life saving dotIn rural India, many people face iodine deficiency. Now, there’s a simple, innovative solution to this problem: the Life Saving Dot. The Life Saving Dot is an iodine-soaked bindi, a traditional dot worn on the center of the forehead for various cultural, religious and cosmetic reasons. This project was started by an Indian medical research center and Grey for Good (the philanthropic side of Grey Advertising) with the goal that women in rural India would receive their daily iodine dose simply by wearing the bindi.


Bindis are small dots worn between the eyebrows of a woman to signify marriage in Hindu tradition. The practice began in the third and fourth centuries to represent the third eye. Now, however, it is popular for all women of all ages, not just those who are married. Though they can be different sizes, shapes, and colors, bindis still hold tremendous cultural significance for women in India.

Urgent Health Concern: Iodine Deficiency

Iodine deficiencies impact 2 billion people worldwide. These deficiencies cause a plethora of health problems, including:

  • Brain damage
  • Breast cancer
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Hypothyroidism, which can cause heart failure, depression, and impaired ovulation

In fact, iodine deficiencies are the biggest global cause of preventable brain damage. A common way to increase iodine intake is by eating seafood. However, many women in India are vegetarians, so their diets prevent them from getting the iodine they need. The soil in many remote mountainous areas also tends to be iodine-poor. In particular, pregnant women need more iodine than other groups. While other treatments such as iodine supplements exist, they are expensive and not accessible for many residents of developing countries. Enter the Life Saving Dot project.

The Life Saving Dot

The Life Saving Dot’s adhesive comes with 150-200 micrograms of iodine. By wearing the bindi throughout the day, a woman receives 12% of her daily iodine dose. Even this is a vast improvement from previous rates of iodine intake.

The bindis work essentially the same as a nicotine patch, and they are cheap to produce. One pack costs only two rupees, which means it is very affordable for women in these rural locations. The initial study tested it in the state of Maharashtra, where women make an average of 20 to 30 rupees a day.

The Life Saving Dot’s Limitations

Luckily, no negative side effects have been reported. In contrast, many women have reported fewer headaches as a result of the increased amount of iodine in their system. The Life Saving Dot seems to be a safe, easy and cheap solution to iodine deficiency.

The only problem is that bindis are generally not worn by men or people belonging to a religion other than Hinduism. Women tend to face iodine deficiencies more frequently than men due to pregnancy and birth, which exacerbate symptoms. However, many men would still benefit from more iodine. Another solution will have to be created for them, but the Life Saving Dot is a great start. Not only is it delivering a much-needed nutrient to an often-ignored population, but it is also helping to spread awareness about iodine deficiencies across the world.

Fiona Price
Photo: Pixabay

a new kind of bindiWhether wealthy or poor, the women of India are proud of their heritage and embrace their unique culture. One of the most noticeable components of Indian women’s culture is the bindi. While the rest of the world views it as a simple accessory, this tiny dot that sits in the middle of the woman’s forehead is a key element of reflecting Hinduism. Today the bindi is capable of being more than a religious adornment. The Life Saving Dot is a new kind of bindi that provides its wearer with a daily dose of iodine.

Iodine Deficiency in India

Iodine Deficiency Disorder, or IDD, is especially common in India due to the lack of iodized soil and nutrition. The Life Saving Dot has not only directly improved women’s health, but has also brought attention to the importance of including iodine in the everyday diet.

IDD is common especially in India for a number of reasons. The soil in India is famous for its lack of iodization, leaving crops with an insufficient amount of iodine. A majority of Indians favor a vegetarian diet and rarely eat seafood, which is another important source of iodine. A lack of iodized nutrition and a simple lack of awareness are the main contributors to IDD in India.

Iodine deficiency leads to a number of health issues. It is the largest contributor to brain damage which is often permanent. IDD is especially common among women as it affects pregnancy and can lead to breast cancer. Although IDD can have severe consequences, the disorder itself is easily preventable with a sufficient daily dose of iodine.

The Life Saving Dot: How it Works

The technology of the Life Saving Dot is comparable to that of a nicotine patch. The wearer absorbs the nutrients through her skin while wearing the patch. The Life Saving Dot provides the wearer with 150 to 200 micrograms of iodine when worn for at least four hours. While most women wearing the Life Saving Dot report beneficial results, the effectiveness of the dot will depend on certain factors such as skin thickness and even weather. The precipitation level of the current climate has the potential to affect the effectiveness of the dot.

This small dot has had a tremendous impact on the overall health of Indian women. Women wearing this bindi have reported a decrease in headaches, a common side effect of iodine deficiency. Costing only 10 rupees (equivalent to 16 cents in USD) for a pack of 30 dots, it is easily accessible to women of all income levels in India.

Impact of the Life Saving Dot

While the Life Saving Dot has a clearly direct impact on women’s health, perhaps the most important success of the dot is the awareness it created. The greatest contributor to IDD in India is a simple lack of awareness of the importance of iodine. An easy and effective way to combat iodine deficiency is by cooking with iodized salt. However, a significant number of Indian households were unaware of its importance.

India has made great progress in the search for IDD alleviation. According to a recent survey conducted from October 2018 to March 2019, awareness of iodized salt benefits is at 62.2% in urban areas and 50.5% in rural areas. Out of the 21,406 households included in the survey, 76.3% now have iodized salt in the home.

Awareness of iodine necessity increased due to media and the efforts of the Life Saving Dot. This new kind of bindi allows women to represent their proud culture while protecting their health. The direct health benefits of the Life Saving Dot are awe-inspiring and the awareness it presents is life-saving. By improving the awareness of the importance of incorporating iodine into one’s diet, families are protected from goiter, pregnancy complications and even brain disorders. Thanks to a small dot on the forehead, Indian women and their families are protected from IDD and the potential health risks it brings.

– Brittany Carter 
Photo: Flickr