SALTPETRE, SODIUM NITRATE
This mineral is a main source of
the essential mineral iodine, which is used in orthodox medicine to treat an
over-active thyroid gland and in disinfectants.
Named from the Latin for salt of the rock, this white crystalline substance is an important source of iodine.
It is also a long-established preservative for curing meat, being the additive E251 on European food labels, but its safety is in doubt.
Iodine forms part of the hormone thyroxine that regulates the thyroid gland, which in turn controls the body's whole rate of activity.
Insufficient iodine leads to a lack of thyroxine, and a slowing down of the body's metabolism.
This can lead to swelling of the thyroid gland, a goitre, as it attempts to redress the balance.
In recent years, the addition of iodine to table salt has been widely and successfully used to prevent goitre.
Chinese physicians realized the link between iodine and the thyroid gland about 2,000 years ago and treated goitre with burnt seaweed, which is rich in iodine.
Iodine is widely used in
disinfectants. In orthodox medicine, iodine compounds are prescribed with anti-thyroid drugs for people with overactive thyroid glands prior to thyroid surgery,
and are also used for the prevention and treatment of iodine deficiency.
Solution, tincture, ointment, paint.