The Medicinal Herb Info site was created to help educate visitors about the often forgotten wisdom of the old ways of treating illnesses. Many of today's drugs and medicines were originally derived from natural ingredients, combinations of plants and other items found in nature.

We are not suggesting that you ignore the help of trained medical professionals, simply that you have additional options available for treating illnesses. Often the most effective treatment involves a responsible blend of both modern and traditional treatments.

We wish you peace and health!

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Kelp

Scientific Names

Kelp

  • Fucus versiculosis L.
  • Laminariaceae
  • Algae family

Common Names

  • Black tany
  • Bladderwrack
  • Bladder fucus
  • Cutweed
  • Hai-ts’ao (Chinese name)
  • Kelpware
  • Seaweed
  • Sea oak

  • Seawrack

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Parts Usually Used

Whole plant
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Description of Plant(s) and Culture

Seaweed: many species are used: Kombu (L. japonica), L. angusta, L. cichorioides, L. religiosa, L. longpedalis, etc. All are varieties of edible seaweed.
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Where Found

Thrives in the salty waters of the Atlantic Ocean along the rocky shores.
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Medicinal Properties

Expectorant, demulcent, emollient, alterative, diuretic, nutritive, thyroid tonic, antirheumatic, anti-inflammatory, metabolic stimulant
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Biochemical Information

Mucilage, volatile oil, iodine, biotin, bromine, choline, copper, inositol, PABA, selenium, sodium, calcium, iron, alginic acid, mannitol, carotene, protein, riboflavin, vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E and zinc.
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Legends, Myths and Stories

Kelp

Several varieties of the seaweed have been therapeutically used. In the 18th century, iodine was isolated by distilling the long ribbons, or thalli, and kelp was the main source of iodine for more than 50 years. The herb was used extensively to treat goiter, a swelling of the thyroid related to lack of iodine. In the 1860s it was claimed that kelp, as a thyroid stimulant, could counter obesity by increasing the metabolic rate. Since then, it has been featured in numerous slimming remedies.

In China, Shen-ung wrote in 3000 BC about the value of kelp. During the time of Confucius, a poem about a housewife cooking seaweed appeared in The Chinese Book of Poetry, written between 800 and 600 BC. In that time, kelp was regarded as such an exquisite delicacy that it was offered as a sacrificial food for the gods. In the Pen Tsao Kang Mu, published in China in the 16th century, kelp is recommended for goiter.

Harvesting marine crops in Japan is a thriving industry today; a practice since the ancient empire of Japan. The Japanese people refer to seaweed as “Heaven Grass,” highly regarded for its nutritional and medicinal value. Diving girls (ama) of coastal villages in Japan probe marine gardens of offshore lagoons in harvesting seaweed. These young women are graceful, hardy divers with superb figures and have become a proud tradition in Japan.

As far as known, kelp has no long range accumulative disadvantages; the body takes what it needs and discharges the rest. Minerals are not stored in the body. None of kelp’s natural store of elements are removed or lost from the time it is harvested to the time it is compressed into a tablet. Kelp tablets are worthy of a trial.

The Dutch use kelp for covering or packing lobsters and crabs, that are to be conveyed to a considerable distance; because it keeps them alive much longer than any other species of this plant; nor does it easily ferment, or become putrid.

Kelp is excellent fertilizer; it is asserted, that the land will continue unexhausted for 7-8 years; an advantage which dung does not possess, as it requires to be renewed every second or third year.

In the Hebrides islands, kelp serves as a winter food for cattle, which regularly frequent the shores for it, after the tide has ebbed. The inhabitants of these isles dry their cheese without using any salt, by covering it with the ashes of this plant.

Much of seawrack’s saline taste may be minimized by taking the powdered botanical in capsule or tablet form and following with a little red wine or flavorsome herb tea such as made with lemon grass, lemon verbena or sassafras.
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Uses

Soothes irritated throat and mucous membranes, soothes cough, dissolves firm masses such as tumors, treats enlarged thyroid, scrofula, lymph node enlargements, normalizes a weak or enlarged prostate gland, swollen and painful testes, and reduces edema. Reported to be very beneficial to the sensory nerves, membranes surrounding the brain, spinal cord, and brain tissue. Use for hair loss, goiter, ulcers, and obesity. Good for arteries, rheumatism, and nails. Protects from effects of radiation, and softens stools.

