Tahoma Clinic Dispensary
Potassium Iodide (SSKI); 1 oz (1250 drops) $28.00; Phone
Toll-free 1 (888) 893-6878
(As of 4.06.09)
(Reprinted From "Nutrition and Healing")
If you've read or heard anything at all about potassium
iodide, it's probably been in association with terrorist
attacks or nuclear power plant disasters. Potassium
iodide (usually taken in tablet form) is recommended by
"public health" authorities to protect the thyroid gland
against accumulation of radioactive iodine released by a
"terrorist bomb" or by nuclear power plant "meltdown".
But in reality, potassium iodide is a very effective
"home remedy" with literally dozens of uses.
Older readers may remember Mother putting "iodine" on
cuts and scrapes. It kept infection away as well as any
"modern" antibiotic ointment, with the added benefit of
not inducing "bacterial resistance". But what else is
potassium iodide (usually abbreviated by it's Latin
initials "SSKI") good for? Read on and then make sure to
read the separate section about keeping SSKI use safe.
Some years ago, a retired Indian physician told me about
his use of SSKI during more than 30 years traveling from
village to village in rural Africa. Most usually, the
only drinking water available was from a local stream or
river, muddy and contaminated. After removing sediment
and debris by straining the dirty water through
cheesecloth, he'd add several drops of SSKI, and wait two
to three minutes. He and his team could then drink the
water. In over 30 years, he never got an infection from
contaminated water. The SSKI killed any micro-organisms
Fortunately, the water available to most of us when
traveling is considerably cleaner. Despite this, when
Holly (my wife) and I travel, we always carry a small
bottle of SSKI, and put one or two drops into any water
we're not absolutely certain about. We've cut back
considerably on airline travel this year because of the
thoroughly un- American and extremely unpleasant "airport
Gestapo" experience. But when we're forced to travel by
air, we drink a few ounces of water with 10 drops of
SSKI, and prevent any "airline sinusitis" or other
respiratory infection that so often follows several hours
spent breathing re-cycled, germ laden air. (SSKI rapidly
accumulates in any and all body secretions, including in
the sinuses, where it inhibits or kills bacteria,
viruses, and fungi before they can cause an
Although Holly has never had the experience, occasionally
another woman at one of the conferences we attend has
developed a bladder infection when far away from home and
her own physician. Holly gives her our "back- up" small
bottle of SSKI with instructions to take 10 to 15 drops
in water or juice every 3 to 4 hours (while awake) until
the infection is gone.
[Although SSKI is close to 100% effective in the
elimination of bladder infections, this is a "high dose";
make sure to read the section "Keeping SSKI safe". If
possible, it's best to use the simple sugar D-mannose to
eliminate bladder infections. D-mannose is effective over
90% of the time, and is very, very safe. For details, see
D- mannose and Bladder Infection by Lane Lenard Ph. D.
and me, available through the Tahoma Clinic
When our children were teenagers, they always knew where
to find the SSKI bottle. Whenever one of them "popped a
zit", she or he would rub SSKI into it every hour or two.
The offending "zit" would be gone in 24-48 hours or less;
an innumerable number of social events were rendered
"zit-free" by this approach.
So far, I've been telling you about SSKI's ability to
"kill germs" in one place or another. We'll return to
this important "home remedy" use for SSKI, but let's
digress for now to other uses.
Many women develop "fibrocystic breast disease". In the
1970s, I learned from pioneering trace element researcher
Dr. John Myers that iodine (a close "relative" of SSKI)
would eliminate even the most severe cases of fibrocystic
breast disease. [For the full details of this treatment,
see pages 169-174 of The Patient's Book of Natural
Healing by Alan Gaby M. D. and me.] In "medium" to
"minor" cases, 6 to 8 drops of SSKI taken in a few ounces
of water daily will frequently reduce fibrocystic breast
disease to insignificance within three to six months.
