Skin creams and salves

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Iodine and skin eruptions

There is a plethora of info here, my main interest is on iodine supplementation's effects on the skin.

The premise is that iodism is caused by abnormal vasoconstriction and that iodine "acne", skin eruptions, etc are caused by plasma being forced out of capillary walls.

Iodine and its preparations not only do not, as shown above, cause vasodilation either in large or small doses, but they provoke constriction of all vessels, arteries and veins, because these vessels are supplied with a muscular coat, and owing to the excessive metabolism which they incite indirectly in this, the contractile layer of these vessels. This morbid phenomenon is aggravated by another factor: the presence in the blood of sufficient iodine to irritate the intima, a feature which, in itself, tends to promote constriction in vessels supplied with vasomotor nerves. What has been mistaken for general vasodilation is dilation of the capillaries. These delicate vessels not being supplied with a muscular coat or vasomotor nerves, are not morbidly influenced as are the others, but they suffer indirectly: the arteries and veins, by contracting inordinately, drive the blood into them and cause passive dilation. So great is the pressure in some cases, that the plasma is forced out of the capillary walls in relatively large quantities—sufficient, in fact, to cause oedema of the face, larynx, pleura, lungs, etc., and even to provoke their rupture,as shown by the ecchymosis, haemorrhages, hematuria, purpura,
menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, etc., witnessed.

Iodism.—This condition is due to the presence of an excess of iodine in the blood over and above the aggregate of this halogen required by the body at large.  This aggregate is represented by the iodine contained in the thyroid and parathyroids, the red corpuscles (which take up their thyroidase) and what reserve the body fluids and the different organs can accommodate.

Although, on the whole, large quantities of iodine or its salts, whether given in one dose or in many small doses, are more likely to cause iodism than small quantities, the question of dose is subsidiary to the condition of the patient. A very small quantity may thus produce iodism merely because the patient's asset in iodine is up to its maximum limit—his supposed "iodiosyncrasy." This is particularly the case in subjects whose thyroid apparatuses only able, owing to local disorders (goiter, for example) or deficient development, to take up a small proportion of this halogen. Any condition which inhibits more or less its excretion also predisposes the patient to iodism, by causing his asset to remain high...

... Cutaneous eruptions of various kinds, papular, vesicular, eczematous, erysipelatous, pustular, etc., may appear during the administration of iodine or its salts, especially of the potassium iodide. The presence of several of these eruptions coincides with that of other symptoms of iodism and with abnormal vasoconstriction; they are due to the fact that the latter condition, by causing retention of the drug in the capillaries of the skin, promotes therein disorders similar to those produced by external applications of iodine. The multiplicity of cutaneous disorders is due to the presence in these capillaries of different kinds of wastes: alloxuric bases, hypocatabolized cellular debris, various acids, etc., each of which affects the cutaneous elements in its own way. The underlying cause of all these eruptions, therefore, is the same as in all phenomena witnessed in iodism, viz., abnormal vasoconstriction.

All these phenomena, and the excessive constriction of the arteries, would not occur were iodine able to excite the thyropressor nerve.  But such is not the case. Even when taken in doses sufficient to produce acute poisoning, iodine and its preparations fail to increase the secretory activity of the thyroid. Were it, in fact, otherwise, this organ would waste its product whenever its own pabulum, iodine, would enter the blood...

...As to the quantities of iodine or its salts which produce iodism, the comprehensive research of Briquet in several hundred cases, led to the conclusion that "the greater the dose of any iodide, the greater the likelihood that iodism will appear, and that the symptoms will be severe"—contrary to the prevailing opinion. He cites, moreover, cases reported by Bresgen, Negre and Petitjean in which large doses would produce it, while smaller doses would not. According to my own interpretation of its effects, the nearer the patient's condition approximates normal health, the greater are the chances of his developing iodism. I have not only observed this fact clinically, hut Ricord, Jullien and Wood, according to Briquet, have observed that syphilitica appear, on the whole, to be practically immune to the morbid effects of  iodides as compared to others. There is no doubt, moreover, that very small doses can produce iodism in accord with the prevailing view. In one of my goitrous cases, less than 1 minim (0.065 c.c.) of the tincture of iodine daily produced it; Rilliet observed that even sea-air and cod-liver oil sufficed to awaken morbid phenomena in these cases. Gautier confirmed the observation as to the influence of the sea-shore. and refers to a case in which poisoning followed "the application of iodine dressing to a tooth by a dentist." The reason for this becomes self-evident if interpreted from my standpoint. While Baumann found that the amount of iodine in the thyroid was greatly reduced when this organ was diseased, Ewald observed that in advanced colloid degeneration of the gland only traces of iodine were present. The loss of the body's great storehouse for this halogen accounts for its accumulation in the blood and the readiness with which morbid phenomena are produced. This indicates how the organism resents even minute quantities when they exceed the physiological limit. Indeed, irrespective of the presence of goiter, small doses may also provoke iodism. Hynes reported a case in which 3-grain (0.2 gm.) doses brought on haemorrhagic rash; and H. C. Wood one in which 6 grains (0.4 gm.) daily brought on violent conjunctivitis with facial oedema.

The presence of iodine in the cutaneous secretions has been shown by R. W. Taylor, and other ohservers have found it in the saliva, nasal secretion, milk. etc. Its morbid influence in the production of the cutaneous disorders during elimination is generally recognized. Cushny writes: "That a similar action on the skin may he induced by iodine and iodides is shown by the application of iodine to the skin, being often followed by eruptions which are not confined to the point of application, but spread." That toxic wastes must be retained as well as the iodides in the cutaneous capillaries hardly needs to be emphasized; their influence in the pathogenesis of eruptions is also well-known.

