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Iodine (from the Gr. Iodes, meaning "violet"), is a chemical element in the periodic table that has the symbol I and atomic number 53. It is required as a trace element for most living organisms. Chemically, iodine is the least reactive of the halogens, and the most electropositive halogen. Lack of iodine is the cause of goitre (Derbyshire neck). Historically underactive thyroids were common in Derbyshire causing people to develop a neck 'goitre' (swollen thyroid) - termed 'Derbyshire neck' - because their diets were deficient in iodine. It is assimilated by seaweeds from which it may be recovered, and is found in Chilean saltpetre, caliche, old salt brines, and salt wells.
In areas where there is little iodine in the diet—typically remote inland areas and semi-arid equatorial climates where no marine foods are eaten—iodine deficiency gives rise to goiter, so called endemic goiter. In some such areas, this is now combatted by the addition of small amounts of iodine to table salt in form of sodium iodide, potassium iodide, potassium iodate—this product is known as iodized salt. Iodine deficiency is the leading cause of preventable mental retardation. Iodine deficency remains a serious problem that affects people around the globe.
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According to Hungarian Nobel Laureate Szent-Györgyi, KI was the universal medicine in Europe during the late 1800’s and early 1900’s. After the discovery of thyroid hormones and their clinical applications in the 1930’s, medical textbooks started promoting the idea that the only role of iodine as an essential element was in the synthesis of thyroid hormones.
TINCTURE IODINE. The tincture of iodine is prescribed for internal use in some forms of chronic rheumatism and affections of the heart and blood vessels. It is best administered well diluted with water; 5 to 20 drops a wineglass of milk or water is a suitable dose, but iodism is of occurrence, and for prevention a smaller dose like one drop. In minute doses it will often stop vomiting. For this purpose, 1 - 2 drops in 2 ounce of water is given at half-hourly intervals, in this way it stops food poisoning by killing bacteria.
The action of iodine on the skin is two-fold: as a disinfectant is useful to apply to the skin before an reration because it quickly penetrates to io deeper layers. It is commonly applied cuts and abrasions of the skin, but, although very popular remedy, it is not infallible owing to its irritant action, too frequent application not only kills any bacteria present (which is the desired effect), but also damages and sometimes kills the tissues themselves, and so hinders or prevents healing if applied too often. Secondly, it acts as a nutrient, in that once asorbed into the wound, reaches the blood and thus the organs.
A misapprehension under which many people harbour is to suppose that the application of iodine obviates the necessity of thoroughly cleansing a wound. The first essential in resting a wound is to wash the surrounding skin well with soap (either soap, if possible), and water, and then, if there is any danger of sepsis, to leave the wound hourly with warm saline solution (1 teaspoon of common salt to a pint of water). Iodine may be applied as may be need as an added precaution to superficial cuts.