Please do not do this without monitoring your thyroid
function see "Keeping
One of our daughters and at least thirty other women I've
worked with in nearly 30 years have helped ovarian cysts
disappear within two to three months with the same
quantity of SSKI. Again, make sure to monitor your
It's very likely that SSKI helps eliminate fibrocystic
breast disease and ovarian cysts at least partly through
it's interaction with estrogens .which brings us to
another important use for SSKI (and other forms of iodine
such as "Lugol's solution" and "di-atomic iodine"). All
of these forms of iodine help your body to metabolize
estrone (a slightly carcinogenic human estrogen) and
16-alpha-hydroxyestrone (a much more dangerous metabolite
of human estrogen) into estriol, an "anti-carcinogenic"
or at worst "neutral" form of human estrogen. I've
reviewed literally hundreds of hormone tests in over 26
years which have proven this point. This testing and
treatment usually requires the help of a physician
skilled and knowledgeable in nutritional and natural
medicine, who can also help with monitoring thyroid
function. (See "Resources", page 8).
"Dupuytren's contracture" and "Peyronie's disease" are
two "fibrotic" conditions that can be helped considerably
by SSKI. In Dupuytren's contracture, thickening
(fibrosis) occurs along one of the tendons in the palm in
the hand, pulling the related finger down towards the
palm. As the problem progresses, the finger often can't
be straightened any more.
In Peyronie's disease, a very similar thickening occurs
along the shaft of the penis, making erections increasing
"curved" and painful. In both cases, rubbing SSKI into
the thickened tissue at least twice daily softens and
lessens the fibrotic area over a period of several
months, allowing for more normal function.
For these conditions, it's additionally helpful to take
para-aminobenzoic acid (PABA) 2 grams, three times daily,
and to rub a mixture of Vitamin E and DMSO into the
thickened areas, also. However, if "caught early", SSKI
alone will often "do the job". (It's also advisable to
have glucose-insulin tolerance test done, as there's an
unusually high incidence of "insulin resistance" in
people with Dupuytren's contracture or Peyronie's
"Keloids" are abnormally thick scars, sometimes as much
as an inch thick, that can form after injury. Although
anyone can get a keloid, they're more common among blacks
than other ethnic groups. Rubbing SSKI into a keloid at
least twice daily will ultimately flatten them down to a
"normal scar", but it can take many months to a year for
particularly bad ones. The treatment goes faster if SSKI
is mixed "50-50" with DMSO.
"Fistulas" are literally abnormal tunnels through
tissues, "tunnels" prevented from healing by chronic
infection. Two not-unusual types are "peri-anal fistulas"
(a "tunnel" from outside the anus to the inside of the
rectum) and "recto-vaginal" fistulas. Although these
fistulas can be treated successfully by surgery, they can
often be healed by frequent swabbing inside and out with
an SSKI-soaked "Q-tip". Patience is required: Complete
healing often takes several months. The treatment appears
to work better if the SSKI is mixed with DMSO, which
enhances "penetrance". My colleague Richard Kunin, M. D.
of San Francisco, is a "world class" expert on the use of
SSKI and other forms of iodine. He has found that
hemorrhoids will sometimes disappear literally overnight,
when SSKI (20 drops) mixed with flaxseed oil (1 ounce) is
rubbed in them at bedtime. He's also found that SSKI
alone will do the same job, although it "really stings"
when applied to a hemorrhoid by itself.
When I was a pre-med student at Harvard University, the
famous chemistry professor Louis Feiser made a point of
demonstrating to all the pre-medical students that iodine
and iodide would make oils, fats, and waxes (cholesterol
is actually a wax) more soluble in water. He urged us to
remember this in our medical practices, as he was sure it
wouldn't be taught in medical school (he was right!).
This known action of iodide likely explains why SSKI can
be useful in the next two applications.
Over 30 years ago, two ophthalmologists observed that a
combination tablet called "Iodo-niacin" (iodide 120
milligrams, niacin 15 milligrams) taken for several
months could actually reverse atherosclerotic clogging of
arteries. They proved this effect by taking pictures of
clogged arteries in the backs of the eyes ("retinal
photomicrographs") before and after treatment. The
published photographs showed a significant lessening of
the cholesterol-laden artery clogging in the "after"
Amazingly enough, no follow-up study has ever been
published (probably because niacin and iodide aren't
patentable). Despite this, the published pictures speak
clearly for themselves. I recommend 4 to 6 drops of SSKI
and niacin-containing B-complex daily (along with many
other things) for anyone with significant cholesterol-
related atherosclerotic clogging. Thyroid function must
"Sebaceous cysts" are cysts which contain oily, fatty
material. They usually appear rather suddenly on the face
or in the groin or labia. Rubbing in SSKI mixed 50-50
with DMSO will almost always persuade these cysts to go
away in a week or two; it appears that the iodide
"dissolves" the fatty, oily material contained in the
cysts, allowing your body to slowly re-absorb and dispose
Although it's not a common condition, from time to time
someone will come to my office at Tahoma Clinic inquiring
about alternatives to surgery for "parotid duct stone".
