Acne and Iodine Supplements: Adventures in Iodine, Part II

As some of you know, iodine is my latest investigative lead on the nutrition front.  I’ve been supplementing with iodine in an effort in an effort to flush unhealthy halogens (fluorine and bromine) from my body. I knew iodine would be an important element for me because of my history with fluoroderma.

After a few weeks on the supplement, I took a break to give my body a chance to recover from the persistent bloating caused by the iodine.  Bloating is a common side effect because of all the toxic halogens released back into the system on their way to being eliminated from the body.  When I resumed taking the iodine supplement, this time I researched nutritional supplements that support iodine therapy and added those to my diet (including vitamin C, vitamin B, and minerals).  The added nutrients help the body absorb iodine and detoxify fluoride, bromine, and heavy metals released into circulation.

Reaction #2 to Iodine Therapy

The nutritional support must have helped because I did not experience any bloating during my second round of iodine supplementation.  But after three weeks, I started to develop cystic outbreaks on my chin, neck, and forehead.  It was an all-too-familiar occurrence.  The outbreaks were eerily similar to what I experience when I ingest fluoride –deep welts concentrated down the side of my chin, neck, and around my temples. I even had one on the back of my neck where I haven’t had problems since I was originally diagnosed with fluoroderma.

So once again, I stopped taking the iodine supplement to give my body a chance to recover.  The acne went away with a few days of lymph love, to include a few steam facials, workouts on the rebounder, and long mineral soaks in the tub. But this latest outbreak has me wondering, what was THAT all about?

Controversy Surrounding Iodine Therapy

The medical community is not in widespread agreement when it comes to iodine supplements. I’ve read varying recommendations on how much iodine to take, what kind, and even whether or not iodine supplements are good or bad for the thyroid. In my last post on iodine therapy, one helpful reader mentioned this podcast by Dr. Datis Kharrazian who believes iodine should be avoided for hypothyroid patients.

Reading through message boards on acne, it is clear I’m not the only one who experiences iodine-induced acne.  At this point, I can’t say whether or not the reaction is a negative side effect or a healthy symptom of detoxification.  Since iodine is naturally occurring in the food supply, I tend to believe it is the latter.  I’ve read enough research on iodine to be comfortable with the decision to go for Round 3 of iodine supplements, but I have books from both sides of the iodine debate on my reading list.  My cellulite-investigating instincts tell me this is a subject worth delving into further.

P.S. — This is a subject for a later post, but I wanted to mention that I didn’t experience any cramping AT ALL this month during my menstrual cycle!

Iodine: Its Role in Health and Disease by Dr. Michael Schachter

*This post is part of Real Food Wednesday hosted by Kelly the Kitchen Kop.

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Dani says:

Wow, I feel your pain! I hate the cysts caused by detox, and it sounds like that’s what’s going on, especially since you’re getting them on the back of your neck! I currently have several on my chin, and they are not fun! When I get a little lax in my eating and health regimen, I remind myself how good I feel when I’m “doing it right.” Some of the steps I follow when I’m on a good foot:

Whether I’m trying to detox or not. First of all, if you don’t do kombucha, may I suggest that you add that to your detoxification repertoire. If you don’t currently drink the stuff, do start out small–about 4 oz or so a day, as it will have significant die-off as it works through your digestive system, and… how do I put this gently? You will experience looser stools (for some, it’s a good idea to not venture TOO far from the restroom for the first day or so) for awhile. I make my own, and am able to drink as much as I like (and I DO like! especially mixed with a little grape juice–yum) since I take it regularly.

Also supplement with as much living food (non-pasteurized!!!), as in, lacto-fermented (LF), as you possibly can. LF salsa is a favorite of mine, and you can add some kelp for a natural source of iodine if you like–not so much to affect the flavor, but enough to supplement. I also can’t imagine egg salad without my LF saurkraut. I have yogurt smoothies and all sorts of natural probiotics as often as possible, preferably with every meal (kombucha also contains probiotics).

