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Iodine Electron Shell

The Many Facets of Iodine

Any high-school chemistry student will tell you that iodine is very active, because its “outer electron shell” contains 7 – out of a possible 8 – electrons.  Like a kind of lost lover, it goes around looking for its missing electron, and grabs it up from any molecule or atom that comes its way.  When it does this, the electron “donor” becomes reduced, losing its oxidizing capability. 

Iodine is, therefore, an anti-oxidant.  As a powerful anti-oxidant, its usefulness to the body every second of every day is simply remarkable, quite nearly miraculous.

Iodine belongs to a family of elements –the “halogens” – which suck up electrons like nobody’s business.  Compared to some of its brothers – fluorine, chlorine, bromine – iodine is relatively mild-mannered.  Fluorine, chlorine and bromine, because they are much, much smaller atoms, behave far more aggressively.  In being so aggressive, they can easily (and often do) cause serious biochemical harm.  Iodine, on the other hand, is so large an atom – the largest in the human body – that its activity is relatively genial.  In chemical reactions, the outermost electron shell’s distance from the central nucleus determines its “redox potential,” the ability to embezzle electrons from other atoms and molecules.

There are deep evolutionary roots for iodine’s role in our body’s chemistry, and we’ll discuss iodine’s evolution another time.

As the most biologically compatible halogen, iodine is essential for producing thyroid hormones.  The thyroid, often called the “master gland” of the body, regulates every cell’s behavior, including birth, life and death, through the production of hormones.  Without thyroid hormones, we would die very quickly. 

Due to its high level of reactivity, iodine is rarely found in its natural state, and to be useful, must be compounded with other chemicals.  The most common complex in use today is called PVP Iodine, a blend of iodine and a biologically compatible polymer (PVP, or polyvinyl pyrrolidone).

PVP was invented in the 1950’s by a couple of chemists. They used it first as a plasma extender, a role in which it was very successful in saving lives on the battlefield. PVP is very “friendly” to the human circulatory system. Then, they discovered that it stabilizes iodine in two critically important and mutually existing forms: molecular iodine (or “I2”) and a compound of iodine with potassium (potassium iodide).  The I2 and the I-, which would otherwise quickly disappear into the atmosphere, live in stable harmony within the embrace of PVP.  For years.  PVP-I is remarkably stable, and is not affected by either heat, sunlight or cold.

PVP-I is so effective that it is used in virtually every surgical procedure, large or small.  It prevents the growth of, and kills, microbes which would otherwise cause serious “surgical site infections.”  It’s cheap, easy to use, non-toxic and can be diluted to become even MORE effective. Yes, you read that correctly.  Diluted, it is even more effective. PVP-I usually comes in a 10% “available iodine” concentration, but microbiologists and chemists have learned that a 1% concentration is actually the most anti-microbial, in general.  The actual mechanism by which this happens is a matter of dispute.  And infectious disease microbes probably react differently to different iodine concentrations.  But a solution of about 1% PVP-I has been shown, again and again, to kill 99.99999% of all infectious organisms.

Iodine is remarkable in another centrally important feature.  No known microbe (bacteria, virus, fungus, prion, mold) stands up to iodine’s deadly embrace.  Perhaps most important, microbes are incapable of developing resistance to iodine.  We can propose reasons for this – its multi-faceted disabling of various cell processes and its unique ability to penetrate the cell wall – but the reasons don’t matter nearly so much as the effect.  Iodine is the ONLY known weapon in medical history which does not cause the development of resistant microbe species.  Every anti-microbial drug we use in medicine has caused the development of antimicrobial resistance. 

The various antibiotic classes (which include penicillin, carbapenems, cephalosporins, rifamycin, tetracyclines and several others) have all, without exception created resistant disease species.  BUT…. not iodine.  In over 200 years of continuous use, in literally hundreds of millions of applications, no known resistance to iodine has ever been seen in medicine.

There’s another amazing side to iodine, which has to do with its micronutrition and quite apart from its topical charisma. We can’t live without it INSIDE our bodies.  The thyroid (via blood carried from the stomach and intestines) concentrates it and distributes it everywhere throughout the body in the form of thyroid hormones.  Everywhere.  Iodine performs dozens, indeed hundreds, of different functions in all the organs of the body – including the endocrine organs and non-endocrine structures such as the salivary glands, the stomach, the brain and the eyes.  Without just a tiny bit of iodine, you would be very sick, and you would, surely, die.

As the usefulness of “standard pharmaceutical antibiotics” declines, the important of iodine increases.  We’ve realized that iodine doesn’t only kill bad microbes.  It also kills cholesterol, mediates brain activity (especially memory) and helps cerebral growth both during the fetal period and throughout life.

Iodine is a blessing from the Universe.  Honor the Donor by by using it.

For more information on iodine, watch some of our YouTube videos.

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