The list of symptoms observed in iodism could be considerably lengthened—sufficiently so, in fact, to show that the three degrees of passive capillary hyperemia: the simple, exudative and hemorrhagic, can be provoked by iodine and its preparations in all organs. The fact that such an array of phenomena can be explained by this one general mechanism, affords in itself conclusive proof of its soundness as an explanation of iodism—especially in view of the fact that the physiological action of iodine has remained unknown.

source: The Internal Secretions and the Principles of Medicine 1917

Monday, November 11, 2013


image source- wiki commons
This is from an old detective story entitled "The Sorceress of the Strand- V. The Bloodstone.", found in "The Strand" Magazine, 1903. Apparently there were six parts in the Sorceress Tales.... More information can be found here:

A synopsis: Lady Bouverie(Violet) is being framed for the theft of a treasured Persian Bloodstone. Madam Sara(the villian) dresses up and acts the part of a distraught Violet handing something over to a masked man and then dropping a handkerchief during a midnight liaison in a moonlit garden...

"He", referred to below, is Eric Vandeleur, Doctor, Madam Sara's arch-nemesis and, conveniently, an old family friend of Lady Bouvier's(and her treating physician)! "I", referred to below, is the detective, Dixon Druce, also conveniently an old family friend of Violet's.

How fortuitous that the major players would all end up in the mansion at the same time... !!

you can read the story in it's entirety here, it's actually quite entertaining:

The Sorceress in the Strand, Part V

Vandeleur's expression suddenly changed. He was regarding Lady Bouverie with a steady look; he then took up the handkerchief which we had found, examined it carefully, and laid it down again.

"Have you been taking the medicine I ordered you, Lady Bouverie ?" was his remark.

"I have," she replied
image source- wiki commons


"Yes; three times."

"Will someone give me a large, clean sheet of white paper?"

I found one at once and brought it to him. He carefully rolled the handkerchief in it, drew out his stylograph, and wrote on the package :—

'' Handkerchief found by Sir John Bouverie and Mr. Druce at 12:40 a.m."

He then asked Lady Bouverie for the one which she had in her pocket; this was almost as wet as the one I had picked up. He put it in another packet, writing also upon the paper:—

"Handkerchief given to me by Lady Bouverie at 3:20 a.m."

Then, drawing the inspector aside, he whispered a few words to him which brought an exclamation of surprise from that officer.

"Now," he said, turning to Sir John, "I have done my business here for the present. I mean to return to London at once in my motorcar, and I shall take Mr. Druce with me. The inspector here has given me leave to take also these two handkerchiefs, on which I trust important evidence may hang."

He drew out his watch.

"It is now nearly half-past three," he said. "I shall reach my house at 4.30; the examination will take fifteen minutes; the result will be dispatched from Westminster police-station to the station here by telegram. You should receive it, Sir John, by 5.30, and I trust," he added, taking Lady Bouverie's hand, "it will mean your release, for that you are guilty I do not for a moment believe. In the meantime the police will remain here."

He caught-my arm, and two minutes later we were rushing through the night towards London.

"My dear fellow," I gasped, "explain yourself, for Heaven's sake. Is Violet innocent?"

"Wonderful luck," was his enigmatical answer. "I fancy Sara has over-acted this piece."

"You can find the bloodstone?"

"That I cannot tell you; my business is to clear Lady Bouverie. Don't talk, or we shall be wrecked."

He did not vouchsafe another remark till we stood together in his room, but he had driven the car like a madman.
He then drew out the two packets containing the handkerchiefs and began to make rapid chemical preparations.

"Now, listen," he said. "You know I am treating Lady Bouverie. The medicine I have been giving her happens to contain large doses of iodide of potassium. You may not be aware of it, but the drug is eliminated very largely by all the mucous membranes, and the lachrymal gland, which secretes the tears, plays a prominent part in this process. The sobbing female whom you are prepared to swear on oath was Lady Bouverie at the rendezvous by the summer-house dropped a handkerchief—this one." He laid his finger on the first of the two packets. "Now, if that woman was really Lady Bouverie, by analysis of the handkerchief I shall find, by means of a delicate test, distinct traces of iodine on it. If, however, it was not Lady Bouverie, but someone disguised with the utmost skill of an actress to represent her, not only physically, but with all the emotions of a distracted and guilty woman, even to the sobs and tears—then we shall not find iodine on the analysis of this handkerchief."

My jaw dropped as the meaning of his words broke upon me.

"Before testing, I will complete my little hypothesis by suggesting that the note, evidently thrown in your way, was to decoy you to be a witness of the scene, and that the handkerchief taken from Lady Bouverie's room and marked with her initials was intended to be the finishing touch in the chain of evidence against her. Now we will come to facts, and for all our sakes let us hope that my little theory is correct."
He set to work rapidly. At the end of some operations lasting several minutes he held up a test tube containing a clear solution.

"Now," he said, opening a bottle containing an opalescent liquid; "guilty or not guilty?"

He added a few drops from the bottle to the test tube. A long, deep chuckle came from his broad chest.

"Not a trace of it," he said. "Now for the handkerchief which I took from Lady Bouverie for a check experiment."

He added a few of the same drops to another tube. A bright violet colour spread through the liquid.

"There's iodine in that, you see. Not guilty, Druce."

A shout burst from my lips.

"Hush, my dear chap!" he pleaded. "Yes, it is very pretty. I am quite proud."

-I am impressed that the authors of this turn of the century detective story knew that iodine is eliminated, in part, by the lachrymal glands!

-and that they knew of the iodine starch test :)
The Evil Madam Sara posing as Lady Violet in the Moonlit Garden...

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Apples and Buttermilk

source: "Dietotherapy, Volume 3, By William Edward Fitch, 1918


image source- wiki commons
The usual dietetic rule in such conditions is, wherever possible, to increase judiciously the amount, and especially the assimilation, of the food. There is a need for from 10 per cent to 50 per cent more food than the usual standard, and it is also possible to increase its digestion and absorption by the administration of pancreatin, for the need for this hyperalimentation does not necessarily imply that the digestive or assimilative capacity is increased. In addition to the effect of pancreatin upon digestion, it has been suggested that the adrenal irritability and sympatheticotonus, invariably a part of the syndrome of thyroid excess, may be favorably affected by increasing pancreatic activity, since the pancreas hormone antagonizes that of the adrenals and possibly also the thyroid. At least pancreatin (15 to 30 grains a day) has been given with clinical advantage in conditions of this character. On the contrary, digestive disturbances not infrequently complicate thyroid excess, especially late in its course; hence particular care must be exercised not to overtax the alimentary organs.

