Bladderwrack is a kind of kelp with many health benefits. It has been used medicinally for centuries.
Among bladderwrack benefits, this medicinal plant or seaweed has been used for the stimulation of thyroid gland as a treatment of cellulite and obesity. Its high iodine content stimulates the thyroid function, which further boosts metabolism.
Bladderwrack is quite rich in calcium, potassium, iodine, B-complex vitamins, sodium, sulfur, silicon, and iron. It also contains small amounts of selenium, phosphorus, zinc, manganese and vitamins A, E, C and G. Aside from this, it also contains vitamin K and anti-sterility vitamin S. This kelp is also rich in mannitol, caroene and algin.
How It Works?
The three main constituents of bladderwrack are: alginic acid, iodine, and fucoidan.
Alginic acid is a kind of dietary fiber that helps in relieving diarrhea and constipation. Though scientific studies have not been done on its effectiveness, but still it is being successfully used for treating these condition since centuries. Bladderwrack is also helpful for all those who suffer from hearthburn. Aside from that, it may also help in indigestion, though clinical trials have not been conducted. Calcium alginate, which is a calcium slat of alginic acid, speeds up healing of wounds.
Many test tube tests have shown that alginic acid inhibits the growth of HIV. This effect is yet to be studied in humans. Alginic acid also helps in lowering the bad cholesterol (LDL cholesterol). This factor has been proved in animal studies, but no human trials have yet been done to study this effect of bladderwrack. It is also used widely in pharmaceutical and food industry as a gelling and thickening agent.
The iodine content in bladderwrack varies considerably and depends upon the iodine content of water in which it grows. In any cases, a reasonable portion of it will mostly have the recommended daily dietary allowance (150mcg) of iodine.
This amount is necessary for the maintenance of proper thyroid function in adults (children and infants need proportionally less). Therefore, all those who have insufficient iodine in their diet should include bladderwrack as a supplemental source of their iodine needs. Either goiter, or hypothyroidism due to inadequate intake of iodine can improve with the intake of bladderwrack supplements. It also provides relief from rheumatoid arthritis and rheumatism, and can be used both as an external application for inflamed joints, or internally.
Fucoidan (an dietary fiber found in bladderwrack) contains various sulfur groups. According to several studies, this bestows several healing properties to fucoidan, such as lowering of blood glucose levels, lowering LDL cholesterol levels, anti-HIV and antibacterial activity, anti-inflammatory activity, and anticoagulant effects. Fucodian also prevents viruses and bacteria from binding to the human cells, which is a vital step in starting any infection.
How to Use Bladderwrack
You can take powdered bladderwrack for a short-term (for few days) for relieving constipation problems. Dosage can vary from half to one teaspoon two to three times a day with at least 7 oz of water each time.
For gastritis, heartburn, or thyroid problems, 4-8 grams of dried bladderwrack should be taken in capsules at least three times a day.
Alternatively, you can make its tea using a spoonful of baldderwrack for each cup of tea. Allow every cup to sit for at least 15 minutes before drinking the tea. In any case, you should not consume more than 140 mcg of iodine from all sources (including bladderwrack) everyday. Most of the bladderwrack products do not give any indication of iodine content, therefore, it is better to consult a physician trained in herbal medicine and nutrition.
Although it’s safe to take bladderwrack in moderate quantities, in some case, there can be three potential problems due to its consumption: thyroid dysfunction, heavy metal contamination, and acne. It has been seen that excessive iodine consumption (from bladderwrack or other sources, including seaweeds) can aggravate the acne problem in many people.
Excessive consumption of bladderwrack can cause hyperthyroidism or hypothyroidism. Using kelp that grows in the areas contaminated with heavy metals may have high amounts of toxins (particularly lead and arsenic), leading to kidney damage, nerve damage and various other health issues.
Only that which is harvested from the clean water, or which is sold with a clear declaration about the absence of contaminants and heavy metals should be consumed. The effects of using bladderwrack during breast feeding or pregnancy are still unknown. All those who are allergic to iodine should avoid bladderwrack.