Other Names of Laminaria: Seaweed, Kelp, Bladderwrack, Fucus vesiculous L, Laminaria japonica

Useful Parts of the Plant: All parts of the plant can be used

This plant family includes a variety of marine water algae, popularly known as marine algae or seaweed or kelp. This plant is popularly used in many alternate treatments as seaweed is considered good for many treatments, external and internal. It is usually a green plant that grows underwater and in some cases, is brown in color due to pigmentation. Its mineral count is much higher than seawater though it is usually found in seawater. Today seaweed or kelp is gaining a lot of popularity. Seaweed can be consumed by adding it to the food like soups, salads and stir frys. Seaweed is also available in capsule and powder form which can be had like a nutritional supplement. It is also a big part of cuisines like Japanese where nori sheets are regularly used.

There have been no reported adverse reactions on seaweed and is being used a lot in alternate therapies. There are complete spa treatments dedicated to the use of seaweed. As research is still being done, you should eat seaweed carefully and if possible, get advice from a specialist.

Nutritional Information and Properties

Seaweed contains iodine and fucoidan. Iodine helps metabolize cells normally. Fucoidan helps increase immunity in the body.   Seaweed also contains a whole slew of vitamins like vitamins A1, B1, B2, B6, B12, C, E, K, along with pantothenic acid, folic acid, and niacin.

Seaweed is also very high in minerals especially in the important ones like sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, iron, zinc, magnesium and manganese.  Seaweed is, in fact, considered one of the magic foods for the sheer number of nutritional properties it has.

Health Benefits and Therapeutic Uses

  • Seaweed helps in conditions like fatigue, menstrual symptoms, hypothyroidism, cough, asthma, hemorrhoids, headaches and stomach ailments.
  • Seaweed also helps prevent goiter which is also a malfunction of the thyroid gland because of the high iodine content.
  • The B12 in seaweed is quite rare in vegetables and this makes it an important addition in the diet of vegetarian people who usually have to take supplements for B12.
  • Though there is little scientific evidence to prove it, brown seaweed has also shown cancer preventive properties. Ingesting bladderwrack or brown seaweed has shown some results in reducing estrogen-related cancers.
  • This form of seaweed with fucoidan also has shown to reduce inflammation. There have been some reports that fucoidan also can prevent breast cancer.
  • Brown seaweed has also shown blood-thinning properties. Anti-coagulant properties of fucoidan can really help. There is no record of it being used in treatments as yet though.
  • Seaweed has also shown promise in removing toxins from the body and improving the health of the digestive tract.
  • This plant is also used in topical lotions for obesity, cellulite and rheumatism. Taking a bath and rubbing the body down with fresh seaweed has been known to have a slimming effect. Seaweed is known as an “anti-fat herb”. Seaweed even works very well with other herbs in cellulite treatments.
  • The minerals in the seaweed also act as a diuretic and help draw out extra liquids from the body.
  • It helps deal with conditions like psoriasis and eczema.
  • It is also an energy booster and improves mental alertness.

Other Uses

  • The sheer goodness of seaweed also makes it a favored ingredient in creams, lotions and face packs.
  • Seaweed face packs are quite common and great for removing dead skin and increasing suppleness.
  • Ingesting seaweed increases the fiber content of the food.