The dietetic management of thyroid excess attempts to introduce foods of easy digestibility and high caloric value. The salads, vegetables and bulky but not especially nutritious foods are advantageously replaced in part by other combinations in which cream, eggs and butter are among the more important ingredients. Usually the writer has found that farinaceous puddings, especially rice, in which cream and eggs are generously used, are preferable to less nutritious and not more tasty desserts.

Generally speaking, meats are not the most desirable foods for those suffering from thyroid irritability, for the purins undeniably present in flesh foods not only stimulate the thyroid (for this organ happens to he an important part of the detoxicating system of the body), but obviously are no advantage to an organism already "on edge" from an excess of a purin-like toxin of marked activity. In fact, it is the writer's opinion that meat should be prescribed or at least allowed only occasionally, and then only in small amounts.

On the other hand, it is a routine custom in this condition to advise some supplementary feeding, and buttermilk and ice cream serve this purpose very well. In addition to three good meals at the usual hours, I usually prescribe a pint of buttermilk (natural or cultured with the B. bulgaricus) two hours before lunch, and from four to six ounces of ice cream in the afternoon at about four o'clock.


In this condition, the cell activities are much below par, digestive activity is sluggish, muscular tonicity is decreased and constipation is the rule. The most usual single accompaniment of hypothyroidism, be it well-marked cretinism or myxedema or the less definite "minor thyroid insufficiency"—which, by the way, is said to be "as common as the exanthemata," though too often it is not discovered—is infiltration. This means that the cells throughout the body are overburdened with their own wastes and are distended, just as we expect to find the skin puffy, inactive and infiltrated in myxedema. This reduces the sensitiveness of the organism and naturally the digestive system is not immune, for in fact the secretory cells are infiltrated and cannot perform their proper service, the musculature of the intestine is infiltrated and flabby, intestinal stasis is the rule, and while the weight of the individual may be above normal, it is an unhealthy weight and is a great discomfort to the patient.


In this connection it may be of interest to emphasize the important relationship which thyroid insufficiency bears to constipation. Dr. Leopold Levi of Paris, whose work and writings, with Baron Henri de Rothschild, on the thyroid gland are well known, refers to the intimacy of constipation and hypothyroidism in the following terms: "La constipation thyroidienne est frequente et peut-etre la plus frequente des constipations" ("Constipation of thyroid origin is frequent, and, perhaps, the most frequent form of constipation"). This being the case, and clinical experience confirms the fact that thyroid insufficiency is very often discovered in those having chronic constipation, not only should patients suffering from thyroid insufficiency be treated from a dietetic standpoint, but physicians well versed in the management of these cases might profitably establish to their satisfaction that there is a thyroid element in a given case and supplement the dietetic and other treatment by the judicious administration of thyroid extract. Such cases may benefit greatly from one-fourth to one-half a grain of thyroid extract (U.S.P.) three times a day during every other week, in addition, of course, to other indicated treatment.


As a general rule, the best advice regarding diet in hypothyroidism includes the suggestion that food combinations be as simple as possible and that the high caloric foods be replaced in a measure by cellulose-containing foods and bran, for not only is this bulk useful in combating the stasis and muscular insufficiency in the bowels, but it facilitates the reduction of the ration.

After a few days of limited diet or even starvation, provided the patient is able to stand it, the caloric value of the food prescribed should approximate that necessary for a normal individual of the same height; in other words, since hypothyroid cases commonly are obese and heavier than proper, their actual weight is no index of their need of nourishment. Further, since many individuals with varying grades of this disorder, especially the more decided cases, exhibit mental and physical peculiarities, one often finds in them a tendency to overeating which should be curbed promptly, for this habit, uncontrolled, undoubtedly complicates the constipation, adds to the toxemia and favors the obesity.

A morning meal of apples alone has been suggested by me many times with
image source- wiki commons
clear-cut benefit. The patient is instructed to eat three or four moderate sized apples, raw, stewed or baked, and to take nothing else till lunch. Raw apples are preferable since there is no need for added sugar, nor is there the imaginary need for cream, etc. Occasionally, hunger is great by the middle of the forenoon, especially in persons whose hands and minds are not fully occupied, and here it may be well to allow a glass of buttermilk.

For lunch a bulky meal of low caloric value with plenty of greenstuffs seems to be the best, and the supper is as scanty as the temperament and willingness of the individual will permit. The total caloric content of the day's food may be from 30 to 60 per cent lower than the average, and this may be continued for some weeks, the amount and caloric value of the food being very gradually increased as the weight and other symptoms respond to the regimen.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

A Little Iodine for the Figure!

Mary Garden (20 February 1874 - 3 January 1967), was a Scottish-American operatic soprano with a substantial career in France and America in the first third of the 20th century. She spent the latter part of her childhood and youth in the United States and eventually became an American citizen, although she lived in France for many years and eventually retired to Scotland, where she died.

Described as "the Sarah Bernhardt of opera", Garden was an exceptional actress as well as a talented singer. She was particularly admired for her nuanced performances which employed interesting uses of vocal color. Possessing a beautiful lyric voice that had a wide vocal range and considerable amount of flexibility, Garden first arose to success in Paris during the first decade of the 20th century. 

Miss Mary Garden was also an iodine aficionado! What was up with operatic sopranos and iodine? Here's another, Erica Koeth, German Operatic soprano: Erika Koeth Ms. Koeth used iodine to ward off illness... but still. Iodine was a CURE-ALL back in the day...

Mary Garden took 10 drops of iodine in milk each evening. I assume that this was lugol's solution, which would be 62.5 mg per day. An obscenely large dose according to the FDA, not much by informed standards. Dr. William Brady, a well known health coloumnist was very keen on iodine but he only recommended 200mcg per day. He was quite aghast at Mary Garden's dosing :)

Apparently Mary was very disciplined in life and diet so the title in the article below might be a bit misleading, "A Little Iodine for the Figure". Although.... hmmm... we need iodine in order to make thyroid hormone, the thyroid is the master gland of metabolism... could it be? 

