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Bernard Courtois Discovered Iodine While Making Gunpowder

The Remarkable Discovery, History and Life of Iodine

Iodine is the heaviest element in the human body - actually, the heaviest element in the body of all mammals. No human, no mammal, no known multi-cellular creature, and live without at least a tiny amount of iodine.  It is present in minute quantities everywhere, because it falls, "like the gentle rain from heaven onto the earth below."  Within the rain, especially if that rain originates over the oceans.  

The oceans are the main repository of iodine, as the various geological periods of receding glaciers scraped iodine from the soil, and returned it to the oceans.  While the oceans do not contain great quantities of iodine per cubic meter of sea water, they DO contain most of the world's iodine.  Remarkably, and for reasons that have profound evolutionary importance (for us, for all life on earth), iodine in sea water is heavily concentrated by seaweeds - many thousands of times, making seaweed the most useful source of dietary iodine.  

This particular story of iodine was written by the then-president of the British Royal Society of Medicine, Dr. Francis C. Kelly in 1961.  He delivered it as the annual keynote speech to the Royal Society.  This, in and of itself, will tell you that in 1961 the most noted doctor of his time considered iodine the most important subject of the moment.

There are many reasons that the use of iodine for the treatment of hundreds of different diseases has lapsed, in part - and equally remarkable, there are many reasons why its use is growing. Iodine is used thousands of times a day throughout the world, in every operating room in every country on the planet.  It is used as a surgical preparation application, because there is no better infectious disease preventative than iodine.  It has stood the test of time of some 200 years of use, and it continues to save lives and prevent infectious diseases every single day, in thousands of uses around the globe.

But why do doctors not prescribe iodine for other illnesses, even for those where it has long-proven efficacy?

This is the very sad part of the story.  Like so many things in the modern world, it has to do with economics and advertising.

Iodine is cheap.  Very cheap.  And because it is so cheap, and so universally available, no self-respecting pharmaceutical company can make money on it.  And therefore, the thousands of other internal and external chemicals (pharma-ceuticals) which can treat internal and external diseases and conditions have overrun iodine's simple and powerful status.  

Pharmaceutical companies obtain their approval from government institutions like the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (the FDA) for new drugs and new drug formulations and uses.  They spend a great deal of money proving the efficacy - whether significant or marginal - of the drugs they sell.  They sell these drugs to doctors, in medical offices, clinics and hospitals, through drug reps who wear expensive suits, drive costly automobiles, and sport tailored suits and Gucci neckties.  And physicians, who are too busy to research and read themselves, believe unequivocally the drug reps and their FDA-approved pharmaceutical companies.  Doctors cannot easily be sued for using an FDA-approved drug in an FDA-approved manner.  So they swallow the pharmaceutical company's bait, hook-line-and-sinker, and prescribe their expensive drugs to cure the many ills which modern life is heir to (illnesses largely caused by our eating the wrong stuff, or (less likely) having chosen the wrong parents).

Iodine has taken a very back-seat to these "promoted" drugs.  And this is a very sad thing, because (at the end of the day, as your father might've said), iodine might be a better "drug" for the problem, but no one makes any money prescribing it.

Modern drugs are expensive to design, produce and prove effective.  Modern drug companies believe they have a God-given right to make egregious amounts of profit on drugs, and only decades of congressional complaints can change that to some small degree.  

Iodine remains, however, a tremendous bulwark against disease - all types of diseases, both self-inflicted (like heart disease) or infectious (like COVID-19).  We'll write more about that later.  But here are the impressive words of one of the world's top doctors of 60 years ago, recounting the story of iodine.

Please click this link to read the presentation by Dr. Francis C. Kelly.  The pages of the presentation are provided, via the link, as a courtesy of the Royal Society of Medicine.  Click on each page in the presentation to view and read it.

 

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1869599/


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