Fucus vesiculosus is a brownish-green colored algae that is more commonly known as bladder wrack or kelp. It is native to the western shores of the Mediterranean Sea and to the North Atlantic coasts. Although it has many uses, ranging from fuel to food for cattle, it is also a popular homeopathic remedy. It may be used to prevent goiter or thyroid disease, to promote weight loss, to treat rheumatism, and as an antiviral treatment.
This marine plant is both flexible and strong. Although brownish-green when alive, fucus vesiculosus turns black when it dries out. It has a strong odor and an unpleasant taste. This alga contains polysaccharides, polyphenols, and minerals, specifically iodine. The polysaccharides generally work to stimulate the immune system, while the iodine works to stimulate the thyroid.
Many people claim this algae promotes weight loss through the use of a patch or capsules made from the alga. It is believed that since the alga is high in iodine, iodine levels in the body will increase by consuming the capsules or wearing the patch. The body uses iodine to make the thyroid hormone, which manages the body’s metabolism. Consequently, users hope there will be an increase in the production of the thyroid hormone by wearing the patch and also an increase in the body’s metabolism. By increasing the body’s metabolism, a person may be able to lose weight without exercising and dieting.
Although there is little or no scientific research to support the use of fucus vesiculosus as a homeopathic remedy, many people continue to use it for a variety of ailments. For example, it is believed to stop fatty degeneration of the coronary arteries and the heart. It is also used for people suffering from nephritis because it is believed to lessen renal irritation and congestion. In addition, it may suppress the growth of some cancerous cells, making it a powerful aid for people with cancer.
Clinical trials have not been conducted on humans for many of the purported uses of fucus vesiculosus. For example, it is believed to relieve heartburn, heal wounds, lower cholesterol levels, and relieve diarrhea, yet there is no scientific data to support these claims. A German study performed in a test tube appeared to show that fucus vesiculosus was successful as an antiviral and as a suppressor to HIV activity.
Because this algae is high in iodine, there are some side effects and a medical professional should be contacted before beginning its use. For example, an abnormal thyroid may result from its consumption. In some cases, extreme acne, low blood sugar levels, and abnormal bleeding may develop. Lesser side effects include a brass-like taste in the mouth, extreme salivation, and an irritated stomach. If the alga has a high level of arsenic, there can be nerve and kidney toxicity as well.