Health Benefits of Indium

Toxic chemicalsTo quote UCSD: “Indium has no known biological function, and the scientific literature does not support the claims about indium’s benefits on health.” I could just end there, but it seems there is a need for information about this supposed panacea.

Yet another health supplement hits the streets, this time in the form of indium sulfate. Apparently, it “is a rare trace mineral that supports several hormonal systems in the body. Indium may strongly elevate immune activity and reduce the severity and duration of a myriad of human conditions.” That’s according to the website, which goes on to claim that the element will “normalize the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain.”

The site explains, that “As the conductor of various studies on indium, Dr. Schroeder (the scientist best known for inventing the means to take lead out of gasoline) found that possibly the most important function of Indium is to normalize the hypothalamus and pituitary gland in the brain.”

Well, the late Henry A. Schroeder of Dartmouth Medical School, a leading toxicologist, spent years highlighting the problems of lead toxicity.*

Meanwhile, back to indium. Elemental discoveries are a boon to any marketeer, especially if you can convince consumers to buy, buy, buy. A document entitled: “Patented Indium Trace Element in Marketing Form Available for License” suggests how this can be so

There are 3 questions that a company should ask when considering the addition of a new product for its product line:

  • What is it that I can sell abundantly, at a high profit and worldwide, exclusively?

  • Why will my customers want to continue to use it, daily, for the rest of their lives?
  • How will my customers be able to afford to use it daily, all of their lives, continuously?

It then tells us how these pertain to indium (In, element 49) and how a clever marketer might exploit the patent on the health benefits of indium.

So, where do the supposed health benefits of indium come from or is it just a marketing scam? What about those claims that it affects the activity of glands in the brain. Well, indium is an element in the same group of the periodic table as boron, aluminium, and gallium, oh and thallium, so one would not expect it to be particularly beneficial or even essential to health. Indeed, aluminium is a neurotoxin.

However, Schroeder, towards the end of his life, wheelchair bound with muscular dystrophy, included indium in some of his last few experiments. He apparently, demonstrated that lab animals, on lifetime indium, had fewer cancers than controls. Other than references to the use of indium in imaging agents, I can find nothing in the medical literature regarding the positive health benefits of daily supplementation with indium, not then, not now.

Yet, the web is littered with so-called health food sites selling indium sulfate to unwitting consumers, presumably, exploiting that marketing guidance I found on at least one site. However, there is one site to which I shall refer you and that is the webelements site from Sheffield University’s Mark Winter. the entry for indium explains that depending on dose (by injection):

All indium compounds should be regarded as highly toxic. Indium compounds damage the heart, kidney and liver, and may be teratogenic

So, who do you trust most, a health website hoping to get repeat sales based on your fears of poor health as you get older, or a well-respected site from a leading research team at a top university? I’m pretty sure I don’t want to be ingesting an indium compound daily for the rest of my life in the vague hope that represents some undiscovered panacea, that would just be bad medicine

This item originally published July 25, 2005, was overhauled and updated on July 2, 2008.

*Schroeder did not, as far as I know, despite the wording of the above quote, develop a method for removing lead from gasoline. Why would you need to do that? The petrochemical companies used to add tetraethyl lead as an antiknocking agent, so the simplest method for its “removal” is just not to add it in the first place. You don’t need to develop a method to remove lead from petrol!

Incidentally, tetraethyllead was first added to gasoline in 1923 and it quickly became obvious that workers at the three manufacturing plants were becoming psychotic and dying from its toxic effects. The issue was essentially hushed up and “research” between 1926 and 1965 claimed a consensus that lead was only a problem at high exposure levels and atmospheric lead from vehicle exhausts was not a problem at all. We now know different, thanks partly to the efforts of Schroeder.


51 thoughts on “Health Benefits of Indium

  1. Sorry to step on your toes. I have only reviewed this site a couple of times. In response to diet and exercise, this would depend on your goals. In general, the best diet for the general public based on my experience is a low carb diet. The simple carbs, refined carbs, white sugar and white flour, soda, energy drinks, etc should all be reduced or eliminted completely. Eat most of your food (80%) that is considered alkaline forming with 20% acid forming. This increases the pH to slightly alkaline and helps the body regenerate not degenerate and give you most the nutrients and enzymes needed for good health. This is just basic and quick but you should get the idea. You can find the info under acid alkaline diet and food charts.
    Exercise should be just enough to raise your heart rate and keep it there for 30-40 min. Treadmill of cycling are great. If you want to loose weight or if you have osteoperosis add weight resistant exercise to your program. This will help stimulate your own natural levels of hGH and will increase lean muscle mass and help burn more calories, increase circulation and increase your energy levels just to name a few things.
    As far as our prehistoric ancestors, they didn’t have microwave ovens, flash freezing, food preservatives, fast food – McDonalds, Burger King or get food or drinks from cans, bottles, boxes or bags.
    With all that being said how many people do you know that do eat what they should? How many people exersice like they should? This is where the word SUPPLEMENT comes in to play i.e. trace minerals, vitamins, herbs, or indium. Most people need some sort of supplement to aid them to better level of nutrition. This will be different for each one of us. Just as two Chevy trucks may look the same on the outside, one is diesel and one is gas. Under the hood is where they differ. Therefore, each one of us may require a different supplement in different forms. This is again seen not only with supplements but also as with drugs. We all know someone that took a drug and it seemed to help but the next person got sick or even died from it. The same is true for supplements.
    Back to indium. I believe the same may be true of this compound, (my opinion). I have read site after site, reading the bad publicity and the statements or claims of benefits. I conclude from these readings that every one of these sites takes bits and pieces of truths to support their beliefs (again, my opinion). None appear to be completely non-biased. It would be nice if someone would be able to perform a non-biased, double blind study or two. Maybe, nothing would change and more than likely not. Those that are believers will argue the fact of any negative findings and those anti-belivers will do the opposite. This seems to be the case in my experience of other studies especially on Pharma-drugs.
    Once again I state that if you are concerned about the negative effect, either do pre and post tests to check for toxicity levels, monitor your liver, kidney and pancreatic panel, and a CBC with diff to make sure it’s not effecting your immune system or organs of your body. Once again, if you feel bad on anything, something does not feel right, pay attention to your body and STOP IMMEADIATELY!

