Although this has a bit of an odd name, bladderwrack is actually one of the most common types of seaweed found in the oceans. Around the British Isles, Europe, the Baltic Sea, and even the eastern coast of North America, this kelp variety has the scientific name Fucus vesiculosus. Some of the other names of Bladderwrack include rockweed, red fucus, and black tang, depending on where in the world you happen to be. This type of seaweed prefers shelters inlets without too much movement or current, and is found in huge numbers in certain areas. The plant is highly identifiable by the small paired airsacs found along the midrib branches.
This has been an herbal remedy and a culinary element in various cultures for centuries. In fact, bladderwrack was the original source of iodine, which was hugely important in treating various conditions, and is also an important part of a nutritional diet. You can use bladderwrack most commonly as an herbal supplement or powder, which can be consumed directly or mixed into water or facial scrubs to improve its efficacy. While this has been used in alternative treatments for hundreds of years, it is only becoming well known to the general public recently, so the demand for this herb is definitely rising. The high levels of mucilage, beta-carotene, iodine, potassium, zeaxanthin and other organic compounds give this herb so much power! Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of bladderwrack.
Health Benefits of Bladderwrack
Thyroid Improvement: As mentioned above, bladderwrack was the original source of iodine back in the 19th century. Iodine is an important modulator for our thyroid gland and can ensure that our hormonal and metabolic activities are under control. Therefore, as a powerful source of iodine, bladderwrack has become associated with treating many types of thyroid disorders. Primarily, bladderwrack stimulates the thyroid gland to increase hormonal output.
Weight Loss and Obesity: One of the other effects of bladderwrack is a heightened metabolism, which makes it easier to lose weight, as your body is working right along with you. Bladderwrack has been praised as a weight loss tool for generations, and the western world is just starting to realized how beneficial it can be. When your body is working at a high level and burning off more fat, you also suppress the appetite, thereby preventing obesity and the other related health issues that come along with it.
Vision Health: The high levels of beta-carotene found in bladderwrack make it an ideal solution for someone trying to improve their vision. Beta-carotene is an antioxidant that directly neutralized free radicals in the eyes and cornea. Essentially, bladderwrack can help slow down macular degeneration and prevent the development of cataracts.
Reduce Inflammation: One of the other popular uses of bladderwrack over the years has been as an anti-inflammatory substance. Whether you are suffering from gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, or skin irritation, bladderwrack can successfully neutralize the irritation, reduce swelling, and even relieve pain. The internal and external (topical) uses of bladderwrack are both useful approaches, and are even better in conjunction, such as for sore muscles and joints.
Cancer Prevention: Fucoidan is a unique type of fiber that is found in high quantities within bladderwrack. Research has connected fucoidan with many health benefits, including lowering cholesterol, reducing blood sugar levels, and having anti-tumor effects. Essentially, one of the functions of fucoidan is to regulate a substance necessary for cell reproduction and growth. By slowing down that cell growth process, cancer proliferation can be reduced.
Digestive Health: There are a number of different types of fiber found in bladderwrack, but one particularly important one is alginic acid, which relieves constipation and adds bulk to the bowels, promoting smooth digestive process that is efficient in terms of nutrient uptake. Furthermore, this helps to relieve excess flatulence, bloating, cramping, and more serious conditions like gastric ulcers and colon cancer.
Heart Health: Research studies have linked bladderwrack with higher levels of HDL cholesterol (“good cholesterol”), meaning that this beneficial herb can help you prevent atherosclerosis and any other cholesterol-related affliction. This can help lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks, and generally lessen the strain on your cardiovascular system.
Premature Aging: There are many valuable minerals found in bladderwrack that can help to make the skin beautiful, but there are also powerful organic chemicals that can slow down the aging process. These antioxidants in bladderwrack keep the skin looking healthy and young, reducing age spots and blemishes, and lessens the appearance of wrinkles. Antioxidants can also boost skin elasticity, keeping you looking tight and toned well into your old age.
A Final Word of Warning: With great power comes potential dangers, so if you suffer from hyperthyroidism, then you may not need an extra boost of iodine. Also, some people are allergic to iodine, so large amounts of bladderwrack could be very dangerous. Finally, if you are having surgery in the near future or suffer from a bleeding disorder, you should avoid bladderwrack, as it can make blood clotting more difficult. Check with your medical professional before adding this herbal remedy into your health regimen.