What Can Fucoidan Do For Me?
The Benefits of Brown Seaweed – Fact or Fiction?
Seaweed has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for hundreds of years. Though there is an understandable amount of skepticism regarding the use of Chinese natural medicine, some people may be surprised to find that there are actual benefits to consuming certain forms of seaweed – brown seaweed to be precise.
This is because brown seaweed such as wakame, hijiki, kombu, and mozuku all have unique complex molecules called Fucoidan. Fucoidan is a dietary fiber that benefits the body by doing more than just burning fatty lipids like cholesterol and triglycerides – it has a slew of research-driven health benefits as well.
What are the long-term effects of a Fucoidan-rich diet?
Recently, information has come to light that the Fucoidan present in brown seaweed may be responsible for the significantly low mortality rate caused by cancer and cardiovascular diseases on the Japanese island of Okinawa. Although things have begun to change since the 1960s and encroaching Western influence, the Okinawan people have had a very traditional diet that seaweed plays a large role in. Okinawans have statistically been one of the longest-living people since recorded age analysis, with as many as 34 centenarians for every 100,000 inhabitants, a ratio much higher than the rest of the world – a ratio that scientists are still scrambling to understand.
Is seaweed the only way to get the benefits of Fucoidan?
While Fucoidan only naturally occurs in brown seaweed, brown algae, and certain marine animal life (such as sea cucumbers and sea snails), there are other options if you are interested in gaining a healthier lifestyle.
Thankfully, you do not have to live in Okinawa or have an appetite for seaweed to enjoy the benefits of Fucoidan. Fucoidan is available from many producers in both liquid and powdered extract, though the powdered form is considered to be less diluted and more stable than liquid supplement forms. Some producers mix their Fucoidan into fruit juice or energy drinks – this Fucoidan is the most diluted and most susceptible to molecular decay. Dot not be fooled by sensationalized and overpriced Fucoidan drinks, as they have proportionally much lower Fucoidan in them (if they do contain Fucoidan content at all) and they do not provide as strong of benefits as a Fucoidan extract.
Fucoidan Extract Health Benefits
Fucoidan is beneficial to the human body for a number of reasons. Some benefits – such as the high amount of antioxidants and immune system boosting and modulating powers – are helpful in preventing illnesses before they set in. Other Fucoidan benefits are specific to certain illnesses, and have been extensively researched by many independent studies at the U.S. National Library of Medicine. If you take an extract of Fucoidan (instead of the fruit juice/energy drink source), you also gain the benefits that the seaweed itself provides. Though these benefits can vary depending on the type of seaweed extract that you choose, most seaweed benefits are very positive – though some species of seaweed and their extracts have some side effects that you should be aware of before choosing your Fucoidan product.
Fucoidan’s ability to manage cholesterol can help you take control over your weight. This natural substance burns away fatty acids like cholesterol and triglycerides, keeping them from clogging up your blood vessels while simultaneously providing you with energy. Fucoidan also helps inhibit the adipogenesis process responsible for the creation of fatty acids.
Provides a Natural Source of Antioxidants
All molecules on earth naturally go through a process known as “oxidation.” Oxidation is the reason why an abandoned bike will rust, and why the copper Statue of Liberty is green instead of its natural color. Oxidation occurs inside of our bodies as well, transforming our cells. However, this process can create some unnatural results – free radicals. These free radicals are by-products of oxidation, and therefore are not full molecules. In their attempt to become full molecules, free radicals will steal atoms from healthy cell molecules, causing damage to those cells. Fucoidan is a natural source of antioxidants, which are molecules that carry enough extra cells to stabilize the free radicals, reducing the chance of healthy cell-molecule damage.
Has Antiviral Qualities
One of Fucoidan’s amazing benefits is that it contains antiviral properties. If taken as part of a daily regimen, Fucoidan has the ability to prevent viral infections such as the common cold and influenza. More significantly, Fucoidan has been proven in independently verified clinical trials to have suppressive and apoptotic effects on enveloped viral diseases such as oral and genital herpes, HIV, and hepatitis C & D.
Improves Liver Health
Liver health is especially important because of all the significant bodily processes the liver is responsible for. In scientific studies, Fucoidan displayed anti-fibrosis properties on subjects afflicted with liver fibrosis, and also was able to inhibit the spread of hepatitis C (commonly responsible for fibrous tissue in the liver).
Helps Fight Cancer
Multiple types of cancer have been tested in studies with Fucoidan. For many cancers, Fucoidan has an inhibitory effect on tumor cell growth, and can also help the immune system keep cancer from infecting healthy cells. It has even been shown in some studies to induce cancer cell apoptosis (cell death). Fucoidan has also been known to stop the spread of certain cancers (such as lung cancer) from spreading throughout the body by blocking cancer cells from using biological pathways in the body.
Provides Relief from Chemotherapy and Radiation Side Effects
While Fucoidan has a number of anti-cancer qualities, it also has properties that help provide relief from some of the harmful side effects of chemotherapy and radiation. One of the major downsides to these forms of cancer treatment is that they inadvertently target bone marrow cells. Since bone marrow cells are responsible for creating white blood cells, the immune system can be compromised by rigorous anti-cancer treatments. People undergoing chemotherapy and radiation treatments are susceptible to infections because of their weakened immune systems. Some studies have shown that Fucoidan is capable of boosting the immune system to normal levels, or even slightly above normal levels, in patients undergoing chemo and radiation.
Fucoidan Side Effects
Because Fucoidan is a natural product, it does not have the capability of producing side effects as strong as chemically-engineered drugs. With that said, there are a few documented cases of side effects for this natural health aide. It is important to take into account which type of seaweed is being used in your chosen Fucoidan extract, as there can be more side effects associated with particular forms of seaweed.
People who are allergic to soy should be aware that they may have an allergic reaction to brown algae extract. Common allergy symptoms may include difficulty breathing, swelling of the face and throat, rash, hives, and an increased heart rate. Fucoidan extracts retain some qualities of the seaweed that they were derived from. Since most seaweeds contain slight blood-thinning qualities. Often this is beneficial as it reduces the chance of heart attack and stroke, however, people already on blood thinners (such as Warfarin or Coumadin) or who already have low blood pressure should be aware that risks can include dizziness, fainting, and increased ease of bruising. Fucoidan extracted from mozuku seaweed, however, contains blood-thickening qualities, and should be taken in small dosages or not at all by people who already have high blood pressure.
Anyone looking for a Fucoidan extract should also be aware that seaweed is naturally high in iodine. Any reputable Fucoidan extract will have a recommended dosage that will be safe for most people to take without any side effects. With that said, taking too high of a dosage of a seaweed extract could have the potential to cause iodine poisoning. Because of the iodine content in seaweed extracts, people with hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) should not take seaweed supplements. People with hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid) or average levels of iodine can take Fucoidan extracts without issue, as the iodine content can help prevent goiter caused by hypothyroidism.
Considering the sheer number of scientifically tested benefits that Fucoidan has versus its rather small and uncommon side effects, Fucoidan is an incredible natural wonder. If you are looking for a natural health supplement that can change your physical health for the better, you’ve found the right substance – Fucoidan. Before you make a choice on any Fucoidan extract, be sure to read about the marketing schemes and hidden side effects of certain seaweed supplements.