Symptoms of Iodine Overdose

by Dr. Edward Group DC, NP, DACBN, DCBCN, DABFM Published on , Last Updated on

An iodine overdose can have serious repercussions

The human body requires iodine to develop and, especially, maintain proper metabolic balance. That being the case, it’s somewhat ironic that elemental iodine is toxic to humans. Typically, we do not come into contact with elemental iodine. Most solutions and all consumable forms occur in the iodide ion (Detoxadine, a form of nascent iodine is safe). A few examples of this would be potassium iodide and sodium iodide, the chemical compounds placed in salt in many countries throughout the world. Regardless, it’s a topic to be aware of.

Elemental iodine, however, damages tissue upon contact. High concentrations of iodine solutions (even those containing iodide) can create immediate chemical burns… with the potential for much greater complications. It’s for that reason that warnings always state not to induce vomiting if ingested (unless otherwise advised by poison control).

Overexposure and overdose can occur with constant, repeated exposure to high concentrations of iodine. An individual could come in contact with high concentrations from tinctures of iodine, such as when using it as an antiseptic or disinfectant. Studies have also shown that iodate (an alternative form of iodine used as a salt additive) ingested in large quantities can lead to corrosive effects in the gastrointestinal tract. [1]

Other sources of iodine that can lead to poisoning are Amiodarone/Cordarone (an anti-arrhythmia drug), Lugol’s solution, Pima syrup, potassium iodide, and radioactive iodine used for certain medical tests or thyroid disease.

Symptoms of an Iodine Overdose

Some symptoms of an iodine overdose can be abdominal pain, delirium, fever, vomiting, and shortness of breath. More serious symptoms can occur, depending on the way the iodine overdose occurred. Here is a brief summary of ways elemental or concentrated iodine overdose can occur and its resulting effects. [2]

How Can It Happen?

  • Ingestion: Oral ingestion can lead to severe damage to the mouth, esophagus and lungs, and may result in shortness of breath, edema of the glottis (vocal component of the larynx) or pulmonary edema (fluid accumulation in the lungs). Vomiting, abdominal pain and diarrhea may follow ingestion along with severe gastroenteritis. A metallic taste may result in the mouth. Renal failure could also follow. [3] Possible shock may occur resulting in an increased heart rate, low blood pressure and a complete collapse of the circulatory system. It can also affect the brain causing headache, dizziness, and delirium.
  • Inhalation: Inhaling iodine vapour can cause extreme pulmonary irritation which can cause pulmonary edema.
  • Eye Contact: Iodine contact with the eye can lead to severe burns to the surface of the eye.
  • Skin Contact: Applying strong iodine solutions to the skin can lead to chemical burns.

If a large amount of concentrated iodine enters the body, it can result in serious damage to primary systems with the potential result of death. [4] So when considering working with elemental or concentrated iodine, always know the product and how it should be used. Be aware that, although iodine is a necessary element for proper thyroid and metabolic function, elemental iodine includes some very serious side effects… but, unless you’re in a lab or specialized setting, you’re unlikely to come across it.


  1. Bürgi H, Schaffner TH, Seiler JP. The toxicology of iodate: a review of the literature. Thyroid. 2001 May;11(5):449-56.
  2. Toxnet. Iodine, Elemental. (last accessed 2013-08-06)
  3. Mao YC, Tsai WJ, Wu ML, Ger J, Deng JF, Yang CC. Acute hemolysis following iodine tincture ingestion. Hum Exp Toxicol. 2011 Oct;30(10):1716-9. doi: 10.1177/0960327111398677. Epub 2011 Feb 7.
  4. Medline Plus. Iodine Poisoning. (last accessed 2013-08-06)

†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. Global Healing Center does not dispense medical advice, prescribe, or diagnose illness. The views and nutritional advice expressed by Global Healing Center are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.

  • lucid

    at what concentration? What about the usefulness of iodine beyond the thyroid?

