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Algin is a broad term covering a whole family of compounds that includes alignates, alginic acids and others, all of which are derived from alginin, a gelatinous substance derived from certain types of brown seaweed. Several species of brown seaweeds found around the world yield algin, and it and its derivatives are used for a variety of purposes, including medicines and food products. Algin also is sometimes used in various applications in folk medicine and herbal remedies.
The most common use for algin is in the pharmaceutical industry, where it often is used as a binding agent in the making of tablets. It also is used in the making of some types of lozenges as a binding agent and a demulcent. A demulcent is a soothing, usually gelatinous or mucilaginous substance used to coat tissues that have a mucus membrane in order to soothe them. Demulcents help make throat lozenges more soothing by reducing irritation.
In the food industry, algin sometimes is used as a packing material for shellfish. Its derivatives, including sodium alginate and others, are commonly used as emulsifiers, thickeners and binding agents in foods such as ice cream, desserts, puddings and gels. Algin is commonly used by manufacturers instead of similar man-made chemicals so they can label products as "all-natural."
In the healthcare industry, algin and its related compounds have several uses. It often is a main ingredient in facial masks, providing structure for the film of the mask, but it is not the mask's active ingredient. Many homeopathic uses are attributed to algin and its derivatives as well, including improved bowel function. It also is believed to be a natural cholesterol-lowering agent because it might help prevent cholesterol absorption. Algin also might help modulate the metabolism of glucose, making it useful for weight loss regimens and the maintenance of diabetes.
Side effects of algin use have not been identified, and the homeopathic and folk remedies have not been tested or approved by any government agencies or confirmed by scientific study. There does not appear, however, to be any evidence that algin or its derivatives might be harmful, either. Pregnant or nursing women should not take these supplements, because algin might interfere with the absorption of nutrients. For this reason, anyone taking these supplements should not take them with medications or within an hour before or after taking any medications.
I'm suffering from a Sulfa allergy, and looking for recipes and advice on what I can eat. Sulfa is used in so many products that I don't know what to do. The headaches, rushes, and hoarse throat are getting me down. Is there somebody who can help me. My life is turned up side down. Taking xyzal and cortisone every day. --Judy.