The only current celebrity that I know of that supports the use of iodine is Suzanne Sommers. Most opt for a thyroidectomy or associated removals... I am just waiting for the iodine word to spread to the celebrity world. We need an Angelina Jolie to make high-dose iodine supplementation "ok" to those that... well, care what celebrities do, or think.

I know that my internet brethren and sistren tried with Oprah, Cynara Coomer and Brooke Burke. Heck, I even "liked" Brooke Burke's facebook page and she STILL did not listen to me. LOL.

"Evening Times", 1951
Dr. William Brady's Personal Health Service, 1950...?

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Iodine and Electricity

-Very interesting early account of the use of iodine with electricity! The Voltaic Pile was the first battery that could provide a continuous current of electricity, invented by Alessandro Volta, circa 1800.

Bronchocele, or Goitre 

votaic pile in usage, image source, wiki commons
LOVE the disembodied hand! This is not a goiter-
specific treatment pictured, but it was the only image
I could find... :)
Such unparalleled powers has Iodine displayed in this disease, that it has received, by almost universal consent, the title of specific.

We do not conceive it necessary to select any from among the numerous cases, except one, which have been reported as illustrative of the successful employment of Iodine in this disease, as it's efficacy is too well known.

The case we are about to mention is one related by Dr. Coster,* and was cured in a most singular and ingenious manner:—by combining the action of the Voltaic Pile with that of Iodine.

voltaic pile, image source
wiki commons
A young man had a goitre of large size which had resisted the use of Iodine both internally and by friction; being aware that Iodine was attracted by the positive pole, Dr. C. thought it probable that by applying Iodine on one side of the tumour, and the pole to the other, its absorption would be accelerated: the result was highly confirmatory. He performed the operation twice a day, taking care to change sides at each time of its application; i. e., in the morning he would rub the ointment on the right side of the tumor and apply the pole to the left; and in the evening vice versa.— He kept the tumor under its influence for ten or -twelve minutes, and in the space of twenty days it was entirely removed.

 To show that the effect was not solely owing to the pile, he had previously subjected the tumor to a galvanic current, and also, to electric sparks, for many days in succession, without the least sensible effect. He used the pure Iodine ointment made in the proportion of two grains to a scruple of lard, it was the only case in which be ever adopted the above plan of treatment, but recommends physicians to give it a trial in all obstinate cases of this disease, and also of scrofula.

source: Transactions of the Medical Society of the State of New York, 1832, 1833  transactions...

Goitre, image source, wiki commons
Volta with Napoleon, image source, wiki commons

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Goodbye Iodine! 1982

Here is the recommendation that iodine fortification of foodstuffs be discontinued. I found this in "The Fortification of Foods: A Review", by Judith A. Quick and Elizabeth W. Murphy, United States Department of Agriculture, 1982

It is often stated that prior to around 1980 it was mandated that iodine be added to all commercially baked goods in the United States and that in the 1960s, for instance, each and every slice of bread contained 150mcg iodine. 

I have never been able to find the directive that iodine be added to bread, and I have searched extensively. I do know though, that potassium bromate was in use as a dough conditioner as early as the 1920s, so brominated flour was nothing new...

My personal belief that the mandate to iodize baked goods was a response to the rising rates of thyroid cancers amongst the "downwinders" due to atmospheric testing in the 1950s in Nevada. These tests exposed people to radioactive iodine 131. We'll probably never know why, exactly, iodine was present in baked goods throughout the sixties and seventies, but here is a hint, at least, as to why it was removed in the eighties.

Without further ado:

Page 21:

re: iodization of salt:

re: iodine fortification in general:

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Iodine Drinkers

A treasured possession :)
A dark time in the history of iodine would be the the time of the "Iodine Suicides".  A spate of "Iodine Drinkers" were documented in the popular media. These "iodine drinkers" were mostly young women, conceivably because of the reputation for "hysteria" that women had(have), especially young women. And, as so eloquently stated in the Time Magazine article cited, "young women are at home, near a medicine cabinet, most of the time".

Prior to this time the necessity of iodine, and iodine's reputation as a cure-all was firmly established in  mass consciousness. 

After this time, and to this day, the idea that iodine is "poison" is an idea that we must argue. It's not the iodine, after all, it's the denatured alcohol in the tincture. IODINE IS ESSENTIAL.

Girl Visitor Drinks Iodine

Tells Chinatown Sightseers That She is Penniless and Wants to Die

Iodine Tincture Poison Label
Screaming that she had drunk Iodine, a well dressed young woman who said she was Miss Evelyn Smith, 21 old, of 321 west Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD., fell to the sidewalk in front of the Chinatown Joss House in Mott Street last night, and then begged about 100 sightseers who ran to her assistance to let her die. She was taken to Volunteer Hospital, where it was said her condition was critical.

Miss Smith told the police she had come here on Friday from Baltimore on a truck, penniless, had walked the streets Friday night and had had no sleep.

In her pocket was a note to her mother, Mrs. George Smith, 642 Madison Avenue, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, begging forgiveness after saying she was sorry she could not see her before dying. She said her mother was an actress.

Miss Smith would give no reason for her desire to die.

The New York Times, published November 7, 1920

Girl Visitor Drinks Iodine

image source, wiki commons

Fights Doctor and Policemen Who Come to Her Rescue

Mary Gibbs, 14 years old, attempted suicide by drinking iodine in the bathroom of her home at 535 West 134th Street last night because her mother scolded her. She fought a policeman and a doctor who tried to use a stomach pump, but her resistance was overcome, and she was taken to Lincoln Hospital. She will recover.

The girl went to a store near her home last night and her mother found that she had made a mistake in changing a bill. Resenting her mother's scolding, Mary drank nearly a bottle of iodine. Her brother John, 8 years old, heard her fall and told Mrs. Gibbs who summoned help.

The New York Times, published December 28, 1922

Scolded, She Drinks Iodine


Girl's Screams After Drinking Iodine Startle Holy Trinity Parishioners

image source, wiki commons
Parishioners of Holy Trinity Church, 205 West Eighty-second Street, who had gone to confession last evening at 6 o'clock, were startled by the screams of a young woman who fell to the floor just as she stepped through the door from the vestibule. Several persons, including the priests, ran to her aid.

