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Potassium Iodide for Hyperthyroidism

 potassium iodide


  DISCLAIMER: This article has been written for informational and educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment


Potassium iodide (KI) has a long history of medicinal use and perhaps it had been working as the most substantial therapeutic agent for protecting the thyroid gland throughout history. The benefits of potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism are well known and most of its uses have been substantiated by modern scientific research over recent years.  


In this article, we’ll discuss the benefits and uses of potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism along with essential precautions and possible side effects. But we’ll start with the basics of hyperthyroidism first. So, let’s get started. 


Table of contents 

  • What is hyperthyroidism? 
  • Causes of hyperthyroidism 
  • Symptoms of hyperthyroidism 
  • Complications of hyperthyroidism 
  • What is potassium iodide? 
  • How potassium iodide can help with hyperthyroidism 
  • How to use potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism 
  • Precautions and side effects 
  • Final words 


What is hyperthyroidism? 

The term hyperthyroidism is used to refer to any condition in which there is an excess level of thyroid hormone released in the body. In other words, the thyroid gland is overworking than needed or it became overactive. Another term that people use oftentimes for this issue is thyrotoxicosis, which refers to the elevated levels of thyroid hormone in the blood, regardless of their causes.  


Causes of hyperthyroidism 

Hyperthyroidism or an overactive thyroid condition can be caused by a number of factors. They may include, but aren’t limited to: 


Thyroid nodules - These are abnormal growths on the thyroid gland, but are generally benign in nature (non-cancerous). They might become overactive and produce too much thyroid hormone. 


Grave’s disease - This is an autoimmune condition and the most prevalent cause of hyperthyroidism in which the immune system mistakenly attacks the thyroid gland and forces it to release too much thyroid hormone. 


Taking too much iodine - Iodine is widely used in cough syrups, medicines, and various dietary supplements. Consuming too much iodine may also cause your thyroid to be overactive and make excess hormones. 


Thyroiditis - When inflammation occurs in the thyroid gland, medically known as thyroiditis, the reserved thyroid hormone leaks out from it, resulting in too much production of thyroid hormone. 


Using excess thyroid medicine - Taking too much thyroid hormone medicine particularly to fight hypothyroidism or underactive thyroid may cause excessive levels of thyroid hormone.  


Symptoms of hyperthyroidism 

The signs and symptoms of hyperthyroidism may widely vary from person to person depending on the underlying root causes and associated health conditions. Most common symptoms may include: 

  • Difficulty sleeping 
  • Muscle weakness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability or nervousness 
  • Excess sensitivity to heat 
  • Irregular and rapid heartbeat 
  • Tremor in hands 
  • Unwanted weight loss 
  • Mood swings 
  • Diarrhea or frequent bowel movements 
  • Enlarged thyroid or goiter that may sometimes cause difficulty swallowing or breathing and may the neck look swelled. 


Complications of hyperthyroidism 

Various mild to severe health consequences are associated with hyperthyroidism, including: 


  • Graves’ ophthalmopathy or thyroid eye disease (TED)
  • Graves’ dermopathy or skin issues caused by Grave’s disease 
  • Osteoporosis or fragile bones
  • Various cardiovascular diseases such as heart attack, stroke, and peripheral vascular disease 
  • Thyrotoxic crisis which is an emergency medical condition that needs immediate medical assistance  


What is potassium iodide? 

Potassium iodide, scientifically symbolized as KI, is a stable form of iodine. It is used in the treatment of iodine deficiency as well as hyperthyroidism. It is also used to protect the thyroid gland from absorbing radioactive iodine after a nuclear accident. 


Potassium iodide has the ability to block the uptake of iodine into the thyroid, making it one of the most effective therapeutic agents to counteract the overactivity of the thyroid gland and to check excess secretion of thyroid hormone.  


How potassium iodide can help with hyperthyroidism 

Potassium iodide has been found to be effective in treating overactive thyroid or hyperthyroidism. It can help calm down the thyroid gland and to keep the secretion of thyroid hormone at a healthy level. 


A 2014 study published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism concluded that potassium iodide therapy is effective in patients with hyperthyroidism, particularly in individuals who are not able to tolerate various side effects of antithyroid drugs such as thioamides.  


How to use potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism

The actual doses of potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism will be different for different individuals depending on the strength of the product you take and the specific health condition you have. 


In general, for adults, the dosages of potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism range from 250 mg to 750 mg per day. This dose can be taken in two to three divided doses throughout the day. 


Always check with your doctor to determine what dose of potassium iodide would be the best for your specific condition and never change your dose unless or until your doctor tells you to do so. 


Precautions and side effects 

Potassium iodide may produce some side effects such as swelling of lymph glands, swelling of legs, arms, face, lips, throat, and tongue, joint pain, and hives. But these aren’t common. 


Besides, potassium iodide may interact with certain prescription drugs such as warfarin, acenocoumarol, and phenindione. 


People with the following medical conditions should avoid using potassium iodide: 


  • Hyperkalemia or elevated levels of potassium in the blood 
  • Chronic kidney disease or CKD 
  • Tuberculosis 
  • Myotonia congenita 


It’s strongly recommended to consult with a licensed naturopathic medical doctor or healthcare provider before starting to take potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism. 


Final words 

Potassium iodide has historically been used for the protection of the thyroid gland. The use of potassium iodide for hyperthyroidism or overactive thyroid has been substantiated by modern scientific research. Studies suggest that potassium iodide therapy may be an alternative strategy for people with hyperthyroidism, especially those who want to avoid various side effects of antithyroid drugs.  


Since it may cause many unwanted adverse effects and interact with certain prescription medications, potassium iodide should be used with caution. Always check with your healthcare professional before starting potassium iodide for hypothyroidism or any other health conditions. 

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Important resources:

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25144628/
  2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/potassium-iodide-oral-route/precautions/drg-20065546?p=1#:~:text=Potassium%20iodide%20is%20used%20to,inhaled%20or%20swallowed%20radioactive%20iodine.
  3. https://www.thyroid.org/patient-thyroid-information/ct-for-patients/volume-8-issue-2/vol-8-issue-2-p-3-4/
  4. http://www.thyroid.org/hyperthyroidism/
  5. https://medlineplus.gov/hyperthyroidism.html
  6. https://noahchemicals.com/blog/potassium-iodide-in-supplements-medication/
  7. https://www.webmd.com/drugs/2/drug-1823/potassium-iodide-oral/details