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Updated: Jun 9, 2023

External Iodine Painting | Living in Wellness GAPS Blog

Our bodies need iodine to function optimally and for hormone balance. We become depleted of iodine when we have too many halides (e.g. bromide, chloride, fluoride, etc.) in our bodies. The halides take the spot in our bodies where iodine should be and prevent our bodies from utilizing iodine to its full capacity. To provide our bodies with the much-needed nutrient, iodine painting is suggested in the latest Gut and Physiology Syndrome book by Dr. Natasha Campbell-McBride on page 69.

There are other ways, beyond iodine painting, where we can get more iodine: consuming iodine-rich foods in our diet or taking iodine supplements orally. For the purpose of this blog, we’ll explore applying iodine externally onto our skin for absorption. The following blog titled ‘Internal Iodine Ingested’ explores iodine supplementation orally.

DISCLAIMER: The information contained within this blog is for informational purposes only. It is intended to educate the reader so they may choose whether they want to incorporate external iodine into their GAPS* journey. It is always best to work with a Certified GAPS* Practitioner (CGP) for guidance with external iodine.

Lugol’s iodine is the recommended brand to use! It provides the body with both potassium iodine and potassium iodide. The body needs both of these forms and substituting Lugol’s for another brand, that doesn’t have both components, will not have the same benefits. The strength of solution you can purchase varies between 2% - 15%. When starting off, it is better to select a lower strength and increase the strength over time as your body allows.

‘Iodine painting’ is the action of applying Lugol’s iodine onto the areas of our skin and letting it absorb over an extended period of time. The solution goes on brown and absorbs into your skin as time progresses. If the solution soaks up within 24 hours or less, that means your body needs iodine. This is a quick test to see if you are deficient.

You should paint skin areas that absorb easily: the inside of the arms, the inside of the legs, and the stomach area. These areas should be painted in rotation, as applying iodine consistently to the same area can burn the skin. If your skin is generally sensitive, use a carrier oil such as animal fat or plant oils to dilute the Lugol’s iodine solution.

Iodine painting should not be done on highly sensitive skin, on the face or private parts. However, there are some surprising locations that one can apply iodine:

  • On a breast tumor or on fibrocystic breasts (under medical supervision)

  • On top of a cyst, wart or mole (applying it consistently over a long period of time will burn it off, but once you get into internal iodine the wart/mole could fall off naturally without painting it)

Painting your skin can be done with a liquid dropper or pipette. Just suction up some iodine into the dropper, or pipette, and slowly release small amounts onto the skin for painting. You can use the side of the dropper, or pipette, to spread the liquid. The solution spreads easily on the skin and if you are not paying attention it can often get messy if you put too much on all at once!

Iodine painting should be done earlier in the day. If you paint later in the day, or right before going to bed, it can prevent you from sleeping overnight. (Note: Dr. Natasha indicates to paint right before night. For some people, their sleep is not affected by this, however others have difficulty falling asleep.)

Be careful, Lugol’s iodine is brown and can stain if you get it on other things beyond yourself. If you happen to get it onto other items around you, create a mixture of water plus ascorbic acid and spray the stained area. The ascorbic acid should turn it clear such that there is no longer a visible brown stain (note: some exceptions may apply and permanent staining can occasionally happen). If you also happen to leave the bottle open, or leave the dropper/pipette out in the open, the iodine will evaporate and stain whatever is near it in sight. So if you keep your bottle and dropper/pipette in the medicine cabinet, make sure it is well sealed or enclosed so that any vapor doesn’t leak out and stain the cabinets.

Although saying this, it goes onto your skin brown and once it is dry it won’t stain your clothes. So just make sure it is fully dry before covering up the area with clothing. Furthermore, if the iodine happens to get onto your hands, as long as it is dry (or you don’t sweat excessively) it will not transfer to other items. But if you don’t want to have the brown spots visible throughout the day, it will come off with repetitive washing or it will absorb into the skin over an extended period of time.

IMPORTANT: Prepare for die-off. Iodine is anti-bacteria, anti-parasitic and anti-viral, which means it will kill the bad microbes under the skin, which release toxins into the body, that we then need to detox.

Iodine painting is a safe way to obtain iodine. If you are contemplating starting iodine painting, but have reservations, speak with a Certified GAPS* Practitioner (CGP) or Coach (CGC) to see if it is right for you. And furthermore, keep these important points in mind when doing external iodine painting:

  • Watch for die-off and be prepared to troubleshoot it. Working with a CGP or CGC can provide additional guidance with die-off symptoms and remedies.

  • Apply the iodine on different areas of the body in rotation to prevent burning the skin.

  • Have some ascorbic acid on hand to get rid of accidental stains.

  • Painting can be stopped ‘cold-turkey’ at any time and restarted up again at any time. Although speak with a CGP or CGC if you have questions on how much you should be painting when you start up again.

  • You should not fear over-dosing with external iodine. If the body does not need it, it will not get absorbed and stay visible on the skin for a very long time.


Certified GAPS* Practitioners (CGP) that are capable of helping with external iodine:

· Anyone of the CGPs listed HERE

Working with Living in Wellness Coaching Services:

Tania Macijuk is a Certified GAPS* Coach, writer of this blog, and founder of Living in Wellness Coaching Services. She has personally done external iodine painting and can relate. If you have questions, or need assistance with troubleshooting food or detox issues, feel free to book a consultation today to get them addressed.

Further Resources:

Great books to read about Iodine:

  • ‘Iodine, Why You Need It, Why You Can’t Live Without It’ by David Brownstein

  • ‘The Iodine Crisis, What You Don’t Know About Iodine Can Wreck Your Life’ by Lynne Farrow

  • ‘Healing With Iodine, Your Missing Link To Better Health’ by Mark Sircus

  • ‘GAPS, Stage-by-Stage, with Recipes’ by Becky Plotner (p.16-18)

Informational Websites & Blog Postings on Iodine:

Nourishing Plot – Lugol’s 5% iodine recipe

Nourishing Plot – Iodine, A ph adaptogen

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