Bladderwrack is a type of seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. The thallus, its main stem, has been used medicinally for thousands of years to stimulate thyroid function and boost the body’s metabolism. It was named as such because of its strong air-filled pods that help algae float.
Other names for the plant include the following:
- Fucus Vesiculosus
- Algue Laminaire
- Ascophylle Noueuse
- Ascophyllum nodosum
- Atlantic Kelp
- Black Tang
- Bladder Fucus
This seaweed is known for its high nutritional content. It is rich in iodine, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium and silicon, among others. Like many sea plants, it contains varying amounts of iodine that can be used to treat thyroid disorders. The rest of its nutritive components include algin, mucilage, mannitol, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, bromine, volatile oils and many other minerals. All of which are said to have individual health benefits.
A Few Reminders
Pregnant women are highly discouraged from taking bladderwrack. This is actually the usual advice with regard to herbal and alternative medicines. For most people, however, it is generally safe when applied to the skin.
Note that ingesting this seaweed in its raw form may possibly be unsafe. Some may contain high levels of iodine, which could cause or worsen thyroid problems. Like other sea plants, it can also absorb toxic heavy metals such as arsenic, depending on where it is found. People who are under medication or have pre-existing medical conditions should first seek medical supervision.
It is claimed that bladderwrack may be used to treat the following conditions:
- Thyroid problems like goitre
- Iodine deficiency
- Hardening of the arteries or arteriosclerosis
- Digestive problems
- Blood cleansing
- Urinary tract disorders
Do take note that more studies need to be conducted to validate all of these claims. Its key component is a high iodine content, which helps in treating thyroid disorders such as underactive thyroid (myxedema), over-sized thyroid gland (goiter) and iodine deficiency.
Some studies also suggest that the plant may reduce excess weight. However, this claim is not yet supported by recent studies. As of now, more studies have to be conducted to further test this seaweed’s medicinal qualities.
Regardless of the lack in literature about the plant, it may eventually provide some reliable health benefits in relation to thyroid problems. It is still recommended that people who have thyroid problems should consult with their doctor before using any treatment that makes use of- or take medication made from Bladderwrack.