  • ghc_health

    Much focus is given to iodine and its relationship to the thyroid. Although that’s not off base, it is worth mentioning that every cell and system in the body requires iodine. Adequate iodine promotes good all-around health, not just thyroid.

  • Adam

    Hi guys! I need wee help. 10 weeks ago I’ve started taking nascent iodine (survival shield) and I do have some strange side effect on my skin! It’s purple and itchy spot on the side of my body right above my butt. It did show up within last 5hours. Would you be able to tell what’s going on? Is it toxins leaving my body or something?
    The thing is that I live in UK and doctors are really dumb in here! So I don’t really have any place to go!

  • Global Healing Center

    Could be… although if you’ve taken SS for 10 weeks and this just appeared 5 hours ago, it’s not likely they’re related. Aside from the blister, that almost looks like a lyme disease rash…

  • Steven Collins

    Are there any downsides/negative effects associated with taking too much iodine in the form of Infowars Life Survival Shield?

    It’s what I’m taking at the moment and it’s great, by the way.

  • Global Healing Center

    Survival Shield is awesome but there’s no benefit to taking more than your body needs. It’s like anything else in that there is eventually an upward limit. Plus, you’re just going to lose the excess in urine.

  • Axiom Kennels

    I accidentally took three full droppers full of the X2 instead of three drops. Am I in any danger ?

  • sheople

    I take between 25 and 75 drops per day of the detoxidine nascent iodine. I’ve been taking for 8 months. I’ve been taking the new super concentrated version for barely 2 months. I take a high dose because I had prostate issues and that has seemed to stop. I plan on reducing my daily intake within the next 4 months. I read a doctor online say that if you’re iodine deficient you can take extra for the first year until your levels are normal. I plan on taking a blood test soon.

  • Global Healing Center

    Please call our customer care at 800-476-0016 if you still have concerns.

  • Axiom Kennels

    I am alive and well 😉

  • Terra

    i take about 3000-4000 mcg a day everyday. Is it ok? I do experience every morning a lot of bowel movements (at least 3 times in the morning, like my God, do I eat that much?), my hubby started to feel some pain in the kidney area. I wonder if it is some detoxifying effect?

  • Global Healing Center

    Sounds like a reasonable amount. Couldn’t say about your husband’s issue… it could be, could also be something else. Kidney stones maybe? If the pain persists he should have it checked out.

  • terra

    thank you. we identified that a lot of bowel movements are due to the prunes we eat for dessert every evening. Pain in kedney area was due to the fact that he didn’t drink enough water. when it was fixed – problem solved. :)

  • Terra

    kidneys problems stop, it was not enough water drinking problem….

  • Mcairlyn

    I am interested in starting to take iodine supplements, but I have a small pituitary tumor. Would this impact that at all?

  • Global Healing Center

    I wish we could provide a definitive answer but it just wouldn’t be responsible to make specific assumptions with only a quick message as the foundation. I would suggest discussing with the doctor who discovered your tumor!

  • Sheri

    That looks like ring worm to me, which appears very quickly. Coincidentally, iodine applied topically does a great job of clearing up ring worm, much better than Lotrimin, etc.

  • Lorrain

    I have a question regarding the amount of Survival Shield x2 that we are required to consume daily. It says to take 3 drops…small drops or big drops? :)

  • Global Healing Center

    Hi Lorrain, if you use the included dropper, every drop should be the same size.

