Brown Seaweed, otherwise known as bladder wrack, is perhaps among the most common types of seaweed that have shown promising therapeutic and health benefits. Just like virtually all of the edible plant and animal species found in the oceans, brown seaweeds are known to contain high levels of iodine, which is needed to promote and maintain the normal processes of metabolism.
These seemingly ever-present seaweeds, which are classified into two groups — the Fucus vesiculosus and Laminaria japonica species — are also rich in fucoidan, which many individuals claim stimulates the body's immune system.
The abundance of brown seaweeds has been exploited by different populations around the world. For one, brown seaweeds have been reported to have potent properties that can ease, or even reverse, some medical conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders, menstrual disorders, headaches, hemorrhoids, and hormonal problems such as hyperthyroidism. Brown seaweed has also shown promising benefits in the reduction of some common respiratory conditions such as asthma and cough.
To prove the credibility of some of the reported benefits of brown seaweed, a number of studies have been carried out over the years.
A laboratory study conducted in 2007 showed the remarkable anti-inflammatory properties of fucoidans. Furthermore, these substances have also been observed to curb the progression of cancer by hampering the bonding of cancer cells to platelets found in the blood. An earlier study conducted in 2004 also revealed that some compounds found in brown seaweed might play a role in reducing the onset of estrogen-related cancers in pre-menopausal women.
Because brown seaweeds contain high levels of iodine, extreme caution must be observed, especially among individuals who already have thyroid conditions. Some studies have revealed that excessive intake of dietary iodine is directly correlated to goiter and thyroid cancer.
Moreover, individuals who are scheduled for a surgical treatment should avoid the intake of brown seaweed to avoid any pre- and post-operation complications.
Pregnant or breastfeeding women should also refrain from taking brown seaweeds and its derivatives.
Like all herbal alternatives and other natural remedies, brown seaweeds contain chemicals that, when administered to patients taking certain medications, may cause adverse reactions. For instance, brown seaweed compounds can react with a number of anticoagulant, anti-thyroid, or anti-platelet substances. It is also important to note that certain species of plants also interact with these medications. These herbs may include common household spices such as turmeric, ginger, clove, garlic, and red clover. Other species also include gingko, fenugreek, and ginseng.
It is important to seek professional medical opinions and recommendations prior to the use of brown seaweeds.