By Richard Hunt
It can be said that we live, succeed, and fail because of our relationship with everything we come into contact with.
Take our food, for example, and its relationship with our gut. How good a food is for us depends not only on the type of food, but also how our body responds to it, our tolerance or intolerance to it, and the body’s ability to metabolize it and distribute its nutrients to the right parts of our body.
Given the natural loss of nutrients from the soil due to intensive farming and the over- processing and storage of food, it is critical that we add some supply of nutrients, especially micronutrients, to our diets to make up for this loss.
Perhaps one of the best natural sources of nutrients is found, surprisingly, not on land, but in the oceans. As Nature’s repository of all the world’s nutrients, the oceans harbor a consistent nutritional “soup”. Unlike soil, which has varying quality from location to location, seaweeds have the ability to assimilate vast quantities of nutrients in the oceanic soup and make them available to us. In fact, our own cellular fluids and lymph are so similar in composition to sea water that one can understand why seaweeds are used in health spas and thalassotherapy as a way of restoring our delicately balanced nutritional composition.
Which seaweeds are best?
Basically, there are three types of seaweed, which are categorized by their color: green, red, and brown. Just like land vegetables, most of them can be eaten and many have useful nutritional components. Of all the world’s seaweeds, brown seaweeds have the most comprehensive balance of nutrients. They are virtually a complete food, capable of sustaining human, animal and plant life.
Of the brown seaweeds, several wild “wrack” species from the cold, clean waters within the Arctic Circle may be said to be the best seaweeds of all as they grow in “the land of the midnight sun”. During the Arctic summer months there is 24 hour sunshine, so the seaweeds continuously photosynthesize, and many researchers have remarked how much more “alive” they are compared to other seaweeds and land vegetables.
Due to their habitat, they grow slowly and have evolved in a more nutrient-dense way than their cousins in warmer climes such as Atlantic Bladderwrack, and as a result, brown wrack seaweeds have been the subject of more scientific research over the past 50 years than any other seaweed.
These brown seaweeds, with their broad balance of nutrients, provide a foundation of health. Used daily, they help the body to fully metabolize the food we eat. Over time, this leads to homeostasis, which underpins the essential processes of metabolism, regulation, protection and healing.
However, wrack seaweeds are not a replacement for food or for specific nutritional supplementation. It may be that an individual requires additional amounts of specific nutrients, such as the B vitamins, or vitamin C, or certain minerals, and so on. A product containing these arctic wrack seaweeds will ensure that there are no gaps in the body’s ability to use these supplements as the practitioner intends. Therefore they can underpin and balance supplements, with no known contra-indications or allergenic reactions.
It may be helpful in this context to look at the nutritional requirements of those with serious underlying metabolic disturbances and how brown wrack seaweeds may be of benefit:
Autistic Spectrum Disorders
“In order to function well, the body has to have a constant supply of certain nutrients: zinc, magnesium, selenium, molybdenum, and other minerals and trace elements, hundreds of enzymes, many amino-acids and essential fats, all the substances which our autistic children are deficient in.”1
Brown wrack seaweed-based products may be able to assist in regulating the metabolism and thyroid by providing a consistent nutritional foundation for restoring homeostasis. While the path of autism can vary widely in different individuals, presenting a disparate range of symptoms, brown wrack seaweed- based products may prove helpful where there is evidence of the following:
- Inability to bind and remove heavy metals
- Deficient amino acids
- Mineral imbalance
- Thyroid disorders
- Dysfunctional digestion
- Compromised immunity
- Disturbed fatty acid metabolism & electrolyte imbalance
- Dry skin, listless hair
- High levels of free radicals
“Seaweed has shown consistent anti-tumor activity. In extrapolating these results to the Japanese population, seaweed may be an important factor in explaining the low rates of certain cancers in Japan”2
Brown wrack seaweeds offer a useful nutritional input in cancer prevention, management, and recuperation. Several varieties of Kombu are a traditional decoction for cancer in Japan, where scientists have been able to verify its effective treatment of tumors in the laboratory.