  • Ian

    Hi, I have a query about Detoxadine. I find it works great and gives me a good boost in energy but find I am not as sleepy of a night. I was taking 3-4 big drops every morning for nearly a month but had to stop over Xmas as I couldn’t go to sleep at night and was getting very stressed. When I did eventually go to sleep I would keep waking up every hour or so and felt terrible in work and not with it at all. So I stopped the Detoxadine for a couple of weeks and started to sleep better after a couple of days and felt less stressed. After a couple of weeks and feeling tired again I tried Detoxadine again but started on 1 small drop increasing to 2 small drops after a couple of days. Again I felt a decent energy boost but after a week my sleep is different. Last night it was much lighter and kept waking up I think if it’s the same tonight I will drop to 1 drop. I know my iodine levels are low after
    testing and as my thyroid level is boarder line my doctor won’t do anything but Detoxadine is the only thing that helps but is it too strong for me? As I feel jacked up on caffeine or soothing at night. Lugols isn’t as good as Detoxadine as I didn’t feel much difference.

  • Global Healing Center

    Three drops is the recommended serving size but maybe you ought to try 1 or 2 drops and see if you can tell a difference.

  • zola2.0

    hey axiom I made the same mistake about a month a go r u still OK or should I be worried

  • Cole

    Can taking 1300-1700 mcg of nascent iodine daily cause throat pain, tenderness, raspy voice, feeling of a lump in my throat and lots of phlegm coughed up? Or is it just detoxing causing that? Seems to start when I take it everyday after 3-5 days

  • Global Healing Center

    Tough to say what it is but there’s not really any reason iodine would cause that.

  • SHM

    How much of Lugols 5% should I take daily? Borderline hypothyroid, 42 years old female?

  • Global Healing Center

    Probably best to use as directed on the label.

  • sherry

    can iodine cause a skin rash. it keeps spreading. 6 drops every other day is what i have been taking.

  • Global Healing Center

    It’s not impossible but also hard to say definitely. Discontinue or cut your use and see if it affects it.

  • Salty Chris Fowler

    Question re: Survival Shield X-2. I have a heredity allergy to shellfish (red only, lobster, crab, etc.) which I have always attributed to iodine. Should I have any concern with taking X-2 as directed?

  • Global Healing Center

    It’s more likely a protein in the shellfish. X2 and Detoxadine are deep earth sourced, no shellfish, no sea sources.

  • Joel D’Alessandro

    I have both the regular Survival Shield – Nascent Iodine and the Survival Shield X-2 – Nascent Iodine. I’ve noticed when taking the X-2, that I get very tired, fatigued, low energy. I know this is opposite of what it supposed to happen, and opposite of what everyone else reports. I don’t notice this effect when using the regular SS. Is it maybe because the X-2 is just too much for me? Even with just using 1 drop per day, I notice this decline in my energy. Is it just a part of detoxing? If so, would this fatigue pass? How long? I find myself wanting to use the X-2, but the fatigue just too draining to maintain it. Simply coincidence or something related? Thank you for any info.

  • GHCSupport

    As Detoxadine is consumed it can dislodge built up bromides that will then enter the blood stream. Bromine acts as a sedative, and so it can make you feel tired. Ideally as you have removed more of this from the system the symptoms should subside. It may be ideal to speak with your physician if you find that this problem persist.

  • Joel D’Alessandro

    That’s exactly how I feel! Shortly after taking the drops (taking the recommended) I suddenly feel totally drained, like just after gorging on a thanksgiving turkey dinner. Takes hours or even a day or two of NOT using the iodine to get back to normal again. So I stop taking it to shake off the fatigue. Should I rough it out and keep up with it to see if I get over that hump?

  • Adam Smith

    Hi, I have 4 short questions I’ve been wondering about if you have the time (to which I can find little or no info):

    1) I’ve read that it is best to have an iodine supplement that has a certain ratio of iodine and potassium iodide, as is found in Lugol’s solution. What is your opinion on this? And if this is so, why does the nascent iodine not also have potassium iodide mixed with it?

    2) Also, do you recommend the nascent iodine form over the Lugol’s?

    3) I’ve also read that the nascent form, although absorbed more readily, also looses it’s effect more rapidly, and so is best to take in small, frequent doses as opposed to less frequent larger ones. Would you concur with this?