"I have swallowed IODINE." she gasped.

One of the parishioners ran to the office of Dr. Clarence J. D'alton, 203 West Eighty-first Street and returned with the physician. He administered first aid and an ambulance was summoned from Knickerbocker Hospital. The young woman said she was Mary Neary, 22 years, of 208 West Sixty-seventh Street. S he refused to tell why she had drunk the poison. She was removed to the hospital, where it was reported that her condition was not serious.

The New York Times, published January 23, 1921

Takes Poison in Church

"Tired of Life", Tries to Die

image source, wiki commons
Girl Collapses After Taking Iodine, But Will Recover.

She was "tired of Life" was the explanation yesterday morning by Katie Cavanaugh, 25 years old, of 641 Tenth avenue, for mixing iodine with a widely advertised nerve tonic she had just purchased at a soda fountain on Eighth Avenue, near Forty-seventh Street.

The young woman collapsed in the street and was removed to Bellevue Hospital. It was found that the dose had been small and that she probably would live.

The New York Times, published August 7, 1922

Tired of Life, Tries to Die


image source, wiki commons
Sailors Rescue Sufferer from IODINE on Riverside Drive

The screams of May Mantone, 19, of 242 West 109th Street, on the sloping lawn on Riverside Drive at 109th Street, brought to her aid two sailors, William Straw and Edwin Johnson. With the assistance of Donald Freeman, a Columbia student, she was taken to a drug store at Broadway and 107th Street, where first aid for iodine poisoning was given.
An ambulance from the Harlem Hospital was summoned and Dr. Buchman took her to the hospital unconscious. Neighbors said that the girl lived with her father and a sister but both father and sister were away last night. 

The New York Times, published March 13, 1922

Girl Found Poisoned

And finally, an article from Time Magazine, 1938, that attempts to explain the iodine suicide phenomena...

Iodine Suicides

Young Dr. Merrill Moore of Boston is known as a psychiatrist, semiprofessional swimmer and author of 25,000 good and bad sonnets. With all his zest for life, Dr. Moore is most interested in the problem of suicide, has collected many scientific facts on this phenomenon. Last week in The New England Journal of Medicine he discussed the agent most commonly used by would-be suicides: iodine.

Although the years 1915-36 showed a steady increase in the number of iodine drinkers, said Dr. Moore, not one fatal case of iodine poisoning was observed in Boston and vicinity. Reasons: 1) Iodine cannot be absorbed by the body without chemical change. It combines with fatty acids, proteins, starches, or unites with another element and changes from a powerful, slow-acting cell poison to a less toxic iodide. 2) Iodine produces such intense irritation of the gastrointestinal tract that the stomach rejects even small amounts.

Only a heroic dose will result in death, and when death does occur it is usually due to overstimulation of the thyroid.

3) Many people purposely take only a small amount since "iodine is used chiefly by essentially immature persons at ages when they have failed to gain attention and satisfaction and bid for these by sensational means." Largest group of iodine drinkers, added Dr. Moore, are females between 14 and 20 (they are home near a medicine cabinet most of the time). Largest group of males are between 26 and 30. Whether they know that an ordinary gulp of iodine is seldom fatal, Dr. Moore could not say. He inclined to think not, however, since druggists glue a suggestive skull and bones to every iodine bottle.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Iodine, the 53rd Element... 1938

detail, dow iodine ad, 1938
Another fine Dow Chemical Co ad for iodine... I find it interesting that we have Dow chemical to thank for many of the brominated compounds we are deluged with... in fact, that's how Herbert Henry Dow began his career, by formulating a new process for extracting bromide from brine wells in Michigan(part of the "goiter belt"). But I digress...

Without further ado, an ad from Fortune Magazine, 1938. It seems that even as late as 1938 many of the other medical uses for iodine were known. What, exactly, happened to this knowledge?

I also find it interesting that the visuals in this ad focus on iodine's antiseptic/ topical usage, the tincture of iodine, with the word "poison" clearly visible, even though the use of iodine in lead poisoning , asthma, etc is much more profound than applying it to scrapes, in my opinion...

another Dow chemical iodine ad, 1950. Note that iodine's role  as a medicine is underplayed...:

detail, dow iodine ad, 1938

detail, dow iodine ad, 1938

Dow iodine ad, 1938, Fortune Magazine

And, just for the heck of it, a photograph of a first-day cover of a stamp honoring the American Chemical Society. Dow Chemical has brought much devastation to our planet. I suppose that I'm glad that they extracted some iodine as well, along the way, although in true scientific fashion I am sure that they were not happy leaving my favorite element alone...

First day cover, american chemical society stamp, Dow cachet

Sunday, May 12, 2013


article source: The Therapeutic Gazette, 1899


parotid gland, image source, wiki
Any consideration of the subject of organotherapy in gynecology would not be complete without reference to the results obtained from the administration of the desiccated powders of the parotid and mammary glands, or of the extracts of these glands, with which I have had no experience. These drugs have been employed by others with much satisfaction in the disorders and cachexias that seem to be consequent upon the presence of fibroid tumor of the uterus and certain chronic ovarian diseases. The credit of having brought the subject to the attention of the profession must be attributed to Dr. Robert Bell, of Glasgow, and Dr. John B. Shober, of Philadelphia.

As early as 1896, 1 Bell stated that it would appear that the parotid gland exerts a most powerful influence upon the ovaries, and that when disease exists in these organs it can be brought under subjection by the administration of the parotid glands of healthy young sheep, calves, and pigs. He further stated that it was beyond dispute that uterine fibromata, as well as hyperplasia and flaccidity of the uterus, can be most beneficially affected by the employment of the mammary glands of healthy animals. This, he said, is also true of certain diseases of the ovaries.

This form of treatment of ovarian, tubal, and uterine disease was suggested to him by the physiologic relationship which exists between these organs, as shown by mammary enlargement in pregnancy and metastasis from the parotid gland to the ovary in mumps. The effect of parotid gland upon a diseased ovary is so pronounced, especially if the uterine affection be simultaneously treated by ichthyol or other appropriate remedy, that it would be wrong, in his opinion, not to employ this remedy before resorting to operation.

