Natural Health Products Canada



Herb & Supplement Encyclopedia:
 

Kelp 

 Scientific Names
 Forms
 Traditional Usage
 Overview
 Active Ingredients
 Suggested Amount
 Drug Interactions
 Contraindications
 Side Effects
 References

Scientific Names:

Laminaria digitata Lmx. [Fam. Laminariaceae]


Forms:
Dried and powdered kelp; aqueous extract of kelp.

Traditional Usage:
- Anti-inflammatory
- Antioxidant
- Blood Purifier
- Bone and Joint Problems
- Cellular Regeneration
- Cleansing
- Detoxifying
- Digestive Disorders
- Gastrointestinal Disorders
- Goiter
- Iodine Deficiency
- Laxative
- Lethargy
- Mineral Deficiencies
- Vascular Deficiencies
- Vitamin Deficiencies
- Weight loss


Overview:

Kelp, Laminaria digitata Lmx. [Fam. Laminariaceae], is a large, leafy brown edible seaweed rich in vitamins and minerals that grows along colder coastlines. Kelp is an excellent source of iodine, a major component of thyroxine and triiodothyronine, hormones that affect weight gain and cellular metabolic rates. One to two milligrams of iodine per week are required to prevent goiter. Based on epidemiological studies, thyroid disease is practically unknown in people who regularly eat kelp. Based on human studies, 4mg of iodine daily completely resolves cyclical breast lumps and cysts, usually within only two months. The alginates in kelp (complex polysaccharides), like other soluble fibers, have a soothing and cleansing effect on the digestive tract and are known to prevent the absorption of toxic metals like mercury, cadmium, plutonium and cesium. Studies have shown that alginate supplements can reduce strontium-90 absorption from the intestinal tract by as much as 83%. The U.S. Atomic Energy Commission advocates 2 tablespoons of alginate supplement per day to prevent strontium-90 absorption and related diseases. Kelp alginates are also hydrasorbent laxatives, compounds that swell to 20 times their original volume by absorbing water, which is much greater than other types of bulk laxatives such as psyllium and bran. Kelp alginates are effective in treating habitual constipation and gastric bloating because they swell in intestinal juices rather than water or gastric juices and are non-irritating. Several studies also document a direct, stimulatory effect of seaweed on the immune system. Kelp has been shown to inhibit 95% of abnormal cell growths, and cause regressions in 6 out of 9 animals tested. In-vitro studies of hot water extract of Laminaria on abnormally growing human cells showed more than 50% apoptosis. Kelp also has antiviral activity against influenza virus due to a very active inhibitor of viral and bacterial neuraminidase.



Active Ingredients:

Polysaccharides: alginic acid (algin) as the major component; fucoidan and laminarin (sulphated polysaccharide esters). Minerals: iodine; calcium; potassium; magnesium; phosphorus; iron and silicon. Total iodine varies between 0.1 to 0.8%, based on dry weight. Raw Laminaria kelp contains: Water 81.6; Protein 1.7%; Total lipid (fat) 0.56%; Carbohydrate, by difference 9.6%; Fiber, total dietary 1.3%; Ash 6.61%. Minerals (per 100g): Calcium, 168mg; Iron, 2.8mg; Magnesium, 121mg; Phosphorus, 42mg; Potassium, 89mg; Sodium, 233mg; Zinc, 1.23mg; Copper, 0.13mg; Manganese, 0.2mg; Selenium, 0.7mcg. Vitamins: Vitamin C, 3.0mg; Thiamin 0.05mg; Riboflavin 0.15 mg; Niacin 0.47mg; Pantothenic acid 0.64mg; Vitamin B-6 0.002; Folate, 180mcg; Vitamin A, 116IU; Vitamin A, RE 12mg; Vitamin E 0.87mg (ate). Lipids: Fatty acids, total saturated 0.25%; Fatty acids, total monounsaturated 0.098%; Fatty acids, total polyunsaturated 0.047%. Kelp also contains several essential and non-essential amino acids, including 0.27% Glutamic acid. (Information taken from The National Agriculture Library's USDA Nutrient Database for Standard Reference at http://www.nal.usda.gov).



Suggested Amount:

The dosage of kelp is 5-10 grams or equivalent in infusion, taken three times daily.



Drug Interactions:
The iodine content in kelp may cause hyper- or hypothyroidism, if taken in excessive amounts, and may interfere with existing treatment for abnormal thyroid function.


Contraindications:

The iodine content in kelp may cause hyper- or hypothyroidism, if taken in excessive amounts, and may interfere with existing treatment for abnormal thyroid function. In view of this, ingestion of kelp preparations by children is inadvisable. The iodine content in kelp has been associated with acne eruptions and may aggravate pre-existing acne. Elevated urinary arsenic concentrations have also been traced to the ingestion of kelp tablets. As such, kelp used as a food and/or for a medicinal product should not exceed arsenic levels above 3.0 ppm and lead levels above 10.0 ppm based on the internationally recognized Food Chemicals Codex. Prolonged ingestion of kelp in large quantities may also reduce gastrointestinal iron absorption and affect absorption of sodium and potassium and cause diarrhea.



Side Effects:

Hyperthyroidism has been associated with the excessive ingestion of kelp and is attributable to the iodine content in the plant. Typical symptoms of hyperthyroidism include: weight loss, sweating, fatigue, heart palpitations and frequent soft stools. The iodine content in kelp has been associated with acne eruptions and may aggravate pre-existing acne. Elevated urinary arsenic concentrations have also been traced to the ingestion of kelp tablets. As such, kelp used as a food and/or for a medicinal product should not exceed arsenic levels above 3.0 ppm and lead levels above 10.0 ppm based on the internationally recognized Food Chemicals Codex. Prolonged ingestion of kelp in large quantities may also reduce gastrointestinal iron absorption and affect absorption of sodium and potassium and cause diarrhea.



References:

Chida K, and Yamamoto I. 1987. Antitumor activity of a crude fucoidan fraction prepared from the roots of kelp (Laminaria species). Kitasato Arch Exp Med 60 (1-2): 33-39.

Gong YF, Huang ZJ, Qiang MY, Lan FX, Bai GA, Mao YX, Ma XP, and Zhang FG. 1991. Suppression of radioactive strontium absorption by sodium alginate in animals and human subjects. Biomed Environ Sci 4 (3): 273-282.

Newall CA, Anderson LA, and Phillipson JD. 1996. Herbal Medicines. A Guide for Health Care Professionals. The Pharmaceutical Press, London, pp. 124-126.

Sutton A, Harrison GE, Carr TEF, and Barltrop D. 1971. Reduction in the absorption of dietary strontium in children by an alginate derivative. Int J Radiat Biol 19 (1): 79-85.

Yamamoto I, Nagumo T, Yagi K, Tominaga H, and Aoki M. 1974. Antitumor effects of seaweeds. 1. Antitumor effects of extracts from sargassum and laminaria. Jpn J Exp Med 44 (6): 543-546.

Ghent WR, Eskin BA, Low D.A. , and Lucius PH. 1993. Iodine replacement in fibrocystic disease of the breast. Can J Surg 36 (5):453-460.
     
Dedyna, K. (1997 September). Iodine: Bosom Buddy. Victoria Times Colonist, Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.






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