Although it has a weird name, bladderwrack (Fucus vesiculosus) is one of the most common type of seaweed found in our oceans. Other common names of bladderwrack include; red fucus, rockweed, and black tang. Bladderwrack is an edible brown seaweed of the kelp variety.
The characteristic physical feature of bladderwrack is its little air sacs that can be seen along its branches.
Bladderwrack has high levels of iodine, potassium, mucilage, beta-carotene, zeaxanthin, as well as numerous other phytochemicals and compounds such as phloroglucinol, mucopolysaccharides, fucophorethols, phlorotannins, algin, lipids, sulphuryl-, sulphonyl- and phosphonyl-glycosyl ester diglycerides. In fact, bladderwrack was the original source of iodine for nutritional diets and therapeutic purposes.
Below are various health benefits of bladderwrack;
1. For Improved Thyroid Health
Back in the 19th century, the main source of iodine was bladderwrack. As a result, its popularity grew and with time, it became clear that bladderwrack contained supplements that aided in thyroid functioning. Iodine is an important supplement in the body when it comes to balancing of metabolic and hormonal activities in our bodies. Subsequently, as a rich source of iodine, bladderwrack has been linked to the treatment of several types of thyroid disorders.
2. For Weight Loss
Supplements that increase metabolism are one of the most sought solutions in our generations. Bladderwrack has been a significant weight loss supplement for some time now and many people are starting to appreciate its benefits. Bladderwrack heightens metabolism, which allows your body to burn off the excess fat and in the long-run curbing obesity and other disorders associated with excess weight.
3. For Improved Eyesight
Bladderwrack contains beta-carotene whose benefits range from immune system improvement to good vision. Consequently, bladderwrack is a good dietary source of beta-carotene for people who want to improve their vision. Like all carotenoids, this organic supplement contains antioxidants. Beta-carotene neutralizes the harmful free radicals in the cornea using the antioxidants present in its structure. Moreover, bladderwrack helps prevent the degeneration of muscles hence preventing cataracts.
4. Reduced Inflammation
Over the years, bladderwrack has been a potent source of anti-inflammatory relief. From thyroid to skin irritation, gout to reducing swelling, bladderwrack plays an important role in neutralizing swelling, irritation and even pain. Depending on the inflammation, you can use it either externally or internally. While both forms of using bladderwrack are sufficiently effective, when used simultaneously the results are nothing short of remarkable. Bladderwrack can be used for inflammations such as in relieving muscle soreness and joint inflammation.
5. Prevention Of Cancer
Fucoidan, contained in bladderwrack, is a very beneficial sulfated polysaccharide to the human immune system. Not only does it reduce the risk of a tumor, but it also lowers the levels of blood sugar in the blood and cholesterol in the body. Fucoidan targets the substance responsible for the growth and reproduction of API-1 and regulates it accordingly. Slowing down AP-I significantly lowers the proliferation and growth of cancer cells.
6. For Hormonal Balancing
The stimulation of hormones is another major benefit of bladderwrack. It is particularly helpful in exerting anti-estrogenic effects in pre-menopausal women. Based on research, this brown seaweed can help in regulating the menstrual cycle and control the pre-menopausal period in women who have had histories with abnormal menstrual cycles. However, consumption of bladderwrack during pregnancy has some safety concern issues and should be taken only under medical supervision.
7. Improved Skin Health
Improved skin health is another benefit of bladderwrack. Bladderwrack contains minerals that nourish and cleanse the skin by removing toxins that cause acne. It also regulates the opening and closing of the pores on the skin, therefore, curbing dryness and wrinkles. Furthermore, bladderwrack improves fluid retention leaving your skin glowing. By adding bladderwrack to your bath water, body scrubs and facial scrubs you can easily detoxify your skin without any hassle.
8. Anti-Aging Properties
Bladderwrack contains minerals that nourish the skin and generally give your skin a younger look. Additionally, bladderwrack contains effective organic chemicals that slow down the aging process. These chemicals include antioxidants that keep the skin glowing by getting rid of blemishes, acne, black spots and lessens the wrinkles on the skin. These phytochemicals also keep your skin elastic therefore maintaining the tone of your skin into old age.
9. Heart Health
Research has linked bladderwrack to high levels of good cholesterol (HDL cholesterol). This means that this brown seaweed can help you prevent various forms of ailments linked with the heart such as atherosclerosis and other illnesses associated with cholesterol afflictions. Furthermore, due to improved HDL cholesterol levels, the risk of being affected by heart attacks and strokes are lowered. Additionally, bladderwrack reduces the strain on the cardiovascular system.
10. Improvement Of Bone Composition
Bladderwrack has numerous minerals including magnesium and calcium which are essential in strengthening the bone structure. Moreover, these minerals help in the development of tissues and joints, thus, keeping you strong till your old age. Ailments such as osteoporosis, which come about as a result of old age and weak bone density, would be less likely to occur when you use bladderwrack.
11. Lowers Blood Pressure
Potassium is one of the minerals within bladderwrack, whose benefits range from lowering blood pressure to increasing metabolism levels in the body. Potassium is used as a vasodilator which means it reduces the strain in the arteries and other blood vessels throughout the body caused by increased blood pressure.
12. Boosts The Immune System
Bladderwrack is rich in Vitamin A which helps to increase the white blood cell count in the blood. Keeping the immune system at an optimum functional state is crucial for the overall health of the body, and Vitamin A, present in bladderwrack, is an effective aid in improving the body’s immune system.
13. Strengthens The Nervous System
Polyunsaturated fatty acids play an important role in the health of the heart, but what most people don’t know is that they also help in the optimal functioning of the nervous system and brain. Studies have shown that high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, present in the bladderwrack, improve the nervous system function and improves brain activity.
14. Improves Blood Circulation
The amount of iron, present in bladderwrack, is the second highest amount per gram amongst seaweeds, right after Dulse. Iron is responsible for the production of hemoglobin, adding bladderwrack to your diet would increase your blood circulation significantly. Including the herb in your diet would help avert anemia and symptoms such as headaches, stomach issues, overall weakness and cognitive disorders associated with anemia.
15. Boosts Energy Levels In The Body
Magnesium, as mentioned earlier, is a versatile and useful mineral in any functional human body. The transfer of energy in the body requires the presence of magnesium, therefore, the high levels present in bladderwrack help our bodies utilize and produce the protein essential in various body functions associated with repair and growth of body cells and tissues. Furthermore, hunger and fatigue during the day are mostly associated with inadequate consumption of proteins. Diets that provide proteins take longer to be broken down thus providing the body with long-lasting satiety and energy.
16. Improves Digestive Health
Due to the presence of the fucoidan fiber richly available in bladderwrack, consuming bladderwrack ensures that the digestive process is healthy and smooth. The dietary fiber present in the herb helps in relieving constipation, lowering the risk of diabetes and maintaining a healthy weight. The bulk fiber in this seaweed helps in increasing the size and weight of your stool, which makes it easier to pass. Additionally, the fiber helps prevent diverticular diseases such as pouches in the colon and hemorrhoids.
Word Of Caution
If you have hyperthyroidism, then the additional iodine content from bladderwrack is not needed. Furthermore, if you are allergic or sensitive to iodine, bladderwrack may be unsafe for you. Bladderwrack may also inhibit blood clotting, so avoid taking it if going for a surgery or if you have seaweed disorder. Additionally, bladderwrack is likely not safe to use when pregnant or breastfeeding. Also, bladderwrack may make it more difficult for a woman to get pregnant.
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