In the Scottish Medical and Surgical Journal for July, 1897, Bell states that during the past two years he has obtained most favorable results in over sixty cases of enlarged and painful
ovaries which would certainly at one time have warranted oophorectomy. At the time of writing these women were not only perfectly well and free from pain, but also remained in possession of their ovaries. He also reported interesting cases of uterine fibromata, and uterine hemorrhages, that were either cured or remarkably benefited by the use of the elixirs of the parotid and mammary glands administered in drachm doses three times daily, or by the use of three five-grain palatinoids of the desiccated glands.

Bell reports that in cases of uterine hyperplasia there can be but little doubt that mammary gland administered in from five- to ten-grain doses three times a day has acted in a marvelously short time in promoting a speedy return to the normal condition.

  Menorrhagia and metrorrhagia, frequently accompanied by dysmenorrhea, have completely disappeared in the course of a few weeks, and when local treatment has simultaneously been adopted the recovery has been proportionately rapid.

John B. Shober,2 reports four cases of fibroid tumor of the uterus treated with mammary gland, and four cases of ovarian disease treated with parotid gland, with excellent results. He found that in the uterine cases — the women all being under the age of thirty - five years, and therefore far removed from the menopausal influence—and without the aid of any other form of treatment, there was a steady and progressive decrease in the size of the tumor, together with a steady improvement of the general health. Under the influence of the drug menorrhagia and metrorrhagia ceased, and the menstrual periods recurred at regular intervals. He believes that the mammary gland exerts a powerful influence upon the uterine muscle or connective tissue, acting in a manner somewhat similar to ergot, and quite distinct from thyroid extract, which influences especially the epithelial elements of the endometrium.

The mammary gland has never, in Shober's experience, given rise to any of the unpleasant and dangerous constitutional disturbances that often follow the prolonged use of thyroid extract; it acts rather as a tonic than as a depressant to the system. The effect of the drug in checking menorrhagia and metrorrhagia induced him to use it in hemorrhages  not
 dependent upon the presence of fibroids, and in one case of subinvolution after labor. The results were very gratifying. He employs the desiccated powder of the sheep's mammary gland, each grain of which is equivalent to ten grains of the fresh gland. Two grains (twenty grains of the fresh gland) is made into a tablet together with three grains of excipient, and from three to four tablets are exhibited daily. In larger doses cramp-like uterine contractions are produced. Positive results may be expected in from six to eight weeks.
Shober has used parotid gland only in cases of ovaritis, in enlarged, congested, and exquisitely tender ovaries, and in cases of ovarian neuralgia and ovarian dysmenorrhea. The desiccated powder is used in the same dose and form as the mammary gland. The results he obtained by this course of treatment in selected cases were most gratifying.

1 International Medical Journal, July, 1896, pp. 379-386; British Gynecological Journal, 1896-97, xii, pp. 157-170; Lancet, 1896, vol. i, p. 1496.

2 American Journal of Obstetrics, Volume 38, No. 3, 1898; Medical News, August 27,  1898; American Journal of Obstetrics, Volume 39, No. 2, 1899

Friday, May 10, 2013

Organotherapy in Gynecology: thyroid extract and uterine fibroids, endometriosis, etc.

article source: The Therapeutic Gazette, 1899

By W. A. Newman Dorland. A.M., M.D., Instructor in Gynecology in the Philadelphia Polyclinic; Assistant Obstetrician to the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.


endocrine system, image, wiki
Of all the forms of organotherapy it will without doubt be safe to assert the marked preeminence of the extract of the thyroid gland. None of the glandular extracts have been more frequently used, and certainly none in a greater variety of pathologic conditions.
Whatever the physiologic action of the thyroid gland may be, it has long been recognized that its secretion—as also the ovarian —exerts a profound influence upon the body metabolism, though of a directly opposite and conflicting nature. Its presence in a normal degree is essential to the maintenance of the physical equilibrium. Thus, through the investigations of the pathologists, we now know that in cretinism and its allied condition, myxedema, either this gland or its functional activity is absent; and in those cases of exophthalmic goitre in which extirpation of the gland was practiced a most alarming train of symptoms shortly developed, directly traceable to the removal from the system of the glandular influence. An excess in the normal secretion of the gland will likewise be followed by an annoying series of phenomena such as will be noted in hypertrophy of the gland or in Basedow's disease.

At once two propositions suggest themselves, namely, in cases of the first class — that is, where there is absent or deficient thyroid action—the administration of thyroid extract to supply the deficiency should be followed by an amelioration of the clinical phenomena; and in cases of the second class — that is, where there is excessive thyroid secretion — extirpation of a portion of the gland or the administration of some antagonistic extract should result favorably. These propositions were shortly tested clinically and found to be sound in theory. The administration of the various forms of thyroid extract in cases of altered or absent thyroid function is always followed by a marked improvement of the condition present, while partial thyroidectomy has frequently resulted most advantageously in the treatment of exophthalmic goitre.

To clinical experimentation based on the foregoing theory must be attributed a series of interesting and unexpected results in thyroid therapy, such as the value of its employment in gynecologic and obstetric conditions, and its undoubted usefulness in the reduction of obesity. The rationale of its employment in the latter condition has been suggested by Robert Hutchinson, 1 who explains its action by an increased combustion of the nitrogen-bearing substances in the body, especially of the fat, but of the muscles also to a lesser degree.

Jouin f, 2 was the first of the modern writers to call attention to the close relationship existing between the thyroid gland and the pelvic organs, although Catulle states that this relationship was well known to the ancients. In addition to the influence exerted by the uterus — especially at the time of the menopause, when the ovarian influence is dying out—upon the size of goitres, he was the first to observe a diminution in the size of a fibroid tumor under the administration of thyroid extract given to reduce obesity. He obtained a considerable amelioration, and at times even a cure, of uterine fibromata and their symptoms, and of metrorrhagia rebellious to all other conservative means. In cases of purely functional hemorrhage the results had been a complete and lasting cure; also in those of hemorrhage at the menopause or dependent on flexions, versions, and other displacements. In his hands the growth of fibrous tumors was always checked by it,
and it often led to their retrogression. When it was employed early it cured them. In consideration of his results obtained in cases of this kind, as well as in the case of keloid and prostatic enlargement, he suggests that this method of therapy may be of value if applied to tumors of less advanced development, as, for example, sarcomata.