    FYI- Don’t always believe what the FDA claims is safe or true, good or bad.

    One Example of many:

    Arthritis drug Vioxx (Rofecoxib) has been voluntarily recalled by Merck & Co Inc. worldwide.
    The move to pull the COX-2 inhibitor off the market on September 30, 2004 shocked the arthritis world and rocked the stock value of Merck.

    The Reason

    The decision to recall Vioxx followed a three year trial, known as APPROVe (Adenomatous Polyp Prevention on Vioxx), which was a multi-center, randomized, placebo-controlled, double-blind study to determine the effect of Vioxx on the recurrence of neoplastic polyps of the large bowel in patients with a history of colorectal adenoma.

    The trial which begain in 2000, involved 2,600 patients and compared Vioxx 25 mg. to placebo. The study revealed that an increased risk of cardiovascular complications began 18 months after patients started taking Vioxx.( Note, they do give specifics on % of patients effected cardiovascular or colorectal adenoma, etc.)

    On Dec. 8, 2005, NEJM (The New England Journal of Medicine) dropped a bombshell in an editorial alleging that Merck withheld data and information that would affect conclusions drawn in the manuscript about the VIGOR (Vioxx Gastrointestinal Outcomes Research) study which appeared in the NEJM on November 23, 2000. See: Merck Withheld Pertinent Information About Vioxx

    I am not claiming to be an expert at indium, its compound forms, uses, benefits of adverse reactions. I am just stating my experience and opinions about some facts and some beliefs and the right for freedom of choice and to make people aware and educate them on the good or bad.

    Dr D.

  2. I suffered from health problems for 18 years and went from doctor to doctor and no one could help me. The prescriptions they gave me only made things worse. I even saw a phyciatrist who after seeing me for a period of time that there was definetly something physical going on with me. He sent me to the hospital to have many tests run and still nothing. I started seeing an alternative doctor and doing lots of herbs, supplements, and organic foods and I am getting well.I took some precriptions and the alternative doctor encouraged them until my body healed. I had to take prevacid for my stomach until we healed it with supplements. I was very skeptical fo alternative medicine when I started but was desperate to try anything because no one had helped me up to that point. I have proof in my life that supplements work. I am taking indium and am not the least concerned about any side effects because it is such a small amount I am taking. Some prescription medicines have dangerous side effects. That being said I am not against prescripton meds-I firmly believe in integrated medicine. I was talking to someone who had been to an interaged medical clinic-I think she said it was at Duke University. This is the medicine of the future and whats best for the patient.

  3. Dr D…

    I don’t think I have ever said pharma products did not have side effects. At least ten years before the mainstream media caught on to adverse drug reactions (ADRs) I was writing about them in my Alchemist column on ChemWeb! Sheesh. Keep up would you?

    As to supplements and indium in particular…if you’re eating “better” (please define that) and exercising (how much, what kind?), then you shouldn’t need supplements or indium. There is no distinction between stuffing down ibuprofen or indium, neither are components of the diet our prehistoric ancestors would have eaten, neither can be called natural in that sense.

  4. That was the most ignorant thing I have ever heard. Pharmaceutical drugs are not good for you in any way. They are drugs and they have side effects. Do you ever read or watch tv and see all the different side effects they have on your health. They always tend to have a greater side effects and risks then benefits. In many cases however it may save your life and enable you to live longer, not necessarily a better life, but longer. The PDR or ( Physicians Desk Reference) can tell you about all of this. As far as “natural, holistic, vitamins, minerals, and herbs, yes these too can have side effects. They are not just bunk and quack medicine or a myth. However, evertime just one person has a negative effect to a supplement it is critisized and labeled unsafe and toxic, yet do any of you know that Tylenol is the number one (over the counter drug) leading cause of liver failure in the U.S. (Just releaed this week) Ibu profen and other NSAIDS or anti-inflammatories are the number leading cause of kidney failure and kidney damage in the U.S. Just the NSAIDS alone kill over 35,000 people every year people. Not any one vitamin, supplement in history or even all of them combined has ever done anything to a fraction.
    Bottom line folks eat better, exercise, live right is the best way to health. Health does not come from a pill. Drugs do not make you healthy.
    As far as indium goes, the merck manual does indicate that taken orally and in the proper dose is non-toxic. I am certian that the supplier is also very crucial. As with any product on the market be it food or supplement comes in different qualities. Try to find your supplements that are made with pharmacuetical grade products and labs. Be smart with everythig you take, if you feel worse stop. You can have your hair tested for mineral levels including toxicity before and after if you choose to see if indium or any minerals toxic or not may exist in your system.
    Open your eyes and read, stop being brain washed, do your own research and stop believing everthing you read on the internet. Remember that any one can right anything, this does not make it so.

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