The Benefits of Brown Seaweed
Sometimes, the healthiest substances are often the ones that you see or hear about every day but don’t actually consider. For example, everybody loves bananas and knows that they are good for you, but the specific benefits of the fruit are unknown to most people. This is true for many substances, but some don’t even get that kind of attention. There are also plenty of substances that are familiar but assumed to be worthless, even though they are actually quite healthy.
What is Brown Seaweed?
Brown seaweed, scientifically or botanically known as Fucus vesiculosus, is a vegetable of the sea that is often used in cooking, especially in Asian dishes. It can be eaten raw, pickled or cooked, and its texture depends on how the seaweed was prepared. For example, raw or pickled seaweed has a crispier texture, while cooked seaweed is much softer. It can be found in miyeok guk, which is a Korean soup, and it can also be added to miso soup or seaweed salad.
You may also see brown seaweed referred to as bladderwrack, depending on where you are. Overall, brown seaweed has had little research done into it for its health benefits, which is why there seems to be little information about its extract.
With that said, everybody knows what it is, especially if you’ve ever been to the beach. You’ve likely seen brown seaweed washed up on the shore, as it is an algae that can be found around the world in cool oceans. Nevertheless, there have been some studies performed regarding some of the benefits of brown seaweed, proving that the sea vegetable is actually very healthy.
Nutritional Composition of Brown Seaweed
As studies have shown, brown seaweed is full of healthy nutrients that can provide a lot of benefits. It has a very high concentration of iodine, which is a mineral that is essential for promoting a healthy, functioning thyroid.
Other nutrients found in brown seaweed include iron, magnesium, and fiber. It is also rich in vitamin B, including vitamin B2 (riboflavin), vitamin B9 (folate or folic acid), and vitamin B12. Overall, brown seaweed contains all 72 of the different mineral in trace amounts.
Brown Seaweed Extract Benefits
Thanks to the many essential nutrients found in brown seaweed, this extract may provide significant health benefits. With that being said, there hasn’t been enough research into these benefits to scientifically support the claims. Generally speaking, the nutrients found in brown seaweed certainly imply benefits based on previous research into those nutrients.
The biggest benefit associated with brown seaweed and brown seaweed extract is its ability to fight cancerous cells. It contains a certain compoiund called fucoidan which has been tested and proven to have a positive effect on various cancers, including colorectal and breast cancers. (1)
The compound has been shown to either kill or reduce the spreading of these cancerous cells. An animal study showed that kelp was able to lengthen the menstrual cycle, decrease levels of estrogen, and keep both estrogen and progesterone from binding to cell receptors. These abilities may help to prevent some types of cancers.
Another element contained in brown seaweed extract, fucoxanthin, could contribute to healthy weight loss and a reduction of liver fat in women who may be obese. Fucoxanthin is actually a pigment that gives brown seaweed its greenish-brown color. When combined with pomegranate seed oil, however, a study showed that it may provide those weight loss benefits. (2)
It should be noted, as well, that brown seaweed extract has been shown to often have higher levels of fucoxanthin than straight brown seaweed.
Some studies have also shown that brown seaweed could act as an anticoagulant to stop or slow down blood clotting. The fucoidans contained in brown seaweed have been studied and proven to provide anticoagulant and antithrombotic benefits.
With that said, this means that people who are already taking medications for a blood clotting disorder should avoid consuming brown seaweed. You should also avoid combining it with other natural substances that provide anticoagulant benefits, including clove, red clove, ginger, garlic, ginseng, turmeric, fenugreek, ginkgo, and angelica.
Brown seaweed can help fight inflammatory conditions both internally and externally. If you are suffering form man inflammatory condition like arthritis or are trying to eat an anti-inflammatory diet, then brown seaweed can help.
Brown seaweed may also help to treat inflammatory conditions on the skin. While consuming the plant may help, it can also be applied topically to relieve inflammation caused by conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
Before the days of modern medicine, one type of brown seaweed called bladderwrack was used as the original source of iodine for medicine. Iodine is vital for good thyroid health as it ensures your metabolism and hormones maintain their healthy balance.
Being such a good iodine source , brown seaweed can help treat thyroid issues. It works by helping your thyroid produce the right number of hormones.
Iodine is also critical to women’s health to ensure they produce the right level of hormones. When women suffer from thyroid issues during pregnancy, it can have a very negative effect on the mother’s health and also the mental development of the fetus.
Iodine has also been used to treat fibrocystic breast disease which is a major cause of breast cancer. Studies have found that brown seaweed functioned in a similar way to soy in regulating the female sex hormones. (3)
In the same study, the researchers found that brown seaweed – specifically bladderwrack – helped treat women with very light and short menstrual cycles. those who took a bladderwrack extract each day experienced longer periods than the control group. The women who took the seaweed extract also produced an increased level of progesterone. This hormone helps to prepare the lining of the uterus for fertilization every month and moreover, women lacking in the hormone find it very difficult to conceive.
However, it is important to note that women should only use brown seaweed after consulting their doctor.
Brown seaweed is a great source of dietary fiber. It contains various fibers including one called alginic acid which is extremely beneficial for digestive health.
Because if its fiber content, eating brown seaweed can help treat a range of digestive issues including bloating, indigestion and cramps. It can also ease constipation by helping your food move more readily through your system and add bulk to your stools which can help treat diarrhea.