These are "stones" which can form in the saliva-carrying
duct(s) from the major salivary glands ("parotid" glands,
located at the "angle of the jaw"). 3 to 4 drops of SSKI
taken in water daily will almost always dissolve parotid
duct stones within four to eight months.
If you have chronic bronchitis and or emphysema ("COPD",
"COLD") SSKI is an invaluable tool. SSKI "gets into" all
body secretions, including often thick and hard to cough
up bronchial secretions, which get infected very easily.
SSKI takes care of both of these problems. It "loosens"
secretions remarkably, making them much easier to
"clear", and it prevents micro-organisms from growing
easily. With regular SSKI use, bronchial infection is a
much less frequent happening. Depending on the severity
of COPD, I recommend 3 to 6 drops of SSKI taken in water
once daily. As COPD is usually a chronic condition, SSKI
use will usually be indefinite, so make sure to monitor
your thyroid function! (See the August 2002 Nutrition
& Healing for a more complete discussion of natural
Now, back to other infections. For this group, using SSKI
mixed "50-50" with DMSO works better, as the DMSO enables
SSKI to penetrate much more deeply into the tissues and
Infected "hangnails" are perhaps the easiest to clear up
this way, as are nagging bacterial infections around the
edges of the toenails. Rub in the mixture several times
daily, and the problem's usually gone in a few days.
Herpes simplex ("herpes") ourbreaks can be "stopped cold"
in the same way, but it often takes longer for the "sore"
to heal itself over.
If you have persistent "swollen glands" in the throat or
groin areas, see a doctor first! These can very rarely be
signs of leukemia, lymphoma, or another cancer,
especially in older people. But if all tests and studies
are negative, and the doctor says "it's just swollen
glands", rub in the SSKI with DMSO. In a large majority
of cases, the "just swollen glands" will gradually fade
Fungus under the toenails ("onychomycosis") is a
difficult problem to treat. Even "conventional"
anti-fungal drug treatment takes months to work, and (for
safety) monthly liver function tests are necessary. SSKI
and DMSO rubbed on, around, and under the affected
toenails doesn't work any faster, but it's just as
effective, and definitely safer. Make sure to wear old
socks, because SSKI and other forms of iodine leave an
orange-brown stain. (Other safe and effective
alternatives include geranium oil, oregano oil, and tea
tree oil. These and other anti-fungal oils also require
"help" from DMSO to penetrate the toenail and soak the
SSKI can also help clear up vaginal infections. 20 to 30
drops in water, used in a small "douche" once daily for
five to ten days will usually do the job. (There's
actually a prescription-only iodine preparation of
available for vaginal infections, too.) However, iodine
preparations of any sort for vaginal infections are often
not popular because of the inevitable orange-brown stains
they leave on clothing.
What about SSKI to help a "weak" thyroid
(hypothyroidism)? Even though iodine and iodide are
absolutely essential to thyroid hormone formation, in
most "developed" countries, hypothyroid conditions are
not usually due to an outright lack of iodine or iodide.
Still, hypothyroidism is occasionally helped by 1 drop of
SSKI daily. Make sure to work with your doctor on this
Lastly, there's a gastronomic use for SSKI: reducing the
gas we all get from eating beans! If you're soaking beans
before cooking them, add 1 or 2 drops of SSKI, and let
them soak for an hour or more. (Pour offf that water
before cooking, and add fresh water.) You'll be surprised
at the reduction in resulting intestinal gas! (For those
who want a technical explanation: There's a naturally
occurring enzyme inhibitor in beans which interferes with
starch digestion, producing gas. SSKI inactivates this
In the past, SSKI and other forms of iodine and iodide
were available only on prescription, or through chemical
supply sources. Since the mid-1990s passage of the
Federal DSHEA law, we've regained the basic American
freedom to buy and sell natural substances (narcotics
exempted) without prescription. You haven't read or heard
much about SSKI because (despite Federal Appeals Court
decisions) FDA still maintains it's First Amendment
violating policy of complete suppression of truthful
product use information on package labels or in
advertisements .unless of course FDA is paid an enormous
amount of money ($250 million minimum, according to
Congressional testimony) for "approval". Since SSKI can't
be patented well, you know the rest.