Hertoghe, 3 has found that women deprived of the thyroid gland are subject to excessive menstrual discharges; as they grow older the menses last longer, and finally become almost a constant flow. He has also noticed that a hypertrophied thyroid is always accompanied by an early and copious mammary secretion. He has demonstrated by tests on milch cows and other animals that the secretion of milk is much increased by the ingestion of thyroid extract. From his experience he concludes that myxedematous hemorrhage is directly amenable to thyroid treatment, and also hemorrhages due to even an old endometritis or ovaritis. Cancerous hemorrhages cease after three or four days of thyroidization. The pain, swelling, and congestion also decrease to a noticeable extent. Thyroid treatment, he claims, is especially indicated in cases of frequent abortion, in which the menstrual flow is so excessive that it sweeps away the impregnated ovum. He cites an instance of a woman who was able to conceive and bear a child through the action of thyroidin after many years of sterility. Thyroidin, he finds, is also useful in cases of uterine myoma, prolapsus, or retroflexion with hemorrhage, and, in general, in all cases in which it is necessary to reduce the size, sensibility, or congestion of the uterus. On account of the peculiar action of thyroidin in stimulating the lactal secretion, it should be administered if this secretion seems to be diminishing. It has also been found that in some phases of insanity, particularly those of the puerperal, adolescent, and climacteric periods, thyroid extract seems to have marked beneficial effects.

H. B. Stehman, 4 of Chicago, administered  thyroid tablets thrice daily to six patients exhibiting various forms of menstrual and other disturbances, including menorrhagia, metrorrhagia, amenorrhea, ovarialgia, and extreme nervousness. Each tablet represented about one-sixth of a sheep's thyroid. In each instance a most notable improvement was

  observed within the space of several weeks. It seems conclusive, therefore, that in these cases of pelvic congestion and sexual neurasthenia thyroid extract exerts a most remarkable and beneficial effect.

M. R. Latis, 5 believes that the thyroid juice exerts an inhibitory or vasoconstrictor power upon the pelvic genital organs, which is proved by the gradual diminution and final cessation of the menstrual flow under the prolonged use of the remedy. Menorrhagia and hemorrhages due to endometritis, ovaritis, and even cancer are greatly benefited by it.
Robert Bell, 6  quotes the experience of various surgeons and neurologists with reference to the thyroid gland and the genital organs. He states that Charcot, having seen women affected with exophthalmic goitre cured after pregnancy, did not fail to advise marriage, on therapeutic grounds, in the treatment of this disease. Bouilly, Tuffier, Guinard, Picque, and Bloch, having had occasion to operate on patients affected with fibroma of the uterus or salpingo-oophoritis, in whom coexisted goitres, some of which had previously resisted all treatment, have seen the thyroid tumors disappear, or at least be considerably diminished in size, after the extirpation of the pelvic organs. Bell especially emphasizes the pathologic relationship of the thyroid body to the womb and believes that the vitality of the latter may depend to a large extent on the integrity of the thyroid function. This fact especially seems to be exemplified by the marked prevalence of metrorrhagia in myxedematous conditions. He believes also that the thyroid gland especially influences the health of the skin and mucous membranes and subjacent connective tissue.

In three cases of uterine fibroids Kleinwachter, 7  found that thyroid extract exerted a favorable action in controlling the hemorrhage. In these cases the intermenstrual period was also prolonged or menstruation ceased entirely for a number of weeks. It was impossible to determine any diminution in the size of the tumors.

W. M. Polk, 8 states that during the past two years he has employed thyroid extract in fifteen cases of fibroid tumor of the uterus. In all but one he obtained good results. In four of the cases there occurred a distinct diminution in the size of the growth. He recommends the early and long administration of the extract in daily doses of 2% grains. 

J. Inglis Parsons, 9 employed thyroid extract in five cases of fibromyoma of the uterus. Four of these were women of about the age of forty years, with old hard fibromata of many years' standing. No appreciable diminution in size followed after a three months' course. In the fifth case, a young woman twenty-five years of age, with a large, hard, nodular fibromyoma almost filling the pelvis and dipping down into Douglas's pouch, there occurred a distinct reduction in size. The symptoms of morning sickness and attacks of retention of urine entirely disappeared in three months' time.

Having observed in conjunction with the good results following the employment of thyroid extract in the treatment of sporadic cretinism, myxedema, and some cases of mental feebleness, more or less marked increase in the activity of the metabolic processes of the body, Stawell, 10 was led to believe that the same agent might be reasonably expected to increase the metabolism of the mammary gland in suitable cases. Accordingly he employed thyroid tablets (presumably each representing one grain of dried gland), given from three to five times a day, in nine cases of nursing women, and in seven of these distinct increase in the quantity and apparent improvement in the quality of milk secreted followed.

R. v. Braun. J, 11 also reasoning from the same basis of profound alteration in the bodymetabolism as a result of thyroid medication, has suggested the use of the drug in obstetrics in cases of contracted pelvis in order to prevent heavy development of the fetus. He cites an instance of a woman with a funnel-shaped pelvis, protruding ischiatic spines, and an exostosis at the right iliopubic eminence, who had been delivered by craniotomy several months previously. In her succeeding pregnancy from the beginning of the fifth month she was put on one tablet of thyroidin daily. During the first part of the remaining period of pregnancy she increased slightly in weight, and during the latter part she decreased. The fetus seemed to remain small and was allowed to go to term. She was then delivered of a 3200-gramme living child. The previous child weighed 4000 grammes

 at birth. The difference in weight of the two children may or may not have been due to the thyroid in.

Cheron, 12 holds that thyroid extract is an excellent remedy in threatened abortion with hemorrhage, and is valuable in preventing the arrest of uterine involution after childbirth, and that it is potent against the premature return of the monthly periods. Moreover, it is a valuable galactagogue. In other, words, it stimulates the mammary secretion while it lessens functional activity of the uterus. In his hands it has also proved valuable in the control of all forms of uterine hemorrhage, whether this be due to endometritis, tumor, or lesions of the adnexa.