Another type of fiber found in brown seaweed called fucoidan is linked to a variety of potential health benefits. These include the ability to reduce cholesterol levels. High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors in heart diseases like atherosclerosis and killers like heart attacks and strokes.
Eating plenty of brown seaweed as part of a healthy diet might also have a positive effect on your blood pressure but there is no evidence to back up the claim.
According to research, brown seaweed may also help keep blood sugar levels under control making it a useful choice for diabetics. One study examined the effects of brown seaweed on blood glucose levels as well as insulin response after a meal.
23 patients were given 500 mg of brown seaweed extract and the results were positive. They found that the volunteers who took the seaweed extract experienced a decrease in glucose and insulin levels. The researchers also confirmed that brown seaweed helped increase insulin sensitivity following carbohydrate consumption. (4)
The antioxidants and other nutrients found in brown seaweed may also benefit your skin’s appearance and help you retain your youthful appearance. Simply consuming antioxidant rich brown seaweed can have a positive effect but it can also be used topically to treat some of the signs we are aging like wrinkles and fine lines.
Other Potential Benefits of Brown Seaweed Extract
As mentioned, there have not been many scientific studies regarding the health benefits of brown seaweed. With that said, there have still been many claims, especially from holistic healthcare practitioners who have used brown seaweed in some treatments. Other benefits might include the treatment of obesity, arthritis, asthma, arteriosclerosis, vision and urinary conditions.
Frequently Asked Questions
What makes seaweed good for you?
What is Modifilan?
Modifilan is a brown seaweed extract that is very concentrated. In 1986, Modifilan was actually used to help detoxify people who were affected by the explosion of a power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Thousands of people were helped by the use of Modifilan, a brown seaweed extract. On top of that, over 2,000 men who were drafted to re-excavate Chernobyl also took Modifilan to prevent toxification from the remains of radioactive debris.
Modifilan has also been used in people over the age of 40 years old, especially those with pre-existing health conditions, for benefits that included boosted energy levels and improved thyroid function and health. The concentrated levels of iodine provide more potent benefits for the thyroid, but it can also promote better health in prostate and breast tissue. The higher concentrations of laminarin contribute to boosted energy levels, as has been shown by recent studies.
Modifilan is harvested from the northwest Pacific near the Kuril Islands. In those areas, brown seaweed grows long enough for the viscous inner parts to be harvested for their healthy polysaccharides. Parts of the leaves are put into a machine that is similar to a meat grinder and then pushes through a tight mesh to extract a gel-like substance. This gel is then dried and ground to produce Modifilan, which is essentially just the concentrated juices of brown seaweed that have been dried and powdered.
A comedogenic rating is a specific score given to different natural substances that are expected to be applied to the skin. The purpose of this score is to help people determine which substances are most likely to be suitable for their skin types. The scores go from zero to five, and the lowest ratings are given to substances that are the least likely to irritate your skin, clog your pores, or worsen any skin conditions, like acne.
Brown seaweed extract, specifically, may be known by many names in the beauty industry, so it can be difficult to determine exactly how it will react to your skin based on a comedogenic rating.
Some of those names might include algae extract, Ascophyllum, kelp, red algae, blue algae, spirulina, Irish moss, sea whip extract, and many others. Regardless of the name, however, it seems that all algae products have been given a high rating of four or five on the comedogenic scale, which means that they are very likely to cause a bad reaction on your skin.
With that said, there have also been studies that said brown algae (or brown seaweed), is particularly great for acne-prone skin. It has also been said that it’s actually impossible for any algae extracts to be comedogenic since they are all water-soluble and are, therefore, easy to remove from the skin.
Other studies have also shown that different algae-type substances actually have different chemical compositions, meaning that they might all react differently to different people’s skin. Because of this, it’s important to approach brown seaweed extract and other algae products with an open mind. Try a small patch test or speak with your doctor before adding it to your daily skincare routine.
Precautions and Side Effects
As is the same with many other natural substances, there may be concerns regarding consuming too much brown seaweed. This concern is due to the fact that consuming too much iodine could lead to hyperthyroidism. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism might include nervousness, weight loss, and rapid heartbeat.
Another thing to consider is that brown seaweed might absorb environmental pollutants like arsenic, mercury, or cadmium, which could cause damage to your liver and pancreas if consumed. Because of this, it has been said by some scientists that brown seaweed may be unsafe to consume. With that said, these toxic absorptions could be avoided by making sure that the brown seaweed your purchase was sourced from a clean area.
With that said, one element found in brown seaweed, called alginic acid, may help to detoxify the body of toxic chemicals, including uranium, mercury, strontium, lead, and many more. This may help to negate the absorptions of toxins from pollutants in the ocean. Despite this, it would still be best to be safe and only purchase brown seaweed or brown seaweed extract that has been sourced from clean areas that are free of pollutants.
As long as brown seaweed or brown seaweed extract is consumed in moderation, you should be safe from these negative side effects. It would also be good to make sure that the brown seaweed extract you use is organic and unprocessed to make sure that no additional additives or chemicals were added. Consulting with a holistic healthcare practitioner may be a good idea to receive advice regarding how to use black seaweed or appropriate amounts to consume.