Facts and benefits of Bladder Wrack

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Facts and benefits of Bladder Wrack

Bladder Wrack Quick Facts
Name: Bladder Wrack
Scientific Name: Fucus vesiculosus
Origin British Isles, Europe, the Baltic Sea, and even the eastern coast of North America
Colors Olive-green to brown
Shapes Flattened, branching fronds, which grow up to 2m in length, have an obvious midrib, and are covered with spherical air bladders
Taste Salty
Health benefits Good for Heart Health & Helps in Weight Loss
Bladder wrack scientifically known as Fucus vesiculosus, is a seaweed found on the coasts of the North Sea, the western Baltic Sea, and the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, also known by the common names Sea kelp, Brown kelp seaweed, Sea wrack, Marine oak, Fucus, Kelp-Ware, Black-Tang, Quercus marina, Cutweed,Bladder Fucus, Fucus (Varech) vesiculeux, Blasentang, Seetang, Meeriche, rockweed, bladder fucus, sea oak, black tany, cut weed, dyers fucus, red fucus, and rock wrack. It was the original source of iodine, discovered in 1811, and was used extensively to treat goitre, a swelling of the thyroid gland related to iodine deficiency. Bladder wrack is seaweed prevalent on the Atlantic and Pacific coasts from Europe to Asia. It is often discussed to as brown kelp but it should not be confused with “kelp,” another species of seaweed. Bladder wrack is consumed as food and medicine and is a rich source of iodine. It is used in traditional medicine to treat hypothyroidism due to iodine deficiency and has been proposed as a weight loss supplement. No clinical studies have verified this effect. It cannot be eaten and is used to make medicine and is used is to make health supplements. Bladder Wrack is a member of the protoctista group brown algae.

Plant description

Bladder wrack is dark olive-brown seaweeds about 100 cm long. It is found growing along dikes, on wooden poles and on mud flats. It can be found attached to rocks and tide pools and on breakwaters and jetties. Bladder wrack is the most dominant seaweed in the brackish Baltic Sea. The perennial frond or thallus is coarse, light yellow or brownish-green in color, erect, and from 2 to 3 feet in height. It attaches itself to the rocks by branched, root like, discoid, woody extremities, developed from the base of the stalk. The frond is almost fan-shaped, narrow and strap-shaped at the base, the rest flat and leaf-like in form, wavy, many times divided into two with erect divisions having a very strong, broad, compressed midrib running to the apex.

The margin is entire, the texture tough and leathery, mainly olive brown in color, the younger portion yellower, shining. Air vesicles developed in the substance of the frond, usually in pairs, one on either side of the midrib and often one at the fork of the divisions, broadly oval, or spherical, attaining when fully grown half an inch in diameter, are the characteristics of this species which have suggested both the English and Latin names. Bladder wrack gets its name from the air bladders that typically occur in pairs along its fronds. These air bladders serve to float the frond when it is immersed by the tide, exposing a greater surface area to sunlight for photosynthesis.

Bladder wrack is a common food in Japan and is used as an additive and flavoring in a variety of foodstuffs in Europe. It is frequently used in the manufacture of “Kelp” tablets and powders that are sold as nutritional supplements. A good source of iodine, it is frequently used as an herbal remedy for treating thyroid problems. It is also said to be useful for relieving rheumatism and rheumatoid arthritis both taken internally and by topical application to the inflamed area.

Health Benefits of Bladderwrack

Along with vitamins and iodine, bladderwrack also contains mucilage (soothing soluble fiber), and a number of essential minerals. Bladder wrack’s mineral content supports the brain, nerves, blood vessels, hair, skin and nails. It also contains zeaxanthin, which can help to protect the eye from oxidative and light-induced damage.  Let’s take a closer look at some of the health benefits of bladderwrack.

1. Heart Health

Bladderwrack is one of the beneficial herbs that help you prevent atherosclerosis and any other cholesterol-related affliction. It also helps lower blood pressure, reduce your risk of strokes and heart attacks, and normally lessen the strain on your cardiovascular system.(1)

2. Vision Health

Bladderwrack consists of good amount of beta-carotene which makes 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. Apart from that, bladderwrack can help slow down macular degeneration and prevent the development of cataracts.(2)

3. Reduced Inflammation

Over the years Bladderwrack has been used as an anti-inflammatory substance. In case you are suffering from gout, arthritis, hemorrhoids, or skin irritation, bladderwrack can effectively neutralize the irritation, reduce swelling, and even relieve pain. Internal and external uses of bladderwrack are both useful methods and are even better in conjunction for sore muscles and joints.(3)

