Bromine (Br) has the atomic number of 35 and has not been
officially designated to be essential for humans at this time,
however there have been reports of reduced growth, fertility and
life expectancy in some animals as a result of hyperthyroidism
secondary to dietary deficiency of bromide. It is used
preferentially over chlorine by one anti-parasitic enzyme in humans.
Bromine helps to provide a potent mechanism by which eosinophils
kill multicellular parasites, such as the nematode worms involved in
lymphatic filariasis, and also certain bacteria, such as the
In humans and animals,
bromine, either as sodium bromide, or potassium bromide, has
anti-seizure properties and it is an effective trace mineral in the
treatment of hyperthyroid conditions. Many marine plants,
particularly kelp, are a rich source of bromine and iodine, so
depending on their bromine to iodine ratio, and whether someone is
hypothyroid or hyperthyroid, this can have a beneficial or
unfavourable effect on thyroid functions when regularly consumed.
regularly consuming seaweed (such as kelp) seem to have an increase
in cases of
hypothyroidism. Some scientists believed the high iodine content
in those marine plants to be the reason. However, it was most likely
the bromine content, or a high bromine / iodine ratio in the plants
compared to those of other regions. It could also be that these same
people consumed higher amounts of "goitrogenic" vegetables, such as
sweet potatoes and
Swede, which can also result in depressed
iodine / thyroid functions. On average, most varieties of kelp
tend to increase thyroid functions.
Bromides are a common endocrine disruptor. Because bromine is also a halide, it competes for the same receptors that are used in the thyroid gland (among other places) to capture iodine. This will inhibit thyroid hormone production resulting in a low thyroid state.
In hyperthyroidism, where milder
forms of nutritional therapy such as para-aminobenzoic acid or magnesium have not been very effective, bromine can be very
effective in human and animals and, provided the correct amount is
used, no side effects are experienced. Bromine inhibits both, T4
thyroxine and T3 triiodothyronine hormones, and in some cases only a
short course of bromine is needed to return (hyper) thyroid
functions back to normal.
Bromides can still be found in some medications, and despite a ban
on potassium bromate in flour by the World Health Organization (it
was found that potassium bromate caused renal cancer in rats when
they drank water containing KBrO3). Although it's use has been
restricted, some companies still use brominated vegetable oil and
add it as an emulsifier to some soft drinks such as Mountain Dew.
Bromides in the form of simple salts are also still used as
anticonvulsants in both veterinary and human medicine.
Some nations are still
allowing its use as oxidizer in baked goods at very low levels.
Bakers associations maintain that potassium bromate is converted to
harmless potassium bromide during the baking process.
Bromine was also used as
a sleeping aid in the past, for which it worked well, however
long-term use of bromides can result in brominism, a toxic
condition. In addition, even trace amounts of bromine can trigger
acne in sensitive individuals.
Bromine-based Fire Retardants  used in carpets, mattresses,
upholstery, furniture and various electronic equipment have become
suspect for causing a number of medical conditions, including
hypothyroidism. Based on animal research, bromides have also been
linked to behavioural problems, neurodevelopment and attention
deficit hyperactivity disorders (ADD / ADHD) in children. The
European Union has already banned some PBDE (polybrominated diphenyl
ethers) compounds, and it is hoped that countries still allowing
their use will follow suit.
Natural sources of bromine