Medicinal and herbal properties of Fucus


Disclaimer….
I do not advise taking or eating any Fucus or other seaweed without seeking professional advice, from someone such as a doctor. The information in this page may not be 100% accurate as I am not qualified
in any form of pharmaceutical position.

I receive many e-mail’s about Fucus as a metabolic supplement and the effects of taking it with regards to weight loss or dieting. I don’t have a background in human biology or pharmaceuticals so I’m not really
the best person to ask about this but I have done a little research into this subject and come up with several possible effects of processed extracts or raw Fucus.

Fucus serratusFirstly, what is Fucus?

There are three main species of the Fucus genera, they are Fucus serratus, Fucus vesiculosus and Fucus spiralis. These dominant algae are fairly ubiquitous throughout marine intertidal areas of temperate coastal areas, especially within the shores of Britain. There are several other species which are discussed elsewhere in the site. Fucus is one of the main brown (Phaeophyceae) genera and is often found washed up on beaches and has a typical sea-like smell.

Possible medicinal effects of Fucus

  • Antioxidant

    Antioxidants remove free radicals (produced during energy production in mitochondria) from cellular material, and can help in reducing cellular damage. Jimenez-Escrig et al (2001) found Fucus to have the highest antioxidant activity from a range of edible seaweeds, possibly due to the presence of Fucoxanthin (Yan et al. 1999).[+] More on Free Radicals and Antioxidants

    REFERENCES
    Jimenez-Escrig A., I. Jimenez-Jimenez, R. Pulido and F. Saura-Calixto (2001) Antioxidant activity of fresh and processed edible seaweeds. Journal of the science of food and agriculture. 81 (5): 530-534.

    Yan, X.J., Y. Chuda, M. Suzuki and T. Nagata (1999) Fucoxanthin as the major antioxidant in Hijikia fusiformis, a common edible seaweed. Bioscience, Biotechnology and Biochemistry, 63(3): 605-607

  • Thyroid Problems

    The thyroid gland is located in the neck and can cause a number of different problems (click here for more detail), such as increased weight, weight loss, lethargy etc. In this case Fucus may have an effect. The Medical Herb Site suggest taking tablet form Bladder Wrack (Fucus vesiculosus) to remedy the effects of thyroid problems.

    Brown algae and especially Fucus species are high in iodine content (Lee et al, 1994). Iodine is commonly deficient from many peoples diets, and has historically been used to as a weight loss supplement which had some effect, but is now being abandoned due to thyroid related side effects once treatment had finished (Moro and Basile, 2000).

    REFERENCES

    Lee, S.M., J. Lewis, D.H. Buss, G.D. Holcombe and P.R. Lawerence (1994) Iodine in British Foods and diets. British Journal of Nutrition. 72(3): 435-446

    Moro, C.O. and G. Basile. (2000) Obesity and medicinal plants. Fitoterapia, 71: S73-S82.

  • Obesity

    Fucus species have often been reported to have a direct effect on the metabolism of the human body (Moro and Basile, 2000), which shows potential for controlling weight and cellulite deposits. Moro and Basile (2000) review the use of F. vesiculosus as a medicinal remedy which may have some benefits with regards to weight control, this is repeated here:Iodine is the most important active principle in F. vesiculosus. This element used to play an important role in the treatment of obesity. Nowadays, it is no longer used because of the untoward effects on thyroid activity when treatment ceases. Moreover, since patients were not stimulated to learn adequate dietary habits, they generally regained weight after treatment. The highest dose suggested of any medicinal plant preparation will not lead to any of these problems, although it is unable to significantly increase basal metabolism. However, the use of F. vesiculosus can be considered, provided that the usual intake of iodine in our population is taken into account. Studies have shown that the eating habits of the Italian population are unable to prevent sub-clinical iodine deficits; as a matter of fact, physicians advise people to use iodine salt. F. vesiculosus can represent a valid alternative, especially when consuming sodium-restricted diets. The use of iodine to treat obesity can ensure the intake of the total daily requirement and, consequently, optimal thyroid function.”

    REFERENCES

    Moro, C.O. and G. Basile. (2000) Obesity and medicinal plants. Fitoterapia, 71: S73-S82.

General Effects reported from http://www.ccnh.edu/Herbguide/IJKherbs.html which has since gone off-line

Fucus vesiculosus:
Nutritious. Contains high amounts of trace minerals. Contains large amounts of iodine. Possess antioxidant, anti-carcinogenic, and anti-toxic properties. Used to prevent breast cancer in Japan. Helps clear fibrocystic breast disease. Nourishes thyroid. Source of nondigestible fibre. Reduces cholesterol levels through inhibition of bile acid absorption. Enhances immune system. Promotes glandular health. Weight loss aid. Can bind radioactive strontium, barium, cadmium and zinc in the gastrointestinal tract. Promotes glandular
health. Aids body’s metabolism. Contains nearly 30 minerals. Key Uses: adrenal glands, arteries, colitis, complexion, eczema, goiter, thyroid gland, obesity, pituitary gland.

Conclusions

It appears that taking a supplement containing Fucus extract may have benefits to health, but remember this is not a proven fact so it must be stressed that it may not work for everyone, and please see an expert before you take the stuff!