Two more things I do most mornings is oil-pulling with a good quality coconut oil (swishing 2 tsp in my mouth for a good 15 minutes, then rinsing thoroughly and brushing well with a non-fluoride toothpaste–or even just plain water, rinsing a LOT after the brushing), and dry brushing (using a natural-bristle brush to make vigorous strokes towards the heart, from toe to head) . Especially the dry brushing will stimulate your lymphatic system, but I also find that it invigorates me–even when I haven’t had enough sleep, I am not overwhelmed with the groggies. This is an excellent addition to your rebounding to stimulate the movement in the lymphatics! (it’s also supposed to help with cellulite, and you know what? I’ve definitely noticed a difference!!!

Finally, and this may help less than I think it does (as far as the cystic stuff goes), but it does keep any “normal” acne and blackheads at bay, I use my good quality coconut oil as my moisturizer. I also do not use lotion or any “chemical” blends on my body anymore, and this includes facial washes, body soaps, shampoos/conditioners, shaving creams, etc. Coconut oil, baking soda (well diluted as a shampoo/body cleanser) and apple cider vinegar (again, diluted) are really all I put on my body anymore.

It sounds like the iodine is doing some good, and that you’ve found some good ways to combat some of the detoxing effects. I think it’s wise that you give the body a break and do the iodine in “cycles,” too. Whether it’s for vitamins or minerals, I do typically try to stay away from supplements, especially synthetic ones; but even the “food-derived” ones may not be a whole-food supplement, in which case it may be lacking the balance of the other ingredients nature knows needed to be there in order to properly assimilate the nutrients (everything, even vitamins, are over-processed these days!). However, as with the iodine, and particularly for the purposes of detoxing, I think you are right on to use a good tincture supplement (which is exactly what your photo suggests?).

Anyway, some natural ways to get more iodine into the diet include kelp (I make my own seasoned salt with my own dried herbs and a good quality gray celtic sea salt, very similar to Herbamare, and include kelp in it–my family has no idea! I also make a kelp-laced pepper; again, they have no clue, or they’d never eat it!), and also meat and especially butter/dairy from cows that are pastured nearer to the ocean. Their grasses will naturally have more iodine in them, and so the meat and especially the dairy (mmm…. grass-fed butter! YUM) will have higher concentrations of naturally-occurring iodine.

Do keep us posted on more of your iodine research findings, and thanks for a great post!

Melissa says:

Dani, we must be kindrid spirits! I’ve added many of the same practices since launching the Cellulite Investigation. It all started when I noticed a dramatic improvement in my cellulite after I first began dry brushing. I am a fan of kombucha, but I stopped making it when I figured out I have fluoroderma (tea is high in fluoride. I was using organic tea, but I cut it out just to be safe). I do consume lots of kefir and fermented sauerkraut. I’ve been using diluted baking soda and vinegar on my hair for a few months now, and also oil cleansing my face instead of using cleanser. I’ve tried oil pulling a few times but maybe I should give it another chance.

I generally feel the same way about supplements, but I do think they have their benefits (in place of medicine, for example). For the iodine supplement, I’ve been taking Iodomere from Standard Process. It’s derived from conch and combined with carrot root, bovine liver, and echinacea. From what I’ve read, it’s a lot less iodine than Lugol’s but it seems to be the right amount for me at this point. I’m hoping in a few months it will suffice to add kelp and other iodine-rich foods to my diet instead of relying on a supplement. You are so clever to sneak it into the salt!

Thanks for all the wonderful info! It’s helpful to hear about other women’s experiences with this sort of thing.


No cramps, huh? Based on something I saw on Cheeseslave last year, I got the notion in my head to try upping my iodine to help with my (minor) cramps. It works for me too! I think we’re on to something here.

Melissa says:

You’re not the first commenter to mention that, Soli. How exciting –we’ve identified a trend! A large component of cellulite is hormonal, so this evidence is particularly important for our case.

I know excess estrogen (a common problem in our society) can cause cramping. I wonder if the extra iodine boosts Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) which helps keep estrogen in check. I’m not sure exactly how it works, but I’m glad it does!

Linda says:

I found your website roaming around gathering information on lymph. I’m, really, impressed. This is excellent. Thank you for the energy you offer, here.