4. Anti-aging Properties

Bladderwrack consists of many valuable minerals that can help to make the skin beautiful. There are also powerful organic chemicals that can slow down the aging process. Antioxidants found 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.(4)

5. Weight Loss

Bladderwrack has been praised as a weight loss tool for generations, and the western world is just beginning to realize how beneficial it can be. When your body is working at a high level and burning off more fat, you also suppress the appetite, thus preventing obesity and the other related health issues that come along with it.(5)

6. Cancer Prevention

Fucoidan is a unique type of fiber which is found abundantly in 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 control a substance necessary for cell reproduction and growth. By slowing down that cell growth process, cancer propagation can be reduced.(6)

7. Thyroid Improvement

As discussed earlier 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. Mostly, bladderwrack stimulates the thyroid gland to increase hormonal output.(7)

8. Improved Digestion

Bladderwrack consists of alginic acid, which relieves constipation and adds bulk to the bowels, encouraging a 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.(8)

9. Relieve Inflammation and Joint Pain

Bladderwrack is quite beneficial for relieving the pain. Bladderwrack is often used to reduce inflammation and joint pains caused by rheumatoid arthritis. It can be used in both internal and external forms of digestion and application. It is quite easy to find Bladderwrack capsules or tablets at most natural vitamin and health stores but you should purchase the herb in raw form in order to create an infusion by steeping or brewing it in a quart of hot water. Bladderwrack also contains some components including fucoidan, carotene, bromine, and mannitol that are all vital nutrients for bone and joint health.

Traditional uses and benefits of Bladder wrack

  • It is used as a remedy for pain in the joints, swellings and skin diseases.
  • It is a good herbal treatment for Thyroid.
  • It increases body’s ability to process fat efficiently and control weight gain related to Thyroid disorders.
  • Bladderwrack powder provides good nourishment to the skin. It removes toxin that causes dryness, wrinkles and excess fluid retention.
  • It improves circulation and makes skin lustrous.
  • It consists of vital nutrients essential for bone and joint health.
  • It cures Rheumatoid arthritis and reduces inflammation and joint pains.
  • Bladderwrack tincture helps in curing gastrointestinal disorders like Diarrhea, constipation, Acid reflux and gastritis.
  • It protects intestinal lining and soothes the stomach.
  • It inhibits cell growth and cell multiplication and helps to reduces tumor growth and development.

Ayurvedic Health benefits of Bladder wrack

  • Warts: Add vegetable salad carrot, kelp, dulse, bladderwrack in daily diet.
  • Baldness: Add 2 to 4 drops bladderwrack extract in a mug of water and rinse after shampoo.
  • Hypothyroidism: Boil a cup of water with 2 to 3 tsp of dried Bladderwrack herb. Leave it for 12 minutes to steep and cover it with a lid. Drink this infusion thrice a day after it cools down.
  • Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis: Boil a cup of water with 2 tsp of dried bladderwrack herb. Leave it for 12 minutes to steep and cover it with a lid. Drink it thrice daily.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding: Take dried bladderwrack and boil it for 10 min. drink it 2 times in a day.
  • Anorexia: Grind wheatgrass and bladderwrack together to prepare a mixture. Add this mixture into a pot containing water. Stir it well. Consume a glass of this mixture daily to improve Anorexia.

Precautions

  • Consumption of bladder wrack harvested from polluted waters may cause nephrotoxicity due to the presence of heavy metals such as arsenic, cadmium and mercury.
  • It may cause Allergic reaction.
  • Bladderwrack is considered safe when applied topically but there are some safety concerns when taking it orally.
  • Make sure that you take any bladderwrack supplements under your doctor’s supervision.
  • High iodine concentrations may worsen existing thyroid conditions and excess iodine has been linked to thyroid cancer and goiter.
  • Bladderwrack may be unsafe during pregnancy or while nursing.
  • Bladderwrack might increase bleeding or bruising in individuals with preexisting bleeding disorders.
  • For the same reason, it should be avoided in the weeks leading up to surgery.
  • If you are allergic to iodine then avoid bladderwrack.
  • Bladderwrack should never be eaten in plant form.

References:

https://www.itis.gov/servlet/SingleRpt/SingleRpt?search_topic=TSN&search_value=11335#null

https://www.mskcc.org/cancer-care/integrative-medicine/herbs/bladder-wrack

http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/b/bladde54.html

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fucus_vesiculosus

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