The Benefits of Bladderwrack and Fucus Vesiculosus

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benefits of bladderwrack

In this article we will explain about the benefits of bladderwrack.

Other Names

Black-tang, bladder fucus, brown algae, bladder, blasen-tang, cut weed, common seawrack, dyers fucus, edible seaweed, fucoidan, fucus, fucoxantin, green algae, kelp, hai-tsao, kelpware, meereche, knotted wrack, popping wrack, quercus marina, red fucus, rockrack, red algae, rockweed, sea kelp, seetang, seaweed, seaware, sea oak, tang, swine tang, wrack, vraic and varech vesiculeux

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Background

Fucus vesiculosus is brown-colored seaweed that normally grows on the northern coasts of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans as well as the Baltic and North seas.

Usually called ascophyllum nodosum, fucus vesiculosus is often included in different kelp preparations combined with other kinds of seaweeds.

The Japanese and Vietnamese consumed seaweed as food in different forms – as salad, pickled with sauce or vinegar, relished or with sweetened jellies, or as vegetable soup.

It has also been used for herbal medication as a treatment for ulcers, asthmas, boils, hemorrhoid, cough, stomach ailments, goiters, urinary disease, headaches, and for reducing the risks of tumors.

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Bladderwrack’s main stem, called thallus, is used in supplements and for other medicinal purposes. Historically, this stem has been used for years in soothing inflamed and irritated tissues in the body. It was also used as a bulk-forming laxative.

People living near the seas or oceans are known to have low rates of hypothyroidism because of the plethora of iodine-rich foods such as seaweeds and seafood. It is also used as an agent against obesity, probably due to its reputation of thyroid gland stimulation.

Bladderwrack contains three major active ingredients – fucoidan, alginic acid and iodine.

Fucoidan is a dietary fiber that contains many sulfur groups. According to animal and test tube studies, these sulfur groups are responsible for fucoidan’s ability to reduce LDL (bad) cholesterol levels, decrease blood glucose levels, acts as an antibacterial and provide anti-HIV agents as well as anticoagulant effects.

Although no scientific evidence supports it, fucoidan is believed to prevent viruses and bacteria from binding into human cells, which in turn would prevent any kind of infection. However, no human studies have been made to support this claim.

Alginic acid is also a kind of dietary fiber, which is used in relieving diarrhea and constipation. It is also known to inhibit the HIV virus in the test tube studies. However, these claims have not been proven by well-designed human clinical trials.

Bladderwrack has a large amount of iodine included in it. This is probably due to the significant amount of iodine found where this seaweed grows. Iodine is known to treat thyroid function disorders such as goiter and hypothyroidism. Supplementation of Bladderwrack may help treat these conditions. However, there have been no human studies to confirm these promising results.

Suggested Treatments:

  • Promotes weight loss
  • Increases the level of thyroid hormones
  • Treats gastritis
  • Increase energy levels
  • Treats constipation
  • Alleviates diarrhea
  • Diminishes heartburns
  • Treats symptoms of GERD (gastro esophageal reflux disease)
  • Helps fasten the wound healing process
  • Helps in treating iron deficience
  • Aids in indigestion
  • Treats hypothyroidism 

Health Benefits of Bladderwrack

Bladderwrack has been tested in both humans and animals to determine its effectiveness in treating various conditions.

1. Antioxidant

Laboratory studies indicate that fucoidan, which is a component of bladderwrack and other kinds of brown algae, have antioxidant activities. However, the use of bladderwrack as an antioxidant has not been used in human studies. Further research is necessary.

2. Blood-thinning properties

Laboratory studies have shown that fucoidans include anticoagulant or blood-thinning properties. However, human clinical studies to support this claim have not been conducted.

3. Antifungal and Antibacterial Properties

Laboratory studies have observed antibacterial and antifungal activities on bladderwrack. However, there are also no reliable studies on humans to support the use of this supplement as an antifungal or antibacterial agent.

4. Cancer

Various kinds of brown algae such as bladderwrack appear to restrain the development of different cancer cells in animal studies. Currently, there are no human studies to support this claim. Further research is needed to verify this.

5. Thyroid Disease

Bladderwrack contains up to 600mg of iodine for every gram of this brown algae. For this reason, bladderwrack supplements have been used in treating thyroid disease such as goiter.

6. Diabetes and Obesity

According to animal studies, bladderwrack extracts could reduce blood sugar levels. However, human clinical studies have not been conducted to support this claim.

Bladderwrack and other kinds of seaweeds are often promoted as weight loss supplements. According to some studies, bladderwrack stimulates the thyroid and may increase one’s metabolism, which in turn could lead to drastic weight loss. However, the effectiveness and safety of bladderwrack as a weight loss supplement has not been studied on humans.

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Possible Side Effects

Although the U.S. Food and Drug Association does not strictly regulate supplements and herbs, the results per individual may vary.

Bladderwrack is considered generally safe. However, it could cause thyroid dysfunction, acne and heavy metal contamination.

Iodine, included in supplements or as iodized salt, could set off or aggravate acne. Ingesting excessive iodine could also cause either hyperthyroidism (increase of thyroid activities) or hypothyroidism (decrease of thyroid activities).

Bladderwrack as well as other seaweeds, which may be grown from waters contaminated with heavy metal such as lead and arsenic, may lead to kidney disorders, nerve damages and other diseases.

According to one animal study, the Bladderwrack extracts could reduce the blood sugar levels. It is important that people diagnosed with hypoglycemia or diabetes and those taking prescribed drugs, should consult their healthcare provider before supplementing on any form of seaweed.

Summary

Bladderwrack or Fucus vesiculosus is brown seaweed usually found in iodine-rich seas and oceans. It is used as an herbal treatment for thyroid disorders.

Bladderwrack supplements have been associated with cancer, obesity, thyroid disease and diabetes. Studies suggest that bladderwrack contains antibacterial, antifungal and anticoagulant agents and could act as an antioxidant as well. However, most studies conducted in testing the effectiveness of bladderwrack supplements used animal samples. Further human studies are needed to verify the promising results of bladderwrack.

Because of the potential adverse effects, it is recommended to consult with you doctor before taking supplements of bladderwrack and other kinds of seaweeds.

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