Brown Algae as Medicine

Resourceful seaside residents have been eating seaweed for thousands of years. The Native Americans ate it, many prehistoric cultures did, and it is common in Asian cuisine today. What our ancestors knew, science has confirmed: Seaweeds are a healthy foodstuff. Extremely nutrient rich (mostly known for the iodine content), and with 10 times as much fiber and over twice as much protein as cabbage, a 20 gram serving of kelp contains just nine calories.

What may surprise you is that brown algae seaweeds (kelp, wakame, and so on) have tremendous medicinal properties. Over the last 100 years there are been 1,800 papers published on fucoidans, the bioactive compound in such seaweeds. They have been shown to fight cancer, help regulate the immune system, fight viruses, inflam­mation, and oxidation, according to an article published in our sister journal, Integrative Medicine: A Clinician’s Journal. They have also long been known to be a good anticoagulant, similar to heparin. If you are going to add seaweed to your diet, by all means do so. But if you’re going to supplement with them, it would be best to consult with a medical professional first.