The contraindications to the employment of the drug are: tuberculosis, since this seems to be stimulated rather than arrested, and grave heart disease, where it should be administered with the utmost care, and should be discontinued at once upon the first suggestion of tachycardia. The symptoms of thyroid intoxication are tachycardia, oppression, exophthalmus, glycosuria, albuminuria, and irritability. In certain cases the drug produces rapid emaciation, and sometimes gastric vertigo will be observed.
Four cases of uterine fibromata and two cases of hemorrhagic endometritis have been treated by me during the past winter by means of thyroid extract, with the following results:

Case I.—A. E., colored, thirty-eight years of age, gave birth to her last child twenty-two years ago. She complained of great loss of flesh during the preceding six months, associated with severe radiating pain in the lower abdomen. Examination revealed a number of fibroid nodules on the anterior uterine wall. Five-grain tablets of thyroid extract were administered thrice daily, and in one week's time she reported a marked diminution in her pelvic pain.

Case II.—S. K., colored, aged forty-seven years, single, complained of pain in the back and right ovarian region, and a persistent though slight leucorrhea. Her menses had never been regular, and were now profuse. Under the thyroid extract in two weeks she pronounced herself much better. The duration and quantity of the menstrual flow were greatly diminished.

Case III. — M. M., colored, aged forty-eight years, had given birth to her last child thirty

 years before. She was suffering from the menopausal hot flashes, a constant leucorrhea, and pain in the back and left ovarian region. She had a small fibroid in the posterior uterine wall. On December 3, 1898, the thyroid medication was begun, and on the 16th she stated that she was improved and the pain in her back was gone. Four days later her menses began and lasted for four days, the shortest time for years. They had formerly been profuse and persisted for from seven to ten days. The leucorrhea was also much less in amount.

Case IV.—L. R., colored, aged thirty-five years, single, complained of pain in the left ovarian region, frequency of micturition, and a mucopurulent leucorrhea. Her menses occurred at three-week intervals and lasted profusely for five days. Examination showed the presence of uterine fibroids with a small mass firmly fixed in the pelvis and fibroid in nature. On September 13, 1898, the thyroid tablets were administered. One week later her pain was less and she thought she was a little better, though there was no change in the micturition. At that time the tumors seemed to be undergoing some alteration in shape, and the mass in the pelvis had become freely movable. Six days later she stated that she knew she was better than when she first came for treatment; she had less pain in the back and side. On October 6 she was feeling better generally; her menses had returned on September 27 and lasted three days. They were profuse, but no more than usual. On November 1 the tumor was decidedly smaller and freely movable. Her bleeding was not so pronounced. At her last visit, on December 6, all of her symptoms were relieved.

Case V.—K. G., white, aged twenty-seven, married three years, and sterile, came for the relief of sterility. Her menses had been profuse from puberty, lasting for five or six days, and always clotted. In August, 1898, rapid dilatation and curettage were performed in the hope of relieving the sterility. On March 3, 1899, she returned and stated that she had been flooding for seven weeks, and was suffering from severe left ovarian pain. Examination showed a slightly enlarged endometritic uterus. The thyroid extract was administered, and in forty-eight hours the bleeding ceased and has not returned at the time of writing. The pain also had disappeared and the patient was feeling well.

Case VI. — E. E., a single girl, nineteen years of age, had been flooding for three weeks. The uterus was normal in size, though very sensitive. Thyroid extract in doses of grains three times daily controlled the bleeding in three days time, and also materially lessened the amount of pain.

The following deductions would seem justifiable in the light of the foregoing reports:

1. The thyroid gland, in addition to its general effect upon the metabolism of the body, exerts an inhibitory action upon the pelvic genital organs, and upon the uterus in particular. This action seems to be especially marked upon the epithelial elements of the endometrium.

2. As a result of this inhibitory or vasoconstrictor action there follows a retardation of hemorrhages from the uterine mucosa.

3. This action is directly antagonistic to that exerted upon the uterus by the ovarian secretion.

4. In cases in which this conservative influence is deficient or absent, it may be restored by the ingestion of fresh thyroid gland or desiccations or extracts of that organ.

5. In gynecology, thyroid therapy is especially indicated in hemorrhagic affections of the uterus and in all forms of pelvic congestion, notably in uterine fibromata, hemorrhagic endometritis, menopausal hemorrhages, and chronic tubal disease.

6. The best results are to be expected in fibromata and pathologic conditions of recent development. The more chronic the case the more rebellious will it prove to thyroidization.

7. The thyroid influence is also found to cause an increase in the metabolism of the mammary gland, and the treatment is therefore indicated in all cases of insufficient lactation.

8. The drug may be administered in the form of the fresh gland substance; as a desiccated powder of the fresh gland; in tabloids of the desiccated gland; as the fresh juice; or in one of the various extracts of the gland, administered preferably in the form of tabloids. The same results may be obtained by direct transplantation of the thyroid gland from the sheep to the human subject. Because of the difficulty experienced in procuring the fresh gland and the repugnance which patients exhibit in consuming it, it is well to administer it in the dry form prepared by druggists—in tablets, pastilles, or capsules —in doses of 2% to 5 grains three or four times daily. The average daily dose is 15 grains.

9. Owing to the tendency to thyroid intoxication it is well to discontinue the drug for a period of a week to ten days at regular intervals during the course of the treatment.

1) British Medical Journal, July 16, 1898

 2) Nouv. Arch. d'Obstet. et de Gynic, 1895, No. 6; La Gynic, June, 1806.

3) Rev. Med., Jan. 4, 1899

4) American Gynecological and Obstetrical Journal February, 1897

5) Dublin Journal of Medical Science, Sept. I, 1897 

6)  Scottish Medical and Surgical Journal, July, 1897

7) Zeitch f Geb u Gynak, 1898

8) Medical News, July 3, 1897

9) Lancet, July 23, 1896 

10) Intercolonial Medical Journal of Australasia, April 20, 1897

11) Cent F. Gynak, 1896

12) Rev Medico-Chirurg, des Maladies des Femmes, Nov 25 and Dec 25 , 1896