodine. Your husband sounds like he is having a detox reaction from too much bromide in his system. This happens when your detox pathways are not optimal. The iodine pushes the bromide out and if your body cannot remove it properly then you get things like acne. It is recommended to take certain supplements with iodine--Vitamin C (2000-5000 mg), Magnesium (400 mg), Selenium (200-400 mg) and 1/2 tsp. Unrefined sea salt. In addition, to help with detox you can also add 1/2 tsp. Sea salt in 1/2 cup warm water followed by 12 oz. Of water. This should be repeated every 30-45 minutes til urination. I am taking almost 50 mg. Of lugol's iodine and did have some acne, but it will clear up eventually. I think iodine is very important for many functions in the body and your husband should not dismiss it. Best of luck.

Replied by Rob
(Manhattan, Ny)

question for Leslie.. How did the Dr. Advise to administer it? Orally & topically or just orally... & how much? Let us know if you have had any success.


Posted by Madrona (Victoria, Bc, Canada) on 04/18/2011

I'm hoping Ted can respond to this, and would appreciate hearing from anyone else who has also experienced thyroid pain after supplementing with iodine.

I am a 38 year old woman diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/M.E., endometriosis and fibromyalgia. I have read Dr. Mark Starr's book and 6 weeks ago began iodine supplementation (1-2 drops daily of Now Brand liquid iodide: about 12. 5 mg/day). After two weeks or so, I was awakened in the middle of the night by a fairly acute pain in the front of my throat, I assume it was my thyroid gland. It lasted for maybe 10 minutes before it gradually faded away. It has not returned, but I am very curious about this apparent "thyroid cramp. " Do you have any thoughts on this?

Also, I have lately been having tachycardia* and have a few days feeling terribly cold all the time, followed by heat rushes. I have had some significant night sweats also. I am also doing NAET therapy and currently detoxing for NAET dx: "EMF toxicity" for 5 weeks. I am supplementing with Vitamin C (1-2000 mg/day), D (4-5000 IU), Magnesium Citrate (250 mg/day), "Orti B" B complex (1/day), and Ashwaganda (750 mg 2x/day). I am also taking an herbal liver detox formula with Milk Thistle and Dandelion root, and an herbal blend tincture for painful periods, as well as 1 drop food grade hydrogen peroxide in water 2x/daily. I am using caution with amounts because I am extremely sensitive to all meds and chemicals. I believe I have heavy metal toxicity and am going to begin on some modified citrus pectin soon, but I am not sure that I should be doing all of this at once, or if I should stagger my interventions.

*(I have had intermittent arrythmia, tachycardia and bradycardia along with intermittent muscle weakness since prescribed a few different synthetic progestins a few years ago, and hospitalized for the severe muscle weakness that ensued. The western docs could not find a satisfying cause of all this, aside from 1 elevated cortisol test and 1 deficient potassium (both of which righted themselves in subsequent tests), and low vitamin D. The symptoms are lessening in severity but I still get it at certain points in my cycle: seemingly ovulation and prior to menses.)

Thank you kindly in advance for any comments or suggestions!

:) Madrona

Posted by Maddie (Kings Langley, Hertfordshire Uk) on 04/18/2011

dont take iodine it gave me overactive thyroid Maddie