Good for those with mineral deficiency.

Obesity (overweight) is seldom seen among the Polynesians and other races who use seaweeds as a regular part of their daily diet.
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Formulas or Dosages

Infusion: steep 1 heaping tsp. in 1 cup of boiling water for 30 minutes. Drink 3-4 cups a day an hour before meals, and one hot upon retiring.
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Nutrient Content

Iodine, calcium, iron, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, magnesium, protein, carotene, riboflavin, vitamins A, B1, B3, B5, B6, B9, B12, C and E and zinc.
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How Sold

Tablets
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Warning

Generally contraindicated for patients with weak or deficient spleen or stomach.
Like many sea creatures, kelp is at risk from heavy metal pollution. Do not collect kelp where levels of cadmium and/or mercury are known to be high.

Chemical solutions of iodine or iodide enter the circulation almost instantaneously and larger amounts may cause allergic reactions unless used under close medical supervision. Plant iodine is absorbed slowly with other elements and rarely (if at all) causes sensitizing reactions when taken in reasonable amounts.
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Resource Links

LiveStrong: What Are the Benefits of Kelp Tablets?

LiveStrong.com: What Are the Benefits of Taking Kelp?

LiveStrong.com: Bladderwrack for Children

LiveStrong.com: What Are the Benefits of Kelp Alfalfa?

U.S. National Library of Medicine: Kelp

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center: Bladder Wrack

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition: Iodine Supplement of Pregnant Woman in Europe: A Review and Recommendations

Internet Health Library: Hypothyroidism Research

Complementary Prescriptions: Kelp Supplements May Contain Arsenic

Ray Sahelian, M.D.: Kelp Supplement Benefit and Side Effects

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Bibliography

Buy It! The Herb Book, by John Lust, Bantam Books, 666 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY. copyright 1974.

Buy It! Back to Eden, by Jethro Kloss; Back to Eden Publishing Co., Loma Linda, CA 92354, Original copyright 1939, revised edition 1994

Buy It! The Herbalist Almanac, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, copyright 1988, fifth printing, 1994

Buy It! The Nature Doctor: A Manual of Traditional and Complementary Medicine, by Dr. H.C.A. Vogel; Keats Publishing, Inc., 27 Pine Street (Box 876) New Canaan, CT. 06840-0876. Copyright Verlag A. Vogel, Teufen (AR) Switzerland 1952, 1991

Buy It! Planetary Herbology, by Michael Tierra, C.A., N.D., O.M.D., Lotus Press, PO Box 325, Twin Lakes. WI 53181., Copyright 1988, published 1992

Buy It! American Folk Medicine, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, 1973

Buy It! Prescription for Nutritional Healing, Fifth Edition: A Practical A-to-Z Reference to Drug-Free Remedies Using Vitamins, Minerals, Herbs & Food Supplements, by James F. Balch, M.D. and Phyllis A. Balch, C.N.C., Avery Publishing Group, Inc., Garden City Park, NY

Buy It! Secrets of the Chinese Herbalists, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Company, Inc., West Nyack, NY, 1987.

Buy It! Webster’s New World Dictionary, Third College Edition, Victoria Neufeldt, Editor in Chief, New World Dictionaries: A Division of Simon & Schuster, Inc., 15 Columbus Circle, New York, NY 10023

Buy It! Old Ways Rediscovered, by Clarence Meyer, Meyerbooks, publisher, PO Box 427, Glenwood, Illinois 60425, published from 1954, print 1988

Buy It! The Complete Medicinal Herbal, by Penelope Ody, Dorling Kindersley, Inc, 232 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016, First American Edition, copyright 1993

Buy It! The Yoga of Herbs: An Ayurvedic Guide to Herbal Medicine, by Dr. David Frawley & Dr. Vasant Lad, Lotus Press, Twin Lakes, Wisconsin, Second edition, 1988.

Buy It! The Magic of Herbs in Daily Living, by Richard Lucas, Parker Publishing Co. (1988).

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