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Bladderwrack uses , benefits and side effects

What is bladder wrack?

Bladderwrack is a brown seaweed from the family Fucaaceae (Fucaceae), which is found in the North Sea as well as in the Baltic, the English Channel, the Atlantic Ocean or the Pacific Ocean. It is also called kelp, derived from a Norman word designating what the water throws up on the shore.

In herbal medicine, the dried thallus, with its strong iodized smell, is used to treat many ailments such as obesity, inflammation, skin problems, etc. Fucus is used in different forms and preparations: flakes (on sale here), capsules, tablets, mother tinctures, fresh fucus, etc.

From a botanical point of view, it has gaseous vesicles that allow it to float while clinging to the substrate with the help of a holdfast. The fronds are 20 to 1 m long by 2 cm wide. It is a seaweed, as opposed to freshwater algae such as  spirulina or chlorella .

What is the nutritional nutritional composition of Fucus algae?

Like all brown algae, fucus is particularly rich in iodine. It is also an algae with a high content of polyphenols (antibiotic), polysaccharides and mucilages (alginic acid, fucoidin, laminarin, fucans, fucose, uronic acids, neutral sugars).

In its nutritional composition, there are many trace elements, copper, zinc, selenium, calcium, magnesium, potassium, sodium, sulfur, silicon, iron, etc. There are also many vitamins, folic acid, vitamins C and B.

Fucus is particularly rich in protein, having all the amino acids, so it is an excellent food supplement.

What are the health benefits of kelp?

Action of iodine on the body

Fucus is a brown seaweed, like Kombu seaweed , rich in iodine. Iodine is an essential nutrient, necessary for the proper functioning of the nervous system and the thyroid gland . This gland uses iodine to make thyroid hormones, mainly T4 (tetraiodothyronine) and T3 (triiodothyronine), hormones essential to life, having many effects on metabolism, growth and development of the body .

Indeed, the T3 and T4 hormones will regulate the speed of operation of all our organs, like a conductor of the body, making it possible to regulate, for example, energy consumption, body temperature , heart rhythm, nervous system, digestive tract, genitalia, mood, weight, etc.

An iodine deficiency therefore leads to hypothyroidism, and therefore disruption of the functions of the human body : slowing of the heart, weight gain, constipation, cramps, physical and mental fatigue, hair loss, chilliness, dry and pale skin, depression, cessation of periods, low libido, etc.

The effects of Fucus on the thyroid are often compared with the effects of maca powder from Peru , whereas maca only acts on the symptoms of thyroid disorders, and not on the cause like algae.

Slimming action

Fucus is a real appetite suppressant and causes a rapid feeling of satiety while avoiding deficiencies and the feeling of fatigue.

Indeed, the thallus of the fucus, rich in fibres, have a mucilaginous structure, like powdered konjac , which when rehydrated brings a feeling of rapid gastric fullness. These are the mucilages contained in the thallus of the bladder wrack which gives a feeling of satiety by increasing their volume mechanically as soon as it is added to water. This action is found in other mucilaginous seeds such as chia seeds .

The iodine in seaweed is also said to act as a “fat burner”.

Digestive properties

Fucus seaweed has mild laxative properties to relieve cases of mild constipation. It is excellent for promoting overall digestion and intestinal transit.

Action on the skin and external use

According to recent studies, the fucus would be effective in external use to fight against skin problems and more particularly against eczema and psoriasis.

Traditionally, seaweed is used as a poultice for its anti-inflammatory properties on painful joints, to treat cellulite, soothe insect bites, and reduce pain associated with rheumatism.

It helps to fight against gastric acidity and heartburn, to improve the appearance of nails, hair and skin. It is traditionally recommended in cases of arteriosclerosis, arterial hypertension, lymphadenopathy, asthenia and fatigue.

It helps boost the immune system , especially in combination with panax ginseng or Siberian ginseng roots , an ingredient in many traditional medicines, recognized for its general tonic effect and for stimulating the immune system.

How to use Fucus?


It is generally advised to consume in 2 and 6 g of thallus per day.

The daily iodine intake over the long term must be limited, it is often recommended not to consume more than 250 mg of fucus powder per day over long periods. On the other hand, during the treatment period, it is possible to increase the doses, without exceeding 1 month of treatment.


Make an infusion

Boil 1 liter of water and put 4 g of dried fucus to infuse for 10 min. Wait for it to cool, then drink throughout the day.

Precautions for use of fucus


Fucus, because of its iodine content, is not recommended for people with thyroid problems, in any case without medical advice. Similarly, it is contraindicated in cases of tachycardia, heart or kidney failure, angina (angina pectoris), or hypersensitivity to iodine.

The consumption of fucus, and seaweed in general, is not recommended for children, pregnant or breastfeeding women.

The external use of brown algae should only be done on intact areas, especially not in the presence of wounds or oozing dermatoses.

Side effects

If you respect the dosages, fucus is an excellent food supplement, in overdose, or over a too long period, its consumption can lead to an excessive intake of iodine.

An excess of iodine can lead to hypothyroidism or hyperthyroidism, with the resulting symptoms: palpitations, stress, insomnia, skin lesions, excessive salivation, etc.


Fucus may interact with medications for hypoglycemia or diabetes, or with any supplement that affects blood sugar levels. Indeed, the effect of the algae would be added to the effects of the treatment and could lead to an overdose.

With its iodine content, fucus cannot be consumed at the same time as a treatment against hyperthyroidism such as lithium or amiodarone.

It is not recommended to consume fucus at the same time as anticoagulant drugs or products.

A little history of Fucus

Fucus is a brown algae already used by the Romans in poultices to relieve joint pain related to rheumatism. It is found in the writings of Pliny the Elder.

In the 18th century, seaweed was used to treat skin conditions, it was not until the 19th century that it was used to treat goiters as well as hypothyroidism problems and to prevent iodine deficiency.

It is rarely used in cooking in the world, except in Japan where seaweed is widely used in gastronomy. We are starting to see it appear in vegetarian cuisine, fucus being an excellent dietary supplement.

From kelp, alginic acid (alginine) or alginate is extracted, a substance that is part of antacid preparations and drugs used to relieve the effects of gastric reflux, such as Gaviscon®, for example. Indeed, the alginate forms a gel in suspension in the stomach which makes it possible to protect the walls of the organ and to limit acid reflux towards the esophagus.

In Europe and North America, alginate is also used as a binder in the food industry, particularly in charcuterie, ice cream and various desserts.

For millennia, the fucus has been used as a fertilizer, still very popular today in organic farming, especially around the Irish and English coasts, where it was used for everything until a short time ago: fodder for animals, fuel, fertilizer for the earth, medicine, etc.

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