The principal cancer-fighting substances of brown seaweeds are the special polysaccharides, typically as much or more than 50% of total carbohydrate (including polysaccharides), which accounts for more than half the composition of nutrients, especially fucose and fucoidan. These have been shown to cause the destruction and inhibition of cancer cells by preventing adhesion to healthy cells and by interruption of DNA within the cancer cells. The polysaccharides are now known to have anticancer, anti-coagulant, anti-thrombotic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties. A substantial body of literature covers this subject with special reference to brain tumor, breast cancer, intestinal cancer, leukemia, lung cancer, and throat cancer.
Certain brown wrack seaweeds are highly alkalizing, some 75 times more so than apples; an alkaline system is believed to provide a greater defense against cancer. A Cancer Therapy by Max Gerson, M.D., is suggested reading in this respect.
Brown wrack seaweeds are an effective detoxification agent through four principal modes of action:
- Cleansing of the digestive tract, blood, lymph and kidneys, and improved metabolism of food by a unique range of polysaccharides and pigments including chlorophyll
- Removal of toxic and heavy metals by special polysaccharides
- Improving the alkaline-acid balance and the full metabolism of carbohydrates, proteins and fats, and helping protect against acidosis
- Providing the richest natural source of stable ‘chelated’ iodine with micro-nutrients, such as selenium, needed for its metabolism.
Brown seaweeds are an essential food for the thyroid and hormonal system which regulate almost every bodily function. Some brown seaweed-based products contain all of the important detoxification nutrients like zinc, magnesium, selenium, molybdenum and many other minerals and trace elements, enzymes, amino-acids and essential fats.
Colonoscopist Dr Robert Gray regards wild wrack seaweed as an excellent mucotriptic herb to cleanse the lymphatic system, and to “loosen, soften or dissolve hardened, stagnant or impacted mucoid in the body.”3
Detoxification using brown seaweed- based products is best understood as a broad and continuous process where the benefits of a clean system accrue over six months or longer.
It is well known that in order to metabolize any single nutrient (for example a protein or a carbohydrate), many other nutrients such as enzymes, co-enzymes and trace elements are required.
With its broad nutritional profile, brown wrack seaweed ensures the daily presence of nutrients, especially the rarer micronutrients,
and provides an ideal foundation for effective metabolism at the gut level. Their synergistic effect has to do with the fact that many food nutrients will only release
their full potency and value to the body in the presence of other specific nutrients, without which, they will pass from the body partially or wholly unused.
Nutritional Profile of a brown wrack seaweed product
Brown wrack wild seaweeds such as Ascophyllum, Pelvetia and Fucus, ideally together as a blend, contain a full spectrum of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, trace elements, amino acids, and the rarer complex micronutrients.
These brown wrack wild seaweeds have a more balanced and complete nutritional profile than fresh water algæ (spirulina, chlorella and blue- green algæ) and other seaweeds, while common kelp has too much iodine for long term daily use for the general population. Natural nutrient-packed wrack seaweeds can balance the partial nutritional profile of other foods and maintain the body’s micronutrient levels upon which digestion and good health depend.
For a copy of Seagreens® Information for Healthcare Professionals based on more than ten years of research and clinical feedback, interested parties should complete the request form at: http://www.seagreensonline.com/health_care_pros.asp
- Dr N. Campbell-McBride, “Detoxification for Children with Autism”, The Autism File (UK), pp12-17, Issue 10, July 2002.
- Teas, M. L. Harbison, and R. S. Gelman, “Dietary Seaweed (Laminaria) and Mammary Carcinogenesis”, Cancer Research 44:2758-61, 1984.
- Gray, The Colon Health Handbook, 12th Revised Edition, Emerald Publishing, 1991. ISBN 0-9615757-2-7