SSKI can be obtained without prescription in some
compounding pharmacies, some health food stores, through
"on-line" sources, and at the Tahoma Clinic Dispensary
(with which I am of course affiliated) in a convenient
travel-size dropper bottle.
There are three "hazards" to using SSKI: staining,
allergy, and a very small possibility of thyroid
suppression with longer-term use of "too much".
Staining can be a big nuisance, but it's not a
health hazard. When SSKI is applied to skin, it can
impart a faint to moderate orange-brown color, which
fades away once SSKI is no longer being applied. SSKI and
other iodine stains in clothing can be semi-permanent or
permanent, so don't plan to wear anything "nice" in the
vicinity of recently-applied SSKI.
Iodine allergy is a possibility, although in
nearly 30 years of medical practice I've seen it only a
few times. Usually, it causes a red, bumpy skin rash,
which goes away after SSKI or other iodine is
discontinued. Topical (applied to the skin surface)
iodine allergy is almost never a serious emergency.
SSKI or iodine can very occasionally cause acne, which
also goes away once the source of iodine is
The type of so-called "iodine allergy" that can
interfere with breathing and occasionally sends us to the
emergency room is usually not allergy to iodine or iodine
molecules, but instead to much larger, possibly iodine-
containing molecules found in lobster, crab, clams and
other "shellfish". These molecules are not present in
SSKI or iodine. However, if there's any suspicion at all
of iodine allergy, it's best not to swallow any without
testing for allergy or sensitivity.
Too much iodine for too long can suppress thyroid
function. Many of the uses described for SSKI in the
accompanying article are short-term, from a few days or
less to a week or two. If SSKI is then stopped, there's
almost no chance of significant thyroid suppression.
However, if SSKI is to be used for two to three weeks or
longer, and especially if it's to be used continuously
(for example, COPD or cholesterol-related
atherosclerosis) monitoring thyroid function is very
important. To find a physician near you who can help
order and interpret thyroid function tests, consult the
Resources section on page 8.
Fortunately, in my experience with over a thousand
individuals, internal use of than nine drops or less of
SSKI daily has very rarely resulted in thyroid
suppression. On those very few occasions, discontinuance
has resulted in prompt recovery. So far, I've never seen
thyroid suppression result from "topical" (skin surface)
use of SSKI.
A final "safety" note: Dr. Kunin cautions (and I
agree) that if you use SSKI or other iodine "long-term",
make sure your diet contains plenty of essential fatty
acids (both omega-3 and omega-6) as well as the sulfur-
containing amino acids methionine and cysteine. If you
eat animal protein daily, that's usually sufficient as a
source of these two amino acids, but if you're vegetarian
(or close) and using "long term" SSKI or other iodine,
then take 300-500 milligrams of each daily.
IODINE, IODIDE, WHAT'S THE
Iodine is a basic element, as are calcium, zinc, oxygen
and other elements. The word "iodine" usually refers to
two iodine molecules chemically "stuck together" (I2),
just as the word "oxygen" usually refers to two oxygen
molecules "stuck together" (O2). Since iodine is more
reactive, and therefore more likely to cause problems,
iodine is usually used as "iodide", a word which refers
to one iodine molecule combined with another molecule
such as potassium (KI) or sodium (NaI). In chemical
terms, such molecules are called "salts"; the best known
salt is sodium chloride (NaCl), a "salt" of chlorine
The "SS" in "SSKI" refers to "Saturated Solution
Potassium Iodide". Other medically useful forms of iodine
include "Lugol's solution", invented by Dr. Lugol of
Paris in the 1840s, which contains a mixture of types of
iodine and iodide, and "di-atomic iodine", which is
another name for iodine, but usually prepared as a solid
in a capsule instead of a liquid.