    Lastly, 4) Dr. Brownstein recommends 12.5 MILLIGRAMS a day of iodine (much more than normally recommended dosages). What is your opinion there, and would the dose for the nascent form be the same (in milligrams/micrograms) as other forms?


  • Nikyar Elhami-Manesh

    I gargled a whole bottle of Betadine over three weeks without knowing i shouldnt, that was a year ago. My arm really hurts still. what can i do to get better? i though to take a thyroid manager. please reply.

  • JJ

    Hi, I just received the 2 bottles prefer, I took the 3 drops & within aI minute I was so fatigued I had to lay down & slept a bit, just woke up, feel much better, why?

  • JJ

    Just got my order, 2 bottles, I took the rec amount of 3 drops & wowzie, I was hit with fatigue!! Enough to lay down & doze, about an hr later I had enough energy to seek why???? Scary.

  • Global Healing Center

    Haven’t heard of anything like this. Has it happened again?

  • JJ

    This past weekend I decided to try, I should have know better not to take recc dosage just in case. Next day I started with 1 drop every 6 hrs & not that bad, still VERY fatigued. Monday (yesterday) I felt sooo much better. I decided to do a skin patch test after watching your video, well…. I put 3 drops on my forearm & the color disappeared within 2 minutes, any indication??? I did it again this morn
    (Tues) with 3 drops & same thing, gone in 2 mins same with my child of 9. My guess is I am severely deficient. I feel much better today, ingested 1 drop & will continue until I feel I can up the drops. Been taking other vits, C & magnesium. Thank you so much for your response.

  • Jonathan Harris

    you shouldn’t take vitamin C With iodine because it turns iodine into iodide. Pretty much instantly even if you drink orange juice you can test this theory by taking a fourth a cup of water teaspoon of cornstarch stirred up then mix two drops of nascent iodine or any Iodine for that matter it will turn a really dark purple as soon as it comes into contact with the vitamin C the color will disappear. but if you oxidize the vitamin C it won’t lose color. if you oxidize vitamin C it will turn into dehydroascorbic acid Which is a pro-oxidant which allows the vitamin C to break the blood brain barrier I normally make it and freeze it into ice cubes normally 16 per tray its some really amazing stuff. Hope this was helpful.

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  • Love

    This article lacks valid evidence towards its claims and at that is misleading as a whole. Your references not only contradict the messages of your article but the references in question are vague and reference other articles that reference articles. Anyone can create a few websites and reference them in an article as ‘fact’ The author should have been aware of this! Take care everyone, hopefully these points get you thinking.

  • Jason

    Hi. I have an older bottle (opened) of Survival Shield X-2. Perhaps a year old.
    My question is: Is there a shelf life to the X-2 after it’s opened?
    Thanks for the help!

  • Global Healing Center

    It’s got a shelf life of about 3 years so you should be fine.

  • kate

    Is 25mg (25,000mcg) too much for someone who has hypothyroidism for 10 years?

  • Global Healing Center

    That’s a hefty amount well above what’s recommended on the label, for Detoxadine at least. You should probably talk to your healthcare advisor first and make sure that’s in alignment with a plan developed for your individual needs.

  • Alma

    I take 5,850mcg – 11,700mcg a day. Is this fine or am I taking too much ?

  • Stephanie Lee

    So, I was taking SS X-2 and became SO TIRED. It was scary!! I never related it to the iodine, but I went to the dr because I couldn’t take it anymore. He tested my thyroid and found it to be underactive. He told me that if you take TOO MUCH of this it can cause subclinical hypothyroidism. I have stopped it completely and feel a bit better, but he said it will take about 3 weeks to get out of my system. It’s been 1 week so far. I will have my bloodwork done in a month to see if my thyroid is working properly again.

  • Hal

    I am taking 4 ml every day. I believe it was in the “China Study” book that 7ml of iodine was consumed in the diets of women in Okinawa? Please someone give me some insight/opinion on this.

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