Kelp is a sea vegetable or algae that grows in cool coastal waters in the northern hemisphere. Many Asian cultures use it as a food and seasoning particularly in Vietnamese and Japanese cooking. Normally pickled, ground, stewed, and even eaten dry, they regard it as a staple of their diet. While western civilization tends to avoid it for its strong flavor, they can still receive the healthy benefits of consuming it if they take it in capsules.
Many herbalists use kelp, also known as bladderwrack, as a mineral supplement. Due to its iodine content, it is used to treat hypothyroidism, goiters of the thyroid, and even obesity. Its healthy benefits for goiters were discovered in coastal European towns areas as Ireland for treating these disorders, though modern research claims to have no proof of this since they have not conducted any human studies.
Kelp has also been used as a blood purifier, treating diseases such as atherosclerosis – hardening of the arteries – and rheumatism – swelling and pain of the joints. It is effective at absorbing toxins and metabolic waste produced by yeast or released from the kidneys and liver from the colon. This is largely related to a fiber called algin, which has been used in the treatment of obesity. Pure algin absorbs both toxins and nutrients, thus reducing caloric intake.
In addition to algin, kelp contains several minerals and antioxidants including calcium, sodium, and iodine. These are essential for normal metabolic function and regulating the thyroid. Additionally, these minerals are known for strengthening the heart and connective tissues in the joints, as well as hair and nails. For at least the last 200 years, kelp has been used to treat hypothyroidism, enlarged glands, fatigue, eczema, psoriasis, arthritis, and obesity.
Other reported benefits include endocrine and pituitary regulation, pancreas support, reproductive organ health, cell wall strengthening, aids in digestion and elimination, reduces or prevents tumor growth, and cleanses the body of radiation. It also acts as an antibiotic and antiviral, treats acne, reduces effects of menopause, reduces severity of pregnancy symptoms, and Japanese researchers claim it reduces fetal abnormalities. Although researchers fail to prove these claims with human studies, they can back them up with plenty of animal studies.
Kelp does have drawbacks. When consumed in large quantities the iodine can have the opposite effect as intended. The best way to prevent side effects is to use it like other foods in the kitchen, as a seasoning or condiment. Ground kelp can be used in place of salt when cooking. Some people love it, others don’t, and others acquire a taste for it. its best either taken in very small does in capsules or worked into recipes as a salt replacement.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regulate the use of kelp, but they strongly caution its use particularly for those under the age of 18, pregnant, nursing or taking the drugs levothyroxine, estrogen replacements, thyroid prescriptions, diabetes medications, anticoagulants, anti-platelet drugs, non-steroidal anti-inflammatories, and laxatives. And if consumed in high amounts, heavy metal and arsenic poisoning may occur due to the increasing heavy metal pollution of our oceans. Heavy metal toxicity and arsenic poisoning can cause liver and kidney damage or failure especially if taken in combination with drugs which cause liver or kidney damage.
The best course of action, in these cases, is to take it under direct supervision of a trained medical professional who can adjust the medication levels to prevent a medical emergencies. Kelp powder is so effective at increasing thyroid and pituitary output and reducing blood sugar levels that just one or two servings of it can make a significant difference in the need or dependency of these medications.