Thanks, Linda! I’m glad you found us.

jessica says:

Hi Melissa,
I have been following your blog for a while. I have some cellulite, which I would like gone, but my main problem is acne. I have had acne as an adult for 11 years now, and it’s recently gotten worse. The new outbreak is sort of excema-like, but it occurs right on the sides of my chin, like you describe, and behind my earlobes. I have some dairy/wheat allergies, so unless it’s from that, it seems to be when I take my supplement, which is a food-based Prenatal vitamin with iodine from New Chapter Organics. I know it is pretty good – as supplements go – because I can take it on an empty stomach, but I am wondering if the iodine is causing the excema-like acne and the regular increase in acne.

I don’t know what to do though, because I am pregnant. I want to have enough iodine for the baby, but I also don’t want to be detoxing things that could harm it. Do you have any info on that? If the detox pathway is just my skin, that might spare the bloodstream, but I don’t really know how it all works. I know i have a fluoride issue because I have fluorosis on my front teeth.

What do you think? Love your research.


Jessica, this is a tough question. I don’t know if the benefit of the iodine outweighs the risks of the detox. I do remember reading that the body has some protective measures that prevent fluoride from being passed on, but I think this was in regards to breast feeding (see Do you have a good healthcare practitioner who might be able to provide more insight on this?

I had to break out Dr. Brownstein’s book about iodine just to attempt an answer. He says that iodine supplementation is important during pregnancy, but he doesn’t provide any guidance for dosage beyond “proper testing and monitoring of iodine levels can help answer this question.”

Elsewhere he explains that one of the best ways to avoid detox reactions from iodine is to ensure adequate intake of unrefined salt, magnesium, and vitamin C. He talks about other important nutrients in the book, too. I can’t believe I didn’t notice his emphasis on magnesium before! I just added it to my detox strategy (I’m using magnesium supplements and magnesium oil), and I noticed a big difference. See

When I tried iodine supplements last year, I found that I could not take them everyday. Is there another prenatal vitamin without iodine that you could take in place of the ones from New Chapter every other day or so? Sometimes this “pulsing” method can help in building up to a full dose.

I hope this is helpful. Please let us know if you find out any more info about iodine detox reactions during pregnancy!

Jessica says:

Thanks so much. This really helps a lot. I dont’ have a good doctor right now, but I will be seeing a nurse midwife soon and I can ask her. I think it’s a great idea to alternate supplements. I think i found one. Mine only has 90 mcg, so I guess maybe that’s not very much anyway. Thanks for the Magnesium and Vit C info. I use the magnesium oil as a deodorant. It actually works ok (not in summer). I hope I am absorbing some from that. I will take some C too.
I already eat lots of Celtic sea salt. I will keep you posted. Thank you so much.


I’m glad you found the info useful, Jessica. I was going to suggest asking a midwife! The iodine supplement I tried last year only contained 200mcg of iodine, but it drove my skin crazy! It also caused horrible water retention around my stomach.

I wouldn’t have thought of using magnesium oil as a deodorant. I love that! I also love taking rose hips for vitamin C. Have you tried them? They provide the full complex of the vitamin instead of just ascorbic acid. A whole pound of the powder is significantly cheaper than any other vit C supplement I’ve seen. I take a spoonful in warm water and it tastes like a tea. Sometimes I add some raw honey. Yum! I order it from Vitacost:

Best wishes for a happy pregnancy!

Sam says:

When I started supplementing iodine with half a pill of iodoral I started breaking out and for about 2 days afterwards I had a strong chlroine smell to my urine which seems to agree with the statement that it causes you to excrete halides. If you google iodine smelly urine you will find other people had the same experience. Its very important not to be selenium deficient when you supplement iodine, as selenium is in the enzyme that converts t4 to t3.

JMTB says:

Thank you for this wonderful website and all your time, care, and attention that’s gone into it.

Just put your little pocket-size grocery tip sheet into my purse! You’re such a doll to help us out.

I love and admire your valor!!!
Appreciation again, dear lady.


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